First Intermission 44
Turns since TBfGK: 38
Parson had decided to name all of the east-west streets in Gobwin Knob after Simpsons characters, and all of the north-south avenues after foods he missed. This meant that there was an intersection of Homer and Donut near the center of town, which he called "D'oh Plaza." He'd even had the Twolls make street signs and numbers for the building fronts.
"But honestly, I'm settling into this. Breakfast, do rounds, lunch, do sims with Jack, dinner, read in the library, or hang out with Sizemore and talk magic. It's kinda nice. Needs weekends, but it's not bad."
He knew what she was getting at. They had walked and talked often enough now. Even with a lot of his tactics and ideas getting implemented at the front, Maggie still thought he was wasting his talents. She was pretty stubborn on that point. It came up all the time.
As tribes, natural allies could pop new units if they had extra Schmuckers. So Stanley had used the intervening turns and a notable chunk of the treasury to repopulate the Hobgobwin tribe from the lone remaining Knight to around two hundred units, about forty or fifty of them Knights. But there were no Gobwins in Gobwin Knob.
He walked along, looking down at the tip of his Hamstard walking stick as it tapped the bricks at his feet. "Maggie... I'm doing what I can. You know?"
Sizemore had been busy, sending out parties of tunnel-capable units to look below ground. Many of the nearby mountain hexes had tunnel systems, and it would have been normal to find a feral Gobwin tribe mining for upkeep in there somewhere. They had found only a lot of Marbits, though, and Marbits and Elves would not ally with a side that used Gobwins, Hobgobwins, Witches or Daemons.
"See that's what I'm saying. I'm kind of finding stuff out here... about myself. Like, how the hell was I supposed to know how I felt about death... about causing death?" said Parson. He didn't feel like adding, "until I did it." He was having a hard enough time just responding to Wanda's requests for tactical advice. Fortunately, he didn't have to do much but play Mathamancer, run the calculations, and say, "yeah, that'll work" to Ansom's fairly solid plans. The one time he'd said "no, bad plan" they'd done it anyway. And that was all just tactics; he wasn't planning strategy. He was off the hook, right?
"You do have some terribly unorthodox personal views, Lord," said Maggie. A strange little smile curled at one corner of her mouth. "One in particular, I find intriguing."
"Well perhaps I am mistaken, and I am surely well out of line in asking, but have you really had no intimate contact with any of the Archons? Are you celibate, Lord?"
Parson stopped in his tracks. Yeah. That would be one of those kick-your-ass sentences. "Hold that thought," he said tersely.
They crossed the remaining ground to the bank. Maggie followed Parson inside. They walked across the empty common area, with its bare desks and cabinets. Parson peeked in the empty vault, then they walked back and out without a word.
About a block away from the bank, Parson said, "Sorry. I didn't feel like talking about that in front of Wanda's dudes."
She cleared her throat. "I see, Lord. But they are your 'dudes,' are they not? Certainly they are our dudes."
"Um, I'm not completely sure," said Parson, frowning and looking back over his shoulder. "From what I can tell, they're like the dwagons are with Stanley. They're loyal to the 'pliers, and therefore to Cruella herself. For all I know, she can see through their eyes and hear what they hear. But if not, they'll prob'ly just tell her anything interesting when they can."
Maggie nodded affirmatively, "Ahhh. I see. In that light, your reluctance to approach the Archons for... that sort of thing is perfectly understandable. Sorry to have brought it up, Lord."
He nodded. They walked on for a bit. He knew he should leave it at that. Really, really should. But...
"It's not just that," Parson said. He stopped, and turned to look at her. "Yes, Wanda looking out of some Archon's eyes? That is... an extremely creepy thought. But it's really not what skeeves me out about it. It's more like..."
He struggled for how to put it. Maggie was a kung fu master of the neutral expression, but Parson had played a lot of poker. He could see the tiniest little smile around her eyes. It meant she was enjoying this conversation way too much.
"Okay well it's like... what I was saying before. I've never had that power before, and I don't know how I feel about it. If I understand things right, I could just like, order an Archon to take off her clothes and drop to her knees. And she'd do it, right?"
Maggie's eyes did something entirely different this time, they sort of flashed. "An Archon, or any unit, Lord."
"Okay well... it doesn't work like that where I'm from," said Parson uncomfortably. "We actually have laws against that... against people in power taking advantage of their underlings or whatever. For that. I mean I seriously would not have expected to react this way to this situation, but it feels wrong to me."
Maggie smiled at him, her eyes crinkling. "What an utterly alien thing to think. But also, utterly charming."
"Graah. C'mon," Parson said, and continued up the avenue. They turned the corner at Maggie Street (the name had led to an interesting discussion on an earlier outing), and he saw the street was clear of Decrypted. "Y'know maybe if one of them was actually interested in me... But even then, I've got another problem. One that probably trumps the other two."
Maggie's tone darkened. "I see, Lord. Are you unable?"
"No! Jesus!" shouted Parson, throwing up his hands. "I'm talking about compatibility. Physical compatibility."
Maggie's laugh echoed down the street.
"Maggie I'm about twice the size of everybody here," he said to her, in earnest. "What if I... can't? What if I, y'know hurt her?"
Maggie laughed again. "What if you cleave her in twain with your mighty broadsword?" she giggled. "What if your siege-ram is.. is too grand for the gates?" Her giggle fit continued until she calmed herself with a deep, grinning breath. "Oh. All men exaggerate their stats, Lord. You all imagine a weapon bonus that isn't there. If you do break her like a... feral mount of some sort, then I suppose she'll heal fully at dawn. But the memories will last her a lifetime."
She took his arm at the elbow and smirked up at him. They continued together down the street. "I will be very busy next turn, Lord. Why don't you ask an Archon or two to accompany your rounds tomorrow?"