|Long Live Insanity #17: Origins of Insanity - Sycho
Continued from episode #16, The Incredible Dancing Trollocs.
Shaiel is trying to hide a smirk. Someone has his face buried in a book, but the occasional chuckle still emerges. Shadar and Shani are leaning against each other, laughing, making it quite clear that they find the situation very funny indeed.
Which is hardly surprising, since they set it up in the first place.
Sycho winces as his mother’s tirade continues.
“How could you? You disappear from the Fortress of the Light without a trace and now you turn up again with this red-shawled hussy -” the description sends Shani into a fresh fit of laughter – “and this black-coated lunatic -” that sets Shadar off again – “and this other pair who look like they just stepped out of a gleeman’s tale – what will the neighbours think?”
“It wasn’t my idea! I was going to stay away as long as possible – I mean -” Sycho glares at Shadar and Shani, who are being spectacularly unhelpful, then casts his eyes up to the sky. “How about some help from you, narrator?”
A voice whispers on the wind. (Yes, that wind.) “Sorry, Sycho. I make it a rule not to interfere in my characters’ business.”
“Some good you are!” Sycho takes a step and promptly trips over. “Hey! What do you call that if it’s not interfering?”
“Hah!” Sycho takes another step. And trips over again.
“Well, that’s what you get for believing in narrators,” Shadar observes, grinning at Shani. “Not to mention -”
“- forgetting to tie your shoelaces.”
Sycho looks down at his shoelaces, which are, of course, untied. Whether they were at the beginning of the scene no one is quite sure, except possibly Raina. But they definitely are now. He ties them sullenly. “DarkHound always interacted with his characters.”
“Well, I could make a poodle fall from the sky if you really want…”
“Oh, forget it!”
Shani, Shadar, Someone, Shaiel and Raina all laugh. Then they turn their attention back to the plot of the story. Such as it is.
“Good morning, Mistress Path,” Shani says briskly. “We’re just visiting. You see, it dawned on me that you probably hadn’t any idea what your son had been up to, so we decided to drop by and let you know.”
Mistress Path snorts. “Well, you could have done that with a letter. For that matter you could have saved yourself the trouble and kept him away.”
“Oh, it was no trouble at all!” Shadar protests.
“Not for us,” Shani murmurs, quite audibly. Sycho glares at both of them.
“I suppose you’d better come in. I certainly don’t want you hanging around here. What will I say if anyone sees you?” Sycho’s mother ushers – well, pushes – them all into the house. “Find yourself somewhere to sit. Just clear off a space.”
Shaiel looks curiously around the living room, which bears clear signs of occupancy by young children – toys everywhere, scribbles on the walls and small, muddy footprints on the floor. “I didn’t know you had siblings, Sycho.”
“Of course you didn’t! I don’t tell anyone about my family!” Sycho collapses into a chair, as his mother sits down and reaches for a sizeable pile of clothes in need of mending. “I don’t know how these two found out.”
“We have our sources,” Shani says sweetly.
“We asked the narrator,” Shadar translates.
“Non-interference, she says.” Sycho scowls up at the sky. “Hah! Non-interference except when it makes the story interesting, more like.”
“Smart boy, isn’t he?” Raina observes. “Watch out. Your dear little brother and sister are on their way.”
Sycho barely has time to flinch before the door bursts open and two small whirlwinds blow into the room. The whirlwind wearing trousers launches himself at Sycho. The one in a dress grabs his cloak and starts swinging on it. “Mamma! Mamma! We heard Syky was back! Hi, Syky!”
“I wanna play with the helmet!”
“I wanna play with the sword!”
“I wanna piggyback! Gimme a piggyback, Syky!”
“Me too! Gimme gimme gimme!”
“Get OFF me!” Sycho attempts, unsuccessfully, to remove the pair clinging to him. “Ouch! Let go! I swear, you two must be the brattiest kids ever!”
Someone coughs. “Actually, Sycho, the record for obnoxious childhood is currently held by the young Nemene Damendar Boann, nowadays better known as Semirhage, whose preferred occupation as a girl was devising new ways to torture her siblings…”
“Torture?” In a second the two have let go of Sycho and turned their attention to Someone, looking bright-eyed and eager. “Tell us more!”
“Don’t you dare!” Sycho and his mother say (well, shout) in unison.
The Terrible Two pout. Then they look around and spot the other Terrible Two. “Who’re you?”
“Are you crazy like Syky?”
“No. We went past crazy long ago. We’re completely insane. So who are you, other than the second-brattiest kids ever?”
“I’m Madcap,” the boy says gleefully.
“I’m Mayhem,” his sister says smugly.
“What pretty names,” Shaiel says politely (wondering all the while if this is wetlander humour). “What are you two planning to do when you grow up?”
“We’re going to be Darkfriends!” Mayhem announces.
Sycho groans and sinks lower in his chair, eyes closed. Mistress Path sniffs and goes on with her sewing. Someone starts writing in his notebook. Shani and Shadar look at each other and grin.
“I see,” Shaiel says with a perfectly straight face (it must be an Aiel Talent, as not even Shani and Shadar can manage it at this point). “You want to be Darkfriends because…?”
“Because then the Whitecloaks’ll never catch us,” Madcap explains. “They only ever caught a real Darkfriend once, and they had to let him go because people wouldn’t have put up with it. They told us that in school.”
Under his breath, Sycho mutters “Just as long as they didn’t mention pink elephants.”
“If you really want to be Darkfriends,” Shadar says, “we can arrange an introduction to the Dark One for you. He owes us – we won Shayol Ghul from him, you see, and he’d rather not lose it.”
“Although he’s contesting that now,” Shani adds, “on the grounds that he never saw a pack of cards before with thirteen aces.”
“A few spares always come in handy.” Shadar pats the pack of cards in his pocket. “So when you finish school, just let us know and we’ll drop by Shayol Ghul and talk to him. He’ll be imprisoned by then and looking for someone to let him loose again. Now it’s really time we got onto the next episode, so if you’ll excuse us, Mistress Path – give our regards to your husband, wherever he is…”
“He’s in the laundry,” Mayhem says with the kind of wicked grin that suggests she doesn’t really need much training in doing evil and Darkfriendly deeds.
“Cause we put red dye in the wash,” Madcap clarifies with an equally evil grin, “and he’s trying to get his cloaks from pink back to white.”
“I can see how being referred to as a Pinkcloak would be a liability,” Shadar agrees. “Well, goodbye. Sycho, Shaiel, Someone – c’mon, we’re going visiting again.”
Sycho opens an eye. “Where now?”
“Well, since Raina’s continuing the theme of ‘Origins of Insanity’ the next house we’re due to visit is -” Shadar glances at a list – “Shani’s.”
The gateway opens onto Arad Doman.