Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 041

Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 041

“There is always time for the hard way,” said the Croakamancer at dawn. “That is the nature of it.”

The Lady Firebaugh had slept in one of the marble sheds, and emerged in the morning with her satchel closed and slung over her shoulder. Most of the former Faq units stood by, mindlessly porting a few odd items for her. Bart, as he had all night, stood guard over Jillian in the glass box. His empty gaze was unrelenting.

“We are patient here,” she said, “as patient as trees. Your end will remain the same, after all. It will wait for you. You may purchase more Life with more suffering, until you tire of it. That is your only choice, prisoner, but it is yours. I have other Duty to attend. Until I return, you will be hungry.”

The enemy caster touched the box, and with a churning wave through her abdomen, Jillian felt her insides flush away. Her stomach shriveled to a walnut and then collapsed to nothing. There was a hole in her. She needed food! Now!

The Croakamancer said nothing more, but walked away across the grass. Wait, was she going to leave some food for the day? No, that was a stupid thought. She‘d just said, but. Food! Would there be some coming at the end of the day? Was there something she could eat here? Anything?

Jillian twisted, looking around the box for anything at all. She tried to remember the last food she‘d possessed. The supplies from Diecast, yes! Did she still... No. And...no, that stuff was poison. But she knew if she had one of the apples that had put her to sleep–and croaked the rest of her people apparently–in her hand right now, she would eat it. Terrifying thought, but she knew she would. Sweet, juicy, perfect apples they were.

She almost cried out to the Croakamancer as she and the shuffling uncroaked units followed a path around a hill and out of sight. Almost. Her captor might have returned, and then what? Beg? Break? She could hang on through this.

It was just need, not real pain. She could do this. With her tormentor not actually there to fill her mind with words, maybe there was a chance Jillian could think of something. Escape, or...getting a message home. Something. But first, food.

No, there was no food. And this is exactly what she‘d been afraid of. This deprivation and helplessness. Being a Chief Warlord, Jillian knew something of standard interrogation techniques. She had been wrong to feel relieved; it just hadn‘t begun yet.

She looked up at the face of poor Bart Lightrail. “Bart?”

He looked back at her, but only in the same way he had stared at her throughout the night. He didn‘t show any specific reaction to hearing his name.

“Bart...” She could hear herself about to ask him for food, and it sounded ridiculous in her head. A wild thought of breaking free and eating him crossed her mind, and she curled with revulsion. She doubled over with the pangs and hid her head.

“I‘m sorry,” was all she actually said.

---

The sun rose and made her sweat inside the glass box. Jillian did not feel particularly thirsty, but even a drink of water would have been welcome, as something to put in her stomach.

There were birds in the yard, but no other sounds or motion among the grass and stones. She passed through a range of decisions over the morning, sometimes vowing to hold out no matter what else was done to her, sometimes deciding that she would shout “Mistress!” as soon as Lady Firebaugh returned, and say whatever she was told to.

She even planned it out: rehearsing her own collapse, fantasizing about it as a means to earn a morsel of food. First, she would tell her Mistress all about Bart, and Hedda and Chip and the others. She even went over everyone‘s story in her head, remembering their names, what level they were, what city they had popped in, their achievements in battle. These seemed to be what her brain-lashed captor was interested in carving into the memorial stones.

Then, she would tell all about Faq. Its location and its helplessness. Faq would fall, and Jillian herself would be croaked and animated and stand beside Bart as a Haffaton flesh puppet.

And she would not be hungry anymore.

By afternoon, though, the Croakamancer had not returned, and Jillian hated herself intensely. She actually tried making herself feel more hungry, more miserable in the box. She imagined all the tasty foods she could think of, cakes and meat pies, roast fowl and pancakes. She returned to thinking of this predicament as her rightful punishment. What had Lady Firebaugh said about buying Life with suffering? Okay, she would do that, then. With thoughts of hot buttered bread and smoked trout.

Back at home, they ate sushi. Tempura. Sometimes chicken marinated in soy and garlic. Ohhh...

She thought of home. They would know she had been captured. They would know that all of Faq‘s best warriors had fallen, and that the mission had failed. They would be afraid, certainly, but Father and the Court would be philosophical about it. That, she could count on. If she was buying Life with her suffering today, then she was also buying a day of Life for them. For Jack and the rest.

She smiled through the gnawing hunger. That‘s the whole reason she did anything, she supposed. This was her business, and if you viewed it that way, it was a tremendous bargain, wasn‘t it? One day in the box for all the days the others would have.

At home, they would be discussing their doom over nice fish and rice and little bits of fried vegetable. So tasty. Eat up, you pompous intellectual fops. Clean your plates for me.

Once she had that thought to sustain her, the time began to pass bearably. For three turns, she was left there lying in need. The hunger never relented, but it had a purpose now. In her head, the vague thoughts of meals at home grew over time into elaborate, imaginary tea ceremonies. She observed perfect etiquette, and exchanged delightful repartee with each member of the Court. Far from a chore, the thoughts of formal ceremony at home became her comfort, her refuge.

Her...meditation, she supposed.

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Recent posts... (See full thread)
Given that a healthy human adult can survive 3 days without food, it's not all that surprising that Jillian could survive 3 turns. Now, obviously, she doesn't have anything to drink either, which would create a bigger problem in the real world, but it is feasible that on Erf the need to drink might not be more serious than the need to eat or that her bare minimum hydration and nutrition are being covered by some other method to prevent death by starvation or dehydration.
Oberon wrote:
New mechanics knowledge, yay! Now we know that not getting/eating rations doesn't kill a unit for at least three turns.


Jillian isn't just a unit, though. She's a Royal and a CWL, so she has higher stats, plus she has a few levels under her belt. 3 turns of not eating may be enough to croak a level 1 stabber, though. Or a rammerweiner. Those things are skinny.

Or this sensation of Hunger may just be a spell effect from Wanda. Right after Parson was summoned, she mentioned having a Headache spell. A Hunger spell wouldn't be much different. Units may typically not experience the sensation of hunger.
It is also possible that the box (which clearly has many functions or could be a magic item) is technically fulfilling her basic needs even though a spell is creating the sensation of hunger. So she may in fact be recieving "rations" somehow without consuming them.
raphfrk wrote:
drachefly wrote:
Or it's possible to create a sensation of hunger independent of upkeep being paid.


It could be that they still have to pay her upkeep or she de-pops, but actually giving here the food is not required.

Food is said to reduce upkeep costs, so maybe not eating the popped food makes a unit even more expensive.

Also, since Wanda apparently cast a spell before leaving, that would support the view that it is "fake" hunger, or maybe just enhanced.


But who is paying this upkeep? Is it Faq, since she is one of their units (CWL no less)? Or does it come from her purse since she is functioning as a mercenary/barbarian at this point, having a separate upkeep account for herself and the previous Wrecd? Or is Haffaton providing the upkeep since she is their prisoner? Maybe even Wanda since they are in her Garden, which seems unconnected to the rest of Erfworld.
Housellama wrote:
Lamech wrote:
More like being assigned explicit plot armor. Made from the plot armor of real protagonists.

Hah! Excellent. Yes, this is exactly my interpretation of what happened. She received her Protection From On High IN-WORLD as opposed to meta.

Once again, I have to congratulate Rob on his truly excellent understanding of human nature. The techniques used by both Wanda and Jillian are very true to life. Especially Jillian's. Sometimes you scare me a little bit, Rob.

Before I pull out my soapbox, I need to preface this. When I refer to "torture", I mean any attempt at coercion or conversion using physically or psychologically damaging techniques. To me, there is a qualitative difference between skillful use of psychology and physical discomfort to gather information, and outright torture as normally understood. One works, the other does not. Both are ethically questionable. I won't touch that debate on this one. I disapprove of "enhanced interrogation" on strictly Utilitarian principles, those being it doesn't booping work. Where to draw the line, however, is something that's way more than just 50 shades of gray.

Ineffective torture is very easy to write (and to do). It's easy to strap someone to a chair and do painful, horrible things to them. Yes, eventually you will break anyone with those techniques, but you cannot trust any information obtained using that method. Effective torture is very, very difficult. Wanda's techniques are textbook. Jillian's reactions to and tactics for resisting torture are also scarily true to life. The fact that Rob wrote both of these so very well makes me a little bit afraid. A sign of a great writer.

I hate to be disagreeable. But I disagree with your statement that torture doesn't boopin' work. I think that has to be qualified to some extent. I will definitely agree that torture is more suited to "interrogations" aimed at confessions or getting someone to say specific things. What I mean is its chance of success are based on what your win condition is. Such as is your goal to get the truth, or get a specific utterance. "I'm a witch" or "I was paid by X to do this." If truth is irrelevant to the goal.

Also, if you have a situation with someone uncooperative in a more mundane and more effective interrogation AND (Huge and) you have a relatively low cost way to verify the "facts" you're given AND the time with which to verify torture, re-torture, verify, ad nauseam. You could probably have something going for you. But all things considered not great. But hey, if you have a large group of people that know a fact, and a large group of disposable minions, you could just off one at a time till you got to the truth, if you're a horrible monster.

P.S. I do personally find torture abhorrent, I just you know feel it's important to think about things from every angle.
bladestorm wrote:
Just to get Wanda into Faq required Marie to lie quite a bit about the particulars of her prediction.

Nowhere has Marie explicitly lied. She sees Wanda causing the fall of Faq, but not necessarily how. She sees Wanda in the employ of the single greatest threat in the area. It's not hard to put two and two together. She just never expected Jillian to actually make it come out as five (by taking Wanda home with her).

At least, that's the benign and most straightforwards explanation. Marie could be lying through her teeth, (for the greater good, or lesser evil at least) but I highly doubt that.


bladestorm wrote:
And.... Wanda is a poison pill for whichever side swallows her -- Haffaton, Faq, and maybe even GK.

If you think about it, that list should perhaps include her original side, Goodminton. It might have held out a lot longer if she had never been popped...
Housellama wrote:
Ineffective torture is very easy to write (and to do). It's easy to strap someone to a chair and do painful, horrible things to them. Yes, eventually you will break anyone with those techniques, but you cannot trust any information obtained using that method. Effective torture is very, very difficult. Wanda's techniques are textbook. Jillian's reactions to and tactics for resisting torture are also scarily true to life. The fact that Rob wrote both of these so very well makes me a little bit afraid. A sign of a great writer.
You mean effective torture, like this?
No, like this.
Salem wrote:
I hate to be disagreeable. But I disagree with your statement that torture doesn't boopin' work. I think that has to be qualified to some extent. I will definitely agree that torture is more suited to "interrogations" aimed at confessions or getting someone to say specific things. What I mean is its chance of success are based on what your win condition is. Such as is your goal to get the truth, or get a specific utterance. "I'm a witch" or "I was paid by X to do this." If truth is irrelevant to the goal.

You are correct. Let me clarify my statement. Torture is one of the most ineffective methods of getting useful, reliable, actionable information from an unwilling subject. If you are just aiming to brainwash or break people, then it works fantastically. Under the conditions I'm used to discussing this particular subject, the win condition is always to gain said information. As such, that end condition went without saying, thus I didn't say it.

Salem wrote:
Also, if you have a situation with someone uncooperative in a more mundane and more effective interrogation AND (Huge and) you have a relatively low cost way to verify the "facts" you're given AND the time with which to verify torture, re-torture, verify, ad nauseam. You could probably have something going for you. But all things considered not great. But hey, if you have a large group of people that know a fact, and a large group of disposable minions, you could just off one at a time till you got to the truth, if you're a horrible monster.

There's actually some very effective conventional interrogation techniques that exploit the ability to verify the information given by the subject. If you have the ability to do that (or you have a set of information that you have already verified), it's quite easy to use that to persuade the subject that it is in their best interest to tell the truth, since you will know when they are lying, and can thus punish them using conventional methods accordingly. You don't NEED torture for that.

Salem wrote:
P.S. I do personally find torture abhorrent, I just you know feel it's important to think about things from every angle.

My respect for you just went up a great deal. Thank you for your thoughtful reply!
Housellama wrote:

Also, if you have a situation with someone uncooperative in a more mundane and more effective interrogation AND #Huge and# you have a relatively low cost way to verify the "facts" you're given AND the time with which to verify torture, re-torture, verify, ad nauseam. You could probably have something going for you. But all things considered not great. But hey, if you have a large group of people that know a fact, and a large group of disposable minions, you could just off one at a time till you got to the truth, if you're a horrible monster.

There's actually some very effective conventional interrogation techniques that exploit the ability to verify the information given by the subject. If you have the ability to do that #or you have a set of information that you have already verified#, it's quite easy to use that to persuade the subject that it is in their best interest to tell the truth, since you will know when they are lying, and can thus punish them using conventional methods accordingly. You don't NEED torture for that.[/quote]
I agree completely, I think the problem with a lot of things like torture is that while they can work, they're rarely the best option. People just see it as the most effective and efficient route to success. Much like war seems like the best way to conquer, but the spread/influence of culture can do the same thing with less risk and less atrocity, albeit at a slower pace. You do however have the chance at getting something more permanent and stable.

Violence is fast, and the right tool for some occasions. Self defence, protecting someone else, your child loosing in a little league game. It is a rather blunt and awkward tool that gets far to overused.

And violence used improperly often has consequences, the law, rebellion, or in the case of torture a subject who knows they're as good as dead deliberately trying to cause you as much grief as possible before they expire. It's one of those things that can backfire perhaps taking away the credibility of your argument kind of like the examples of a few brave souls killed in America's witch trials in a public fashion, by horrible methods just robbing the "just and holy" argument from their killers.