|Long Live Insanity #12: Tower Tours, Inc
“Welcome to Tower Tours, Inc.” A gateway appears and Shani steps through, followed by the other five, who are looking around curiously. “We are currently located in the upper section of the White Tower, which houses the quarters of each Ajah. Unfortunately the Blue quarters are currently empty, but we will visit each of the others in turn.” She gestures toward a white-painted door at the end of the corridor. “First stop is the White Ajah.”
Aes Sedai, Asha’man, Aiel, Whitecloak, Ogier and Trolloc file through the door. The reaction is surprising, in that it is mainly nonexistent. Most of the White sisters in the large room continue with what they are doing, paying no attention to the group that has just entered.
One near the door glances up. She studies them briefly. “The odds against six such people being associated with each other are astronomically high,” she informs them coolly. “Therefore, you cannot possibly exist.” She returns to her work. “Kindly close the door on your way out.”
“That’s Whites for you.” Shani shrugs. “Let’s try the Browns.”
Their entrance to the Brown quarters is marked by much blinking and scribbling in notebooks. A few are too engrossed in their study to take any notice, but the majority immediately start questioning, theorising and recording. Someone has to be dragged away from the Brown bookshelves before they leave.
“Stupid Ogier,” Snarg mutters.
“He’s just following his instinct,” Shaiel says. “Who’s next, Shani?”
“How about Green?”
“Want to be a Warder, handsome?” a pretty Green calls as Shadar strolls through the door. She grins. “I rather like men in black.”
“No you don’t!” Shani retorts. “He’s mine.”
“Ah well.” She turns to Sycho. “Want to be a Warder, handsome? I rather like men in white, too.”
“He’s mine,” Shaiel says firmly.
“I’m just following my instinct,” the Green sister laughs. “Are you sure you can’t spare him? I mean, the Ogier and the Trolloc aren’t exactly bonding material, and I’ve been looking for a new Warder for a while.”
“How many do you have already?”
“Hello, Shani!” another Green greets her. “You do know Elaida’s banned you from the Tower, don’t you?”
“Of course! Why do you think I’m back?”
Shadar looks at Shani. “Why in the Light did you pick Red instead of Green?”
Shani looks surprised. “Because everyone expected me to pick Green, of course.” She smooths down her dress. “Besides, red’s always been my best colour.”
On their way out of the Green quarters, this time it’s Sycho and Shaiel who have to be dragged away (Sycho from a group of Green sisters looking for a sixth or seventh Warder, and Shaiel from another group of Greens listening, fascinated, to her explanation of the rules of Maiden’s Kiss. A fair number of Gaidin are in for a new experience). They head for a door painted yellow.
The Yellow sisters immediately surround the group, arguing over whether insanity can be cured. Then one recognises Shani. “Forget it - we’ve been trying to cure her for years.”
They go on to the Gray quarters.
The Gray reaction is - interesting. “It’s not fair!” one Gray sister screams. “You’ve taken away our entire purpose for existing!”
Sycho looks confused. “Uh - run that one by me again?”
“Do you know how many sisters it would take to conclude a peace treaty with the Whitecloaks? Let alone bringing Asha’man into it too!” She glares at Shadar. “And all the rest of you! And now look what you’ve done - you’re getting on perfectly well without any of us intervening!” The Gray breaks down into hysterical sobs.
“Don’t worry.” Shani pats the inconsolable Gray on the shoulder. “You’ll have a war to adjudicate before long.”
“What?” another Gray demands.
Shani smiles sweetly. “I’m going to introduce my friends to the rest of the Red Ajah.”
There is a hushed silence, broken only by such sound effects as gasps, hysterical giggles, and probably the theme tune from Jaws, as the six walk slowly toward a large door painted in deep red.
The door swings open. Sisters inside look up in surprise at the entrance of an Aiel and an Ogier, which turns to shock as a Whitecloak and Trolloc walk in, which rapidly turns to panic as they are followed by an Asha’man. Then they see Shani...
The oldest Red sister sighs and casts her eyes skyward. “I should have known.”
The rest are a little less calm. Actually - a lot less calm. “How dare you show your face in here again?” one shrieks. “You were BANNED from the Tower!” About half the Reds in the room appear to share her sentiment. Most of the other half have fainted. A few are laughing uncontrollably. None are taking the least notice of Sycho, Shaiel, Someone, Snarg or even Shadar.
“Shani would appear to have a certain reputation here,” Someone observes as he continues to take notes.
“You’re not joking.” Shaiel looks around in amazement. “That’s some reputation, to make this lot ignore an Asha’man in their quarters.”
“What did she do to get banned?” Sycho demands.
“At a guess,” Shadar grins, “I’d say the same sort of thing that got me banned from the Black Tower.”
“That’s about it, yes.”
Shani, meanwhile, is standing in the middle of the room, an amused smile flickering on her lips. It doesn’t take a genius or a great observer to guess that she’s delighted with the sensation she’s caused. And continues to cause, as the shouting rages on...
“I don’t know how you have the gall to come back here, after all the trouble you’ve caused!”
“We should have known better than to let you into the Ajah!”
“You should have been thrown out before you ever reached the shawl!”
“You little tart! All you care about is getting attention!”
The smile turns into a wry grin at that last one. “Guilty as charged,” Shani agrees blandly. “So?”
“You must be insane!”
“Perceptive, aren’t they?” Shadar murmurs under his breath.
“I warn you, this will not be tolerated!”
“Go back to wherever you’ve been!”
“Can you give me some tips?” Glares meet that one, but the questioner shrugs unabashed. “Hey, it looks like fun.”
“You were banned from the Tower! How dare you -”
“You’re repeating yourself now,” Shani interrupts. “Now you’ve got all that out of your system - you have, haven’t you? - I was going to ask if Elaida -”
The door slams open, and the voice of the Amyrlin in question can be heard all over the island. Everyone stops in their tracks as the enraged words, breaking the sound laws in every part of the world, boom out:
“WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO MY CLOCK?”