Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 035

Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 035

Something smelled fishy and fetid when Jillian awoke. Right, the foggy, boggy lake below her. Stars were up, the moon was down, and dew was dripping from their gear. The Wonderful Royal Expeditionary Company of Doom (WRECD) had slept in the sky again, her cramping back told her immediately.

It was not her favorite way to bivouac. But where there were water hexes available, it was one of the safer bets for stealth. This local marshy terrain–with its sparse roads and lakes every few hexes–was probably a pretty annoying place to live. Your units would have a high move cost, and they‘d rarely be able to travel in a straight line.

So, it might actually be the kind of place she could find a lost capital site.

Only she wasn‘t looking too hard. What would be the point? This area was closer to Haffaton territory than Faq was. It might even be Haffaton territory.

Behind them, above the scrubby foothills, the sky was showing signs of impending sunrise. As usual, it would be bad if dawn came before they started turn. Perched on their dozing gwiffons, Jillian and her three warlords ate their trail forage in silence (boiled bird eggs, and some of the figs they had taken from a Haffaton orchard three turns ago), while casting anxious glances eastward. In two nearby stacks, the stabbers and archers ate their hardtack glumly.

They were now fourteen turns out of home, and far, far to the northwest, but they still hadn‘t found the end of Haffaton‘s domain. They‘d seen a small stack of Charlescomm‘s units once, exchanging grudging waves but no words with them. They‘d also had some contact with local sides, and even entered a bounty contract on Haffaton units with one. But that was just a diplomatic move, and a hedge bet. If she could help it, Chief Jillian did not intend to encounter any Haffaton units (or allies, if they had any around here).

She just needed to know how far around it was. It was getting ludicrous. “We have to know where Haffaton is, so we can go looking for a site where it isn‘t.” That was her flimsy explanation, and none of her warlords challenged it. But really, at this point Jillian viewed circumnavigating Haffaton as her personal quest.

With a sudden flare of orange, dawn broke. They all still had dirt on their faces. And zero move, disband it! She ordered defensive stacks formed. They waited.

Feedbags were tied on their gwiffons, and they relieved themselves into the lake from on high. Chip and Hedda broke out the cards and played “5-Stack Air War.”* Jillian just sat upon her mount and scanned the reeds at the edges of the lake for approaching enemy units. Bart closed his eyes. Jillian thought he was napping in the saddle at first, but then noticed his lips were moving. Great, he‘d picked up the meditation habit. Or worse, prayer.

---

Nothing happened all morning. Their turn began when the sun had climbed high and the fog had long vanished.

It meant that something would happen when they got moving. That couldn‘t be helped. They were in somebody‘s battlespace whose natural turn came before Faq‘s. Fate said they were bound to encounter units of whatever side that was.

Jillian was pretty sick of Fate. She had named the Company as a joke, but it really wasn‘t funny. The idea that Faq was doomed never quite left their minds. She was sorely tempted to just stay right where she was this turn, just to prove Fate was all a loose puddle of frog crap. How could it make her move? It couldn‘t, right? Surely, someone had put it to the test, somewhere.

But it would not be her, not this turn. She had her mission, however loosely she was choosing to interpret her orders right now. The treasury was dwindling; they weren‘t taking jobs. If upkeep reached a crisis, as it would in another dozen turns or so, then the Court would start disbanding units. The Company had to keep moving, keep exploring. Something would turn up. They‘d map the edge of Haffaton, and be on their way.

And hey, maybe it wouldn‘t be Haffaton they ran into. If it was...well, she was far from home and she could talk her way out of it, she guessed.

They restacked to scout formations and they began the stutter-step scouting crawl by sending a lead out to the northwest. From hex A, first peek hex B, then cross B if clear, peek C, and return to B. Leaders and feeders, ‘til they spotted something. That‘s how it went.

---

This turn, it didn‘t go that way for long. The third hex they peeked had a Haffaton Level 2 city just on the other side of it. Hedda had crossed the hex, keeping at the treeline, scouted the city, and returned, apparently without having been spotted.

“Titans‘ teabags, they are everywhere!” said Chip.

“You‘re sure they didn‘t see you?” Jillian asked.

Hedda shrugged, but she paired it with a sly, predatory grin. “You can never be sure, right? But if they cared about spotting enemy flyers, you‘d think they‘d deploy some actual units there.”

Jillian‘s heart skipped. She could read her second-in-command‘s face better than anyone, and she hadn‘t seen this expression in far too long. It meant, “I smell easy meat.” She cleared her throat. “You wanna put that in the form of a report, Warlord?”

“Absolutely, Chief,” said Hedda, drawing herself to attention. “Two hexes to the northwest of here stands a Level 2 city, flying Haffaton colors, with no apparent defenders.”

image

* “Air War” is a card game. It is one of the few that can be played while mounted on separate gwiffons, as players do not share or exchange cards. In 5-Stack Air War, each of the two players shuffles his own deck. For each “engagement,” players draw a “stack” of their top 5 cards and show them to the other player. Then each player arranges his stack into a secret battle order and places it face down. One at a time, the players turn over and reveal the top card in their stack. The higher card wins, and is placed at the bottom of the winning player‘s deck. The losing card is discarded and removed from play. In the case of a tie, the next card in the stack is turned over to join the fight and break the tie (or the next, etc.) If the stack has been fully depleted (all cards played), then players draw tie-breaker cards from the top of their deck (automatically losing the game if they have no more deck cards to turn over). Once a tie is broken, all the cards played by the losing player are discarded, and all the winner‘s cards go to the bottom of his deck. Players never shuffle their deck, but keep drawing a stack from the top of their deck. The engagements therefore get more fierce (and more prone to ties) as the game goes on and lower cards are eliminated. The game is over when one player cannot field a stack of 5, making the other player the winner.
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Wait wait wait waaaaait a second.

Stanley found the Arkenhammer in some ruins. Some ruins! We know from here: http://erfworld.com/wiki/index.php/TBFGK_78 that one way we can get ruins, at least, is from a ruined city. They must have been close by! This story is all about Faq and its neighbors, some previously unheard of Sides.

Predictomancy:
Haffaton currently has in its possession the Arkenhammer. That's why they're so big on Fate, and Wanda being necessary to their side. Haffaton falls, Stanley picks up the Arkenhammer in a ruined city.
I think those ruins are the kind that are 'pregenerated' structures, rather than the actual remains of old cities.
Nnelg wrote:
I think those ruins are the kind that are 'pregenerated' structures, rather than the actual remains of old cities.

Correct, "Ruined Cities" are different from "Ruins".
Really? Where did we find that out?
I believe it was in a Klog as something Sizemore had explained to Parson. But I don't know the exact reference
It's in the wiki, not the comic.
http://www.erfworld.com/wiki/index.php/Ruins
Shai_hulud wrote:
It's in the wiki, not the comic.
http://www.erfworld.com/wiki/index.php/Ruins

Its unsourced. Looking at the talk page I'm not sure if Rob approved it or not. So maybe, there are city site "ruins" and special feature "ruins". He did ask for a picture of the ruin that Wanda flew over, so I assume at least there is a ruin kind of hex feature, and the thing that Wanda flew over is it.
If it's been marked canon and the writer is known to have read the page, well...

I found this earlier thread on Ruins, check the last post.
Whispri wrote:
If it's been marked canon and the writer is known to have read the page, well...

I found this earlier thread on Ruins, check the last post.
Following your link, I see research superior to my own, that shows that we have discovered Balder's IP address and that IP address canonized the ruins. This means that the wiki appears to be accurate, and is in fact a saint.
I disapprove of this talking about Ruins/Ruined Cities instead of talking about the clearly gamechanging idea that Haffaton is possibly in possession of the Arkenhammer. :)

So, do we really think that Arkentools are just chilling in special hexes like ruins? Or... what? It has to be close to Gobwin Knob, close enough for Stanley to find it as a Warlord. I think that means it would be within their territory right when Saline IV died. We know Saline IV was around during the fall of FAQ.