Socorro doubled over onto the pavement, hands spread wide as her breathing turned irregular and the muscles in her body began to twitch. Then a blade of wind split her head down the middle, and a gale picked her body up and sent it flying over the side of the bridge, leaving her to fall into the empty gorge below.
The old well erupted once more, and Zeff felt the response another time. He clenched both fists at once, and a boiling tidal wave fell upon Parson, converting to steam in midair as it tried to melt the man alive.
A whirlwind blew it all away.
And Parson smiled. “There’s that devil’s blood in your veins! A second emergence!”
Spikes of ice now. Hundreds all at once, shooting at Parson from every conceivable directions as if fired from hundreds of invisible guns. A whirlwind took them, too, and then came for Zeff and Evangelina, propelling them both skyward and holding them there with pressurized air currents.
“Too bad it’s still not enough,” said Parson, rising to look him in the eye. “Story of your life, eh? Always a step behind. Always needing someone to hold your hand and protect you, despite acting like you’re the one doing the protecting. And Angie--oh, you’re even worse than him!”
Hardly able to move, Zeff clenched his teeth and finally just yelled, “Why are you doing this?! Parson! What possible reason could you--?!” But the sentence went unfinished as oxygen flew directly into his lungs and filled his chest nearly to the point of bursting.
And Parson gave a snort. “Reason? Singular? Dear boy, you really did learn nothing from me, didn’t you? Never run with any plan in which there is only one desirable outcome. Fundamentals, Zeff. There’s no substitute for a good grasp of the fundamentals.”
Zeff and Evangelina both struggled there in vain. The soul-strengthened air currents might as well have been concrete.
But of course, Parson wasn’t done talking. “Ah, well. It doesn’t really matter, anyway. Because it’s not about the plan. It’s never about the plan. It’s about what you do when the plan blows up in your face--how you react to unexpected problems. Because plans fail all the time, especially the complicated ones. That’s why it’s so important to leave yourself some wiggle room--so that you can improvise later. You understand?”