"I am terribly concerned for the others," Roger announced to nobody in particular, as he and the other jurors and witnesses trod the grass between portals, "but also, I must admit… for my own safety. The Great Minds seem to be special targets in this attack. I ask dispensation to veil, before I return to the Temple to investigate."
"Maskirovka," the Headmaster cast. He disappeared from view.
A few of the loose mob of free casters had the presence of mind to clear a path for him in the general direction of the Eyemancy octant. The courtesy went to waste.---
"Roger Victor Clarence, my Lord and Caster," sent the Turnamancer. The mental projection stood up inside a darkened room, a cell. This was Vanna's own idea of what she looked like, and it wore the concept of an elegant evening dress. The appearance of the dress was at the forefront of her attention, so Roger saw it most clearly. "Oh, my word. If I ever needed to hear from an old friend, this is the turn! How are youuuu…"
He had dropped his veil the moment he was through the portal. Ahead of him, the spear-carrying golems took another flight of stairs. He followed them serenely, taking care to betray no outward indication that he was casting. These dolls were the escort they'd sent, so he had Decided to risk making contact with Vanna right now.
"I'm… well, that's marvelous, Headmaster!" she sent. Her sub-channels indicated embarrassment, confusion, and a spark of hope. "I can't receive you, I'm afraid. I'm… sort of indisposed at the moment."
"I'm aware of your plight." Roger sent her a warm smile and associated friendly feelings. "I hardly ever offered Unaroyal my services as a Lookamancer, you know. But of course I am one. And if you'll forgive my saying so, that dress is a bit too formal for the room that Caesar has you assigned to. Nevertheless, it is lovely."
Among Eyemancers, it was a serious breach of etiquette to say, "I can scry you," or even to imply it. But in this case, it was not only the compliment that Vanna wanted to hear, it was also an expedient way to say she didn't have to hide her circumstances.
Besides, he was in the habit of reinforcing his reputation as a "master" Lookamancer whenever he could. In fact, Roger could barely fix her location at all, outside of the qualities she was sending on their secret Thinkagram. But that was using his Foolamancy senses more than anything else, reading her perceptions and feeding them back to her. With a bit of vague phrasing and prior knowledge, most people would believe you knew all and could see all.
She gave him a coquettish gasp of exaggeration. "Rah-gerr…"
On the emotional channels, a sudden, icy chill. Genuine fear.
Roger was tempted to string her along, just to get a better sense of her story and her loyalties. But there really was no time for such games now. He'd never been to Transylvito, and had no sense how long this walk might take.
"Don't worry," he sent. "Gotti must be removed, I know. Jeftichew said you might have some ideas about how to do that safely."At that, she instantly thawed. More than thawed. A warmth that could almost be mistaken for love flowed back to him at once. "Oh! Oh, yes I do!"
At Queen Bea's mighty court, the native Turnamancer and the hired Thinkamancer had always been wary of one another. As two casters with a well of secrets to keep, they'd each found the other one a bit too perceptive and manipulative for comfort. After a few early political scrapes that damaged them both, he and Vanna had agreed to a kind of silent stalemate. They simply stayed out of each other's schemes. Their animosity was too well known to hide, so it became more of an act, limited to acid remarks and polite jabs over the banquet table.
But if Jojo was right, and Vanna's well of secrets had included feelings for him, then perhaps it was even more of an act than he'd thought.
He and his escorts seemed to have reached the top of the final set of stairs. The city golems now led him down a lavish, carpeted hallway. At the far end, two more of them stood guard at doorway.
"We must hurry," he sent. "What's the plan?"
"Well, all right. He has a scroll…"
"Yes, that's right. But Lord Gotti knows, too," sent the Turnamancer. "He knows what it is. So he'll be very reluctant to use it. A part of the spell relies on his own motivation. If he wants to use it, then he can cast it on himself. Otherwise, you'd need a Carnymancer to cast it on him. If you can get Caesar to let me work him over, I can make him want it. But otherwise…"
"I see." The double doors at the end of the hallway marked his destination, he could see. He faintly detected Parson Gotti's voice from inside. Someone nearby began casting a spell. He had only a few seconds to end this secret Thinkagram, but no Decision yet. "Is there anything else?"
"Yes. Bill is on our side. Kind of."
"Your Dollamancer…" The flexural one. Roger used a dot of juice to sort through his trees and recall what he knew about the caster. Most of it was related to the Bunny matter, the Bad Dollamancy he had done with her, including quite recently. The man had few qualities you'd desire in a potential ally. In fact, when it came time to eliminate Maggie, a good argument could be made to cut Bill's string as well.
His distaste most have leaked through the call. Vanna's image tensed.
"He's strange, I know," she sent. "But he's helping. Caesar locked him up, too. Not with me… But anyway, he's spying on Gotti with the doll, and passing me notes. I think he might help us. He's just not quite there, yet. Give me a little more time to w—"
"Spying?" interrupted Roger. They were at the open door now. The lead spear golem was motioning him through it, but he held back a bit, out of sight from the interior of the room. He should have broken the call by now, but… "Doll?""Oh. Yes, there's a hide golem that looks like Gobwin Knob's Thinkamancer," sent Vanna. "Bill can see and hear through its skin."