Madness Takes its Toll
[Note: This selection first appeared in the 9th issue of the DFC, dated: Setp. 9th, 1992. Titled: MADNESS TAKES ITS TOLL by Angelica Takashi.]
My name is Angelica Takashi. I am a Psycian bard, and many of
you probably know me. I don't sing very well, and my storytelling is only slightly better,
but I like to think of myself as a person people notice and feel comfortable talking to...
or at least, until a few days ago. After I became a certain well-known Muatana's lovemate,
several of my acquaintances suddenly found me very unpleasant to speak with. Now, that has
been fixed somewhat, and this makes me happy. But at the time this story takes place, it
was still difficult for me to gain acceptance.
I was walking down Merchant Lane, searching for adventurers
with whom to converse, when I recieved word from Rich the Dragon that my lovemate had just
died. This horrified me - as is understandable - and I immediately ran to the site to
claim his belongings. It was night time, fortunately, so I knew he would return from Chaos
for them later. I gathered them up with Rich, little knowing that I was being watched.
Many other things happened that night, most irrelevant to
this story. Suffice to say I found myself in the Town Square at a rather strange hour. I
consulted the auguries for a list of those in the Spur, and the gods replied with one that
disturbed me. For I was alone with Randell Flagg.
Now, I like to think of myself as well-known, but Randell
most definetely is. In fact, I believe in most circles he is known as "slime",
and I certainly regarded him so. But, being in a peacebonded area, I didn't trouble
myself. I was shuffling my items around, making room for my beloved's belongings, when
suddenly the ring I had dropped disappeared.
I deduced that an invisible person had taken it, and used my
powers to check. There, in a Chameleon Web, was Randell, with my lovemate's ring.
Frowning, I called out to him to return it.
"It hurts, doesn't it?" he said, in his usual
arrogant tone of voice.
"What hurts?" I replied, "I don't have time
for games, Randell. Give me back my ring."
The Web faded, and Randell came into view. I considered going
south and fighting him for it, as I knew he would be tired from the Web, but decided
against it. Randell was one who Drained very often, almost for pleasure, and I didn't want
to be his next victim.
"My dear Angelica, it's not yours." He said, his
voice shifting to a tone smooth as silk. Some were charmed by that voice. I was sickened.
"C'mon, Randell, I'm not in the mood. Please?
He frowned slightly. "This is my game, dear Angel, and I
make the rules. If you want the ring back, you have to play."
"Play? What do you mean?"
"Play with me. It's so much fun to play, with cards and
games. I like to play with people. I like to play with their HEADS, sweet Angel. You're
Randell was not usually like this. He seemed the type that
would NEVER openly challenge anybody. He would sneak up from behind, while they were
dropping items or fighting guards, and kill them. He had tried this on me, twice... both
times my Confusion saved me. But this time he had something I had to get back. I shrugged.
"Ok, ok. If you want to fight, we can. Just please give the ring back? I am supposed
to keep it for someone."
His face suddenly changed, becoming very angry.
"NO!" he yelled, "You don't get it, do you? You have to PLAY!"
"Play what? I don't understand."
He relaxed again, and became almost calm. "Play... a
NOW he was acting weird. I had never heard him babble before,
but he certainly was rambling now. "Randell?" I asked, perplexed, "Are you
all right? You're acting funny."
He started to giggle, then chuckling, then laughing. "Me
OK?" he said, "Angel dear, I have decided to go totally insane."
I raised an eyebrow.
"Yep. Gone. Not playing with a full deck. A few bricks
shy. The lights are on, but nobody's home. I'm gone, Angie. Totally gone, man. You want
the ring? Here. Tell Rubert I said hi."
To my relief, he finally dropped the ring. I snatched it up
as quick as I could, and looked up to see Randell rising, as if to leave. He smiled at me
in that perverse way of his. "You know, Angie, this town really cracks me up.
He then offered me a hundred gold pieces. Always willing to
take a fool's money - even from him - I accepted it. He looked at me one last time,
smiled, and left the Square... leaving me deeply disturbed.