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 Post subject: Wayward Sons
 Post Posted: Mon May 26, 2014 7:22 pm 
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Nothingness, not darkness, just a universe sized raindrop of IS-ness that wasn’t particularly defined. That was the first impression of being that he could define. Nothingness, then NOW-ness.

Sensations.

Cool breeze across his skin, birdsong in his ears, light filtering past his eyelids with a capillary tinge from a sun he had not yet beheld in truth. He knew what a capillary was for Titans sake. Titans… they had caused him to pop.

Self awareness. I am. I am Chet Engen, in service to the Royal Court of Blu, Dollamancer level 1, Special: Lucky. Information about all of those topics flooded his mind. The Court, his Ruler, Dollamancy… Dollamancy! He could create things! Like the Titans who made him, he could make golems, and items, and machines. Chet tilted his head to one side as he rolled that word around in his mind, machines… He cold see diagrams flashing inside his head, measurements, gears, motors, something called the metric system… it was staggering, and he hadn’t even opened his eyes yet.

“Keep your eyes shut or croak where you stand,” the voice was female, hard, accented. Chet focused on the moment as he someone take a grip on his hair, then something cold on his neck. His dollamancer senses informed him he was touching Matter in the form of a knife, his common sense told him to be still, but his non-sense compelled him to speak.

“Would the sight be worth croaking for?” he felt his captor tense, and felt his stats, another first, lose a hit point as the knife drew blood. He considered another glib remark, but thought that discretion might be the better part of valor. His captor kept silent.
In the quiet he took a slow, deep breath, perhaps his first and last such breath, and reflected upon his life thus far. Sweet, with a hint of spice and...citrus. The scent had been there since he popped, he realized. Her perfume…

“Why did I pop here?” He spoke before thinking, and steeled himself to lose another hit point.
Wait…

Before she could change her mind and croak him, Chet drew upon his inner-power for the first time, felt the surge of possibility, and choose one. Instantly the feeling at his throat changed texture, and he felt a small loss of juice.

He wasn’t sure what he had done exactly, his intuition had seized upon the first form that instinctively felt right. It was mostly soft, except for a few jabs on his skin. It wasn’t a knife, that was certain, or a melee weapon of anykind: it was an item, a magical item at that. Something more than just the sum of its Matter, it was… special.

His captor let the smallest gasp escape before putting him in a very secure headlock. The irony of the situation was not lost on him, but he choked on his laugh. Har, hork.

Chet heard a door open, footsteps, “You summoned us mistress?” it must have been Natural Thinkamancy since she hadn’t spoke.
More silence as he was unceremoniously released and thrown to the floor, hands grabbed him under the shoulders, and lifted him easily, marching him in silence backwards towards what he hoped was not a balcony ledge. Sounds of doors and then hallways and lots of steps eventually led him to reunite with his old friend: the floor. March, march, march, door closes.
Quiet.

Lots and lots of awkward, character building quiet. After a few moments of this, Chet gathered his wits and stood on his own two feet at attention. What’s going on?

At loss for words, Chet began to reflect upon the universe and the Erf on which he popped: interesting times.


Last edited by BlackHat on Mon May 26, 2014 7:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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     Post Posted: Mon May 26, 2014 7:24 pm 
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    “Stand and report unit.” Very serious, it felt like an order, the heaviest kind of order. Chet jerked in surprise to hear a voice.

    “Chet Engen, Dollamancer of the Royal Blu Court, reporting for duty to Titans and Kingdom.” He held the attention he was already in, but nonetheless straightened his posture and generally made himself look stiff and awkward, the way a good subordinate ought.

    “Another dollamancer?” came a resigned and disappointed voice. “We’ll be the prettiest kingdom at the Tri County Ball this season won’t we?” The voice was gruff and derisive.

    “More golems and items, we can equip our army fairly dangerously with two Dollamancers.” Chet felt grateful to the unidentified speaker, he was sure he’d be a great asset to the kingdom, as soon as they let him open his eyes and actually do something.

    “I for one love new rainment, and so does the Queen. Maybe he has some fresh fashions for the war?” a female, Chet wasn’t sure he liked her.

    “Why are his eyes closed?” a heavily accent male voice spoke up, and Chet had to take a moment to hear it as Language.

    “Caster Ngen, why are your eyes closed?” This from the first voice, the one with authority.

    “Sir, when I popped I was told to keep my eyes closed or croak.”

    “Got blood on his neck too, just popped and we already ruined the new toy, tsk. The Queen wont like that.” The female voice again, she seemed to find the whole situation quite amusing.

    “Actually, I think she gave it to him. Apparently our newest caster popped in her personal chambers this morning.” A room full of people gasped, and not a few started laughing. Chet’s face grew hot.

    “The Titan’s must really want ye dead laddie,” that was heavy accent. “No one lays eyes on the Queen but for her personal guard, on penalty a’ death. Ye had quite the close call on the first day popped.” He chuckled richly at the idea. “I like the new guy, he’s lucky. It’s even on the lad’s stats.”

    “Caster Engen, open your eyes and approach the war table.” The voice of authority again.

    Finally, after much adieu, Chet used his gaze to see the world. The world he could see was rather blue. Walls, curtains, uniforms, even the mountain in the distance seemed blue. Then there were the people: the table was crowded with nearly 3 dozen units of various type and level. Various warlords and casters, their stats flashing at him briefly when he concentrated.

    Yikes, this was a high powered table, no unit was below level 3, and several were 8.

    Chet approached the table as ordered and saluted his Chief Warlord, Roland Stone. “Reporting for duty sir.” CW Stone raised an eyebrow curiously.

    “A soldier's bearing, good.” Stone nodded to himself, “ I can use a fighting caster. With Crombie to keep making golems I can send you into the field to lead them. You’re going to have to level fast to survive. Our enemy is out for blood this time, and so are we.”

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     Post Posted: Mon May 26, 2014 7:26 pm 
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    Before his first turn ended, he was ordered to march out with the latest column of infantry, and spend all his juice making golems until they reach the City of Cobalt. The Minty Mountains gradually retreated behind them and the blue grass of the high mountians gradually changed into rolling hills of scrub and the occasional spruce tree.

    “Ack, don’t look so glum laddie, I’m sure ye’ll take plenty of scalps on yer first tour.” That was Boltson, Dwawvish Warchief, the heavy accent voice from the war room. Dwawves were Natural allies in the Minty Mountians, and Boltson was a stellar example of his type: short, brawny, bearded and boisterous. Chet found him likable and tried to cheer up.

    “Oh I’m not worried about that, it’s the golems.” Indeed, the order to use all his juice was irksome. He would have some left over that coldn’t make a whole golem, but he had to save it instead of try out other abilities. Duty was Duty however, and he did look forward to learning how to make units, maybe he could play around with the battle bears…

    “The golems?” Boltson looked over from his seat on the wagon. “ Right useful golems are, but ye don’t like them? Rough to be a dollamancer that doesn’t like golems.” He seemed to think that counted as wit and chuckled to himself.

    “You know, Warlord Stone didn’t say what kind of golem I had to make, just golems.” Chet had seized on this idea and his mind was rapidly flashing things to fast for him to see entirely, but he got enough.

    “Yeah, but a golems a golem. Its big and hits things. How types of that are there?” The Dwawv scratched his beard absently as he thought about it. “ I suppose ye could make them fatter, or bigger.”

    Chet was lost deep in thought and only nodded absently to his friend, “Uh-huh.” Meanwhile he was planning a very different sort of golem, and could hardly wait to make camp and get to work.

    Thankfully he had popped with his juice full, because when night fell on their camp and only two battle bears had been added to the stack, Chet was relieved to have any. His first experiment with the mecha golem he had invisioned, with claws and shockamancy bolts and a horde of other wicked things, had comeletly blown up in his face. Several times, hed even lost a few hit points.

    “Laddie you only have 2 hits left on Erf, just put down the do-hicky and call it a night.” Boltson sat near the fire, smoking out of a heavily decorated stone pipe, and generally enjoying the fireworks show.

    Chet had to admit that he had a point. The visions were there, but not enough, not yet. He would probably need a few more levels to understand the magic the way he wanted. But still, the bears were good work. Heavy Legionbearies with armor and oversized swords. He had tried hidden blades and pewpew’s, but that had cost him some singed hair.

    “I thought I was supposed to be lucky?” Sighing, Chet set down the ruined machine hed been trying to fix and put his tools away, needle, thread, nuts and bolts. Then he came to sit near the fire with Boltson. “Not there yet, but progress.”

    “Aye, if ye can figure out how to make those bears explode at the enemy, that would really be something lad.” Boltson smiled at his own joke and took a long drag on his pipe, looking contented.

    “Yeah, the enemy eyebrows wont know what hit them.” Chet reached for his cold dinner, it had popped sometime ago, stew with vegetables and some wine.

    Boltson gave a laugh and thumped him on the back amiably. “Just think laddie, soon ye’ll be leading them into battle, getting new levels. It’s a grand thing. Besides this is only your first turn out, just you wait, this Erf is wild lad.”

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     Post subject: Re: Wayward Sons
     Post Posted: Mon May 26, 2014 11:14 pm 
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    7 turns 1 level and several stacks of experimental bears later, Chet had to agree that the Erf was fairly wild. The second turn out they were engaged by wild Rawrgs, ferocious little reptiles that attack in swarms. Large one could be used as mounts, but this was a young pack, and they were hungry. The bears and infantry stomped them out without losing too many points. It was a nuisance for a force as large as theirs, but they could overwhelm single units if given half a chance.
    The next few turns saw them cross into lower altitudes and more lush vegetation. Groves of trees were not uncommon now, and foraging was more plentiful. They had a few more random encounters, Rug Bears, creeping jellies, and one wild Whyger, which Chet had skinned made into a cloak for the warlord who slew it. He had to keep it till they arrived at Cobalt so he could use the juice, but the warlord was thrilled with the result.
    “A plus one cloak of command, made in Whygerskin?” Warlord Cocky Balboa was nearly beside himself. Having leveled in that fight, he found it particularly meaningful, and it was gorgeous! The fanged hood over his eyes was fearsome signamancy, and the plus one to command, atk and def didn’t hurt either. “Caster Engen, I don’t know what to say.”
    Chet looked away, slightly embarassed. “ Just remember not to spill wine on it, I don’t know if the stains would come out of Whygerhide.”
    Balboa nodded and looked back down at his cloak before putting it on. Chet watched his stats increase and felt no small amount of pride. If only his machines would work so well. He’d tried after hitting level two, but the explosions had only gotten larger.
    Warlord Balboa thanked him again, and went off to “other duties about the city.” More like showing of his new cloak, but Chet didn’t mind. His ego could use a little balm after his last experiment knocked down a wall, the visions were still over his level. His bears and rainment however, were top notch. He’d only made two stacks of bears and a handful of enchanted apparel, but it was all good work that made him proud.


    Chet went back to his work table in the tower basement, tinkering with his latest doodad. He was keeping them small to minimize the explosive power, and had begun suspecting that he was trying to make things too complex, and too large at the same time. The new idea was modules. Little bits that were interchangeable, even with the bears. He wanted a decent arm pewter, but the cloth was incompatible, and kept tearing off or catching fire during testing. The pewter worked fine however, that was progress.
    The night was nearly upon him and he had very little juice left. Chet called it a night and drifted out to find dinner. He had worked past the normal dinner hour and went hunting for the kitchen. More blue halls unwound as he wandered, looking for someone. He didn’t expect the castle to be so empty. Eventually he found someone and got directions.
    The banquet hall was quiet, so he went straight to the larder to make a sandwich. There was an elf maiden at the central table, with an open book, baking something special. She didn’t hear him enter, so he stood against the wall to watch her work. Her hands and apron were covered in flour, a few strands of hair escaped from her hairpins and drifted around her face. Every few minutes she would try and blow it out of her eyes. Kneading and rolling, he watched her set up a dozen loaves of cinnamon bread, and place the first two in the oven.
    “A little late for a snack isn’t it?” Chet said finally.
    The elf maiden started with a squeak and spun around to face him. Chet moved away from the wall towards the pantry door and started rummaging for ingredients. He came back with his loot and started building.
    “It’s for breakfast.” Her voice was small, he almost didn’t hear her. She was fidgeting, like she had been caught at something.
    “Our rations pop for breakfast, these are different.” Chet sliced bread and tomatoes and had a BLT before too long. “Why bake extra rations?” He was genuinely curious, she was a natural ally, she didn’t need extra upkeep. What was going on here? Perhaps she was doing it for fun.
    “I have a culinary special. It’s good to practice, and the regent likes homemade food more than popped rations. He says they taste better.” The maiden kept fidgeting as Chet poured a glass of water. Chet munched quietly while his companion started cleaning the flour mess.
    “I don’t buy it.” Chet said conversationally. He was fishing, but what the heck? “Who eats the extra food?”
    She froze in the act of wiping off the table. Yeah, he had her. “ I don’t know what you mean, the garrison troops…”
    Chet was shaking his head as he finished the food, “No way honey. I don’t want to make it an order.” He let his voice trail off looking at her expectantly. He was curious now, he had no intention of getting her in trouble, but he wanted to uncover this small mystery.
    The elf girl looked down and her shoes and clutched her apron nervously. She held out a surprisingly long time, Chet had to put his dishes away and move next to her, leaning against the table before she cracked.
    “It’s for the mmhmm ,” she trailed off into mumbles, and Chet leaned in and asked her to say again.
    “It’s for the barbarians.” She was staring hard at the floor, clutching her apron tightly.
    “Barbarians?” Chet hadn’t expected that, why, how was she feeding barbarians? He gave her his what he hoped was his most intense look.
    “When turn starts I go out of the city and feed the barbarians hiding in the woods. I was out foraging, they saved me from a Rawrg attack. They should be leaving soon.” She never once looked up, but kept wrenching that poor apron.
    Barbarians, this close to the city? He checked her stats, she had a forest bonus and enough move to make it a fair distance. Barbarians in our territory eh? “Tell me more.”

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     Post subject: Re: Wayward Sons
     Post Posted: Tue May 27, 2014 4:47 pm 
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    The next morning they received orders via hat that they should wait two turns for the next units to pop here at Cobalt, then take them as part of the column, so Chet knew he had a little time to investigate. Apparently, the elf girl, Cinny Moon, had met him when she was attacked by a pack of Rawrgs. This barbarian came out of nowhere, slew them all, then collected them to cook for rations. He had been out in the wild a long time, foraging for upkeep, slaying wild monsters for food: a tough customer.

    Chet rode out with Boltson, Cinny, and his bear stack the next morning to check out the local forest, only a few hexes away. They rode on Meepers, fast little birds of black and redish feathers that ran like their tails were on fire. Today they made them keep pace with the bears, and they clearly didn’t like it. Chet’s mount keep tossing its head and honking in irritation, and the others weren’t much better. Still, Chet wouldn’t risk leaving the stack with all the wild predators around.

    Boltson cursed his mount as they went, getting more creative as the day wore on. Cinny tried very hard not to giggle when the Dwawvs Meeper started spinning in circles and shrieking. Chet didn’t even try to hide his mirth, which didn’t last very long since his mount started doing the same thing, then Cinny. The bears didn’t laugh, thankfully, because it wasn’t funny when the wild Whyger Lord burst out of the trees and rushed their stack.

    The Whyger Lord was a mid-level field boss, more hits, atk, def, and specials, including the Hunting Howl which would summon a pack of lesser Whygers, like the one Balboa had croaked, except lots. All this went throught Chets mind as his mount panicked and threw him off. Chet lost track of the ground but tried to roll with his fall. He still lost some hits, but he was able to stagger to his feet and order the stack of bears to engage.

    The Whyger seemed hungry, and it Chets mount hadn’t gotten far when the beast pounced, and the Meeper disappeared in a cloud of feathers and screams. Boltson was smarter and clubbed his mount before dismounting the stunned creature. He gave it a callous kick towards the Whyger, who had finished with the first course. The poor bird sqawked pitieously before it went the way of its fellow. Cinny was still on her frantic mount, unable to get it under control.

    Th legionbearies drew their greatswords and fell upon the feasting boss monster. Chet ran over to Cinny, and tried to help calm her mount. He failed, and Cinny got thrown to the grass, she didn’t stir. The disbanded meeper ran off at top speed towards the city stables and was the only bird to make it away from the hex.

    Chet ran to Cinny and checked her stats, incapacitated, might need healing. He cursed himself for going on a fools errand that was going to kill them all, and went to restack with his golems and Boltson.

    The fight had only gone on for a few seconds, but already his bears were hurting, most under half and losing more with each swipe of Whyger claw. One got to close to its front and the purple and green striped dog-beast lashed out with its arm-long fangs and tore it in half. 4 left, Chet poured juice into healing the remaining Golems and took direct control of them, instantly attacks became sharper, more coordinated. They would hit from opposite sides and jump back before it could turn on them, or they tried. The Whyger was fast, and his bears were still taking heavy damage.

    Boltson had drawn a battle axe and resized it into a monsterous execution weapon with a glowing edge, Chet paused for a moment of professional admiration of the enchanted axe, nice lines and a plus 3 to atk, must be from Crombie.

    Another bear went down and Chet cursed. Drawing his modified bear pewter, he resized it for two hands, and pumped the action to charge it. Who’s got magic weapons now? He thought to himself, taking aim on the Whyger. He ordered the stack to get a distance, and then started pulling the trigger at the beasts eyes.

    Chets aim was true for the first shot, and the Whyger cried out with a terrible howling roar, half blinded. Instantly, a stack of young Whygers popped in stack with their boss, and Chet offered a prayer to the Titans. Once more he ordered his bears to engage while he told Boltson to get Cinny and go. He poured more juice into the pewter and increased the rate of fire, blasting indiscriminately at the enemy stack.

    “You don’t give me orders laddie, I out rank you, but the thought was nice. Besides, we can’t outrun them without the Meepers. Been nice knowing you lad.” Boltson nodded in respect, and Chet returned it between shots. Boltson stood next to him and they watched the last bears go down, and the Whygers changed targets.

    Boltson hefted his axe, and Chet poured every last drop of juice he had into the Pewter. Between shots its signamancy changed with the increased power. It got heavy, and two more barrels grew from the action and he nearly dropped it in surprise. The three barrels started spinning and with the smallest pause in firing, erupted in a flood of powerful blasts. The caster watched with insane glee as the modified pewter melted the lead Whyger pup, then the next. Their charge broke and bought them a few more seconds. Boltson wandered into melee and lopped the head off one, but the Whyger boss was angry now, and swatted Boltson with a paw bigger than the Dwawv himself. His limp form flew through the air and he didn’t get up.

    The Whyger pups had kept after Chet, and he had done for two more, but they were too close now, about to engage him in melee, he knew there was no surviving that.

    The glowing yellow eyes of a Whyger filled his vision and Chet held the trigger down, screaming at the Titans. The creature hit him like an angry boulder, smashing him into the earth. Chet jammed the barrel into the monsters gut and promised himself to keep firing till he reached the City of Hero’s. After a moment, Chet realized he was still alive, and not being torn to shreds by a Whyger pack. With a shock he realized the Whyger on top of him was croaked, and he stopped firing. The Erf was silent, were they already feeding on his friends?

    Chet pushed and fought to get out from under the croaked beast, soaked in its blood, only to find the field littered with its pack-mates. Heads and limbs had been lopped off and strewn everywhere, and just over there, next to Boltson, was the giant body of the Whyger boss, headless as well.

    Chet allowed himself a moment of stunned silence, pinched himself to make sure he was still alive, then went to check his friends. Boltson was incap, but he would make it with healing. When he turned to check Cinny, there was someone else kneeling next to her, a black haired man in rough clothes. Chet leveled his pewter in surprise, where had he come from?

    “You think that will work better on me than it did on the whyger pack?” a rough, gravelly voice rolled from the stranger, who started pulling a few things from his small pack.

    “Hey I took care of four of them just fine thanks.” Chet responded hotly.

    “Three, the one you were napping with died by my hand, but you almost got him.”

    “Wha-“ Chet looked back over at the beast he escaped, and indeed, a huge gash on one side had spilled its entrails over the grass. Disband it. Slowly he lowered the weapon. “You’re the barbarian who saved Cinny.” It wasn’t a question. The mans raiment was mostly the green and brown of the forest, but the grey of barbarism could be seen on his person. His stats however, were clouded, ??? in every box. He wasn’t sure what to make of that.

    The man had not responded, instead he pulled an odd assortment of leaves and dried flowers and started mashing them in a stone bowl.

    “What are you doing?” Chet asked, setting his pewter down, he approached to see better.

    “These plants have a type of natural Healomancy. I can mix a potion to bring them around” He kept grinding and adding leaves now and then. He took a canteen out of his pack, poured a little water into the bowl, then lifted Cinny’s head up gently to give her a sip. She took one gulp and started coughing, eyes fluttering. After a few moments she was alert, looking at the barbarian with such a look that Chet was surprised little hearts weren’t floating around in the air.

    “Zatchi, you saved me again.” Cinny reached out a hand for the barbarian, Zatchi apparently, and he took it, smiling slightly.

    “I told you not to come back, I’ve been tracking that Whyger pack for a dozen turns now. I was saving them for a hungry day.” Zatchi ruffled her hair gently and she looked ready to melt right there, but Chet coughed politely. Zatchi rolled his eyes and turned to face the caster. “Bring your friend over and I can help him too. He won’t be full points, be he’ll be able to walk home.”

    “Just hand me the bowl, its easier than trying to move him.” Zatchi laughed at that and handed it over, Chet left them alone and in a few moments Boltson was sitting up groggily.

    “Ack, laddie, next time let the Whygers have me, that brew is vile.” He started spitting furiously off to the side, and Chet thanked the Titan’s for their good luck today.

    Cinny was just getting up when they came back, Zatchi helping with a shoulder. Chet gave Boltson a look and the Dwawv hid a smile in his beard.

    “She may have mentioned that we were coming to see this mysterious barbarian in the woods. I was going to ask if you were looking for work, but I don’t think you’re exactly struggling out here.” An understatement. He looked back at the massacre, “How did you do that? No warlord is that good.”

    Chet looked back at the man and for the first time, noticed two curved swords laying sheathed in the ground, the scabbards of polished wood, enchanted perhaps?

    “Never said I was a warlord,” The man smirked and reached down to get his swords and pack. “but I am looking for work.”

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     Post subject: Re: Wayward Sons
     Post Posted: Sun Jun 01, 2014 11:19 pm 
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    “So you thought it would be a great idea to go wandering and find a barbarian, but instead you get attacked by a mini-boss, lose most of your bears, nearly croaking yourself and two other units, one of them a level 5 war-chief, do I understand correctly?” Warlord Stone had a voice to match his name, and right now it was aimed right at Chets mind. The kingdom saved thinkagrams for important talks, saving our casters juice by using hats for most communication. However todays events merited special attention.

    “Level 6 war-chief, we all ranked up on the boss kill.” Chet had actually ranked up during the firestorm, when his pewter suddenly enhanced. He hadn’t noticed at the time, but he had gained a lot of insight into his craft. Not enough to qualify as an Adept yet, maybe next level. Supposedly he could go from novice to adept at anytime, the prestige change depended upon a units insight and wasn’t connected directly to leveling.

    Assuming his CW didn’t disband him.

    Stone’s mental image rubbed its temples.

    “Notify me next time you feel like taking a field trip caster Engen. You may be Lucky, but your friends aren’t.”

    Guilt riled through Chet's innards, Boltson hadn’t said anything, but it weighed heavily on his mind. He resolved not to be so foolish in the future.

    “Sir, yes sir.” Chet stood at attention even in headspace, thoroughly humbled.

    “That being said, I’m impressed you survived, and have hopes that you may grow into a more prudent commander. You’re approved to hire the barbarian caster, at double upkeep and a 5% take on cities razed, but that’s only if he participates in combat. I look forward to seeing how a findamancer handles melee. End call.”

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     Post subject: Re: Wayward Sons
     Post Posted: Mon Jun 02, 2014 12:11 am 
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    The new units popped and our reinforced column went back on the march again, Cinny waving a tearful goodbye to her barbarian prince.

    “Ack, yer just jealous there's no elf maiden making fancy bread for ye or crying when ye leave heroically.” Boltson had his pipe out again and was puffing merrily, smiling at Chet’s sour mood.

    “Hey, anybody could be chipper if they had a cute little elf girl waiting back home. Besides, it’s not that,” the forested hills slowly flattened out in the hexes ahead, and Chet spent a little time inspecting the landscape before speaking. “I was foolhardy and almost croaked us all.”

    “That’s what’s been botherin’ ye? Oh come off it laddie, ye couldn’t have known that blighter was waiting. That was a good fight to get under yer belt. Got a fancy new pewter, and a new findamancer that thinks he’s a warlord. That’s a grand day in my book lad.” Boltson nodded to himself sagely, sitting in his cloud of rocksmoke. Chet looked away and felt a surge of warmth towards the Dwawv. It was good to have friends, and he wouldn’t let them down like that again.

    “So what’s with that pewter of yers anyway? Never seen anything like it,” Boltson look genuinely piqued, so Chet drew it out of the new whyger hide holster rig on his back.

    It was odd looking for sure, brass trimmings, wood stock, and the rotating barrel system with pump action lever for charged shots. Chet hadn’t really had time to think when he did this. It was made from raw need for more firepower, heavy with weight and damage. Plus, it looked raw, battle wrought.

    “Normally, it would be just a rapid-fire pewter, but I can give it some juice to up the damage and rate of fire. I’m thinking of adding some shockamancy specials to it later, but it could only be used by units with juice.” Chet turned it over and felt with his magical senses, could see little places he could refine his creation and making notes for later. It might be a while before he got to it unfortunately, he had to replace the lost bears and keep reinforcing their ranks. The chief caster had ordered him to use his own discretion, but emphasized the need for golem stacks.

    “Shame I didn’t get to see it in action, but we’re almost to the front. Time to get some serious levels, eh? Personally, I want to hit 8 before this campaign is over.” He had been so happy to wake up with a new level he had nearly crushed Chet the other day. Boltson took his levels very seriously.

    “You seem to get very enthused when we talk about ranking, is that a dwawv thing?”

    “No dwawv has ever reached level 10, I’m now one of the highest level units of my clan. It is a very proud thing for us as Natural allies to hit exceptionally high ranks.” Most nats like marbits or goblins didn’t live that long, hobs maybe, but they lacked culture. The dwawvs had whole towns, and extensive mining operations. There were even legends of a dwawv Ruler.

    “Trying to level yourself into a king?” He teased. Boltson’s face turned quite grave however.

    “Ye shouldn’t joke about such things lad. Some might call it heresy.” The dwawv kicked his gwizzly bear and rode ahead to inspect the column. Chet was left in the dust with his thoughts. What was going on there?

    Boltson had been the one to tell him all those old legends about the Kings under the Mountain. They had grand and beautiful cities, blessed by the Titans, until disaster struck. The stories were unclear, but daemons flooded the Halls of Dwellin. They were driven out to wander as barbarians, reduced to stories of grandeur, natural allies to greater kingdoms, scattered and disorganized. They served with intense loyalty, driven to excel. It was said, unkindly, that the dwawvs wanted one of their own appointed heir, and their own royal line. They denied this as base gossip, and continued to serve with great fidelity.

    “I may have touched a nerve there. Nice going laddie.” Chet kicked himself for what felt like the hundredth time this turn.

    “The Dwawvs take kingship very seriously, and see their current status as something of a curse for displeasing the Titans. Those stories are gospel for the Dwawvish people.” That gravely voice rose up behind him, riding on a gwizzly of his own. More expensive than meepers, they were also better suited for combat. They were striped from the garrison in exchange for two stacks of golems. Chet was exhausted, but the reliable and fluffy mount was worth it.

    “How do you know so much about dwawvs?” Chet wasn’t sure if he liked Zatchi yet. He was impressive sure, but he had this carefree worldliness that drove him up a tree sometimes.

    “I did some work for a dwawvish clan a few hundred hexes to the west. Their warlord hit level 8 and a special ceremony was held, asking the Titans to bless and watch over their champion. They don’t talk about it often, but the dwawves believe a worthy chief will level into a ruler.” Zatchi rolled easily in the saddle, with the same old hermit outfit and bag. “The idea of kingship is sacred to the dwawven folk. They live in hope of a return to glory, or at least a place to call home.”

    The barbarian fell silent and Chet let it lay, watching Boltson ride ahead. Zatchi had saved his life, but that had probably been incidental to saving Cinny. Still, he seemed sincere and straightforward; Chet was inclined to trust him. He nodded his thanks to the man and continued the march in reflective quiet.

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     Post subject: Re: Wayward Sons
     Post Posted: Mon Jun 02, 2014 12:31 am 
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    The rest of the days travel was uneventful. Scouts reported clear hexes in every direction, and this deep into home territory command felt safe that a large enemy force couldn’t sneak around undetected. Camp was made and turn ended as evening fell.
    Commanders had received no new orders, so they were relieved to see to their duties. Since Chet could sense the golems from anywhere in camp, he gave mental orders to watch the perimeter, alert camp and defend as necessary should an attack come. Then went to his tent.

    As a caster Chet had a slightly larger tent than most and even a desk, which he put to use that night. His pewter, as he noted previously, was rough. Unfinshed wood, loose rivets, and it made a noise when he shook it. Granted, a large animal had fallen on them both, but Chet wouldn’t stand for it. Thus he started breaking down his creation into component bits and soon covered his desk with odds and ends.

    Now that it was all in front of him Chet was able to fully appreciate what he had done by instinct during the fight. He saw the flow of magical power and motion, imbuing each piece of matter. Oh, the multiple barrels were for heat venting. Immediately, the visions that had pestered his imagination since the day he popped, once more started falling around his eyes, bouncing off the pieces before him. Some of them stuck however, and he focused on these.

    Chet lost touch with reality as the evening wore into night and he rebuilt the weapon. Wood polished to a deep mahogany, brass fittings held tight and detailed with intricate scroll work, it even had a buttons: stun, croak, single fire, rapid fire, charged shot and scatter. Last was a tooled leather strap to keep it snug on his shoulders while traveling. Chet sat back and wiped the sweat off his brow. She was beautiful, but... something was missing. Chet sat and beheld his work, seeking that missing piece. Then he knew.

    With the last of the days juice he caressed his masterpiece and a word magically appeared on the brass plated action, etched with curving letters of grace and beauty: Triona.

    Now, she was finished.

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     Post subject: Re: Wayward Sons
     Post Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:27 pm 
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    Once again Chet had worked past dinner and was wandering toward the mess tent when a large shadow came out of the night and laid a hand on his shoulder.

    “We need to talk laddie, meet me by the fire when ye’v got summat to eat.” Then the dwawv disappeared back into the darkness.

    Chet stood there a moment to shake the scare Boltson had given him, then went in to get some leftovers. He came back out and found the central campfire burning low and deserted except for the benches, Boltson nowhere in sight. He sat down and started in on his meal when the bench shifted and suddenly Boltson was next to him, holding a pair of mugs. He hefted one towards Chet, and he took it with a nod.

    “To yer health,” Boltson said, lifting the mug, and took a long draught. Chet hurriedly lifted the mug and matched the dwawv. A few sputtering coughs later, he decided to sip the rest.

    “Ye were closer than not this morning lad,” Boltson said after a few drinks. “We dwawves hold kingship sacred, ever since it was taken from us.” Another long drink, “Did ye know we used to have capitols ? Cities, casters, treasuries, all of it. We were rich in gems and culture, the Dwawven empire was the envy of the whole Erf. Until we grew too proud, and forgot our gods.” Drink. “They cursed us for it.” He finished his mug and pulled a large earthenware crock from Titans knew where, refilling his cup and topping off Chet’s half empty drink. The dollamancer eyed the dark liquid distrustfully, but as Boltson looked on he drank until the dwawv nodded with satisfaction.

    After a few coughs and a refill, Boltson went on, “We built fantastic magical devices, mountain golems, flying mansions, gateways to other kingdoms, the wildest stories claim we had an Arkentool hidden deep in the heart of mount Erferest. “ Boltson was gazing into the fire, losing himself in the telling.

    “Ol’ King Renchit , the last of the Dwawven rulers, was in love with an elf maiden when she perished suddenly. The King was distraught, and in his pain did the unthinkable: He ordered his subjects to bring her back. They hired casters and preserved her body from decay, while others came to offer possible solutions. The King spent a fortune on bribes, but no secret like that could stay hidden for long. The neighboring sides withdrew their alliances and support; they wanted no part in something that smacked of heresy.” The dwawv took another drink and pulled a bag from the same mysterious shadow where he got the ale. He held it out to Chet, who opened it and found bread rolls. “For the ale, helps yer stomach.”

    Chet started munching and found it did help, trading off bites between drinks. He motioned for Boltson to keep going with his story.

    “Time passed and the king grew desperate, he started looking for anything that could bring back his love, offering any price.” The dwawvs voice dropped very low, and he looked grim. “There was a caster, who said he could do it: bring her back from the land of the croaked, like she had never gone. There was a price to be paid however: the balance of life had to be maintained, so the king had to choose a unit to trade for the life of his love, and not just any unit, his heir. It had to be a very precious unit to make the spell work.”

    “The King in his grief, agreed to pay the wicked toll, sacrificing his son to a dark ritual, and brought his love back from the croaked. She was perfectly restored, the spell had worked, but when she learned of it, his love was shocked, rebuking him for blaspheming against the Titans. She left, disappearing into the woods, and the King, leaving no heir, followed after her.” Boltson finished off his third mug and did refills all around. Chet was already feeling a little buzzed, wondering just what was in this ale.

    “After a few turns the city turned barbarian, but we didn’t freeze in place. The city, with all its wonders, dissolved to barren stone and monsters. The dwawven folk were driven out by wild beasts and left to scramble for upkeep, swearing allegiance to anyone who would take us before we all croaked from hunger or disbanded. All our warlords and casters were lost, most of our elders, nearly all of our lore. We survive now as a shadow of our former glory, serving faithfully until the Titan’s declare our people worthy to rule themselves again.” Boltson’s face took on a haggard, heavy pall, shoulders hunched. He stared into the blaze, his drink forgotten.

    The night seemed to hold a reverent silence for those who were lost, even the far off bird cries fell still, leaving only the fire to crackle thoughtfully. Chet sat with his friend, and it was some time before he knew the right thing to say.

    He turned towards his grim friend and gave him a dwawven clap on the shoulder. ”A toast to the once and future Dwawven King, long be his beard and mighty his ale.” Then he knocked mugs with a blank faced dwawv and hefted his to drink. He paused with the rim at his lips, waiting for his companion to react. Ale dripped out from the mug and down his chin as he swayed, hoping he hadn’t done something incredibly stupid.

    It was gradual, but Boltson’s tragically stoic look cracked as a low chuckle started in his chest, and grew by degrees into a whooping knee slapper. Boltson was wiping tears from his eyes and catching his breath in between a few last laughs when Chet finally remembered to put his mug down. That was well, since Boltson clapped him on the shoulder before lifting his drink, “To the once and future Dwawven King, long be his beard, mighty his ale, and may his fortune in friends.”

    Then they knocked mugs and drank the ale down. There were a few more drinks, and some more dwawvs, and more jugs, and eventually Chet lost consciousness.

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     Post subject: Re: Wayward Sons
     Post Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:38 pm 
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    He woke to a bad taste in his mouth and a soggy pillow stuck to his face. It was just before dawn and start of turn, and Chet need to find a latrine quickly. He had barley pulled his pants back up when dawn broke and he was cleansed. Chet gloried in the sudden relief from the worst of his hangover, and the sound of freshly popped rations in his tent made his stomach growl. The camp was already breaking down, the mess and smithy all packed up. Some soldiers were taking rations in their marching formations, so he put some hustle on.

    After breakfast Chet packed up his tent and made a note to produce some dolls or action figures to handle chores like this in the future. Then he went got his gwizzly and rode up to stack with his bears next to Boltson’s knights. The dwawv commanded a fairly sizeable contingent: 4 knight stacks, 4 stacks infantry, one stack of engineers, and one Lore master, a caster type of unit that Chet wasn’t familiar with. The war chief was inspecting his troops as Chet and his bears came marching up to their place in the column. The dwawv clapped shoulders and had an easy going way with his men, they’d follow him anywhere, with a smile.

    Horns sounded and the column started moving, Boltson mounted his bear and kicked it up to the front of the line. He waved a greeting at Chet and fell-in next to him. “Mornin’ laddie, enjoy that dwawvish ale a bit too much last night?” He said it with a chuckle.

    “I want to know where you kept getting more. I only saw the one jug but there were nearly 50 dwawvs at that fire and they never went thirsty.” Chet had been watching all night, in between drinking songs, and he was certain there was something funny about that jug.

    “Ack, yer daft laddie, the drink was making ye see things.” The dwawv waved off his suspicions with a laugh and changed the subject to other things, war matters, equipment and tactics. He let Boltson off the hook because he had a lot of ideas to share, but he knew there was a trick going on, or magic.

    “Have ye given any thought to how ye might use yer magic in combat? Or enchanted armor? Me and my boys wouldn’t say no to a few extra points or flaming weapons.” Boltson had a healthy interest in things that made him better at his job, and he had a requisition list a mile long.

    “I thought Crombie made enchanted gear for our forces? Like your axe, it’s surely enchanted; I’ve seen the plus three bonus.” The dwawv looked away and scrunched his beard in consternation.

    “Ack laddie, why can’t you ignore things like the rest of your tribe? These things be heirlooms, passed down from the great dwawven warriors or found on the long Diaspora, in the ruins along our path. Artifacts from the Titan’s mercy to help our lost people.” The dwawv pulled the weapon from his back and held it before him. “Her name is Labrys, the Edge of Fate."

    "Crombie was always busy with courtier clothes and his cutesy fashion dolls and could never spare any time for my “fantastical wishlist of mayhem.”" You could tell that there was no love lost between the two, and Chet wondered what else might have been said.

    With a deft flick of his wrist the axe twirled and resized into the glowing monstrosity he had seen earlier. Blue light gilded the working part of the double headed axe, and the runic inscriptions that flowed along every surface.

    “She has been in my clan for over 20,000 turns.” Boltson held the axe reverently, then held it out to Chet for inspection. He looked at the dwawv to make sure, then carefully hefted the ancient weapon.

    It reeked of power, more than the plus three, it had luck bonuses, shockamancy, and something…weird. What on Erf is that? Chet closed his eyes and let his dollamancer sense sink into the artifact. His mind was filled with the complex flows of power and the sheer artistry involved in making something like this. He could feel the great power that had forged Labrys, which still powered her enchantments and would do so until the end of Erf, she was beautiful.

    “Luck, shock, and weirdomancy specials, but something’s wrong. Did you do the wielders ritual?” Chet held the axe out to his friend, who took it and replaced it safely on his back before looking quizzically back at him.

    “Laddie all it does is chop stuff. It doesn’t have any fancy mancies. I was given the artifact at level 2, when my mentor Fragmor Nmenies fell in battle, and I inherited his weapon. My knights have a few heirloom weapons as well, but Labrys is the most powerful in our clan.” The dwawv was obviously proud of that so Chet made himself suitably impressed.

    “It has a wielders ritual, if you do it, it will attenuate to you and unlock it’s higher abilities. It has short range shockamancy, passive luckamancy bonus for combat and parry, and it flies I think.” Chet wasn’t sure about the last one, he hadn’t seen weirdomancy before, and this was Titan level workmanship. That many enchantments on one item was incredible. A mortal caster would have to be master level to even think about doing something close to this.

    “Don’t go kidding a kidder laddie, I’ll not be hoping and jumping around hooting for the Titans to bless my axe or any such nonsense. The knights got me with that once and I learned my lesson.” The dwawv shook his head in reminiscence, “They told me it would make me glow in battle, soggy knobs.”

    “In all seriousness Boltson, that axe has some heavy magic laying dormant. If I can figure out the ritual, that would be a huge advantage. Probably got something to do with those runes.” Chet was sure he could work it out, and he really wanted another look at the Titanic workmanship.

    “I’ll have to think about it laddie, I hesitate to fiddle with the Titan’s gifts.” Boltson turned and nodded back towards his men, “If you can do anything with our normal arms and armor I’d be a great help. We see a lot of action and it takes a long time to train a knight to veteran. Talk to the engineers too, they made most of our gear, maybe they can help.”

    “I will, also, I wanted to ask you: how do you feel about flying?”

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     Post subject: Re: Wayward Sons
     Post Posted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 9:09 pm 
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    “Dwawvs don’t believe in it.” Boltson said firmly.

    Chet was taken aback, “What about birds?”

    Boltson rolled his eyes before answering, “Flying is fine for birds, dwawvs however, live in mountains and holes in the Erf. We don’t climb trees or ride gwiffons or wear jetpacks made by crazy dollamancers who enjoy blowing themselves up.”

    “I never said I enjoyed it-“ Chet tired to say, but Boltson hurried on.

    “Dwawves are short, stout, and generally too heavy for mounts, just the way the Titans intended. If they wanted dwawvs to fly they’d give us an alcoholic beverage for it, like Aero Ale or Wocket Whiskey. But they didn’t so we don’t and aren’t gonna anytime soon.” Boltson was unusually adamant about this, Chet wasn’t sure how to react. Before he could compose a new argument, Zatchi rode up on his gwizzly, looking perturbed.

    “Chief Boltson, Caster Engen, may I have a word?” His usually carefree expression had been subdued, and Chet wondered what could have given him such a turn. “A very quiet word,” he added dropping his voice and leaning in.

    “Go on Caster Zatchi, what’s on yer mind?” said Boltson in a hoarse whisper.

    “I’ve been sensing magic for some minutes now, ever since we entered this hex, but it’s very subtle. Could be natural to these woods, or it might not be.” The weathered barbarian kept looking around, then closing his eyes to listen, sniffing. “It’s close, and I don’t like it.”

    “We’re on our turn, the enemy can’t attack us unless we enter...” Chet began, then noticed something as he looked around. “Zatchi, find the nearest enemy force.”

    The caster closed his eyes and took on a look of intense concentration before his eyes shot open. “I had something then it was gone, feels like Foolamancy, master class.”

    Chet looked straight ahead, not letting his eyes wander. He ordered up his bears silently, to form a screen around them. Boltson noticed, and nodded.

    “Zatchi, go stack with the warlords in the front of the column. Ah’ll talk to Manda.” Boltson ordered. Manda La is Royal Blu’s Thinkamancer, and she handled battlefield coordination for most of Tri County. Consequently, her juice was precious, and couldn’t be wasted unless it was important: Like an ambush.

    Chet tapped Boltson on the shoulder before he started the call, and his eyes darted back in forth to the trees. Boltson checked Chets line of sight, and then it dawned on him: The trees were in 8-stack formations. The dwawv nodded and made hand signals to the knights, who started forming around their chief without further prompting. Chet wandered over to the other side of the road, surrounded by his two stacks of L-bearies. Only half the column had entered the trees, the ambush would likely hold until they had the whole force surrounded, unless it got sprung early.

    Boltson had opened his eyes and nodded to no-one in particular: the warlords had been told. The dwawv dropped an open hand, as if to scratch his leg, but each time he scratched, there was one less finger. He caught Chet’s eye and gave him the smallest nod on three...

    Two...
    One.

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     Post subject: Re: Wayward Sons
     Post Posted: Fri Jun 20, 2014 6:47 pm 
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    “Chug, chug, chug, chug!” The soldiers were chanting as Chet and several others raced to finish first. Spurred on by the obscene amount of pan he was feeling, the dollamancer emptied his glass and slammed it down to cheers, a dozen other mugs fast on his heels.

    “Aye laddie, that’s the stuff!!!” Boltson was clapping his back in celebration. “Ye just won me two hundred coins, I knew I liked ye fer a reason.”

    “Another round Bolt, it hurts being this pretty and I need fix that.” In fact, half of Chet face was wrapped in bandages, courtesy of an acid splash, and it did in fact, HURT.

    “Caster Engen,” Balboa spoke up, “how’d you even survive that mess? That warlord should have turned you and your legionbearies into so much red and blue fluff.”

    “Ack ye should have seen it-“ Boltson began, but Chet wasn’t having it.

    “Ack, no nothing, this is my story,” he said, shushing the dwawv. “So Captain Lumberjack here sounds the charge, starts swinging, and cuts down half the trees in the hex before actually finding the enemy. Meanwhile my bears stomp out a few stacks of gremlins before a boulder reveals itself as hephalump and her angry rider, who’d like a few words with me.”

    “What’d he say?” asked one of the maids servants bringing in freshly grilled hephalump steak.

    “Something vulgar about using my skull as a chamber pot, then he’s bearing down on me with a spear three times taller than you.” Chet gave her a smile as he took his plate. It smelled delicious. He’d been uncertain when the soldiers wanted to harvest the fallen mount, but this convinced him. He breathed in deeply, “That’s amazing, thank you miss…”

    “Barbie, your lordship,” she said with a curtsy. “Barbie Kew.”

    “With food like this, you can call me Chet,” he said with a wink. “So this warlord is charging in, all my shot’s are bouncing off his armor, and the hephalump could care less about my pop gun. I’m starting too feel a little insulted, so I let him in close and gave my next shot extra juice. Blew the ground out from under his next step, instead he finds a hole that breaks the mounts leg and send it end over end. The warlord never had a chance to get clear and got crushed under his beastie. After that the rest of the hex was short work.”

    “Short work he say’s,” Boltson snorted. “His gwizzly went berserk and he loses an eye to acid, suddenly it’s a great idea to start shooting EVERYWHERE. Bodies flying, forest catching fire, he shoots my mount right in the arse so it goes charging right through a stack of pokeuspines.”

    “Triona got splashed, the acid caused a misfire, besides it worked, we croaked the enemy.” Chet said, waving his hand dismissively.

    “Only because they didn’t take cover with the rest of us, poor saps, never had a chance against this lunatic.” Boltson finished refilling the table with that suspicious jug of his, and lifted his glass, “To our lucky lunatic, may the Titans guide his aim and cover his allies.”

    The room roared with laughter and after drinking Boltson waved at the musicians in the corner of the mess hall. A lively tune sprang up and some of the soldiers got up and started dancing. The commanders sat together and conversed as they enjoyed the delicious steak.


    “Mmm, this is much better than those whyger burgers,” Balboa offered.

    “It’s this sauce,” Chet said, licking his fingers after he pulled from the monstrous rack of hephalump ribs they just brought in. “Barbie, sweetie, what is this?”

    The curvaceous serving girl came bearing a platter and few bottle of some golden liquid. Blond hair and sun bronzed skin, she leaned over with a generous helping of cleavage, pouring small glasses for the commanders.

    “Tomatoes, a little bit of spice, a splash of bourbon,” She finished pouring and left the half empty bottle at the table. “But the secret ingredient is honey.” She stood with her hips displayed enticingly, her corset squeezing in all the right places.

    “Yeah, I can imagine,” Chet nodded at the bottles, “Whatcha got there?”


    “From Lord Erie, with thanks for vanquishing the army hiding on his doorstep: his finest liquors.”

    Balboa inspected the labels and whistled softly. ”Compliments to Lord Eire, tell him it was our pleasure. Will he be joining us tonight?”

    “The Lord didn’t want to intrude on the after battle festivities. He will join you in the morning for breakfast.” Barbie curtsied again before swaying off to the kitchens for more food.

    “I like this city.” Chet said after they’d all watched her sashay off hypnotically.

    “That’s well since you’re going to be stationed here for some time. It’s to be our forward staging point for reprisals against Baag and Doucher. Boltson will take Zatchi and hunt for more hidden forces while I go rendezvous with an allied strike force to reclaim Greenlandia’s cities. Your formal orders come tomorrow, but it will likely be siege and golem production to speed up the reclamation.” Balboa knocked back his fist glass of Lord Erie’s best and poured another.

    “What about armaments?” Chet asked hopefully.

    “I didn’t ask, but their generally seen as something of a battlefield risk. If the enemy takes fallen items it’s that much worse for us.” The warlord answered, shrugging inside his custom tailored whygerhide raiment. “Although I’m all for it, the acid rolled right off of the cloak you made.”


    “See? I’m level three now, I can arm our warlords to the teeth!” Chet began. “Imagine an entire set of enchanted arms and armor! I could-“

    He was interrupted when Boltson clapped him on the back and handed him a whiskey. “Ye can blow the Erf ta pieces tomorrow Commander Winky. For now ye should drink yer liquor and notice the pretty lass standing by the dance floor,” he said, motioning over his shoulder where Barbie was indeed waiting to dance. “Come on now, get jiggity lad.”

    “Cheers,” Chet said toasting his fellows, and took his friends advice.

    Turns out, it was really, really good advice.

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     Post subject: Re: Wayward Sons
     Post Posted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 7:50 pm 
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    Meanwhile, back at the Capitol…

    “I still don’t think we should consider trading him until this current campaign is finished, he’s useful.” CW Roland Stone stood at the map table, several reams of reports lay spread out before him. Selecting one, he read aloud, “’Caster Engen displays uncanny aggression and reckless behavior more befitting a freshly popped stabber on the front lines than a Dollamancer.’ That’s Balboa.” He put it down and took another, “He drinks like a dwawv, rides like a marbit, and fights like confused lightening.’ That’s Boltson, who seems to have taken a shine to him.” He put that down for the next, “He filled my city with his creepy dolls, appropriated all the wagons for a golem relay to a local mine (that wasn’t there before) and turned one of my building into a smoking mess called a smelter because he needed more steel ingots than the city pops naturally. Not to mention the freak show he calls a workshop under the tower. He’s been locked in there for 6 turns now and I hear explosions all day and night. ‘” Stone looked up with a smile pulling on one side of his face, “ That’s from Lord Descent of Ter Qua, he decided to keep the smelter for the bonus to production it gives the city now, and I recommend that the site be upgraded to boost the armory production. Lord Descent also recognizes that his city might have been sacked the next turn if the ambush hadn’t been foiled, and grudgingly admits that the caster has his uses.”

    He laid the last paper down and gesture to the various other missives and reports. “We can’t spare him right now my Queen, we’re stretched too thin along the borders thanks to the early losses in Orange Country an Greenlandia. Without those golems to flesh out our strike force, we may not be able to hold our own cities for very much longer.” Having delivered his report, he stood at attention, awaiting the Counsel of Queen Narcissa, looking towards the canopy of translucent curtains that hid her from sight.

    Silence reigned for some time, but this was not unusual, the Queen liked to consider things carefully.

    “He’s a risk, an unknown. He might be useful, or get himself killed before we find out. I’d feel better trading for a Dirtamancer or a Lookamancer if one’s to be had, or a flying warlord from OC. An extra dollamancer is like an extra set of clothes, nice, but do you really need it?” She spoke with an exotic accent, her heritage as a royal popped in Greenlandia. She ruled the Court of Blu according to ancient exchange treaties, and the heir that Blu popped not long ago had been sent to Orange Country, where she would one day rule in turn.

    “If we were talking about another dollamancer like Crombie, I’d heartily agree with you: The man has a way with raiment, but his golems are practically useless in battle, they just run around posing in those ridiculous clothes he gives them. Let’s trade him if we have to get rid of someone.” Stone crossed his fingers and prayed the Titans grant him this one wish….

    “His raiment secures trade with the Kingdom of Defora for magic hats and several thousand shumuckers every dozen turns, we need the resources, you know that.” She rebuked him gently, she knew of their personal history and could understand Stones’ feelings.

    The chief warlord of Royal Blu and the infantry coordinator for allied command felt his hopes dashed once more. There were no words to explain the depth and breadth of Stone’s animosity towards Crombie. There was a woman involved somewhere in the story and Loyalty to his Queen was the only thing that kept Stone from starting each day with a healthy revenge beating at Crombie’s expense.

    “We’ve got another one, let Engen send them raiment.” Stone offered hopefully.

    The Queen turned her head, leaving her form in profile, dangerously beautiful Stone thought, before croaking the traitorous idea with extreme prejudice.

    “He popped in my chambers, Stone. You know what could have happened. Better to disband him than let him suffer that fate.” The Queens voice was soft, she did not often speak of the curse directly, for it pained her to think on it, and a Queen does not waste time on self pity. “I wasn’t wearing the royal veil, he popped right in front of me Stone, I was reaching for my raiment when he was just there.” Her Majesties tone had taken the smallest edge of vulnerability, “When I put my knife to his throat, it was the first time I’d touched someone since being cursed, and then he turned it into a rose. He’s only seconds old, bleeding, about to croak, and he gave me an enchanted flower.” Stone watched the Queens silhouette shake its head slowly. “He scares me Stone, what he might be. Only Fate could have made him pop in my chambers instead of the tower, but why? What awful thing would draw him so near to destruction in his first moments of existence?”

    Stone was at a bit of a loss for words, his Queen had never been so… open, discussing…personal things. Worse it involved the Titan’s and philosophy, neither topic being found in the warlords toolbox, Stone liked simple things, so maybe this was a simple answer, “Maybe he was sent to help?”
    The Queens silhouette turn to look at him sharply, and silence filled the room.

    “The best casters in the magic kingdom couldn’t undo the Signamancy curse that wretch cast over me, and now you suppose this rowdy noobling might be the answer to my prayers? Why I bet he can win this war with just a handful of dwawvs and a fancy suit. ” Scorn had replaced vulnerability, and Stone feared he had roused her legendary and fearsome wrath, but he knew better than to cower before this woman. Stone set his jaw and went around the table and right up to the curtain, the figure inside leaned back involuntarily.

    “Stop!” the order nailed his feet hard to the floor, but he’d made his point, and had her attention.

    “Give him a chance, leave him in the field to level, send him with the dwawvs even, for the vengeance campaign, but don’t trade him. I have a feeling about this unit my Queen, the Loremasters cast his future very favorably. I believe he will surprise us.” Stone fell quiet and held his ground.

    “Oh, you believe, do you Stone?” the sneer lashed across the warlords sense of Duty, his leaders disapproval being carried by Natural Thinkamancy, to make him cringe inside. “Very well then, let’s place our hopes on this ridiculous idea of yours and tell the whole court how our brilliant military strategy is pinned on your WARM AND FUZZY HOPE THAT THE PRETTY BOY IS SPECIAL!!!!”

    The Queen had risen and the safety curtain wafted as she screamed in his face. Stone had seen her wrath before, but never like this, and a tremor of genuine fear rolled through his guts. Just like that time he’d been swallowed alive by that Nomster and cut his way out to become a level 4.

    “Send him to fund raze.” Stone said quite calmly. “A small contingent to go burn down the most vulnerable targets they can find.”
    The Queen stared him down, presumably, and Stone looked her back right where he supposed her eyes were.

    “Very well Chief Warlord, you may send the fool caster out to fund raze” The Queen recomposed herself and returned to her cushioned throne, crossing her legs. Stone almost couldn’t believe it was that easy until she finished speaking, “but he shall go alone.”

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     Post subject: Re: Wayward Sons
     Post Posted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 8:00 pm 
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    “…Thus in our time of greatest peril, you have been selected for a special mission, to go in, a lone agent, to capture enemy cities and raze then to the ground.”

    Stone looked grimmer than usual as he gave Chet his orders, and he wondered if things were going worse than they were being told. For his part, Chet was thrilled.

    “Sir, yes Sir. When do I leave?” mental image Chet was nearly bouncing on his toes and Stone didn’t fail to notice.

    “Are you, feeling alright Commander Engen?” he asked warily, wondering if his nerves had finally cracked.

    “Yes sir, been itching to get back to the field, new designs to try out. Begging your pardon sir, but those are my complete orders, just go and raze it all down, however I like?” Chet worded this last part carefully, to avoid misunderstandings later.

    “Essentially, yes, It’s you versus any and all enemy cities until the Queen orders your recall. You may take a mount and as many supplies as you can carry, the Queen expects results in 5 turns.” Which had cost Stone another hour’s shouting to buy even that much time. Hopefully the caster could find a soft target and build enough golem to take it.

    “Very well sir, may I go prepare? I have work that needs to be finished before I leave, and thank you very much for this honor sir, I won’t let you down.” Chet forgot decorum and dropped out of the call moving at top speed to find and finish the things he wanted to take. He was throwing things around and working so fast that he almost didn’t notice Boltson come in.

    “Lad?” the dwawv came in travel stained and had a concerned look on his face. “Rumor mill tells me you’re headed out alone.”

    “I know, isn’t it great?” Chet said coming over to embrace his friend. “Great timing, I’ve got to show you how the armor works before I go, it’s not finished, but it was the best I could do with the time I had. Come see.” He took the dwawvs shoulder and half drug him through the lab, ducking arms and tools to arrive at a series of armor stands. “Here we are, like I said not finished, but still better than standard issue. Here’s how the straps works…” and Chet happily went on while Boltsons eyes glazed over a bit.

    “Laddie, I’m sure it’s fine, but what about you? It’s not everyday that a Dollamancer gets sent out alone.” Chet waved his concern off flippantly.

    “I can have a siege army ready in 3 turns, enough for a couple level 2’s at least, mostly I’m worried about being spotted by unknown air force, so I’ll have to sneak through forests a lot. Don’t worry; theoretically I’m totally prepared for this.”

    ***
    “That is what yer calling prepared laddie?” Boltson said looking up at Chet’s latest madness in the courtyard, scratching his beard thoughtfully, “A giant suit of armor?”

    “Technically it’s a golem, a stack of golem, all hooked together as if they were riding in a vehicle together, or pulling a wagon. The Date-a-mancy was all kinds of tricky before I figured out I could turn it into a team pulled craft by adding a seat. I don’t have one for you, sorry Bolt. The coordination it takes to operate smoothly takes dollamantic senses, and my thinkamancy isn’t good enough for a universal interface helmet just yet, but I’m working on it. Watch this.” Chet finished buckling in and closed the canopy. Taking hold of his dual joy-sticks, he pushed his senses into the craft and the stack of golems that powered it.
    After staggering to its feet, Chet had the multi-golem, he was calling it Johnny, go through a few warm up sets.

    “The other day I realized, my golem can only fight as well as I do, so I started visiting the infantry and knights to see if they’d train me a little. This is what I learned.” Then slowly, Chet let the golems limbs become an extension of his own, one unit with many moving parts, and he it’s master.

    Johnny suddenly stepped out and a blade sprang from his wrist, serrated and gleaming. Carefully, Chet went through the basic forms the infantry men taught him, feeling the stacked units synchronize. He’d learnt one combat drill from each of the garrisoned units at the castle, and practiced with the newly popped squads.

    Boltson watched the lumbering clunker go through its paces, stomp, thrust, parry, etc., our basic foot soldier routine. Not bad for a hulking clank built in a basement by a unit that wasn’t popped for battle. If Boltson was of a size however, the lads openings were blatant. Big, yes, destructive potential: in spades, combat effectiveness however…

    “Yer a big clumsy lout and somebody is going to rip yer giant arm off and beat ye with it laddie!” Boltson shouted to be heard over the clattering racket Johnny made during drills and movement in general. Chet heard him and came to an awkward halt.

    “Ye can’t go storming a castle like that lad. Any decent warlord will put yer fancy noise maker rump first in a dirt trap up to yer neck, which he, or she, shall promptly sever, so they can kick yer head around the courtyard fer points. It’s pretty neat Ah’ll give ye that, but,” Boltson shrugged his shoulders in apology. “Ye can’t go after the garrisons personally lad, lucky isn’t the same as experienced.”

    Chet sat there quietly, considering. “I thought my mission was a secret.”

    Boltson rolled his eyes before answering, “Of course it is, that's why the entire kingdom knows.Court gossip is almost faster than thinkamancy, and everybody talks to yers truly.” he said, pointing towards himself with his thumb. “The point is ye need help lad, and since Ah’ve made a fortune in coins from yer shenanigans, Ah feel kindly disposed towards ye.”

    “Ah want you to be at the tunnel entrance beneath the tower at sundown. Me and some friends will have a going away party for ye.” That was all he said before turning and walking out the door, ignoring Chet’s questions completely.

    ***

    Chet stood in the flickering half light of a pair of torches, wondering where the dwawvs were. There was only dark and quiet, making Chet wonder if he’d gone to the wrong place.
    He didn’t have long to wait, as two rows of stocky forms came forth in solemn march. Each wore a hooded brown coat, and carried a different type of weapon. Their faces were hidden in shadow, and the overall effect made the hair rise on the back of his neck. He saw Boltson’s axe leading one hooded row as they marched past Chet on both sides, and joined ends to become a circle facing him. Those with hafted weapons lifted them and dropped them again with a resounding crack as the entire circle shouted together, “HA-OO”
    Chet was fairly alarmed by now, but determined not to be suckered by another one of Boltson’s gags.
    “No one told me to bring a coat.” He said nonchalantly, but his lopsided smile slowly faded as the group stood motionless in complete silence. Before Chet could think of something else to do or say he was hit by a shockamancy pulse from behind and the world went dark.

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     Post subject: Re: Wayward Sons
     Post Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:12 am 
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    Chet woke with a hangover, until he remembered being shot and scrambled to get on his feet. It was pitch black and he stumbled without a sight reference, if not for the feel of the floor on his feet he might be floating in a sea of emptiness. No walls met his fingers, no sounds came to his ears, so he held still and used his other senses.

    Clothes, moving, behind him!

    With a start he jumped into a shoulder roll and twisted around, using his dollamantic sense of the cloth to aim.

    “Hoboken!” A blazing burst of energy lit up the room as it hurtled into his attacker, knocking him off his feet with a grunt. Then Chet felt two more flanking him.

    He had time to fire at one, but then the other was upon him, grasping his shirt and pummeling him senseless. Chet threw a shot below the belt, and even tho it missed, it bought him chance when his attacker instinctively flinched.

    “Ehnpeaiche,” Chet uttered the magic word and felt the juice flow into his raiment, transforming it into a particular kind of cloth golem.

    The golem suit responded by cinching tight all over his body, in some cases uncomfortably tight, and instantly he felt steadier on his feet. Just in time to start taking gut shots, to prevent him casting anymore.

    It was too late, using his sense of the opponents clothes and the added strength, broke the hold to avoid the next blow and gave one back, with interest. He heard a satisfying crack and his foe gasped in surprised pain. Chet didn’t let up until he felt the other two closing back in, so he decided to field test another new spell.

    “Pinocchio,” he said, pushing the last bit of todays juice into his opponents clothes even as he landed another shot to the bread basket.

    A second unit sense came into Chet’s mind, and he smiled as he mentally gave the order to engage.

    Chet heard his punch buddy strain to over come Chets golem suit, but a few well placed squeezes of cloth kept him in too much pain to struggle effectively. Then the foelem(?) intercepted one of his other attackers with a satisfying amount of surprise, leaving Chet some time to deal with…

    A six armed monster.

    He almost didn’t believe his magical senses, six sleeves? His doubt didn’t last long however, as he was pummeled by a series of quick, sharp jabs and Chet felt pain and something warm dripping off his face. He was knocked to the ground and felt a kick coming, so he rolled away and started taking off his shirt. His enemy came at him again, so he threw the top half of his golem suit at it, “Tie up those arms”

    His assailant paused, trying to rip the squirming cloth with one of the hands it had missed. This left him in perfect position to receive a flying drop kick right to the chest. Chet left that one crumpled against a wall, by the feel of that sudden stop his assailaint made, and went over to help his foelem, who was being shredded systematically.

    Chet didn’t play nice, and gave the fellow a kick to the gut that knocked him skidding across the floor. He was running over for the coup de curb stomp, when the lights came on and he heard a familiar voice.

    “That’s enough laddie, ye passed.”

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     Post subject: Re: Wayward Sons
     Post Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:33 am 
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    Earlier that night…

    “He won’t survive, why waste the effort?” This from Lady Usmeda, heir designate of Orange Country and daughter of Queen Narcissa. Her clothes were travel stained and several of her arms had bandages.

    “This will give him a chance at least. Doesn’t any loyal unit deserve that much?” Boltson replied. “Besides, we need him to succeed,” he added, looking across the circular table at Lord Stone.

    He nodded at he dwawv and stood, his brown duster rustling.

    “We are outnumbered 5 sides to 3. Latest mathamancy analysis indicates that we are facing 4 sides worth of troops, all being magically bankrolled by a fifth side, who we have not yet seen. This theory has a 95% probability based our most accurate intelligence,” Which meant Lookamancer Pola and Mathamancer Abe Plus.

    “Magically bankrolled?” asked Lord Balboa, his green and purple cloak peeking out from under his own duster.

    “A Moneymancer/Turnamancer tri-link is the only thing that could provide so many cheaply popped units, in addition to fueling upkeep on so many armies. We suspect the fifth side has almost no troops on which to pay upkeep, instead they send their casters from city to city boosting, and then forward the cheap troops and extra funds to their allies, who prey upon us.” Stone looked around the table at the two dozen odd units, meeting the eyes of all but one. “Mistake not that we are in a war of extinction. For the first time in five thousand turns, Tri C faces an alliance greater than her own.”

    Solemn looks were traded around, this war had started with a nasty sucker-punch, and it had cost precious turns and units to halt enemy advances.

    “At least we can finally clear the neighbor hood of riffraff. I say we raze them and colonize the area,” Lady Usmeda said, her voice cool.

    “Indeed, that is our long term goal, should we prove victorious. Towards that end Boltson has nominated the Dollamancer Chet Engen to wear the war-coat, and I concur.” Stone turned to look at the hooded form of Lady Usmeda. “He’s got 62% odds of success on his own, even better with our help.”

    “What if it gets us killed? Did you ask what our odds are if we help?” She folded all six arms and glared at he heard a low hiss coming from her direction.

    “They’re better,” Stone replied coldly. “Because if he wins, Tri C wins. We need him to succeed at sapping enemy resources. If we don’t slow their production rates we will be drowning in enemy troops within 30 turns; first Greenlandia, then Royal Blu, and finally OC.”

    “You’re telling me it all depends on this guy?” she said skeptically.

    “No, there will be several strike forces, but he is the only solo agent, which is why we want to give him an advantage.”

    Usmeda sat quietly tapping her fingers for a moment, “How much of an advantage?”

    “Two levels worth of combat experience, which means roughly 15% of your current level for those present. Raised voices came up from around the table.

    “I’m going to have to challenge that Stone, and stop spending so much time with Abe, I hate all the numbers,” Lord Hollowitz said in that disturbing, too big voice. He was holding his chin thoughtfully. “Make him prove himself at least.”

    A chorus of affirmatives came from those assembled, and it was to be expected. Under normal circumstances, the application to this little fellowship is a bit more lengthy, however the exigencies of war and all that. A trial however, could be arranged.

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     Post subject: Re: Wayward Sons
     Post Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:35 am 
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    “Welcome to the table Lord Engen,” boomed Hollowitz, taking the role of officiator. “Hate to rush you through the formalities, but we have to finish before the start of next turn, war to fight you know. Lord Stone, if you would?”

    With a nod, the grim faced man took the reins. “Lord Engen, welcome to our little community. We are a very old group, existing nearly from the beginning of the alliance, formed to meet ever greater threats to our people. We’re just an informal group, but in times of war, we are the heart of a vast machine of immense power. You don’t know yet, but Tri C has some very powerful magical items which have made us great and mighty for thousands of turns. We believe it is jealousy and avarice that has finally spurred our far flung neighbors to make the attempt. They began this war by striking hard, wiping out three whole colonies on the first turn, and we’ve been on the back foot ever since. We don’t know how they did it, but we lost contact with them instantly, and three more the turn after. Not cities, colonies, dozens of cities rolled up without one sighting of the enemy. Same with our mercenary squads, hardened veterans of alliance special forces, all of our active duty units were lost, no signs of battle. We suspect magic of an unknown variety, designed especially to wipe out whole armies or cities. A link boosted shockamancy spell holds the highest probability, but there have been no survivors to bear witness, so we have only conjecture.”

    Stone fell silent to give the caster a moment to process, a crash course in recent history and the enemy’s mysterious super weapon was easy compared to what was coming.

    “I still don’t see why all of this means I have to get ambushed in the dark, twice.”

    Reactions around the table were mixed, laughs, chough-and-look-aways, Boltson looked smug and Chet suspected he’d won another bet, Stone was implacable, as usual.

    “You’ll heal at dawn, and you’ll see worse before you come home again, if you don’t buy a ticket upstairs first,” Stone looked to Hollowitz and nodded. “Speaking of which, this one of our greatest weapons, or was. It has been sabotaged and we don’t know if it will work.”

    Hollowitz bent his lean frame over the table and began touching the symbols etched there, fingers dancing. Light began strobing along the surface of the table, a rainbow in stone. Chet felt more than heard a low hum fill the room, and the smell of burning ozone permeated the air. Chet stretched out his magical senses and only saw a dazzling series of pulses, far beyond his current ability to understand in full. After pressing a few more symbols, a circle opened in the center of the table flooding light into the chamber. An ovoid statue, or some kind of pod? After it fully emerged from the table, tracks rose seamlessly and the pod thing started sliding down, straight to Chet.

    It came to a smooth stop in front of his chair, and he got up to see it better. As he examined it, seams of light cracked the pod in half, and the panels slid back to reveal a kind of reclining chair.

    “This is the Grow Box: a unit goes in, sits down, and with a little bit of Weirdomancy, I can move the experience points of other units over to you. It’s accelerated leveling, to give new units a better chance in dire moments like these.” Hollowitz got up and explained on the walk over. “It’s one of several such devices, made by master class links and perfected over hundreds of turns, that has made Tri C the power she is today, and now, have become our greatest hope for victory.”

    He came to stand with Chet, resting a hand on the gem encrusted egg panels. “This item however, is broken. One of the original creators, a Signamnacer by the name of Jay Faber, sabotaged this device and a few others during his escape to exile, after cursing then Princess Narcissa for rejecting his love. We suspect that he may also be in league with the current enemy, due to their intimate knowledge of our response abilities and tactics.”

    After listening to all this in silence, Chet squinted his one good, unpulvervized eye and pushed his d-sense into the egg thing. Dazzling bright light flooded his
    senses, too much power to look at for long, and dangerous to play with, even if he had juice to try. He couldn’t see any obvious broken links or faulty power lines, but then a Signamancer would be able to make it look however he wanted, wouldn’t he?

    “So you want me to hop in the Egg Box, so you can zap me with something that might croak me, or give me super powers?” Chet raised an eyebrow skeptically. “And I’d have to get naked I suppose, before getting doused with beer to finish this prank?”

    That got a few chuckles and Stone went so far as to blink, but his brows knotted still further, nearly touching, before he went on.

    “Lord Engen,” Which sounded more like ‘GRRROOOOOOWWWLLLLL ENNNNNNNGENNNN.’

    “This is not a trick nor a prank, the kingdom is on the line and we are offering you a chance at greater power than you now possess. Power that made five kingdoms unite in greed and treachery. Good unit’s have fallen to give you the chance to stand here and joke.”

    Taken aback, Chet pulled himself into proper attention. “Sorry sir. Pardon my lapse. I’m game to try it sir, if it will help the alliance.”

    Mollified, Stone nodded and turned to a small woman sitting to his right, “Lady La, you can veto this if you choose, we don’t know that the device will even work, or it could malfunction and croak us all.”

    “That’s a little over-dramatic Stone, I’ve been pouring over the Toy Box since Faber left and I can assure we won’t all croak. Anyone who gets in the box might, but the rest of us should be fine.” Hollowitz said defensively.

    “Last time you said ‘should be fine’ the Beamer dropped my strike force in the middle of the enemy army.” Stone said sourly.

    “I summoned monsters to help! Besides that worked out beautifully, they surrendered in minutes.”

    “Only because those disbanded jellies are terrifying.” Balboa suppressed a shudder.

    “Returning to the point,” Stone began, “you’re his Chief Caster, should we risk it?”

    The small caramel skinned woman with dark hair in a pageboy cut sat without opening her eyes, hands folded inside the sleeves of her coat. “We lose ground daily and grow no closer to knowing what the enemies secret weapon really is, and we hesitate to use our own for fear of sabotage. This war has to change tempo, and it starts now.” The intense little caster stood up, barely getting any taller. “I hereby authorize the use of any and all items, powers, or other measures justifiable to the defense of the allied nations. Furthermore, I move that we open the Bottom Drawer. Who will second the motion?”

    A moment of stunned silence followed by low murmurs, only half of the units present even knew what that was, and the ones who did, looked uneasy.

    “I second the motion,” came Lady Usmedas solemn voice.

    “Oy now old timers” that was Boltson, “what’s this Bottom Drawer non-sense?”

    Still standing, Manda took the floor from Stone and went on, “The Bottom Drawer is our armory of unstable or unsafe magical items that were unapproved for general issue. Addictive potions that boost juice and other stats, personal emergency beamers, Turn serum, and others too unseemly to mention. All developed by alliance researchers but deemed to dangerous to use, or too shameful. Nonetheless, they are powerful and dangerous and our backs are against the wall. The motion has been seconded, I call for a Chiefs vote.”

    “Greenlandia isn’t even here, we don’t have a full group.” Hollowitz objected.

    “We have two chief warlords, and two chief casters, that’s enough for an executive override.” Stone said quietly.

    “Are things really that bad? I thought we had turned things around in Greenlandia and Blu crushed those infiltrators. OC has even reclaimed a few lost cities.” This came from someone Chet didn’t know, a warlord wearing OC colors.

    “Greenlandia has been in near constant combat, using all of our remaining Rainbow teams and a ceaseless golem supply, but we can’t sustain it. Within 15 turns our credit in the Magic Kingdom will be run out; no more scrolls, potions, no more rock golems, no more hired guns or support personnel, and it only gets worse after that.“ Stone looked around the silent room, meeting the eyes of everyone present.

    “Tomorrow, we will begin beaming strike forces deep into enemy territory to fund raise and head hunt. Several of you will be dispatched especially to attack enemy capitol sites, with the intent to croak leadership and disband the enemy armies on our doorstep.” Stone paused for a moment before going on, “Those selected for strike teams should know, there will be no back-up or reinforcements. Once we send you out there, you must succeed if you want to see home again. If you fail, there won’t be anything left to come back to.”

    Glances were quietly exchanged around the room, even easy going Boltson looked grim.

    “Well,” Chet said, breaking the silence and clambering up into the pod, “Let’s get this started, I got cities to burn and a kingdom to save and it’s past my bed time.” Once he was inside, he noticed that the whole disbanded thing was made of gems. It was worth thousands of Shumckers in material alone. He wondered if that was part of the magic…

    Stone appeared in front of the still open pod door, wearing his habitual expression, “You’re either very brave, or very stupid.”

    Chet smiled and popped his head out to look at Boltson, “100 coins on stupid.”
    The dwawv looked down at the table for a moment before meeting Chet’s gaze, a carefree smile plastered on his face. “Done, now hurry it up so we can get back to drinking.”

    With a nod to his friend and a wave to the table in general, Chet sat down again and looked for a button to push. He saw Stone give Hollowitz the nod, and the glittering pod, box thing closed around him.

    Chet felt the pod start moving to the center of the table, and a low hum began rattling his teeth. Once more he opened his magical senses to feel the swirl of energy around him. He didn’t understand most of what he was sensing, but he made a note to review this later.

    Then the singing started. Manda La started the verse, but soon the entire table joined in, standing one by one and placing their hands on the table as Hollowtiz began the weirdomancy transfer.

    Sometimes in our lives,
    We all have pain, we all have sorrow
    But, if we are wise,
    we know that there’s always tomorrow

    Lean on me, when you’re not strong
    And we’ll be your friends, we’ll help you carry on
    For it won’t be long
    Till we’re going to need, somebody to lean on

    Please, swallow your pride
    If we have EXP you need to borrow,
    For no one can fill the bar alone,
    And the war comes on the morrow.

    You just call on me brother, when you need a hand,
    We all need somebody to lean on
    We just might have a problem, that you understand
    We all need somebody to lean on.

    Lean on me, When you’re not strong
    And we’ll be your friends, we’ll help you carry on
    For it won’t be long
    Til we’re going need, somebody to lean on.

    If there is a load
    you have to bear that you can’t carry
    We’re right up the road, we’ll share your load
    If you just call the team.

    Chet had been listening as the magic power built up, and had to wipe away a tear, hoping no one outside could see him through the gem walls.

    Then the world melted into pain.

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     Post subject: Re: Wayward Sons
     Post Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2014 8:25 pm 
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    Lightening erupted over the surface of the Grow Box, and Hollowitz was looking slightly panicked as his hands danced over the control panel.

    “Uhhhhh, Manda? If you’ve got a minute I could use a hand,” he chuckled nervously as sweat broke out on his brow.

    “Is this what fine looks like Witzy?” Usmeda catcalled as Manda came over to help.

    “I, uh, may have missed something…”

    Manda touched the panel next to Hollowitz and started looking over the enchanted program. “The shut down is disabled, we can’t stop. Everyone, prepare for transfer, this might hurt.”

    As if on signal, more lightening spread from the Box to the edges of the table, and up the arms of those present. Being warrior units, they were too tough to make any noise, but there were a lot of clenched jaws going around.

    “Capacitor fluctuating erratically, turnamantic dynamo is overloading, we’ve got to dump the power.” Hollowitz touched another series of symbols. “Shunts are disabled, we’re cut off from the Tower Net, it’s going to blow.”

    Small explosions started popping gems off the box, forcing units to try and dodge with their hands stuck to the table.

    “No, divert everything into the Grow Box. We will form a link and salvage this. Take my hand,” Manda ordered.

    “Thought you’d never ask,” he clasped hands with her and instantly Hollowitz felt his senses expand, and… it just might be possible. Manda took the link and then did something Hollowitz had never seen: She reached through the table, through the box, and took hold of …something inside Chet, it felt like a piece of string.

    The lightening strikes around the table died off, transforming into a swirling vortex of energy around the Box.

    “Initiating transfer,” came the unified voice of Manda/Witz.

    That’s when Chet started screaming, what had began pretty badly, had gotten worse. He felt his insides go hollow, a void greater than the worst hunger he’d ever experienced, and his stats started to drop.

    “Reversing dynamo polarity, the EXP and Stat boosters have been fused, it’s siphoning his hit points!” Witz said in the headspace he shared with Manda. They stood in darkness around the blazing figure of Chet, watching him croak painfully.

    “Take a breath Witz, then grab some juice and force his stats up manually, I’ll handle his level, you just keep him alive.” Once again, the icy calm of La spilled into his mind, and he did as ordered. “Hit points stabilizing, but now his other stats are being attacked, I can’t hold that many numbers.”

    With an absent minded nod the tiny caster bent to her task. For her part, Manda did something that only a Master class Thinkamancer can do, and started tying knots in Chet’s Grandiocosmic string.

    “Brace yourself, I’m going to try something. Keep him alive,” without waiting for a response, Manda diverted the flow of power into Chet’s stats. For a few seconds it worked, his numbers were going up, until something blew out in a massive burst of flame, tossing several units away from the table and into the wall.

    “I can’t hold it, his numbers are going crazy,” Witz felt the magic start to slip from his control.

    “Just a little longer, I’m dumping everything that’s left into EXP,” Manda shifted focus, and pulled hard on the line, taking enough slack to start looping Chet’s string back over itself. Then with a few deft mental twists, turned Chet’s natural line into a convoluted mess that might handle the power she was about to throw at him.

    “It’s now or never Manda.”

    “Now,” she said, unleashing the magic.

    Outside the headspace, a huge pillar of lightening consumed the Grow Box in fury and sound, sundering the table. Everyone was blown off their feet and half
    were incapacitated instantly. Boltson staggered upright and looked to the Box.

    It was shattered beyond recognition, just gem shards and melted gold, Chet was laying motionless in the chair, smoke rising from his body. Boltson rushed over and tried to check his stats, but they didn’t make sense. The numbers were still changing, and Chet was starting to twitch and shiver.

    “Get him out of the chair,” ordered Manda, her face streaming blood. “Bring him to me, quickly.” She pushed her self up from the floor, but could not stand. Instead she leaned back against the wall while Boltson took Chet in his arms and carried him over.

    Laying him gently next to Manda, Boltson hovered anxiously while she checked his friend. “Go check Hollowitz and bring him over. Then check on the others.”
    Boltson nodded and after helping Witz to come around he checked on Stone and Jesse, the OC CW. Stone was out, bleeding from the ears nose and mouth, but alive, Jesse however, was gone. Bolt passed his hands over the X’s, closing Jesses’ eyes for the last time, commending him to the Titans.

    The others were banged up, but alive. Several would need healing before the turn ended, but that could be taken care of. Others were getting up and walking around, Usmeda and few of her knights. They began treating the wounded, the pharmacons healomancy special saving the day once again.

    “Prince Jesse has fallen?” came the soft voice of Lady Usmeda, torn with grief. She knelt next to the fallen warlord, brushing his hair back gently. “Oh, my sweet prince.” Tears splashed down on his face, and she began to sob gently.

    Boltson briefly laid a hand on her shoulder, and to his surprise, she grasped it, squeezing for support.

    “He never saw my curse,” she said between sobs,” six arms, snake skin, and poisonous hair, and…He said he loved me at first sight.” She lifted Jesse from the floor and held him as she cried, and Boltson never left her.

    On the other side of the room Witz and Manda were trying to see if Chet would croak or not.

    “What did you do to him? His energy is…twisted. I can’t stop his numbers from tumbling.” Indeed, as they watched, all of his stats were scrolling through random numbers, but seemed to be slowing down.

    “His level was too low to survive that much power. When the safety lines started breaking down there was only so much that could be done. It was either take a chance or lose the whole disbanded tower. That rat Faber knew we’d try and fix it, and was ready. We’re going to have to scrap everything he ever touched, another accident like that could finish us without the need for a war.” Manda placed her hands on Chets temples, checking to see if her experiment had worked.

    “That still doesn’t explain why he feels like a pretzel. This flow isn’t natural,” Witz kept waving his hands over Chets inert form, trying to sort the chaos, when something chilling occurred to him. “You tilted his Fate axis, didn’t you? He was supposed to croak tonight.”

    Manda looked up sharply, her gaze boring into Witz, “If the Titan’s wanted him croaked, I doubt I could stop them Caster Hollowitz. What I did… I’ve never tried before. I pulled on his Fate yes, manipulated it perhaps, but no one can change Fate. In fact I believe he was Fated to live, which is what actually made it possible, so let’s not waste tonight’s sacrifice.” She turned back to Chet, and closed her eyes, ending the discussion.

    After all was said and done there wasn’t much to do, waiting until Chets stats naturally stopped scrolling, hoping they didn’t land on a zero for hit points.

    “Titans dirty hole, is that permanent?” Balboa exclaimed when he came over. “He’s got more attack and defense than Stone.”

    “Look at his hit points,” Stone said, after being healed. His face was covered in drying blood, and the man looked haunted. “He’s only got half the hits he popped with.”

    “Well you’re the only one in the room that could actually hurt him, none of us have an attack high enough to get past that defense with out a crit.” Balboa answered.

    “He’s level 6 now as well, how did that happen?” Stone looked down at the two Chief Casters, eyes hard, as usual.

    “As you can see, the entire Table is done for, which included the Spymancy system, and the Battle Tabulator, in addition to the Grow Box. It held a tremendous amount of magical power, and when it blew, I had to funnel it into Chet or risk blowing the whole room and possibly the entire tower to smithereens. This is the result,” Manda answered her warlord in the same cool voice she always used, but there was a certain tightness around her eyes. They had survived, but it didn’t feel like any kind of victory.

    Stone looked around at the two dozen or so units that had come here at his call, and one that had fallen.

    “King Sunny has been calling me since the explosion, presumably to ask what happened to his Chief warlord and son. I haven’t answered yet.” Manda finally dropped her hands into her lap and rested her head against the wall. “Caster Engen will live, but he won’t be recovered for a few more turns. I suggest we open the Bottom Drawer and then send everyone back home to rest.”

    Stone nodded, “I have Jesse's key, let’s get this over with.”

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