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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

DISCLAIMER: These chronicles are not guaranteed to be either complete or 100% historically accurate. That's because A) gaps in my memory or in the logic of the plot have been filled in over time by me, like limestone in a cave, and B) a 100% historically accurate representation of our game would include a lot of dice, Combos, jokes that aren't funny anymore, and other non-memorable stuff, so be grateful for small favors!

Also, these are my chronicles, so though not everything is written from the Sunfighter's perspective per se, he is definitely the central character, and this is his story. Don't take that personally. Believe me, you don't want me crawling around in your character's brain.

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Look Into the Light: Janther
by Laura Nagel, 1995

"Alain was a white fire and he burned away all the pretenses, all the images. You were left with the shining hot Truth and it was a mirror that wouldn't compromise." --Threnody

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5

Background: The Sewer Tour

The group seems to be gathered in a sewer. A tall, slender woman in black bodyarmor like an Imperial stormtrooper's smiles tentatively in the center. She is strikingly pale, with straight black hair and of all things a top hat. She has a scythe in one hand; holding her other is a thin bitter man cast partially in shadow, with three jet- black braids reaching most of the way down his back. He is wearing black fingerless gloves and combat boots and is holding a trident in his right hand. To the right of the woman stands a dramatically attractive man in magical plate armor and a royal blue cloak; he is also fair-skinned, with shaggy dark hair about his shoulders, and he is wearing black stone goggles that pulse with a soft red light. A fairy woman is standing in front of him, holding on to one of his fingers with her delicate hand. She has long blond hair, gauzy wings, and exquisite features; the sort of woman men are always following into the moors, but her eyes are like a child's. She is wearing a filmy dress and beaming. The palest of all the pale adventurers stands beside them and a little forward; her skin seems to be made of some white stone, her hair is white as cornsilk, and she is dressed in black and burgundy leather. Her boots have spike heels. Behind her with his arms around her is a friendly-looking elven man with an infectious smile who manages to be reasonably attractive despite dorky seventies sideburns; he is well-built, dressed in beige, and has a giant war hammer leaning against his left side. Beside them is a short, wildly grinning guy in tacky outlandish clothes and a red metal facemask, gesticulating at the alabaster woman with a plastic flower. A long, mottled red lizard-like beast is stretched out along the floor in front of them, its head resting on the feet of the man in plate armor; in fact, the fairy is standing on its head, on tiptoe. She is barefoot. On the other side of the shadowed man is a muscular bald man of medium height with an earring in his left ear, holding a lasso in one hand and a spear in the other; he looks a little like Mr. Clean in chainmail. A slight, skinny girl, somewhat scraggly-looking, stands next to him, observing the camera coolly. She has straight brown hair, leather armor that does not flatter her meager figure, and a sour look. Filling the rest of the space in the sewer is a huge man in shining armor, sword strapped to his back like Conan the Barbarian and staff held before him boldly. He is smiling a huge smile and has his right arm extended, as if to embrace someone (or a few people) or to welcome someone in. His mouth is open, and you get the feeling that he is saying "CHEESE!"

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With the defeat of the demons, who had drawn them together, and the murder of the Sunfighter, who had largely kept them there, the Significants dissolved. Kerouac fled; Signet pursued her maniacally, Faraker somewhat reluctantly resumed his duties as Duke of Lianth, and Oethnar returned to his forest home. Rhynwa, Max, and Shilree continued to travel together; after a series of bizarre experiences in the sewers of Lianth, during which they explained their presence to the maintenance men as "tourists", the group acquired the name "Sewer Tour", which stuck through several personnel changes. Shilree took several leaves of absence to pursue her own goals and was not with the group at the time of the above picture. RHYNWA assumed the position of group leader, her attitude (and her body) beginning to soften somewhat. LUTHIEN was one of two ex-gladiators hired as security on an early mission into the Giant lands that the then-unnamed Sewer Tour accepted; both chose to stay, effectively forming the group. Luthien was a truly bitter, twisted man, the son of an necromancer and the bearer of his evil legacy who had twice been turned down by the priesthood of Arawn and was planning on suicide as soon as he found and killed his father. He had the ability to regenerate vampirically from damage done to an opponent either by hand or with a specially enchanted spear, and he had a necromantic sigil which looked a little like the Grateful Dead sign on the palm of his hand from the curse of his father, for which reason he always wore gloves. His outlook began to expand somewhat as his relationship with Rhynwa deepened. JANTHER Moria was the second incarnation of the Sunfighter demon, created by the fusion of the demon with a blind orator from Brytannwch called Alain MacLir; when Lian and the demon force were torn apart by her death, the demon found refuge in the soul of a dying man with some of the same properties, and the energy of the resulting union kept him alive and forged a new being, who called himself Janther. Janther was able to reconcile, as Sunny could not, his human and demon existences, and in fact, under his steady hand, the composite regained control over Lian's lost memories. (Always a fragile woman, Lian had been irrevocably damaged by brutal treatment at the hands of the minions of Draize and her forcible union with the demon.) The incomplete psyche of Lian herself was leading a fragmented, tortured half-existence in Annwyn, unable to rest without the pieces of her soul that had been ripped from her when she separated from the demon possessing her. Janther was a great statesman and mediator with a compelling voice; the pulsing feystone goggles that gave him depth vision (in shades of red and black) were a gift from the Sidhe for mediating a conflict between them when he was a teenager. For reasons of personal development, he chose not to reveal his relationship with the Sunfighter the Significants had known until he had spent several months with the Sewer Tour and circumstances made it necessary. Like the first incarnation, he did not sleep, was not affected by alcohol, mind control, and some drugs, did not require food or drink, and had mirrored, pupilless eyes (although his were sightless). SYNDRIANNIA was a sylph who followed Janther home at one point and devoted herself to him. She had a number of fairy powers and a sweet, simple heart. KHYRISSE was the ex-wife of the Duke of Cynystra, who had apparently saddled her with a bizarre cursed wedding ring. Since the curse's only manifestations seemed to involve her coloration (her skin and hair were deathly pale, and anything she picked up became burgundy or black until she released it!) her attitude towards it was more confused trepidation than any desperation strong enough to make her cut off her finger. (Later on, her skin began flaking off to reveal alabaster, but it was around the same time that she realized the ring effectively prevented her death, so she continued not to resist it more actively.) Max actually picked her up at a Mages' Guild, and she tagged along with him. Khyrisse was a high-strung, histrionic woman, but she was charming, effective, and basically a nice person; that, and Max's obvious love for her, helped her to integrate quickly into the party. MAX was still his usual disarming self. SCHNEIDER was a part-time stand-up comedian, part-time bard, part-time thief, and full-time practical joker. He wore a red metal facemask at all times because his face was badly scarred from a childhood of slavery in a copper mine. Schneider was unfortunately in possession of a high- powered wand of wonder, which he even more unfortunately absorbed into his body where the rest of the party couldn't get it away from him. He once accidentally polymorphed a hell hound that was attacking us into a full-grown Tyrannosaurus Rex. Luckily for Schneider, he was endearing enough for his companions to put up with his idiosyncrasies. Schneider's lovelife had not been rewarding, and he nursed his affection for Khyrisse in silence. SPOTS was a fire lizard (a huge monitor-lizard type volcano-dweller that belches fire, not the cute little McCafferty jobbers) that Janther tamed and brought back from the Giant lands; he served as pack animal, space heater, and occasional biter of enemies. PALMER Khan was, like Luthien, an ex-gladiator, and they joined the team together. Palmer had a 19 constitution and tended to behave in foolhardy ways that had probably played well at the arena; one of his favorite tricks was to lasso an opponent and jump out windows or off tall things. (He also once lassoed and briefly rode a giant shark, avoiding the loss of his testicles only by a lucky saving throw.) He was the paragon of laid-back goodwill, but his total inability to consider the possible consequences of his own actions kept him something of an outsider. TILA was a runaway nobleman's daughter and a surprisingly adept thief; she had an amulet of true sight and uncannily perceptive eyes of her own, and little escaped her. She was quite vain, though, and obsessed with her own plainness. QUELL was a dim-witted but big-hearted cleric of Tal who had dedicated his life to fighting demons. He had a magic helmet that alerted him when demons were in the vicinity, but couldn't localize them; he spent a couple of nerve-wracking months with the Sewer Tour, wondering where the demons were, before being stranded on a distant planet.

The group underwent numerous personnel changes in the year and a half Janther spent with it. Most of them were superficial and brief: friends and local heroes joining us for one or two sorties (even Oethnar returned once). As time went on SHILREE's attention turned more and more to politics; she was frequently involved in intrigue of her own, was thought dead in childbirth for a while, and did some time- traveling. After claiming Trade for Magnate she left the Sewer Tour to become his councilwoman and CEO, although she continued to have a special relationship with the group (especially Janther). GDEON (also known as Kyv) was her highly unusual son, who matured at an alarming rate and turned out to be a space dragon avatar; he was briefly raised by Rhynwa and Max. Khyrisse left the group to become the patron demigod of Trade around the same time Shilree left to manage its affairs. Palmer was arrested for murder after pushing a lab assistant down a flight of stairs without thinking and jumped bail to flee, and Schneider mysteriously disappeared. (He proved to have teleported himself one year into the future, at which point he rejoined his friends.) On a subsequent archaeological mission, the group acquired PRAXIS, a young psionicist from Brytannwch. Rhynwa, pregnant with Luthien's child, eventually accepted a position as high priestess of a temple and stopped actively adventuring. Her son turned out to be relievingly normal. About a year after Sunny's murder, Janther, Max, Luthien, Tila, Praxis, and Syndy accepted an invitation from Shilree to form a league of Trade heroes. Now bereft of clerics, the group recruited a fanatical priest of Morvon named JARTH who claimed to be the law god's avatar and the vessel of an angel named Zerthimon. The angel itself was actually a huge furry blue hermaphroditic alien named GEORGE who had gotten merged with Jarth during a transporter malfunction. George's existence alternated with Jarth's. TRISSIA, a demonically possessed rock star who enjoyed combat, joined the group for extended periods of time. A reporter named ENDICOTT accompanied us on quite a few missions, recording our deeds; he was a skilled martial artist but refused on principle to do anything but KO opponents, for fear of killing them and/or interfering with his story too much. It was around this time that the group renamed itself Sway (after an impromptu explanation to Jarth that "sway" meant a party, to prevent him from getting the shit kicked out of him by a lord of the Sidhe who told him his god held no sway in the fairy lands). We encountered another alien, a wandering wisdom devotee and healer from a race of greenish-purple gibbering mouthers, who quickly became an integral and beloved part of the group; its name was ZZENITH, and though it was genderless we conferred honorary malehood upon him so that we wouldn't have to keep referring to him with an impersonal "it". Zzenith was essentially a four-foot high amorphous glob of goop with a few dozen eyes and mouths at random intervals, but you got to love him quickly. He had the habit of vocalizing different words with different mouths, which had the effect of distorting his word order into Yoda-like constructions; he was perfectly comprehensible nevertheless, which may say something about the nature of English syntax or may not. Syndy was eventually possessed by the lifeforce of the witch Trillarillia. Max was secretly replaced with an illithid impostor somewhat before that, too, but we wouldn't find out about that for months. At the time of Janther's death the group consisted of (Evil) Max, Janther, Luthien, Tila, Praxis, Trissia, Zzenith, Jarth/George, and sometimes Endicott.

The main plots during this time focused on the gathering of the pieces of Lord Warp's body and the removal of the wall between Nylevia and Dalencia, the race for the mystical city of Trade, the unfolding Curse of Brionwy, and the attempts by a malevolent space dragon to seize control of the sphere. Lord Warp was a powerful, time-traveling hero who had sacrificed himself to erect a barrier between Nylevia and Dalencia (originally the same country) a few hundred years ago. (He had been attempting to contain an invasion by the forces of Shadow.) In fact, the language of the two countries was still mutually intelligible, as we discovered upon passing through a crack in the wall that Shilree had discovered. Apparently, the original pieces of Lord Warp's body, which had turned to blue stone and shattered, had magical spatial and temporal qualities, and their use to pass through the wall was degrading its structural integrity. An arms race for the stones began, which we eventually won; when we replaced the stones in the wall, the wall powered down and Warp returned to human form. The struggle to find and control the mystical city of Trade followed on the heels of the collapse of the wall; Trade was a semi-dimensional nexus point that adjoined every point on the sphere, making travel incredibly easy (one-way travel, at least. Travel *to* Trade required rigging portals, once we found and claimed it). Actually, it was Shilree who claimed the city, for Magnate (an immortal businessman and one of the six prophesied guardians of the sphere). We were much happier with this arrangement than with the fascist Dalencian junta who had been jockeying for it, though, and we hadn't had a clear idea in mind about what we were going to do with it once we got it away from them anyway. Trade became the Geneva of Ataniel: strenuously neutral and a hub of foreign affairs (as well as an economic crossroads). Magnate, as it turned out, was a good ruler. The Dalencian empire fell completely apart after the behavior of its regime was exposed (the king was involved), and broke into several smaller countries. Our third crisis was the increasingly troubling importance of the Sunfighter. Janther was stronger than Sunny had been, and the truth of their situation was finally revealed; Lian had been merged with Tjekanefir, son and lover of the demon goddess Brionwy, in a similar process to the one that created Draize's avatar Kala. His possession of Lian was unique on a number of levels, primarily the amount of interleaving between the two psyches, rather than superordination, which made dissevering them essentially impossible (even with the death of the host). As began to become uncomfortably clear, most of this was part of a greater plot on Brionwy's part. Janther originally assumed his mother meant to sneak him in as Draize's avatar so as to be in a better position for a takeover; later he began to suspect that she had intended Kala to fail and had supplied Sunny with the necessary information intentionally through Tjekanefir. The truth was more disturbing: Tjekanefir was the center of a byzantine plot to destroy the world, and one with very few loose ends. This situation would not be resolved in Janther's lifetime. The last important plotline involved the machinations of a powerful space dragon (dragons were not native to Ataniel) who called himself Wyvern. Actually, Luthien's father the evil necromancer summoned Wyvern, planning to set a beacon to lead the space dragons to Ataniel. Wyvern annihilated Luthien's father, took his place, and permitted us to destroy the beacon, since he had every intention of keeping the sphere for himself. ("Sphere" just means "area of influence", or world; our world was actually disk-shaped, not spherical. It was the focus of so much attention because of an unusually strong magical nexus above the Ataniel side, which was the source of Trade as well as the magical energy the people on the surface had access to. The extent of magic use on our planet was quite unusual in the galaxy; all the aliens we encountered relied upon psios and tech.) Wyvern was actually a psychiatrist who took up politics only when a plum world fell into his proverbial lap, but he was quite good at it, and he was an incredibly powerful psionic force in human terms. We did not come into direct conflict with him or uncover his plans until the Sunfighter's third incarnation.

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