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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Storyboard of Ataniel Archives: November III

Author: Jonah Cohen
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): The nearly extinct Silver Bullets
Title of Post: Let it Roll

Jimmy had mistakenly thought they were out of the woods when Sashami defeated the centaurion horse thing, and he'd fallen to the floor under a pile of now inanimate bones.

Then his face got painfully nicked by a flying tooth. A flying tooth?!?

Then the tiger with the enormous fangs had sank its teeth into Jason. Jimmy gasped in horror. The cat nearly killed Sashami before Berryn and Melissandra dispatched it. Alexke had saved Sashami by... doing soimething. Everyone here is just full of tricks Jimmy thought. Then the young planeblazer collapsed.

Then the elephants came. Jimmy was now certain that this was a bad dream he was sure to wake up from any second. But as the floor shook, he became certain that this was all too real.

"Leaving now!" Alderon shouted, scooping up Rissa. Running away struck Jimmy as an excellent plan, and he ran over to Jason. When he saw the huge puncture wound in Jason's arm, he felt for a moment as if he were going to throw up. Fighting it down, he grabbed Jason's good arm, and helped him up the stairs.

The entire team was beating a hasty retreat up the stairway, the conscious aiding the wounded and unconscious. The mammoth skeletons were in hot pursuit, and they sounded like a combiunation of trumpets and sledgehammers striking cinder blocks. The Society of Science hall was wide, but it was still narrow enough to slow down a heard of elephants as they jockeyed for position, trying to pursue the young adventurers up the stairwell.

That's the only reason we're alive. For the moment, Jimmy realized. Then, at the top of the stairs, he saw something, and a desperate plan formed.

It was a huge stone globe, which he did not recognize as mapping out the clestial sphere. "Alderon!" Jimmy shouted, extending his staff and tring to use it as a crowbar on the massive stone orb. Nothing happened.

The mammoth skeletons seemed to have established a marching order, and were halfway up the stairs.

"Little help, people?" Alderon shouted, joining in. Even when Melissandra joined in, the globe wouldn't budge. It must have weighed a ton. Probably more. Jimmy felt a painful pop in his left arm. That was gonna hurt in the morning, if he lived to see morning.

The prehistoric pachyderms were three quarters of the way up.

The rest of the team joined in. Rissa shoved with all her might. Sashami dug in and pushed. Using his still-good arm and grimacing with pain, Jason tried to help leverage it. Moving next to Jimmy, Tyler Lord placed a hand on the globe, one that only Jimmy could see greatly resembled Melissandra; the newest Silver Bullet gamely joined in. Berryn's friend cast a couple of strength spells before helping. There was a moan of stone scraping stone.

Almost to the top, weapons swinging. "The messenger must not---!"

The celestial sphere toppled off of its base, and in slow motion, began to roll down the stairway. The first mammoth was crushed underneath it. As it picked up speed, *booming* along the way, bones snapped or went flying in all directions. The sound got louder and louder until the sphere hit the first floor, made a cacophonous crash and cracked the marble floor, coming to a stop in the crater it had just formed.

There was a pregnant pause. Dust choked the air, and everyone was breathing hard, looking around fearfully, waiting for the bones of dragons or something to emerge. Seconds passed, eerily calm.

"I've decided something," Jimmy announced loudly. "Science really sucks!"

Author: Lora Redish
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Sashami
Title of Post: Okay, now that the elephants are gone... what the heck are you being so mysterious about, Rissa???

Sashami emerged tentatively from the stairwell, still carrying the passed-out Alexke over one shoulder. The good news was, the Society of Science seemed to have finally run out of fossils to animate against them. The bad news was the Society of Science had run out of fossils, and the scientists and mages emerging from behind lab tables and beneath desks were giving the Silver Bullets very, very dirty looks. Sashami suspected this was going to deplete Tyler's wallet quite a bit, assuming he still felt like bailing them after all the trouble they'd caused.

"Oh, dear," said Margot, gliding down the stairs and into the half-destroyed lounge. "I was afraid it might be something like this."

"Hi, Margot," said all the scientists in the room in unison, immediately forgetting their collective annoyance over the destruction of their priceless paleontological treasures to smile stupidly at her.

"Who... is... THAT?" gaped Alderon.

"This is why I stay in the tower," Margot sighed. "Damn charismomystical explosion. Listen, Rissa, I think I've figured out why translation spells don't work on this scroll of yours."

"You... have? Really?" Rissa stood up uneasily from Berryn's side, glancing at the injured Alexke, Jason and Sashami. "I... I really want to hear what you've found, but I have to see what I can do for my injured friends, first..."

"It's weird," the thin-lipped girl said to Sylvan, her hand on Berryn's chest. "Cure Light nothing."

"I--I think I've taken care of Berryn. Just let him rest, for now... "

"Why?" Alderon demanded, his concern for his friend winning out over his need to stare at Margot. "What's the matter with him?"

"We do have some doctors in the house," Sylvan pointed out, looking worriedly at the young necromancer.

One of your companions keeps a secret that will cause you all much pain, Sashami remembered. Tharrians tended towards silence in the face of shame, and she had undoubtedly failed her companions that day, but she needed to know as much as she could about her friends if she was to save them from the marten's prophecy. "We need to know this," she agreed resolutely, facing Rissa. "Perhaps one of us can help."

Author: Alyssa Gulledge
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Melissandra, Jimmy
Title of Post: You Bastard!

Melissandra took a deep breath as the orb came to rest, leaving nothing but fragments of elephants and bats behind. She suddenly winced in pain. She exhaled very slowly, feeling her broken ribs grate against eat other. The giant lizard must have cracked them when it bit her, but in the heat of battle she didn�t notice. She didn�t have *time* to notice; lives were at stake, including her own. When she strained to push the giant stone orb, they finally gave way. She sat down on the stairs, as gracefully as she could in agony and in armor. She sat gasping as waves of pain washed over her. �Oh, my.� She would have to remember to avoid things which could be considered �giant� in the future.

She looked at Jason and Sashami, who had open and bleeding wounds. Berryn and Alexke were unconscious. They were all in much worse condition. There were doctors, clerics and mages trying to help the worst off, so Melissandra just sat quietly. Sashami and Rissa were discussing Berryn, but she was having a hard time focussing on anything but breathing. She saw someone step to Jason�s side and begin bandaging his wounds. She kept breathing.

Jimmy came bounding up the stairs. �Hey Melissandra! Great job killing stuff, and pushing that orb.� Glad everyone was safe, he gave her a playful slap on the back.

Melissandra would have smiled at such a compliment, and returned it in kind. But the slap on her back was just enough to jar her ribs. This caused her to gasp, grating the broken ribs into her already traumatized lungs. This caused her to lose any hint of color in her face, turning it a ghastly shade of grey. She followed this up by fainting.

Jimmy jumped back, eyes wide with fear. �Oh my God! I killed Melissandra!�

Author: Lora Redish
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): An overworked NPC
Title of Post: Need-to-Know Basis

"Crap!" yelled Alderon. "Melissandra's down too!"

"All right, I'm coming, I'm coming!" The thin-lipped woman finished healing Jason's gaping arm wound and hurried over to the fallen half-troll.

"Thank you," Jason said humbly. "What's your name, by the way?"

"I am NOT telling you." She cast a cure serious on Melissandra. "If I rate a name, you're going to drag me along with you to heal your butts for the rest of the adventure. I know you hero types."

"So clerics are important," sighed Alderon. "So sue us."

Author: Kristin L'Kar Andersen
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Rissa
Title of Post: I'm Not Being MYSTERIOUS, It's Not My Character's Secret... Blame Evan!

Oh, thank gods, Rissa thought, looking after the rather grim-looking woman as she hurried from one of her teammates to another. She was obviously a cleric. Someone who can actually HEAL damage. This unfortunately was followed by the immediate thought of ...I might have been able to do that...

Rissa shook her head hard, dismissing from her thoughts what couldn't be cured. Alderon, Sashami and Berryn's friend were all staring at her, waiting for an explanation.

"I just..." Rissa glanced back down at Berryn. He lay peacefully now, his eyes moving rapidly behind his eyelids as if he were dreaming. Her form of treatment was far better suited to Berryn's problem than to open wounds; applying pressure at the appropriate points had stopped the muscle spasms immediately. "Berryn just had a seizure, that's all. It's not something you can fix with a healing spell-- it's..." How on Ataniel do I explain a form of epilepsy I've never seen before to non-practitioners? She shrugged in helpless frustration and tried her best. "I think that whatever he did to the cat caused a neural overload. Berryn overtaxed his senses, his magical ability, his brain, possibly all three. It wasn't severe, as these things go," she reassured Berryn's worried-looking friend. "He'll be unconscious for about ten more minutes, I think, and then be a little confused for another twenty or so. But he'll be perfectly fine, no harm done. We just need to let him wake up on his own."

She looked around at the rest of the group, her eyes finding Jason first. He seemed much better now. She needed to find time to thank him for saving her. Her mouth twitched in a wry smile. All right, and Alderon, too. Melissandra was being tended to. Berryn's female friend was seeing to the injuries of the party with remarkable efficiency. Good. All I could do for them... safely, anyway... would be to stop the pain and speed up their natural recovery rate.

Sashami was still looking at her in a way Rissa couldn't interpret. She turned back to Margot in a hurry. "Did you really find out what's wrong about that scroll? Does it have anything to do with why these things are attacking us?"

Author: Jonah "Blame Evan, but it's Ed's fault" Cohen
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): The Silver Bullets & the Men of Science
Title of Post: She Blinded Me - with Science

Jimmy actually screamed in alarm when he ko'ed Melissandra. "Cleric! Oh my God, oh my God..." The put-upon and mercifully anonymous cleric told him to keep his shirt on and cast some manner of healing magic on the half-troll. After a few anxiety-laden moments, she sat up.

"Goodness," she said, "that creature must have had more biting power than I'd realized."

Jimmy sighed loudly. "Oh thank God I didn't kill you," he muttered. Rissa was saying something he didn't understand, but something along the lines that Berryn was going to be ok. Alexke's wounds had been closed up, she was still unconscious but breathing. A medic was patching up Jason, who had just completed one of the ballsiest combats Jimmy had ever seen. They were battered but alive. His face started to turn a slightly less white shade of pale.

A scientist in a top hat entered the chamber, looking around at the wreckage. Staring curiously at the sunbeams comiong through the skylight as they passed in and out of the dust, he mumbled "Hmm... scattered!"

"Did you really find out what was wrong with the scroll?" Rissa asked. Before the exceptionally good looking woman could reply, another person entered the room.

"What the devil happened here?!" shouted the newcomer. He was wearing a black waistcoat, and both his face and voice reminded Jimmy of a bulldog. "One moment I'm listening to Hook and Newton hector each other over this 'gravitational' matter, the next I'm of a mind to call in Wegner for an explanation, because it sounds like an earthquake has struck." He looked around at the carnage again. "Good heavens. Is everyone all right, James?"

"I think so," the man in the top hat replied.

"Mr. President, sir!" The foppish elf who'd spent the fight hiding under his desk popped up like a jack in the box. He had addressed the bulldog scientist. "It was their fault!" He pointed at the Silver Bullets.

"Well," the president said. "What of this?"

Damned if I'm gonna kiss this 'risto's ass over something that wasn't our fault, Jimmy thought. Then he reminded himself that they needed this group's help to rescue Chloe. He tried to steer a middle course. "Well, it's like this," he said.

He proceeded to give them the Reader's Digest version of what they were doing their and what had happened. The rest of the team frequently interjected to give a pretty accurate account of why the hall was lying in ruin. "Hell and damnation," the president said. "This place is supposed to be shielded against unauthorized magics! Now suddenly the exhibits are attacking the guests. Terribly sorry about that, young people."

"Sorry 'bout trashing all your fossils and stuff."

"Yes, well, they were just casts you know. Originals too valuable to leave out for display. Margot, get a message to Mantell. We're going to need some new casts made. And have him do the articulation personally. When we had Cohen do it, he kept setting the fourth through sixth vertebrae in the wrong order."

"Don't know who this Cohen guy is," Alderon hastily added, "but he sounds like a real pinhead."

"You have no idea! What else do we have in the damage department, James?"

"Well, the globe looks like a total loss. I was wanting to get an updated one made anyway though. This model didn't account for Bane, and with the latest Doppler data, the scale was totally off."

"I was just thinking the same thing," Jimmy said, rolling his eyes.

"The floor and stairs are going to need some work," James continued, "but I have some friends in the mason's guild."

"James here gives weekly lectures over in the craftsman's quarter," Thomas explained. "Free of charge. He's one of those who realizes that science is meant to confer its benefits on all the people, not an elitist few." He shot a poisonous look at the elf. "If you get a chance, you should see him in action."

"You're too kind, Thomas."

"Now, it appears that this... phenomenom is related to the reason you youngsters are seeking Dr. Senna's help, eh? I must insist that once you have uncovered whatever mysteries are being hidden in this Hanchu Peninsula, you return to give the Society a complete report."

"For real?"

"Good fellow, you seek to replace ignorance with knowledge. And as I told that unscrupulous weasel, Owen, just the other day: better to have an ape for a grandmother than to obscure the truth."

Author: Lora Redish
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Sashami and another scientific guest star
Title of Post: Explain the Brain

"Then he'll be all right," said Sashami, relieved. "Is this common among those with magical powers?"

"Um, not really, no... it's more common for someone who's overexerted themselves just to pass out from exhaustion, like Alexke did." The young planeblazer seemed to be coming around on her own. "The kind of seizure Berryn's having is... different."

"It's neurological," explained a passing scientist, glancing up from a folder marked 'NIH Grant'. "Some people's brains are just susceptible to it; it's probably genetic. Basically something causes a cluster of neurons to just start firing like crazy. The physical result of that is a seizure."

"Could we stop it from happening to him again?" Alderon wanted to know. "What could have triggered it?"

"Could have been anything." The neuroscientist shrugged. "Illness... demonic possession... lights flickering at the wrong frequency... anything that disrupts the normal pattern of neural activity."

"Where'd he come from, anyway?" Jimmy whispered to Rissa.

"Me? I live here." The scientist shrugged and closed the door behind him. Sashami frowned; the metafictive bits always went over her head. "Well, as long as he'll be all right."

"I'm pretty sure of it," Rissa nodded. "Margot... you said you knew why comprehend languages keeps failing?"

"Sort of," said the linguist. "The spell's not working for you because the message is already in Dalen."

"It's in code, then?" blurted Jimmy.

"No, it's in one-point font." She slid the vellum under the microscope on one of the lab tables. "Have a look for yourself."

Rissa did. "ESSENGERBYTHEA," the string under the lens read. "Oh," she said.

"That's--pretty darn clever," Alderon admitted. "What's the whole thing say?"

"Well, I took the liberty of going through it and adding word breaks in what seem to be the appropriate places." Margot flipped open her notebook. "In whole it reads Alando: It is worse than we feared. You must go to New Trade and awaken the Guardians. You will recognize the Messenger by the amulet she wears." Rissa touched hers reflexively, her eyes widening. "Speak the single word "Amulet" to invoke the Guardians, then slay the Messenger and return the amulet to us. Do not examine it too closely. This cannot be stressed enough. Rimonia."

There was a heavy pause among the battered Silver Bullets. "Wait," said Alderon, "so that old dude was going to kill Rissa? That doesn't mean the assassin guy was on our side all along, does it?"

"I doubt that," said Sashami. "He was also involved in the kidnapping of Chloe."

"Who's now in Hanchu," murmured Rissa, a bit pale. "Which is exactly where these Guardians don't want us."

"You think we're being--"

"Fucked with," Alderon agreed with a sigh. "But we already knew that, and we have to go after Chloe anyway. I mean, maybe they don't want us there so we don't interfere with them sacrificing her or something. She's our friend, and we can't just leave her there because there's some kind of war between weird assassin cults going on."

Sashami nodded resolutely. It had been a difficult morning, but at least they had survived the attack. "Alderon is right. Perhaps we can take out both factions of these foul assassins, but at the very least we must rescue Chloe." She paused, uncomfortably. "I apologize for failing to hold my own in battle. It was covering for my error that caused Berryn and Alexke to overtax themselves. I will do better next time."

"Do not be so hard on yourself, Sashami," murmured Melissandra, still a little wobbly. "But I hope you won't be offended if I... hope 'next time' will be quite some time away!"

"And in some other city," muttered the wussy concierge.

Sylvan's cleric friend wacked him in the back of the head.

Go on to the November Archives, Part 4

'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

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