|Long Live Insanity #18: Origins of Insanity - Shani
Continuing on their round of family visits, our insane heroes minus the absent Snarg arrive at the domicile of their dazzling Domani dart-thrower. That is, at Shani’s house. A very elegant manor, surrounded by gardens, in the heart of glamorous Bandar Eban.
From one side of the house, an attractive, coppery-skinned young woman in thin, clinging silk, followed by a rather forgettable young man, hurries out to greet them.
From the other side of the house, an attractive, coppery-skinned young woman in thin, clinging silk, followed by a rather forgettable young man, hurries out to greet them.
Shani laughs as her companions do double-takes.
“Shani!” they exclaim in unison and in identical voices. “Welcome home!” A triple hug occurs before the young women turn identically dazzling smiles to the rest of the group. “Hello! How lovely to see you all!”
“Likewise,” Sycho remarks appreciatively. “And you two are - ?”
“I’m Cara,” the one on the left says. “This is Dara.” They both pause, then whisper together for a moment. “I’m sorry, this is Cara, and I’m Dara. We always get confused around strangers.”
“Uh – yes, of course. Quite understandable,” Sycho says blankly. Cara and Dara are apparently not the only ones who get confused.
“These are my sisters,” Shani says blithely, “and in case you hadn’t noticed it yet, they’re identical twins. These are their husbands, whose names I forget and who are only plot devices anyway. And this is Shadar, Sycho, Shaiel and Someone. We thought we’d drop by for a visit.”
“How nice!” Cara, probably, says brightly.
“Mother will be so pleased to meet you!” Dara, probably.
“Do come on in!” The twins usher them into the manor. “Darling, do go tell Mother we have guests.” One of the forgettable husbands hurries away immediately.
Someone, frowning, is studying the twins with his pen poised over his notebook. “How does one tell them apart?” he inquires in an Ogier whisper, which means of course that everyone in the room hears it.
Shaiel is also frowning. “At a guess, I’d say – one doesn’t?”
“Doesn’t what?” An elegant, imperious-looking Domani woman sweeps into the room, trailing a cloud of perfume, the twin husband and an equally forgettable older man who is presumably Shani’s father.
“Tell the twins apart,” Shani replies. “Hello, Mother. You’re looking well.”
“Naturally.” The woman takes her seat, and lifts a finger. The cushions are immediately plumped up, a footstool brought and tea in a fine porcelain cup set conveniently near her hand by her clearly doting husband. “Do introduce your friends, Shani.”
“Mother, this is Shadar, a mad Asha’man, Sycho, a drunken Whitecloak, Shaiel, a Maiden of the Spear with a strange sense of humour, and Someone, an Ogier who’s writing a book about the rest of us. Everyone, this is my mother Prima, whose middle name, in case you were wondering, is Donna.”
“Ah,” Someone murmurs. “A matriarchy. Domani classic style, I see…” He starts scribbling.
“Charmed.” Prima sips her tea. “A little more honey, dear. Thank you. As for the twins, it’s easy. Cara parts her hair on the left and Dara parts it on the right.”
Everyone looks at the twins, both of whom have their hair parted in the middle.
Prima shrugs. “Sometimes they get confused.”
The twins pout prettily. “Oh, Mother,” Cara, or possibly Dara, says. “You make it sound as if we get mixed up every day.”
“You do, dear. But never mind now. Wherever are the children?”
“They must be out playing.” Dara, or possibly Cara, turns to her particular forgettable husband. “Darling, do bring the girls in to say hello.”
“Yes, dear.” After uttering the only words ever spoken by a male family member in this episode, the young man hurries away and returns after a moment with three identical little girls in tow.
“Hi, Auntie Shani!” the three exclaim in unison and in identical voices. Sycho is heard to groan.
“Say hello to your aunt’s guests too,” Prima reminds them.
The little girls immediately smile up at Shadar, Sycho, Shaiel and Someone, looking absolutely adorable and knowing it. “Hello, everyone!”
“Welcome to our home.”
“We’re so glad to see you.”
Someone nods and says again, “Domani classic style.”
“Yes, they’re coming along very nicely.” Shani smiles at the girls. “Well done.”
“Whose children are they?” Shaiel asks, realizing it hasn’t been made clear.
Prima and Shani look amused. Dara and Cara look slightly embarassed. “Well,” one of them says, “the thing is, we’re not absolutely sure. One of us had twins and the other one didn’t, and…”
“…we sort of lost track.”
Sycho groans again.
Shadar laughs. “Well, I’ve heard of questions of paternity, but…”
The Triplets That Aren’t are getting bored with the conversation. One of them tugs at Someone’s trouser leg (seeing as how she couldn’t reach any higher). “Tell us a story, please?” she begs sweetly. Another one smiles up at him beguilingly. The third contents herself with a big-eyed, pleading gaze.
Domani classic style being extremely effective, even practised by beginners on theoretically immune nonhumans, Someone immediately agrees.
“Tell us what Auntie Shani’s been up to!” one says, giggling. The other two, plus their mothers and grandmother, agree enthusiastically. Even the forgettable husbands look interested.
“Ah. Well…” Someone settles himself in a large chair, with the triple act happily curled up in his lap and the rest of the family listening in anticipation. “That’s a long story. I believe it all started when she walked into the Black Tower…”