Table of Contents
The Storyboard of Ataniel Archives: December 2003
Name: Eric Gasior and Kris Andersen
City Coming of Age
Character(s): Alexke and Rissa
Title of Post: The treasure's always to the left
Sent: 11.38 am - 12/4
Alexke woke up, chilled by the feel of the cold stone against her head, but thankful for the lack of nightmares.
"She's awake!" she heard someone exclaim above her. She sat up groggily and blinked at the person, who turned out to be Melissandra. Her head was still fuzzy from the sleeping gas, but she was able to follow most of the troll's harried explanation about what had happened to them. A trap. A dungeon. A door they couldn't break down. "But no Jimmy," Alderon chimed in. "And no stuff. We've basically been sitting here hoping Jimmy didn't set us up."
"I still don't think he would have," insisted Rissa unhappily.
Alexke shrugged. "Anyone can betray you, and sooner or later, most people do. Either he did or he didn't... what's the point worrying about it now?"
Rissa blinked at the young planeblazer as she got to her feet. "Well, that's… practical," she finally said, as diplomatically as was possible with both eyebrows raised.
Alexke looked at the room around them, then closed her eyes and turned slowly in a circle, head cocked almost as if she were listening. "There's something about the walls that won't let me through, and there aren't any weak points. But I can get us out through the door."
Rissa looked relieved. "If you can get us out, I can point us in the direction of our stuff... as long as my things aren't somewhere separate, anyway."
"I can get us out." Alexke sized up the space around the door. "If it's just going to be a few yards, I can shortcut us through the astral plane. No one should have any problems there. Follow me."
She opened what seemed to be an invisible portal and stepped through. Alderon went right behind her, and just disappeared after a couple of steps. Rissa balked for a few seconds, not sure if she could trust the planeblazer or not, but she didn't really have a choice. Besides, nowhere she could possibly be taking me would be worse than back to Cynystra without that book. She took a deep breath and stepped through.
It was just like walking from one side of a room to another, really. The most disturbing thing about it was how normal it looked. Alderon reappeared in front of her, walking on a multicolored path. Then he disappeared again. And then the stone-hewed walls of the dungeon reappeared. Rissa turned around to see Berryn stepping through the obstinate door as if it were an illusion. Creepy, she thought.
Alexke looked tired, but didn't collapse in exhaustion the way she did last time. "We'll have to walk from here. Which way?"
"Oh." Rissa cleared her throat and concentrated, then sang softly in Cynystran:
As leaves fall around
Squirrels squabbling over nuts,
I chase Cyn through the orchard:
"Give me back my dolly!"
She looked up, a little embarrassed by the childishness of it, but Sashami was only just stepping through the planar portal now, and no one else understood Cynystran. "That way," she said, pointing down the dimly lit hallway to her left. "That's where my book is, anyway... hopefully everything else is being kept in the same place."
Name: Sylvia A. Rudy
City Coming of Age
Character(s): Thalia, the kidnapped party
Title of Post: Fair Damsels In Gentle Distress
Sent: 12.15 pm - 12/4
Thalia pulled herself up, looking as unmussed (after being drugged and dragged into a dungeon!) as only she could. "I think," she said midly, "the first thing to do is not panic." Her remark managed to be now quite aimed at Rissa and Sashami as they paced the room. She ran a quick inventory of her pockets to be sure that most objects of apparent use had been located and removed. So that just leaves us with the non-apparent uses.
"Aren't you upset about being kidnapped?" asked Melissandra.
"Not really. It happens to my sister Telerie all the time. It's part of the princess thing."
"Oh. What would Telerie do in a situation in a situation like this?"
Thalia shrugged, "Wait for a big strong hero to rescue her probably." She located one of the remaining utensils on the food table and dropped it in her pocket. The water was a lost cause, but she wrapped some bread in a napkin and deposited it in another pocket. You never know when you'll need provisions, or something to distract a rat with or something.
She walked over to make sure Alexke didn't need any help getting to her feet, then followed the young planeblazer out into the hall. "Of course, I'm not my sister."
Name: Lora Redish
City Coming of Age: Sins of the Fathers
Character(s): Alderon, Sashami and the Silver Bullets
Title of Post: Of Philosophy and Green Slime
Sent: 2.19 pm - 12/4
"So this, uh, code of honor," Alderon said as they walked down the hallway. "How restrictive is it? I mean, are we talking things like 'never kill insects'? Cause it looks like there might be some down here."
"Hm?" said Sashami. "No, nothing like that. The Fossic ethos isn't about specific rules, it's about... right thinking, and right behavior." She moved her hand a little helplessly. Sashami had never been good at explaining things. "Even small actions can have serious consequences. Even if I accomplish a worthy goal, I could be damaging others in the process, and if it is done dishonorably, then I bear the responsibility for that damage. The karma would fall on myself and my friends in the end."
"Wow," said Alderon. "You guys really have the worst of both worlds. All the guilt of philosophy, and all the smitiness of religion."
Berryn kicked him.
"It is a hard path," Sashami conceded. "But surely you have seen what a harsh land Ataniel can be, with cruel consequences for its people's missteps. The death of the gods has not changed this. If I can keep my own little millionth of the world from adding to the... karmic pollution... then I will have done well."
"That's a nice thought," Rissa said ruefully. "On the other hand, though... it doesn't seem like it's evil actions attracting the cruel consequences, most of the time. Being good doesn't seem to improve anyone's fate, and being a hero seems to make it decidedly worse. It's like my aunt always used to say: No good deed goes unpunished."
"Well, it's certainly possible to do a good deed in a wrong way," said Sashami. "Even discounting that, though--behaving honorably won't right the whole world at once. There will still be negative consequences of other people's evil. Bringing those murderers to justice, for example, was a righteous act, but that doesn't mean some ill might not come of it. If it does, the karmic fault is the murderers', not ours. By acting rightly, we can guarantee that we don't stop others from determining their own fates... but it won't necessarily stop other miscreants from doing so."
"There's a theological flaw in that," Berryn pointed out. "It's a tautology... you're being honorable if you're not causing bad things to happen, and you're not causing bad things to happen as long as you're being honorable. So honorable has no absolute meaning."
"I'm no theologian," Sashami admitted. "Someone else could probably defend the idea better than I. All I know is that I was raised this way and it seems right to me. But if I'm wrong... well, I've spent a lot of unnecessary effort, but at least I've done well by a few people in the process. And if I'm right, then I have improved the world a bit and influenced the fates in the favor of myself and my friends. It seems to be a win-win prospect."
There was a bit of silence, and then Melissandra cleared her throat. "I hope I'm not misunderstanding," she said politely, "but it sounds like you don't believe you're to blame if you haven't done anything wrong. Why then are you so distraught about your war axe? Villains stole it... you did nothing wrong, did you?"
"Oh. No. No, there's nothing dishonorable about it." Sashami sighed. "It's just that my father's going to kill me if I lose it, really."
And all the Silver Bullets, of philosophical bent or not, could certainly understand that.
"Hey," Alexke said suddenly, "look out, you guys, I think the floor's going to--"
With a groan, two large sections of the floor tilted downward on dual hinges, sending Jason and Tyler skidding precariously down. Alderon managed to move fast enough to grab Tyler's wrist, but Jason was left hanging onto the end of the rough flagstone by his fingers, several feet beyond their reach. "Help!"
"Oh, dear!" said Rissa, helplessly.
"This is why Shalini always said not to travel without a rope, isn't it," sighed Alderon.
Thalia struggled one of her extra petticoats out from under her full skirt. "Hold this down to him... hurry!"
"It's not long enough!"
"I don't think I can manage another planeblazing jaunt right now," Alexke said apologetically. "I'd pass out off-dimension--that would probably be worse that the pit."
"Hold my legs and lower me down to him," Sashami told Melissandra. "He'll be able to reach the petticoat then."
"Uh, guys?" came Jason's wavering voice. "There's slime mold or something down there and it's trying to eat my legs." The young warrior tried to kick them up out of the way, and slid another inch down the tilted stone.
"So whose shitty karma is this?" Alderon asked Sashami.
"Yours, for distracting me with philosophical conversations in the middle of a damn dungeon." Sashami grabbed the petticoat and leaned down the incline, Melissandra's large hands anchoring her ankles. This time, Jason managed to grab hold of the petticoat. Mercifully, the crinoline didn't tear, and soon both of them were up on level ground again. The sole of one of Jason's boots was half-dissolved in a puddle of green goo, and he took it off and threw it down into the pit again before it could spread to anything else. There was a splash, and an evil-sounding hiss. Sashami breathed a sigh of relief and handed the petticoat back to Thalia. "Quick thinking," she said admiringly.
"Only one problem," said Alderon introspectively, looking down into the slimy darkness. "That pit's a good ten feet wide, and our stuff's somewhere on the other side of it. How the hell are we supposed to get across if Alexke's out of planeblazing juice and we don't have a rope?"
The Silver Bullets stood before the pit in silence, trying to think.
Name: Alyssa Gulledge
City Coming of Age
Character(s): Melissandra, the gang
Title of Post: Behind blue eyes (and green skin)
Sent: 3.47 pm - 12/4
Melissandra woke up with a queasy stomach and a headache. She sat up quickly, which she immediately regretted, and began climbing to her feet. Everyone was in the room except Jimmy, but they were all unconscious. After shaking Sashami and Berryn to no avail, she noticed that all the gear was gone too. She turned her attention to the door. In an uncharacteristically wise moment, she simply tried the doorknob first. Why break down the door if it isn't even locked? After trying the knob, knocking and calling for help, she decided to get a little more drastic. She tried breaking off the doorknob, splintering the wood, and tearing at the frame. No good. In a moment of rage she began beating the door with all of her troll-given strength. Nothing. Then her mind lost focus and the world went red. Her eyes found the door.
"Must destroy!" she bellowed. She tore at the door in a berserk troll-rage for an unknown amount of time. She finally sagged to the floor, her mind slowly gaining clarity.
I let myself go, again, for no good reason. I can't just yield to the Beast like that! She began to sob. No one was awake, Jimmy was missing, all their stuff was gone, she couldn't get out and then, as if that wasn't bad enough, she let herself go. More tears trickled down her cheek.
She sniffled. Ok, Melissandra Clarabella Annisetta, pull yourself together! Quit blubbering. Would Sashami be crying? No! Would Rissa go berserk? No! Take a deep breath, she inhaled deeply and let it out she exhaled. Sashami said to come to terms with it. Be a warrior. OK. Next time, I will try to use my strengths without going into a rage. I will not berate myself if I fail. I *am* part troll, and *proud* of it. I *can* use my heritage with a cool head. She took a few more deep breaths, and stood up. She checked on her friends, just as they began to wake up.
Melissandra watched Sashami, Rissa, and Ty pacing, nail biting and jittery. She sighed in relief, suddenly realizing that they also didn't quite know what to do. Meanwhile Jason, Thalia and Alexke were all cool and calm. "It's only a kidnapping," muttered Thalia. "No kidding," murmured Jason. Thalia mentioned her sister's kidnappings like it was a hobby. She also mentioned with disdain that Telerie just waited them out, whereas she, Thalia, was going to get herself free.
Melissandra thought If Thalia is right, no lady of any stature could consider herself with respect if she hadn't been kidnapped at least once. Well this means that I am well on my way to becoming a lady! She smiled. But also, according to Thalia, a lady should be prepared to rescue herself. I need to rescue myself – or at least help in my own rescue. Her smile resolved into a determined frown.
Actually, if Thalia is correct, I really *can* embrace my troll heritage AND still be a lady of stature. I am just amply endowed in the 'being-able-to-rescue-herself' area. Once again her grin broke through. Except for very, very stubborn doors.
Travelling through the plane with Alexke was kind of cool. But the discussion that Sashami, Berryn and Alderon were having lost her completely. She kind of understood that Sashami thought that you had to be responsible for yourself, but couldn't be blamed for other people's actions. That seemed reasonable. Sashami also seemed to think that you are responsible for the results of your actions – also reasonable. But then the discussion turned to theological matters. She sighed. All she knew was that her mother told her to be nice to other people, and that is what she going to keep doing.
She looked down into the pit where Jason had precariously hung just moments ago.
She looked up at the rest of the party "If it would be helpful, I could jump across this pit. I could also throw the lighter people across, but I couldn't promise a comfortable landing on the other side. However, even if there are not obstacles on the other side *and* I found our things, I would have to throw it all back across, since I could not jump the gap with the additional weight. Some of our things might not make it back across the gap... And, since this is an adventure... I mean kidnapping, I suspect that our things will not just be lying about within easy reach."
Alderon turned to Berryn "I dunno. It might be fun to be tossed down a hallway by a tro... Lady, lady..." he fumbled as Melissandra turned towards him.
"Alderon, you are a weird guy."
Name: Lora Redish
City Coming of Age: Sins of the Fathers
Character(s): Sashami, Alderon, and a quick cameo
Title of Post: You Pitch, I'll Catch
Sent: 5.34 pm - 12/4
"I think it unwise to split up in this place," Sashami said. "We don't know how many other dangers may be on the other side of that pit... besides, for all we know the escape route lies that way." She frowned thoughtfully at the pit. "I could also leap that distance if I left my armor behind... then I could help catch people as she tossed them over. Maybe Alderon could do the same?"
"Gee, I don't know, Sashami," Alderon said honestly. "I think I'd have an okay shot at making it, but what with it being all filled with green slime, I think I'd rather not gamble on that. I'll take the Air Melissandra route. I do have tumbling, so I ought to be able to land all right, anyway."
"Then the two of us could keep the rest from crashing into walls as they came flying by." Sashami started shrugging off her scale mail, trying not to be too uncomfortable about the fact that Alderon was watching her. She was perfectly decent underneath her armor--black turtleneck and stretch pants--but it still felt strange taking clothes off in front of a guy, especially one who made as little effort to hide the fact that he was checking everyone out as Alderon. "It sounds like a plan."
Somewhere across Ataniel, Garal Tinderhook looked up quizzically from his dinner. "Is something--funny, Garal?" queried Amatsu.
"No, I was just wondering... do you think, like, ogres or other big guys ever toss humans, the way Cynystrans toss little people in bars when they get drunk enough?"
"This one does not know where you come up with such ideas, my friend."
Go on to December Archive part 3
Native American boy names
Check out Lora's Riddle of the Sphinx game and links pages
Play The Final Scene and other Nancy Drew games
Language of the day: Métis