Prologue - 020

Prologue - 020

Turns since TBfGK: 24

She had missed the power.

Not since her second mission as a barbarian had Jillian ridden a megalogwiff. She'd had four with her when Faq fell. She lost them all on that outing, and very nearly her life as well.

It was a mercenary gig she should have passed up. Far across the southern desert wastes, where the cities were all minarets and onion domes, she'd agreed to fight for Lord Shelby the Cobra. He was a vile man, like a fat, brown Stanley with a beard. He directed her to scout an outlying city held by Dagwood, the side he was in the process of conquering. He said to take it and sack it if she could, and led her to believe that might be possible.

He lied. The whole area was home to the enemy's reserve of natural allies. Three stacks of Sand Witches engaged her in an ambush. She shed a third of her units just to get out of the hex, but fled the wrong way.

Right into the waiting Man Witches.

Good times, right? She smirked and shook her head, and kicked her mount hard, just to hear the thump. "Yah!"

Oh, this was a fine beast. Three times the size of mount she was used to. It had popped in the capital that morning, and she saw it had the move to take her the whole length of her little Queendom and back. So she told her new Warlords, too bad; she was taking it out herself. Alone.

The river wound its way below her, and the Queen crossed over it again and again in her straight line path. As she soared over the rushes, she felt the tickle of an incoming Thinkagram. That would be Bunny, with Don King. She pulled the beast up and hovered over the water. Out here by herself, it was a good time for the call to come in. She would probably be yelling a lot.

Eh, but who knew? Maybe he was ready to meet her demands on the heir thing. Certainly his last offer had not been--

"Good day, your Royal Highness, this is Charlescomm calling," said a blue-garbed Archon in her head. "Will you hold for Charlie?"

"Oh," she said, suddenly feeling chilled and exposed. This raised so many questions so fast that all she could say was, "Sure." If it was some kind of ambush, then she was already caught. She scanned the airspace of adjacent hexes.

"Thank you, one moment."

"Your Highness," said a pleasant, male voice. There was no image with it, just a slowly changing pattern of soothing colors in her mind. "I don't mean to alarm you. I only want to talk. There are no Charlescomm units in Faq's battlespace."

"Fine," she said, with an edge to her voice. "Good. How do you know about the new Faq at all, Charlie?"

"Your Highness..." The voice sounded pained and apologetic. "Questions about how I know things are some of the most problematic for me in terms of providing an answer. I'm in a complex position, in which I have access to the proprietary information of many clients, and constraints both ethical and contractual governing the release of--"

"Yeah yeah. All right," said Jillian. This guy was the worst. "What do you want then?"

"In a nutshell? Talk to me." said Charlie quietly. "Look, Your Highness...no Royal side west or south of me will even take my calls, let alone hire me."

"So? Work for Stanley," Jillian sneered. "You already are, is what I hear."

"It's not true!" Charlie suddenly exclaimed. "Slately is telling people that to scare them into the Coalition!" It actually sounded like Charlie's composure cracked, at least a little bit. But Jillian assumed everything this man did was an act. She never trusted him back when he was her main competition for mercenary work. And now that he'd apparently found her "secret" kingdom...

"Right. So you're lonely, and you just want to talk."

"There's something terribly important going on," said Charlie, ignoring the sarcasm. "You've obviously heard about Gobwin Knob's territorial gains, right?"

Jillian pursed her lips. "Yeah. Six or seven cities in two dozen turns...nobody knows where they get their troops but they've got the Arkenpliers, so possibly..."

"Nine cities," said Charlie.

"...Really?"

"And more, very soon. And I have good intelligence on how they're managing it."

Jillian tried to look around at the green valley, to get her bearings. Thinkagrams were disorienting. She patted the megalogwiff's fat neck. What game was Charlie really playing at this point? You never knew. "Look, Charlie, I'm gonna be blunt here. From what I hear, everyone assumes you're with Stanley, because of your attunement. Every Royal side is treating this as the War of the Arkentools."

"Every side, Your Highness?"

"Me, you mean? I just wanna croak Stanley." Gah, why was she telling him that? Titans...

"You may want more than that," said Charlie. "I certainly do. But croaking Stanley the Tool would be a good start for both of us."

"Huh. Really." That was a surprise. Disband it...now she was interested. How did he always manage that?

"Queen Jillian, you were not the only one who lost much at the Battle for Gobwin Knob."

Her eyes narrowed. "You didn't lose what I did, Charlie."

"I lost more than you can know," he said. "My secrets have been compromised. You can't imagine what that may mean."

She mentally compared the loss of Prince Ansom to the loss of Charlie's trade secrets, and scoffed.

Charlie pressed on, though. "And you didn't lose what you think you did. Not completely." The image in Jillian's mind turned into a strange picture. It was a set of drawn velvet curtains, in deep blue. "I need to show you something. If you find this as disturbing as I do, please consider accepting my counsel and assistance, both in secret."

She shook her head in bewilderment. Her mount shifted beneath her, nervously. "All right."

The curtains pulled back. Behind them was a still image, in full color and excellent clarity.

"The Chief Croakamancer and Chief Warlord of Gobwin Knob, six turns ago, as they seized the city of Orgchart."

image

Guest art by Laurel B, aka PhoenixTalion on the Erfworld forums.

Recent posts... (See full thread)
If so, then perhaps it will soon be possible to pop Decrypted units.

moose o death wrote:
as you can see they are not just effective against uncroaked. unfortunately i couldn't find good CLEAR images of strong uncroaked units. that warlord clearly didn't die instantly, and the unipegataur image i haven't used implies that unit didn't die until the archons disntegrated it. however the image res was too small to see if that was indeed what had happened. the unipegataur wasn't dead but i'm not sure what the arkenpliers hit either. could have been wanda. but that seems unlikely given jack's combat stats of 2

Wanda was part of a column in which no unit had a base attack lower than 6. I'm rather sure that Ansom didn't hit anything in that fight though, he just lost, same as he did against Bogroll. In fact as I recall, a lot of speculation regarding Wanda and the Arkenpliers sprung forth from that incident.

Kaminobob wrote:
...i'd like to know what you call The Tool's taking his three knight and skedaddle-ing off into the sunset. To me, intentionally abandoning your entire side (with no heir) because you have ego issues rates a leetle biiit lower on ye olde morality scale than leaving behind a bunch of people who remind you of everything you've lost to putter about in the middle of nowhere for a few minutes.

It was retreat in the face of what he believed to be hopeless odds, his armies beaten, his Capital doomed. A potentially side ending joyride it was not.
Whispri wrote:
Kaminobob wrote:
...i'd like to know what you call The Tool's taking his three knight and skedaddle-ing off into the sunset. To me, intentionally abandoning your entire side (with no heir) because you have ego issues rates a leetle biiit lower on ye olde morality scale than leaving behind a bunch of people who remind you of everything you've lost to putter about in the middle of nowhere for a few minutes.

It was retreat in the face of what he believed to be hopeless odds, his armies beaten, his Capital doomed. A potentially side ending joyride it was not.


He wasn't wrong even then! If he hadn't tried to go to Faq, he could well have been croaked in GK, unless we're suggesting that he could have also used the portal.
Infidel wrote:
Quote:

I've played countless text-based MUDs, as well as Asheron's Call, Everquest, Vendetta Online, EVE, A Tale in the Desert, Star Wars Online, and World of Warcraft... ...and every single one had players matching the type that Tyris has described.

From hard-core full-time PvP games (AC's Darktide) to games where there is no combat of any kind at all, not even against NPCs (A Tale in the Desert), there are *always* "play-the-players-not-the-game" folks to be found.


Not true. Everquest, vendetta, Asherons call, muds. If someone somehow gains access to your guild bank account and cleans it out, you can cry for a GM and they will reset things. In other games, of someone gains high rank in your guild and disbands your guild, you can petition it. If someone scams you offering some uber weapon and then gives you a tin sword, you can petition it. If someone offers membership in a guild if the player pays some sum of game gold, then after paying is refused admittance and called a bunch of names. You can petition it.

Sorry, EVE is the only game I know where you, the player, truly are on your own. You petition these things in EVE and you'll get a reply, "Sorry, none of these actions violate the EULA. so the incident stands."


Sure those specific examples might not be allowed or have a GM undo them, but players still scam others. Those players scamming other players are still (or at least trying to) "playing the players" even if sometimes it doesn't work or is undone later by a game authority. And there are more minor examples where it might not be undone by a GM. Perhaps one of these players convinces another to help him get good loot in-game in exchange for later helping the other player get something and then doesn't show. I doubt the GMs fix something or give hand outs every time someone doesn't show up on time for a raid (as the "scammed" player would have no way of knowing whether the other player didn't show up for legitimate reasons or not).
Decorus wrote:
Charles' secrets are exposed, because of the Decrypted Archons.
Interesting Parson, Wanda and Stanley haven't figured out to debrief thier decrypted units for intelligence...
So that firmly places Charles in the Anti Stanley Coalition, but the actual members don't want Charles, because he is another non royal with an Arkentool and as such assumed to be on Stanley's side.


I thought I posted in this forum the other day, but if I did I can't find it; must've forgotten to hit post. Anyway, they do debrief them: decrypted Unaroyal troops provided intelligence on Warchalking and presumably cities since then. The only reason Gobwin Knob might not know everything about Charlie is the Archons probably don't know everything about him, just as his namesake's angels didn't know everything about his namesake (his face, for instance).

There was definitely a leak, though; enough to put pressure on Charlie, but maybe not enough for him to panic. He's been deliberately obfuscatory long enough that even if he appears to panic, you can't be certain it's not an act.
DorianMode wrote:

There was definitely a leak, though; enough to put pressure on Charlie, but maybe not enough for him to panic. He's been deliberately obfuscatory long enough that even if he appears to panic, you can't be certain it's not an act.


well, Charlie has certainly been making mistakes w.r.t. Parson (per the "teaching me my bracer can make sophisticated predictions about the future: priceless")
Quote:
But Jillian assumed everything this man did was an act. She never trusted him back when he was her main competition for mercenary work. And now that he'd apparently found her "secret" kingdom...


Jillian's internal dialogue sure seems like she has no memory of the ancient history between herself, Charlie, and Wanda... maybe this paragraph could use a teensy bit of retconjuration. :)
onigame wrote:
Jillian's internal dialogue sure seems like she has no memory of the ancient history between herself, Charlie, and Wanda... maybe this paragraph could use a teensy bit of retconjuration.
I don't see what you mean. It looks perfectly consistent with Jillian and Charlie's history as far as I can tell. What kind of retconjuration would you suggest?
Lilwik wrote:
onigame wrote:
Jillian's internal dialogue sure seems like she has no memory of the ancient history between herself, Charlie, and Wanda... maybe this paragraph could use a teensy bit of retconjuration.
I don't see what you mean. It looks perfectly consistent with Jillian and Charlie's history as far as I can tell. What kind of retconjuration would you suggest?


Well, it's clear from IP(TSF) 69 and 70 that Charlie knows that Faq exists, that Jillian is from it, that its ruler is (was) King Banhammer, that it is (was) located near El-Efbaum, and that Jillian knows that Charlie knows this. There's also an implication that Charlie has had an interest in "Warlady Jillian" since even before the whole IP(TSF) story happened.

But if you read Summer Update 41, the implication is that Jillian is surprised that Charlie is aware of the existence of Faq:

Quote:
How do you know about Faq at all, Charlie?


Quote:
And now that he'd apparently found her "secret" kingdom...


Another point is that when Charlie talks about his "secrets" being compromised, Jillian assumes that they're "trade secrets" and scoffs at him. But Jillian should know from personal experience that Charlie has some *personal* secrets that he values very highly.

A third point, though minor, is that there's also some implication that Jillian has no direct knowledge of Charlie -- her internal exposition uses "this" to refer to Charlie, as in "this man" and "this guy", which implies impersonal detachment. Given that Jillian has some history with Charlie, "the" would be more appropriate -- "the man", "the guy". And while it's true that Jillian doesn't trust Charlie, the time period mark of "when he was her main competition for mercenary work" sure seems like a strange checkpoint over "when she almost croaked his daughter for trying to negotiate with him".

Retconjuration may not be strictly necessary -- certainly it's possible that the "deal" with Charlie involves not just Faq never talking about Charlie, but also forgetting all they knew about Charlie. But Jack and Wanda's behavior is more consistent with them knowing Charlie's history with Faq yet not being allowed to talk about it, as opposed to actually losing memory. For the Jillian of Summer Updates to be consistent with the Jillian of IPTSF, I think something pretty radical needs to happen. Maybe Jillian ends up getting her memory erased. Maybe Jillian of IPTSF and Jillian of TBFGK aren't the same Jillian (although that makes a lot more plot holes). If I were Rob I would consider Retconjuration as an easier out, really -- just change this update to leave Jillian's memory of Charlie more vague and have her be less surprised at what Charlie knows.
onigame wrote:
Well, it's clear from IP(TSF) 69 and 70 that Charlie knows that Faq exists, that Jillian is from it, that its ruler is (was) King Banhammer, that it is (was) located near El-Efbaum, and that Jillian knows that Charlie knows this.
He knew that Faq existed back when it existed the first two times, but that was some unknown number of turns in the distant past. Jillian has been a full-time mercenary for all of recent history, but now suddenly, a few turns after Faq is re-established as a secret weapon against Gobwin Knob Jillian is getting a call from Charlie calling her "Royal Highness." Jillian is clearly wondering how Charlie knows about the new Faq.

onigame wrote:
Another point is that when Charlie talks about his "secrets" being compromised, Jillian assumes that they're "trade secrets" and scoffs at him. But Jillian should know from personal experience that Charlie has some *personal* secrets that he values very highly.
Charlie may value them highly, but they don't seem highly valuable to anyone else. Jillian has no reason to care about Charlie's history in el-Efbaum, no reason to think that sort of secret was exposed, and every reason to think that Charlie is talking about trade secrets because those are the sorts of secrets that might matter.

onigame wrote:
And while it's true that Jillian doesn't trust Charlie, the time period mark of "when he was her main competition for mercenary work" sure seems like a strange checkpoint over "when she almost croaked his daughter for trying to negotiate with him".
"When he was her main competition for mercenary work" is another way of saying Jillian's entire life up to her refounding Faq. She's saying that she has never trusted Charlie.

onigame wrote:
Retconjuration may not be strictly necessary -- certainly it's possible that the "deal" with Charlie involves not just Faq never talking about Charlie, but also forgetting all they knew about Charlie.
Since nothing has been said that explicitly contradicts canon, retconjuration wouldn't be strictly necessary even if Jillian remembered everything.

onigame wrote:
But Jack and Wanda's behavior is more consistent with them knowing Charlie's history with Faq yet not being allowed to talk about it, as opposed to actually losing memory.
There is no doubt at all that Jack and Wanda remember. Jack even told Parson all about it in Epilogue 7.
It's been clear for some time that Charlie's deal with Jillian probably includes memory alteration or erasure. The reference to the secret kingdom can be explained away by saying it just means the new FAQ and it probably does, but Jillian's attitude to Charlie in books 1 and 2 is all wrong UNLESS...

1. Memory alteration; or

2. She's so happy for Wanda being healed (or something else Charlie does) that she gets over the way Charlie has coerced her into signing this deal.