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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Storyboard of Ataniel Archives: Coming of Age

Part 3

Name: Jonah Cohen
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Jimmy D and the Silver Bullets
Title of Post: Let the Hot Pursuit Begin

The bird-headed highwayman was packed in the boot, ready to be turned over to Dalencian authorities, and the Trade Carriage was moving again. Jimmy wondered if he was the only one too wired to sleep.

Alderon had his hand on Berryn's shoulder. "Don't worry, man," the pirate said. "We'll get her back. Heck, Chloe's probably captured him and is gonna ask what took us so long when we get there. It takes more than one wussy I-scamper-from-every-fight hitman to deal with a Paris." Some of the veteran members of the Silver Bullets nodded assent.

Jimmy checked out the extending billy club he'd scavenged from the brigand. Nice blunt weapon - concealable, good reach, good surprise factor (as he himself had discovered) and the smoothest spring-action he'd ever seen. He futilely attempted to wipe some mud from his face, at least. A large green hand shyly passed him back his bandana.

"Thanks, Melissandra."

"I'll memorize Cantrip for tomorrow," Thalia offered. "I can use that to help you clean up."

This was incredible. He'd known everyone here for about two hours, and already they were fighting together, offering to cast spells for him and he was worrying about a woman he scarcely knew. It felt really good, he admitted to himself, to not be alone.

"Look," he said, "I've never been to Edimon, and I know it's a really big town, so it may take some time, but I'm pretty sure I can trace that fake passport."

Name: Jonah Cohen
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): The Silver Bullets, Blackbird, Michael Dean
Title of Post: Tangents in the Big City

The Fine Brothers looked at each other nervously. "So, uh, Mr. Blackbird. What we need is... uh, nothing personal, but could you come out where we could see you better?"

"Nothing personal. No." The Blackbird wore a blood red cloak that covered his face, and he stood in the shadows.

"Right. OK. Anyhow, this guy, Zachary Gold, runs the GR3 hotel over on 7th Avenue. See, we need him out of the way because the old mule just won't sell, and we need the property for ---"

"I don't care. You needn't justify yourselves to me. You have the money?"

"Yeah. I'll just, uh, put it down here. You can count it if you want."

"No need. Mr. Gold will be dead soon. And if you shorted me on the payment, you will also soon be dead. Good day." They were all too happy to depart. If Blackbird had decided to take on this contract himself, Gold would have been dead inside of 2 hours. But no, this contract looked like it would be excellent practice for some of his students.

* * *

Edimon, once the capital of the world's largest empire, was one of the five largest cities in Ataniel, a fact not lost on Jimmy DiLaurentis as the Trade Carriage pulled into town. He awoke from a brief bit of shut-eye in time to get a good view of the cityscape. Raised in rural Zulya, he had thought that the city of Saginou was a huge metropolis when he'd first arrived. It was clearly nothing compared to Edimon. The walled keep of the upper city, turrets of a castle visible inside, was huge in and of itself. Towers and monuments punctuated the landscape that seemed to roll on forever. If Chloe Paris was indeed in Edimon, it was going to be difficult to find her.

The Silver Bullets stretched as they exited the carriage. The driver was hailing a couple of city guardsmen. The last to exit was Thalia. "OK, I'm done memorizing the spells," she said. Then, with a dramatic gesture and some words Jimmy didn't understand, the mud that had settled on him like too-tight armor was washed away.

""Sweet!" he said, as Thalia applied the cantrip to a most grateful Melissandra.

"Here he is, officers!" the driver said, opening the trunk, where the bird-headed bandit was tied up.

"Well, well," the first cop said, "if it isn't Ad Hawk of the Beasty Boys. We've been looking forward to having a little chat with you."

"D'oh!" replied the bandit.

"That's what they all say," the second cop explained. "They all say 'D'oh'. So, one of you is responsible for bringing bird brain here in?" Alderon pointed his thumb at an embarassed Jimmy. "Well, there is a reward out on these highwaymen." Ka-ching!

After collecting a modest sum, Jimmy insisted on paying for a 'base of operations' for the party, which turned out to be an Inn called the GR3. A shingle helpfully explained that this stood for "Good rooms, reasonable rates."

* * *

Michael Dean (aka Mitchel Ewens, at least for a time)returned to the underground headquarters of his new guild and set about to thoroughly searching the captured prisoner. The potion that the Alchemist had provided had been difficult to inject, but once he had, it had put the girl out like a light.

Some of his fellow trainees filed in for the briefing with the leader. "Whassup?" a large apprentice said to him.

"Chuck. Nice to see you in men's clothing again," Michael replied. The verbal scuffle was stopped immediately when the boss, known only as Blackbird, entered.

"Well, well," he said, looking at the hostage his favorite trainee had brought. "This should be an interesting report, Michael."

"Yessir. I can report success. I eliminated the target before he could contact the elf, as the contractor specified. I did have a scuffle with some random adventurers; rather strange ones. I think one of them was a troll. Anyway, during the scuffle, one of them grabbed my satchel. There was little important in it... except for my ring."

This cause some guffaws at Michael's expense. Scowling, he went on. "However, I was able to track her, and as luck would have it, the Beasty Boys tried to jack the Trade Carriage she was on, which provided the perfect cover for me to subdue her and recover the ring."

"Why didn't you just kill her, flarkface?" Chuck said.

"Because she may be more valuable alive," Blackbird said. "Tell me, Michael, did you eliminate the target outside a bar?"

"Y-yes. How did you know?"

"Never a good place to carry out a job. Bars are congregating places for adventurers and such ilk. They take a death in their presence as an invitation to action. Even total strangers will band together at the promise of exploring a mystery. Do you know anything about the girl?"

"I removed all her possessions and anything that could be used as a weapon or spell object. It seems shes's a cleric of Arawn. According to a tag in one of her books her name is Chloe Paris."

"Paris? I see. She could prove valuable indeed. Either as a hostage should her companions somehow manage to locate her, or as a token of good faith to her family. Live and learn, Chuck."

Chuck suddenly found his shoes very interesting. Michael sneered.

"A good job, Michael," Blackbird continued. "But some mistakes were made. We shall evaluate your performance in detail later. I have a new assignment that I think I will make a multiple-person job. But first, take Miss Paris and put her in one of the mage-cells. And anyone who thinks of taking any liberties with her will answer to me."

* * *

The rooms at the GR3 lived up to the name, but were small, so Jimmy had to book 2 pairs of them. The innkeeper, a kindly old man named Zachary Gold, insisted on having his son help the Silver Bullets to their rooms. Jimmy could tell at once that Gold's son was slow in the head. One of his friends in Zulya had a brother who was sort of like that. Jimmy and Alderon ended up sharing a room.

Crowded and cosmopolitan, Edimon seemed to have everything one could want. There was a bakery right across the street from the GR3. Money burning a hole in his pocket, Jimmy bought a dozen bagels and a large urn of coffee and one of OJ to bring back. A few people had washed up or changed clothes by the time he got back.

Over the most important meal of the day, they worked on planning. He tried, not entirely successfully, not to tell himself to think as Mary would have.

Berryn cast comprehend languages on the torn book page, scrunched up his forehead and said "Nothing!"

"I guess if it were that easy, someone could have cast that on my amulet," Rissa said.

"I was so certain it said something," Berryn said.

"Maybe it's part of a map?" Alderon offered.

"Or you have to overlay it with something else," Jason suggested.

"Or it's in code," Thalia said.

"With all those angular kind of lines, I thought it might be some kind of pigpen code," Jimmy said, "but that doesn't work out. I can't help but think it's right in front of us, but somehow we just can't see it."

"Alright then," Sashami said, "we're beaten on that for now. Our current priority isn't figuring out the significance of the amulet, it's recovering Chloe. If she is in Edimon, it won't be easy to track her. Does anyone have a spell that could locate her?"

"Magic mirror would," Thalia said. "But, uh, it's a little bit above me."

"You said you could trace the fake passport that 'Mitchel Ewens' used?" Sashami said to Jimmy.

"Uh, yeah. Yeah, I think I can. A burg this big it'll take some time, but I think I can." Making a secret thieves hand signal that he was pretty sure no one else noticed, or understood, he 'said' to Alexke Wanna come with? "Still, forging passports is a really specific niche market. There's probably a zillion fences in this town, but there can't be many people in the traveling papers biz." I hope.

"OK. Any other ideas on how we can locate Chloe?"

* * *

Blackbird's plans were in month six of a plan that he estimated would take 5 years. Once, the Edimon Assasins Guild had been a mighty presence, thanks largely to the support of the Last Emperor and his cabal. Now, Blackbird was going to rebuild it from the ground up. He was starting with raw talent who he could train from the start. (More experienced outsiders could be brought into the fold, but his plans didn't call for such actions until year four.) Several of his students, notably Michael Dean, showed promise. Others were too dumb or too hot-headed to truly serve as a core of assasins, but could still make themselves useful as generalized thugs. He kept them happy by letting them, and them alone, imbibe one of the Alchemist's better potions.

Speaking of which... Blackbird went to see his most specialized assistant. "Your tranquilizer compounnd proved effective," he said.

"Damn well ought to be, for how much it cost," the Alchemist replied testily. Most people took a nearly instant dislike to the man, but for his part, Blackbird didn't care.

"Some of the boys will be requiring more of their strength potion soon."

"Always with the strength. None of 'em ever wants a potion that increases intelligence. Tal knows some of them could use one."

"I'll be testing a few of the boys with an upcoming assignment."

"Yeah, yeah. Look, Blackbird, I don't care what the details are. I trust that you know what you're doing putting this little bunch together. All I care about is that sooner or later, you bring this city to its damn knees. And that I'm there to kick it when it's down." Renault Raimonde, the Alchemist, went back to work on his potions.

* * *

Chloe Paris awoke with a headache. She tried to remember what had happened to her. The battle with the weird highwayman, the cloaked assassin grabbing her, getting a good sucker shot... Crud, I went and got captured.

She was in a dank, barred cell. She tried to cast a spell, but no words came out of her mouth. She kicked the ground in disgust, also producing no sound.

Silently, she uttered a prayer. To get out of this jam, it looked like she'd need help from Arawn, and the Silver Bullets. Maybe not in that order.

Name: Sylvia A. Rudy
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Thalia, a seamstress
Title of Post: Earlier that evening...

"You guys go on ahead," Thalia told the party, "I'll catch up."

"I thought you were the one who didn't like splitting the party," Jimmy pointed out.

Thalia sighed. "I'll be fine. But if I do get kidnapped in the next thirty minutes, I will consider myself suitably chastised."



The sign on the door said "Leeandra and Daughter - Fine Tailoring and Seamstresses". It would do. Thalia stepped inside and found a young woman hemming a golden silk gown. The workmanship was good, and the design looked like it would be flattering.

"Hi. Are you 'and Daughter'?"

The woman jumped, but only a little. "Oh, hi! Yes, I am Leesa. Can I help you?"

"How would you like a Royal commission?" Thalia flashed a few Talarian coins with her picture on them. Well, technically they were pictures of Telerie, but after the minting process a portrait of one princess pretty much looks like another.

"I'd like it better if there wasn't a catch."

"What makes you think there's a catch?"

"Because you didn't ask to talk to my mom. What's the catch?"

"I need a dress for a... rather... large young lady."

The woman looked relieved. "Oh, that's all right then. There are tricks with the bodice... I'll have to charge extra for yardage of course..."

"...and green skin."

"Um, green?"

"She's... half-troll."

Leesa made a low choking noise.

"You'd be able to tell everyone you worked on a Royal Commission for a Talarian Princess," Thalia pointed out. "It would be a challenge." She bit back, and we're desperate.

"You'll pay for design, labor, and yardage?"


"All right. Let me grab some swatches..."

On to the Coming of Age Archives, Part 4

'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

Native American tribal art * Abenaki * Indian silver jewelry * Y Guide * Tattoo