Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 015

Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 015

Because she was walking within the Garrison walls, Wanda eventually came around again to her starting point. She met the Fellows standing guard by the staircase. No hopeful Haffaton men remained.

Stacking with her uncroaked, she considered ascending the staircase to another floor to continue her methodical assault on enemy property. But it had begun to feel like a chore, as hollow and pointless an act as she knew it was. Her arm was tired. Her rapidly sobering head throbbed. It was time to find a bed.

Sighing, Wanda set off in the direction of her original foray. She was fairly certain she'd passed a master suite of some kind that way. The boots of her fighters clumped along behind her own, and she felt a bit less alone for it. Debris from things she had broken earlier crunched to smaller shards beneath their feet.

The stack rounded a corner and abruptly halted, as Wanda's heart looked frantically for a way out of her ribcage.

Olive stood in the center of the corridor, holding a plant in her hands.

She looked up from it sadly. "That was the mellowest rampage I've ever seen," she said in a soft, distant voice. "It was wonderful. But Wanda...you might've spared the living."

Mouth still agape, Wanda looked down at the plant and saw that it was unpotted. Olive was cradling it by the bare roots. Much of its upper portion was bashed in. From the way that the enemy Florist held it, it was clear she saw it as something precious, though the reason was not immediately apparent. Wanda wondered if it had some special function or was rare in some way.

"I'm sorry," she said, out of reflexive politeness. Then she added, "I don't understand."

Olive wore a sheer black nightgown with a pink shawl, a pair of soft gray moccasins, and nothing else. Her body was beautiful. Wanda wanted to touch her. Tommy had touched her... Her hair was badly mussed, but still seemed like sunshine in the dim light of the hallway.

She twitched her lips into a sad smile, and glanced behind Wanda at the Fellows. "No. You wouldn't, would you?"

Wanda could think of nothing to say that wouldn't sound foolish. Her heart was still pounding against the walls of its cage.

"Do you think," asked Olive, almost shyly, "that in the interests of peace, you might return to me the helm of one of our fallen?"

Wanda blinked. It was an odd, but ultimately reasonable request, and she couldn't see a reason not to honor it. She motioned with her hand, and one of her lower units stepped forward, removed his helmet, dropped to one knee and presented it to Olive.

It was a gesture Wanda intended to be charming, a way to break the ice a bit. Having the Fellows act with formal courtly manners never failed to get grin or a laugh among Goodminton's men. But Olive took the offered equipment with a grimace of dread, as if she couldn't stand to be so near to the uncroaked soldier.

With a perfunctory "Thanks," she upended the helmet and placed the plant's roots inside. She stepped a few feet away from the uncroaked and turned around to do something to the plant. Wanda could tell she was casting, but not what. Anyway, her eyes were more occupied admiring the ghostly shadows that defined Olive's backside... Stop it.

When Olive turned around, she held a perfectly healthy green plant in a steel planter. She was smiling proudly. "There," she said, holding it up for Wanda to admire. The hem of her nightgown rose a couple of inches as she lifted her arms.

Wanda nodded. "I see. Nicely done."

"I saved it, Wanda," she insisted. "You understand?" She walked past the uncroaked soldier to show her the plant more closely. "I think you don't," she pouted. "I think you don't, and you know why?"

Wanda shook her head. Olive's perfume encircled her as she got closer, meeting her eyes with an earnestness that made her want to understand.

"Because it's alive," Olive almost whispered, "and that doesn't mean anything to you." Her eyes searched Wanda's for any sign that she was going to deny the accusation, but Wanda could only stare at her. The experience of being this close to Olive's delicate face was almost too much. "Life magic, Wanda. Croakamancers don't use it."

"Oh."

"You think this is just an object, don't you?" She touched the plant's leaves to Wanda's chest. "It's not. It's a living thing. Like you and me. But you think we're all objects, too. Right?" Olive stepped back and made a disapproving face at the uncroaked stabber, who stood there impassively. Her cute nose wrinkled in revulsion. "Look what you do with a person, when the Life is gone. That is an object, Wanda. Not this," she said, indicating the plant.

"Not true," said Wanda, who was finally realizing the point of what Olive had to say and not liking it. "That plant is scenery, inventory, provisions."

"It's not--"

"...Or...a piece of terrain. But this unit can move, fight, follow orders. This unit has Motion, and that is something a Hippiemancer would know nothing of," finished Wanda.

"No, you don't know what you're talking about. Yes sure, there is Motion. But it's less important than Life. That ought to be perfectly obvious to any living being," said Olive, but she looked uncertain.

"Says the Florist. The three Elements were created equal. Are you a Titan, to say otherwise?"

"I'm alive, to say otherwise," said Olive. "Life is the most important thing in the world. Would you want to lose your Life?"

Wanda was beginning to regain her composure with this argument. Olive was not some beautiful, unapproachable star in the sky, but a fellow caster, a fellow Chief Caster, that she could spar with over the differences between their disciplines. It felt good. "No, but I wouldn't want to lose my Motion, either. I wouldn't want to be that plant. I'm no tree," she said. "Speaking of which, where is my brother?"

Olive shook her head at the apparent non sequitur. "Upstairs, in my suite."

"Did you two...?"

"Ohhhh, yes." Olive's smile was telling, and deeply satisfied. Wanda felt her stomach tighten. "Afterwards, he asked me to turn. Isn't that sweet? I said I'd think about it."

Wanda's regained composure was relost. She stood mute. Olive looked at her for a moment, then bent down at set the plant on the tile floor.

"He and I talked a lot, actually. About you, and Delphie," she said quietly, brushing her hair from her eyes. "He told me more about Delphie's Prediction than Delphie did."

That didn't sound good. Wanda cleared her throat. "What did Delphie tell you?"

Olive laughed. "Oh, just that you are very, very special. That you're worth what we offered. You should really get your brother to accept the treaty; it'd be better for everybody."

"I see."

"You look tired," said Olive, with sudden sympathy in her eyes. "You want to find a bed?"

Wanda was instantly entangled in the vagueness of the question. Or was it an offer? She was not even sure of herself enough to nod.

Olive watched her struggle and raised an eyebrow. "Mmm, or you want my bed? We could kick Tommy out." Her mischievous grin was more dizzying than anything she had served tonight. "Or not. You know."

There are moments of decision in each person's life when there is so much at stake that the mind stands paralyzed at the thought of the consequences, and some part of Wanda understood this to be happening to her now.

There was something terribly upsetting about the offer, something about Olive's sensibilities as a Hippiemancer that struck her as weird. Really? After she'd just been with Tommy, she...

Not spending the rest of the night in Olive's bed certainly seemed very much like something she would live to regret. (And she would have no trouble kicking Tommy out into the cold at this point.) But going through with it now also seemed like something she would regret. Perhaps she was facing two regrettable choices.

Ideas and possibilities swam in her head, concepts and fragments of words. Delphie's Predictions, Clay's 4-sided soldiers, Tommy the Tree Man... Was Fate suggesting this night was for her and Olive? It didn't feel right.

No, it did not feel right at all.

"I think...just a room with a bed," she said, trying to disguise the disappointment she already felt with herself. "For me alone, please."

"Aww," said Olive, with a little pout. But she perked up promptly. "Okay, follow me then. Bye little guy." She patted the plant's uppermost leaves, and headed down the hall in the direction of Wanda's Trail of Destruction.

Wanda followed behind her, regretting her decision, and piling on a little more regret with each sway of Olive's hypnotic hips.

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Recent posts... (See full thread)
Raza wrote:
Hippiemancers are pretty neat. Too bad their sexpositivity doesn't seem to extend beyond the living.


Hmm. If you haven't read it already, look up "The Loving Dead", by Amelia Beamer.
Sounds promising. Thanks for the suggestion.
I also hear that there is a bestselling romance between living and undead, that has also been made into bestselling movies. It is called Twilight. ;-)

Personally I find the whole business strange, just as a romance beween a boy/girl and a tree or animal would be strange. Eg. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Anbi1zIJET8
Raza wrote:
Hippiemancers are pretty neat. Too bad their sexpositivity doesn't seem to extend beyond the living.


drachefly wrote:
Hmm. If you haven't read it already, look up "The Loving Dead", by Amelia Beamer.


What is this, Obliquely Encourage Necrophilia Week? :I
Arky wrote:


Whether Wanda kills Olive or not, I think she must end up barbarian (and Tommy dead or disbanded) so that she flees to the Magic Kingdom, gets an education and eventually ends up in a position to be hired by FAQ. She can't have got to FAQ by conquest or open trading.


no. Jillian was fighting as mercenary for extended periods of time. She could have picked up Wanda from goodmitton, haffaton or some other place.
Kaed wrote:
Raza wrote:
Hippiemancers are pretty neat. Too bad their sexpositivity doesn't seem to extend beyond the living.


drachefly wrote:
Hmm. If you haven't read it already, look up "The Loving Dead", by Amelia Beamer.


What is this, Obliquely Encourage Necrophilia Week? :I

For me, every week is Encourage Necrophilia Week. Nothing oblique about it.
Lends a whole new meaning to going out for a stiff one . . .
pSycHOtic chICkeN wrote:
Arky wrote:


Whether Wanda kills Olive or not, I think she must end up barbarian (and Tommy dead or disbanded) so that she flees to the Magic Kingdom, gets an education and eventually ends up in a position to be hired by FAQ. She can't have got to FAQ by conquest or open trading.


no. Jillian was fighting as mercenary for extended periods of time. She could have picked up Wanda from goodmitton, haffaton or some other place.


Pretty odd mercenary contract that lets the mercenaries keep something as valuable as a caster, especially since Faq went to a lot of trouble to conceal that it even existed. Jillian & co were doing mercenary work, not capturing cities for themselves. Also, if Jillian captured Wanda originally, I think we'd have heard about it.

Also, as a matter of narrative causality, it's going to suck if after this part of the origin story, we have to sit through a long time of Wanda at Haffaton and then get to Wanda being captured by Faq and then Wanda at FAQ and fit "Wanda meets Janice and Marie" in somewhere. Much better if she can get to FAQ directly from this situation via the Magic Kingdom: that hits all the pieces it needs to hit without padding.
Arky wrote:
Pretty odd mercenary contract that lets the mercenaries keep something as valuable as a caster, especially since Faq went to a lot of trouble to conceal that it even existed. Jillian & co were doing mercenary work, not capturing cities for themselves. Also, if Jillian captured Wanda originally, I think we'd have heard about it.

Also, as a matter of narrative causality, it's going to suck if after this part of the origin story, we have to sit through a long time of Wanda at Haffaton and then get to Wanda being captured by Faq and then Wanda at FAQ and fit "Wanda meets Janice and Marie" in somewhere. Much better if she can get to FAQ directly from this situation via the Magic Kingdom: that hits all the pieces it needs to hit without padding.

Hardly, Charile was going to snag a Mathamancy thingy and a Warlord who'd made Ansom very angry at the Battle for GK had everything not turned Volcano shaped. And really, who could stop them from just taking whatever they wanted the way they took Pogrock? Oh and Faq would have been carrying out merc work long before the black day of Jillian's popping.

You're needlessly inserting the Magic Kingdom between the destruction of Goodminton and Wanda falling into Faq's grubby paws. In anycase, Wanda is a Croakamancer, a rather unpopular discipline, how could she hope to earn her keep in the Magic Kingdom? Also, consider the title.
pSycHOtic chICkeN wrote:
I wonder why the plant was not immune to attack? Perhaps removing the floor from underneath someone does not count either. A trap door. A trap bed?

I think Olive's spell only affected units. It makes one unit unable to inflict damage on another unit. If this interpretation is correct, there are a few ways to get around it. A side with a Dirtamancer could undermine and collapse the garrison. A unit with firebirds or red dwagons could burn the garrison. A unit with purple or yellow dwagons could attack the garrison. This could potentially be a spell that backfires on the defenders, making them unable to engage a unit that can bypass it.

BLANDCorporatio wrote:
Aww man, I hate this. I really do. These updates are turning me into a Wanda fan. Which is bad, because as prequels, we all know where they are supposed to go to. It's not that I disliked the Wanda of the previous books ("Wanda = villain" doesn't quite fly for me), it's just that she was so ... leaves-me-indifferent-like, a mere cypher. Gosh, once Book 0 is done I'll need to reread the other books sometime, with a fresh eye.

I have to agree. I've always like Wanda, the character, the role she plays. These updates are really making me like Wanda, the person, albeit fictional. It's depressing knowing she's going to go through so much and change so radically.

Fcannon wrote:
Interesting caster debate. Given the typical responses I've seen to sufferers of locked-in syndrome, I'd say Olive's argument that life>motion would have a lot less traction than she'd expect.

Given what's we've learned about Florists and poison, I wander if they capable of using tetrodotoxin.

Whispri wrote:
Will there ever be another chance? I'm leaning towards 'no'.

I disagree. I still believe Delphie's prediction that Wanda will serve under Olive for a long time. While Delphie is a known liar, future Wanda has the fatalistic belief that Fate cannot be avoided. That implies that every Prediction of which she is aware has come to pass. I believe this one will as well. In my opinion, Wanda will serve under Olive. I think they will probably have a relationship during that time. Look at modern Wanda's livery. It has Olive's flower with a skull. Originally, I thought it merely reflected the nature of Erfworld; a cute, girly necromancer fit with the dissonance of the place, and the livery reflected that. Now, I think it speaks more about Wanda. This is the symbol with which Wanda identifies herself. I think using Olive's flower for her livery tells us a great deal about Wanda. Originally, Wanda kept the flower because she liked it, but I think there is more to it in the future. I think Olive will be such a big part of Wanda's life that it is an ubiquitous part of who Wanda is. I think her time serving Haffaton might be more important than her time at Goodminton, Faq or Gobwin Knob. I suspect that the skull will be added when Olive dies, although part of me would like to see present Wanda and Parson interact with her, if only for the amusement of Parson's reaction to her flirtatious nature. I doubt that will happen, though. As I said, I suspect she and Wanda will have a long relationship, and her death with affect Wanda deeply before we reach the present. Even Wanda's choice in colors reflect Haffaton. It seems her preferred colors are black and white, which are Haffaton's colors. Gobwin Knob's colors are black and red. While Wanda does use red alot too, the white may come from Haffaton. She certainly isn't going around wearing Goodminton's blue or Faq's green and yellow.

On the other hand, this may have been their one chance to start a truly loving and happy relationship. While I believe they will have a long relationship, it will always be tempered by Atomic's fate. If Wanda had shared Olive's bed, things probably would have played out differently.

There are a couple of things in this update upon which nobody touched.

Quote:
"That was the mellowest rampage I've ever seen," she said in a soft, distant voice. "It was wonderful."

I find it interesting that Olive refers to the rampage as wonderful. I feel it says something about her, but I'm not smart enough to figure out what.

Quote:
"He and I talked a lot, actually. About you, and Delphie," she said quietly, brushing her hair from her eyes. "He told me more about Delphie's Prediction than Delphie did."

I can't help feeling that Tommy basically killed himself at that moment. I would also very much like to know what, exactly, Delphie told Olive to get her to offer such a generous peace. At this point, I do think the offer was genuine, but that changed once Tommy told Olive, or at least, once Olive reported the new information to her Ruler. It does seem that Olive was the force behind the original offer. We know Delphie did not tell her that Wanda would be serving under Chief Florist Olive Branch. I doubt Delphie has Predicted that Wanda will Attune. What could Delphie have told Olive that would have made the latter convince her Ruler to offer such terms? The only thing that occurs to me is that Delphie told Olive that Wanda would be the love of her life or something, but that seems really cheesy and cliched.