Hvs.tCF 75:1

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Turn Number:83
Side's Turn:Gobwin Knob

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Jojo talked some more. He was good at that. He was smooth. He delivered his, "the only way to win is not to play" pitch, and it made a certain amount of sense, from a certain point of view.

The gist of it was that Parson really ought to take a few weeks to set Gobwin Knob up on a stable military and diplomatic footing. Then he could extend the pact with Charlescomm to provide long-term protection to Stanley, and just bow out. Use the spell. Go home to Ohio. Have a normal life. Play a winnable game, instead of getting railroaded by Fate into a meaningless war with someone who didn't wish Parson any particular harm.

Which meant, of course, that this meeting hadn't been about Jojo's broken heart at all. It was just one more gambit from Charlie.

As soon as Parson understood that, a part of him had kind of wanted to pick Jojo up and throw him bodily out of the gazebo, the way he'd hurled Slately at the dwagon. But he didn't need to Hulk out, just tune out. Stop listening, stop asking questions, stop responding to prompts, stop playing along. At one point, he ignored one of Jojo's questions and asked Janis about her stew recipe.

"I just noticed it when I burped, but was there tarragon in there?"

The visit ground to a halt, after that.

Jojo took his leave, smiling that fakeass smile of his. For his part, Parson made the half-hearted, half-empty promise that he would consider using the spell as an exit strategy, once he was sure he could leave his post in good conscience.

Maggie never said another word to Jojo, but if looks could croak, then Parson and his contingent would have been watching over the Carnymancer's body and calling for Wanda. (Okay, looks could croak. There were several forms of Lookamancy that could do damage, with eyebeams and stuff like that. But whatever.) She watched him vanish into the woods before blinking hard twice, and saying, "Horrible man."

"He is what he is," said Janis. "The Carnies have it tough."

"As they'll be the first to tell you," sniffed Maggie. "That's a vital part of their act, to always be generating sympathy for themselves."

Janis smiled. "I can spare them some sympathy, Maggie. It doesn't cost anything."

"It can," insisted Maggie acidly. "They'll make you pay, one way or another, if you believe their line of patter. You don't, Lord. Do you?"

Parson put his hands on the concrete bench behind him and stretched his back. "It was interesting."

"It was hogwash. Lord."

Parson suppressed a grin. She was really furious with Jojo, wasn't she? Hard to resist baiting her, if she was going to lose her legendary cool over something as dumb as this.

"Interesting hogwash," he shrugged, and looked away.

"You cannot be considering casting the spell," said Maggie crisply. "You must know there are no conditions under which you could leave Gobwin Knob as safe without you as with you."

Parson said nothing. He just stared at the Foolamancy sculpture in the grass behind Janis. It was something like a fifteen foot high lava lamp, floating in midair. Very soothing to watch.

"Would you do that, Warlord?" asked Janis. "Do you want to go home?"