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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Hell and Back Archives
Fatal Attractions, Part VI



Character(s): Khyrisse, not sure she's NOT here after dying
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Hell To Pay: Time-Out
Title of Post: Den Mothers Are Still Den Mothers In Hell
Khyrisse scraped clawed hands through her hair, gathering together the scraps of her composure. If what was left had been clothing, she would have been arrested for indecent exposure. "Everyone," she said, trying not to speak through gritted teeth. "This is Schneider. He's an old friend of mine."
Valende noted the peculiar emphasis on the word "friend" and looked at her brother. Vas looked from Khyrisse, to Schneider (who he knew from back in the Chain Gang days), then to Khyrisse again. "Well that was a well-kept secret," he murmured with an amused grin.
"I think," Khyrisse practically shouted, "that we need to get out of here and hide out until nightfall. Vic, Alphred, if you can get us all off the island, I can set up the Mansion again."
"Yeah, they'll probably be sending the Hell cops to find out what all the ruckus was any minute now," Skitch said. "They're probably going to be really pissed when they find out we killed one of them. Don't you agree, Kit?"
"Oh, yeah, totally."
"He is my friend, Ixhriy," Khyrisse then hissed at the imp. "Shaizephon is the first thing Vic has been right about all trip. What does he know? The donkey thinks I'm going to sleep with him, and you don't listen to him!"

Character(s): A Very Jealous Ixhriy
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Like A Bat Out Of Hell
Title of Post: Ixhriy Gets Pissy
Ixhriy looked at Retty through narrow blue eyes. Was she telling the truth? Trying to spare Ixhriy's feelings? Lying to get him to do what she wanted? Ixhriy didn't know, but his wild-magic-laced heart rather forced him to trust her over Vic, who he didn't like anyway. "Hope so," he said darkly, wrapping his arms around the sorceress' neck. "Doesn't matter. Not much lover anymore. Ha."

Character(s): The Leader, Norna and her Minions
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Skeins of Fate
Title of Post: Assault on Castle Kyber
The drawbridge slowly lowered to the ground. There was a sheen of sweat on Lian's brow as she turned the large wheel. Below, Signet had rejoined the armies of the Leader as they prepared to make their stand against Lord Kyber.
"Lian Tweedy," a cold voice said from behind her.
Lian knew then that it was all over.

***


Wyvern smiled a thin smile as Norna and Shilree blasted the door off of the throne room. The Diarian was certainly showing a lot more power than her counterpart from this timeline had. Before he had killed her, of course. Lord Kyber stood on the throne dais, her hand in Eren Messala's.
"To save the one true Ataniel," Norna spat, "you're going down, Kyber."
Wyvern's smile widened. The Valkyrie and her allies were about to remove the one thing that stood between him and complete power. And they didn't even need to. Kyber's fate had nothing to do with the Lich Lord.
But Norna didn't know that.

Character(s): The Rat Pack In Hell
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Like A Bat Out Of Hell
Title of Post: Ar'xhay
"I told you the totem of the bat would serve us," said Alphred, contentedly. The hardest part about traveling with these people was having to explain every little thing to them.
"Should we just set up the mansion here?" said Khyrisse.
"Um..." said Kit. "I think we should go further away from the island. I mean, I think we should go towards the place we're supposed to go, and camp near there. That's what I think." Everyone looked at Kit. "Well, doesn't that make sense?"
"Can go to Ar'xhay," said Ixhriy, "but not too close to Retty's," he gave her the evil eye, "friend. Big mean big devils might hurt Retty."
"Just--closer than this." Kit had one eye still on the roof of Palace That Fell To Hell as they moved away. The three succubi were now painting each others' toenails, having become bored with their appraisals of the mortals bodies. But Kit didn't know that. And an incautious thief, Kit's master had taught him, was a dead one.

Character(s): Khyrisse and Ixhriy
Author: Kristin L'Kar Andersen and Laura Redish
Storyline: Like A Bat Out Of Hell
Title of Post: Worsest Part Of Hell
"Here?" said Garal.
"Here," said Ixhriy. "Border of Ar'xhay."
There were no rivers of blood here, and no breathtakingly barren canyons. This place looked a lot like the Cynystran countryside on an overcast day: the kind of grey, dreary day that made you want to crawl right back into bed. It was still about 11 in the morning, but there was no clue to the time in the sky. It was sort of drizzling rain, just warm enough to make everything feel humid, but cold enough to be uncomfortable if you get soaked. With this faint smell in the air that Khyrisse couldn't put her finger on but was really disturbing nevertheless. The area was eerily quiet. There were no birds, she realized. Just her own footfalls on the wet earth, and Asinus' heavy breathing behind her.
"Mansion," she said, to keep from screaming, and opened the portable manse in a fallen archway.
"If Retty wants to reassure Ixhriy," said the imp helpfully, "she could skritch Ixhriy's wings."

Character(s): Khyrisse and Princess Kristin
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Hell To Pay: Time Out
Title of Post: Too Many Meta-Krises in Hell
Khyrisse hustled the expanded version of the Rat Pack into the Mansion and slammed the door shut behind her. I just want five minutes to calm down-- no explanations, no emergencies, no exes. Not much to ask. “No visitors, Sennett.” She ignored the bat wings. Or tried to.
“Yes, milady.” Sennett’s voice had that overly-formal tone in it that meant she was being bitchy and he was too well-mannered to say anything. Why on Ataniel did I use Sibley as part of Sennett’s template? I hated it when he did that, he was always right. “Sennett, would you see that everyone’s comfortable for the next few hours? I need to look something up, it’s important,” she said, in a calmer tone. Sennett bowed, his face relaxing a bit with this return to manners.
“Shall I give our newcomers the grand tour?” Vas volunteered, lingering amusement in his face. Better laughing at me than that tense silence he’s been walking around in for the last three days. “Please. I shouldn’t be long.” Khyrisse went up to her office and threw herself into a chair, the motion setting her blood hammering painfully through her skull. I have... the grandmother of all headaches. And I’m not a cleric, I can’t cure my own. Lucky Rhynwa.
“You know,” observed a quiet voice from above her, “your head would probably hurt less if you got someone to heal you.”
Khyrisse pried open one eye and glared up at Princess Kristin. She smiled back down at the cranky, raccoon-faced mage, her expressive face full of sympathy and mild amusement. The princess sat down on the arm of the chair, and with one swift motion realigned Khyrisse’s slightly off-kilter nose, holding her head in place with her free hand. “OW!!” Khyrisse howled. “What the he--!” Her voice stumbled to a halt, as the stabbing pain in her head drained rapidly away.
“Your nose was broken,” the psionic explained absently, fingers still touching the bridge of Khyrisse’s nose. Her eyes were a little unfocused. “Between that and the stress, your headache was giving me a headache, and I’m not even linked to you. You’ve got some tolerance for pain,” she smiled, taking the sting from the words.
Khyrisse shrugged. “Physical pain is kind of temporary, in my experience,” she murmured. “Emotional pain is what I’ve got no tolerance for.”
After a moment, the princess dropped her hand and stood up, swaying. “Well, that’s it for me this morning... Where would it be most convenient for me to be really unconscious?” Princess Kristin asked, with a tired, lopsided little grin. Khyrisse grinned back. Without that hammering in her head, she felt a little steadier. “A bed sounds appropriate. Sennett can show you to one of those. Ignore the wings, he’s not a devil or anything... He’s just being affected by the plane.”
“Isn’t everybody?” Princess Kristin said.

Character(s): The Rat Pack, Glasya and her sisters
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Hell To Pay: A Random Quiet Point
Title of Post: Ixhriy Gets Promoted
Sennett appeared in the hallway in response to a loud banging on the front door. Looking surprised, he opened it to find three winged and scantily clad young ladies standing on the doorstep. Sennett blinked in astonishment. The middle one was startlingly familiar. “Hello,” Glasya said, smiling sweetly at the major-domo. “We’re here to see Ixhriy.”
“I’m very sorry, but the family is not at home to visitors today,” Sennett said reflexively.
The redhead smiled less sweetly at him. “We could have you booted off the plane instead.”
“I’ll take the message to her ladyship,” Sennett sighed.

***


Khyrisse came down the stairs in a hurry, keeping a firm grip on Ixhriy. Skitch was on her heels, Val and Vas on either side. The archmage came to a crashing halt in the foyer when she spotted Glasya. Skitch nearly knocked her over.
“What the-- whoa.” Skitch stared at the blonde devil in the doorway, eyes popping out of his head. He glanced quickly up at his teacher, then back at the devil again.
Ixhriy bounced excitedly on Khyrisse’s shoulder. “That Big Nice Devil!”
“You’re joking, Ixhriy,” Khyrisse begged. “Tell me I’m hallucinating.”
“Sorry,” Glasya said, grinning mischievously. “Can Ixhriy come out to play? Or better yet, can we come in?”
Khyrisse stared into that perfect face, so weirdly like her own, and shook her head. “Um, Ixhriy, you’d better go to them.”
“Darn,” murmured the redhead.
Ixhriy looked warily at Glasya. “Ixhriy gets promoted?”
“Ixhriy gets promoted. Come here, Ixhriy.”
Ixhriy flashed out the door and landed on Glasya’s outstretched arm, talons pressing lightly into the roses-and-cream skin.
“Oh, no way...” Skitch whispered in complete disgust, as Glasya took Ixhriy’s chin in her free hand and kissed him thoroughly. It left no doubt in anyone’s mind that tongues were involved, either. There was a brief burst of orange-red flame around Ixhriy’s draconian form, and Glasya released him.
“Welcome to the ranks, Ixhriy,” she laughed, very low.
“Whoo-hoo!” Ixhriy looped away dizzily.
“I’m never going to be able to forget that image, am I?” Vas asked his sister plaintively.
“No, probably not...”
Ixhriy paused in his acrobatics and looked back at his new boss. “All the perks?”
“Hmm... All but the one.”
“Ixhriy didn’t want that one!” he scoffed.
“Everyone’s happy then, aren’t they?” Glasya smiled, and vanished.
The brunette waved to the imp, and vanished also. “Good luck, Ixhriy!”
The redhead grinned, lingering on the doorstep. “Sure we can’t come in?”
“Sorry,” Khyrisse said, with a faint echoing grin.
“Nasty!” Glasya shouted from somewhere out in Hell, with an irritated tone in her voice that made Khyrisse blink and Skitch fall into a helpless fit of giggling. The redhead sighed.
“I never get to have any fun,” Nasty complained. She faded out reluctantly. “Catch you later.”
“Not if we see you coming,” Valende murmured.
“We catch people easier if they see us doing that,” the empty air retorted, with a lewd chuckle.

Character(s): Skitch and Kit
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Hell: Promotion
Title of Post: Stages of Development
"Ewwwww!" said Skitch, laughing. "She kissed him right on the lips! Gross!"
"Why is it gross to kiss someone on the lips?" said Kit.
"Because it just is, Kit. You're so weird."
"Retty jealous?" said Ixhriy hopefully, sidling up to her.

Character(s): The Rat Pack
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Hell To Pay: Promotion
Title of Post: Retty Surprises Everyone
Khyrisse blinked at Ixhriy, then at the empty doorstep.
An image of what she must look like at the moment danced through her head, and she grinned.
"You know, Ixhriy," Khyrisse said, "I think I am a little jealous!"
Skitch's jaw dropped. Kit giggled. Ixhriy wrapped himself around her torso with a delighted shout.
"Hey, watch the grabby hands!"
"Retty does love Ixhriy!"
"Of course I do, you dope," Khyrisse said, scritching his head. "Retty loved Ixhriy back when she was married, too, or have you forgotten?"
Ixhriy pouted a little. "Retty loved Eric Stupidhead more."
Khyrisse turned to go back up the stairs, and winked at Skitch as she passed him. "It's not a perfect world, Ixhriy."

Character(s): Ixhriy and the kids
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Hell: Promotion
Title of Post: I'm Going To Disneyland
"Ixhriy is promoted!" sang the imp.
"Congratulations," said Kit.
"What will you do now?" said Skitch.
"Maybe get little castle all Ixhriy's own. Keep souls there." Ixhriy thought about it. "Maybe Ixhriy can torture souls mean to Retty."
"You'll need a big castle," muttered Khyrisse.

Character(s): Schneider and Khyrisse
Author: Jonah Cohen and Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Hell To Pay: Time Out
Title of Post: Schneider Slams Knighthawke (Ex-Talk, Part I)
"I don't know about this new guy," Skitch said.
"He'll be fine," Princess Kristin replied. "I hope." And hopefully, Khyrisse will be too.

***


"I-- you know, I thought I was never going to see you alive again. Now here you are."
Khyrisse flashed him that wry grin of hers. "Yeah. In Hell." She shook her head, dismissing the joke. "I wasn't expecting to be back either, really.”
"So, you doing okay? I mean, aside from, y'know? Adjusting to shuffling on the mortal coil?"
"Ha," she said, and ran an aggravated hand through her hair. "I've been better, actually. Would you believe I'm in charge?"
"All that's missing is your old man to make things perfect, eh?"
Khyrisse flinched and looked down at the floor. "No, not exactly. Vic is... overstating the case. We're missing three people. Five, if you count the mistakes, but we don't want them back."
"I'm sorry. It's not easy when your mistakes come back to slap you around, is it?"
"Fuck no," Khyrisse muttered bitterly.
"Is that why we're avoiding talking about what happened... what, six years ago now? With us?"
"No," she said, meeting his eyes again. "I didn't know if you wanted to talk about it. I don't know how much you remember, frankly."
I don't want to, but... "Oh, everything. I remember that I screwed things up for you and Max."
Khyrisse stared at him blankly. "You... screwed things up for me and Max?" She shook her head. "Um, excuse me? I thought I was the one that knew what was going on in both timelines?"
"Well, I sorta thought, like, you two never would've split up if I hadn't butted in and, uh, complicated things for you."
Khyrisse sighed. "I don't know if we would have stayed together or not... But you couldn't have known what was going on in the other timeline, and I did; I think if anyone did the complicating, it was me. I'm sorry I did that to both of you." She dropped into the nearest chair and stared down at her hands, twisting together agitatedly. "I guess the least I can offer is an explanation, if you want it."
He thought about the things he'd wanted to say six years ago, like please don't leave me. Then he thought about the night of Bane and 56 people, but quickly gave himself a mental kick. No call for making Khyri even more upset, just to unburden yourself. Only one way you can do that, so you might well consider starting here. Move on! "You don't owe me anything, Khyri, but if you want to, go ahead-- trouble me."
Khyrisse hesitated for a long moment, and then the words came tumbling out, as if she couldn’t stop herself. “I never explained any of it. Probably because I was-- really confused and upset at the time,” she said, tugging at a familiar ring on her left hand. “When it happened, when we wound up in that other history, Max was clearly taken, and, well, I-- I leaped at the chance without thinking about the trouble it would cause later.” Her voice had dropped to a whisper. “And afterwards, I couldn’t stand the idea of-- choosing between you, and I couldn’t explain without hurting everyone more, so...”
She was trembling a bit, and he steadied her. "It's okay, butterfly. I understand. I know all about fighting temptation, and-- and leaving things unsaid. I guess I always looked back and all I could think of was how much it hurt, not having you in my life. And feeling guilty cause it was you and Max who got hurt. My two best buddies." She smiled a bit. Not everything was so bad back then... "And afterwards, I just didn't deal well. I, hell. I just acted like a real shit. I don't know how Max put up with me, those first few months, and I know I hurt some people then." He thought of Cordelia. Well, at least that turned out alright.
"I never blamed you for any of that, afterwards. I understood why." She smiled a bit more, a bit ruefully. "I'm sure Max did, too... He's like that."
"Yes, he is, dagnabbit. I bet Hell's collection agency never coulda touched him. But anyway, about those things left unsaid... I'm glad you're back... I missed you a lot..."
"I missed you, too." She grinned down at her hands. "I caught every one of your shows in Trade, you know. Cracked me up every time."
"What, my old Knighthawke routine? 'I daresay, Shilree, I-- what's this pouring into my nose??? Egads, it's rain!' 'What do you mean Magic Mirror only lets me see other people??? Why would I want to look at anything less handsome than this?' 'A thousand pardons, Mr. Icewind. My neck is just a little sore from twisting around to kiss my own ass. It ain't as easy as I make it look, you know!' "
Khyrisse lost it in a fit of giggling. "*hic!* Oh great, now look what you've done! *hic!*"
"Try putting a bag on your head."
"Does that work?"
"No, but it looks amusing."
"Boy, and here I-- *hic!* thought my looks had improved without the-- *hic!!* monochrome!"

Character(s): Schneider and Khyrisse
Author: Jonah Cohen and Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Hell To Pay: Time Out
Title of Post: Flashback: The Clue Phone (Ex-Talk, Part II)
Skitch poked his head into the room to find out what all the noise was, and found his teacher in a fit of helpless mirth, interrupted by hiccups. "Are you okay?" he said, eyes huge. Khyrisse waved a hand at him reassuringly. He looked at the grey-clad jester in astonishment. "What did you say?"
"Political humor, kid."
The urchin looked doubtful. What was so funny about that? "You sure you're okay, Khyri?"
"Fine! *hic*"
"Buy us some privacy, eh, kid?" Schneider said.
"Hey! I don't take orders from you, weirdo!"
Schneider remained impassive. "Tell me, do you know what the spell cantrip does?"
"Sure. Nothing important. Why?"
"I once did a dissertation on them. It got really rave reviews--" Schneider leaned forward purposefully, "--from her father."
"Okay. If you say so." He thought for the umpteenth time that adults were just weird beyond comprehension.
"I can see you're doing a good job with the oddfellows local here, Khyri."
Khyrisse reddened a little. "Skitch is... overprotective. Part of that's my fault, I'm afraid-- I've been dragging him everywhere, and he's seen some pretty ugly things happen to me."
"Yeah, I can think of better places for a kid than here. But he's got that Hero Worship thing going. Kids outgrow it eventually. But I was serious. Geez, this whole crew is on full alert just waiting for your orders, or your affection, or both. I'd say they're ready to follow you into Hell, but that might not seem amusing at the moment."
Khyrisse winced. "Well, Val and Vas work with me, now; Skitch has... yeah, you could call it a case of hero worship; Kit's a friend of Skitch's; Ixhriy and Asinus have some weird sort of crush on me." She sighed and looked down again. "Jack-- Vic, I mean-- is dating Valende and is looking for Cori, one of our missing; Alphred is looking for Tarrin, the other; and we found Princess Kristin here. I have no idea why they leave me in charge, though, Schneid, I really don't." Some of the lines started to return to her forehead.
"You're a lady who just gets shit done. That's what those loons are following And if things, say, end up in Hell, they know you'll just try something else til things work out. That's all leadership is about-- at least, that's what the Boss always said."
Khyrisse got out of the chair, and hopped up on her toes to kiss Schneider on the cheek. "Thanks, Schneider." She tilted her head up at him, and sighed. "You want that explanation now? What the Rat Pack's doing here?"
"Sure, like-- how much weirder could things get at this point?"
"Heh. Just wait," she promised. “We’re trying to rescue three of our people. Well... two really, now. Cori, a friend of Jack’s, was sent here by... accident, through a magical portal. She’s gone to the Abyss since then, apparently-- we’ll have to go there next. Tarrin was a Diari priest who had been traveling with us, we lost him shortly after we lost Cori-- we thought he might have been sent here also... if he wasn’t dead. But no one here has seen any sign of him; so I’m afraid he’s a lost cause. And the third person who’s missing,” she sighed, “is Ebreth. He’s been with the Rat Pack since the beginning, and he’s also not supposed to be here. He, unfortunately, is also the most in need of actual rescue-- he’s being held in the section for Traitors to Hell, for reasons that are... a little complicated to explain.”
"You're right," he said. "That made things weirder. Seeing as I'm not certain I grasped all the nuances, let me put it this way. Is this, like the same Ebreth Tor who was, oh, how to put this... something of a merchant? Sold, you know, the usual stuff: t-shirts, souvenirs, people..."
Khyrisse paused for a long moment. "I'd like to say no," she finally said, quietly. "So would he. He's a completely different person now, certainly nothing like the man the soul once belonged to. But yes, before he died he was Ebreth Tor, head of the Slaver's Guild."
Schneider's brow wrinkled beneath the mask. "And you're sure you feel safe being anywhere near the guy?"
Khyrisse covered her face with one hand. Safe being near Ebreth? she thought with a silent, shaky laugh. She remembered drifting to sleep in his arms with a perfect faith in her safety, defensive spells tossed to the four winds. Oh, not so’s you’d notice... "Well, you see, this is where the 'Khyrisse being dumb' part comes in. The other two missing members of the Rat Pack, the ones we don't want back, are Pieret, aka Kardia Blackfeather-- dead-- and Ariath. She backstabbed me and threatened to kill me unless Ebreth went back to Hell." Khyrisse gave a depressed little shrug. "He went. He was terrified of this place, and he went. I have other reasons to trust him, but that's a pretty good one."
"That ole bugaboo L-word that Vic was talking about?"
She looked away and said, softly, "Are you jealous?"
"Heck no. I mean, not after all this time. Shoot, would you be jealous if I told you Roxy can do the knotting-a-cherry-stem trick?"
"Lots of women can do that."
"With their thighs?"
"Ack! More information than I needed to know! That's the most perverse thing I've heard since Signet slept with Waterloo!"
"Double ack! More info than I needed to know!" She was almost relaxed again. "Okay, look, Khyri. Let's leave it at this. You trust him, I guess that's good enough for me."
"Really?"
"Sure." That's a lie, part of him screamed inwardly. Shut up; can't you see how much of a load that took off her mind? the other half replied.
She looked at him, eyes pleading with him to understand. "This is my fault. I shouldn't have given Ariath a chance... but I thought she'd come after me. I've got to rescue him. I'm sorry you got dragged into this mess... I know you've got good reason to hate what he was..." Her mouth quirked a little, and she added, "Luthien and Flicker have already read me the riot act, if that's any comfort."
"I've gotten a long hard lesson in letting the past live on too long, of late," he said, standing up and putting his hands on her shoulders. "Better to leave it behind." If not quite forgotten... "Now listen up, you should restock them there magicky spells, then open this." He put a small box on the desk beside her. "Then get your tush into bed and get some sleep. You look like you could use it. I'll see you in what passes for the evening here."
He gave her a long, gentle embrace, and kissed her, once. "Good night, butterfly."

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