Duke Forecastle - Part 22

Duke Forecastle - Part 22

Admiral Harping’s cadre of trusted officers had gathered themselves in the kitchen, of all places. Fawksull found them lurking in the near darkness, seated upon butcher’s blocks and barrels of dried plums.

The Governor led them instead to the privacy of his sitting room, which was just outside his chamber of office, and had a lockable door on it. Eagle Keys didn’t have many troops, or even servants, but with a Ruler’s silent order he roused two pairs of stabbers out of the palace barracks and stationed them at either end of the outside hallway, to discourage the curious.

He hung a yellowish powerball in the corner, and lit some actual candles for good measure. There still wasn’t much light in the wood-paneled room, but he decided against a fire in the hearth.

From his office, he retrieved a set of porcelain cups and a decanter of kava, and set it out on the low tea table. This wasn’t a night for tea.

The captains muttered their introductions, but Fawksull had already met them before and during dinner. Cat Harping kept them subdued and in line, emplacing the four of them side by side on the leather sofa. She and the Governor took the overstuffed velvet chairs.

“They know Chequer wasn’t, uh...quite the man he’s made out to be,” Cat had said to him on the way to the kitchen, “but please, Fawksull. Don’t be disrespectful. He was a good Navy man. Remember that.”

The captains, three men and one woman all with the salty, gaunt Signamancy of seafarer warlords, looked over the tea table at the Governor. They were still in their blue formals, sitting at attention, afraid to relax in front of the Admiral. Or maybe they were afraid of what he was going to say.

Fawksull’s own Signamancy had softened a bit with the comfort and easy boredom of his present life, he knew. He leaned forward in his green velour dressing gown with his hands on his knees, and looked them over.

“When they were getting ready to launch Unsinkable II,” he began without preamble, “I rode out from the city of Forecastle to pay my respects to the Admiralty and the Queen. At that time, I was the only non-seafarer warlord that Seaworld had, although I, uh...hear you’ve gained a few more since then.”

He smiled, and a couple of the captains politely chuckled.

“I certainly didn’t know they planned to put me aboard her. I thought it was more likely I was going to be disbanded...”

---

In Fawksull’s head, his service with the Royal Navy had been compressed down to a few vivid images: his days of imprisonment in his cabin, the awkward, drunken meals with Chequer, climbing the rigging and taming the bird, seeing Unsinkable II slip below the waves, his first sight of the quakken below the water...

But in the telling of it, he somehow unpacked whole trunks full of particulars and details.

Cat helped him; she remembered many things he hadn’t. Sometimes her recollection of events conflicted with his own, which made him wonder about the reliability of memory at all. It was disturbing how easy it was to forget things, to conflate details, to mix up the order of events, to misremember even what you yourself had said and done.

It took him most of the night to explain everything up through the big battle and the sinking of Her Majesty’s flagship. The discovery of the double eagle’s special, and how he’d used it, seemed to baffle the captains. They couldn’t make sense of the idea that the bird could be both a blessing and a curse, both good Luckamancy and bad.

“How could it be a Seaworld unit, yet still curse you?” said Captain Geech, a tan, angular man with white eyes. “Its sense of Duty ought to prevent that. Shouldn’t it only bring you good luck once you tamed it, and apply bad luck only to the enemy?”

Fawksull shook his head. “No. But I didn’t really understand at the time, either. It took a game of dice to show me. But that came a bit later...”

---

In the hour before dawn, he found his tiredness replaced by a strange sense of focus, as if he could view the past through a porthole, and simply describe what he saw there.

The captains’ questions had gradually stopped coming, but their attention never wavered. Even after so many hours, they still sat tensely at the edge of the sofa, their eyes upon the Governor as he described the game of bunco with Carrack, the crippling of Double Eagle, and the sinking of the Anchorbar man-o’-war.

“When I reached the main deck, I’d gathered up a stack of eleven stabbers with me,” said Fawksull. “That was more than we needed to deal with the boarders. But it took us too much time. By the time we’d—”

“Pah. It was barely enough, as I remember,” interjected Cat. “You’re playing down your part again, Fawksull. Your stack took down two dozen or more. And you were wounded.” Several times now, the Admiral had accused him of minimizing his own role in the story.

“I wasn’t trying to be humble, Admiral,” he said with a shrug. “More the opposite, if you must know.” Cat had been below and incapacitated at the time, but she was right; that sword fight had been the hardest and nastiest of his life.

It’s just that he wasn’t particularly proud of it. He gestured to his waist. “I took a cut across the hip,” he admitted. “One came at me from behind. I think it would have been a crit, but the eagle spent a point on me without my ordering it. I think that’s what happened. Its Luck went down to seven, anyway.

“But yes. We cleared the decks of more than a score of them, and lost five of our own.”

Fawksull paused for a moment. He looked each of them in the eye, in turn.

The fact that they were ship’s captains made a difference here. He knew they were picturing themselves in his place as they heard the tale, comparing their own ideas and their imagined decisions to his.

“I hope,” he said softly, “that you all are beginning to see the terrible implications of the Luckamancy Reserve, for a commander.”

They looked at him in respectful silence. A couple of them nodded, but he could see that they didn’t get it. Not yet.

“The eagle could have saved those stabbers as well,” said Fawksull. “I could have ordered it to do that. Instead, I let five units under my direct command perish.” He straightened his back a bit, gesturing with his hands. “When you lead your soldiers into a fight, you are trusting their lives and yours to Fate. But this was a different matter. It was my choice who lived, not the Titans’, you see?”

One by one, their faces went grim. Now they understood why he wasn’t eager to recall this part of the story. Being a warlord in battle was a joy, something they had all been popped to do. But rigging the dice, fixing your people’s fates as if you were a Titan...that was perhaps a heavier burden than they were ever meant to shoulder.

Nodding once, he took in a deep breath, and cleared his throat. “By this time, we had a small barque right alongside us, hooking in. Again, to port. Our wounded side. She saw the fight on deck, so she didn’t fire her beams. Didn’t want to sink us with Anchormen aboard. She only meant to send in more blades, to aid the capture. Behind her, I could see their other ships were breaking formation, closing in on us.”

Fawksull leaned forward and made a wry face. “The, ah, lubber warlord on the barque’s quarterdeck was so obvious that I almost took him for a decoy. He was in chain mail.”

He raised an eyebrow, and the tension in the room loosened a bit. The Seaworld captains shook their heads at one another and chuckled. Wearing armor aboard a ship guaranteed that you would drown, if you ever ended up in the water. Only a “Forecastle” would do that.

“I couldn’t worry about stealth at this point, so I ordered the bird to fly in and grab him, using its reserve special as needed. He had a mace, and he didn’t hesitate to swing it, but the eagle captured him anyway. That brought its Luckamancy down to five, though, so I suppose he would have hit it, and resisted the capture attempt.”

There were nods among the captains. Cat remained silent, watching them. The Governor took an absent sip of kava, and set his teacup back on its saucer.

“You know, I’m still amazed at how quickly the barque disappeared, after the prisoner was aboard. It seemed that I only turned around to order the armored man taken below, and the ship was utterly gone. I had to run to the port rail to see that she’d keeled over. Her masts were lying in the water, and she was still in the process of being holed by our three,” he held up three fingers, “friendly quakkens.”

He smiled, recalling the tinny sound of a distant ship’s bell, carried by the ocean breeze. “There were two ships in beam range of us by then, both of them three-masters, both a little bigger than Double Eagle. With only five points of Luckamancy left, all they had to do was to fire on us. But you know...they panicked. They sounded general alarm and hove to, signaling ‘converge’ and ‘cease fire.’”

Cat snorted. “You didn’t know those were the signals at the time. I’d bet you still don’t read numerary flags.”

“That’s true,” Fawksull nodded, “I just saw them regrouping. I took the opportunity to fire six or seven more wild volleys, while the Anchorbar ships pulled themselves into a tight formation. I got the eagle’s luck back up to around eighteen, I believe. Maybe nineteen.

“Of course, they knew we weren’t going anywhere. But they had also seen us sink two of theirs in rapid succession. And I don’t know if they knew about the eagle even by that point, but they could see we had three quakkens, and they didn’t want to approach us. So they huddled close together, and kept their beams aimed our way. They likely had a conference of some sort among the leadership.”

“I took full advantage of the delay, and I was beginning to think they would just let us keep firing until I’d filled up the eagle’s reserve all the way to thirty. But suddenly they let loose blasted us, all at once. Just a blinding, scorching volley of Shockmancy that sent crackles of light crawling through the rigging.”

He could picture it still, but he lacked adequate words to describe it. “Strange sight. We were unharmed,” he said, “but alarmingly, the eagle’s Luck now stood at six.”

The captains shifted uncomfortably. One of them let out a little involuntary grunt.

“I know,” said Fawksull. “To them, it still appeared we had gone unscathed. But one more such volley would sink us. And the fact remained that we were blasted to pieces, with our foremast gone. We looked vulnerable, and they would certainly want to try a few more times before giving up.”

“What did you do?” asked Captain Chesapeake, the round-faced man at the far end of the sofa.

Fawksull shrugged helplessly. “Attacked. With our only weapon,” he said. “I sent the eagle at them.”

Recent posts... (See full thread)
Sir Dr D wrote:
And I am not sure if a feral Quakken will attack a ship that is befriended by another Quakken.
I would be surprised if any of the quakkens attack any of the ships without being specifically ordered to attack. Don't forget that these quakkens are used to being fed by ships so when they lose one source of bread it makes sense that they would immediately want to find another source and that is the opposite of sinking ships.

I expect that quakkens without lubbers would just poke at ships to get someone's attention like the first quakken did before Forecastle fed it.
Sir Dr D wrote:
silverlisard wrote:
Corrupt User wrote:
Can units croak any unit they captured? I imagine it'd be quicker to order the eagle to croak any captured unit rather than drag them all back to the ship. Sure, you don't get many more quakkens, but I'm not sure you need too many more.


I'm amazed nobody called that yet. It's right there in the update.

All Fawksull has to do is to order the Eagle to capture anyone wearing armor (failproof method of detecting lubbers) and drop them in the water (even a light chainmail will cause instant drowning, so it's a failproof way to take them out fast). Then Anchorbar fleet gets to deal with an increasing number of unhappy feral quackens right under its belly.


I doubt it would work that easy. Not only does the eagle not have enough luck and hitpoints to survive for that many ships, it depends on Ancorbar not reacting. All they have to do is send the landlubbers below deck, and the eagle cannot do anything. Everything Forecastle has done with the eagle before has relied on keeping it hidden till the last minute. This time the fleet will see it coming from a long ways away, and as soon as it sinks the first ship they will all know what the trick is. The trick will work for one or two ships only (preferably the one with the fleet admiral on it) . In all cases it took the eagle a while to capture the landlubber. It didn't happen right away.

I really do not know how Forecastle gets out of this one. I suppose the eagle does not have to capture any of the landlubbers at all, just croak them outright. Perhaps that will speed it up.


you need to factor in their superstitions. Yes they'll see the eagle coming but they'll most likely panic and have no idea what to do about it. They won't shoot at it; No seafarer would day fire a single shot at the eagle. If an eagle comes for you, you're on your own. The ONLY ones that may take shots at the eagle are the lubbers, and the bird may not even need the points to make the grab.

Its also questionable how quickly they'll catch on. The Nearby ships might see the eagle picking up people and dropping them in the water but they might not be able to tell it grabbed the lubber. They might be a little slow on the uptake of what the eagle is doing. How long will it take for them to realize that their allied ship is being attacked by its own quakken? Heck will they even know the quakken sunk it or will they think it was the eagle's curse? And every lubber lost is a ship sunk by its own Quakken and then the Quakken will set its sights on the next target. It will turn into a wild battle for Anchorbar.

Also, someone needs to be up on deck to lead the seafarers... if their first mate lubber goes down below, then that means the captain must come up to take command. And that means the eagle can target them instead and they will be even LESS inclined to fight back than the lubber. If the ship looses its captain, then the lubber first mate will need to come back up top to direct the seafarers in countering the quakkens... ad the eagle can go for the lubber. Basically both the captain and the first mate would have to hide below and let leave the troops to handle themselves; which won't be good in a quakken fight

And while they battle quakkens, Forecastle can keep firing his cannons to fill up the eagle... who knows, after the seas have calmed and the anchorbar has dealt with the quakken mutiny, they may only have a few ships left to fight and Forecastle may have an eagle with full reserves. Critical hits and dodges and he might be able to sink the remaining ships with his beams

Superstitions might even help protect Forecastle. Imagine the anchorbar perspective; they are against one badly wounded ship which should be child's play and the enemy is firing wildly but hitting nothing making them seem even more pathetic and weak. But they lost their flag ship, a second ship and when they fired all of their beams at once they missed with EVERY shot. And now comes the eagle... As far as these guys are concerned, that little frigate has earned the divine blessing of the cursed double eagle. They don't know how the eagle works, they don't know they just need to keep firing and the Frigate will sink... for all they know the eagle's protection is eternal and all efforts to fight the frigate are totally futile. After loosing several more ships to their own Quakkens because of that bird; they might even think to cut their losses and run.

Quote:

And I am not sure if a feral Quakken will attack a ship that is befriended by another Quakken. (unless perhaps directed to do so) After all, despite the fact Forecastle has two Quakkens attached to his ship, it wasn't until he captured the landlubber from that last ship that any of the Quakkens attacked it.


The friendly quakkens need to be directed to attack; that's the reason for the porthole. The friendly quakken did not attack because Forecastle was up top directing his eagle instead of down below directing the Quakken. Remember the unsinkable II had no quakken, but the captain of the enemy ship was below deck with the porthole during the fight; despite unsinkable having no quakken, the enemy captain still had to direct the battle below the water. This however, may not apply to Feral quakken's, which may attack any ships nearby regardless of quakken protection.
Relevant IRC quote on the main page:
Quote:
[RobTitan] If the ferals lose their friend, then they attack whatever they can.

There's also some stuff about bread supply that is less relevant, if you want to check it out.
OneHugeTuck wrote:
ABGrok wrote:

The quote from the story is:
“The eagle could have saved those stabbers as well,” said Fawksull. “I could have ordered it to do that. Instead, I let five units under my direct command perish.”


They died because he had ordered the eagle to curse them (all)/give them bad luck to raise the luck reserve. Forecastle was referring to the dice, as I recall, but the eagle was doing what there was to do to fill the reserve as ordered. The beam shouldn't have hit the mast/5 guys, as you'll recall.


I honestly wonder if you are reading the same story as me. the five guys died in ship board combat, not to a beam and although some units died when Fawksull unintentionally had the eagle fill its reserve by having his ship hit by beams, he hasn't intentional had any units killed to fill his reserve, the only thing he has done intentionally is not use his reserve to save people.

We have taken further here then they have in the story, they are upset about the moral implications of not using luck to save units, from what was written I don't think they have even considered sacrificing units to gain luck.

From the point of view that they are looking at it in the story I don't understand why they think the luck reserve has so much more moral implications, as it is really not any different then choosing to use or not use any tool, weapon or magic at the warlords disposal.

I do agree that there is more more implication to sacrificing a unit to gain luck reserve, but these are the types of moral decisions that warlords sometimes have to make to gain a needed advantage in combat. Is sacrificing a unit to gain needed luck really any different then sacrificing a unit as a diversion to gain a tactical advantage (move an enemy into an ambush, get past their main army, etc.) Some times units are sent to certain death because it is needed for the greater good.
ABGrok wrote:
I honestly wonder if you are reading the same story as me. the five guys died in ship board combat, not to a beam and although some units died when Fawksull unintentionally had the eagle fill its reserve by having his ship hit by beams, he hasn't intentional had any units killed to fill his reserve, the only thing he has done intentionally is not use his reserve to save people.


I second this - He had 11 stabbers to fend off more than double that in Anchormen boarders - if they fail to hold the ship, it doesn't matter if they sink the other Anchormen ships or not.
from http://archives.erfworld.com/Kickstarter+Stories/47
Quote:
And what we have is you,” said Forecastle, his anger hardening into resolve. “Listen to me now. I order you not to fill your Luckamancy reserve by blessing the enemy any more. No more buncos, you understand?”
One of the eagle’s heads dipped, almost apologetically.


That is specifically ordering the eagle NOT to sacrifice Seaworld units to raise the luck reserve.

Quote:
“When I reached the main deck, I’d gathered up a stack of eleven stabbers with me,” said Fawksull. “That was more than we needed to deal with the boarders. But it took us too much time. By the time we’d—”
“Pah. It was barely enough, as I remember,” interjected Cat. “You’re playing down your part again, Fawksull. Your stack took down two dozen or more. And you were wounded.” Several times now, the Admiral had accused him of minimizing his own role in the story.


Units died protecting the ship in normal combat while somewhat heavily outnumbered. He used his Leadership to compensate for being outnumbered and saved the Luck reserve to keep beam shots missing and preventing the 'game over' scenario of the ship sinking. He had his crew fire as many shots as possible to get as many misses as possible because he is using Quackens sink the ships, not beam weapons on a heavily damaged frigate.
ABGrok wrote:


I honestly wonder if you are reading the same story as me. the five guys died in ship board combat, not to a beam and although some units died when Fawksull unintentionally had the eagle fill its reserve by having his ship hit by beams, he hasn't intentional had any units killed to fill his reserve, the only thing he has done intentionally is not use his reserve to save people.


Same story. Different references.

I'm not talking about the 11 guys taking on more guys. I'm talking about when Forecastle was trying to get more luck from rolling the dice and they took an impossible hit from the enemy, taking out a mast and knocking 5 guys into he drink.

ABGrok wrote:
they are upset about the moral implications of not using luck to save units, from what was written I don't think they have even considered sacrificing units to gain luck.


"Being a warlord in battle was a joy, something they had all been popped to do. But rigging the dice, fixing your people’s fates as if you were a Titan...that was perhaps a heavier burden than they were ever meant to shoulder."

ABGrok wrote:
From the point of view that they are looking at it in the story I don't understand why they think the luck reserve has so much more moral implications, as it is really not any different then choosing to use or not use any tool, weapon or magic at the warlords disposal.


"One by one, their faces went grim."

I think it is different because it's not leaving live/die up to fate. It's willfully directing that fate.

I agree that on one level it's no different at all. But as it's a new thing to them, it is.
wvscififan wrote:


I second this - He had 11 stabbers to fend off


That's not what I was talking about, as evidenced by the several references to '5 guys' and improbable beam hit from the far away enemy ship.


Quote:
And what we have is you,” said Forecastle, his anger hardening into resolve. “Listen to me now. I order you not to fill your Luckamancy reserve by blessing the enemy any more. No more buncos, you understand?”
One of the eagle’s heads dipped, almost apologetically.


wvscififan wrote:
That is specifically ordering the eagle NOT to sacrifice Seaworld units to raise the luck reserve.


True. But we've been talking about the sacrifice that happened before he figured that out.
OneHugeTuck wrote:
ABGrok wrote:

I honestly wonder if you are reading the same story as me. the five guys died in ship board combat, not to a beam and although some units died when Fawksull unintentionally had the eagle fill its reserve by having his ship hit by beams, he hasn't intentional had any units killed to fill his reserve, the only thing he has done intentionally is not use his reserve to save people.


Same story. Different references.

I'm not talking about the 11 guys taking on more guys. I'm talking about when Forecastle was trying to get more luck from rolling the dice and they took an impossible hit from the enemy, taking out a mast and knocking 5 guys into he drink.


You are mixing your references and that is what is confusing. From the improbable beam hit there were much more than 5 guys effected:
Quote:
And two thirds of Double Eagle’s crew now lay croaked or incapacitated.


and that beam hit is not something Fawksull ordered, he just didn't realize he had to specifically order against it, which he did once he realized.

But the beam hit is besides the point - when they were discussing the moral implications it was around not saving the 5 guys which had nothing to do with the beam.
ABGrok beat me to the post. I would like to add that the beam shots that killed/incapacitated 2/3rds of the crew raised the luck reserve was a 6 point luck addition, not 5. (from 4/30 to 10/30). A lot of discussion in that thread speculated it would go to 5/30, and 10/30 was 5 more than expected - I know I forgot it wasn't 5 luck points until after I reread parts 19 and 20 and that may have added to the confusion as well.
Damnit, you're right. I've been off on a couple points.

This is what I've been thinking of/referring to (2 guys not 5).

Quote:
Fire came.

Sooner than he’d expected, a bolt of Shockmancy lanced out from the man-o’-war’s main beams, struck the fore topgallant sail, and cut the top of the foremast off completely. A chunk of timber, still with Her Majesty’s pennant attached to it, tumbled overboard. And with it fell the bodies of two riggers, into the brine. Pieces of sailcloth and frayed rope fluttered on the breeze.

He couldn’t see the damage too well from the command position, but he understood what had happened. His sense of this ship and its condition was sharper than it had been for Unsinkable II.

Maybe that was something that came with being captain.

“Not even a warning shot?” he muttered to Carrack.

“Think it was meant to be, Cap’n,” said the first officer. “We should still be out of range for a minute or so. A hit from that distance was just cursed good luck!”