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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Hell and Back Archives
Putting the Chaos Back Into Chaotic Evil, Part II

Character(s): The Rat Pack
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Gazing Into The Abyss: Skins
Title of Post: Arrival
Jack Paris landed in a giant pool of some sort of luminescent blue-green liquid. All around, he heard the splashes of his friends as they all crashed into the Abyss.
Jack was just glad to have stopped moving. The slidestream would have been fun if Jack had paid for the ride. Unwillingly, however, it was a nausea inducer like none Jack had ever felt.
And Jack felt pretty weird here in the Abyss.
Next to him, Vastarin's head broke the surface, the elf gasping for breath. "Help me get Ebreth to shore!" Jack cried. Vas looked oddly at him for a moment, then noticed the comatose man floating next to Jack. Wordlessly, Vas grabbed one of Ebreth's arms and started swimming.
Fortunately, they weren't far from the shore. Skitch was already crawling out of the water (if it was water) onto the shore. Jack saw a blur speed past him and noticed Alphred with a fish totem of some sort in his hand, swimming at amazing speed out of the pool.
Finally, Jack and Vas made it to shore, dragging Ebreth behind them. The newly-freed soul didn't register any of it. The three devil women were sitting on the shore, polishing their nails. "What took you so long?" Glasya asked Vas.
"Where's everyone else?" Jack asked, looking around. "Val? Khyrisse?"
"You're the only ones who came out," the redheaded devil mentioned.
"Jack?" Vas asked, looking strangely at the mathematician.
"Um, yes," Jack said. "Jack. Not Vic. Man, what was I thinking?" he asked sheepishly.
Vas continued to stare.
"What?" Jack asked, looking at his blouse.
"You... you've got..." Vas started.
"You're a girl!" Skitch cried.
Jack blinked and looked down. Yes, those were definitely breasts underneath her blouse.
"Um. Well. This is kind of unexpected," Jack said.
Vas chuckled. "Wait until Val sees this!" he cried gleefully.
"Should we call you Jackie?" Skitch asked.
"Jack is fine," Jack said, pushing a finger appraisingly into her chest. "I think I don't like planar travel," Jack said.
"Too bad, cutie," the brunette devil sighed. "I guess I have to pick again."
"Um, can we all stop staring at my, uh, chest and start figuring out where to go?" Jack asked, embarrassed.
"Who are we missing?" Vas asked.
"We're missing the goddess," Alphred offered. "And the Rat."
Jack felt in her satchel. "Nope, Rat's okay. Right here."
"Valende, Khyrisse, Princess Kristin..." Vas ticked off missing friends on his fingers.
"Kit, Uncle Asinus, the jester..." Jack continued.
"Six missing people," Vas moaned. "One of them our team leader."
"Ahem," Jack said, the Rat now sitting on her shoulder.
"Co-leader," Vas sighed.
"I'll be your leader," cooed Glasya.
"I will follow the Rat," Alphred offered.
"Do we even know where we ended up?" Jack asked. "Are we sure this is the Abyss?"
"Garal." Vas added to his tally.
"I hope they're okay," Jack said, worried.
"Um," Skitch coughed and pointed.
Jack looked up. Something was coming through the air towards them. Fast. "I hope we're okay..." Vas said.

Character(s): The Rat Pack
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Gazing Into The Abyss: Shirts
Title of Post: Arrival
Khyrisse Starshadow shrieked as the... ground... of the slidestream fell out from under her and she plummeted straight down through hot, humid, and very nasty smelling air.
An unbelievably loud buzzing sound and several sharp stings registered themselves, and then she was crashing through a damp, moss-covered obstacle of some kind. She received several stinging blows from the-- tree? I think it's a tree!-- before she hit the water.
She broke the surface of the murky, brownish-green liquid gasping, and immediately wished she hadn't done so. Nausea tugged at her stomach, and she scraped algae off of her face in disgust.
Valende surfaced next to her, looking equally revolted.
"We're in a swamp," Khyrisse said needlessly, grabbing onto the base of the tree she'd crashed through on her way down. Kit came scampering down the other side of the tree. "This is really gross!" he commented, far too cheerfully.
Valende stared at the boy, and smiled a little. �You�re not even wet,� she complained.
�No ma�am. I caught myself when we got to the trees,� Kit said, grinning.
"Kit, did you see Skitch? Or Ebreth?" Khyrisse asked, looking around wildly.
�I saw three people falling over that way," he offered, pointing.
Cursing came from beyond the nearby thorn-filled tangle of what might be plantlife.
"Asinus," Valende surmised with a sigh.
"Asinus, are you all right?� Khyrisse called. �Who else is over there?"
"No, I'm not flarking all right! I landed right on a pricker bush from hell!"
"We're in the Abyss now," Princess Kristin's voice reminded him, somewhere between annoyed and amused. "Schneider and I are here, and we�re all right... more or less."
"Be glad you missed the tree," Valende replied ruefully.
"Ouch!" the princess sympathized.
"Anybody else?" Khyrisse called, stamping hard on her growing panic. "Garal? Jack? Vas?"
Silence, excepting the noise coming from overhead. It was a echoing and sustained buzzing sound, with thousands of individual parts to it, just above the tops of the trees. Khyrisse looked up, wide-eyed. The whole sky was nothing but a cloud of insects. A greyish-green, dim sort of light filtered down through the swarm, but you couldn�t tell what it was coming from. "I don�t think we�ll be flying out of here,� Valende murmured.
�Like Hell we�re not!�
�Take a look at your arm,� Valende advised. Khyrisse glanced down at it irritably. Purple welts were rising rapidly around two dead-white indentations on her left forearm, each welt easily the size of a gold piece. They were already completely numb.
�Ow,� she said, staring at them in horror and surprise. �Okay, scratch that plan...� Khyrisse looked around at the mist-filled, stinkingly humid swamp in dismay. "Grendel. All right, who are we missing? Skitch... Ebreth..."
"Vas," Valende sighed. "Jack... Garal... our three succubi escorts..."
"The Rat... I think he was with Jack," Khyrisse sighed. "Alphred... In short, the greater part of the group.�
�Everyone who knew about the Abyss and traveling through it, too, I�m afraid,� Princess Kristin said, squishing her way around the base of the pricker bushes. �Damn, my bow-string�s soaked,� she sighed, and sat down in the muck. The blonde psionic smiled a little, then, looking around at the dismal swamp with a contented expression completely incompatible with her surroundings. "But I'm out of Hell at last," she added softly.
�I guess we pick a direction and look for everyone!� Kit said.

Character(s): Alphred
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Gazing into the Abyss
Title of Post: Arrival
Alphred liked the slidestream. It reminded him of he journeys to the legendary lands of Tiran and Siran during that unfortunate incident with the Sludge Master of the Fickle Swamp.
Colors and shapes raced by, and then he found himself underwater. Alphred quickly got his bearings and swam for the surface.
The air of this place was cool, but not frigidly so. Alphred walked out of the deep pool and onto the shore of blue sand.
"Looks like the Dreamworld," he thought to himself.
Alphred took out the totem of the hawk and invoked its power. His eyesight grew sharper. In the far distance he could see a large white fortress. No, not a fortress. It was a city. A city entirely of white rock.
"I hope the spirit maiden and the others are there," the jungle lord thought to himself.
With grim determination, he set off for the city of white, unaware that thousands of small eyes were malevolently watching him.

Character(s): Anti-Alphred
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Gazing into the Abyss
Title of Post: Doubles
The shapeshifter was pleased. It had seen this group of travelers while they passed through the slidestream. It hadn't been hard to throw one of their party off course and take his place. It wondered how long it could go on like this before being discovered. Well, until then it would have some fun.

Character(s): Garal
Author: Eric Gasior
Storyline: Gazing into the Abyss
Title of Post: Waiter, There's A Fly In My Soup
Garal looked at the black sky through the window of the Shikinti take-out joint. "It's kind of cloudy today. What color is the sky like on a nice day?"
"Like this every day," the cook replied, "all the bugs up there."
"Do you mind me asking why you set up here?"
"Told that I'd be in a fashionable plane. Demon lords and ladies looking for rare specialties, that sort of thing. I get here and they send me to this dump. Can't even get decent meat. I won't tell you what the giant mosquitoes like."
Garal's stomach turned. "Where is here?"
"Plane 220 of the Abyss. Used to be 222, until last week; there's been some fighting up above."
"I'm trying to reach 213. Do you know a good way?"
"Ailonwy's place? They tip well up there. Been petitioning for a bypass, but no one wants these bugs getting out. The way's pretty slow, path keeps changing. Don't they all?" He gave a frustrated laugh. "I only do big orders for them."
The food smelled good. Despite himself, Garal asked, "What do you use instead of pork?"
"For you, got some tofu left."
While he waited Garal thought about finding his party, hoping they were not in trouble, and about meeting Ailonwy again...

Character(s): The Rat Pack (Shirts), ROUS
Author: Jonah Cohen (tho he may deny it)
Storyline: The Abyss Gazes Also Into You, Sucker
Title of Post: Was this joke REALLY necessary?
Asinus was cursing up a storm, the likes of which Khyrisse hadn't heard since she'd last seen Siobhan MacLir. Schneider merely wrung some of the ooze out of his jacket and muttered something about getting a new suit once they were out of these god-forsaken planes.
"All right," Khyrisse said, "we've got to find a way to see what happened to the others."
"Scry?" Val suggested.
The only one who seemed entirely unperturbed by the environment was Kit, who was happily poking about at the water's edge with a stick, like a child hoping to find a turtle or an interesting looking bug.
Instead, Ataniel's would-be greatest thief found, or rather was found by a rodent of rather unusual size. Like, the size of a large hippopotamus.
The creature, complete with a downright revolting stench of wet fur and gigantic incisors, surfaced without warning from the stagnant water. Kit was knocked flat on his ass and the murky water splashed over his face. Opening his eyes, he was getting an all-too-good look at the ROUS' jaws.
There was a thunking sound as someone landed right beside the young thief, and suddenly Kit was looking at the back of... a giant body part. Schneider stood over him, arm outstretched and casting a disdainful look in the ROUS' direction. "You got a problem, rat-face? Just talk to the hand."
Did he really say that? Val thought, readying a spell.

Character(s): Khyrisse and Valende
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Gazing Into The Abyss: Shirts
Title of Post: If We Meet A Demon Named Humperdink, I'm Gonna Die Laughing
"Oh, goody!" muttered Khyrisse in a cheerfully sarcastic tone, and yanked out the Trade Sigil (probably the only clean piece of fabric on her person). "We're attracting attention already." More ROUSes were approaching from every direction. Valende crossed swiftly to a spot behind Kit, finishing her prayer, and skewered one of the waddling rodents with a graceful lunge.
Khyrisse eyed the two ROUSes approaching on her side of the fight. With an irritated gesture, she snapped her Carriage into existence right on top of them. There was a brief, echoing cacophony of equine screams of anger, jangling bells, and stomping. Khyrisse folded her arms and glared at the two corpses underneath the bloodied hooves of her spectral team. "I'm in no mood for this..."

Character(s): Kit Branagh, the Greatest Thief in Ataniel
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: The Abyss Gazes Also: Shirts
Title of Post: R is for Rodent
A giant woodchuck lunged at Kit, and he ducked to the side.
The woodchuck fell into the swamp with a loud splash that attracted the attention of two huge gerbils.
"Thanks," Kit muttered to the ripples. "Thanks a lot."
The thief tried to blend into the shadows, but there weren't a lot here in the Abyss. The light kept changing.
The gerbils skittered forward, their little teeth gleaming. Kit wished that he had a giant water bottle with him.
Suddenly the gerbils were on top of him. Kit dodged out of the way of one, right underneath the other. Its breath smelled of rank meat and cardboard. Kit panicked. "Aah! Go away! Go away!" he cried.
One gerbil looked to the other, shrugged and turned away from the thief. The other followed suit.
"Weenies!" Kit yelled after them.

Character(s): The Rat Pack
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: The Abyss Gazes Also: Shirts
Title of Post: Reason and Retreat Start with R, Too!
Princess Kristin screeched to a halt beside Kit, longsword smeared with blood, panting a little.
"Well," she said, staring after the retreating rodents with a slightly puzzled smile. "I see I wasn't needed after all."
The princess held out her hand to help Kit up. "Why don't we get out of here instead of slaughtering these animals?" she asked the Rat Pack at large. "They're probably just defending their territory."
"That's the idea," Khyrisse called back, snapping her driver's whip at another rodent. "If everyone can get to the Carriage, I'll get us out of here."
"Sounds good to me," Asinus grumbled, kicking at a giant mouse. The mouse ducked backwards, and was splattered with muck from Asinus' hooves instead. With a squeak of disgust, she scrubbed at her face, then raced over and nipped the ear of the giant rat threatening Schneider.
There was a brief, fierce argument in rodent, the upshot of which was the giant rat scurrying off-- rather crankily and with many threatening glares back at the weird humans-- with the mouse. Princess Kristin and Khyrisse both stared after the retreating rodent pair, struck with a sudden and inexplicable (but very amused) sense of deja vu.

Character(s): Garal
Author: Eric Gasior
Storyline: Gazing Into The Abyss: Freelance
Title of Post: Going Solo
While waiting for his food Garal sat down at the only table in the restaurant and pulled out a treatise on planar meteorology. It confirmed his suspicions.
"I think I was caught in a minor eddy. It looked like I was the only one lost -- at least I'm the only one here. My group was close enough to 213 to get there on their own. The rest of them should be there."
"Unless there was a major power involved," the clerk suggested as he brought Garal his meal. "Then you're screwed."
A dish of kung pao tofu later, Garal asked the clerk if he wanted to get out of here.
"Nah. Waiting to make the big time. Could you put in a good word for me?"
"Uh, ok... I'll be going now." The halfling found a weak point that looked like it went to higher planes and left the building.

Character(s): First Intendant Lilith
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Lilith Quests
Title of Post: Live By The Sword, Die By The Sword
Lilith sat in the Weird Sisters' study with her feet up on the brass relief map of Ataniel, flipping through brittle tracts on witchcraft from the matriarchal age. It was making her pretty nostalgic. The one on top had been the design for the Schism Tine, which had pissed her off, so Lilith had destroyed it. She was trying to handle the others carefully, though. This was a fine historical resource. Lilith had already set aside a few interesting papers about torturing men to bring back to Hell with her. Suddenly, she sat up straight, the disk of Ataniel wobbling precariously with her shifting weight. This was what she was looking for. The Irrevocable Destruction of a Soul In Hand, read the ancient text. Use of this magick by any but the mightiest of wytch forces may result in death, destruction, or birth defects in unborn children. No liability assumed. "Yes, well," said Lilith. "That shouldn't be a problem, now, should it."

Character(s): Shirts and Skins
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: The Abyss Gazes Also Into You
Title of Post: Choosing Sides
Khyrisse backed towards the Trade Carriage, watching the retreat of the rodents, and put her left boot through some thin earth and into sludge." Oh!"
Schneider caught her reflexively by the arm before she could lose her balance and fall in entirely. Khyrisse pulled her leg out of the muck with a disgusting sucking sound. "Are you all right, Butterfly?"
"I think I twisted my ankle," she muttered. Khyrisse was really starting to hate the lower planes.
"Hey, get your hands off my woman," Asinus complained.
"Clue phone, donkey man. It's for you."


The rat nestled happily into Jack's cleavage. Everyone else seemed to be in a state of mild consternation over Jack's new topology, but the rat approved.


"Khyrisse?" said Val, joining her on the driver's board. "Can we talk about this, uh, Augustine thing?"
"Oh, no," said Khyrisse, wringing slime from one leg, "don't you even start with me, Val. He sold his own soul to Lucifer. I saw the contract. And he hasn't changed a bit, either. Don't you remember what he did to your brother? He is totally evil. Not to mention rude. You wouldn't *believe* the stuff he said about you and Vas." Val turned a terrible color. "I feel no obligation to get him out of there, ever. End of story."


The flying demon touched down near the three succubi. He had a ferocious bear-like head. "Hey, girls," he said. "What are three babes like you doing in a place like this?"
"Waiting for something interesting to happen," cooed the brunette.
"Well, you sure picked the right place. Ailonwy's people have been beating the crap out of us. Are these your mortals?"
"Yes," said the redhead.
"Ew, no!" said Skitch.
"We're looking for a friend of mine," said Jack, "a Shikinti warrior?"
The demon shrugged. "Who knows where anything is on this plane anymore? I'm Mezzadoun, by the way. I'm a lieutenant in Ansakir's army. You know, if you guys could help us regain control here, I'm sure Ansakir would be able to find your friend."
"Regain control?" said Vas.
"Yeah, Ailonwy's taken over almost the whole plane. She's been making these huge cuts into Draize's domain ever since he was killed. Now she has some kind of anti-demonic weapon she's managed to get under her control and she's kicking our asses. Would you help us drive her back? We need all the help we can get."


"Stop the carriage!" shouted Val. "It's Cori!"
Khyrisse pulled in the reins so hard the carriage tilted on its wheels. "Cori!" she shouted, jumping off the driver's board. She had forgotten her sore ankle. "Ow ow ow--" Khyrisse interrupted herself to stare. The samurai's companions were a sultry demonic woman and--Tarrin. "Tarrin! You're alive!"
"Khyri!" said the Diari, happily.
She hobbled over and flung her arms around him. "Skitch is going to be so glad to see you!"
"Hey, hands off, ya six-fingered poacher!" groused Asinus.
"Oh, no no no," said Tarrin. "I am the married man, Mr. Donkey."
"Where is Jack?" Cori demanded of Val.
"Uh..." she stammered. "We got--separated--"
"We think he's still with Garal and the succubi," said Khyrisse. "Everyone who knows anything about the Abyss, in other words." She sighed. "We got lost."
"I know something about the Abyss," offered the woman.
"This is our friend Ailonwy," said Cori. "We're helping her to free her homeland from a demon overlord."
"Hi," said Ailonwy, and waved. She was wearing hip boots with higher heels than Khyrisse's and a copper bikini. Asinus seemed mesmerized by her rear end. "Will you heroes help me too? I can send you all back to the Prime Material if we can only free my plane from the forces of Draize."
Khyrisse looked at Cori and Tarrin, and then at the helpful demon. Mabye my luck is starting to change after all.

Character(s): The Rat Pack (shirts, baby, shirts!)
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: The Abyss Gazes Also
Title of Post: Deja Vu all over again
Unusual though they were, and lawyerly though Asinus was, Schneider was getting used to meshing with Khyri's little bunch. He would have been rather distracted with thoughts of what to do about Ebreth Tor, whose proximity alone made his skin crawl, but he kept his mind occupied. Mainly on keeping Khyrisse and Kit safe.
The Carriage screeched to a halt, and, keeping Kit behind him, he hopped out. A truly impressive bimbo in a bikini quickly captured Asinus' attention, and with her were two people. One reminded Schneider of Inez (there wasn't all that much resemblance, really-- just the eyes and the swords) and the other was easily the least-uptight looking Diarian he'd ever laid eyes on. Impressive, considering where they were.
"This is our friend Ailonwy," the Shikinti woman (evidently Cori) said.
"I was trying to free my homeland from the forces of Draize," Ailonwy offered.
I've done this before. No, not exactly. But something... something like this the ex-jester thought. He gritted his teeth and tried to remember where this heavy sense of deja vu was coming from.
That's it! he stepped back into the carriage, out of sight, and cast Message. I hope those collection chumps lay off, I'm keeping it in the same freaking plane this time...

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