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The Book of Ataniel

DATE: Tuesday, July 29, 1997

"Jack wished he had Ebreth's way with women."

You mean you wish every time you went near one, something tried to kill her?...


DATE: Monday, July 28, 1997

New Storyboard Term Defined:

Skeeve: [verb; origin-- from Evan's AD&D game, skeeve (a person behaving in an amusing, random and weirdly oblivious fashion), a derivation of the proper name "Steve"]

a) to drop hints in a storyboard post without really knowing the ultimate outcome of the plotline they affect;
b) to similarly drop purposefully nebulous hints, so that others may fill in details as they see fit.

Usage: "Okay... do all these names have something in common, pre-planned, or are you just skeeving there, too?" (Kris to Doug re: the list of names in the Dead College)

DATE: Monday, July 28, 1997

Well, that was easy. Now we know who the traitor is. Khyrisse, who never even met Threnody, is obviously an evil illithid impostor. The case is solved. Let's call Officer Novoa. (:


DATE: Monday, July 28, 1997

Oops. *grin* Trust Khyrisse to ruin the curve. Oh, well; Khyri was never solidly in the good guy camp in temperament, anyway...

Khyrisse's favorite Sunfighter: Threnody.

DATE: Sunday, July 27, 1997

A Litmus Test

Doug and I noticed the other day that the only people who were especially interested in Threnody, as opposed to other Sunfighter incarnations, were villains (Evil Max, Wyvern, Edyric, Doug...) Other people, though they may not have anything AGAINST Threnody, just never particularly identified with her in comparison with some of the others.

So, now that the storyboard is being deluged with people who may or may not be villains, I'd like to share a simple villain-detecting mechanism: ask someone "Who was your favorite Sunfighter?" If they say "Threnody", they're up to no good.

This has been a public service announcement. (:


DATE: Wednesday, July 23, 1997

"I am not chaste. I am discreet."


DATE: Tuesday, July 22, 1997

Hey Jonah:

And somewhat to his chagrin, a lot of people seem very interested in hearing Todd McGee's opinion on various matters...

I doubt anyone had a stranger request for the wise advice of Praxis than Flicker did. (: (If that doesn't make sense, you haven't read my AFYR Chronicle yet...)


DATE: Tuesday, July 22, 1997

I actually have the live version of "Stockton Gala Days", Laura (it's on the Maniacs' "Unplugged" CD.) Good choice, but I actually think there are even better ones for poor ole Shannon-- "I'm Not Sorry" by the Cranberries (bonus: Dolores O'Riordan's heavy Irish accent) or even better yet, "Sad Sad World" by Sheryl Crow. You'd swear it was written about her and Alain.

Sunfighter (the collective lot of them) might need more than one tune, too; "Sunfighter" of course, but there's also the highly fitting and gorgeous "Sunny Came Home" by Shawn Colvin.

At the corner of St. Paul and Centre streets is an apartment building called "Waterloo Place". I drive by it every day. Eerie.

Elsewhere in the post-Bane geography-- how fare things in the Orient?

A culture that fostered honor, restraint and thoughtfulness didn't stop Shikintu from being hit by Bane the same as everywhere else. Moreover, the shock of such dishonorable evil led Shikintu to some of the highest post-Madness suicide rates in Ataniel; they've even got a ritual for such unpleasant business there.

Nonetheless, once the smoke cleared, the country was probably doing better than most, for a few reasons. While the country did have its own gods, who of course perished in the big Ragnarok, most of the country's religions survive intact. They were largely based on philosophies created by mortals (think Confucianism, Taoism, etc.). Moreover, the popular belief in reincarnation has helped some people deal with the guilt etc. of the Madness; it's a convenient way to work off a lot of bad karma at once. (More than a few folks expect to be coming back as cockroaches.)

One of Ataniel's oldest civilizations, yet lacking Diaria's bunker mentality, Shikintu has the know-how to rebuild, though of course this takes a good deal of time. Honor has given many of the surviving rulers a sense of noblesse oblige that's gotten them working hard to the end of getting society back on its feet.

And somewhat to his chagrin, a lot of people seem very interested in hearing Todd McGee's opinion on various matters...

DATE: Wednesday, July 9, 1997

Question of the Day:

Why is it that when I go read through all the new encyclopedia entries, I bother to look under "X" each time?

DATE: Tuesday, July 1, 1997

Doug thinks I should put my Shilree commentary on the bulletin board for everyone to appreciate, so here goes!

Our current hypothesis is probably that "Ariath" is Shilree, but that's just because that's our default hypothesis every time someone shows up for no particular reason.

"I have now saved the day, for mysteriously, I am really--Shilree!"
"Pay up, Khyrisse."
"Oh, darn it, Flicker. I thought for *sure* you were wrong this time."
"Wait, you--you guys aren't surprised?"


DATE: Monday, June 30, 1997


For Lotus and Edyric, I nominate Melissa Etheridge's "Similar Features", angrily fantasizing about a lost lesbian lover. It's not an exact fit, of course, but the emotion seemed about right; besides, Melissa Etheridge looks a lot like Edyric on that particular album cover (IMO).


DATE: Friday, June 27, 1997

Wouldn't it be cool if:

There was a three CURSE limit on Ataniel, as well as a three resurrection limit and a three wish limit? Then, after the third curse, evil villains who tried to CURSE you would be the ones to implode! Ha ha ha!

Sorry, Threnody moment.


SENDER: The Evil Dougmaster
DATE: Thursday, June 26, 1997

Deathless, in order of pain-in-the-ass-ness:

1. Sheepherder. Very pleasant, reincarnates people when they need it. It's their own fault that they can't deal with having a head that can double as a helmet.

2. Sunfighter. Subject to change depending on incarnation.

3. Magnate. He's not evil, but he's willing to try it for the right price. It was his idea to plunk Trade down in the middle of Ataniel in the first place.

4. Arturian. "Do not Free Demon." Yeah, that candy-red button... sooo tempting... Oh, and he also leased the tarasque with option to release-on-a-rampage.

5. Ti'Ar'Na. Damn, but you can't take her anywhere. One wonders how KH actually got Tiall to trust him, let alone do what he said. Spite incarnate.

DATE: Thursday, June 26, 1997

None of you are gods, space dragons, Deathless (okay, except Flicker,
but he's been one of the pleasantly innocuous ones)...

Hey, I'll have you know, Flicker is one of only two Bitches from Hell among the Deathless...


DATE: Saturday, June 21, 1997

Say, in keeping with the Shannon/Natalie Merchant theme, there's a good Shannon In Exile song on her MTV Unplugged album: You'll Never Know (Stockton Gala Days).

I'll send it to Jonah when I send him the other songs he's been looking for.


DATE: Friday, June 20, 1997

Update: The Lower Planes

The lower planes are currently having interesting times. About half of the Abyss is currently under contention and/or siege following the execution of Rath, Brionwy, Draize, Corrigar, Lu Yueh, Tou Mu, No Cha, Renjhys, Sranja, and Lishain, the ten lesser and greater gods of the Abyss, and the chain reactions of warfare and violence that ensued. As if that were not enough, the death of Monas Light-Bringer has thrown Hell into disarray (although the disarray of devils pales in comparison to that of demons), and opened it to assaults from the Abyss. The upshot of all of this is that demons are starting to spill into Ataniel--no organized invasion this, but a chaotic series of incursions by minions of any of hundreds of demon lords with thousands of seemingly random agendas, primarily directed against one another. Sturtevant, where they seem to be emanating from, is the only country that is really being hard hit by the Demontide.

Of the ten slain divine powers of the Abyss, Sranja (a lesser goddess of psionic exploitation with an extremely illegal Diari following) is the only one whose empire has not fallen completely: demonic society is strongly matriarchal (in that demons don't know or care who their fathers are, not in any feminist sense of the word), and Sranja was the only of the dead female demon queens with a child powerful enough to defend her realms. Draize's brother Ansakir is successfully maintaining about half of his brother's empire. Other than that, the whole place is one huge anarchic mess.

Brionwy's two daughters are still alive, incidentally. Anjanxtpa is pretty much a wifty evil bimbo. She kind of goes out riding with bad-ass demon lords and giggles speciously while they commit atrocities. Ailonwy is a dominatrix with attitude. She's got black hip boots with spike heels. She's got a copper bra. She's got a palace full of sex slaves and tortured men and, currently, seventeen and a half planes of the Abyss. She knows how to use all these things. She is not, however, even half as crafty as her mother was.

DATE: Wednesday, June 18, 1997

Conversation with my sister back during the e-mail campaign:

Sister: So what's your e-mail campaign about?
Laura: I don't really know yet. It's kind of mysterious. But there's this really great waitress I think is interested in me.
Sister: (pause) Laura, you've got this Y chromosome thing down pat.


DATE: Monday, June 16, 1997

Jonah, I don't think we freed Talakan. He was trapped in the Computor, and you smashed the monitor. I think his soul, or at least the mechanized backup version thereof (Psyiri toasted the original), is still in there. Although it may not be tormented anymore, since we destroyed the artifact it was being used to power.


SENDER: Khyrisse
DATE: Sunday, June 15, 1997

I'm so PROUD... I'm the first non-villain on the roster of the Bitches from Hell... *snif*

(And just in passing, I'd like to share with you all the weirdest Shannon and Khyrisse moment ever...)

During A Recent Conversation Involving the Dalencian Summit (Among Other Things):

Khyrisse: I could have done without the mockery. THAT was in damn poor taste.
Shannon: And continuing to wear yuir wedding ring wasn't? (Shannon grins friendily.)
Khyrisse: *grinning back* Oh, well, you know... I'd gotten attached to it.

DATE: Sunday, June 15, 1997

Re: Bitches From Hell--you know, I've noticed our rate of official induction has gone WAY down since Alyssa stopped adventuring with us.

Anyway, UNofficially, I think the operative Bitches this session were Trillarillia (who I nominate for team leader, she being behind most of this), Tiall (who made *Zzenith* feel not so fresh), our own Khyrisse, Tila, and Shilree (each of whom got some serious shrieking done), Siobhan (our other female NPC's were too calm and too perky, respectively), Shannon (hard to deal with as always), Lotus and Edyric ("I'm going to kill you!" "But we saved your life." "I don't care! I'm really pissed!"), Sanguine (the psycho mage who giggles when you hurt her), and Marie ("A master thief with a million dollars on her head! I'll attack her in my underwear!") By tradition, Flicker has to be on the list too. I think he *did* raise his voice at those cultists, I guess.

Oh! And how could I forget! Princess Telerie, the fairy-nailin' wacko!


DATE: Saturday, June 14, 1997

Why Jonah Loves Wyvern:

Sure he's evil and creepier than all get out. But he's chatty.

Baddies like Forix, Trill and Tiall have more or less apparent goals (conquest, destruction, pain and suffering) but we never encounter them until it's time for the super-powered slugfests, so they're kinda cipher-like. Wyvern's got personality (an odious one) and I realized that after the initial terror of seeing him, I wanted to hear what he had to say.

Other Praxis' praxii: I'm proud that I won the first (and only) head-to-head contest Lotus and I ever had. I actually prefer Talakan dead to alive and suffering (I generally prefer him dead to alive, still, no reason to be sadistic). On the other hand, it was fun to give him one last belt to the face... :)

I realize that Laura was correct; for once, almost NO intervention by others was required (well, some, but relatively little). Unlike Sway or the Sewer Tour, the NMDH/SOL just took names and kicked ass. On the other hand, not a fraction of what we did would have been possible without the Traveler. Hats off to Doug (and Nora). That little trinket proved FAR more useful than I'd have imagined. Way cool.

Strange fact: Nora and Waterloo and Shiobhan did not officially join the Bitches from Hell (though Shiobhan cusses well enough to be their official spokesbitch) but Flicker did. Hmmmmm.

Hoping to receive cassette-music from some folks: "Sunfighter" (oh, Laura...), "I Fought the Law" (oh, Scottbo...) and other stuff (oh, Doug...) Thanks for your tape, Jeffy.

My fave quote of the weekend:
PRAXIS: No offense, but, well, your cult is pretty lame.
FLICKER: (dejectedly) I know. I'm sorry.

DATE: Saturday, June 14, 1997

Thoughts from one of the Dougmaster's Favorite Actors:

"A society can be judged by the type of criminal it produces. Dostoyevsky said that after spending a bit of time in jail."
--John Cusak, "Con Air"

"I'm not a psychopath! Psychopaths kill for no reason. I only kill for money. Wait, that didn't quite come out right!"
--John Cusak, "Grosse Pointe Blanke"

"My father, he loved the opera. But if a guy was no good..."
"What, he'd have the guy killed?"
"Well, once. In Palermo."
--Chazz Palminteri & John Cusak, "Bullets Over Broadway"

DATE: Sunday, June 8, 1997

>What do they drink in Riklandir, anyway?
Anything that doesn't drink them first, of course.
But they also think getting your butt kicked is pretty cool.

>Bitches from Hell
Well, the Sunfighter has *officially* joined the Bitches from Hell for the first time, as Trillarillia Carrarria (a fine one to talk) yelled "Ow! You bitch!" at me and kicked me in the balls.

Which is pretty amusing, actually, since Flicker is by far the least bitchy of our incarnations to date.


SENDER: Khyrisse
DATE: Thursday, June 5, 1997

Hey, Flicker! Wanna go drinking and discuss the vagaries of an immortal state that still allows you to get your butt kicked? I'm buying!

(What do they drink in Riklandir, anyway? I think I may find myself waking up under a table in the Mithril Dagger in the morning... *wry grin*)

DATE: Saturday, May 31, 1997

Upon Reflection:

I've realized what the strange feeling I had at the end of our reunion campaign was. (Well, besides the generic heroes- standing- in- the- ruins thing.)

All the other times we've done something as huge and global as saving the world, we've been agents of somebody much more powerful than us, or we've had allies who were much more powerful than us. *We* didn't really defeat Draize and Brionwy. We didn't defeat Wyvern; we just helped give Knighthawke the ability to defeat him.

This time, Knighthawke helped give *us* the ability to defeat Shadow. We did this. Not perfectly, but it was us every step of the way. We rescued the last god, we sacrificed Trade to banish Shadow, we captured Tiall and defeated a Weird Sister, we destroyed the Schism Tine, and we averted Bane. We had no idea what we were supposed to do most of the time, but we did it. And however briefly, *we* were the most powerful force against evil on the sphere, for the first and possibly only time in our lives.

And man, that's weird.


DATE: Wednesday, May 28, 1997

"For on earth everything is at the point of collapse, nothing is sacred any longer, murder is paramount. Brothers fight and slay one another, children deny their own ancestry, the world is wicked and adultery prevails. This is the age of swords, of the battleaxe that cleaves shields; this is the age of wind, of the wolf, of the very day when the gods shall be no more."

"But look, for the earth for a second time emerges from the shadows, green and fresh; foam shows white on the waterfalls; the eagle hovers high in the air and feeds on fishes on the rocks. Man has survived what the gods can not, and the sun rises on a new morning. That which was bad becomes better. Look, for Balder returns from Hel, and the winter at last has passed."

--from the Voluspa
("What the prophet said")
of the Norse Eddas

Book Divider

Riklandir has weathered the traumatic events of the past days surprisingly well, really. Of all the lands of Ataniel, theirs is probably the only one whose faith in the world and in their religion has *increased* as a result.

A general amnesty has been assumed for anything that took place during Ragnarok, and anyone killed during the Madness has been accorded an honorable death regardless of how they actually died. Riklandir is almost entirely monotheistic now, in worship of Balder, god of light; its people generally assert all other gods, from any mythos, to be dead. Bane is now known as "Ginnungagap" in Riklandir, the yawning void of shadows from which the world supposedly sprang, come to swallow it again but driven back. To Flicker's frustration everyone in Riklandir now calls him "Ragnarokkr", the Norse hero of Ragnarok, instead of "Flicker". (He wouldn't mind it as a title per se, but since eponyms are used for common names in Riklandir, it's like being told "Okay, your name isn't Laura anymore--it's Gertrude.") There was a brief rash of suicides in the two days or so following the lifting of the Madness, but it petered out quickly and with few casualties. Most people are throwing themselves with muted excitement into the Second Age of Man, and finding it pleasantly like the first. They're also working on replenishing their population losses. If the world is as peaceable under Balder's rule as the prophecies say, there is going to be a major retirement crisis in sixty-five years. No one is especially expecting that, though. When a prophecy comes as close to the mark as this one has, you don't press it on details.

DATE: Tuesday, May 27, 1997

It just occurred to me that yesterday was Memorial Day. Guess it's going to be Memorial Day on Ataniel too.

The moon was visible in the sky pretty much the entire way back to Pittsburgh. I may never look at it in the same way again...


DATE: Monday, May 19, 1997

Why Not To Travel With Signet:

"And then the evil Kerouac killed my girlfriend, and I avenged--"
"For the last time, she was NOT your girlfriend!"
--Signet and Flicker

Don't Speak Too Loudly:

"Besides, I don't HAVE dibs on Max."
"Hoo Yeah!"
--Kyria Vesper, Once and Future Sunfighter


"The price of immortality is eternal loneliness."
"Really? For me it's more like eternal ROOMMATES. I'm the only person I know who can get in an argument with myself about leaving my underwear on the floor."
--Luthien and Threnody

DATE: Monday, May 19, 1997

Damn him!

That evil Dougmaster has taken over my life, enslaved me to his bidding... I'm forced to spend every waking moment planning his next nightmare... his next evil plot, to be foisted upon you on Friday...

Stop him... while there's still time...


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