Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 003

Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 003

To Wanda‘s knowledge, Tommy had not ordered Lady Temple to accompany her to meet the Overlord. But Delphie gave no indication of needing such an order. She led the way up the main steps.

Goodminton was a squat Level 4 citadel of barrel turrets and square towers, perched atop a sizable hill in the shadow of craggy mountains. Most of the surrounding hills were blanketed in snow, which fell in perpetuity from permanent cloud banks, but the city streets were bone dry. A frigid wind was the only weather the capital had to endure.

Minnow Tower earned the designation “tower” by being a somewhat taller gray rectangle than those that comprised the rest of the Garrison. Its top was manned with archers and an impressive set of ballistas, but Wanda could see that it was otherwise poorly hung with air defense spells. Up in the airspace, only a few flying rods and larrybirds patrolled. There were no flying mounts in the sky.

“That tower? Pathetic for spell bonuses,” explained Delphie, when Wanda asked about the defenses. “Hardly worth climbing up it to cast.”

“What if the enemy attacks by air?” Wanda asked, squinting at a sunny patch in the mostly cloudy sky.

Delphie made a dismissive noise. “Then the plan is we‘ll embed with the leadership on the ground. Let ‘em land, fight it out in the courtyard and dungeon.”

“Will that work?”

Delphie shrugged, as if it didn‘t matter. “Good as anything else.”

Unlike the airspace, the Garrison and city were thickly populated. Seasoned infantry and heavy units patrolled and trained on the streets and parapets. Wanda saw vicious war beasts in iron chains or in cages: pokedaemons, a fruit brute, and a foul-tempered pedobear. A line of quarter horses faced a line of nickel horses in the open courtyard. Stalwart knights led alternating charges at one another on quarterback, then on nickelback.

Goodminton might be worn down, but it still seemed eager to fight.

Overlord Firebaugh maintained his quarters, private office, and public reception on the floor above the war room. As they climbed flight after flight of steps, Wanda became increasingly unsatisfied with Delphie‘s reply about air defense.

Two floors short of their destination, she stopped at a landing. “Lady Temple.”

Delphie stopped a couple of steps up the next staircase and turned around. “Mm? Yes, dear.”

“You are a Predictamancer?”

Delphie arched an eyebrow warily. “Course. Adept-class, Level 4. Why?”

“As a Predictamancer, then,” asked Wanda, her tone carefully even, “will the plan to embed the casters with the ground units succeed against an air assault?”

Delphie frowned and put her hands to her hips. “Did I say, ‘Mathamancer?‘ I‘m not even a Warlord. Now how would you expect me to judge the battle-worthiness of a defense plan for a capital fight?” Her plastic smile had returned to her lips. Her voice was high and tense. “I mean, it would depend on the enemy forces, wouldn‘t it? Do you want to break that down for me, Warlord Wanda? Or would you care to rephrase the question?”

Wanda looked at Delphie very carefully, for several long moments. The woman‘s jaw was jutting out, her mouth tightly closed. “Yes, I would, Chief Predictamancer,” said Wanda. “My question is will this city be attacked by air?”

Delphie kept her lips together, but her eyes widened. She took in a deep breath through her nose. “Eventually.”

“And will we successfully defend ourselves?”

Delphie searched Wanda‘s face for something, but didn‘t seem to find it. “I can‘t say,” she stated flatly.

Wanda crossed her arms, shivering slightly in the cold brick stairwell. She nodded. “All right.”

“It‘s a complicated subject, Wanda. Predictamancy... You know, dear? There are rules we don‘t discuss. About...what we don‘t discuss.” She smiled weakly.

“I understand,” said Wanda, even though she did not. She walked up the staircase, brushing by Delphie.

“Fate has a plan for you. I do as well,” said Delphie behind her. “I will explain what I can, but you‘d do well to trust me.”

They climbed the rest of the stairs in silence.

Tommy raised an eyebrow at Delphie‘s presence, but shrugged and led them in to Firebaugh‘s reception.

He sat behind a grand chestnut desk with brass fittings, covered in stacks of books, rolled-up maps, and stationery. A small trio of burning logs crackled behind him, lost in the cave of an enormous, sooty hearth. He sat with unbent posture in a high-backed chair of ruddy leather and stained wood.

Firebaugh and the chair resembled one another to a fair degree. He was worn, but steadfast. He lacked Tommy‘s powerful build or Wanda‘s sculpted beauty, but his features were stately, and there was a family resemblance. His scalp was bald, the wispy hair he had was gray. But his eyes had the same cold blue fire that Wanda had seen in her own reflection.

He did not rise, but looked at them each in turn, settling on Wanda for a lingering gaze. Wanda wondered if she ought to bow, as Delphie was doing. But Tommy did not, and she decided that lowering her eyes to gaze at the carpet beneath her boots would suffice.

The reception had a picture window, but the thick velvet curtains were drawn. Only the glow of the fireplace and a bluish powerball above the desk illuminated the room. Firebaugh folded his hands.

"Well you were right, Atomic," said the Overlord, not taking his eyes from Wanda. "She's lovely." Wanda looked up at him.

Tommy smiled, and Delphie grinned brightly and drew herself up as if ready to say something proud. But Lord Firebaugh was not smiling, and so Wanda only kept her mouth closed and blushed under his close scrutiny. His gaze did not relent.

Distantly, wistfully, he added, "Our doom is really lovely."

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Recent posts... (See full thread)
Berserkas wrote:
Now wonder it's foul-tempered


Well, Wanda's only a single turn old at this point. Or is that "Too Old"?
I'm sort of hoping Wanda gets her hands on an axe and wields the boop of it. I'm neutral on the subject of froth though.
balder wrote:
drachefly wrote:
Okay, you're recycling puns Piers Anthony used... but you did do it a bit better. Is there also a nickelmaster, and are some soldiers nickeled outside the garrison?


Ugh, really? Citation, please. It might need to be retconjured out, then.

/loves much of Piers Anthony, loathes Xanth


I immediately thought of Xanth when I read that passage and I haven't read any of those books in about 20 years. However I did a little Googling on nickel horse and Xanth to no avail. So maybe it's just Xanth-like.

I much prefer puns like Sourmander which twist things a bit compared to ones which take a part of a compound word and replace it with a similar word. I couldn't say what's intrinsically wrong with it - it just reminds me of Xanth.
drachefly wrote:
Okay, you're recycling puns Piers Anthony used... but you did do it a bit better. Is there also a nickelmaster, and are some soldiers nickeled outside the garrison?

Is there a pun Piers Anthony hasn't used? The land of Xanth is literally made out of them, and its inhabitants are aware it.
The paragraph describing the troops was pretty awesome.

S'nice that we have Zeku around to remind us of the perspective of the morally uptight. I didn't think there was anyone left who could be offended by mere mention of pedobear - it's public knowledge that he left his loli-ogling days behind to sanitize his image as a public figure for the sake of his presidential campaign. Even his core supporters fall some distance short of anything that might be called edgy, these days.
Its clearly a different play on words, but the association is still strong. A simple change would be to replace 'nickel' with 'half'. Or if you want to stick with coinage, penny or dime. Dimepedes and dollarpedes existed in Xanth but they were far far less prominent and would not associate as strongly.
"Fruit Brute"...lol.

I suppose some pun about "Freakies" will be next?

Nice. :)
Was just thinking about this and realized something: given that we know there is going to be an air battle that its uncertain if Goodminton will win, and given we know Wanda ends up working for a side whose entire mobile army is an air force... anyone want to take bets that Faq is involved in Goodminton's fall?
Post it on the Amateur Predictamancy thread... I'd bet you don't get any takers!
“It’s a complicated subject, Wanda. Predictamancy... You know, dear? There are rules we don’t discuss. About...what we don’t discuss.”

The first rule of Sight Club is...