Changing the Great Minds' minds was a trick that Parson only wished he knew how he'd pulled off. Isaac had been adamant about their never working with a Baddie, but now here she was, being escorted into the Temple by a knot of six casters, all group-casting something around her.
All he'd actually done--at the end of two hours of silent (to him) debate--was answer one question. It wasn't even a question, really. They had sent him one of those weird, subconscious info-dumps: a directive for Parson to think hard about his current long-term plan for taking down Charlescomm, and asking him to imagine/intuit how critical Transylvito's involvement might be.
So he did. And given that the Kingdom of Transylvito bordered both Gobwin Knob and Faq, and was relatively close to Charlescomm, he figured that they were pretty high-value, either as an ally or an enemy.
That was enough for the Great Minds. They had contacted Transylvito's excommunicated Thinkamancer ("Bunny") and invited her to come here. It took another turn to arrange that, but here she was.
She looked pretty unhappy about it. Parson studied her appearance, trying to pick up clues in her Signamancy. She had gray skin like Maggie's, big black curly hair, pointed ears, bright red eyes, and black lipstick. It was kind of a half-Vampirella, half-Jersey-Shore look she had going on. Her outfit was a jumpsuit with black and white horizontal stripes, like an old-timey prisoner outfit. Even her belt and satchel were a prison orange. So... criminal, evil, and a little trashy. Not perfect, but they'd see where this went.
"The Baddie may freely thinkspeak now," sent Isaac, as the group of six convened in front of him, still surrounding the woman in a hexagon formation, facing inward. He wondered if the guard stance was necessary, because he doubted it would help the negotiations.
She looked Parson directly in the eye, the way nobody ever did in this place. "Countess Bunny Velvetino," she sent, and he did actually hear some kind of New York or New Jersey accent in her thinkspeech, "diplomatic envoy for His Majesty Don King of Transylvito. And you are?"
She wasn't smiling at all, and extended no hand. Parson thought she probably already knew who he was. She would have seen the skull-and-flower crests on their troops outside. "Parson Gotti, Lord Hamster. Chief Warlord of Gobwin Knob," he subvocalized, managing a diplomatic smile.
"That's unfortunate," sent Bunny. Her red eyes were narrow and cold. "I doubt we can do any business, Chief Gotti. I'd say this was a big waste of our time."
Parson tilted his head, his smile fading a bit. "Well, I know we're at war, Countess," he said, going with the formal title, because she had. "But we really haven't had much in the way of hostilities between us. Not since I've been around."
"Except for that time we almost croaked Stanley," sent Bunny.
Parson nodded. "He flew into your territory, though. I'm saying, you barely had a token scouting force at the Battle for Gobwin Knob. And we haven't taken each other's cities in a couple hundred turns."
His understanding of the two sides' history was that the mountains west of the city of Gobwin Knob gave too much advantage to a defending army. Invading was something neither side wanted to do. As Chief Warlord under King Saline, Stanley had twice taken and razed Aqua Velva for funds. If he'd wanted to hold it, though, he would have had to stay parked there with dwagons and the Arkenhammer all the time. Transylvito warlords were notoriously tough.
"With the mountains between us, it's been like we have our backs up against the same wall," Parson added. "It's kind of like we've had an informal truce most of the time anyway."
"Yeah, I wouldn't count on that lasting too much longer," sent Bunny.
"Why? What's changed?"
Bunny eyed him stonily. "Well, let's see. You blew up a mountain, didn't you? I mean you, personally, Chief Warlord Gotti."Parson took in a long breath through his nose and let it out slowly, then tried to smile again. "Yeah, that was me, sorry," he said. "That was environmentally insensitive. But in my defense, I didn't know Transylvito was that fond of mountains."
She flashed him back a brief, entirely sarcastic smirk. "Don King likes mountains, sure," she said. "But he was even more fond of King Slately. And you did him too, right? Personally?"
Parson couldn't even maintain a mildly diplomatic smile to that. He nodded once. "Yeah. I did."
Parson raised an eyebrow. "Those one, I can't claim. Well, no... Ansom I can." This wasn't going too well.
Bunny's eyes remained narrow. "At the end of the turn, Stanley can claim them all. Can't he? Plus King Banhammer, and maybe some others. He really likes croaking Royals. You can see why Don King might find this kind of behavior unsettling."
Parson pressed his lips together and sort of shrugged. "It's a bad habit," he sent. "But I'm trying to get him to cut down. A peace treaty with Transylvito and some other Royal sides might be a good place to start."
"Chief Gotti," sent Bunny, "if the only bad habit Gobwin Knob had was serial regicide, then you might have a little crumb of hope that Transylvito would cut some terms with you. But there's also this Toolism stuff. Right? Marching all over Erfworld saying that Scripture is wrong.... that the Titans changed their minds and put you in charge. And we'd all better join you or be destroyed? That'll get your lip split in our neighborhood, mister."
Parson wanted to sigh, but resisted it because she would take it the wrong way. He knew this was his toughest obstacle. By going out there issuing ultimatums and being as loud and scary as they could, Wanda and Ansom had galvanized everyone else into one block of unified resistance. It was big loud trash talk, the worst thing you could possibly do in a multiplayer environment.
"Ansom is not Chief Warlord anymore," sent Parson evenly. "And I don't share his religious opinions."
Bunny brushed a fallen black curl away from her eye. "I'm sure that'll be a big comfort to Don," she sent. "That you're more conventional and orthodox. You only attack through enemy portals. And violate parleys. And keep an army in the Magic Kingdom."
Parson gave a helpless shrug. "Countess, if we're that scary," he sent, "then we'd make a better friend than an enemy, wouldn't we?"
Bunny's face betrayed nothing. "That'd be up to Don King. I'll tell him you want to make nice. But I already know what he'll say."
"No, don't just tell him," sent Parson. "We need you to convince him."
It was strange how the little caster kept her red eyes fixed on his the whole time they'd been talking. Parson only noticed the unbroken intensity of her gaze when she finally severed her eye contact and looked around at all of the other casters in the Temple, as if she'd suddenly remembered where she was and who she was with. If he hadn't had Maggie watching just behind him, and all of the other allied Thinkamancers in here, then he might have wondered about her doing some kind of vampire hypnosis thing on him.
"'We' need?""Yes. I'm going to try and take down Charlescomm," sent Parson. "And if you help me enough with that, then I guess they'll let you back in the clubhouse."
- ^ Vampirella - A comic book character and horror-story hostess, Vampirella is perhaps best known for a costume that can best be described as stripperiffic. (wiki article)
- ^ Jersey Shore - An MTV reality TV show, airing from 2009 to 2012. (curiously, this would be two years after Parson came to Erfworld)
- ^ .... - sic