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Episode 2: Shrink
[Slagar slowly trudges out onto the show's set, showing clear signs of anger and bitterness. Well, more than he usually does, I mean.]
SLAGAR: Greetings, you worthless bunch of disgusting, brainless maggots, and welcome to Slagar the Cruel Coast to Coast.
SLAGAR: Yeah, but I'm in an especially poor mood today. The Dark Forest executives and I have been having some... creative differences.
THREECLAWS: How so?
SLAGAR: Well, for one thing, they won't let me quit "Ask Slagar". Or even annex it into this show.
CLECKY: Ha, serves y'right, you odious omadon!
SLAGAR: Shut up, Tarquin, before I take that harolina and-
TREEROSE: Uh, that's Clecky, Slagar. He got bumped up to the position of lead harolinist because Tarquin dropped out of the band. He wasn't comfortable with the idea of working under a vermin. Especially one who's an odious omadon.
SLAGAR: Yeah, I'm sure the fact that the "goofy idiot hare" angle was already taken had nothing to do with anything. Anyways, another issue I've had with the Dark Forest execs relates to our airing schedule. Apparently an episode every 11 months isn't fast enough for those overbearing detail-mongers.
VITCH: Hey, while we're talkin' about the pilot episode, I noticed a little inconsistency. In your answer to "Ask Slagar" #34, you state outright that you can't feel pain in the Dark Forest. But in the first episode of this show, you mentioned that your neck "hurt like Hellgates".
SLAGAR: Oh, delightful, Vitch hasn't learned his lesson after getting fired (and/or maimed) twice in my employ, and continues to ask terrible questions. So, you want to know if there's pain in the Dark Forest, Vitch?
[Slagar pulls three daggers out from under his desk.]
SLAGAR: Let's find out, shall we?
[Slagar throws the daggers in Vitch's direction. There are three thuds from off-screen, and a blood-curdling scream.]
SLAGAR: Well, that question's settled. For the record, kids, Slagar does NOT like perfectionists.
SLAGAR: ...ones that aren't him, I mean. Yeah. Anyways, we've got a really big show tonight. And you know that I'm not just saying that so you'll tune in. If I think a show is going to be a short-lived waste of time, I'll make sure to let you know. But yeah, tonight we're going to hear from a former ruler of Redwall, Abbess Byrony, about her new interest in vermin psychiatric assistance. Even better, her subjects are some of the most highly-famed and critically-acclaimed vermin ever to walk the Dark Forest. We'll hear all about their stories and problems, and even get to see how they measure up to ultimate villain - me.
SLAGAR: Oh, right, I'm supposed to be doing witty, topical standup comedy right about now. Um... I say, everyone, watch my new standup act.
[Slagar stands up. After a few seconds, he sits down. The audience is completely silent.]
TREEROSE: Wow, Slagar, that pun was horrible. I mean, unusually horrible, even for you.
TREEROSE: Eh, I don't mind. We were a little worried about Martin the Warrior taking legal action, anyways. He has a staff of copyright lawyers, you know.
SLAGAR: Whatever. Anyways, I must admit that standup comedy completely clashes with my being, and I refuse to do it ever again.
[The audience applauds.]
[The audience applauds (again) as Byrony - adorned with thick glasses and a black pipe - walks into view from behind the curtain, with Cluny, Tsarmina, and Gabool in tow.]
BYRONY: Thank you, thank you, one and all - woodlanders and vermin. I am Doctor Byrony, ex-Abbess, vermin psychiatrist, and vermin rights activist. Rats are rodents too!
SLAGAR: Yeah, you'll have plenty of time to expound upon your penchant for moral relatavism later. Though I'm certainly all for more rights. I mean, it's bad enough that I don't have life or the pursuit of happiness, but I could at least use a little liberty over here. For now, though, I'd like to talk to some of my other guests. Tell us a little about yourself, Tsarmina.
TSARMINA: In life, I was Tsarmina the Magnificent, Queen of Mosslower, Lady of a Thousand Eyes, slayer of all enemies, conqueror of all creatures -
SLAGAR: We get the point.
TSARMINA: ...Anyways, as anybeast with a particle of sense will tell you, I was a most brilliant and effective ruler. All shrank from my mighty voice, and all who were foolish enough to defy me met a horrible end. In my final struggle with Martin the Warrior, however, he forced me to back into water, which - I admit it - terrifies me. I drowned myself in a mad scramble to escape my greatest foe.
SLAGAR: Wow, that's a pretty lame way to die.
TSARMINA: WELL, I'm sorry you feel that way.
SLAGAR: Moving on... quickly... we come to Gabool. Tell us a little about YOURself, Gabool.
GABOOL: They're out to get me, all o' them! If ye don't believe me, that's 'cause ye 'aven't seen their teeth under the full moonlight! Full reception, you'd better believe it! And all after ME! THROW THE BELL OFF THE CLIFF, AND THEN THE BADGER!
SLAGAR: I can already tell that Doctor Byrony has her work cut out for her. Finally we come to... Cluny. I'm not sure I like the fact that he came here.
CLUNY: Yeah, it's not exactly a thrill being here, Chickenhound.
SLAGAR: Ha. Listen, Cluny, just to get this out of the way... I'm in charge here. And here, you will call me either -
[Slagar is interrupted by a high-tempo, yet somber, blast of music.]
SLAGAR: What in Hellgates was that?!
TREEROSE: That's the "We're Treading Old Material" theme. The situation direly called for it.
ROOP: Hurr, et totallee did, zurr, boi 'oakey! 'Ee arf gotten oawaned by 'ee squirrel-marm, Slagger!
GERUL: Ah, Treerose, ye fine lass, d'you know what me ould mother said about treading old material? She said it was a great way to lose weight an' save on insurance, that she did!
SLAGAR: Okay, all of you had better shove an acorn in it right now before I tear out your insides and shove them into your eye-sockets. Cluny, why don't you tell us about your little... problems?
CLUNY: Bah, I'm not anything like these two lunatics. My agent just said it'd be good for my PR to appear on this stupid little show. So while I'm here, I suppose I'll let all of you puke-faced, pampered woodlanders sitting comfortable at home know who I am - Cluny the Scourge, the most terrible, powerful, and fearless warrior that ever lived!
SLAGAR: Fearless, eh? According to this dossier Doctor Byrony gave me, you picked up a nasty fear of Martin the Warrior during your invasion of Redwall.
CLUNY: Why, you...!
TSARMINA: No, it's okay, Cluny, I understand. Martin the Warrior can be pretty scary. The guy fights like a great male badger or something.
TREEROSE: Don't forget his staff of copyright lawyers!
SLAGAR: Did I not just tell you staff members to shove acorns in your respective "it"s just a minute ago? Get on that. In fact, from now on anyone who isn't one of the show's actual guests is required to compile a twelve-page typed report on whatever could possibly be important enough to warrant my interest. [Pause.] And a five page supplement on why I rule.
CLUNY: Quit being so full of yourself, you ugly brat, and go peel some herbs with your mommy.
SLAGAR: Leave my mother out of this, fool! You owe her your very LIFE!
CLUNY: Yeah, well I'm dead now anyways, so that doesn't count for much. And by the same token, you owe your life to my stupid hordebeasts for not checking if you were still alive after I had you torn apart!
SLAGAR: ...We'll be right back with Doctor Byrony to hear her analyzation of these three mentally unstable vermin after this quick commercial break. [Slagar pulls several more knives out from under his desk...]
GONFF: Do you want more money? Of course, we all do! I'm no exception, matey! So send me money, or treasure, or even food if you've got it, an' become a part of my long-distance Thievery classes! You'll get:
DEGREES TAKE MORE THAN A DAY TO ARRIVE, DESPITE WHAT YOU MAY HAVE HEARD
SORRY, NO CODS, JUST MONEY AND/OR TREASURE AND/OR FOOD
GARTAR: hay guyz sup goin on??? u r back here at slager teh coast 2 coast
[Slagar and Cluny are both still in one piece, though they each have several holes in their bodies - and Cluny seems to be pinned to a couch in a reclining position. Slagar gestures to Byrony.]
SLAGAR: Okay, now that we've gotten to know all three of these lunatics, let's spend some time on the real guest. Dr. Byrony, what made you decide to take on this line of work?
BYRONY: Well, ever since I was little more than a dibbun, I've been trying to trace the hostility vermin show towards woodlanders back to its most fundamental roots. Now that I'm dead, I finally have enough time, and a great enough lack of obligations, to pursue my ultimate goal - and I'll use this information to help all kinds of poor, mistreated vermin along the way by completely stripping them of all accountability! And, uh, by curing them of mental illness, too.
SLAGAR: And this... accountability-stripping you speak of... would it involve the retiring of Dark Forest punishments such as... oh, I don't know... advice columns...
BYRONY: Why, yes, actually. Any particular reason for asking?
SLAGAR: Oh no, just curious.
SLAGAR: So, why don't you start by analyzing our poor, dejected friend Cluny the Scourge, who I've already taken the liberty of pinning to your couch?
[Cluny rolls his eyes.]
BYRONY: An excellent suggestion. So, Cluny - let's start with your invasion of Redwall. Would you call it an attack, or a cry for help from a poor lost child only seeking acceptance?
CLUNY: Uh, I'm pretty sure it was the first one.
BYRONY: And do these... "attacks" of yours stem from depression, or from a deeply harbored desire to live like a Redwaller?
CLUNY: I just wanted to kill the Redwallers, enslave them, and take their stuff! Hellgates, why are we even talking about this?! The issue here is supposed to be my reocurring nightmares about Martin the Warrior!
BYRONY: Yes, I was just getting to that. Did you see mice - particularly mice associated with Redwall- as threatening figures in your life?
CLUNY: Well, I do now, because one killed me. Otherwise, no, they were unarmed weaklings and I was eager to face - and crush - all of them!
BYRONY: This desire to crush mice... do you feel that it is a byproduct of your personal frustration at being branded "evil" by the insensitive Abbeybeasts of Redwall?
CLUNY: I am evil! I am the most terrible, despicable lord ever to lead rats into battle!
TSARMINA: Hmph, someone has a high opinion of themself.
BYRONY: Hmm... he's actually been brainwashed into believing the woodlander lies. Truly tragic. I'm not sure I can help you any more, my friend. [To the security guards] You can pry him off, now.
[Threeclaws and Halfchop begin to work towards that end.]
SLAGAR: Nice work, Byrony, you did a... well... you did a horrible job, actually. How was that supposed to inspire the woodlanders in our audience to identify with vermin?
BYRONY: Well, you can't expect every examination to have miraculous results. I'll just have to try again. Let's see, which of the two remaining patients are in more dire need of my help?
[Byrony glances between Tsarmina, who is sitting dignifiedly in her chair looking bored, and Gabool, who is hanging on a light fixture dangling from the ceiling screaming about bells.]
BYRONY: Hmm... eenie, meenie, minie - Tsarmina, why don't you step up?
[Tsarmina takes a seat at the couch, landing in a puddle of Cluny's blood.]
TSARMINA: How revolting.
CLUNY: Bah, my blood's as clean as anybeast's.
BYRONY: So, Ms. Greeneyes, if I remember correctly you have a severe fear of water. How long has this been an element in your life?
TSARMINA: Well, I am a cat, so... pretty much forever.
BYRONY: Huh. Right. [Pause.] You know, I'm drawing a blank on how to relate innate hydrophobia to my cause, so I'll just give you the works. Tell me about your family life. Are you harboring any deep-rooted antipathy from that?
TSARMINA: Well, I did hate pretty much my entire family. My father King Verdauga was a senile, droopy-whiskered old fool for pretty much his entire life, and my brother Gingervere was nothing more than an stupid, squeamish sissy of Squire.
SLAGAR: Are you actually speaking with alliteration...? Stop that. Just stop. That's wrong and you should be ashamed of yourself.
TSARMINA: So, uh, right, my family members. Let's see... did I mention Uncle Trunn? Now, if you want to talk about vermin warlords who are touched in the head, look no further than him. He would sail all over the place in a boat full of bugs, painting his underlings with unnatural dyes. What a creep.
BYRONY: So I was right! The sordid family conditions most vermin face at an early age is what fuels their misery and causes them to turn to evil. If we would just treat them more respectfully and not blame them -
TSARMINA: Woah, hold on a second, mouse. My family members were sometimes vexing, yes, but I wouldn't call them a source of misery. Tormenting them was actually a constant source of amusement for me while I was growing up.
BYRONY: [Growing impatient] So basically all your misdeeds directly branched from being blamed for things by woodlanders, right?
TSARMINA: What? No, where did tha-
BYRONY: Aha, more brainwashing! She's but another innocent victim of the heinous woodlander conspiracy. Tsarmina, you may go back to your seat.
[Tsarmina backs away from the couch with a disturbed look on her face.]
BYRONY: Well, then! I think my thoughts on vermin psychology have been proven nicely...
SLAGAR: Aren't you forgetting someone? Someone who is seriously in need of psychiatric evaluation?
[Slagar gestures to Gabool, who is carving replicas of bells with his scimitar out of wood from the studio floor and chewing them.]
BYRONY: Why Slagar, are you offering to undergo treatment? How openminded of you!
GABOOL: It's the bells, Graypatch! Gotta bite the bells, before they grow the teeth an' bite you back!
BYRONY: Well, you must admit that there have been documented instances of you acting in madness, Slagar...
SLAGAR: Everything I've done has a sane, logical reason behind it. The Redwallers were against me, the Abbey was cursed, and that song I was singing about foxes running away to fight another day right before I died is very catchy. Gabool the Wild, on the other hand, is wholly psychotic.
GABOOL: I'm not crazy! I just need to toss the bell off the cliff with the badger! And The Master of Disguise is the best movie I've ever seen!
BYRONY: I think I see what you mean, Slagar. So Gabool, what's on your mind?
GABOOL: Besides overwhelming fear of the bell an' the badger an' the scorpion who I've come to suspect was a bell in a suit?
BYRONY: Um... yes.
GABOOL: NOTHING! [Begins to sob.] Not even in death can I escape the madness! I can't sleep! I can't think! I realize that I did wrong, I really do, an' I'll repent if someone can just make the madness stop! Won't ya please help me?
BYRONY: You know, it's funny that you should mention realization... [Suddenly livid] because I just realized that all you vermin are ROTTEN IRREDEEMABLE SCUM!!!
SLAGAR: ...what? Am I missing something, or did you just randomly pull a 180 with your ideals about vermin?FERRET KID IN THE CROWD: Yeah, she does that a lot!
BYRONY: I tried to reach a caring, peaceful understanding of the vermin psyche before because that's just the way I am. BUT VERMIN ARE BORN BAD, NOBODY CAN CHANGE THAT, AND THE WORLD WOULD BE BETTER IF THEY DIDN'T EXIST!
[Byrony stands up, picks up her chair, and attempts to beat Gabool over the head with it. Before she can spring into action, however, she is grabbed by the Security Guards and dragged off-stage, struggling wildly. Nobeast speaks for a few seconds, until Slagar breaks the silence.]
SLAGAR: Well. That went about as badly as a scheme can possibly go.
TSARMINA: But even you've got to admit that this was a pretty contrived scheme to begin with.
SLAGAR: ...yeah. [Pause.] So, where are you guys working at these days?
TSARMINA: An aquarium.
GABOOL: A belltower.
CLUNY: A Martin the Warrior memorabilia store.
SLAGAR: Huh. You know, the afterlife can be a real -
THREECLAWS: [Suddenly behind Slagar] Hey, chief.
SLAGAR: Gah! How did you get back so quickly?
THREECLAWS: Well, it's the funniest thing...
SLAGAR: Somehow I doubt that this "thing" will posess any comedic value whatsoever, so spare me the anecdote and just forget it. What do you want?
THREECLAWS: Well, Halfchop wanted me to give this to you. [Hands Slagar a packet]
SLAGAR: A twelve page, typed report... consisting of nothing but the word Kachunk. Incredible.
HALFCHOP: [Happily] Kachunk!
THREECLAWS: I smell a Newberry Award!
SLAGAR: I smell an... uh... you know what, forget the retort, just shut up and go away.