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The Book of Ataniel

The Storyboard of Ataniel Archives: July, Part 4

Name: Kristin L'Kar Andersen
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Rissa
Title of Post: Interrogation, Part II

Rissa sat at attention in the chair, her ankles crossed and tucked beneath the seat. Her hair was braided neatly at her nape; her gloved hands were clasped on her knee as she leaned slightly forward. Big brown eyes blinked at the officers respectfully out of a face as pale as milk.

"Name?" Something that was almost a sneer twisted the detective's mouth, and he interrupted her before she could answer. "Full name."

Her hands clenched, and she shrank back a little. Her nerves were raw from the past two days. "Rissa Kaloriende Minarye."

"And where are you from?"

"House Minarye near the city of Najika." She added unnecessarily, "In Cynystra."

"What's House Minarye?" he snapped at her. "An inn?"

Rissa's warm brown eyes chilled slightly. "House Minarye is one of the older noble lineages of my country. My family holds lands outside of Najika, which is a major trading center," she explained quietly.

"What are you doing so far from home? Do your parents know where you are, missy?"

"Yes. I was asked to do research for a school project, at the more respected libraries of other countries. My father and grandfather both gave their permission for me to be away from home and under my own supervision." It's not as if it can hurt my marital prospects at this point anyway, she thought, sticking a mental tongue out in the direction of Cynystra.

"You have any proof of tha—"

*FWHAP!* An elaborately written letter of introduction, complete with several sets of signatures and wax seals, landed on the table between Rissa and her interrogator.

"I think I ought to mention that Melissandra and I were both awake for much of last night. And both of us are," she touched an ear by way of explanation, looking almost embarrassed, "blessed with better than average hearing. I certainly didn't hear Alexke leave her bed, much less murder anyone. I'm certain she didn't do it. But you'll want to check with Melissandra, I'm sure."

The detective glowered at her suspiciously. "What were you doing up in the middle of the night?"

Worrying about having cold-bloodedly killed a brigand in front of nearly a dozen people…? Wondering where Chloe is and if she's still all right…? Recovering from a seriously strange and possibly prophetic dream…? Comforting wounds caused by your stupid stereotypically bigoted citizenry…?

"Oh, we were having a girl talk," she said, smiling innocently. "Clothes, family, friends… You know."

"Sure you were. What is this?"

Rissa looked at the ancient leather-bound book on the table for a long moment, then looked back up at the detective. "It's an elven anatomy textbook. I study archaeology, history, and anatomy at school. If you looked through my satchel, you know that there are other, similar textbooks in there. And no weapons," she added coldly. "Please put that away, it's a valuable family heirloom."

The detective rolled his eyes and stuffed the book back into the tumbled mess of papers and clothes. "Don't leave the building, I'm not through with you yet," he instructed, tossing her satchel at her. "And send this Melissandra person in."

Rissa gave a sigh and left, clutching her possessions with shaking hands. They have kidnappers and assassins setting up shop in their capital, and the police force spends their time blaming wet-behind-the-ears teenagers for their problems. Wonderful. I guess I'm not in Cynystra anymore.



Name: Alyssa Gulledge
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Melissandra, Silver Bullets
Title of Post: Interrogation, Part III

Melissandra came in and sat down. She immediately crossed her legs, straightened the repair dress, folded her hands in her lap, and looked up at the officer. She gave him her most prim, but friendly smile.

"What in the hell are you? We didn't ask to talk to a troll! Where is this Melissandra lady? And what the hell are you doing in our town?"

The Detective Brock looked up from her belongings. "Hey, Taylor, this must be the source of that riot yesterday." He turned to Melissandra. "What *are* you doing here, Troll? And why do you have a sword with you? Are you *looking* for trouble?"

Melissandra was aghast. Even the law officers were being cruel. She almost burst into tears, yet again. She drew in a deep breath to stop herself from sobbing. As the water welled up in her eyes, something deep within her broke. A fiery red rage rose like heat from a furnace. It almost overtook her, as had the tears moments before. Melissandra, suddenly feeling strong for the first time in her life, stood up to her full height, brandished her claws and channeled her rage into her voice.

"IF YOU INSIST ON TREATING ME LIKE SOME WILD BEAST OR MINDLESS MONSTER, I WILL BEHAVE AS ONE. I WILL EVISCERATE YOU WHERE YOU STAND WITHOUT ANOTHER THOUGHT!"

In the other room, the rest of the Silver Bullets couldn't help cringing as the sheer volume of her voice shook the walls. Rissa and Thalia looked at each other in fear. Had those stupid cops pushed Melissandra so far over the edge that she wouldn't come back? Alderon whispered to Jason that they would have to think of a place to discretely lose 2 bodies. Everyone braced for what might come next.

Melissandra looked down at the very surprised and relatively scared officers. She lowered her arms, straightened her dress again, and gently finger combed her hair. "If, however, you treat me as the proper lady I was raised to be, I will be very happy to behave as one. I will answer your questions to the best of my ability. All I ask is that you treat my friends and myself politely and with respect."

Detective Brock recovered first. "Yes, Miss!"

Officer Taylor excused himself, the wet stain spreading down his trouser leg showing that all of his rude demeanor was for show.

Melissandra sat down, facing Brock. She almost smiled, thinking that maybe she *could* be strong in the face of people being rude. She would have to ask Rissa and Thalia if that was the proper response. Rissa had said that they were very rude to her, and Melissandra hoped that her little outburst would affect their treatment of the rest of the Silver Bullets.

Brock began "May we have you full name and city of origin, please, for the record?"

"Melissandra Clarabella Annisetta, from Granal Valley in Saliphon."

"Thank you. Could I get your statement about the events of last night, please, Miss?"

"Well last night, I couldn't get to sleep. I was considering how pleasant your city is and yet how unpleasant your citizenry is." Sha gave Brock a pointed stare, which made him shrink down in his chair. "Rissa came over to talk with me and we were up very late. Alexke, Thalia and Sashami were all asleep the entire time. Rissa and I can also see in the dark, so any movement as large as someone getting out of bed would have been immediately obvious."

Detective Brock, kept looking towards the door, hoping Officer Taylor would return.

"Ummm, Miss, how can you explain the blood on Alexke's knife?"

"I have no idea." Melissandra leaned forward and glared at the detective. "Isn't that your job?"

Detective Brock shuddered under that gaze "Miss, one more question. How long have you known this woman and do you trust her?"

Melissandra sat back. Did she trust Alexke? When she was living at home, no one ever hid who they were or what they wanted. Were she at home, she would have said yes without a second thought. But, her time travelling across several countries had shown her that her home was a special and very different place from the rest of the world. She now trusted Rissa and Thalia because they had stood up for her and helped her. But she didn't know any of the other Silver bullets that well. On the other hand, during the big scuffle with the bandits, Alexke did fight, and didn't sell them out or do anything else questionable. She definitely seemed to be helping Jimmy D. He seemed to trust her. So Melisandra decided she needed to extend to Alexke the loyalty and trust extended to herself by Rissa and Thalia.

"I have known her for about a week. And yes I trust her. I suggest you get a LOT of very strong evidence if you truly think she did it. Are we done here?"

"Yes Miss. I think we will take a break before speaking with the rest of your group. Please rejoin them. I'll... uh... I'll be sure to have food sent in."

"That would be nice and polite." she said as she opened the door to the room.

Melissandra entered, shut the door and then leaned back against it and sighed. She looked into the expectant faces of the Silver Bullets. She held back the giggles as she looked each one in the eye. Finally Jason whispered "Well?"

"I made Officer Taylor pee his pants." Her face burst into a huge grin and she began giggling. A collective sigh of relief made her stop, and look up, worried. "That was ok, right? I mean I know a proper Lady wouldn't lose her temper and yell a lot, but I didn't know how else to make them stop being so mean to me."

The Silver Bullets began smiling and laughing. Alderon patted her on the back, "Well done!" Berryn offered her a "good job, my lovely lady". Sashami told that she behaved VERY honorably, as the officers have now learned to behave themselves in the face of a young lady. Rissa and Thalia both ran up and gave her a quick hug and a smile. "You see? You can be very strong when you need to" said Rissa. "Your mother would be proud of you. And your father as well I think" said Thalia.

Melissandra gave the room a shy smile. "It was kinda fun too."



Name: Eric Gasior
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Detective Brock and Alexke
Title of Post: Interrogation, End

Brock and Taylor relieved the police woman they had left to guard their suspect. The detective was upset. He would have been able to hold his position better if Taylor had held his composure. His plan had been to garnish the truth and let the girl think her friends had contradicted her. She had to be guilty, and even with her friends protecting her he should have been able to make her sing. But the half troll ruined it.

The girl sat relaxed, like she wasn't worried. She must have heard the roar.

"Alex, we're waiting for a forensic mage." One last gambit. "Once he's finished his tests on your weapon, we'll know for sure."

Alexke let the mispronunciation slide. Of all the interrogation tricks she was taught to resist -- and use -- that was the easiest. "Then you'll know I haven't killed anyone." She'd have to thank Melissandra for turning things around.

Brock frowned. He knew they won. Maybe he'd find the murder, and maybe it would be one of them. But he would keep an eye on these kids.



Name: Jonah Cohen
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Detective Brock
Title of Post: Dead to Rights

Detective Brock looked over the case file while waiting for the forensics mage to arrive.

Victim: Zachary Gold, widower. Only surviving relative: Johnny Gold, son, mildly retarded. Kid now under the care of social services.

Prime suspect: a young teen who claimed her only name was "Alexke". His assessment of her guilt? About 75% likely.

No known motive, but that could be dug up later. Method and opportunity both there in spades. Staying at the crime scene, and keeping the murder weapon were both colossally stupid moves, but Brock had seen plenty of dumbass criminals in the last 10 years. The girl was young enough, and in his opinion arrogant enough, to pull such boneheaded moves.

Her companions were a group of young adventurers who went by the name "The Silver Bullets". They had stopped the Beasty Boys from Jacking a New Trade carriage a couple nights back, but that said nothing. If someone screwed you with you, you protected yourself, whether you were a good guy or a bad one. The only member of note (aside from that scary troll - in a ball gown, yet!) was a girl named Thalia. Brock was having a friend in the diplomatic corps check on this, but he seemed to recall the name as being a hoity-patoity royalty type... was it in Tobrinel?

"I am ready," the mage declared.

"About time," Brock answered. They were helpful, but these clairesentient types were all flakes. He'd be a lot happier once the girl was behind bars.

The mage gingerly picked up the knife, scrunching up his face. "Death!... Yes, this is the weapon that killed him... it was quick, expertly struck... the old man felt nothing, he was certainly asleep - peaceful... and curiously little emotion from the murderer, this was no crime of passion."

"A cold and cocky type, eh? Just as I thought. Taylor, book the girl on charges of murder."



Name: Lora Redish
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Sashami and the Bullets
Title of Post: Odd Woman Out

Alexke had been unable to find any extraplanar traces in the GR3 Hotel. This made Sashami feel a little better about her lack of success tracking the assassin, but not a lot. She wished more of these things happened out in the wilderness. Berryn was communing for a clue now, or something to that effect. Melissandra, Rissa, and Thalia were chatting indignantly about how rude the police had been. Sashami stood apart from them, uncomfortable. "Feel a little out of place?" Jason asked quietly.

"A little." She guessed he'd know; the boy had made no secret of his homosexuality. Sashami found it a very odd concept but figured it was Jason's own business. "They're just, well..." She hesitated; they weren't stuck up, any of them, and they weren't even really all that girlishly helpless. Melissandra could probably break Sashami in half, Rissa was rather bookish, and Thalia, who Sashami had known for two years now, was spunky and undauntable. There was nothing wrong with their wearing dresses and having high etiquette percentiles and sheltered childhoods. "I'm just from a different social class," Sashami summed up. "I miss Chloe, I guess. She's the one I always felt I had most in common with."

"I'm sure she's all right," Jason said reassuringly. "I mean, if he was just going to kill her anyway, why go to all the trouble of kidnapping her?"

There were many answers to that, interrogation being the one that sprang most readily to mind. Jason was rather naive himself, in his own way. But Sashami didn't think Chloe was dead either, so she didn't bother him with the details. "Nothing," sighed Berryn, wiping his hands on his pants. "Sorry, guys. This spell worked better when Arawn was a little less perfect."

"It's gotta be Ewens," said Jimmy. "Who else would frame Alexke?"

"Got something!" Alderon emerged from the back room, grinning and waving a few papers. "Looks like some developer named Paramon's been up Gold's butt about selling him the inn for months now."

"That is very flimsy evidence," Sashami informed him.

"But it's something to get us out of this damn hotel and out doing some proactive investigation, isn't it?"

"Hmm," said Sashami. "There is that."



Name: Jonah Cohen
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): The Silver Bullets, Detective Brock, Mr. Lowe, assorted no-goodniks
Title of Post: Teenage FBI

In the offices of Paramon Development Inc.

"Didja hear the news?" Joe Fine asked.

"What's that," his brother Moe replied.

"There was a horrible murder last night. Seems someone kacked poor, innocent, stubborn ass Zachary Gold. Crying shame."

"Looks like the bird was as good as his word," Moe said. "Heh. I'm a poet and didn't even know it."

"Whatever. Let's drop off the other half of the payment for Blackbird's organization, then go see what Mr. Ebbers wants us to do next."

* * * * * *

Get the Bromate and the Bromide in just right, thought the Alchemist. Start the little tug of war in the redox reaction going. Yanking back and forth.

For some reason, the imagery triggered a memory of times he'd tried long and hard to forget. His mother, screaming, trying to hold onto him. Himself, very young, being yanked away by that cop-goon his father had sent.

You got yours, didn't you, dad? And now, soon enough, the whole family gets to share the pain.

* * * * *

Michael Dean couldn't move, couldn't think of anything else, so he went with the flow. He closed his eyes and pictured her, his heart growing strangely warm. Instead of happiness, it was painful. Pain that she wasn't here, in his arms, right now.

Did she feel the same way? he wondered, almost desperately. What was she doing at this moment?

* * * * *

"Alright," Thalia said. "What's our plan of action?"

"I was going to tell you before," Jimmy said to Alderon, then, to the whole group, continued: "I found the guy who got that fake passport for Ewens. He said he could get Ewens for us."

"And the catch?" Berryn said.

Jimmy took the envelope of of his vest pocket. "He wants me to deliver something for him first."

"Hang on a second," Thalia said, casting Detect Magic. "Hmm, there's a little bit of magic on it, but not much."

"Enough to be a booby trap from the dead letter office?" Berryn asked. The princess shook her head. Jimmy, at least, was a little relieved.

Rissa cleared her throat. "I had another idea on some information I might be able to find, but I may need your help, Jimmy."

"Oh. Sure, no problem." Perhaps, he thought, she could use her magic to help him with the letter's delivery... and is it my imagination or she blushing?

"Good," Alderon said, "multi-pronged investigation. That's the ticket. Some of us can check out this Paramon bunch that may have had a motive for killing Gold. You know, maybe some of us should talk to people in the neighborhood here. He seemed nice, was probably a popular guy. Maybe some of them know something helpful."

"OK, anything el---"

There was a sharp knock on the door.

* * * * *

Detective Brock took out his handcuffs. It was him, Taylor, the mage (who mainly was a diviner, but as per department policy, could unleash hold person) and another flatfoot who been working crowd control. There were nine of the kids, including that troll. But most of them hadn't struck him as rash enough to start a brawl with the ECPD.

"Alright, boys," the detective said. "We do this by the book."

"Odd," came the voice of Brock's least favorite person in the world, "I wasn't aware that the police department of our fair city had this many officers who knew how to read."

"Mr. Lowe," Brock said. "Didn't notice you come in. You must have been upwind."

The public defender had his nose buried in a case file. "Looks like a new triumph. About to arrest a 14 year old girl. I know I'll sleep easier tonight."

"Just stay out of our way, counselor, then you can go back to serving the community by putting more rapists and murderers on the streets."

He knocked sharply on the door.



Name: Lora Redish
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Sashami, Alderon, and the Silver Bullets
Title of Post: A legal drama? Okay, here goes...

Alexke looked at the warrant Brock had handed her. She was being arrested by the Dalencians. Her mother was going to laugh her ass off.

"Wait," said Rissa, "You're not just going to drag her off to jail, are you? Doesn't she get a trial?"

"Yeah, yeah, she gets a trial," sighed Brock. "What do you think we are, some kind of banana republic?"

"Now that you mention it..." said the lawyer who'd come in with him, not looking up from his folder.

Brock ignored him. "But that won't be for at least a week, so she gets a nice little vacation in the Edimon City Prison till then."

"You have the right to post bail," said the lawyer.

"Christ, Lowe, like these kids can afford that. Give the bulldog litany a rest, will you?"

"Here," said Thalia, handing the police officer a purse of gold coins.

His demeanor changed sharply. "Where did you get this kind of money?" he demanded.

"Fr--om my father--"

"Not in the hotel business by any chance, is he?"

"No, he's the King of Talaria."

Detective Brock made a mental note to pick up more aspirin on the way home. "And does his royal highness know you're spending his cash to get juvenile delinquents out of the pen?"

"Technically, I'm not spending it," Thalia pointed out. "I get it back at the time of the trial, don't I?"

"Assuming Mallory Wilson Knox over there don't skip town on you."

Alexke looked bored. "Name's Lowe," said the lawyer, leaning across Jimmy and Alderon to hand her his business card. "Ellis Lowe. Edimon City public defender. Let me start by informing you you're not required to tell the police here anything without your lawyer present."

"Thank you, Mr. Lowe," said Rissa.

Detective Brock sighed. "While we're crossing our t's and dotting our i's here, let me inform you that helping a suspect flee our jurisdiction is a felony. See to it the girl stays in Edimon till her case comes up, or I'll have all of you up as accessories."

"We get the point," said Berryn.

"And stay out of this investigation. We don't need a bunch of amateurs clogging up the gears. Especially not ones with questionable motives." Detective Brock stomped off, followed by the other policemen.

"Is he always like that?" Alderon asked.

"He was born like that," said Lowe. "You want to give me your side of the story, short version? As your court-appointed legal representation nothing you tell me can be used against you in trial and yadda yadda yadda, so you might as well give me the truth."

"Somebody stole my knife, killed the innkeeper, and planted it back in my room," Alexke said succinctly.

"Any idea who'd go to so much trouble to frame a fourteen-year-old?"

"We do have an enemy we believe is in town," said Sashami. She didn't trust lawyers, but there didn't seem to be any risk in telling him; Ewens knew they had followed him here already. "An assassin going by the name of Mitchel Ewens. He kidnapped a friend of ours recently, and we've been trying to get her back."

"Never heard of him," the public defender said drily. "The hardcore assassin-kidnapper types don't come through the justice system much."

"I thought Edimon was a little more first-world than this," Rissa said. "No offense."

"It's gone downhill since the Empire fell. This didn't use to be such a shitty job." Ellis Lowe snapped his case folder shut. "Call me if you turn anything up. I'll be doing some nosing around of my own. I'll let you know your court date as soon as I learn it... don't miss it or they'll have you over a barrel. And whatever you do, don't say anything to the cops till you run it by me first."

"Thank you." Sashami waited until he left to turn back to Jimmy. "This letter business bothers me. We know nothing about the thief who gave it to you."

"It's just a letter," shrugged Alderon. "Even if it is ugly business, it's not like we'd be taking part in it ourselves."

"I'm more concerned about what's waiting for Jimmy on the other side. For all we know that thief could be in league with Ewens. It could be a trap, or another set-up."

"It's our only good lead on finding Chloe," Berryn objected. "We have to show up."

"We have to show up," agreed Rissa, "but there's no harm being a little--careful--about how we approach it. And I'm not sure how well it would work... but I did have another idea."

"We're all ears," said Alderon, grinning at her.



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