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The Book of Ataniel

The Storyboard of Ataniel Archives: October II

Name: Jonah Cohen
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Jimmy, Rissa
Title of Post: Rhymin' and Stealin'

Jimmy had done plenty of recon jobs, casing locations which he and his posse back in Cynystra were considering burgling. Planning was always important, he'd told Rissa. Just like doing research for a term paper, she had replied, and he had to take her word on that part. Still, he'd never had an easier recon than the one that afternoon.

It began with a quick walk-by of 4 Kensington Park. Ritzy. Separated from the neighboring houses. Stone wall topped by iron fencing. No signs of canine presence. Then he went down the block to Tenneran Square Park, ordered two coffees and sat down on a bench.

Having peeps who could do magic was unbelievably cool, and he'd said so to Rissa in as many words when she offered to do a sorcerous scan of the place. She blushed a bit, then went off to do her detect magic thing. Jimmy sipped his coffee.

The young bard/scholar arrived about ten minutes later, and he handed her a latte as she sat down. "There's a spell on all the windows, and I'm pretty sure it's on the doors as well. Judging by its strength and aura, it's almost certainly Alarm. It's a very common spell, since it uses basic transmutation techniques, can be extended in duration easily, and easily adjusted in its area of affect, which apparently is what has been done on this house." Somewhere, some time Jimmy thought, someone made her memorize this stuff. "---the plane of every possible means of ingress. When tripped, it could set off a loud noise, or possibly a telepathic---"

"Inanimate objects don't set off Alarm spells," Jimmy said calmly, then took another sip.

"How did you know that?"

He smiled a bit, and was about to tell her, when suddenly he was struck by a bit of worry. What would she think of him if he told her just how he knew this? He decided to tell her anyway.

"This one time, me and my crew were getting ready to hit this one house, and it had these alarmy spells on all the doors and windows. This friend of mine, he's great with getting by magical traps. Way better than me," he added. Cuz Chris was downright uncanny in this ability. "So anyway, he could deal with that, but the place also had a dog. Big rottweiler or something. Dogs are really dangerous animals - you can't disarm a spell or a trap if you're getting your arm gnawed off. So he took a glass cutter, removed part of a window pain, and of course the dog is right there, growling and slobbering, and he tosses in this t-bone that he doctored with some sleeping powder. KO'ed the pooch for two hours."

"Can you disarm the spell to get in?"

"I don't have to get in, just the letter. Look, I can assure you, I know jack from magic, but I do know a bit about Alarm. People cast it on the inside of the doors and windows. If it was on the outside, every bird and squirrel that landed on the windowsill would be giving them grief. I think I can make the delivery, but I need your help..."

* * * * *

They went over a plan, and Jimmy gave Rissa some tips for lookout duty. Being able to see in the dark would be a big help for her, he realized. It felt strange to be the one making a plan and having someone else listen. Not so long ago it had been Mary or Cuz or Avery telling him where to jump, and Jimmy eagerly asking how high.

That night, as they snuck along, he discovered that not only could Rissa Minarye see better at night than him, she had a gift for moving quietly. While pure 'risto, and a palpable bookworm, she was more practical than a casual glance would indicate. While pricey, her boots were flat-heeled and silent, and he could tell she could move well enough to fight, even in the long skirt. Plus there'd been the way she had waxed the fox-headed bandit.

He had been the only one to get a good look at it, and not that good, as he'd been rolling around in the mud and trying to avoid getting bitten. She'd distracted the guy with some spell then... he wasn't sure what. It looked almost like she'd caved in his skull with her bookbag, of all things, except that her arms...

No distractions, farm-boy! Stay on task he could hear Mary's voice in his head. Time to move.

He liked the telescoping rod he'd lifted from the eagle-head bandit. Like a knife, it was quick, easily concealable, and useful for non-combat tasks. Scaling a little up the stone wall, Jimmy held it up between two iron poles, extended it, then used it as a brace to hoist himself up over the scarily pointy tops of the bars. He executed a graceful flip over the wall.

Less graceful was when he landed flat on his ass in the yard outside #4. Glad that Rissa hadn't seen that part, he quickly got up, then made a quick, low dash to the side window.

His plan was the same one Cuz had used: use the glass cutter to remove part of a window, aided by some carefully applied putty, then toss in the letter. It didn't need to be left enigmatically on the master bedroom's pillows - the kitchen floor would do just as well. Slowly and carefully, he began tracing his razor along a strip of the window. It was not work he could do quickly.

When he had carved out about half a foot, he head Rissa's voice, talking a little too loudly with someone. Crud and double crud!

She was trying to signal him, in her own inimitable way, that someone was coming. No telling how long she coulde keep this up, let alone on her first job. Jimmy was trying not to sweat, trying to thing.

With careful precision, he rapped on the glass, punching in part of the pane. The glass fragment made a quiet, he hoped, tinkling sound as it broke on the floor. Mary would have tut-tutted him for sloppiness. Not particularly caring about that at the moment, he flicked the letter in through the broken window, then made like a tree and left.

* * * * *

"Were you trying to stall with the Tipsy Tourist Routine?" he asked Rissa, somewhat impressed and somewhat amused.

"The what?"

"Never mind. Thanks for the signalling me. I got the letter in. Now c'mon. Let's go see a hepcat who will hopefully hand us Mitchel Ewens on a silver platter."



Name: Sylvia A. Rudy
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Thalia, Michael
Title of Post: Why are the cute ones always crazy?

Thalia stared at Michael. Her resolve faltered for a moment, then she steeled herself and slammed the door shut.

Michael jumped back for a moment, only his assassin's reflexes saving him from a flattened nose. He knocked gently on the door. "Umm... Thalia?"

"Go away!"

"But..."

"Just go away! I never want to see you again!"

Ok. She's mad at me. What did that old Lothario tell me - 'when a woman is mad at you for no reason, just apologize, whether its your fault or not. it's always your fault'. Ok... "I'm sorry?"

There was a beat of silence. "Really? Why are you sorry?"

"I..." That hadn't quite worked the way the Lothario said it would. "Wait a minute - if neither one of us knows why I'm sorry why are we yelling through a door?"



Name: Douglass Barre
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Ty Lord
Title of Post: Yes, That's My Globe

Outside of Ambrosio's, Tyler watched as the heroes--he was giving them the benefit of the doubt--conferred about someone they couldn't decide whether to call Michael or Mitchel.

Patience, he kept reminding himself. They have to feel like they're following their own agenda. The Plan won't work unless you can engender their trust.

After a few minutes, they seemed to have run out of banter, and looked ready to head off determinedly in some direction. Ty took his opportunity. He approached the troll. It seemed most likely that he'd make a good impression approaching the member of the band that was probably least accepted. It'd show he was open-minded and

"Hi there," he said, smiling pleasantly, "I'm Tyler Lord... pardon me for overhearing, but were you traveling to the Hanchu peninsula to rescue a young lady? I'm, ah, looking to start a career of helping the unfortunate and defenseless myself, and I'd be pleased to offer what small assistance I can to aid you in your endeavor."

"Is that your globe?" Melissandra asked.

"Um. Yes?"

"It's nice."

"Thanks. Now, about this adventure..."

The troll frowned, though oddly demurely. "I'd have to talk to the others."

"That's fine. Totally cool with that. I, ah... well, you can mention to them that I can get that letter of introduction you need. I'm close friends with a very prolific scientist in the city." Tyler paused. "I can also fly today. That could be useful."

The troll squinted suspiciously. "I'll ask and see."

"Did I mention I had lots of money?" Shut up, Ty! an inner voice said. Don't look too eager, you don't want to oversell this.

Ty grinned awkwardly and resisted the urge to pull out the notebook to comfort himself.



Name:Lora Redish
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Sashami, Michael and the Silver Bullets
Title of Post: Being In Love Really Sucks, Being In Love Sucks

"So we couldn't find a map," Sashami mused, "but we've been recommended a guide. And we couldn't find Michael, but we've found Tyler."

"Somehow I don't think Thalia's going to consider that equivalent," said Berryn.

"Actually, she decided she didn't want him to come with us after all," Melissandra explained. "That's why we followed you."

"Women," said Alderon, rolling his eyes.

"So do you think you might, ah, need my assistance?" Tyler looked from Sashami to Berryn, apparently trying to deduce which of them was likelier to be the team leader. "Or do decisions like that generally get put to the vote...?"

"We're not really that organized," Alderon admitted. "Why don't you just come on back to the hotel with us and meet the rest of our team. We're expecting Rissa and Jimmy back from a, uh, fact-finding mission any minute now."

"Don't you think this group is getting sort of large?" Alexke asked Sashami.

"Why would you say that?" she said. "In my land, warriors always travel in cadres of twelve... we are but ten."

"Huh," said the girl. "In mine we usually did everything solo."

"That would make tactics difficult." Sashami herself was more interested in whether Tyler had any serviceable skills, but that was a delicate question to ask under the best of circumstances. Besides, she could hardly deny a fellow adventurer the chance to prove himself after the opportunities Ahvo had given her. "Let's go back to the hotel. We can look up this Ellen Senna once we've conferred with the others... after all, we do still have to clear Alexke's name and bring the wicked developers to justice before we can leave this town."

***

"You--you want me to go away?"

"Yes!" said Thalia. "I mean, no, but--but yes. Please. For me."

"I don't understand," Michael said. "After last night, I thought..." He shook his head. "It's your friends, isn't it? They don't trust me?"

"No," said Thalia. "It--it's not you. It's me." She opened the door a crack, slowly. Her eyes were rimmed with red. "I have a family curse, Michael. It's too complicated to explain in the time we have here, but I can't go out with you any more. Terrible things could happen... and I can't let them. Please understand. We must never see each other again."

Risk I'm willing to take, Michael thought, in his jaunty planeblazing way, but she looked too sad to say it to. And she was right: curse or no curse, there were too many reasons this could never work. He was a half-demon assassin, for fuck's sake. She was a hero. End it before it began, before it was well and truly too late. She was wiser than he was. She was also looking at him. Michael cleared his throat. "Well," he said. "If that's--what you really want. I mean I don't want to cause trouble for you..." That sounded stupid. Michael wasn't thinking clearly. "I mean, uh, take care of yourself, Thalia. If things change, or if you need anything..." This was getting worse and worse. Michael didn't dare kiss her goodbye; who knew what kind of an idiot he'd make out of himself then. "Farewell, Thalia," he said, and escaped into the streets of Edimon.

***

"We're back," announced Melissandra, stepping into the Silver Bullets' hotel suite. "We found them in time--Thalia? Why are you crying?"

"Because I'm never going to see him again," the princess sobbed.

"I thought that was what you wanted!"

"She's usually more together than this," Alderon informed Tyler in a stage whisper.

***

Not that he had the slightest intention of letting her go to the Hanchu Peninsula alone, of course. After all, Michael had already promised Blackbird he'd keep that Rissa chick safe, and it was hardly his fault she and Thalia were traveling together, was it. Yeah, he'd accepted the mission already; what skin would it be off anyone's nose if he kept a little eye out for Thalia while he was at it. Keeping two women alive and well couldn't be any harder than one. What with his planar abilities and assassin's stealth, it should be child's play to tail the group without her noticing him. And if one of the other heroes started getting overly cozy with her, nothing a little poison in the bastard's travel canteen wouldn't--

Michael gave himself a good, sharp mental smack. None of that. Business. And Thalia hadn't technically made him promise he wouldn't follow her, after all, just that he wouldn't ask her out anymore. And she was right. It was better that way. Really. It really was.

Really.

Michael stepped into the nearest bar for a drink.



Name: Jonah Cohen
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Jimmy, Rissa, Brubeck
Title of Post: Weep No More, Alexke

Rissa Minarye sat in a lat-night bar in Edimon, listening to Blue Rondo a la Turk. Jimmy, sitting beside her, had advised her that his contact was a 'heavy-hitter' who wouldn't want to be disturbed when cool jazz was playing. So they waited. That was no problem, the music was good.

When the set ended, an unassuming man, portly and jovial-looking, walked over to them. Jimmy had pointed this out to her as Brubeck, the one who had hired the delivery. "Hello, son," he said to Jimmy. "And to you," tipping his hat to Rissa. "Thank you for your courtesy. Do you have news that will make me smile?"

"It's done," Jimmy said.

"Splendid." Brubeck took a seat. "So, the object of your interest, one Mitchel Ewens. He is indeed an assasin for hire. Reasonably skilled. Currently associated with a still-shadowy organization of like-minded individuals. As I'm sure you have deduced, Ewens is not his real name. He likely has other alternate identities at the ready, so pinning him down will be difficult, if that is your desire. Handing him to you bodily is, I'm afraid... not in the cards." Jimmy, Rissa noticed, was starting to look nervous. Had Brubeck double-crossed them?

"However," Brubeck continued, "I have taken the liberty of doing some looking into one of Mr. Ewens' more recent assignments, and also, I hope you'll forgive me, your own situation." He handed Jimmy an envelope. "This one you may open. I believe it will prove useful in the predicament a friend of yours finds herself in?"

Looking puzzled, Jimmy slit the envelope, took out a parchment and started reading. His eyes widened. He held it where Rissa could also read it.

It was a contract. A pair of brothers from something called Paramon Developers LLC had signed it, in a different colored ink than the rest of the text. They spelled out, in as many words, how they were contracting to have the innkeeper killed, hiring Mitchel ewens to do it, and that they approved an m.o. of having Ewens frame one of the hotel's patrons for the crime.

"Is this real?" Jimmy asked, flabbergasted. "Do people really sign contracts like this for assasinations?"

"Not my field of expertise, but while rare, I understand that one party or another might insist upon it. This level of detail in re the planning is a bit odd, but the contractors may have had reason."

"And the cops would buy this? In court? Why won't these Paramon schmucks just deny it's---"

"Is that a Blood Signature?!?" Rissa said, examining the runes at the bottom of the parchment.

"Very astute, young lady. It is indeed."

"What's a blood whatsis?"

"Blood Signature. It's like, magically adding your personal guarentee. It's used for geases, some kinds of particularly tricky magic transactions, really important deals. It imprints the signer's aura onto the contract to prove it's genuine. A Blood Signature is pretty much impossible to forge!"

"I can assure you that you are correct on that point."

"Maybe my aunt, if Luthien was helping her..." Rissa muttered.

"So..." Jimmy said, putting two and two together, "this is legit evidence? Alexke's off the hook?" Brubeck nodded. "Excellent! Thanks, Mr. Brubeck." The young thief extended his hand, which the forger graciously shook.

"It's been a pleasure, young sir. Be cool."



Name: Alyssa Gulledge
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Melissandra
Title of Post: A Letter Home

‘Dearest Mother, Estellina Anabella Donetta,

‘It is just Horrible of me to not have Written in So Very Long! I am Thoroughly Ashamed of myself. To have caused you any worry is Unforgivable. I promise to Endeavour to increase my Communications. Unfortunately, I will be heading into Uncharted Regions. This may Limit my ability to send News back to you.

I hope this limits letters, but not life! I would be so terribly sad not to see my Mother again…thought Melissandra

‘Since I Left Home, I was Set Upon by brigands. Sadly, Globen, my Companion, died during the Engagement. I arrived Safely at New Trade as you said to do. I found the Silver Bullets, again as You told me to do. What a Delightful group of People they are. You would Especially like Thalia, a Princess, and Rissa Minayre, nobility from Cynystra. However, the Rest of the Group are also Most Pleasant, and Right-Honorable Heroes. While several of the group are Men, My Virtue is never in Doubt, due to their Strict Sense of Morals.

Well, I don’t think Alderon is *that* virtuous, but he certainly doesn’t look at *me* that way. Sigh. I wish *someone* would look at me that way. But then there is Thalia and Michael. They seem to be miserable because they find each other appealing. On the other hand, the devotion and loyalty between Berry and Chloe is admirable. I think I need to talk to Rissa about this love thing. Maybe she understands it better.

‘I have found that although The City was as Fascinating at you suggested, it does have some Social Issues. The City of Edimon is apparently Bigotted against those who are not Pure Human, as I had the Awful Mischance to find. Fortunately, the overriding Goodness and Loyalty of my Compatriots allowed me to Turn Up my Nose at those who were Cruel through Ignorance. The people of this city are Hard People, with Hearts like Lead, cold and dull, while the good people I now Number Amongst have hearts like Diamonds, Radiant with Honor and Valuable to this Sad World.

Melissandra sniffled. I will never tell her about the garbage being thrown at me, and the refused service. She would be horrified! Poor Mother, she wouldn’t understand the cruelty of this world. I don’t understand it myself. Well, since we are leaving soon I won’t have to worry about that kind of behaviour. Oh Dear! I am going to need to get travel clothes so I don’t damage this gorgeous dress Jason made for me! Oh No! I can’t face shopping again. The snickers and catcalls just walking the street to find a map were awful. Maybe the girls would go out and just buy the biggest dress they can find. What is wrong this city anyway?

‘An Unfortunate Incident occurred as we travelled from New Trade to Edimon. Our Carriage was Foully Ambushed by Beast-Men. While the Silver Bullets Quickly and Thoroughly dispatched them, Some Amongst the Bandits kidnapped the Lovely Chloe, Paramour of Berryn. We tried to track The Brigands from the Scene of the Ambush, but we failed to find Her. We travelled on to Edimon in the hopes of finding A Clue.

I sure hope Chloe is all right. It has been several weeks since she was captured. I shudder with fear at what they may do to her. We need to remember to pack extra clothes, good food and a blanket in case she has been treated poorly.

‘Since then Many Things have occurred, including an Unscrupulous Murder for which Alexke, One of our Esteemed Companions, was Abhorrently Framed. However, the Evidence has just Come to Light, clearing Alexke of this Awful Deed. An Unexpected Event in the library let us to believe that We, the Silver Bullets, must head to the Mysterious Peninsula of Hanchu! As such, Beloved Mother, I will be travelling in an Uncharted Region of the World. I am unsure if the Postal System will be able to deliver mail from Somewhere in Hanchu (a joke!).

‘In closing, I hope this missive find you in Good Health and Spirits. Know that I think of You and All that You have Taught Me.

‘Love,
Melissandra Clarabella Annisetta,
Adoring Daughter and Silver Bullet’

There. That should explain everything. Or enough of everything. I wish we were heading towards Saliphon and not Hanchu.



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