|Long Live Insanity #13: Right Between The Eyes
“Yes he is.”
“No he isn’t.”
“Yes, he is.”
“No, he isn’t.”
Shani and Shadar are strolling down the snow-covered Cairhien road, engaged in a heated debate. “Look,” Shani sets hands on hips and glares at him, “he is. Taim is Demandred. It’s perfectly clear.”
“No it’s not.” Shadar glares right back. “It’s a ridiculous idea. He’s a complete idiot, but he isn’t a Forsaken.”
“Oh, all right then, if you insist... Is so!”
And the debate continues.
“How much further?” Shani asks after a few more minutes, absent-mindedly adding “Is not!” to the end of her sentence.
“Is so! Not far, it’s just over this hill.”
“Good. I’m looking forward to visiting again - besides, I heard some of my friends are here now. Is not, by the way.”
“Is so. Here we are.”
The pair stand atop the hill, looking down at what appears to be a farm. A few black-coated men are moving about outside, but the majority are clearly inside the large, untidy-looking farmhouse.
“The Black Tower,” Shani says sardonically.
“Home sweet home,” Shadar says equally sardonically.
Arm-in-arm, they saunter down the snowy hill and into the house. The first few rooms they look into are empty. Opening the door to another, Shani ducks as a dart goes flying past her.
“You again?” the young Dedicated who threw the dart exclaims.
Shadar snatches the dart from mid-air and tosses it back. “That’s no way to welcome a guest. Haven’t you learned any manners since last time I saw you?”
“You again?” This time about half the room joins in.
“Indeed. I, Shadar the Mad, alive, well and completely insane.” Shadar bows mockingly. “And my dear, dear friend and companion in madness, Shani of the Red Ajah.” Shani bestows a dazzling smile on the crowd. “Before anyone asks, yes, I am quite aware of the fact that I have been banned from the Black Tower, and before anyone asks, yes, that is why I am back. And how is our respected M’Hael?”
“Worse,” another Asha’man replies succinctly. The rest of the men in the room variously sigh, roll their eyes and grumble agreement.
“Is not!” Shani whispers, too low for anyone but Shadar to hear.
“Is so!” Shadar raises his voice again. “And how -”
A voice interrupts them. “Now who in the Light are you two?” The pair turn around to see yet another black-coated man standing in the doorway, looking at once surprised and highly amused.
“Well -” Shani begins.
“Move aside, you lug of a False Dragon!” A second Domani woman in a red shawl pushes past into the room. “Shani! I thought it was you! What have you been up to?”
“Hello, Toveine! How have you been?” Shani pulls Toveine aside and the two start whispering, darting glances at Logain and Shadar that leave absolutely no doubt about who their topic of conversation happens to be.
(You didn’t know Toveine was Domani, did you? I thought not. Read her description a bit more closely.)
Shadar looks at Logain. Logain looks at Shadar. Both shrug at approximately the same time, and in the same manner, one which conveys the general message that whether they happen to be sane or insane, men will never understand women. Meanwhile, of course, Shani and Toveine have identical amused little smiles on their lips, which as every well brought-up girl, whatever her level of sanity, in the world of the Wheel is taught from childhood is the very best way to seriously aggravate men by creating the impression that women do understand men, and very well too, which is pure fiction because if one gender in the Wheel of Time ever fully understood the other the world would probably end...
But I digress. While I was describing those shrugs and smiles and their intended effects, Logain and Shadar introduced themselves to each other and Toveine and Shani finished their conversation and have now rejoined the men, leaving them, and you, in eternal curiosity concerning just what was said. Now back to the action.
Shadar looks at the dartboard hanging on the door, and blinks. “What happened to Elaida?”
The new dartboard bears a life-size image of a hook-nosed man in a black coat, with blue and gold Dragons twining up the sleeves.
“The old one wore out,” Logain replies with a shrug. “Elaida’s even less popular than Taim in some quarters -”
Nods and mutters of agreement from the rest of the room - not least from Toveine.
“- and the girls got overenthusiastic.” Logain grins. “There’s a hole right through the door from Toveine’s first throw.”
“Oh, not right through. There’s at least a hair’s-width of wood left.” Toveine turns to Shani. “I hear you made a name for yourself here a while back.”
Shani drops her eyes modestly, or would at any rate if modesty wasn’t quite such an unnatural emotion for her. “Well...”
“How about a second demonstration?”
Forgetting the attempt at modesty, Shani flashes a brilliant grin. “Just hand me a dart.”
The dart duly supplied, she steps back, grins again at her audience and tilts her head to study the target. “Hmm...”
“Don’t think you can do it?”
“Don’t be insulting.” With that, Shani hurls the dart toward the door...
...which swings open...
...revealing another life-size image of a hook-nosed man in a black coat, with blue and gold Dragons twining up the sleeves. Wait... that doesn’t look like a picture...
The dart hits Mazrim Taim. Right between the eyes.
There is a brief but profound silence as the M’Hael of the Black Tower stands in the doorway, with a look of fury on his face and a dart sticking out from his forehead. Only four sentences are spoken before pandemonium erupts.
“Is not!” Shani.
“Is too!” Shadar.
“Here comes trouble...” Logain.
“I think,” Toveine, “that it would be a good idea for you two to leave right now...”
Pandemonium erupts. Shadar and Shani take the opportunity and Toveine’s advice, and slip quietly out the back door.
Back on the snow-covered Cairhien road, Shani whirls to face Shadar. “See! What did I tell you! He is Demandred!”
And the debate continues.