LIAB Epilogue 08:1/Text

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"Jack told me about your deal with Charlie," said Parson, sitting on his desk. It turned out to be the most comfortable seat in the room, but his head grazed the ceiling if he sat up straight. "About Faq and all that. I assume there's more to that story. What can you tell me? Anything?"

Wanda, sat perched on the foot of Parson's little bed. She'd resized her Arkentool to barely bigger than an ordinary set of needle nose pliers, and held them in her lap, looking down and fidgeting with them absently. She looked even more distant than usual. Haunted.

"You can't say anything," said Parson.

Wanda shook her head, only just slightly.

"Can I make an appeal to your Duty?" tried Parson. "You said your Duty is to Fate, right? Well, I'm fated to take down Charlie and I need this information. Can you share it with me?"

Wanda only winced, puckering her lips sourly.

"All right, I'll drop it," said Parson, clapping his hands on his knees. "Let's talk about the battle, then. 'Cause I got a million questions. First, who gave the order to use siege dwagons on the tower?"

"I did," said Wanda, looking him in the eye now.

"That was not part of the plan," said Parson. "Intentionally."

"You were delayed. Jack raised the possibility of ending Jetstone with one stroke. It seemed sound, so I authorized it."

"It would have closed the portal on me, one way or the other," Parson pointed out. "Did you think of that?"

"I left that to Fate magic," shrugged Wanda, looking away. "And Fate oversaw it."

Parson rolled his eyes. Same dead end he and Wanda always got to. "Well, it was the wrong call. It made things messier. Speaking of messy, who ordered the fire started?"

"Lady Sylvia, I assume," said Wanda.

"On your order?"

"No," said Wanda, looking at him and cocking her head. "Burning the Garrison while we had no move was never discussed. Why would that be considered sound?"

Parson raised his eyebrows. "Yeah. Exactly, so why'd she do it?"

Wanda took a deep breath through her nose. "I would not care to speculate."

"I'd care to hear you speculate," said Parson, stopping just short of implying an order.

They sat in silence for several more seconds, but Parson let it go. It was getting late. "I've learned to ask these questions broadly, Wanda," he said, "because you like to hold things back and tell me that I didn't ask. So let me just say, is there anything else that happened today that I should know about?"

Wanda's mouth crinkled strangely. "Yes. Two things," she said. "An Archon was captured by Jetstone."

Parson thought about that. He couldn't immediately see why it mattered much, but the way she said it made him pause. "Okay..."

"And I...can see through her eyes," said Wanda, closing her eyes. "Hear through her ears. At this moment, she is inside a tent, in shackles, under heavy guard."

Parson stared at her for a long moment. "Can, do that with all Decrypted, Wanda?"

"No," she said, a little sadly. "Only the Archons, with their natural Thinkamancy. And only when I concentrate. It's reminiscent of a trick of Dollamancy I once employed. They've been invaluable on the battlefield. But now only Lilith remains, and she is a prisoner."