Book 2 - Text 2
Gobwin Knob’s dominion had spread out far and wide, across a variety of terrain types, and Sizemore had seen quite a bit of it. Warlord Ansom and Lady Firebaugh had taken to razing cities which produced less useful unit types, and he would fly out by dwagon relay and rebuild on the ruins. This created a city that popped the same kinds of units the capital did: infantry and twolls for a Level One, plus spidews and warlords for a Level Two, and dwagons for a Level Three or more.
In his travels, he’d had the chance to try out many different provisions: fruits and nuts, cheeses, meats, bread from different grains, malt beers, wild game. But he had yet to find anything as tasty and wonderful as the fat gray mushrooms the Hippiemancers grew.
He munched his way through a small sack of them, walking with Janis under the trestles of the little vineyard. He was already down to his last three. He wanted to save them, but he knew he wouldn’t. He pulled out another and bit into it. Delicious.
"So he’s taking some interest in command again?" Janis asked.
They were discussing Lord Parson, though Sizemore didn’t particularly want to. Janis always brought him up. He shook his head. "No, not command. He rarely issues an order any more. It’s strange...he asks. Asks us to do things. Even Pikers..."
"But he spends his time plotting battles."
"Gaming," said Sizemore. "Not really planning. I’ve talked to him about it, like you asked. Lord Parson studies war the way some of us like to study magic. Only he’s good at it."
Janis cocked her head. "He’s good at war?"
"Good at studying," said Sizemore. He nodded, "But that too."
They stopped at a green copper fountain with a sculpture of a nude Archon, arms upraised. Sizemore popped the last two mushrooms greedily in his mouth, washed his hands, and drank from one of the cascading spouts. "Look, you know. In magic theory," he said, wiping his face on his jacket sleeve, "when we debate...we do it by comparing the merits of one system of terms and ideas to another one. And somebody is always defending the system they most admire. Maybe even because it’s the system they invented."
Janis took his wrist as he spoke, and led him to a little marble bench to sit.
"Lord Parson doesn’t do it that way," Sizemore continued, sitting down. "He investigates...tests. He’s very good at working things down to base principles. I think we could all learn something from the way he thinks."
Janis looked at him closely, in silence.
"He’s got to command, Sizemore."
Sizemore sighed. "I know," he said. "Maggie thinks so too. But Lord Stanley is...really difficult. You don’t know."
"I think there will be an opportunity. This battle you will fight tomorrow, with Jetstone--"
Sizemore started to object. The discussion of his side’s battle plans here would be against Duty. But she raised her hand. "You don’t need to confirm it. I know. And this battle will be a turning point. I have some Predictamancy on it, among other things. There will be disarray, and you and your Thinkamancer should push him to lead."
He sighed again. Janis was his friend, his guide. She was the wisest person he knew. She was loving, and giving of her wisdom. She would talk about anything he wanted to talk about.
But only if they talked about Parson first, and he really didn’t enjoy it at all. "Maggie won’t use Thinkamancy on him. And I don’t think she should."
Janis smiled warmly. "Then use friendship. Use illumination. Make him see the need."
He couldn’t return her smile. He looked down at the little round stones in a circular pattern around the fountain: concentric spirals, like the head of a daisy. Blades of new grass were poking up in the cracks. "Janis... I still have trouble seeing the need." He looked up at her. "He doesn’t want to fight. And I don’t, either. What our side is doing...it’s both glorious and terrible. Mostly terrible, I think. Everyone fears us, even here. Lord Parson doesn’t want to lead it. I respect him for that, but I’m also really quite frightened about what will happen to the whole world if he takes command again."
One corner of Janis’ mouth drooped, and she touched his shoulder.
"It will break. I told you. He may war so terribly that it breaks war itself. That is my own hope." She smiled sadly, "And in the long run, I have few others."
Sizemore looked at her carefully. "This is a war for peace, then? You’re sure?"
She nodded. "I think it is."
He shook his head in wonder. "And that...makes it better?"
"Than a war for war? Yes, I think so."
Sizemore thought about the things he had seen in the ruins of cities, and the ruins of his friendships here.
"It’s still worse than peace."
Janis raised her chin. "What isn’t?" Previous Image : Image 11 : Next Image