A Crown of Frauds, Part 7

The Amyrlin Seat and the Keeper of the Chronicles looked at the slowly-weaving King of Malkier for a long moment. Lan smiled owlishly through days-old stubble streaked with vomit.

“Ye’re drunk,” Debs stated the obvious.

“You’re also bleeding,” Janica stated the less-immediately obvious, glancing down at one particularly fresh stain on the ex-Warder’s pants. “On my rug.”

“Sh’not my blood,” Lan explained with a grin. “Sh’Contro’sh,” he looked around, almost overbalancing with the effort of turning his head, and found a chair to tumble into. Unfortunately the chair he opted to sit in was one of the three he was seeing that did not, outside of his drunken imagination, actually exist, and so he ended up sprawled on the carpet. “Fushing Ghul,” he growled, “if I find the cun’oo took my shair away…”

Al’Lan Mandragoran descended into muttering, through which the occasional burst of “Fushing Ghul” could be heard.

“What did you do to Contro?” Janica asked, more out of curiosity than anything else.

“Nothin’,” Lan gave up trying to stand, and settled for reclining on one elbow on the rug-lined tent floor. “That shychotic horsh o’his, Cow, got out of his shtable an’ bit him,” the wretchedly drunk man smiled and fumbled for his hip flask. “Inna crosh,” he elaborated happily.

“That doesn’t explain how you got his blood on your knee,” Janica remarked.

“The Wardersh got Cow back in ‘ish’table,” Lan started, then seemed to lose the thread of the conversation and again dissolved into low mutters.

“Lan?”

“Wha?”

“Your knee?”

“Uh,” Lan looked down at his blood-spattered clothes. “I helped him over to th’ healersh while the Wardersh were fighting wiv Cow. He wouldn’ shtop laughing,” he explained, sounding a little scared.

“So you…” Janica prodded, but Lan seemed once again to have fallen into an eyes-open coma. “Kneed him in the crotch to see if you could get him tae react to the pain,” she went on. Lan’s eyes cleared and he nodded. “And did he?”

“He shaid ‘oi’,” Lan whispered, “an’ laughed again.”

“So what are ye doing here?” Janica went on.

“Wanna get out o’ here,” Lan explained, his eyes brimming with sincerity. “Get out, shober m’shelf up.”

“Okay…” Janica said warily.

“I’cn get on a mershant caravan to Lugard,” he went on, “got a job innerview, jusht need t’get to Lugard.”

“And you need…”

“Five penniesh,” Lan said, “sho the mershant’ll let me join his team.”

“Five pennies that you absolutely positively will not spend on booze,” Janica concluded.

“Right.”

She sighed, wondering – not for the first time – if drunk people really thought they were being clever when they asked for money this way. A glance back over her shoulder at Debs showed the big Scottish woman’s eyes were filled with sympathetic tears, and she was already reaching for the Amyrlin Seat’s petty cash purse. Janica sighed again and embraced the Source.

Weaving Water, Spirit and Air in a complex weave of Healing that would have been beyond her if she hadn’t gotten herself a pair of glasses, Janica purged the alcohol from Lan’s system in a single minute-long, pure-ethanol belch from the depths of the ex-Warder’s liver. For a moment, the little reading lantern on the Amrylin’s desk burned blue. Lan curled up into a foetal position and screamed for a few seconds, then climbed shakily to his feet.

“That,” he said, between dry-heaves, “was unnecessary.”

“On the contrary,” Janica said, “it was very necessary. You’re a wreck. If it was just you, that wouldn’t be a problem, but your divergence from character is putting the entire world at risk.”

“Aren’t you being a bit melodramatic?” Lan asked, and in spite of the scepticism of his tone, Janica was pleased to see that his facial expressions had once again returned to the general theme of geological constructions. At present they were geological constructions encrusted with boozy filth, but it was a step in the right direction.

“Actually, you might be putting the entire universe at risk,” she said, “but I didn’t want to alarm you. Now, I believe you wanted to get out of here?” Lan shrugged. “Thankfully, I can accommodate you,” Janica went on. “I’ll weave a Skimming gateway, and drop you off somewhere north of Ebou Dar. From there, you’ll enter the city and find Nynaeve.”

“Nynaeve?” Lan blinked. “You mean Puddin’s girlfriend? The one with the giant chip on her shoulder and the bug up her ass?”

“That’s the one,” Janica said. “Find her, and look after her. As of now, you’re a Warder again.”

Lan sighed. “I think I’d rather be a drunk.”

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