Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 064

Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 064

Jillian was blind, her target had a head start, and that target was flying. There was no obvious way to catch the Overlady, but there was nothing else to do but try. Her hunter‘s-instinct demanded pursuit of the prey in flight.

“Jack, run behind me!” Chief Jillian ordered. “Look up ahead, up the hallway!”

She planted a boot to the left, turning on strict guesswork, and began a shuffling walk, leading with the tip of her sword to the floor. She moved as quickly as she dared to into empty space...or space she hoped was empty. She tried to keep in mind that her boot steps were real, but the view in her head was not.

That view shifted wildly in response to her command, but it was now looking back behind her to the dais. She saw her father kneeling there over the fallen form of Brother Orwell. He looked up...Titans, was he crying? Why? The caster wasn‘t even croaked! They could still get him healed if they‘d just pull together and win this battle.

Eyes ringed in red, her father stared at her bleakly for a moment. No...stared at Jack. Jack must have been looking to the King for a countermanding order. But Banhammer only dropped his chin to his chest and turned his gaze away.

The sight of Orwell on the floor, robes and belly sliced through, did bring to mind one critical tactical detail that Jillian had overlooked. “Claim him as a prisoner!” she shouted over her shoulder, giving it the verbal heft of an order. “C‘mon Jack, let‘s go!”

It was the first time she‘d ever ordered her father to do anything, a rare Chief Warlord‘s prerogative reserved for times when the stakes were at their highest. The King‘s response seemed automatic, almost mindless. He touched Orwell‘s shoulder, and steel manacles appeared on the fallen Lookamancer‘s ankles and wrists.

She took another step, dragging her feet along so she wouldn‘t trip over anyone. But someone nearby–Marie or Wanda–suddenly gasped, and Jillian halted in her tracks. She raised her sword and tilted her head back.

Brand new information about this city was flooding her mind: Level 5, +1 garrison walls, a dungeon zone, +2 ...farm? oh, the garden, +2 tower but no spells left on it... And even with Jack‘s crazy Foolamancy view, she could see that the color in the Wizard‘s Hall had shifted. The floor was still black, but the puke-emerald was all gone. The curtains hung in proper green, Faq green.

Her side had a capital. They had a home, a place to defend! And a treasury! And a portal...they could bring in the other casters...

She turned to look at the others, but only saw an odd, reverse-mirror view of herself as Jack peered her way. Stranger than flower-dreams, this was. Could it be one? Had she finally slipped out of reality and into the world of the bud? No, if that were true she wouldn‘t need a bud so badly right now.

“We‘ve won,” said a breathy, frail voice. Wanda‘s. Jillian‘s view shifted toward the Croakamancer, as Jack looked that way.

Jillian almost objected. It took a moment to understand that the Lady Firebaugh‘s “we” meant “Faq,” the side to which she now belonged. Jillian shook her head slowly, thinking it through.

Olive had left the garrison. That was the only explanation. After Jillian destroyed the golems, Orwell must have been the only Haffaton unit in Efbaum‘s garrison. Therefore, when the Overlady fled to the airspace, the city fell to Faq.

“We‘ve...won the city,” she said. “We haven‘t won the war. We didn‘t get her yet.”

“She hasn‘t had time to leave Efbaum,” said Wanda, smiling slyly. Jack‘s view focused on the Croakamancer, walking up to where Jillian saw herself standing. “She must still be in the airspace.”

“She was panicking,” said Jack. The view wobbled, as if nodding.

Jillian‘s mouth opened. “She‘s our prisoner!” When a garrison fell, the remaining units in other zones of the city were captured automagically.

“Mm. Well, she‘s in shackles, I assume,” said Wanda. “But of course, shackles didn‘t stop you.”

“Right,” said Jillian. “Fugitive.” The target was still a commander, able and expected to escape. She was neither guarded nor imprisoned. She was mounted.

The hunt was still the hunt.

“Let‘s go get her.”

---

There were three women within Jillian‘s view. The figure in the center was herself; its steps matched what she felt in her legs. Her control over that body clicked into place once more. Wanda was a few steps behind, Marie was even farther back (though closer to Jack‘s view) and to the left. They were all hurrying down the grand corridor.

She dared to break into a full run, controlling her movements from behind as if working some huge puppet. She‘d been through this hallway once before, so at least she knew the marble floor was trustworthy and even. There should be nothing to trip over, as long as she could run halfway straight.

Time to think battle tactics. The prey was in the air, so she‘d need a mount, first thing. The gwiffons were hovering at the tower top. She could order them down from here, without having to climb the tower. But was there even time for that?

Her boots thudded on the polished floor, carrying her puppet body through the darkness. They‘d passed two of the hallway‘s powerballs so far. Now three. Wanda had caught up and was running beside her. Lady Firebaugh...the Faq unit. Unbelievable. But also weirdly natural and comforting, as if she‘d done things right for once. She didn‘t know what it meant, or how she could use a Croakamancer in this fight, but she was really glad Wanda had joined them.

Jack and Marie were a few steps behind. She needed a plan before they got through the main archway and outside. Think it through, think it through... Wow, did her head ever ache. And her ribs. A fresh bud to take this all away would be so nice, wouldn‘t it?

No. Forget it. Think. Okay, say she failed here. If Olive did get out of the city, then...what? The Overlady would get clear away, because she had move and Faq didn‘t. Her shackles would be gone as soon as she was out of the city. She‘d likely meet up with the nearest Haffaton unit and be rescued.

They could try hunting for her when their turn came, but the head start would be...however much move that broomstick had in it, plus the Overlady‘s own move. She didn‘t like her chances of finding a Florist in the forest. Nature was on Olive‘s side.

For resources, she had a Predictamancer, a Foolamancer and a Croakamancer. Kind of a ridiculous luxury, having three casters in battle. And more were coming. Somewhere in this building was a portal they could use to bring in the rest. But she‘d still trade them all right now for one mount with move. Where was Crapsack when she needed him?

Six powerballs, and the archway. Daylight streamed in through the enormous pearl-inlaid wooden doors Dame Branch had thrown open on her way out. This was it now, plan or no plan. You fight with what you‘ve got.

She burst out into the paved street, foolishly looking up at the sky but seeing nothing other than herself out in the street. You‘re still blind, you dope.

Jack‘s view followed her through the big doors, and suddenly her mind was flooded with daylight. She squinted hard, but this again had no effect on what she saw. Her view shifted skyward, swinging around crazily in all directions. The tall towers blocked much of the sky, but amazingly, Jack found the tiny form of the Overlady almost immediately. There she was, barreling northwestward. Jillian wasn‘t sure she could have spotted such a tiny target from here at all, let alone as fast as he had.

Just as amazingly, the view switched to something much larger, as if they had leaped into the air halfway toward the target. She could see the glint of manacles where Olive clutched the broomstick. The Jack had powers of observation that she‘d never known about.

The target was far gone, almost to the walls already. If she took the time to get a mount, she‘d never catch her. The gwiffons were in the airspace, though...

“Veil the gwiffons,” she ordered.

“I‘ll have to stop casting on you,” came Jack Snipe‘s voice.

“That‘s fine, go ahead,” Jillian told him, and the morning‘s light instantly vanished. Great, back to helplessness. She sheathed Three-Edged, drawing a sharp breath in pain as the big dent in her chestplate rubbed against her cracked rib.

“It‘s done,” said Jack.

Well, not really helpless. She was still in command. “Unstack and pursue!” she shouted up to the air. “One, climb! Two and three, stay low and put the sun behind you!” Whether or not the gwiffons could actually hear her from down here, they would still follow the intent of her orders.

“They are pursuing,” reported Jack. “But they can‘t catch her before she leaves the airspace.”

“What else can we do?” said Jillian. “Can you confuse her? About what direction she‘s going?”

“I sh‘ll try,” said Jack, his voice absent with concentration. “But my juice is low, and there isn‘t much to work with up there.”

A moment of strange serenity followed. Although the future of Faq was on the line here, for Jillian there was only silence, darkness, and the slight chill of morning. She thought she could smell heroine buds on the breeze. She reached up and touched the wilted bloom still in her hair. As useless as it was, she couldn‘t bring herself to yank it out. One way or another, she was going to get a replacement flower soon.

Wanda cleared her throat. “We do have the tower,” she said, in a low voice.

“No, there‘s no spells on it,” said Jillian. “You already shot them all at us.”

“I can put one on it,” said the Croakamancer.

“Oh, one? Against a high-level caster? I mean...” Jillian couldn‘t see what harm it would do. “We can try it,” she said. “But it would have to be one really lucky shot.”

“Luck would matter only if the shot didn‘t,” said Wanda.

“Mm,” she heard Marie grunt in assent.

Jillian sensed some deeply-frustrating caster nonsense behind that grunt. But she had to bite. “Whaddya mean?”

“I mean that it matters to Fate whether I hit Olive or not,” said the Croakamancer. “Fate will borrow Numbers from somewhere. With your permission, I will place the spell on the tower. Then the Predictamancer will cast. Sister Marie will let me know when I am meant to shoot.”

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Okay, then let's go with a series of examples.

Scenario 1
X happens. I choose to respond with Y.

Scenario 2
Someone makes me angry. X happens. I choose Z.

Scenario 3
Someone injects me with a drug that makes me angry. X happens. I choose Z.

Scenario 4
I have a chemical imbalance in my brain that makes me angry. X happens. I choose Z.

Where is does free will start and end here?

In Scenario 1 I made a choice. Obviously it was of my own free will.

In scenario 2 i made a different choice, due to my anger. However, I chose to make that decision while angry, and so it was a free will decision.

In Scenario 3, I did not choose to be angry, and I cannot overcome it. I must make a choice, and it is going to be influenced by the anger created by my environment (drugs in my body) to be one I would not otherwise choose. Here is where free will is overridden by the environment, and I no longer have responsibility for making choice Z. Here there is no free will.

In scenario 4, we again have an uncontrolled influence on my decision making process. The environment is altering my decision, and I cannot overcome the anger any more than someone injecting me directly. This gets into extremely questionable grounds as to responsibility. Without the chemical imbalance, I would choose differently. I can understand people taking the position that it is free will, since I must learn to deal with the effect of anger constantly. I disagree, and point out that I am no more capable of overcoming a genetic predisposition to anger than someone doping me into anger.

The edge of free will is best approached in this manner. Modifying scenarios slightly to figure out where your responsibility begins and ends relates directly to free will.

And in this comic, I contest that Parson has no free will.

I'm an idea guy. I get idea after idea. I tear into systems of regulations and rules to find the abuses. They just come to me, inspired. And 90% of the time, I choose to not use any of them.

Maggie presents that the idea to uncroak the volcano is Parson's, and that he is responsible for it. I completely reject that position. I have a hundred ideas a day that I actively reject, because they are vile, immoral, or abusive. Anything that forces me to commit one of those ideas must itself be responsible for the action, not me, because I cannot stop my brain from putting the ideas in my head: I can only choose to reject them. if something takes away my ability to rationally reject my bad ideas, then I will never accept responsibility for them.
Free will can come in degrees of impairment, and each step you outlined increased that impairment, in the order 1243. The only thing that makes 4 worse than 2 is the idea that since it's an imbalance, then you have inconsistent preferences, so the fit of a free will model to your brain isn't as good. 3 is especially non-free-willed because it involves an outside agent changing the mind in place.

I've got no problem with the idea that Parson and Erfians are under mind control and thus have curtailed free will. Also, we can have free will on some issues while lacking it entirely on others. Like, I have absolutely no free will on the matter of my being attracted to women and not men.

I'm still not sure what you meant by the illusion of perception.
Oh, perception is often flawed. We perceive based on more than just our sensor systems, but on systems that process the data and feed it into our minds.

The best example i think comes from thoughts while sleeping. Some people wake up in the middle of the night and say, "Eureka! What a great idea! I'll remember that in the morning and become a millionaire!" In the AM they can't remember it. A few realize they need to write these ideas down and review them in the morning. Those that do read, "Football Midsummer Income Scarlet." The mind had attached these concepts together in sleep along with "Great idea!" It wasn't a great idea, it was just random thoughts attached together with "Great idea!" I was never a sufferer of this particular event, but it did happen once, and I did write down similar foolishness to the above.

So, what can happen is that we can perceive our actions as our own, not because they were, but because our mind attaches the concept of "free will" to an action. Rather than being a truly free will based choice, we merely perceive it as such because our mind is genetically designed to give us the comfort of thinking we have free will. Our Ego decides anything we do is our own free will and defends it without question, because to accept that it wasn't is a blow to our Ego. We want to believe that our conscious mind is always in control and overrides instinct and impulse, but that is simply not true. We will defend that we are always in control, though.
I'd call that perceiving an illusion, not the illusion of perception.
You have not perceived an illusion that successfully fools you. Even if aware that an illusion may exist, you are still suffering the result of its effects. So, it is the illusion that you perceive your own actions as free will. The illusion of perception.
You haven't perceived THAT it's an illusion, but you had a perception, and that perception was of an illusion.
bladestorm wrote:

The fault of this is that Predictamancy states that at some point, P(x) = 100, where x is an event at some point in the future, and that an event WILL occur, not that it will NOT occur. Luckamancy can indeed alter P(E) > 0, or P(E) < 100. Luckamancy exists. x <> E, and Predictamancy exists.

I'll agree with the definition of Luckamancy, especially constrained to a discreet event. I disagree with Predictamancy also being a discreet event with such constraints. With P(x, y) = 100, where x is an event and y is a point in time, something that affects x also affect y. Actions, luckamancy, inactions, and fighting against your Fate all alter x, which also alters y. The amount of change in y is the backlash of Number required to balance the equation. The same goes for altering y, by trying to force the event x to happen sooner or later than the original equation.

All of the above, plus Predictions are often more like constraints than specific events.

Even in the case of "Jillian will croak the Ruler of Haffaton", the precise Prediction may have been "A Chief Warlord of Faq named Jillian will croak the Ruler of Haffaton." Marie might be upset with Banhammer's threat to croak Jillian not because it would have made the Prediction impossible, but because it would require Fate to arrange for a Side named Faq to acquire another Chief Warlord named Jillian, and since that wouldn't tend to happen naturally, it would be a hard road for everyone. The alternate path might involve the Side of Faq ending and then a new Side named Faq being formed by chance thousands of turns later, after Haffaton has established enough heirs to ensure that the the croaking of their Ruler doesn't stop them from addicting most of Erfworld to heroine buds. On the other hand, if the Prediction was specifically about the Jillian we know, reincar-popping might be possible in Erfworld, in which case Faq might not be involved at all.

If Predictions are always technically constraints rather than events, then Predictamancy would be compatible with Luckamancy, free will, and true randomness.


Kreistor wrote:
Maggie presents that the idea to uncroak the volcano is Parson's, and that he is responsible for it. I completely reject that position. I have a hundred ideas a day that I actively reject, because they are vile, immoral, or abusive. Anything that forces me to commit one of those ideas must itself be responsible for the action, not me, because I cannot stop my brain from putting the ideas in my head: I can only choose to reject them. if something takes away my ability to rationally reject my bad ideas, then I will never accept responsibility for them.

That reminds me of the Foundation series, where a Gaia planet wanted to make a Gaia galaxy, but it wanted it to be the "choice" of a human representative, so it found the romantic image of the Gaia galaxy in the guy's brain and suppressed his competing thoughts.
Chit Rule Railroad wrote:

Even in the case of "Jillian will croak the Ruler of Haffaton", the precise Prediction may have been "A Chief Warlord of Faq named Jillian will croak the Ruler of Haffaton." Marie might be upset with Banhammer's threat to croak Jillian not because it would have made the Prediction impossible, but because it would require Fate to arrange for a Side named Faq to acquire another Chief Warlord named Jillian, and since that wouldn't tend to happen naturally, it would be a hard road for everyone. The alternate path might involve the Side of Faq ending and then a new Side named Faq being formed by chance thousands of turns later, after Haffaton has established enough heirs to ensure that the the croaking of their Ruler doesn't stop them from addicting most of Erfworld to heroine buds. On the other hand, if the Prediction was specifically about the Jillian we know, reincar-popping might be possible in Erfworld, in which case Faq might not be involved at all.

If Predictions are always technically constraints rather than events, then Predictamancy would be compatible with Luckamancy, free will, and true randomness.

The prediction could have been even more vague than that. It could have been that "a Warlord from Faq would croak the Ruler of Haffaton". "A Warlord from Faq" is a very narrow field of options, so it would be reasonable to assume this would mean the ONLY current warlord of Faq that had any contact with Haffaton, since all other warlord were either pacifists still in Faq, or were croaked by poisoned apples. Haffaton may not even be done at the end of Book 0. Olive could get away and could be serving another Side, just like Wanda. At some point in the future, Wanda could rebuild Goodminton, and Olive could rebuild Haffaton. Faq was already rebuilt by Jillian. One of the new warlords from Faq could one day in the future slay the heir designate on the same day Wanda slays Olive (thus passing the mantle of Ruler of Haffaton to whatever poor schmuck Olive conned into the job).

Wanda sees a situation that meets the criteria of the Prediction and assumes it is the Easy Way.
drachefly wrote:
You haven't perceived THAT it's an illusion, but you had a perception, and that perception was of an illusion.


You asked me to explain my wording. I did so. That you choose to word it differently is irrelevant. It is mine to explain my wording, not yours to question that explanation.

Besides, the illusion is in the interpretation of the event, not the perception of the event. You perceive accurately. You analyze incorrectly. Consequently, there is no illusion to perceive. Fooling yourself happens well after the perception of events.
I was just reacting to your definition.

(edited to add:) which is to say, I'm ready to let it drop now.