Here was an excellent moment in time. So much to see. So much being seen by important players.
Jack didn't wish to miss a detail. He took three steps back and threw open the gates of his Foolamancy senses, filtering nothing, allowing all impressions to enter his mind like a horde of soldiers storming a palace.
Sensation flooded the entire volume of his head. He could not analyze. Meaning was plain enough for him to perceive, but impossible to assign. This experience was purifying, a bit terrifying, and clearly necessary in such a moment as this one.
The Thinkamancer lay in the grass, insensate, surrounded by red combat boots. She observed nothing, but would remember it all, in a fashion.
Sister Wanda knelt nearby, her attention divided, holding the Glory in her left hand, and the hand of the partial Archon in her right. Clearly she was tempted to re-pop the body now. She was profoundly conflicted. She waited in paralysis.
Within himself, he sensed an emptiness akin to the absence of food in one's stomach, where the comfort of a Chief Warlord's bonus had resided until moments ago.
Other nearby faces reflected a similar sense of that loss: the warlady, some of the infantry. Many soldiers did not comprehend, but the two warlords were heedful, conflicted, looking to one another for help in assessing a sudden indeterminate threat.
The free caster, the former Sister, brandished the steel staff. She was confident it held decisive power, but perhaps uncertain she could employ it. Her wounds troubled her, but did not limit her motion. Jack sensed that she actually resented having been injured, and so she ignored her own pain and damage out of spiteful disregard for it.
Past the perimeter of soldiers, other free casters spoke and gawked. He observed the spectrum of shades in their concern: there had been an explosion, a unit had appeared, a warlord, the warlord. Wearing Charlescomm livery two or three of them found most disturbing. Counted among that group was the Carnymancer, who stood veiled and lurking behind a not-too-nearby portal.
In this mode of observation, no detail was particularly important. But with the focus of so many actors upon one spot, so many vantages and impressions and emotional associations being linked to one player, what might charitably be called Jack's attention in this state could not help but be drawn to the perfect warlord at the center of the scene.
The warlord's expression was that of a mountain which was surprised to find it had been moved. Jack knew that this face masked a greater mind than his own, so reading it was always a ticklish proposition. But it seemed that the perfect warlord was momentarily shocked out of all his frames of reference.
He began to speak now. Voices reveal much. Jack listened.
"That gun is Charlescomm property, actually," the perfect warlord said. "I'll need it back."
"Findahs keepahs," said the caster with the weapon aimed at his head. "You could maybe have one bullet, though."
The perfect warlord let a bare hint of a humorless laugh creep into his voice. "Are you… fated to kill me, Marie?"
His expression said that he considered the question a clever and perhaps conclusive one. The tone, however, betrayed his fear that his question might be answered affirmatively, with violence.
The former Sister's face was another story. A blink, a breath out of rhythm, and the flattening of her lips by a bare degree might as well have been a full confession. The question had struck her deeply. She knew something. She knew enough to be certain she should not attack him.
"Nevah made that Prediction," she admitted, still menacing him with the rod. "But like you said, wahload. We have the 'pliers. I think maybe we can cheat a little bit with you."
The perfect warlord's attention followed the former Sister's gesture. Then he seemed to notice the scroll that was poking out from a pocket in her silk sash. A sudden smile indicated another gambit he considered clever. "So is that who the scroll's for? Me, after you shoot me?"
The caster grimaced at another rhetorical hit. Her scroll did have a specific purpose, something other than what he had just described. "Maybe," she bluffed. "Bettah if you just tuhn back, though. Don't you think?"
Here, the perfect warlord's face did something truly interesting. He fashioned a sneer that was meant as dismissive, derisive. But his shoulders tensed a bit too much, as if flinching from a blow. The furrows of the sneer ran too deep. Something painful was associated with the words he now spoke.
"I can't turn to Gobwin Knob; we're under truce. It's a violation." He turned his head toward Jack with a wry grin, with a hint of a gloat. "Think about how it works, Jack. If I turn, then the Knob just gets dinged for another half million, and Charlie claims me back. We could be here all day, dude! Think about how it works."