The Path of Blaggers, Part 3

There hadn’t been much time to search for survivors or get organised after the disaster retrieving the Bowl of the Winds, and Nynaeve insisted on getting as much distance as possible between themselves and possible pursuit. Neither Chucky nor Dr. Nick really had a problem with that, so they’d helped gather up as many injured-looking people from the general area as possible, and then headed for the hills.


“Do you reckon the Rhannon Hills were named after some dude who called himself ‘He Who Is Rhannon’?” Chucky asked, in a slightly demented-sounding attempt to lighten the mood.

Dr. Nick clearly deemed this unworthy of a response, and went back to fussing over the comatose woman beside him.

They were part of a small wagon train – a very minor part, at the back, designated for wounded people and those who were, in Nynaeve’s own words, a burden but not worth killing quite yet. They’d been thrown in with a catatonic woman suffering from several injuries clearly related to the fight with the Green Man, and all its allied destruction of property. They’d argued about it a little, but had so far avoided calling for a channeler to Heal the woman, for two important reasons.

Firstly, Healing was a closely-guarded commodity at the moment, as they fled Ebou Dar like the Devil Himself were on their heels. Nobody in the back of the wagon train was remotely worthy of such attention. If they were, they’d be in the front of the wagon train. Secondly, and most importantly, the woman – once they had cleaned off some of the dust and blood and corrected for various facial injuries – turned out to be Nynaeve.

Or, at least as far as their low-voiced argument had managed to establish, she looked exactly the same as the haughty young woman leading their caravan. Either Nynaeve had a long-lost twin that they’d never read about in the books, or at least one of them was an impostor.

“Is she coming around?” Chucky asked.


“What is it, a coma? Brain damage? Internal injuries?” Chucky plumbed the depths of his memory. “Lupus?”

“Look,” Dr. Nick snapped. “You do realise that the ‘doctor’ in my name is just a joke? Like the ‘saint’ in yours?”

“Hey,” Chucky squinted. “What are you trying to say? You got your doctorate from the Church of Modern Misconceptions?”

I don’t know what’s wrong with her! If I had to guess, I’d say she got whanged on the head by a falling brick when those Seanchan started blowing shit up, and she’s in … I don’t know, shock or something.”

“I have the feeling she might end up suffering from more than shock if Nynaeve comes back here and sees her,” Chucky suggested.

“But is she Nynaeve?” Dr. Nick brooded. “If one of them’s an enemy in disguise, the other one is probably a Forsaken.”

“Kill ’em both,” Chucky said cheerfully, “and let the Creator sort ’em out.”

“Yeah,” Dr. Nick said, “except how are we supposed to do that, again?”

“You’re wearing enough One Power-deflecting ter’angreal to make your ears turn blue when somebody tries to channel near you,” Chucky pointed out. “Plus, you’re an Aiel ninja master. You could walk up to her and wedgie her to death,” he paused, then added judiciously, “except Lan could probably take you.”

“I’ll have you know that I kicked the ass of-”

“Wait,” Chucky interrupted, “I have a better idea. If one of them is a Forsaken in disguise, your ter’angreal would ruin their disguise, right?” he pointed. “And you’ve been copping a feel of this chick for the past couple of hours.”

“I have not been copping a-”

“And her face hasn’t changed to somebody else’s,” Chucky concluded, “which means she really is Nynaeve.”

“But the other Nynaeve’s face hasn’t changed either,” Dr. Nick replied.

“Doesn’t matter. She’s hardly let you get close enough to affect her.”

“What if they’ve thought of some other way of disguising people as other people?”

“Then you’ll walk up to her, give her a wedgie, and die as my all-time greatest fucking hero.”

There was a disturbance towards the head of the column, and the entire caravan slowed to a halt. Chucky shuffled to the front of the wagon and peered out across the horse’s back.

“Have the Seanchan caught up with us?” Dr. Nick asked. Chucky looked back, and nodded.

“They don’t seem to be blowing each other up yet, though,” he said, “they’re just talking.”

“Talking? I don’t like the sound of that.”

“Me neither. Wait,” Chucky replied, then gave a sigh as a loud splattering sound and a shriek rang back along the wagon train, spooking the horses. “It’s okay,” he went on, “they’re blowing each other up.”

About Hatboy

I’m not often driven to introspection or reflection, but the question does come up sometimes. The big question. So big, there’s just no containing it within the puny boundaries of a single set of punctuationary bookends. Who are these mysterious and unsung heroes of obscurity and shadow? What is their origin story? Do they have a prequel trilogy? What are their secret identities? What are their public identities, for that matter? What are their powers? Their abilities? Their haunted pasts and troubled futures? Their modus operandi? Where do they live anyway, and when? What do they do for a living? Do they really have these fantastical adventures, or is it a dazzlingly intellectual and overwrought metaphor? Or is it perhaps a smug and post-modern sort of metaphor? Is it a plain stupid metaphor, hedged around with thick wads of plausible deniability, a soap bubble of illusory plot dependent upon readers who don’t dare question it for fear of looking foolish? A flight of fancy, having dozed off in front of the television during an episode of something suitably spaceship-oriented? Do they have a quest, a handler, a mission statement, a department-level development objective in five stages? I am Hatboy.
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