IPTSF Text 24
In Wanda's suite, a silver chocolate service sat upon a side table. When she'd boosted the tower, a few such nice little changes in design, decor, and accouterments had crept in from her mind's eye.
She left it there untouched. Talking to the Lady Temple this morning was not meant to be social, or even comfortable. She didn't so much as offer Delphie a chair. The Predictamancer stood, her hands folded in front of her and her lip buttoned tightly.
"We have Duties to perform this turn," said Wanda, "so I'll make this brief. I just spoke to Clay. I...had a question, and didn't much like his answer."
Delphie watched her face and remained silent, betraying nothing.
"It's a question that's been keeping me awake for several nights. What I don't understand," said Wanda, "is how Luck and Fate can coexist. If I am Fated to live, then I must be immune to Luckamancy. Cast any misfortune upon me, put me in any battle against any foe, and I will live until my Fate is fulfilled. Is that correct?"
Delphie cleared her throat and spoke in a low, careful tone. "Essentially, Lady."
"Then where is the Luck? Where is choice? And...what you would call my will?"
Delphie shrugged. "Choice is the path you pick to your Fate. Luck is mainly about how hard or easy you have it along the way."
Which is just what Clay had said, and Wanda didn't like it any better coming from Delphie's mouth. She knew that if she asked Delphie what would happen if she jumped from the tower, Delphie would only say, "You won't."
Wanda absently felt the lace trim of her boots with a gloved hand, trying to put her thoughts into words. She glanced at mirror-Wanda for strength. Oh, she did like this outfit, yes. It made Delphie nervous. It gave her new power.
...But no new clarity. Like Tommy and Father, Wanda refused to believe Delphie's philosophy that there was an inescapable destination simply waiting for her to get there. Each of the last few nights she had lain in bed, trying to frame her objections to it and failing.
She sighed. "Tell me about Olive," she said, taking a different tack. "What did you hope to accomplish? Why not just leave it to Fate to bring me to her?"
Delphie put her hand to her forehead, and smiled wistfully at the floor. "Oh, dear. I was making a choice of my own, I suppose. To ease your way into Olive's service." She looked up at Wanda with eyes resigned and sad, yet still accusing. "But your choices undid the effects of mine. You should have trusted me."
"Why," challenged Wanda. "What difference would it have made?"
Delphie looked beaten. She shook her head just slightly. "All the difference, Lady."
Wanda stepped toward Delphie, talking closely to her face. "My brother is gone, Predictamancer. His Fate has run its course. Everything that was to become of him is known to us." Delphie looked as if she wanted to speak, but Wanda kept her momentum. "So we know that all along, Tommy's Fate was to be croaked by Olive. And if we had taken the peace offer, then we would have been making the path to his Fate longer and more difficult, while making mine easier. Now where is the sense in that?"
"How can you say that? It was his Fate! We've seen it."
"It was his end, Lady," said Delphie. She looked pained. "Clay would say, his 'final outcome.' It was never his Fate. It could have been avoided. If we'd only signed the treaty and sent you to Haffaton, Tommy would probably be alive now."
Wanda clamped down on a sudden, deep need to slap the woman. For a moment, not striking Delphie's round face was all she could manage to do.
The Predictamancer, looking distressed, took it as a chance to continue. "I told you once. Not everyone walking these halls has a purpose. I cannot make Predictions about every unit, or commander, or even every ruler. Don't you see?" She looked at Wanda with tears starting to well on her lower lids. "You were to pop. And you were to be passed on. And once I saw Olive in the Magic Kingdom, I Predicted where you were to go. So, I told her. She understood. That's why they were so generous with their offer."
Wanda's clamp slipped. She hit Delphie in the cheek with an open, gloved hand. The caster cried out, and stumbled backward, landing on her rump upon the foot of Wanda's bed.
Delphie sat on the bed, stunned for a moment, then began to bawl. Wanda stood over her and yelled. "You approached the enemy, you let them know we had popped a caster, and you gave them more information about my Fate than you would share with your own side? Are you that disloyal?"
"I'm Loyal!" sobbed Delphie into her hands. "I'm ever so Loyal!"
"You lying ditch witch!" Wanda turned and stomped across the room, yelling to the air. "Loyal to what? To Fate? Not to Goodminton!"
"Yes! To Goodminton! It was the only way Goodminton could survive you," said Delphie, tears flowing freely down her face.
"You don't know that," Wanda said, pointing at her. "You never Predicted that."
Delphie kept sobbing into her lap. Her words were muffled by her hands. "No. I can't. Fate doesn't care about us. That's the terror of it; we have no Fate. The world doesn't care if we live or not. Only about you."
Wanda paced around. "It doesn't work that way, it doesn't work that way, it can't work that way, Delphie!" Tommy should be alive? She was trapped, while they were lost? Father was lost? No. "I could...buy some poison and drink it! What would Fate do, then? Huh? I could jump off this tower right now!"
Delphie looked at Wanda and shook her head. "Yes, you could. But you won't."
Just what Wanda had Predicted she would say.
She stopped in front of the mirror again. Mirror-Wanda and she both knew Delphie was right. Wanda was defiant. She would break her Fate somehow. But, she supposed, not today. Not that way. She took in a deep breath to calm herself.
"No," she said, with deep resignation, "not in this outfit."