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Sizemore made his way along the streets of Spacerock, frowning at the boxy little buildings all around him. These structures were all too squat, too unremarkable. They looked a lot like the ones in Gobwin Knob, before the volcano. To be perfectly honest about it, they were an embarrassment to him.
He wanted to paint them. He could have touched each one with Erfmover as he went along, making this one a pale blue, that one a deep teal, the other a rich brown... He could have added stories to them, balconies, gables, brick walkways... at least some shutters! But he had orders from the Chief Warlord to save his juice this turn.
He tried not to think about what that might mean.
The new Gobwin Knob, his Gobwin Knob, was really beautiful. Linking with Maggie to upgrade the city had resulted in the greatest single thing he'd ever created. But he hadn't even had a hand in rebuilding this city.
On the turn after the battle, Chief Parson had automagically upgraded Spacerock to a Level 4 again, not wanting to risk a trip back through the portal while the Magic Kingdom was still up in arms. Consequently, Spacerock now had much the same layout as it had under King Slately, just with a lot less ornamentation and style.
There was nothing distinctive about it. Nothing his. It didn't feel like home here, and he really hated it.
It sort of stood perfectly for his whole situation lately.
One of the few buildings he had gotten a chance to tinker with stood up ahead of him now, though. It was an L-shaped smithy that he'd added a second floor to. He'd also done some nice work around the eaves, and put a big woodworking shop space on the ground floor. Lots of cabinetry and shelving in there.
There was even a big wooden sign hanging on a wrought iron brace, poking out over the street. An ace of hearts was carved into it, painted white and stained red. Black script above it read:
Chief Parson and the others would be waiting inside.
"Okay, I'm less cool with doing the link-up when we don't have the Thinkamancers here to unravel it," Chief Parson was saying, "but... we'd have to. Even Isaac won't come through our portal. I think giving us protection in the Em-Kay is one thing, but coming here would signal that he's working for us. And they're not ready to go there yet."
Maggie said something from the stool behind him, but Sizemore wasn't listening. He just stood there with his hands on the edge of the enormous work table, staring at the wooden model in the Chief Warlord's hands.
"It's okay, though," continued Parson, "because remember we proved after the volcano that you can go through a portal linked, and it doesn't mess you up. So we'll just have the Guard standing by and lead you to the Temple afterwards, and--"
"Chief Warlord," interjected Sizemore, "it can't be done. I'm sorry. A city is not a unit. A... a piece of a city is not a unit. This is like saying you want to turn a piece of the sky into a lake, because they both look flat and blue. It's just not going to work."
The Chief set the wooden model down and looked at him for a moment. That arm-sized figurine was a true monstrosity: a version of Spacerock's tower with arms and legs sticking out from it. The top of it had a columnar face that wore the parapet like a grotesque hat, and the head could retract into its body.
"Well, I mean," said Parson after a moment, "we don't know what's possible yet. We wouldn't'a thought uncroaking a volcano was possible, either."
"That was different," said Sizemore, feeling irritated at the whole idea. "That at least made sense.
"But a... giant death robot doesn't make as much sense?" asked Parson, glancing at Ace. "I figured it would be like a permanent anti-siege bonus, a special garrison unit..."
"I think it makes sense," said Ace. "I think it's a cool idea." He only looked up from his project for a moment, then went back to fiddling with it.Sizemore glared at him. "How? How, Ace? Can you make a golem that big?"
Ace shrugged. "Well, no," he said. "But I wouldn't be building it. It's already a building! So maybe linked up, we could--"
"It's not a building," said Sizemore with annoyance. He gestured up to the wooden beams in the eaves above them. "This is a building. The tower is a tower."
Parson stared at him blankly. "What's the difference?"
Sizemore grimaced, still looking at Ace. He didn't mind if the warlord didn't understand; he wouldn't expect him to. But Ace was a caster, a maker of golems. He should know better. "Everything's the difference," he said, shaking his head.
Where could he even begin?
"Look, a tower has... aspects. It's got it's own kind of points. It's a special part of the city, part of the garrison. You can't just put... legs on it and expect it to walk around! It belongs where it is. The city is the city relative to the garrison and the tower... oh..."
He gasped in frustration. If you didn't understand the Dirtamancy of this kind of thing, there weren't really words to explain it. "You don't understand," he said lamely.
Parson made a little scrunched up face. "Hmh. Well..."
Sizemore leaned forward over the table, which was strewn with little pieces and gadgets. Ace had been thrilled with this shop when he'd built it for him. But if the Dollamancer planned to use it for complete nonsense like this, then it had been a waste of time and juice.
"You can store spells on a tower, right?" said Sizemore.
"Yeah," said the Chief.
"Well you can't do that on any other structure," said Sizemore. "They're different inside. Improving the tower is not like improving anything else about a city. I could possibly see making a regular city building like this one into a golem, in a Thinkamancy link. Bit it would be a terrible golem. It wouldn't more or... do anything right. You should just knock down the building, take the stones and make a regular rock golem instead."
Chief Parson's shoulders rose up, and he let out a deep breath through his nose. "Arright," he said, looking down at the table. "Well, I guess maybe move on to the next dumb idea..."
Sizemore smiled, and relaxed his rigid stance. "Yeah. Sorry, Chief."
"We should try it anyway," said Maggie.
The Dirtamancer turned around and looked at her.
Maggie was holding a little dummy unit, another miniature cloth golem or something that Ace was working on. It looked like a tiny person with fat features and enormous eyes and cheeks. It hadn't yet been animated, and Sizemore didn't know what it was supposed to be for. But the Thinkamancer had shown an odd fascination with it. She hadn't put it down the entire time he'd been in here.
"What?" he said.
She looked at him, cocking her head. "You and I have been linked twice, and the results were quite nice each time, don't you recall? Quite beneficial."
Sizemore squinted uncomfortably. He had only just been thinking about that. He often thought about it.
"Yeah, that's true," said Chief Parson. "You said that digging into the mountain with Wanda was, like, the experience of your life or whatever."
He didn't think of that link-up as much. He didn't like to. But that was true too.
"I think," said Maggie, holding the dummy doll in the crook of her elbow and absently squeezing its little hand, "that we ought to try it. It may not work, but who knows what could come of it?"
In his head, Sizemore heard himself say, "I think you're ruining everything."But in the space of the Dollamancer's shop, he only nodded, and said, "All right."