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The Book of Ataniel

The Storyboard of Ataniel Archives: June, Part 6

Name: Alyssa Gulledge
Plotline: Things That Fall From The Sky And Go Thud
Character(s): Rhynwa, Heart, Carter, Akron, et al.
Title of Post: It's gonna be a bumpy ride


"Okay. But I *have* learned a few things. Like planning. Kevin, would you be so kind as to pack up standard adventuring rations, etc. For...um..." Rhynwa looked around the room and pointed to Heart.

"I will be happy to accompany you." Rhynwa held up one finger.

She pointed to Carter Edison. "I *am* a hero, so I guess I have to."

"Yes, you do." She held up a second finger.

She pointed to Flicker, who shook his head no.

She pointed to Kayla with a little smile. Kayla's eyes went very wide, and she shook her head violently no.

Akron piped up "Hey Goth-Chick! Whadd' about ME?"

Rhynwa turned to face him. "I already ASSUMED that you'd be joining us, Short, Green and Ugly. Just hold your damn horses! I promise I won't ever ignore or discount you, but learn some patience and some manners or I will *shove* my scythe so deep up your..."

Akron quickly interrupted, holding up his hands defensively "Yeah, yeah. Fine. Pardon me Miss Cleric-Lady Rhynwa. Would you be sure to count me as part of this *fine* group of heroes?"

"When you put it like that, I would be very happy to include you. I also think I might laugh in your face for going WAY too far in the other direction." She turned back to Kevin. "That would be 4 adventuring kits please." She dropped several gold pieces on the counter. The aurumvorax in her arms began straining towards the bar, so she gave it a gold piece to chew on as if it were a snack.

"Well, Mr. Fish, you have a small but ...um...enthusiastic? eager? plucky?..." She looked around again and mumbled "Skilled?...Ah!" She turned to Joe and said "a small but BRAVE band of heroes to accompany you to your town. As soon as Kevin gets our kits ready we will be able to go. And while we are on the subject, what happened in Netown after the burning rock hit your neighbor's field?"


Name: Lora Redish
Plotline: Coming of Age: The Edimon Library
Character(s): The three whose names end in "A"
Title of Post: The Dewey Decimal System and You

The Edimon library was so large and arcane you could literally get lost in it.

Unfortunately, it seemed like any information pertaining to Rissa's amulet already had.

"This isn't getting us anywhere," sighed Princess Thalia, after a few hours of fruitless searching and a run-in with a less-than-helpful librarian. "I hope none of the other teams have fallen into another dimension or anything while we've been here."

"Does... that happen often?" said Melissandra.

"This just isn't making sense." Rissa frowned in frustration. "How could an entire language have just disappeared from the library, from the Comprehend Languages spell, from..."

"We don't know for sure that it is a language," Thalia pointed out. "It could be a code... or even just some religious iconography."

"It has the form of a language. Now I wish I'd concentrated on linguistics more during my internship." Rissa sighed. "Let's just check one more thing, okay? Dr. Hayak was pretty sure the amulet isn't native to the Cynystran area, but I'd like to have a look at the pre-Celtic section as long as we're here, just to see if there's anything he might have missed."

***

The pre-Celtic collection didn't look as if anyone had visited it in a very long time. Seeing as how Brytannwch had disappeared from the face of Ataniel more than six years ago, this wasn't really a tremendous surprise. The old witch runes had never been truly deciphered, but it was obvious from a cursory glance that neither the design of Rissa's amulet nor the writing on the torn page bore any resemblance to that. The three girls were sifting through the scant information on the pre-Celtic tribes of Cynystra now. So far Dr. Hayak seemed to be correct in his assessment.

"I really think we should get back to the others," said Princess Thalia. "I mean... who knows what kind of trouble Alderon and Berryn have gotten into by now."

"I guess you're right," Rissa said reluctantly. "If the amulet's not Cynystran in origin, it could take weeks to really research all the old civilizations in this library... it's much more important to try to find Chloe, I think."

Melissandra was squinting at the bookshelf. "My pardons for interrupting," she politely addressed the other two noblewomen, "but I could have sworn I saw something--"

Two books flew off the pre-Celtic shelf, then another, and a fourth, their pages blurring together into some kind of bizarrely jointed humanoid form. Rissa had no time to do more than gasp in surprise as the strange golem leapt on her with improbable speed.

"--move," Melissandra finished, wringing her hands in a ladylike way and going for her weapon.


Name: Alyssa Gulledge
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Rissa, Thali, Melissandra
Title of Post: To Dewey or die.

Rissa and Thalia backed away from the golem. Rissa cried out "Melissandra! Don't use your sword; those books might be important. I think I might even be able to use the golem itself..."

Melissandra interposed herself between the golem and other girls, but put away her sword. "Um...shoo? Scat?"

The golem swung at Melissandra, and she raised her arm to ward off the blow.

"YEEEE-OOOOUUUCCCCHHH! It gave me a paper cut on my palm! Owww, that STINGS!" She stood there shaking her hand. "I'll show you how to cut someone to ribbons!" She started to swipe at the golem when Rissa called out "No claws either!"

Melissandra, mid-swing, folded her hand and gave an entirely respectable roundhouse punch to the thing. "Rissa, I do not have *claws*!" Another punch to the main torso-book, dog-earring several internal pages. "I have long, beautiful *nails*." The golem clapped her between it's book covers. "Mother said that proper ladies always have long, beautiful nails." She ducked as the golem swung again. "When cared for daily by filing, buffing and occasional painting, they will be long and strong." She swept her foot out at lightning speed hooking the golem and sending it to the floor. "I always take very good care of my nails." The golem split into it's component books as it landed, only to reassemble in a new conformation. "You see, animals have claws." The golem leapt from it's crouching position and tackled Melissandra. "Umm...Rissa, Thalia... have either of you figured out how to hold this thing still." She stood straight up, tumbling the golem to the floor. "A book binding spell, or something?"

Rissa and Thalia looked at each other and groaned.


Name: Kristin L'Kar Andersen
Plotline: Coming of Age: the Edimon Library
Character(s): Rissa, Thalia, Melissandra
Title of Post: Dissection is the Better Part of Valor

Rissa firmly restrained the urge to sigh over her own neatly gloved but short-nailed hands.

"I'm not much of a combat mage," she said in frustration. "I can tell you if it's magical, which it obviously is. I could put it to sleep, if it slept. I could hypnotize it, if it had sensory organs." Melissandra kept batting the golem's attacks aside, but it showed no signs of giving up and going away. The girls kept backing up. Father, you did NOT cover this in Basic Adventurer Training! No ears to hear with, no brain to charm. Probably no nervous or reflex system at all. How do you kill this thing, without ripping the books apart or setting it on fire?

Rustling in frustration, the paper golem reached to one side and yanked a bookshelf into the aisle. Melissandra exclaimed in ladylike annoyance and caught the heavy wooden frame before it could knock down the shorter girls behind her. Books flew everywhere, leaving bruises and paper cuts. The sounds of shouting and running footsteps came from somewhere behind them.

The bard exclaimed in less than ladylike annoyance, although with a great deal of creativity. Fortunately for Melissandra's delicate sensibilities, it was all in Cynystran.

"It's making a mess! Kill it, we'll mend the books later!" Rissa hopped up and down, pressing a cut on her arm closed with her fingers. "Strike at the joints, or the spines of the books! Anything with moving parts is most vulnerable at the joints!" She picked up a letter opener from a nearby desk and whipped it at the golem. It thwacked into the spine of "Pre-Celtic Languages: the Salagian Substratum Theory", the blade sinking shallowly but extremely neatly into the hole of the "b". The golem fluttered its pages in agitation.


Name: Lora Redish
Plotline: Coming of Age: Library Tales
Character(s): Three upper-class girls and a paper golem
Title of Post: You wouldn't have figured this would be the group getting into a brawl, would you?

"If it's a paper golem, it's probably most vulnerable to fire," Thalia said reluctantly, fingering one of the homemade oil bombs in her purse, "but that would probably char the books it's made out of too badly for us to check them for clues..."

"It could also catch the whole library on fire," Rissa cried. "We'll all be arrested for arson! Think of something else!"

The golem lunged past Melissandra for the young Cynystran, making a grab for her satchel. "Forbidden... knowledge..." it rustled.

Rissa got the satchel snapped before it could grab the book page out. "Forbidden?" she asked, as Melissandra pummeled it back away from her. "What's forbidden about it? Why?"

"Blunt weapons don't really seem to be having that much of an effect on it," Thalia observed.

"Annihilated..." the golem rattled. "Monks found loophole... preserved one book... threat to all..."

"Maybe we can talk this out," offered Rissa. "Why is the book a threat? And what could we do about it?"

"Destroy the book," rasped the golem, giving Melissandra a fierce paper cut across the cheek. "Slay all who have laid eyes on it!"

"Okay, that's not a solution that's going to work for us," said Princess Thalia.

"What's animating this thing?" Rissa kicked at it as it lunged for her again. Melissandra broke the spine of the golem's left arm, entitled Beadwork of the Old Cynystran Tribes, with a strong blow from the pommel end of her sword. "If only Aunt Khyri were here...!"


Name: Alyssa Gulledge
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Melissandra, Rissa, Thalia
Title of Post: Book, book, whose got the book?

Melissandra hit the golem again, sending it into yet another bookshelf. This time, the book comprising the end of its arm flew off. Melissandra watched is sail over to land in front of the girls, giving her an idea.

"Rissa! Thalia! Pin it to the ground, or hold it!"

Rissa and Thalia looked at each other and then at the book. It was already beginning to move towards the golem. Thalia stepped forward onto the book, which stopped moving.

Melissandra continued wrestling with the golem. "Did it work?"

Thalia called "Well, it's not getting away from me, if that is what you mean..."

"OK. Rissa, the next one it to you." Melissandra struck at a juncture point between two books, 'nails' unsheathed. The book separated just enough for Melissandra to snatch it away. The remaining monster began assaulting Melissandra's head, but she dared not let go of the book she had separated.

Rissa looked on, waiting for Melissandra to get free. It became clear that she was in trouble. The book was tugging itself out of her grip, and the golem was smacking her around. Rissa took a deep breath, and took the plunge. She ran to Melissandra, shouting "NOW!"

Melissandra thrust the book away from herself and the monster, into Rissa's arms. Rissa ran to the other side of the room, as far from Thalia as possible.

Melissandra, her hands freed, made one more precise strike into the two remaining books, holding one above her head, and the other under foot. All of the books quivered straining towards each other, but then fell quiet.

The girls stood around the room, breathing heavily from fear and exertion.

"Good idea Melissandra"

"Lucky break really, but thank you. I would curtsey, but I don't want these two books too close together. So do either of the books you two have say anything useful?"


Name: Jonah Cohen
Plotline: Coming of Age, flashback to a few seconds ago
Character(s): an innocent civilian
Title of Post: And yet, still less evil than that stupid "Left Behind" series

Peeking around the stacks, he fearfully watched as the three w---, well at least two women, and one... uh...

Anyway, he fearfully watched as they struggled against the book creature. It slammed its papery jaws shut on one of the woman's arms.

"Ouch," he couldn't help but mutter. "That's gonna leave a book mark."


Name: Lora Redish
Plotline: Coming of Age: Fear The Library
Character(s): The three who wear skirts
Title of Post: Alyssa would be getting an XP bonus if this were a game...

"Patrilineal Property Traditions and the Bride Price in Pre-Celtic Cynystra," read Princess Thalia from the binding of her struggling book. "Now what does that have to do with anything?"

"Mine is about Cynystran linguistics," said Rissa.

"I've got one on pre-Celtic beadwork," said Melissandra, squinting at them, "and... one on tribal peoples of the Hanchu Peninsula? That one must have gotten filed on the wrong shelf."

Tribal Peoples of the Hanchu Peninsula gave a small strange shudder and a brief glow of light from within, and Rissa and Thalia felt the books in their hands go limp as the animacy faded from their pages. "Hey!" said Thalia. "That--"

"How odd," said Melissandra, flipping through the Hanchu book. "It's totally empty. I could have sworn there was writing in it before."

Rissa peeked around the troll maiden's arm. The book was, in fact, blank through and through now. "So a book about the Hanchu Peninsula is trying to kill us," Rissa said aloud. "And it... erased itself, somehow... when we caught it?" She looked at her two lightly-sliced-up teammates. "Is it me, or is that just about the weirdest thing you've ever heard of before?"

"I hope the other two teams are having slightly more... practical... experiences," Thalia agreed, shaking her skirts out with a sigh.


Name: Alyssa Gulledge
Plotline: The Mithril Dagger: The Shape of Things
Character(s): Joe Fish, Rhynwa
Title of Post: The Shape of things to come

"So this is what happened. It was night and Jeb and me were testing his latest batch of hooch. We don't like doin it in front of the women folk on account of them hitting us if we drink licker. So's anyway, we was out behind the barn when we heard this whistling sorta sound. We looks up to see a burning sompthin, which is getting bigger and bigger. We were a might bit afraid I'll tell you what, but then we ain't heroes or nuthin. Anyway, this thing finally arcs out over the field and crashes down. Now we was thinking that it was mosterous-big, but when we got there it tweren't bigger'n my prize hog Harriet - although she did win the ribbon at the county fair on account of her being so big, so mebbe 800 pounds of pig.

"While we was standing there, the sucker cracked open, and this little blobby thing crawled out. Kinda brown at first, but as it oozed or squished or however you describe that kinda runnin, it turned green. Now we ain't talking transcendental or transilluminated or whatever you people call see-through. It looked solid - couldn't see a thing through it - and tthe was plenty of light from the burning crops... It squirmed into the woods, and we grabbed our lantern and tried to follow it. We needed proof we had seen it or the women would assume we'd been drinking - even though we was - and there'd be hell to pay. It was kinda funny-like cause it kept changing shape and color. So like it went over this big white rock, and it turned white, and it kinda got spiky and had flat sides and stuff, but when it hit the dirt, it went brown and flattened out and I swear it looked like it had twigs on it. So's we were following but it slipped into the crick and we couldn't see it no more.

"We went back to the field, and by that time there was a small crowd of our neighbors and wives and children, all wantin to know what happened and where in the heck we was at. So I said that Jeb and I was in bed like was supposed to be but we each heard a strange sound. When we followed it we ended up here in the field. Then we saw the rock fall out of the sky - they couldn't argue about that since it was plain as day in front of 'em - and that it broke open when we got over here. Then to cover Jeb and I, I said strange vapors had risen up, and made Jeb and I run into the woods. The wives looked us over, but they didn't fuss at us none cause the fire was beginning to be a problem.

"Anyways, this wouldn't normally be all that much trouble, but then the bad things started happening. First off, we noticed that all of the grazin animals - that's sheeps, cows, goats and hosses for you city folk - were looking funny. And funny is kinda hard to describe - but when they was in the fields, some of 'em looked a bit green, and some looked a bit furrier. Hard to describe. But then the kids - my little girl Amy, Ronnie and Brad - two of Jeb's boys, Birddie, who is from two farms over and MaryLou and her little brother Billy - all went swimming in the crick, but when they came home they was looking REAL funny. Their skin started trying to match the colors and textures of things. Amy was sitting on the wool blanket her Momma had made her, with a big white strip in the middle of the gray - cost her a pretty penny to get that white, white wool too I might add - but there was Amy, with a big white stripe running down the middle of her, and her skin was looking like the blanket. When I touched her, it was woolen too. I pulled her to me to hug her, mostly to comfort her but a bit of fear too - I told ya before I ain't no hero. Anyways, when I had my hands and face touching her, and Momma was patting her back, her skin kinda squirmed and became human again. But the moment she put on clothes, she was looking like them. Now all the townspeople are looking like that and the animals are getting lost in the fields.

"I was looking for one of my nanny goats, and couldn't find her - so's I sat down on this large rock to think where she might be hiding. I hear this muffled bleat, jump up, and there is a shifting shape trying to look like me - from having sat on it I guess - and trying to look like the rock it is till on, bleating piteously. I picked it up to carry it home, and it tried looking like a small version of me - but more like what a child would draw me as. I am the only one who hasn't gotten really bad, but there *is* a reason I am wearing sorta tan canvas..."

Rhynwa looked carefully at his skin seeing the warp and weft of fabric, and the strange even coloration one does not normally see in skin. "Wow. That is weird!"

He knocked back his drink. "Ah, blessed be the beer, the ale and the wine. Stuff of life. Well, if you're gonna help us before we lose everyone and everything in town, we best start now..."


Name: Jonah "frickin' computers" Cohen
Plotline: The Shape of Things
Character(s): Carter Edison, Rhynwa
Title of Post: Deja Vu (fittingly, all over again): Secret Origin part 2

Carter listened intently to Joe's story. It was sounding a little bit familiar.. ..

After the strange people called Enigma had left Neporris, things went back to their boring routine. It was several days before Carter discovered that his life had changed.

Mrs. O'Toole's wagon tipped over, pinning poor Billy Miles beneath it, gasping and moaning in pain. Two men were trying to pull the wagon upright, to no avail. Carter knew he wasn't particularly strong, but quickly tried to help the others lift the wagon. "I wish I was as strong as some of those heroes" he muttered. He'd have no trouble then.

With one mighty shove, Carter not only pulled the wagon up off of Billy, he flung it a good 30 feet, narrowly missing a very surprised Mrs. O'Toole. "How the heck did you do that?" asked one of the stunned farmers.

"I... I don't know!" Carter answered. "It wasn't even very difficult. Here," he said, extending a hand to Billy. He grasped Billy's hand, and heard the sickening crunch of bones shattering.

"Ahhh!!! You broke my hand!!!"

"Ah! Sorry! I didn't mean to!" Carter looked around, confused. Everyone was giving him the hairy eyeball. He ran. When he got home, he opened the door to his modest apartment - and knocked it clean off the hinges, sailing across the living room and shattering the window. The landlord was going to charge him an arm and a leg for that.

By the next morning, his superstrength had worn off, and he was glad to be free of the hero lifestyle. But destiny took a hand two days later. As he was walking home from work, he overheard a domestic dispute in progress. Some might have kept on walking, but Carter couldn't bring himself to turn away. "I oughta teach that guy a lesson," he said, but then recalled his mishaps with being super strong. Maybe something more subtle was called for here. He thought for a moment. "If I could turn invisible, that would be good." He felt a slight tingling and looked down at his hands. Nothing there.

Carter snuck into the house, pausing to wave at the drunken man, standing right in front of him. The bum didn't pause from berating his poor wife, and he definitely wasn't hammered enough to not notice someone right in front of him. Walking as quietly as he could manage, he picked up and iron skillet and brained the guy.

The man screamed. Then he looked up, saw the skillet floating in mid-air, screamed again and ran. "It's ok, ma'am, he's gone."

Now she was screaming. "Who said that?!?"

"It's ok, I'm right h--" Another scream. "I won't hurt y---"

"Ahhh! Don't kill me, ghosts!"

"I'm not a ghost. I'm just invisible." This did not seem to calm her. "Uh, look. You can, uh, you know. You can do better than some jerk who hits you."

"Please don't kill me, invisible ghosts!"

Making matters worse, it took 3 days for Carter to turn visible again. He spent sleepless nights, imagining what life would be like, unable to be seen. But while he did return to the realm of the see-able, this episode did cost him his job. It seemed that patrons at the hotel weren't comfortable about an invisible concierge.

He'd sworn off ever trying to use these strange abilities again, but it was not to be. One of the buildings damaged by the fight Enigma had been in was starting to collapse, trapping a construction worker inside. No one was sure how long it would hold.

"Gosh, what could help? Uh, maybe if I was really big and tough, like, unhurtable..." Then, Carter felt his body change again. He became, bystanders later told him, larger, his skin gray, his face squarish and blocky looking. He strode fearlessly into the building and brought the trapped man to safety (being careful this time to let the man climb into his massive arms and not actually grab him). It didn't even hurt when a cross beam fell on his head.

Unfortunately, when he got home, he crashed through the floor of his apartment - it seemed his new form weighed a lot. So in the few hours he had it, it moved him from jobless, to jobless and homeless.

Leading a normal life, he realized, was no longer an option. So he set out to find others fated to live the same heroic life, his own Enigma. Perhaps they could help him get a little better at it...


"I've, uh, seen something like what you're talking about, Mr. Fish."

"You have?" Everyone turned to him.

"Well, not precisely. I mean, no firey rocks falling from the sky, no people changing shapes. But it seems like everyone in your town is having troouble controlling their newfound shape-shifting. I, uh, kind of have that problem with some of my abilities, too."

"I think I've seen something like what you're talking about, Carter," Rhynwa said. "You have powers that can do lots of different things?"

"Yup."

"Trouble with controlling them?"

"Yeah," he admitted sheepishly.

"OK, sounds like random magic. I've seen it in action all too often. First, what you want to do is be careful where you point, in case you get a different power than what you expected---"

"Oh, I've always gotten the power I've tried to get. But it's still not easy to control. I guess that with great power comes not only great responsibility (of course) but also great challenges in being able to use it. I'm hoping it gets easier with practice."



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