LIAB Text 29
There was so much afoot, yet so little to be done.
Mounted upon the flying carpet, Ossomer fretted and floated aimlessly within the Foolamancy baffle, unconvinced it offered them any significant protection. When the enemy opened up, they could afford to miss most of their shots. Especially with a Dittomancer at hand.
In the fog, his view of the city was thoroughly obscured. Even members of his own stack were difficult to make out. Lady Sylvia loomed close by, and was easily recognized. But could he not feel the palpable pull of the Arkenpliers, he would not even be certain which of the two dwagons to his left carried his ...Commander, he supposed. If such was her desired title.
She had yet to seek his counsel. Had he not been Prince of this city?
"Commander" Wanda had, in fact, seemed fully satisfied at Stanley's strange appointment of a garrisoned Level 2 to Chief Warlord. A Lord...Hamster? Far from considering this move preposterous, she acted almost as if it settled their predicament entirely, and no battle planning was needed. And the Foolamancer concurred!
Ossomer sighed. "This is not the sort of procedure to which I am accustomed," he said aloud. He spoke to the air, but knew that Lady Sylvia was the only one within his earshot.
For a long moment, she did not reply. He turned and looked at her. She was staring ahead, fixated on a blank point in foggy space.
Another long moment passed, and she turned her head to meet his eyes.
"Adapt," she told him. She held his gaze.
The leather saddle beneath him scrunched as he straightened his posture. He was somewhat offended by the bluntness of the reply, but had to admit it had merit. He had not long been a part of this side, and supposed he would require some time to adjust to its customs. He also supposed he hadn't much time left to do so.
"Help me," he said. "Help me to do so."
She nodded, her eyes distant. "What do you need?"
"This new Chief Warlord, he is only Level 2," he said. "How can he--"
"He is Level 20," said Sylvia. "He is Level Thousand. He is Level Million. It does not matter."
Ossomer lowered his brow and said nothing.
"He is of Fate," said Sylvia. "Lady Firebaugh has said as much, and I have seen as much. I have held the Arkenpliers, did you know? Have you?"
For the first time, Sylvia smiled. It was only the barest tightening of the lips, but it made her seem present in a way she normally did not.
"Do you remember the sense of the divine? Did you feel that your hands were in contact with something greater than the world?" she asked. She turned her head and looked into the featureless distance. "The Arkentools were used to build the world. I wielded the Arkenpliers, and had the feeling that they could build more worlds than only this one. Their power was primal, undeniable, and very strange."
He had stood, felt their heft. He resized them slightly. He struck an en garde, swung them through the air. Guards brought in a Twoll prisoner, and he deftly executed it with a mighty blow, to polite applause. Then they brought him an Uncroaked prisoner and he did the same, turning the skeletal form to gritty dust.
At no time had he felt what Lady Sylvia described. At most, there was a warmth to them. But he merely found them an awkward and inelegant melee weapon. He was happy to return them to Ansom, who seemed worried and protective. For this, he now felt somehow ashamed.
"I suppose..." he said noncommittally.
"But then, the mountain shook. I thought it was more traps, but the walls all fell and the ground cracked, and the city exploded. I stood there in the ashen rain and met my Fate. I croaked that turn, burned alive by the very ground I stood upon." Her smile broadened now, and seemed eerily at odds with the story she was relating. "But as it was happening, I felt something else, Warlord."
Sylvia pulled her armored shoulders in toward her body, smiling like she had been given a warm blanket on a cold night. "I felt another power. Not greater, but closer. More active. More alive. And just as alien. I never knew what it could have been, but my Lady Wanda was kind enough to explain it. Do you know what that power was, Warlord?"
Not for the first time today, Ossomer was lost. "I do not."
She smiled and closed her eyes. "It was Lord Hamster with an idea."
"I...see," said Ossomer, dubiously.
"You will," said Sylvia, snapping her head toward him suddenly. "This city will yet burn." Her eyes drifted away to a point in the sky. "I rather hope he will burn down the whole world."