First Intermission 26
Art by Onezumi Hartstein
Turns since TBfGK: 3
Parson listened to Maggie's explanation, and couldn't disagree with it. Stanley had ordered the city to be rebuilt immediately, before his return. When she relayed that order to Sizemore she suggested they link up, and he agreed.
"Eagerly," nodded Sizemore. "It's utterly fascinating, casting from a link. I just... understand the spell so clearly."
According to Maggie, a two-caster linkup was a less risky and drastic thing than three, especially when done voluntarily. In it, the Thinkamancer's function was something like "cognitive copilot," managing the other caster's mental functions, focusing his attention and boosting his energy to achieve better results than the caster could alone.
And it had worked. Their side got a better capital out of it than if Sizemore had upgraded the city by himself. The link was easily broken afterward, and neither of them seemed to suffer any harm.
Parson looked up at the banner again, then back to Maggie. "Did you think," he said slowly and carefully, "his ego... needed more help?"
"Frankly, Lord, I did."
Not the answer he expected... "Really."
"Lady Firebaugh has attuned to an Arkentool, which Lord Stanley was seeking. She controls a powerful army, bearing her livery. Lord Stanley has known nothing but defeat for a very long time. Yet he is still Overlord. Does it occur to you that this situation might be emotionally precarious for him?"
"I... can see the logic, yes. I guess," said Parson. Lately, he hadn't given much thought to what passed for his boss' brain. But that was a big part of Maggie's job, he supposed. "Yeah. Stanley, I guess can only function if he's the center of the universe."
"Yeah but... who told you you could link up? Something that risky seems like something that would have to be an order."
"Not necessarily," said Maggie. "Duty, in fact, compels us to take actions to benefit our ruler and our side. And it was very little risk. In our earlier link, we discovered a strong rapport. Such mutual trust can make the process a great deal easier."
Parson watched them exchange glances, and wondered what the link-up really did to you. "Guess I'll have to take your word for that. I can't imagine."
Maggie nodded. Sizemore looked at him, worried. Parson looked around at the walls and the distant new tower. "Well, for what it's worth, I like the new city better than the old one."
They brightened at that, pride showing through in both of them.
"But I still want to see if I can leave it," said Parson, turning toward the main gate. "Let's go find out."