First Intermission 8

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Book (First_Intermission)
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Turn Number:10 AW
Side's Turn:Gobwin Knob

Turns since TBfGK: 1

As he watched the fireworks show unfold, Parson realized something disturbing about himself.

He'd been in Erfworld hardly a week. But almost every thought he'd had during that time was along the lines of "What am I looking at? How does it work? What are the military applications of it?" It was now a habit.

So as the sky filled with pretty little flying women making a magical light show, he was wondering if the sparks they were shooting were Foolamancy or Shockmancy (or even Thinkamancy), and whether or not they could inflict damage on an attacker. He wondered if there was an altitude limit to the airspace zone, which led him to wonder if different kinds of flying units had different max altitudes. If so, would they be able to use the highest-flying units for spy plane missions?

He watched the graceful, blazing pyrotechnics and thought about whether or not the archons were using "juice" the way actual Casters did. Would they run out? He didn't know. What if there was an air raid and the archons had wasted all their juice on this light show? Come to think of it, shouldn't they have ordered the archons to fan out into the surrounding hexes to reconnoiter any enemy forces? Gobwin Knob no longer had a Lookamancer; if they were blindsided next turn because they wasted their most mobile units on this pointless...

That's when he caught himself. As the show reached its finale and Stanley was blowing up his face, Parson realized... they weren't going to be blindsided.

He turned and looked at the horizon, at the switchback road leading down the mountain to the hills and forests in the distance. There was nobody left out there. He'd killed them all. And then Wanda had done "something glorious" to them. All those people who had been massed to break down the walls and kill him were on his side now. Whatever that meant.

No, nobody had anything nearby that could even scratch this city's walls. Nobody was going to come in here and stick a sword in him. Somehow, that thought was more of a shock than the first time he realized someone might.

The show ended. Maggie and Sizemore applauded, and after a moment, Parson did too. He was going to have to stop thinking like a general, or it was going to drive him crazy. He felt that very strongly. He needed to stop thinking "war is neat."

Because he didn't want to lead this coming war.

War was neat. This world was interesting. That was the bitch of it. But was it interesting enough to order one more of these people out there to die? To kill?

Sizemore smiled at him. "What did you think, Warlord?" He meant about the show.

Parson couldn't think of anything to say. "It was alright," he shrugged, and turned back to stare off into the distant hills. He took a deep breath and tried to blank his mind, but couldn't. Somewhere out there right now, breathing and eating and maybe laughing or singing or crying...there was somebody like Bogroll. Or Misty. And standing here on this tower, thinking of an interesting and clever way to kill that person was probably going to lead to actually killing them.

Yeah. Thinking like a general was definitely driving him crazy. Could he shut it off, though? Strategy was who he was. Not thinking like a general, a gamer, would probably drive him just as crazy. Sizemore tapped his arm again. He was pointing up. "Lord Stanley's coming."

The archons were nearly all down in the courtyard now. The dwagon stack had broken up and was settling toward the ground too, except for Stanley's red, which was spiraling slowly down toward the tower parapet where they stood. Stanley leaned to the side and looked down, locked eyes with Parson for a moment, and then sat up in the saddle.

He was wrong. There was at least one guy who might just kill him tomorrow. Or today.

"Speaking of crazy," Parson muttered.

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