Hvs.tCF 266:3/Text

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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…"

"I know about the scroll," sent Roger. "Carnymancy of some kind, from Charlie."

"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."