Hvs.tCF 37:2/Text

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"More, Lord?" said the Thinkamancer, rising from her chair.

"Nah," said Parson, handing her the empty tumbler. It was a relief not to have the delicate thing in his hand anymore. "Siddown, relax. What did you want to talk about?"

After the strategy lecture, Maggie had asked to speak with him privately, calling it "something specific and urgent." They'd been in close quarters for a week in the Magic Kingdom and she hadn't brought anything up, so he figured it must be something new. Maybe it had to do with Stanley or Ansom, or Spacerock or something.

"Yes," said Maggie, closing her eyes for a moment. "I must share something with you. A secret."

She paused.

"I am about to violate a trust, something I do not do lightly, Lord. Not at all. But to be frank, my faith in your judgment is greater than my faith in the judgment of the Great Minds. I must share some of what Thinkamancy truly is."

Parson put his hands on his knees and looked at her. "I thought they were already sharing their secrets with me. What did I pinkie swear to?"

The pinkie swear had been their awkward compromise. Maggie went to bat against the magical brain surgery they'd wanted to do to him before they let him leave the Magic Kingdom, and Issac eventually came around on it. Parson ultimately agreed to commit to a voluntary restriction of speech, magically reinforced by a natural Thinkamancy bind called a "pinkie swear."

He'd tested it on Ace, and found that he literally could not form the words to say anything about what the Great Minds had shared with him. It was just like when Stanley had ordered him not to speak. The restriction was frustrating, but he could live with it.

"They have only given you a basic and superficial understanding," said Maggie. She set down her glass on the tray. Was her hand shaking? "There is much more. I may not be able to share it all, but I will tell you what I am certain I must. This is my first opportunity to do so, away from the Temple."

"Wow, that's..." Serious? Pretty serious, yeah. "I understand," said Parson.

"'You don't withhold information from the guy who plans your battles!'" Maggie suddenly shouted, pounding her fist into her palm as she quoted his words back to him.

He smiled at her. "Yeah! Exactly," he said. "I appreciate it, Maggie. I really do. So what can you tell me?"

She blinked once, very slowly.

"I saw something. When I was linked with the Lady Firebaugh."

She looked down and breathed deeply, two or three times, and he didn't press her to continue. Then she raised her eyes to him again.

"I saw how attunement works, Lord. I could see the strings which bind her to the Arkenpliers, and those which bind the Decrypted to her. I think..."

She swallowed.

"I do not know how, but I think it may be magically possible to sever the connections."

Parson took in a sharp breath through pursed lips. He could immediately see the security hole revealed by that possibility, and it was massive.

"Holy hell, Maggie."

More than half of Gobwin Knob's units were Decrypted. If Charlie could somehow use the Arkendish to sever the Thinkamancy behind the Arkenpliers, cutting off Wanda's control, then what would happen to those units? Would they rebel? Go to dust? Revert to their old sides?

And for that matter, what about the Arkenhammer and the dwagons? They had two attuned users they had to think about protecting here. And—

And for that matter...

"Wait," he said, feeling a tingle around his neck and ears. His voice fell to a whisper. "Hold on. Are you saying...that we could possibly separate Charlie from the Arkendish?"

Maggie nodded solemnly. "Or the Archons from Charlie. Yes, Lord."

Parson looked down at the rug. He began to nod, and a smile gradually formed on his lips. "He's got a single point of failure, too."