Chapter VIII

     "Just what do you have to say for yourself, now?" interrogated Lord Psycho. "What could possibly have led you to think that you could go around with your illusions and destroy the entire world?"
     "Divine right," answered the Drum Boy. "Same self- appointed right which enables you to rule over this section of the World of Affliction," The prisoner glanced about the room. Among the three residents of the fortress was a fourth captor, a young boy.

     The once-deity felt uneasy as the Drum Boy's glance fell upon him. He watched the confident expression on the prisoner's face change.
     "My brother rules over the people to try to avert 'unpleasantries' in our society, knave. Not because of some divine..." began the younger Psycho.
     "That boy," interrupted the Drum Boy, "who is he?" The prisoner was still staring directly at him.
     "What concern is it of yours?" snapped Jester.
     "We'll discuss it later," continued Dangerously, taking a sideways glance at the boy.
     Just what he needed. The boy knew he would be in for more questioning before his stay was done.
     "Why try to destroy the World of Affliction, anyway?" continued the Lord. "What could you possibly get out of it?"
     "A sense of accomplishment," sniveled the Drum Boy. "I find the mass destruction of places to be very appealing. Not just here, either, mind you!"
     The brothers made a glance toward one another. "Where else do you mean?" Extremely questioned.

     Dangerously knew what the reply would be before the captive muttered it. It was almost to be expected for someone with such a tremendous output of free will.
     "Obviously, I'm referring to the links I share with the populous of human Earth," responded the Drum Boy, "a skill I'm aware your brother possesses," Lord Psycho felt red as the Drum Boy stared him directly in the eye, as if with vicious understanding.
     "Of course, this leads me back to this other guest," continued the war criminal. "He is not quite like you and me, but I believe you've sensed this yourself already?" Lord Psycho wished to defend his newfound ally, but at the same time was intrigued to hear what this Drum Boy had to say, and so replied nothing.
     "I'm unsure, of course, never having experienced it before, but this boy feels to have..." The Drum Boy thought of how to phrase it, " equilibrium of forces."
     "A nekwa-who?" Jester was completely baffled. Even the once-deity himself wasn't certain what had just been said about him, but understood that trouble was arising.
     "He has an amount of, dare I say it, self control within him, balanced with his free will. This boy is, I believe, human!"
     The Recent stood there. Everything was quiet as the congregation averted its attention toward him. He felt that he couldn't breathe, and then... laughter. Someone was laughing!"
     "Ha! Some joke!" Extremely was speaking directly to the boy's accuser. "I don't know what trick you're trying to pull on us, but it's not going to work!"
     Jester nodded in agreement. He knew it was a trick all along.
     "Even in your own defeat, you take it upon yourself to insult my friends," noted Dangerously. "This interrogation is over. Jester, take him to the cells. I'll despleen him in the morning."
     The boy exhaled in relief. Yet he knew that he'd have even more explaining to do soon.

     That evening, the once-deity was invited to join the residents of the Castle Psycho in their routine banquet. Although he did not know what sort of courses to anticipate, the boy was grateful for the chance to eat something. To have to eat for self-preservation was a concept he was slowly learning to endure.
     The banquet hall of the fortress was only slightly more ornate than the rest of the establishment. However, this was only characterized by the existence of a large plate glass window on the west wall allowing the passage of light from the radiant satellite which hovers overhead the World of Affliction in place of a sun. (This satellite was one of many indications the boy had noted of the haste in which the gods had created this plane in loose resemblance to human Earth.) A large table stretched from one wall of this room to the other, nearly touching the edge of the room at each end. Around this table were situated about three-score seats and the dinner guests: Extremely, Jester, and the boy. Dangerously was not present.
     The boy looked at the dish which had been set before him by the harlequin. As far as he could tell, dinner this night consisted of the cooked limbs of some creature, the appearance of which he could not determine. He didn't dare question the history of his supper. The boy understood the risk of going hungry without it combined with the risk of insulting his easily-tempered masters of ceremonies, so he followed the example of his hosts and picked up the meat in his hands, tearing off bits and pieces with his teeth. Retaining some preference in the matter, he did decide to leave alone the glass of rank-smelling red juice.
     Between greedy bites, he did find time to bring a question before his dinner companions. "What happened to Dangerously?" he spoke to the younger Psycho brother.
     "I'm not sure," he responded, then clearing his palette with a swig from his goblet. "It is like him to phase out on these things without warning, though. He's never one to hold to any kind of schedule. It is interesting how one who tries so hard to organize townsfolk would be so apt to go off on such tangents."
     "Wherever he is, he'll pick up something to eat later," added Jester.
     The three continued their suppers silently.

     The Drum Boy sat alone in the dark, single cell of the Castle Psycho. The lack of its use was apparent. Rarely had there ever been an overflow of victims which couldn't be handled by the Psychotic in one evening. Even in this morbid predicament, the prisoner understood that there was something less common in store for him than for the others to have graced this cell.
     After an uneventful anticipation, the prisoner could finally hear footsteps approaching his cell. A voice called from the shadows.
     "So, you're still here?"
     "Where would you expect me to have gone?" replied the captive.
     "I gave Jester the orders to lock you up with full knowledge that your mind tricks could easily be used to cast an image of myself with a contrary order," explained Dangerously. "What made you decide to hang around?"
     "You put up a decent fight against my apparition, and your sibling defeated me fairly in battle. For that I hold a certain respect, and will yield to you... for awhile, anyway."
     "You do realize that he was aiming for your neck."
     "It only would have made the situation more interesting," decreed the Drum Boy. "I will remain here for a few days perhaps, or until you choose to kill me, at which point I will escape. Surely you expected no less?"
     "Darwin, was it?"
     "Hm? I believe you're changing subjects here."
     "The human who outlined the concept of the strong surviving. The gods intended it for Earth, and it inevitably became the way of this world as well."
     "True, very true. The regenerations of we banes was not implied, just a result, wasn't it?"
     "I believe so." Psycho and his prisoner began to discuss the caricature "evolution" of Banes. "With the way our standard regenerations provide a unique and independent form with each occurrence, and with only some influence on the result from the location and nature of the 'death', it became only natural that any stronger beings to spawn would retain that form, as a stronger being would not so often experience the conclusive end of current 'life.' Naturally, those who take on forms of vast free will such as you and I would never be defeated by another bane."
     "And as time progresses, the average inhabitant of this world will be stronger than before as the weak are, well, reshuffled and dealt new attributes. Note the steady decline of the butacow," pointed out the Drum Boy.
     "But I didn't come down here to converse only on the science of things in history," continued Psycho. "Besides the apparent curiosity of whether or not you'd actually chosen to stay here, I came to discover exactly what it was you were trying to say about our guest. You were correct in assessing some peculiarity about him."
     "Well, naturally. What has he told you?"
     "Really, if you don't mind, I came all this way to ask you the questions. Answer satisfactorily, and I may contribute my knowledge."
     "Very well, then," began the Drum Boy. "We are all aware that we are imprisoned here due to the error of the gods. When they first attempted the creation of life, we beings of complete free will were the initial result. However, we became too dominant and destructive, and when the foolish lords found that they did not have the capability to destroy us as easily as we were created, we were all sealed here."
     "We are all aware of our circumstances, knave. Tell me what this has to do with the boy."
     "Oh, aren't we testy? Very well. Our successors on human Earth were created with an opposing force to be balanced with the free will, one of self control. They were also created with the ability of the gods to actually and ultimately destroy the souls if deemed necessary, so future problems would not have to be solved with the sequestering we face."
     "And of course," interceded Psycho, "you were able to detect this opposing force of self control. Intriguing. So you theorize that this boy was once an inhabitant of Earth?"
     "It is something beyond that," continued the prisoner. "How could a mere human have possibly transgressed into the World of Affliction, The prison of the Banes? And if he is human, he could have simply been destroyed by the gods rather than thrown in here. He is something far different. But what is he, I ask you now?"
     "I suppose it's my turn to contribute," spoke Psycho. "I had asked him how he managed to remain so calm, as I had not detected much free will emanating from him. His explanation was a possession of Earthen knowledge, for which he was able to provide an example. It seems to validate your idea of his being from the outside, but yet why would he pretend to be a bane?"
     "It could be out of fear. But I believe that if he does know a way to pass between worlds, it is in our interest to wrest this information from him."
     "He is still a guest of mine, and will be treated with respect!" retorted the suddenly irritated Psycho. "I shall ask him about it, and he will be persuaded to tell no more than he wishes!"
     "I will point out that you'd be missing out on the one opportunity every inhabitant of this plane wishes to possess," concluded the captive as Psycho stormed angrily from the dungeon.

[Chapter VII] [Chapter IX]
Last page update: 10-10-98