Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 054

Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 054

Jillian descended from dreams again, a hard and sudden fall this time. She wasn‘t able to hold on to any specific memories, other than a feeling of warmth and light that she immediately longed to return to.

“-involved in its construction. But I don‘t remember enough from the link-up.”

She landed on her feet, without even a stumble, and found herself walking on the yellow road again. She‘d been walking there for some time, it seemed, but how she got there was lost in a yellow haze of mixed images and words.

The Lady Firebaugh was still talking. They were in the middle of a conversation, she supposed, but she couldn‘t recall the start of it. “And it is beyond my current grasp of Turnamancy to repair the glass ceiling you broke through.”

“Thought you were a Croakamancer,” muttered Jillian.

“That is what I am telling you,” said Lady Firebaugh, “I am what I am needed to be. Or I try. I often fail. I could not use the box to turn you, for example. And I cannot repair it. Though, absent the help of Maxwell, it might well have been beyond Tina‘s abilities.”

Jillian looked at her bare feet, moving along the road. It was pretty tough, trying to think in words instead of dreams. “I don‘t think I know who that is,” she said.

“Maxwell was Haffaton‘s Thinkamancer. You might have seen his stone. We suffer from his loss, and Tina‘s as well. And Barton, the Dollamancer...Maya, the Predictamancer, Komatsu the Dirtamancer. And others. Some before my time. So many cuts, so many losses here. I have tried to fulfill the unmet needs, but Maxwell held everything together. Much of what we‘ve accomplished rests on his shoulders.” She looked distant. “Haffaton has not been the same. We have seen better turns than these.”

The Croakamancer was leading her by her arm, toward the green city looming ahead. The pink buds were everywhere.

Jillian resisted the impulse to say, “Good.” If Haffaton was in decay, then that was nothing but the Titans‘ own justice. Did the enemy caster expect her to sympathize?

She didn‘t feel like starting a fight right now, though, so instead she said, “Stop. I need one.” She threw away the flower from her hair, and stooped to pick one of the larger blossoms.

“Already,” said Lady Firebaugh. “That is unfortunate. You will be permanently afflicted very soon, if that hasn‘t yet happened.”

With a practiced hand, Jillian snap-pinched the flower from its stem and raised it to her head. But Lady Firebaugh took her wrist firmly and held her gaze.

“Can you wait, Jillian?” she said. “If only for a few minutes? There is much worth discussing. Something we should talk about, while we have the chance. Please.”

Jillian really wanted the bud. But the Lady Firebaugh‘s sudden kindness had its own weird attraction. She stood up and held the flower in her palm, feeling some mild effects from it already.

“‘Please?‘ Really?” she said, shaking her head. “What happened to, ‘Call me Mistress?‘”

The Croakamancer stood in the road and drew her arms to herself, a meek figure in a field of flowers, so hard to reconcile with the cold tormentor who had kept her imprisoned. If anything, the enemy caster looked ashamed.

“I learned that method from Tina,” she said. “First as prisoner, then as her pupil. Or, I tried. It didn‘t work on you, obviously. Come to think of it, it also didn‘t work on me. It was Olive, and the heroine buds... The box was intended to change–” She took a deep breath and sighed through her nose. “Suppose...suppose that you call me ‘Wanda?‘”

As Jillian‘s head cleared out, a part of her very much wanted to haul off and slug the Croakamancer. She thought she could act like, what...friends now? After what she did to Bart, Hedda... War was war, but the stuff she had done went beyond.

Jillian had to wonder if this wasn‘t all just another dream. Somehow, it was both too real and too unreal to be one. She clutched the flower in her hand. All around, a sea of pink flowers bobbed in the warm breeze. “You conquered Faq? I mean, you, personally?”

The Croakamancer nodded. “Yes. As I said, I am what I am needed to be. Even a warlord. I am usually needed at the scene of a conquest, to uncroak the casualties. We dug a tunnel through the mountains. It wasn‘t a difficult fight, once we had the access.”

No, it wouldn‘t have been, but as Chief Warlord, that still stung. She sighed. “Yeah, I guess you were Predicted to. Did any casters stay? Did you capture any?”

The Croakamancer‘s face changed. “I was what? No, there were no casters. What do you mean I was Predicted?”

Jillian rolled her eyes. “Sister Marie told the Court that Haffaton would conquer Faq. Our Predictamancer. I hate that stuff, but that‘s what she said. And I guess she was right; you did. Or at least, you got our cities.”

“She said that Haffaton would conquer Faq? Or that I would?”

Jillian frowned, thinking that she was probably saying too much here. She looked away.

“Please, Jillian. It‘s important.”

“It‘s important to you. It‘s not real important to me, considering.” Jillian looked at Lady Firebaugh, trying to keep her contempt alive. But there was very little of “Mistress” remaining in the woman she was looking at. With the gauze and the thorns, she looked naked and wounded.

“She said that Haffaton would conquer Faq,” Jillian said, trying to think back that day at Court. That was several lifetimes ago, seemed like. What exactly did Marie say? And wasn‘t croaking Banhammer part of that Prediction as well? Yeah, best not to include that part, if her father was still alive out there. “But I think she only Predicted that when she heard your name.”

Lady Firebaugh nodded solemnly. “This is what we must talk about. Predictamancy. We had Predictions about you, too. I was told that someone had popped who would become very important to me. A Warlady.”

“Named ‘Jillian?‘”

The Croakamancer shook her head. “Not that specific.”

“Really.”

“Yes. Why?”

The flower in Jillian‘s hand pulsed comfortingly. She really wanted to put it in her hair now, but she resisted. “Was that Lady Temple‘s Prediction?”

The Croakamancer‘s eyes went wide, and her thin lips parted in surprise. “It was Maya Calendar‘s. How do you know about Delphie Temple?”

Jillian didn‘t much feel like telling her about the note she‘d found in Goodminton. She shrugged.

The Croakamancer shook her head disbelievingly. “This is difficult. I feel that we both know important things about one another. I can‘t blame you for distrusting me. This isn‘t how it was supposed to be. I shouldn‘t have tried to turn you. But you must turn, eventually.”

“Yeah? Why?”

“Because of what you are Fated to do.”

“Wanda...” Okay, Wanda. “I gotta tell you. The Fate talk gets me mad. If this is all you want to talk about, then I‘m gonna sit right here with a bud in my hair.” She raised the flower to her head.

“You are Fated to croak the Ruler of Haffaton,” said Wanda.

It was Jillian‘s turn to look surprised. She lowered her arm.

“For real?”

Wanda nodded. “Olive is heir designate, and she knows about Maya‘s Prediction. But Duty forbids her from harming Judy herself, so she brought you here. I think she wonders why you haven‘t done it already.”

“I like Judy,” said Jillian, thinking how stupid that sounded. “I don‘t think I like Dame Branch.”

“Fate is fate,” said Wanda, and although they were alone in the vast field of flowers, she lowered her voice conspiratorially. “But there may be an alternative path. Tell me what you know about Delphie, and I will tell you what I learned from Barton.”

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Recent posts... (See full thread)
Looks like Jillian's mind-alteration trips are down to a matter of seconds, based upon the gap in the conversation. Granted, the conversation could have wandered off on a tangent and come back to the subject, but Wanda doesn't seem the type for idle conversation about nothing once she is in the middle of a topic. Soon, the flowers will be nothing more than a tingle when she puts them on, and a longing for the hazy memory of the bliss they once held. She'll also likely be plagued by traceries of reality that linger just outside of her perception and annoying remind her that she isn't blissed out anymore.

And if we thought she made bad decisions before, the need to return to that bliss is gonna make her react very desperately. And violently, but that's not really out of her character.
And speaking of the two plots and updates, do we have any kind of schedule through the holidays, or are we just gonna get the updates as they happen? My own schedule is insane for the next four weeks, and after that, it finally goes back to normal after a rocky first of the year. I imagine the writer/artist schedule is going to be just as hectic.
Orzel wrote:
I'm beginning to think the titans don't like ides to have more than 4 casters. It's game is rigged to get your side 3 of them.... then send crap your way to keep you at 2-4 casters.

Anyone think many of those lost casters aren't of Haffaton origin. Also notice the lack of talk about warlords, captured, popped, or killed.

Something is up with that side.


Isn't the most likely scenario simply that Haffaton is very harsh on its own units?

It's been mentioned that large sides are expected to be poor monetarily thanks to diminishing returns, it was a concern for Gobwin Knob in Book 2 and Haffaton is considerably larger. We can assume that Haffaton hasn't found a way to break the limitation, or its cities wouldn't be as woefully underdefended.
Since the mechanic seems to affect only Shmuckers and not production, Haffaton may throw away anything with non-neglegible upkeep that isn't immediately useful.
This also explains why the side is a little unpredictable for outsiders... they don't really care about most of their assets, what they have available changes, their biggest limitation is something no other known side experiences.

To me, it smells like a War on War gone sour - strategic aimlessness and a system that requires throwing units away, turning the chief hippiemancer behind it to petty nihilism which she spreads around with a big shovel.
Infidel wrote:
I find the duty information more intriguing than the predictamancy. Lets assume predictamancy is always true.

Olive is duty bound to protect her ruler.
Olive knows Jillian will kill Judy.

Should be a done deal--kill Jillian and remove the threat, but the kicker seems to be.


Not if there is a Prediction. That is "the hard way". If she tries that, the Overlord dies and Haffaton gets extra harm.

She needs to find the safest path. In fact, given that the Overlord is effectively dead anyway, duty may force her to ensure that she, as Heir, survives.

Duty didn't force Jillian to refuse to obey an order related to a plan that had the ultimate death of the King as part of it.
Iranon wrote:
To me, it smells like a War on War gone sour - strategic aimlessness and a system that requires throwing units away, turning the chief hippiemancer behind it to petty nihilism which she spreads around with a big shovel.

/agree. Remember. Hippiemancy != Nice, although I suspect that Olive wasn't very nice to begin with. The things that's always defined her for me are foresight and control. She's always had everything all planned out. She uses her hippymancy to cover all the bases. Then Wanda showed up and she had to deal with a wild card. Now Jillian's there to and with two wild cards in play, her nerves are starting to fray. Her control is slipping, over herself and her empire. She's starting to get mean, and everything's starting to come apart at the edges.
Orzel wrote:
Also notice the lack of talk about warlords, captured, popped, or killed.
Charlie doesn't use warlords.
Housellama wrote:
Wanda seemed very insistent about getting the direct wordage of the Prediction. Very smart woman there. Very insightful woman. Predictions are like wishes. Just because you wished for what you wanted doesn't mean you're going to like what you asked for.

"You are Fated to croak the Ruler of Haffaton" is very different from "You are Fated to croak Judy Gale".


The right course of action is for Wanda to turn and kill Judy. Then Olive is in trouble, according to the prediction Jillian will survive at least another Haffaton ruler .
teratorn wrote:
Housellama wrote:
Wanda seemed very insistent about getting the direct wordage of the Prediction. Very smart woman there. Very insightful woman. Predictions are like wishes. Just because you wished for what you wanted doesn't mean you're going to like what you asked for.

"You are Fated to croak the Ruler of Haffaton" is very different from "You are Fated to croak Judy Gale".


The right course of action is for Wanda to turn and kill Judy. Then Olive is in trouble, according to the prediction Jillian will survive at least another Haffaton ruler .

If she could, absolutely! I doubt she would be able to though. Duty and Loyalty and all that.
Housellama wrote:

If she could, absolutely! I doubt she would be able to though. Duty and Loyalty and all that.


It's a similar scenario as with Stanley: when she saw she couldn't beat him, she turned. She is only loyal to fate, she is fated to be with Jillian, Jillian will not turn, so she will do it.
teratorn wrote:

It's a similar scenario as with Stanley: when she saw she couldn't beat him, she turned. She is only loyal to fate, she is fated to be with Jillian, Jillian will not turn, so she will do it.

There's another possibility: Judy could abdicate in some way. Since she lives in a capital site that is not a capital, perhaps she could be persuaded to found a new Side as Stanley was planning to at the ruins of Faq. I doubt that a unit can be the Ruler of two Sides at once, so that would probably make Olive Ruler of Haffaton.

One way this could go down: Faq invades, making it too dangerous for Judy to go out into the Olive Garden to pick heroine buds and tying up everyone else who would have the know-how to pick them on her behalf. Judy, sobered up but in withdrawal, is furious at Olive for this situation and decides to negotiate with Faq, even if that means separating herself from the caster who has been maintaining the Olive Garden, because she's too desperate to secure access to the Garden again to worry about its long-term maintenance. In those negotiations, she trades Wanda to Faq and is happy to see Jillian and Wanda go hunt down Olive and conquer Haffaton.