Prologue - 013

Prologue - 013

Turns since TBfGK: 4

They took his spear.

Wrigley was a Stabber, Unaroyal Infantry. Some stabbers had swords, but Wrigley was a Spearman. He was never without his spear. It had popped with him.

But they took it away from him. Somehow, that was all he could think about.

That, and how he'd never stabbed anything, Not ever. Only in practice. All those turns of practice stabbing an enemy unit, and he had never stabbed one. It wasn't right.

Back when they took this city, Wrigley had been there. From the grand city of Unaroyal where he had long served, they'd first marched him to powerful Unabrow, then to a smaller, uglier town called Unatard. Unatard had just been reclaimed from Gobwin Knob, and the growing Coalition had Lord Stanley's forces on the run, falling back every turn. Not long after that, they had ordered his regiment to a frequently-conquered border outpost called Bohica. From there, they had promised him some real action at Warchalking.

But the Marbits did most of the work at Warchalking. The city fell, repelled a counterattack, and Wrigley took up yet another stretch of duty patrolling yet another city wall.

He had been so bored, all his life. Each turn had passed so slowly. Why did they all seem so brief now?

He was on his knees in the mud. His hands were held with the shackles that popped on his wrists the moment Warchalking's Garrison fell.

They had come in so fast, the attackers. Like the gate wasn't even there. The city had no warlord, and his orders were to stand fast, so he did. But Stanley's men were stabbing for the heart, and he was a toe. The Garrison was wiped out almost before he could turn around.

The Chief Warlord? A high-level Caster? Twelve stacks of heavies, knights, dwagons and Archons? For this dumpy town?

It wasn't fair.

He wanted his spear.

The other infantrymen knelt in the mud in a line to either side of him. They were forbidden to speak or raise their heads. But he stole a glance or two, and he had ears. He knew what was coming.

The Chief Warlord of Gobwin Knob was following the Caster, down the line of prisoners. With them was a knight with a broadsword. They were about three men away from him now.

It was funny. In all of those dull hours, all of that time for thinking, he had never much thought about what his life might mean. He had always assumed he would do great deeds some turn in the future, and that would give his life meaning. But he was out of future. And all he felt about it was something like idle curiosity.

It was said that the Titans took pity on those like him. He would not see the City of Heroes, no. But no man was a failure who had served dutifully, they told him. He heard the man beside him cry out with the blow of a broadsword, and saw him fall forward.

He heard the squelch of footsteps in the mud behind him. He found he didn't much care what was going to happen to him now.

He only wanted to know what would happen to his spear.

image

Guest art by Phil Barker, aka Eiphel on the Erfworld forums

Recent posts... (See full thread)
I have the sudden urge to take 300 sticks of gum and cram them into my mouth, chew them up, plop the giant wad on top of a hobo, and tell him to go worship Dennis Rodman.
Poor little spearman. All he ever wanted to do was stab someone. Was that too much to ask for?
We've known for a long time that taking over a city implies killing every or nearly every enemy unit.

My creepy thought of the day is that Wrigley is a typical stabber: if he get promoted, then his cognitive capacity, his knowable or unknowable INT if you will, is upgraded. In other words, one reason that Erflings don't rebel en masse, asides from natural compulsions to obey orders and asides from being born indoctrinated, is that they're mostly not smart enough to question their circumstances. Think A Brave New World.
DevilDan wrote:
We've known for a long time that taking over a city implies killing every or nearly every enemy unit.

My creepy thought of the day is that Wrigley is a typical stabber: if he get promoted, then his cognitive capacity, his knowable or unknowable INT if you will, is upgraded. In other words, one reason that Erflings don't rebel en masse, asides from natural compulsions to obey orders and asides from being born indoctrinated, is that they're mostly not smart enough to question their circumstances. Think A Brave New World.

I'm not convinced that's the case. It's like Maggie said, Thinkamancy can't turn a dullard into a genius. So why would promotion do the same? If that is true, then Stanley promoting any old person to the Chief Warlord position wouldn't have necessarily been a strategically stupid decision. What most likely happens is that certain types of units normally pop with specific set of behaviors and range of intelligence. Few exceptions, however, will eventually pop. Like Bogroll.
DevilDan wrote:
We've known for a long time that taking over a city implies killing every or nearly every enemy unit.

My creepy thought of the day is that Wrigley is a typical stabber: if he get promoted, then his cognitive capacity, his knowable or unknowable INT if you will, is upgraded. In other words, one reason that Erflings don't rebel en masse, asides from natural compulsions to obey orders and asides from being born indoctrinated, is that they're mostly not smart enough to question their circumstances. Think A Brave New World.


I don't know, there's never been any sign that grunts were stupider than royalty. Admittedly, a stupid king probably wouldn't last long, so those that are still around are the best and the brightest. What Wrigley had was a very narrow perspective. He was a spearman, and thats all he wanted to be. If he wanted to be anything else... you get Stanley, basically. Mice and Wolves isn't just an self justifying mantra for royalty, it appears to be the basis of social order.
that's pretty accurate, some people are happy living their lives one tv rerun at a time. working hard enough to buy a bigger tv.

others are driven to be something more than drones.
Kender Wizard wrote:
You see, heres the rub. In order to have peace, true lasting peace on a global scale, the entire world would have to be united under one banner (whether one nation or closely allied nations really doesn't matter for this purpose). In order for that to take place, something would have to hold all of these nations together. Even here, as it was stated a long time ago, nobles from a given side can break off and form their own nations, which will eventually start the cycle of wars all over again. Also, there are apparently naturally conflicting sides, such as gobwins and marbits, barbarians, elves and hobgobwins, and so on.


The problem is actually that individual units have no power or free will. Democracy didn't take root because the nobility thought is was a good idea, it took root because the general population started getting more powerful due to improvements in communications and the relative power of personal weapons and expensive weapons/armour.

Quote:
The other alternative is to instill a compulsion towards following a particular person or side so strong that it overrides other desires. THAT, that is what the arkenpliers do. The units are apparently the same people underneath that compulsion. Ansom's internal thoughts indicated that his feeling for Jetstone and Jillian were overshadowed by his feelings for the arkenpliers wielder, not that he no longer cared for Jetstone or Jillian.


I am not really sure that is a good thing. An end-state where 100% of the population are decrypted units doesn't strike me as a "good" ending.

Quote:

So, there you are. Complete free will and war vs.partial free will and peace. Take your pick. Oh, and keep in mind: if natural thinkamancy is anything more than talk, regular units may not have complete free will regardless, and decrypting just makes it more evident. :cry:


I would take complete free will. However, units don't have free will anyway under either situation.
I said it was a thought, not that I particularly believed that rank/class/type or even level limits intelligence.
Glenn wrote:
What exactly IS decryption? Is it a process by which a unit is returned to life? If so, then I think we need to remember that what Wanda is doing CAN NOT be simply described as killing prisoners. Terms like "killing", "execution", "murder" all carry the assumption that death is permanent. "Killing" someone and then instantly bringing them back to life is an act fundamentally different from just killing them. If a surgeon stops a patient's heart for a few seconds in order to perform heart surgery, he is not going to be charged with murder. (He might be charged with malpractice if the operation doesn't work, but that's a different issue)
Remember how Parson told Wanda that he had wanted to fight a war without killing anyone? In a way, if it's accurate to say that Decryption returns units to life, that's exactly what Wanda is doing now. Instead of killing her enemies, she is transforming them. The real question here is, what is Wanda transforming them into? And the answer is, we don't yet know. It's doubtful if even Wanda really knows that yet.

The people who think what Wanda's doing is monstrously evil mostly seem to think that Decryption is an inherently evil process, either because they think it doesn't restore a unit to "real" life, or because because it presumably deprives a unit of free will. But we don't yet now the real differences between being a normal unit and being a decrypted unit. And until we do know, we should be careful about making moral judgments about what Wanda is doing.

Gelnn, I really like your take on this. It has great thematic potential. Both on the topic of free will and the exploration of a classically 'evil' power being used by our protagonists.

Ansom himself, though not exactly an unbiased observer, describes decryption as being 'popped again.' It seems to me that the new units at the least have no less will than they did before. Ansom's description of his new take on his old memories are exactly what I think they would be if a unit were reincarnated to another side with his memories intact - loyalty demands that he he sees that his old ways were wrong, exactly as loyalty, in his first life, demanded that he view his actions as not only proper, but necessary!

One chief difference in the exploration of the concept of evil, this time around, is that I have a feeling that decrypting is unholy. Although done with the power of a holy artifact, I'm very interested to hear Ansom's thoughts on the Titans now. His devotion to Wanda is very close to, if not actually, worship. Is his view typical of the decrypted? Hopefully Wrigley will be able to shed some light on that.
DHowett wrote:
I wasn't going to register on the forums until I read this update. Not because the update forced me to, no, but I just had to say:
34 was amazing - beyond words, even. It's rare that a piece of writing effects me so deeply, but I was seriously just astounded for five minutes. Just reeling.
Kudos. I've loved ErfWorld, and still do, but this? This is astounding. Touching.



I'm a bit late to the party (explanation later), but this is precisely the same thing for me, too. I hadn't wanted to register (was happy just passively enjoying Erfworld) until this update, which was just (as a couple other guys commented) amazing.

Of course, my urge to jump in and add to the applause was stymied by the fact that Hotmail (which I use) rejects all the automatic registration-confirmation mail from the system, so I wasn't able to actually register until I ran into RobTitan on IRC and he signed me up manually :-P Still, though it's late, I felt I had to make this post still.

(Anyways, re: -

Binty wrote:
Steve-D wrote:
It makes me wonder about Parson, however. He's always been fighting a defensive fight, for his survival. Would he have the will to attack an enemy without provocation? To kill and decrypt prisoners?


This is what I am wondering. Killing prisoners will be a whole new morale low for Parson, something he might balk at and start him working against the Tool.


I'm thinking Wanda + Arkenpliers is a really "destabilising" force in Erfworld. Previously when you capture units, you capture units. Now, capture = death (if you're fighting GK), since you're more useful to Wanda that way, so all battles are now ones where there will be no prisoners. That's really scary/depressing. I believe in a later post Parson noted that all the prison buildings are now totally unused...).