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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Storyboard of Ataniel Archives: October IV

Name: Jonah Cohen
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Jimmy & the Silver Bullets
Title of Post: Leather

Things were humming along now. Jimmy and Rissa had returned from their mission, complemented Melissandra on her new dress ("lookin' snazzy" Jimmy had said to her) and reported in on their evidential booty.

After that, it was a little bit of small talk with the new guy, and a quick resolution of Alexke's difficulties with the cops. Jimmy gave her a high five, pleased to see she'd picked up on how to do the gesture. The next thing he knew, to no surprise of his, Sashami was formulating plans for the next stage of things in the Atchoo Peninsula. Wherever the heck that was.

He was a little surprised that her suggestion got a cool reception. Then another surprise: "I sort of know how to use a Cynystran cavalry saber."

Dag. Jimmy's first impressions of Rissa Minarye had been that she was kinda cute - sorta had the geek chic going for her, prim but not bad for a 'risto. Looks could certainly be deceiving. Since then, Rissa had been the one with the major-league macguffin, gone ballistic on one of the brigands, shown off the magic, done pretty darn well for her first ever tour of lookout duty, now she wanted to pack what Jimmy knew to be a bad-ass weapon. This chick is seriously---

"Jimmy?" Sashami said, looking at him impatiently.

"Oh, right. Armor. Yes, that's an excellent idea. Uh, there's just one, well... how do you use that stuff again?"

"You've never worn armor?" she asked, sounding incredulous.

"Sorry. It's never come up before."

"C'mon, Berryn," Alderon said. "Let's find kid stealth here some armor and show him what to do with it."

* * * *

They had found a discreeet shop where the proprieter handed Jimmy some leather armor, in what he called 'The Glub Model'. Alderon showed him where each piece attached, then he went into a dressing room stall, while his teammates sat outside.

"So this Michael guy," Jimmy called out from the booth. "He's, like, Thalia's long lost ex-boyfriend or something?"

"So far as I know, they'd never met before," Berryn said.

"Crud! That sounds like the Thundebolt."

"Come again?" Alderon said.

"The Thunderbolt. It's - well, in all honesty, I never believed in this stuff, but the bards talk about it ion their stories and all. Anyway, it's like love at first sight, but way more intense and harder to fight off. Drives you crazy to think about anyone other than the object of your desire and all that."

"Sounds on the money," Alderon sighed.

"Arawn knows it sure seems like Thalia's brain leaked out of her ears sometime in the past 24 hours. Are you done in there, yet?"

"I dunno guys. Maybe this whole armored and dangerous m.o. isn't for me. I look stupid."

"Agreed to it quickly enough when Sashami suggested it," Alderon muttered, smiling.

Berryn smiled back, then said: "Stop being vain and get your butt out here."

Jimmy opened the door, looking embarassed. "I feel like I should be headed to an S&M bar or something, what with all this leather."

"Don't be silly. Can you move alright, no loss of dexterity?" Berryn asked.

"Yeah, it seems fine. I tried scaling the wall inside the booth a bit and that was ok."

"How bout your gear?" Alderon said. "No problems quickly getting to your weapons or anything else?"

"Nah, it all seems to fit."

"Good, then let's pay for it," Berryn said, and then he switched to his Dangerous Necromancer Voice; "and get back to the hotel. Someone needs to be disciplined!"

"I'll get the riding crop," Alderon added.

"Ha ha. You guys will pay for this."

Name: Lora Redish
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Sashami and Alderon
Title of Post: Chocolate and Alcohol; SOMEthing's got to cure a broken heart, right?

The shopping trip had been successful. The armorer, a kindly fellow who acted like he probably had a teenage daughter of his own, made a well-fitted breastplate for Melissandra, hopefully averting future clothing crises for the troll. Rissa bought an elvish longsword, and true to her word, handled it fairly well. Sashami was still trying to figure out how somebody could be strong enough to wield a longsword in one hand yet not strong enough to wear a chainmail shirt. Perhaps it would interfere with her spellcasting. Sashami had heard that elfin chain didn't have that problem, but had no firsthand experience in the matter. At Rissa's suggestion, they also picked up some fudge for Thalia. Rissa said that was good for heartache.

They were walking back to the GR3 Inn now, Melissandra reminiscing about her father. It had been too long since Sashami had seen her father as well. She hoped she could do some things he would be proud of this journey. "I should call my parents," Rissa agreed, her brown eyes a bit distant. "Tomorrow morning, Tyler and I will visit the Edimon Society of Science... talk to Dr. Senna, and plan a route to the Hanchu Peninsula. Tonight I have... personal business to attend to."


Thalia sat on the sofa, miserably twisting her handkerchief back and forth between her hands. Alexke and the boys were playing a card game or something, but Thalia couldn't concentrate on it. Alderon came over and flopped across the arm of the sofa. "Rough day, huh?" he said sympathetically.

"You could say that," she murmured, blinking back tears.

"Wanna talk about it?" He produced a flask from his travel pack. "Montasi rum. Good for scurvy, frostbite and crappy relationship issues." He gave her his crooked grin, not entirely succeeding in hiding his genuine fraternal concern for her. "Can't hurt... could help."

Name: Kristin L'Kar Andersen
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s):Rissa, Miyrr and Karellion Minarye
Title of Post:A Letter Home (Annoying Parents Remix)

Rissa sat down and pulled an oversized compact out of her satchel. She rummaged about some more and pulled out a red wax pencil, then opened the compact. A mirror winked back at her on one side, and on the other was a miniature of the Minarye home-- more of a fortified village than a proper house, looking for all the world like a caravansary that had gotten rebellious and decided to be a castle when it grew up-- with a magical sky behind it that showed the time in Najika. The little sun was setting; tiny stars were beginning to sparkle in the darkening blue. Her parents would be dressing for dinner. Rissa set the compact on the bed, mirror-half-down, put her pencil to the mirror, and wrote in her angular, precise Cynystran script. Mother? Father put the book in my things again.

She watched her writing sink into the shifting silver depths of the mirror. After a moment, a reply swam up out of them, in her mother's elegant cursive. Why, hello, dear! We are all well. Your younger brother is finally over his latest bout of colic. How are you? Have you met any nice boys?

Rissa rolled her eyes and wrote back as soon as her mother's reply faded. Very funny, Mother.

Well, what kind of a greeting is that? Honestly.

Rissa sighed, then scribbled a rather sarcastic response to each of her mother's opening remarks. Hello, Mother. I'm glad to hear it. Thank goodness, maybe everyone in Najika will actually get some sleep now. I'm fine. Why, yes, there are thieves and pirates and necromancers of the most disreputable and lecherous sort in my adventuring party-- imagine! I'm learning the most interesting new words! That was as close as she was EVER going to get to mentioning that she'd stood watch while someone broke into a house. And gone to a thieves' bar. And bought a sword. And killed a bandit. And cast mind-affecting enchantments on a guard, let's not forget that...

That's nice, dear. I'm sure you can teach them a few interesting words yourself-- I remember what you said about Professor Zachariaz after that essay exam. Are any of these reprobates single?

Rissa was especially not going to mention Jimmy in anything but a generic sense. Cynystran, very cute, her own age? No way. Not mentioning Jimmy. Particularly not his agile, nonchalant flip over a wall she couldn't have gotten past unless she'd grown wings. Nor his cheerful patience with a complete amateur. Nope. Nobody here but us chickens... I'll bring the Silver Bullets home for Yuletide. Father can grill all the boys mercilessly while you try to feed them half the county and Alexi embarrasses me with stories about the time I tried to ride Grandfather's warhorse. Can we get back to the subject, PLEASE?

There was a long pause. Knowing her mother, it reflected a sigh on the other end. It's not what I would have chosen for you, either, but your father's made up his mind. Hold on.

Now the handwriting was bigger, bolder, more careless. Hello, Reese. How is life as an adventurer? Better than as a Cynystran wife, I imagine. Why these people think they have to buy their women is beyond me. Particularly when it's so easy to steal one.

Rissa could just hear the playful smacking her mother would be giving her father for THAT remark. She almost grinned. Almost. Father, you put it in my satchel. Without even telling me!

You're the heir. It's yours. And it doesn't belong moldering on the bottom shelf in your basement workshop. Which is where I found it, I might add.

Give it to Cyn! she scribbled angrily.

Oh yes, give Cynric an antique, the last of its kind in the world. Cynric, who destroys everything he touches. He's broken three goblets, two plates and an alabaster vase so far this week.

It's just because he doesn't watch what he's doing, Rissa pleaded. They'd run afoul of assassins in the first city they'd visited. Her luck just wasn't that bad. She had to get rid of it.

Whereas YOU notice everything. NO, Rissa.

Well, give it to Devvie, then!

Your Aunt Khyri says Deveret has a startling amount of magical potential. He'll probably take after your Grandfather Derek, gods help us all, as soon as he can point and say "purple!" No.

I don't want it! It's dishonorable. Or immoral. Or SOMETHING. It's not FAIR!

Sometimes honorable and moral are not on the same side. And sometimes neither one is worth a damn when people are getting hurt. LIFE ISN'T ALWAYS FAIR. Rissa bit her lip, looking nervously at the suddenly sharp elven words. After a long moment of silence they faded, and her father's normal Cynystran cursive floated up into view. Reese, you enjoyed your lessons. You study anatomy at school, for Fenmarel's sake.

I like anatomy, Rissa wrote sulkily. Cynystra could use more female doctors, you know.

Fine. Use it as an exceptionally good anatomy textbook. Use it as a pre-marital aid. Use it as a doorstop, for all I care. But it's YOURS. Rissa's shoulders sagged, weighed down with an undesired duty. Besides, her father continued, if you really choose to waste five YEARS of your childhood-- if you're really callous enough to let the art vanish from all mortal knowledge-- then all you have to do is not read the book.

Rissa glanced at the ancient text sticking out of her satchel. Absentmindedly, her free hand smoothed down a peeling corner of the cover. As if he knew exactly what she was doing, more of her father's handwriting floated into view. It should be simple enough to leave it alone... if you're really sure.

Rissa froze, then shoved the satchel away with an abrupt violence that would have startled almost anyone who knew her. It flew off the edge of the bed and overturned, its contents tumbling to the floor. The book in question hit the carpet with a strangely resounding thud, and a verse of the Prayer rang reproachfully through her head as if the impact had shaken it loose. Never in anger, never in fear...

We all miss you. Be safe, Reese. And be careful.

She ran her shaking hands over her face, then sighed and kissed the mirror. Her ghostly imprint of affection sank beneath the quicksilver surface, flying home to her family as she snapped the compact shut. She got up, shoved her disordered belongings back in the satchel, kicked it under the bed, and flopped back down.

Rissa glared at the ceiling. "I hate being curious," she told it, her breath beginning to whistle faintly in her throat. Damnit. She'd set off an attack. Sustained strain of any kind. Damnit, damnit, damnit. "And I hate being responsible. And you know, for once, I think I hate being calm." She reached behind her, yanked a pillow over her face, held it with both arms to muffle the noise, and screamed her head off.

Name: Lora Redish & Kristin L'Kar Andersen
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): The Cynystran chicks
Title of Post: Rites of Passage, Part I

Sashami was shadowboxing in a spare corner of the hotel suite, her hair tied back in a sweaty ponytail, trying to concentrate on the moves. It had been an eventful few days, and she would have liked to relax with the team over their card game, but Sashami was lightly built for a War Woman, and she had to stay in shape if she was to succeed. And she'd missed most of the combats that had gone down here in Edimon.

Then she heard a faint, smothered scream from the back bedroom, the one Rissa had gone into.

Sashami grabbed her greataxe and sprang through the door in one motion, dreading to find the young bard suffocated in her bed and another damnable portal trace showing where the assassin had been. To her relief, Rissa seemed to have her face buried in her pillow of her own accord. She jerked her head up at the older girl's none-too-quiet entry, though. Her eyes were large and wild, but not teary. "I... apologize for intruding," Sashami said awkwardly. "I--heard your shout, and thought there might be trouble."

"There is," Rissa sighed, "but it's nothing a giant axe can help with, I'm afraid."

"Oh." Sashami looked at it in her hand, and smiled a little. She probably did look a little silly, she conceded, carrying a polearm around in her sweatshorts. "Well, it doesn't help with most problems, to be honest, but I feel a bit better facing them knowing I have it, if that makes sense."

"More than you'd think." Rissa managed a wry grin. "Could I borrow it the next time I talk to my father?"

"Anytime." Sashami leaned the weapon carefully against the wall, and sat down. "What's the problem?"

The young bard leaned her chin on her knees. "Have you ever had a beloved authority figure want you to be someone... or something... you weren't?"

Sashami thought about that. "Not I, but one of my brothers quarreled often with our father on that account. Does your father disapprove of your travels?"

"No... it's my career." Rissa sighed. "He wants me to take my education in a path that I'm not happy with. I have grave doubts about this science's necessity and morality, but he only sees that I would excel at it and serve others by doing so." She smiled ruefully at Sashami. "We're both right. Stalemate. So we argue a lot."

"Aye," Sashami said quietly. "I... do remember women's careers seemed to be a bit prescribed, in Cynystra."

"Oh, he's not like that. He lets me do all the independent tomboy things I want, really." Rissa peered at the taller girl curiously. "Are you Cynystran?"

"Well, by birth," she said. "I was raised by a Tharric warlord after our merchanter sank."

"You're from a House, then?" Rissa was even more surprised. "Which one?"

"Oh, you wouldn't have heard of us," she said self-consciously. "House Manan?" Rissa shook her head. "We were always a small clan, and my parents and both uncles were killed in the disaster... I'm not even sure there's anything left of the House at all, anymore. I haven't been back there since."

"Oh. Oh, I'm so sorry." Rissa pulled her knees up to her chest and hugged them, looking at Sashami with hesitant sympathy. "I guess I should be glad I have my parents, instead of annoyed with them. Was... the warlord a good man? Is that who taught you to fight?"

"Indeed," she nodded. "I mourn my parents still, but Ahvo raised me well in their stead. I am on my pledge quest now, and if I return to him victorious, I will be a War Woman of our people." Sashami held herself a little straighter at that prospect. "I would like to do that in his lifetime. It would bring honor to his ancestors, and he and his sons have ever treated me well."

"Wow," Rissa said admiringly. "That sounds impressive. I wish I could do that. What exactly is a pledge quest?

"A rite of passage, more or less... a transition into adulthood, a young warrior's first heroic venture."

"Is it something you can do in company, or does it have to be done alone?"

"No, young people who would prove themselves generally travel together. I suppose in Tharric terms, the Silver Bullets are pledge brethren... though Alderon would never admit it. He claims he did his 'manhood thing' before he ever met us." Sashami rolled her eyes. "But between you and me... I don't think I believe him."

Rissa laughed, blushing furiously. "I have not the slightest idea of how to tell, but he'd say he had even if he hadn't. I know nearly nothing about men, but I know THAT much."

Sashami nodded. She'd seen Berryn with Chloe, and Alderon with just about anyone, and now Michael with Princess Thalia. "I think you may be onto something there."

"I should be. My aunt told me that two years ago."

"To Family, then."

"To Family."

Name:Douglass Barre
Plotline: Coming of Age
Character(s): Ty Lord
Title of Post:Less Than A Week And I'm Already Behind...

Everyone in this party is so... busy, Ty thought. And they talk an awful lot.

Ty sighed.

It seemed like bar time. A drink or two while he waited. Today it was a troll arm, so regeneration would keep both his liver and his wits in good shape for the inevitable "all aboard" to Hanchu.

Ty sidled into a nearby bar and sat down.

"Vanilla mead," he ordered.

The young man sitting two stools down turned. "Tyler Lord?"

Ty looked up into the face of his old friend. "Mikey?"

The assassin smiled and strode over, taking the empty seat next to him. "Damn, it's been too long, Ty. What brings you to Edimon?"

"Still, uh, working on that... um... thing. Dag, it's been, what? Two years? You still in the housecleaning biz?"

"Kind of," Michael said, a twitchy frown at the corners of his mouth. "I'm taking a sabbatical to do some delivery work."

"And that's so bad? I remember the summer when we worked at that stupid wooden reel factory, I'm sure some stupid 'Bring me a flower from the peak of Mt. Crumpet' sidequest can't be nearly that bad!"

Ty was starting to relax for the first time since he hit Edimon. It was nice to see Michael again, even if it was only a distraction. Still, it was weird to see his old mate so bugged. What could get under the skin of a guy like Michael?

Ty blinked. Of course. "No, don't tell me... you have girl trouble!"

"Then I won't tell you."

"Dag, man... you should come with me. I just joined... uh... at least I think I joined, it's kind of a disorganized group dynamic... this band of heroes. Couple of cute girls, not that they, uh, noticed me or anything, but hey, with your charm..."

"Can't. Got this job. Got to take some folks up to Hanchu."

Ty blinked. It was too weird to be a coincidence.

"Are they going to rescue someone?"

"Don't tell me..."

"I won't," Ty laughed. "But this whole thing just became a lot more interesting. Do they know about..."

"The day job? Yeah."

"Who cares about that... do they know about G?"

Michael fixed Ty with a dark look. "No. And they aren't going to find out."

Ty's smile faltered a bit. He had forgotten how dangerous Michael really was. "Right, no problem, Mikey. Understood." Ty figured keeping that incident secret would at least keep Michael from being too loose with his own spotty past. He decided to lighten the mood a little.

"Well, at least you'll be leaving that girl trouble behind for a little while!" he said cheerily.

Go on to the October Archives, Part 5

'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

Native American house pictures * American Indian costumes * Tribal art design * Nanticoke * Pipe carving