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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Storyboard of Ataniel Archives: October III

Name: Lora Redish
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s):Lowe, Brock, Sashami and the Bullets
Title of Post: Killing some more time on interpersonal stuff till the CA fires are out...

"An Edimon assassins' guild," Ellis Lowe said dryly. "Now who could have guessed a brutal and apparently motiveless murder clumsily pinned on a 14-year-old girl might be the work of some kind of professional."

Detective Brock flushed angrily, but the lawyer had him over a barrel this time, and there was nothing he could really do to save face at this point except collar those SOB's at Paramon. Being a cop was a goddamn hard job, and one just about nobody appreciated. If Brock had let that girl off and she killed somebody else, you could just bet it would be the ECPD catching hell for being too lenient with juvenile delinquents. It wasn't Brock who slashed the damn police budget. "Thanks," he said shortly in the direction of the oldest of the kids, and stuffed the document into his shirt front. "I'll do all of us a favor and not ask how you're involved with these assassins that they'd want to frame you for murder. Stay out of trouble. We've obviously got enough of it here without your help." He stomped off, muttering to himself.


"Excellent," said Sashami, pleased. Alexke's name was cleared, and the evil developers would face justice. Perhaps they would even be forced to pay compensation to the old innkeeper's son. As long as Jimmy and Alexke stuck to pinching evidence against wrongdoers, their profession seemed honorable enough after all. "Then we can leave for Hanchu at will."

Thalia sniffled a little at that thought.

"Thank you very much for your help, Mr. Lowe," Rissa said politely. "What do we owe you?"

"Nah, I'm a public defender, kid. The city pays me. Besides, you did most of the work." Lowe snapped his briefcase shut. "Nice to get one with a happy ending now and then. Take care of yourselves."

Melissandra cleared her throat as the lawyer left. "Before we set off, perhaps we might lay in a few supplies... I'm afraid I didn't bring any travel clothes with me, and I'd hate to ruin Jason's dress."

"I've been thinking about that also," Sashami said. "Would you consider a breastplate, Melissandra? A lady's breastplate of course," she said hurriedly, "in a fine design. But the wilderness can be dangerous, and it is well to be protected. And this is Edimon, after all... we could find any arms we wanted here, probably even an elfin mail shirt for Rissa if she wanted one." No question as to whether the young bard could afford it. Sashami had heard of House Minarye even as a child. "Even Jimmy and Alexke would do better with hardened leather to protect themselves. What say you?"

Name: Eric Gasior
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Alexke
Title of Post: Er...

Alexke was quiet for a moment. Better silence than stammering. She hadn't been following the clothes conversation, she didn't understand Melissandra's obsession with her appearance, until she heard her name.

"I prefer soft leather," she replied, controlling her voice.

"You would do better with more protection," Sashami continued. "We could find something you would find comfortable."

"Comfort isn't the problem. It's motion," Alexke paused again ,"and if I need more protection I screwed up. The armor wouldn't help." She trusted her companions but withheld her other reason. Back home if she landed in a fight surviving it would be enough, but she'd loose face relying on armor instead of cunning. Reputation was her best weapon. If the others thought she meant backstabbing she'd live with it.

Name: Lora Redish
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Sashami
Title of Post: Did you just diss me?

Sashami frowned. It was great arrogance to dismiss needing protection in combat as tantamount to failure. She might have accepted such arrogance from Melissandra, who had immense strength and regenerative powers, but from this skinny fourteen-year-old, evidently the worst fighter in the group, it rankled. Perhaps that was all the girl meant, though, Sashami reminded herself. Being poor at fighting, perhaps she felt she had already lost the battle if she was in hand-to-hand combat in the first place. It was good to know your weaknesses, and her confidence could always improve with time.

So Sashami didn't say anything at all. She continued to watch Alexke, though, with redoubled cautiousness now.

Name: Kristin L'Kar Andersen
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Rissa, Jimmy, Berryn
Title of Post: See, I'm Here! See?!

Rissa heard someone turning onto their street and cocked her ears at the sound, concentrating. She promptly said something unladylike under her breath. There wasn't any mistaking the sound of boots like that-- not when they were walking like they owned the place.

That was a guard. Just what they needed. More trouble with the legal authorities of Edimon.

I think the situation actually calls for a little overkill, honestly, Rissa thought, scrambling frantically for an appropriate verse. She'd never cast this spell before.

A memory popped into her head of the first time she'd ever seen her mother in fancy dress-- peeking down at a holiday party from the top of the stairs, well after her six-year-old self was supposed to be in bed, not daring to stay for long but lingering anyway, nearly hypnotised...

Very softly, she sang under her breath�in Cynystran, where it actually rhymed, instead of Dalen where it didn't�

"Dawn light over playful waves,
Perfect, fleeting glimpse...
Of Mother in blue,
With white lace like foam, laughing."

She glanced into the nearest window-- and went wide-eyed as her face reshaped itself, the small imperfections of proportion and texture vanishing. The stupid wispy tendrils that never would stay put in her braid curled themselves into charming little love-locks around her face, framing large eyes as sweet and enticing as Talarian chocolate. The wrinkles and dust on her traveling dress disappeared as it tightened, very subtly, through the bodice and waist.

"Wow," she whispered. "I'm as pretty as Thalia." She cocked her head at herself and smiled alluringly. "...Well, all right, if your taste runs to big-eyed librarians..."

Which, if she'd set up the spell correctly, this guard's DID.

Boots behind her. "Miss? May I ask you what you're doing here at this time of night?" a voice said, in suspicious and only marginally polite tones.

Rissa turned around, humming softly, and hit him with the
Charm Person.

* * *

There was a long conversation, by the end of which she was SERIOUSLY pitching her voice to carry to her "cousin" over the wall behind her. No, she was perfectly safe, her cousin would be along any moment. No, no need to find him, she had a tiny gift with magic and had let him know where she was, once she realized she was lost. No, she wasn't cold, but it was sweet of him to offer his jacket. No, she wasn't staying in town for very long, but this was her address if he cared to pay his respects. No, she could not, regrettably, go anywhere for coffee, because her cousin was worried and had told her to stay right here.

The guard finally, reluctantly, left. Humming a tune he hadn't known half an hour ago, and wouldn't remember half an hour hence. With not the slightest idea that anything was wrong.

Jimmy appeared shortly thereafter, looking amused.

"Were you trying to stall with the Tipsy Tourist routine?"

Rissa blinked at him. She had not the slightest clue what that was. "The what?"

"Never mind. Thanks for signaling 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."

"Oh, good," she said, a little distractedly. She glanced at the window again as they passed it.

Normal, boring, bookish Rissa. Plain brown eyes. Stupid wisps at her temples. Ink stains on her hands.

Damn, Rissa sighed to herself.

* * * * * *

"Oh," Rissa said, blinking at Sashami. Boy, I seem to do a lot of that these days. Sheltered is NOT the word. Thanks, Grandfather, she thought, rather sarcastically.

Armor. There were several good reasons she should not wear armor at all, particularly not anything as heavy as chain. Rissa thought about the book that Detective Brock had found in her satchel, and carefully kept the scowl that wanted to form off of her face. She needed to call home.

"I� might be better off without anything than I would with. I'm agile, but I'm not particularly strong." Not for a sustained effort, certainly. "I know spells that make me very hard to hit, and I promise I'll use them from now on," she offered quickly, apologetically, afraid that Sashami would think less of her for not being willing to wear armor. With a shy, conspiratorial smile, she added, "And if it helps... I, um... I sort of know how to use a Cynystran cavalry saber. Father says it's a lot like an elven longsword. If we could find elven chain here, I'm sure we can find one of those."

Berryn grinned at her. "Sort of, as in you're not very good... or sort of, as in you're not SUPPOSED to be very good?"

Rissa rolled her eyes to the heavens in wry amusement. "A girl using a sword? Are you mad? We might HURT ourselves. They barely let us have embroidery scissors."

"That wasn't an answer."

"It wasn't meant to be," Rissa said sweetly, and smiled.

Name: Alyssa Gulledge
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Melissandra, Sashami, Rissa, Frod
Title of Post: Armorer with a heart of gold

Melissandra quirked a smile at Sashami. �While I would hope that a breastplate was of fine quality, it does not have to be �lady-like�. If we are to go to war, I *will* be a warrior. It is simply that when not *in* combat I try to be the lady my mother raised me to be. And politeness is never a fault, even in the heat of combat. Unfortunately, I could not possibly afford to have a breastplate made. But thank you of thinking of my welfare. That is very kind of you.�

Sashami, already disturbed by Alexke�s refusal to consider armor, and annoyed by Rissa�s refusal, was further surprised by Melissandra�s response. But then, the troll girl had �dispatched� a small group of bandits on her way to New Trade, had taken care of two bandits during the carriage ambush, protected Thalia and Rissa from a golem, and did hold her own against the gargoyles. Once she settled her inner turmoil over allowing �the monster� to run free, perhaps she would become a fine, albeit lady-like, warrior.

Sashami turned to Rissa. �Well?�

�I can cover the finances.�


Sashami, Rissa and Melissandra approached the Frod the armorer�s shop, third one of the day. This time, they had their strategy worked out. Sashami and Rissa entered the store.

Sashami spoke to Frod. �We have a rather unusual friend, who needs to have a fitted piece of armor. Would you be willing to do the work?�

�Unusual how?�

�She is a half-troll.�

�NO! No, no, no!�

Rissa pulled out her money pouch and jingled it slightly.

�Well, maybe. She won�t eat me, will she?�

Rissa rolled her eyes. �That is completely ridiculous! The woman has better manners than anyone we have met in this city.�

�Fine, but you�ll be paying double on top of the extra metal it takes.�

Sashami leaned out the door �Come in Melissandra.�

Melissandra entered the store. She turned to the shop owner who was looking up at her with wide eyes and a bit of a tremble. With her deepest and best curtsey, she said �Hello, Frod. My name is Melissandra Clarabella Anisetta and I am so pleased that you are willing to fit me for a breastplate. With your fine armor to protect me, I will be better able to help rescue our companion, stolen from us in our journey to Edimon. Thank you so kindly for seeing me.�

Frod�s eyes bulged even further out of his head, although the trembling was gone. He thought about laughing at this ridiculous thing, but realized that she was a head and a half taller, and her arms were mighty large. He looked at her face, and into the largest blue eyes he had ever encountered. He saw he lip begin trembling as he remained staring at her. He glanced back at the other two who were glaring at him.

Well he thought She will look less ridiculous in armor. I can at least do that for her.

�I think I can accommodate you, Miss Melissandra�

Melissandra�s eyes went wide and huge smile appeared. Frod almost reconsidered when he saw her fangs emerge, but as he looked into her eyes he saw true human delight. Well, this one will be good for a bar story �The day I fit the Trollette for armor�


Frod spoke to Melissandra as he began taking measurements, �Young Miss, if I might be so bold, how did your parents get together? It seems� uh� unusual for a human and a troll to� um� be together and I have never heard of a half-troll before.�

Melissandra frowned at the uncouth request but decided to forgive Frod he forthrightness. �It is a romantic story really.�

Sashami and Rissa listened in as well.

�Mother was travelling with a very small entourage through the mountains towards Saliphon, when this big troll leapt out at her group. He roared and made threatening gestures, and her two bodyguards ran off, and her three maids fainted. She was so aghast that anyone could be so rude, she took her diary, walked up to this troll and *bap* hit him on the nose. Grkkknrrr, the troll, was completely startled that this slight human woman hit him, not with a sword or spell, but a piece of paper, and then continued to stand there glaring at him. He spoke to her, in Saliphonion, �Lady, why did you hit me on the nose like that?� �Because you were inexcusably rude! You caused my maids to faint, and now they will never get those dresses clean, and you made my men-at-arms run off, and now I will have to finish my travels unaccompanied and unprotected. You were simply rude, I tell you!� Daddy couldn�t believe that she was talking to him, instead of screaming, running or attacking. �I could go with you, OK?� �Well, I guess you are better than nothing.��

Melissandra smiled �You should have heard them tell the story. They would do dramatic re-enactments for me to make me laugh. Well, obviously during the rest of their trip, they fell in love, and settled down and had me, sixteen years ago.� She looked down at her feet.

�I miss them. My father solidified about 2 years ago, and I haven�t seen my mother or my home in a month.�

A huge teardrop began the long descent towards the ground, splashing on an unsuspecting Frod. He looked up at this woman and suddenly realized that for all her size and appearance that this was a child. And she was homesick. �Well, young Miss, if you were made because your parents loved each other, then you are worth a whole lot more to this world than most other people.�


�Let�s try that fir once more, young Miss. Up and over� tighten the straps� there. That fits very nicely.� Frod waited for comments, hoping that none of the three women would mention his sentimental touch.

Melissandra looked at her armor. They finally found someone who not only, out fitted her, but even carted enough to talk to her. And then, on top of that, he engraved the breastplate with one very large heart intertwining with a smaller one. She looked up misty-eyed and smiled her huge grin. �Thank you� was all she could get past the blockage in her throat. She gave up on trying to speak, and just picked up Frod for a big, but gentle, hug. �I know that was rude, but I can�t say thank you enough.�

Frod, embarrassed by all of the emotions, just shrugged and said, �Any time, Miss. And if anyone else in this city dares to give you guff, you just send �em to me. I�ll see to it that they behave.�


�P.S. Mother, not everyone in Edimon is awful. You just have to look really hard for the good ones.�

Go on to the October Archives, Part 4

'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

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