The Hell and Back Archives
Plus Ca Change, Plus C'est La Meme Chose, Part I
Character(s): Khyrisse, fallen divinity
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: The Road To Ataniel/Dance Without Sleeping
Title of Post: Sleep Patterns Worthy of Khyrisse, Dammit...
Khyrisse lay motionless in her bed for several hours, in the heavy sleep of the emotionally exhausted. Unfortunately, this restful state of affairs only lasted until her body gathered enough energy to dream.
Skitch swayed blurrily out of his dreams sometime in the silent hours of the morning, not sure what had woken him up. He flicked a silver knife into his hand before his eyes had focused, holding his breath, listening hard. Not even the sounds of breathing disturbed the stillness of the room. Surprised, his eyes opened all the way.
Khyrisse was sitting bolt upright in bed; her white hands clutched helplessly at the covers in front of her, sliding away over and over again, as if she couldn't keep a hold of them. Her pale face was still blurred by sleep, expressionless... except for the eyes.
Skitch shuddered violently and wrenched his eyes out of direct contact with hers, scurrying forward to shake her. "Mom, come on," he whispered. "Wake up. Wake up!" The frozen statue started a little, and took a faint breath. Skitch shook her again, and Khyrisse turned to stare at him in blank surprise. She resumed breathing, gasping for lost air, but didn't seem to notice it. Her face was gradually growing more and more confused, panicked almost, as if she didn't recognize anything around her, and couldn't remember why not. "Khyrisse?" he whimpered, scared more by that expression than a dozen screaming awakenings. She blinked once, and the tension drained from her body.
"Skitch," she murmured, as if it were a sudden revelation, and closed her eyes in weary relief. Without opening them, she reached out and held him. "Oh, gods, there you are. Shhh... It's-- I'm okay."
Khyrisse crept quietly down the hallway, really not wanting any company right now. Skitch was tucked into her bed, sound asleep (under protest, and an extracted promise that she wouldn't go anywhere).
She detoured into Ebreth's room for a moment, and sat on his bedside for a little while, holding his hand comfortingly. I should probably say something; I should probably talk to him, she thought. Her face was calm, if a little sad; her eyes rested on him as if she simply needed to be reassured that he was there. But I can't talk to anyone right now. Finally she leaned forward and pressed her cheek against his. "My voices are louder than ever," she whispered. "I hope that right now, at least, yours are quiet. That would be something."
"Milady," Vas said quietly, as she turned away from Ebreth's door. She lifted her head and smiled wanly at him.
"Hi, Vas. Keeping an eye on things?"
"We thought it might be best. Valende will be taking over for me in a few minutes." He paused, looking closely at her. "Are you all right?"
Khyrisse tensed instantly, as if that were the last thing she wanted to be asked. "Yes, I'm fine," she said shortly, running a hand through her hair. Vas hesitated, and her expression grew slightly wild. "Vas, please. Don't ask. I just-- I wanted some exercise. I wasn't going to leave the inn."
"Ah..." Vas said softly. "I remember. Valende told me... it's been a little hectic lately, and it had slipped my mind."
"I--" I wish it would slip mine. No, no I don't. "Will you help?"
Vas stood up and bowed formally to her, smiling a little. "I would be honored. I think... the dining room, perhaps?"
"Seems best. It's the biggest room here that I can lock the door to," she said, grinning faintly, and took his arm.
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Interlude: Carnival
Title of Post: Bloodscar Does The Death Dance Of Joy
"Ladies and gentlemen of the Tobrinese cabinet," said Omeria, softly, "Trillarillia Cararia is toast."
There was a stunned moment of silence. "Woo HOO!" screamed Ariath, and flung herself into Marhault's arms.
"Yes!" shouted Hotspur, pumping his fist.
"Couldn't happen to a better bitch," agreed Bloodscar.
"Ding, dong, the witch is dead," sang K'Mar, jumping up on the table.
"Free champagne for the entire country!" shouted Omeria, flinging both her arms in the air.
Character(s): Alphred and Anti-Alphred
Author: Jeff Hersh
Title of Post: Matter and Anti-Matter
To Alphred things with the Rat Pack were back to their usual psychodramatic self. True Jack was now female and Ebreth was a doing a good job of being a vegetable, but it was nice to be back with the Rat Pack. He was about to try to gather those he needed to inform them about what the Spirits of the Ancestors told him, but there was something he had to do first.
Alphred walked over to a non-descript chair and sat across from it. "You can reveal yourself now. You are not fooling me."
The chair flowed and shifted form to a mirror image of Alphred.
"I assume you are the double the Spirits of the Ancestors told me about?"
"More than that," answered Anti-Alphred.
"Well then, let me perform the Ritual of Introductions."
"The long or short version?"
Alphred thought for a moment then answered, "The short one."
"Good we really do not have a week to waste."
"I agree. I am honored by your presence spirit of flesh. By what name shall I call you?" said Alphred with reverence.
"You know, nobody ever asked me that before. How about Nick? I always liked that name."
Alphred was visibly shaken by Nick's flippant attitude. Flesh Spirits were usually much more formal.
"Very well Great Honored Spirit Nick. Do you intend harm or heal?"
Nick thought for a moment. "While I am in your presence Jungle Lord and keeper of the ancient totems, I will do no harm to those in your care."
"Very well. The ritual is concluded. I do not know how those I travel with would accept your presence. Might I suggest you disguise yourself as one of the totems in my care?"
"Good idea," said Nick.
The shapeshifter quickly changed shape to that of a small obsidian cat. "I am the Manx Cat, Jungle Lord. Call on me and I will do your bidding."
"Very well Great Spirit Nick."
Alphred put the Manx Cat into his medicine bag and went to join the others. Salagia needed his help very soon.
Character(s): Jack, PK, Khyrisse, and the Wonder Twins
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: The Road To Ataniel: Pit Stop
Title of Post: Telling Tales and Keeping Secrets
Princess Kristin was waiting beside Jack's door when he came out early next morning. She didn't look as if she'd gotten enough sleep, but it didn’t seem to be bothering her.
"Jack, may I talk to you for a second? It's about Ebreth."
Jack blinked a little. "Um, sure. What is it?"
"Ebreth had a visitor last night: Schneider. I don't know a lot about either of their personal histories, but Schneider was..." Kristin bit her lip. I hate to do it, but someone should know about this other than me. "...very disturbed, very angry. He spoke to Ebreth, made some very harsh accusations about Ebreth’s character and
Jack anticipated what was coming next. He'd felt the same way he guessed Schneider did, not that long ago.
"He finally threatened to kill him," the princess sighed. "He didn't, of course. Schneider isn’t the sort of person who could do that, not under normal circumstances,” she said quietly, but with certainty. “I would have stopped him if he had really tried. But I don't know if Schneider knows that, and I'm certain that Ebreth doesn't know that. I think someone should speak to them both. Privately." She sighed a little. “And I think I should probably tell Khyrisse.”
Val came downstairs into the public rooms of the Inn, wearing a puzzled frown. “Where in Corellon’s name have they--” Valende stopped and listened, eyes opening wide. She walked closer to the dining room and tilted her head, an amused smile tugging at her face.
Noises indicative of some kind of exertion were interrupted by bursts of breathless laughter. A music box played in the background.
“Khyrisse-- you’re losing it--”
“No joke!” Khyrisse gasped hurriedly.
There was a crash, like someone had overturned the table, and a loud thud. “OW!”
“Graceful as a beached sturgeon,” Vas said, laughing.
“Shut up!” she snapped back, also laughing.
“Try again, milady; you almost had it!” he advised, and began singing tauntingly to the chiming music in the background. “ ‘She’d a dark and a roving eye, and her hair hung down in ringlets’--”
Another crash, a yelp from Vas, more laughter.
“--’she was a fine girl, a decent girl, but one of the rakish kind!’ ”
“ME? Are we talking about me?” Khyrisse demanded, in an indignant voice that shook with laughter.
“I’LL give you a ‘dark and roving eye’, popinjay!!”
Vas tumbled out the dining room door. His sister reached out and prevented him from hitting the floor.
“Thanks, Val. Your problem, milady,” Vas grinned, standing and settling his tunic, “is that you are a very physically oriented person in a mentally oriented profession. You need regular exercise.”
Khyrisse appeared in the doorway, flushed, somewhat disheveled, mightily amused. “Well I can see that you’re going to give me plenty of excuse!”
Valende raised her eyebrows at her brother, and grinned. “What were you doing in there?” Never mind that she knew exactly what they’d been doing.
“Exercising,” Khyrisse said firmly, and cast an unseen servant to tidy the room behind her.
Character(s): Jack Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Road to Ataniel: Pit Stop
Title of Post: Jack Gets Deja Vu
Jack was a little perturbed. He had been working for so long to give Ebreth a safe environment to come out of his shell into, and Khyrisse's new boyfriend (or whatever he was) was screwing that up. Still, Jack sighed to himself, he knew where Schneider was coming from. Ebreth Tor had made an awful lot of enemies.
Princess Kristin seemed to be waiting for an answer.
"Um," Jack said. "You know, you probably ought to check with Val about that... Khyrisse has been a bit, uh, stressed lately... Val might be able to give you a better idea whether she'll want to bean him for it or not."
The princess smiled. "I'll try that. Thank you, Jack," she said, putting a hand on his shoulder and nodding respectfully.
She headed off to find Val.
Jack sighed. She probably wouldn't be so nice to him once she discovered he wasn't human.
Jack wandered around the mansion looking for Schneider. Everyone was busy packing up to move out. Jack would be glad when they made it back to the Prime Material. Val had certainly seemed... interested... in his current state of affairs, but Jack sort of wanted his first time to be in the body he was used to. Not that that would be happening any time soon, of course... Jack wasn't going to pressure Val, especially after all the guilt she had over the little scene with Cori. Jack sighed. Someone else he would have to talk to soon. When did he suddenly become the person everyone needed to hear from?
Schneider was busy juggling some of his equipment into and out of his pack. It was pretty impressive... if Jack didn't know better, he would have guessed there was someone else in the bag, tossing things back out. "You're Jack, right?" Schneider said. "Or is it Jackie?"
"Jack," Jack insisted. "This, uh, isn't my original form."
"This ain't mine either, pal... but you could've done a lot worse!"
"Um," Jack started, fidgeting from foot to foot nervously, "I need to talk to you. It's about Ebreth Tor."
The jester tensed up. "What about him?" he asked.
"I, uh... how to say this..."
"Move your lips and exhale," Schneider suggested.
"You tried to kill him last night," Jack said.
"Did he tell you that?" Schneider asked.
"It's a small mansion... word gets around."
"Man, I knew I should have listened to Tila more," Schneider sighed. "I didn't kill him."
"I know," Jack said. "But I don't think you understand... this isn't the same Ebreth Tor."
"If it looks like Tor and walks like Tor..." the jester shrugged. "Who is he supposed to be? Patty Duke?"
"Um, maybe I should tell you my story," Jack said. "Ebreth Tor killed my cousin... my closest friend. She fell in love with him, and he bet her away in a poker game. She took her own life after months of slavery."
Schneider frowned. Maybe he had let the slaver off too easily.
Jack continued. "There's a lot of us who have right to hate Ebreth Tor. Believe me, I tried. I gave this guy a really hard time. But it's not him. It's not the Tor who hurt us the same way."
"If you'll excuse me, Paris, I'll have to find that out for myself," Schneider said, the juggling ceasing.
"It's like someone has the same memories, the same form... but is a different person. Can you understand that?"
Schneider thought of Threnody, the lively pirate who, no matter how hard Schneider had tried, couldn't be Janther Moria. He thought of her story about the illithid she had fallen in love with that wasn't Maxwell Silverhammer. Stranger things had happened.
"Food for thought, Jackie boy," Schneider sighed.
"Look, if you ever feel like you can't handle dealing with him, come talk to me. But, uh, if you go around threatening people... well, Khyrisse is really touchy about trust issues right now. I don't think you want anything like that getting messed into your, uh... relationship."
Schneider lifted one eyebrow to Jack, but didn't ask him what he had meant by that.
"Are you guys coming?" Khyrisse yelled from downstairs. "We're about to take off!"
"I can't wait to get out of here," Jack said, heading for the door. "These things are a pain."
"Everything okay, Jack?" Khyrisse asked as Jack climbed into the carriage.
"Um, just fine. No problems. None at all. Really."
Khyrisse looked suspicious.
"I just wanted to make sure that Ebreth was comfortable."
Khyrisse turned to Garal, sitting shotgun.
"That way," the halfling pointed.
"Mithril Dagger, here we come!" Khyrisse shouted, and the carriage took to the road.
Character(s): The Prax Pack, Omeria, Silverblade
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: The Omeria Agenda (epilogue... for a little while)
Title of Post: Life Goes On
"Please. You shouldn't see me like this."
"I'm... one of them now, 'Nez."
"You must have mistaken me for the sister who gives a shit."
I still think this is too big a risk, Merry.
He gave his word that this was to be a simple, nonviolent discussion on neutral territory.
And you trust the word of a Shikinti???
Put your ethnic prejudice aside, K'Mar. besides, he's a Brit.
There was a slight "pop" and he appeared. They spent a moment looking at each other.
"It's a pleasure to meet you. I wanted to thank you, for what you and your associates did to save us all from Bane."
"Thank you for coming alone, or at least keeping your bodyguards inconspicuous," she said with a slight smile.
Like she has a prayer of noticing us!
Quiet, please. "And my compliments to yours. He must be a skilled ninja."
Oh please can I just kill this guy?
One of them-- or perhaps both-- was thinking, Go ahead, play it cool, you arrogant piece of work. If only you knew... No! Can't talk trash. I'm not an adventurer anymore. I'm a respectable civic leader.
"So, what can I do for you?"
"The One True Bloodscar."
"The demon king? I was under the impression your Sway had killed him a few years ago."
"He's alive and he's in Tobrinel."
"My goodness! I'll certainly have the police and defense forces report any sightings. But I, well, I don't know as much about him as you, obviously, but I thought that the warrior kings were not exactly known for subtlety. Are you sure?"
"I'll definitely investigate. I don't want this kind of threat to the country to kick off my administration."
"Yes, about that..."
"I've discovered... suggestions, that things may not be as they seem with your... administration."
"How do you mean?"
"Oh, nothing definite. Certainly nothing provable, yet. Just hints that something is rotten here."
"Sir, I assure you, I am committed to running a corruption-free government to serve the people of Tobrinel as best I can."
"The people do seem to approve of your rule."
"Oh, thank you. I can only do my best. But I hope I can build a bridge to a better future for Tobrinel. I've studied how governments can succeed, or not succeed. I promise you that I would never let something like what developed in your home country, many years ago, develop here. We will be of and for the people."
"I'm sure. I will say, I've seldom seen people of megalomaniacal intentions who are populists."
She laughed disarmingly. "I admit, I may be a bit ambitious in my career, but I'd hardly consider myself a megalomaniac. I know you may be wary of governments, after Bryttainwych, and Trade. But really, this is Tobrinel. This is different. You're welcome to stay and see. I think you'll be pleased at some of the policies I'm going to be working on, and so will the people."
"I'm afraid I'm going to be leaving soon." And a comfortable prison is still a prison. Don't think
you can hide that forever.
"I hope you'll be back to visit?"
The psi-dolt suspected something, but really had no idea. He was dangerous, but surprisingly clumsy. And he had indeed left Tobrinel. All the better.
The council members were milling about before the meeting. "... then little David and little Jack got into a fight-- boys! So competetive!" Theodore Knight was saying.
"Excuse my lateness, please," Omeria said, entering the council chamber, smiling. "Shall we get down to business?"
He had teleported out, then Inez and 3 others appeared beside him. "Thank you for helping us out."
"Aye, my pleasure." she wiped the unruly hair from her face.
"Here, thanks for letting me borrow this..." he handed back the silver bracelet.
"What will you do now?"
"Head home. Quattro and Silverblade will keep an eye on things for us here. Let us know if Bloodscar tries to create another demon kingdom."
"If he does, give a holler and we're there," Nora Ino said.
"What am I going to do?"
"Carry on. Lots of vampires have hidden their nature for years. We can help you. Besides," Noyarc said, "it's possible to live with this kind of curse. Trust me."
The woman screamed. "Shut up, bitch! No one's gonna help you, no one cares."
*thump* "Wrong." Silverblade smiled. It was good to be back.
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Out Of Time
Title of Post: The World's Greatest Waitress Updates Us All
"Hi," said Kayla brightly. "You know, someone was just in here looking for you last night. She said she might have gotten the date wrong, though, and she'd try again tonight. Did you have an appointment?"
Khyrisse looked at the sign that said 'Now Guaranteed Wyvern-Free', and shrugged. How bad could it be? "I guess I do now."
"By the way," added the waitress, "Trillarillia Carraria is dead. You've been gone for a few months, so I don't know if anyone told you yet."
"Months?" said Khyrisse, dizzily. "Dead!" yelled Khyrisse, noisily.
"You missed the sway," added Kevin, apologetically.
Kayla hesitated. "You haven't, uh, seen Eren in the last few months or anything, have you?"
Character(s): Khyrisse, former deity with a grudge
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Well, Now What?
Title of Post: Typical, Just Typical
"I always miss the party, dammit," Khyrisse murmured, rather absently. She stood staring at Kayla like the woman had just told her the world was round.
"Huh? Flicker? Um, no. But that's good news, we've been in the Lower Planes."
She's dead! That psychotic bitch who killed my city!! She's DEAD!!!
Khyrisse cheered at the top of her lungs, throwing face and hands towards the ceiling in triumph, and did a spontaneous rendition of the Death Dance of Joy.
Character(s): Two Krisses
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Rat Pack: What Next?
Title of Post: The Continuing Education Of Jack Paris
"Hey, Khyrisse?" said Princess Kristin. "Let's go to the bathroom."
"To the bathroom?" Khyrisse looked momentarily confused.
"Yeah. I need to use the bathroom."
"Okay. I could use the bathroom too."
"Great! Let's go to the bathroom!"
The two women tripped off to the back of the Mithril Dagger.
"Are they sleeping together now?" Jack whispered to Val.
"It's a girl thing," Val whispered back.
Character(s): Jack Paris' Pals and Gals
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Storyline Pending
Title of Post: Blue Blue Wine
When Jack was sure no one was looking, he checked.
Breathing a sigh of relief, he sat down at the bar. "Blue Shikinti, Kevin! We just made it back from the Abyss!"
"I thought you were looking for math work?" Kevin asked.
"I was," he sighed. "It was a, uh... vector problem."
"Well, glad you made it out okay. The last crew who left to head out that way never made it back."
I'm not going to ask, Jack thought. The last thing I need is to discover that someone else I know needs rescuing.
Kit and Skitch sat at the bar, sipping some strange beverage that Kevin had poured out of an odd red, white and blue shiny cylinder.
"So," Kevin asked nonchalantly after the girls came out of the bathroom, "what are you guys going to do next?"
There was a dead silence.
"We're going to Signetland!" Kit finally cried.
The stone of command in her pocket pulsed briefly.