Oh, he'd supposed that the big, serious man was a perfectly competent warlord and strategist. Certainly Ansom had a mind, just not a mind worth plumbing. Ansom never said anything he didn't mean, and he never did anything that couldn't be fully explained in a single sentence. "Prince" Ansom had transitioned smoothly from being the standard bearer for Royalism, to being the standard bearer for Toolism. So where was the riddle there?
Not even the fact that he'd been [Jillian]]'s lover distinguished him, particularly. The Yellow Rose made unfortunate choices all the time. It said very little about the ones that she chose. Or didn't choose.
He and the warrior had been seated in the first row of risers by Spacerock's tactical table for the better part of an hour, as Ansom told him the tale of his captivity and escape. (The part where he'd tackled the Queen of Faq and plummeted from a great height while still squabbling was Jack's favorite bit.)
The warlord shook his head. "No," he said, almost apologetically. "At least, I don't believe so."
Jack smiled and nodded. "I thought you might say so. I, ah, took the liberty..."
He gestured subtly, and made the ringing noise in Ansom's head cease. He'd been building it up there ever since coming into the room. It was a trick he had picked up at the Court of Faq, which he had sometimes applied to annoy Moothfott or Betsy, whoever was being insufferable.
The warlord cocked his head curiously, then nodded. "I see."
"Not being able to speak about Charlie was like that for me," said Jack. "And Sister Wanda still bears that burden." The Foolamancer leaned forward, locking eyes with the warlord. "But what I used to feel for Jillian was much the same, you know. A subconscious ache, a burden unminded, a sound I could not hear until it had stopped."
He leaned back again, casually glancing up at the ceiling and memorizing the shadows. "All the most interesting people have a ringing like that, I find. You've got one on you now. I can tell."
Ansom, his shoulders as square and stiff as ever, took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. "If so, it isn't her," he said gloomily. "I'm... not sure I ever loved her. When I was popped again, I didn't hear the ringing stop."
Jack smirked. "Then how do you know it's not still ringing?"
The man knotted up his brow, frowned and said nothing. His consternation was quite genuine and gratifying, but Jack felt obliged to release him from the rhetorical cage.
- ^Foolmancer sic