The siblings are huddling within a nest of pillows and blankets and pilfered couch cushions situated in the far corner of a small third floor parlor. Greylin is wearing his wolfshape, not so much in the corner as laying along the entire back wall, but even he has a blanket big enough to cover him. Lykke and Siad are firmly cuddled up on either side of their elder brother, arms and fingers entangled in the thick brindled gray fur of his neck and chest. All three are staring at the parlor door, which stands slightly ajar.
A burst of high, raucous laughter pierces the silence hanging throughout the inn - a gleeful cackle that has made archdevils shake (Mama), a whispering giggle reminiscent of cracking bones (Uncle Halion), and a diabolical laugh worthy of the maddest of mad scientists (Uncle Farran).
Greylin - Scourge of the Southern Wastes, Wolf-Prince of the Crossroads, future Lord of Mistwrought - whines and flattens his ears.
"You'd think we'd be used to this by now," Siad says, trying and failing to keep his voice from shaking.
"There are non-interference rules usually in effect," Lykke says, pressing closer to her brother, "so Mama and the Uncles can't go out and do anything when someone manages to do something really stupid and piss them all off, just fume quietly and try to find something to distract themselves while we forget they have Done Things Back In The Day that would make Old Gods run screaming into the night."
"And then there are the times when they are allowed to do something," Greylin rumbles, nosing a blanket until it covers his head and shoulders and younger twin sibs. The warm darkness is a welcome comfort and muffles the lingering echoes of twisted planning. "And they make up for all the other lost opportunities-"
"-and end up going batshit crazy," says Siad.
"I was thinking more indulge their megalomaniacal tendencies in the search for sweet, sweet vengeance, but go batshit works, too."
They are not afraid of their mother and uncles. They are afraid of what they can do, as Mama, Uncle Halion, and Uncle Farran are normally able to control their tempers and act as the cool voices of reason for the eccentric collection of people that live and work in and around the Imp's Head Tavern and Mistwrought and is, for all intents and purposes, a truly sprawling extended family. It is unnerving for the Lunamortis children to see Mama and the Uncles outside the roles most familiar to them: guardians and guides and founts of wry, hard-earned wisdom. (Uncle Halion would argue there was nothing wise about Uncle Farran, who would say, nN, but I make up for it in charisma and dashing good looks, you introverted beanpole, and then they'd start hurling insults and trying to out-drink the other and draw the whole rest of the tavern into the contest and Mama would bang her head against the table and mutter brothers as both a benediction and a curse.)
The mad laughter is a reminder that their mother and uncles are people, too, three of the individuals with power over and responsibility for the spaces between worlds, not just the people who raised Greylin and Lykke and Siad, and sometimes that power goes to their heads. They have never claimed to be good people, but when you've seen the Matron Protectorate up to her elbows in cookie dough, or the Lord of Rimehaven asleep on the couch and drooling on a pillow, or the Lord-Commander of Ravens' Hold repairing a clockwork toy for the child of one his Ravens, it's hard to remember that the rest of the multiverse has only seen them at their most terrifying.
It doesn't make the audible plotting of some poor idiot's inevitable demise any less of a disturbing experience, though. Mama and the Uncles are an inventive, vindictive trio when given the opportunity.
"Do we have cookies?"
"Mint chocolate chip and snickerdoodle."
"Do we have booze?"
"Assorted Jabberwocky brands."
"Do we have board games?"
"Oh so many."
"Can we close the door, please?"
Greylin pokes his head out from the blanket and huffs a deep breath. The parlor door swings closed, muffling the echoes of laughter, and the direwolf burrows fully back under the covers.
"Best big brother ever."