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The Book of Ataniel

The Storyboard of Ataniel Archives: July

Name: Lora Redish
Plotline: Mithril Dagger: The Shape of Things
Character(s): Four oddballs in search of a van
Title of Post: Playing the role of Velma today...

"The only strange thing about the newfound powers theory," Carter continued, frowning, "is that everyone in town seems to have acquired the SAME one. That's pretty rare in my genre."

"It could also be a doppelganger-like creature affecting the townsfolk against their will," offered Rhynwa. "An alien... or maybe an extraplanar being."

"Or a bioterrorist weapon," Carter contributed grimly.

"Or a g-g-ghost!" said Akron, around the chicken he was still gnawing on.

"There's no such thing as ghosts, Shaggy," sighed Heart.

"Rrrrrooby-dooby-dooooooo!" said the aurumvorax.

"I really hate the posts where nothing happens but a lame meta-joke," Kayla murmured to her brother in passing.

"All part of the job. Parting drinks, folks?"



Name: Alyssa Gulledge
Plotline: The Shape of Things
Character(s): Rhynwa, Akron, Heart, Carter, Joe Fish
Title of Post: On the road again

Rhynwa sighed. Their first day on the road, and she wasn't sure they would make it to the town. Carter's constant depression and moping about his superpowers made her offer to send him to perfection several times; Akron's jibes made her TRY to send him to perfection several times; and Heart's constant questioning about magic made RHYNWA want to seek perfection several times. Oh, and Airhglen, the aurumvorax, kept trying to get into her change purse and eat their only cash. What was she doing wrong?

On the other hand, Akron was no worse than Tila (at least as far as the commentary went). Heart wasn't repeating questions, so once her curiosity was satisfied, she would relax. Airhglen was only a baby after all. And what was an adventure without psychodrama? Carter certainly fell into that niche. So maybe, thought Rhynwa, I am just not used to it ? it *has* been 7 years.

She looked over her group and thought: Maybe in the morning I will also remember how to be flexible and yielding. Hah! And maybe I'll wear a pastel pink dress and attend a high tea. Screw it ? they will have to get used to me, just like I will have to get used to them.

****

In the morning, the group continued their journey. Joe Fish recommended stopping through Bavter, another little farming village on the way.

"They got this tavern there, with the finest ale in Nylevia." and sub rosa to Carter "And some of the ripest serving wenches too."

Carter looked up hopefully, but then his face fell as he remembered how dangerous he could be, and he just slumped back down into his depressed shuffle.

As the group of heroes came to the first farmhouse on the outskirts, Joe yelled "Dang it! Look there! The dang whatever has done come down here too!" He was pointing into a filed with strange animals. They were very low to the ground, green and fuzzy. "That's whut happened to OUR cows. They was tryin to turn into GRASS. That ain't fuzz ? that's GRASS growin' out of them there backs. They's getting shorter and shorter, and soon you won't be able to see 'em. They'll just be done gone! Dang!"

The group walked over to the 'cows'. Akron reached out to poke one. It lifted it's flattened head, lowed at him and lumbered away.

"Ain't they supposed to tip over when you poke 'em, Rinnie?"

"I know nothing about cows, Ackie, other than they taste good when you cook them."

The bottom of the animals was brown and looked a little like dirt. Heart reached out with both hands to feel the 'grass' on the back of one of the beasts.

"Well, it feels like grass by texture, but it is warm like a cow's hide. Very interesting phenomenon." As she stood there, the 'grass' under her hands began changing shape and color, mimicking her skin texture and tone. Fascinated she remained in contact with the cow, as it's whole body began shifting around. She had to step around so of the slow contortions that it went through. It finally settled into a half and half shape. It looked like a very poor rendition of Heart on hands and knees, grazing, but all of the limbs looked like clumps of grass sprouting into a human-esque body.

Heart removed her hands, and the poor beast contorted again, regaining the mobile turf look. "I don't know what it is that is causing this morphing ability, but it seems to depend on contact."

Rhynwa look off towards town "Lets go to the Inn. If there are people who are still able to talk we need to find out when this started happening to them too."



Name: Jonah Cohen
Plotline: The Shape of Things
Character(s): Carter Edison and, er... team name pending
Title of Post: Once a Knight is Enough

When they entered, Carter assessed the inn as 3 star. A cozy bed and breakfast type. Not big amenities, but classy and with friendly service. Big picture windows framed the lobby, between them an iron pot sat on the hearth, a fire blazing under it.

But perhaps he was mistaken. Rhynwa rang the bell, twice, but no one came to welcome them. "I don't thinks anyone is home, Rinsaleer," Akron said.

"Don't rightly know where we should head next if we wanna find someone who might tell us whut the devil happened," Joe Fish conceeded.

"Must... not touch..." someone said in a desperate, rasping voice. Everyone looked across the room, where a... Carter had actually mistooken it for a hat rack, but it was a teenaged girl, desperately trying to pry her hands off a chair. Her skin was tan and had a lovely finished wood grain.

"Miss, stay calm," Rhynwa said, in that voice of hers that seemed so authoritative. "Let me try to help."

The girl was able to wrench her hands free of the furniture, her flesh starting to waver in a most unsettling manner. She stumbled backwards, tripped over the edge of the hearth and reached out to break her fall. Carter winced as one of her hands struck the cauldron.

She screamed, the other hand striking the stones next to the fireplace. It took a second for him to realize that she wasn't screaming from the pain of touching hot iron. Her body was changing again. When she stood up, she was broader, her skin the mottled color of the stones, and she stood over six feet tall. Her eyes were large pits that smoldered orange.

Crud. Okay, remember, she's an innocent civilian. Don't do anything that will permanently harm her. Got to just knock her out, or better yet restrain her---

The stony girl swung a heavy arm and caught Rhynwa right in the jaw, knocking the priestess down.

Oh man she's strong. Should I try super strength again? I've had some practice now? But she still looks hot. Cold powers? Water powers?...

The stone girl breathed fire that hit Akron dead on. Carter flinched at this sight, but the little goblin's magic armor saved him again.

Think fast! I need something to take her down before she hurts herself or us. Something like... a weapon. Powerful but something that can do non-lethal damage.

There was a small *pop* and a rod appeared in Carter's hands.

It was made of some kind of golden metal, covered with high-tech switches, and the end was hooked like a harpoon. "This might do." He raised it, pointed at the girl and fired.

The good news was that she was slow moving, an easy target, so the cosmic energy struck her in the torso. The force of the blast knocked her back into the wall, and left her stunned.

The less good news was that the recoil from the blast knocked Carter flat on his butt.

The bad news was that the bright flash from the rod left him unable to see anything except a twisted parody of the Main Street Elecrical Parade.

"It's always something," he muttered.



Name: Jonah Cohen
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Jimmy D, Alexke
Title of Post: Goin' to the South Side (I pick up my friends and hope we won't die)

"We'll be fine," Thalia said as they left the hotel room. "What could possibly go wrong at a library?"

"OK," Sashami said when the -A team had left, "do you two need my help?"

"Oh. Uh," Jimmy said, "I think we'll be cool. You know, I mean, I wasn't planning on getting into any violent confrontations. You?" he asked Alexke. The girl shook her head. Smooth. Can you try to string together a coherant sentence in front of her, farm boy? Is she looking at us like she doesn't like something? "I mean, thanks, but I think we're cool. We'll come back to report as soon as we find out anything."

"Be careful."

* * * * *

As soon as they had left the hotel room, Alexke quietly said "Excuse me Jimmy, but in there... you were trying to say you wanted to do this mission together, weren't you?"

"Yeah. Course." He made the signal again. "Means 'Do you want in on this action?' and all that."

"I'm not very familiar with a lot of those kinds of signs."

Right. Maybe the code's different in her home burg. Crud, I hope things work pretty much the same in Edimon. Cynystra and Dalencia can't be that different, can they? "No sweat. I can show you the basics."

"Thank you. Do you have a plan for how we are going to search the city for leads on Chloe?"

"As a matter of fact, I do."



Name: Lora Redish
Plotline: The Shape of Things
Character(s): Heart
Title of Post: Curioser and Curioser

Heart moved quickly to catch the girl Carter had stunned, who was already beginning to flatten out and look like the wall. She stopped doing that and started looking human again, albeit disconcertingly like Heart. Interesting. "Heart, no!" shouted Rhynwa. "Don't touch her--it could spread to us!"

Heart was unfazed. "Have you noticed it's only affecting animals?" she asked. The girl had solidified into a slightly smaller copy of Heart by now, which at least gave her a mouth to speak with, once she regained consciousness, and would presumably stop her from randomly attacking.

"T'ain't no animal, lass, that was the innkeeper's daughter!" Joe Fish protested.

"Animals and people," she humored him. "But not plants... and not inanimate objects. The grass didn't change to look like cows, the cauldron didn't change to look like a girl. This 'morphing' effect is only happening to creatures with minds to be corrupted."

Rhynwa frowned. "Some kind of mind-affecting magic, then... or psionics, maybe?"

"I'm no expert in magic, ma'am." The Heart-girl in her grasp seemed to be stirring to consciousness now. "Perhaps she'll be able to tell us more."



Name: Alyssa Gulledge
Plotline: The Shape of Things
Character(s): Rhynwa, Akron, Joe Fish, et al
Title of Post: NOT the Andromeda Strain!

"Shay..*burp* Whatcha doing ta the *belch* girlie-girl? *hic*" The drunk staggered in, bringing the reek of a thousand unwashed masses with him. He collapsed into a chair, and passed out.

Joe turned to the girl, whose body had stopped fluxing so badly. "Isn't that Old Barley? I thought he had died years ago."

She whispered "nossir. that's barley."

Rhynwa was staring at him. "Um, guys? He's a people... not a chair, not a tankard, not a piece of cloth." Rhynwa took a deep breath and stepped near to Barley. When she stepped out of the radius of his personal stench she said "Well he is looking a little like cloth but with all the dirt caked onto him it's hard to tell." She turned to the girl "Don't you ever throw him in a horse trough or something?"

"once a year. at the fair. throw ball. dunk the drunk."

"Yuck!"

Akron walked behind the bar. He looked up at the rack of drinks and said "Well, I think we should have a drink! On the house, maybe?" He climbed onto the stool, but leapt off with a yelp when it moaned and struggled.

"Quick Akron! Touch him again. We have to get him into a form which can talk."

"No way! I am the only me there is! I ain't givin my beautiful features to no one else!"

"Do it!" shouted Rhynwa

"Make me!" shouted Akron

Rhynwa drew a deep breath and counted to ten. She did it again. Akron stuck his toungue out at her. She leapt over the bar, grabbing for his throat. She never got there, as a pseudobody rose from the barstool on her side. "Help. Us. Please." Rhynwa sighed, looked at Akron with a glare partially composed of exasperation, and rolled up her sleeves. She laid her hands and arms on top of the stool and slowly a man, looking odd with female features intermingled, reformed.

"What happened?"

"We were drinking. The new batch of. Young ale. We all felt. Odd. We melted. And turned into. Furniture. And clothes. The pile by the. Door to the. Kitchen is. Goodwife Alina."



Name: Lora Redish
Plotline: The Shape Of Things
Character(s): Heart and friends
Title of Post: Something in the water...

"Hey!" Akron suddenly stopped reaching over the bar to help himself to free drinks. "Da beer did dis to 'em? Maybe dis stuff is poisoned!"

"Not unless they feed their ale to the cows," Heart sighed. "The cows changed shape too, remember?"

"Course I remember. Whaddaya think I am, brain-damaged?" Akron glowered at her fiercely. "Just cause I'm a goblin don't make me a half-wit, toots!"

Rhynwa restrained the urge to smack each of them in the back of the head. "Cows do drink water, though," she said instead, with all the forced sweetness of a woman used to supervising playdates, "and water is used to make ale. If you'll recall our friend Joe here's story, he saw the thing from the meteor disappear into the river, and later, the children in his village started disappearing after playing in the creek. That sounds to me like whatever is affecting these people and their livestock is hiding in the water somehow, wouldn't you say?"

"Could be," said Heart. She was less interested in the shapeshifting business than her teammates' reactions to it, truth be told. "Are you all right, Carter?"

"My... eyes..." muttered the hapless superhero.

"Somethin' in the water," Joe Fish nodded. "Well, that sounds sense to me, lassie."

"Dat's what I was sayin'!" complained Akron. "Sheesh, you all listen when cleric-lady sez it..."

Everyone ignored him. "The question," said Carson, wincing blindly, "is what we're going to do about it."

On that count, the newly formed team had rather less to say.



Name: Alyssa Gulledge
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Melissandra, Rissa, Thalia
Title of Post: Strong of arm, weak of will

Melissandra, Rissa and Thalia returned to the hotel in the hopes of finding either Jimmy D and Alexke back from their underground passport discovery mission, or Berryn, Alderon and Sashimi back from bar hopping. No one was back yet, as it was just late afternoon.

The three girls cleaned and bandaged wounds, but there just isn't much you can do for a paper cut. Melissandra looked down at her dress. "Oh no! Just look at these cuts and tears and bloodstains and mud and...*sniffle*.... this was my best and only dress...*sob*." Melissandra restrained herself from actually crying, but Thalia and Rissa realized that despite her fierce demeanor in combat, she was still a scared young girl, not much different from themselves.

Rissa looked at Melissandra. "Why don't you go shopping! Get a few new dresses! You could get some for travelling and a nice one for special occasions. You said you've never been to a city? Well this would be a great chance to see it. Heck, the boys and Sashimi are out drinking their way through town, no reason you couldn't shop your way through town. Thalia? Will you go with her?"

As Melissandra turned to her bags with a whoop of joy, Rissa whispered to Thalia "You at least know about cities, and you definitely know much, much more about fashion than her. Try to get her into something practical. And try to get a color which downplays her skin tone."

Thalia whispered back "No kidding." Then aloud "This will be great Melissandra! I think I will get a new dress as well."

Suddenly Melissandra stopped and looked at Rissa. "Aren't you coming?"

"Not for this trip, but maybe another later. I was going to go down to Little Shikintu and nose about in some of the trinket shops. They sometimes have real pieces scattered amongst the tourist trash. I was hoping to find something with symbols which look more like my amulet. I was going to leave a note for everyone to meet up for a late dinner in Little Hanchu; the food is great!"

Melissandra and Thalia started to leave, when Thalia stopped. "Uhhh, Melissandra? Would you consider leaving your sword here? Usually dress shops don't condone heavy weaponry in their stores." Melissandra sputtered "Yes! Of course! I wouldn't want to be rude to the proprietors."

As they walked toward the fashion district, they noticed that people were staring at Melissandra. Some people were even crossing the street rather than walk past. As they entered the fashion district, the staring and whispered became even more overt. Melissandra kept looking down at her dress, and trying to smooth out the stains and tears. Thalia kept her eyes open, concerned but not sure of the problem. Finally, a mother scurrying past with 2 children shouted "Get your per off our streets! Trolls in a dress maybe novelty where you come from but we don't appreciate the joke!"

Melissandra was looking confused, not quite understanding the insult. Thalia turned Melissandra into the nearest dress shop. The clerk stood up from behind the counter "Miss, if you want a dress you will have to take that thing outside."

Thalia glared at him "This is my FRIEND, whose name is Melissandra, and SHE would like to purchase several dresses."

"We don't serve things that look like that. Get it's ugly face out of my shop."

Thalia was outraged, but Melissandra was beginning to snuffle like she would cry.

Three more shops had the same response. The last one was the worst. "I will not help *that*! Not only is she an ugly troll, which I assume is literal in her case, but she CLEARY does not have the fashion sense to appreciate MY creations. Out, out, out!"

Melissandra burst into tears. Thalia had to lead her out of the shop and back into the crowd. In fact, quite a crowd had now gathered. They were shouting at Melissandra "Damn Troll!" "Another damn infestation" "Ugly monster" "Get out of our city!" With that final comment, a trickle turning into a hail of rotten garbage came pelting at Melissandra. Thalia caught her share of the offal as they ran. As they got closer to the hotel, they still received stares, but much less aggression. Actually many people stood and laughed at their plight.

They finally arrived at the hotel, and got into the room. Melissandra was crying and wailing in earnest now. "They hate me! They think I am ugly! They called me monster and that thing! But I am a lady! I am NOT a monster, nor a thing! WAAAAAHHHHHH!"

Thalia rubbed her shoulder "Melissandra? Melissandra? It will OK! Please stop crying?" which only made her bawl harder.

Thalia changed clothes, trying to think what to do. Well, maybe Rissa could help. Growing up half Elven and half Human might give her some insight, which Thalia didn't have.

"Melissandra, I am going to get Rissa. Please don't hurt..."

"You think I am a monster tooooooo. WWWWAAAAHHHH!"

Thalia shook her head "I meant don't hurt *yourself*! Try to relax, breathe deeply and wash up some. It will help you feel better." She left the room, running towards Little Hanchu.

Thalia thought to herself that suffering bigotry AND puberty must be awful. She was impressed that Melissandra hadn't responded with violence, but it was concerning that she just crumbled under the verbal abuse. Maybe Rissa could bolster her self esteem.





Go on to the July Archives, Part 2

'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

Indian kids * Native American books * Powhatan tribe * Arizona Maricopa * The Maliseet

Check out Wizardry 8 and other role-playing game reviews
See some beautiful artwork: Indian pottery and Native American coat sites
Walkthrough of the day: Baldur's Gate II