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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

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Plus Ca Change, Plus C'est La Meme Chose, Part II


Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: Notorious
Title of Post: With heroes like this...
Tarick "Truncheon" Bennet had pulled off dozens of jobs like this in the past. He and his two partners just waited by a suitably lonely curve on some remote part of a suitable road and waited for a lone traveler.
Today, the unlucky victim was a less than stunningly handsome elf. Truncheon had known few elves with so little regard for hair care.
"Excuse me, sir," Truncheon said, stepping out in front of the Traveller to give his partners time to step out behind the man. "Would you happen to have the time?"
"You mean, the time right now?"
"Yes, of course."
"Can't help you. But I'm pretty sure that at noon today it was eleven o'clock. Maybe..." The elf scratched his head. "Knew there was a reason to always let Siggy or Benoit handle the stuff with numbers..." he mumbled.
"Heh, that's very funny, sir. Are you a comedian?"
"Watch who you're calling comely there, fruitcake! No offense or anything, but you ain't my type."
Despite himself, Truncheon paused. "Uh, very well. Here is what you will do. You will slowly remove your weapons, then your armor, then all of your valuables. Next, you will lay face down on the ground and my associate will tie your wrists. If you resist, you will be killed. Understood?"
"Waitasec --- what was that middle part?"
"Just give us all your money and stuff and shut up, you dumb fuck!" All three brigands had their weapons drawn now.
Amazingly, the elf did not move, but merely smiled. "That," he said, "was a very... impolite thing to say..."
What followed was rather brief, yet gory in the extreme. The last sound Truncheon Bennet heard before his ribcage was cleaved in two was an inhuman hissing.
The elf leaned down over Truncheon's body. "You know... hey! Look at me when you're being spoken to!" He rolled the corpse over, and held it up by the hair, shouting into its ear.
"If you were looking for a fight, why didn't you just say so? Kerouac would have obliged you a lot sooner!"
The Axe of Vengeance still dripping blood, he continued walking down the road.

Character(s): The Rat Pack
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Signetland
Title of Post: Signetland
Khyrisse felt a strange moral obligation that had subsumed her soul release as the children reached the big spinning representation of Signet's head over by Castle Lianth. The head was playing a horrible song about codes of morality over and over again. Khyrisse realized she wanted to kill someone.
"Signetland, Signetland!" shouted Skitch.
"Wow, you're the greatest, Khyrisse!" shouted Kit.
"What the flarkin' 'ell are we doing here?" demanded Asinus.

Character(s): The Rat Pack
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Flarkin' Signetland
Title of Post: Codes of Morality
"Valende, would you take the kids around?" Khyrisse said tensely. Val looked at her in surprise, then nodded.
Khyrisse undid her coin pouch and handed it to her, speaking to the kids. "Don't be all day, guys, okay? I need to figure something out, I'll be here when you get back."
"Sure! Thanks, Khyrisse! C'mon, Kit!" Skitch and Kit darted away towards the merry-go-round, Val following. She could hear it telling the kids to buy a copy of The Return to Significance at a bookstore near them.
Once the kids were out of sight, she cast a dispel violently at the annoying head spouting nonsense about moral codes. There was a sudden sputtering cough, and then silence.
Vas turned and looked at Khyrisse hesitantly, somewhat surprised. "Ah... isn't Signet the Significant a friend of yours?"
"Yes."
Vas tilted a finger in wordless question at the dispelled head.
"I know what my Grendel-be-damned moral code is."
"Yeah?" Asinus said, chewing irritably on his cigar. "What part of it has to do with donkeys?"
"All of it."
"What a flarking stupid code of morality..."
Vas grinned. "I'll take the bait. What is your moral code?"
"'Do exactly what I want to do at all times; and when that's not possible, get really pissed about it.'"
"That's a moral code??!"
"I've got a really unique definition of 'what I want to do'," Khyrisse said, with a half-smile. Taking Ebreth with her, she went to wait for the kids in the (neat and orderly, ugh!!) garden across the street.

Character(s): Valende and the kids
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: It's A Signet World After All
Title of Post: A Very Loyal Bodyguard
It's a world of order, a world of law...
Valende had no idea why she had wanted to come to this place so much.
And a code can cover your every flaw.
Valende had no idea why the children had wanted to come to this place so much.
There's so much to be done, that it's time everyone...
Valende couldn't believe Khyrisse had agreed to bring the children to this place.
...bought a copy of my booooook!
"Hey, kids," said a recorded Ed voice. "Never kill unnecessarily!"
It's a world of order, a world of law...
Valende wanted to go back to the Abyss.

Character(s): Jack Paris, Babysitter and Ebreth Tor, Statue
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Signetland
Title of Post: Take a Ride on the Skeeve-Go-Round
"So, uh, Jack?" Val asked, holding his hand lightly while they rode on the Wheel of Morality.
"Yes?" Jack asked.
"Why did we come here?"
"I don't know. You all seemed to want to, so I thought I'd give it a try. Seems like a big marketing ploy to me."
"I can't think of a single reason I would ever come here, but there was this strange... compulsion. I can't explain it."
"Might that explain it?" Jack asked, pointing to the giant with the flaming sword who had just exploded from a building labeled "House of Insects" and seemed intent on stepping on as many children as possible.
"No, but it's a lot better than the rides," Val grinned, as she leapt up into action. "I'm so glad it's not a demon, I can't say. Watch the kids, dear."
"Um, okay," Jack said.

***


Ebreth sat on something labeled the "Bench to Nowhere." Khyrisse was getting some ice cream, then the giant started stomping around. A young girl of five wandered up to him. "Hey mister?" she asked.
Ebreth Tor said nothing.
"Are you real or a statue?"
No answer.
The little girl tentatively prodded the comatose man. "Wow. You're really good at this," she said, waving her hand in front of his face. "Better than the guards at Castle Lianth, even!"
Ebreth said nothing.
The little girl pressed her ice cream cone onto Ebreth's nose. It hung there like a snowman's proboscis.
The girl giggled and ran off.
A teenager sat down next to Ebreth.
"Wow, man, you are like the best at this. Can I try?"
Ebreth said nothing.
"Way cool," the kid said, then shut his mouth and stared into space.

Character(s): Zerthimon
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Giant Problems at Signetland
Title of Post: Combat Makes Everything All Better
"I sense danger!" Zerthimon cried in Asinus' head.
"Flark it," Asinus thought.
"No! We must protect the innocent in the name of the Dead God Morvon!"
"Knock yourself out," Asinus sighed.
The donkey transformed into a brightly glowing winged figure wielding a large stone staff. "Fear not, mortals, for Zerthimon has come to save you all!"
"What's your code of morality?" one of the onlookers shouted.
"Well," Zerthimon started, "firstmost, I will honor the dead god Morvon with all that I do. Secondly, I must--"
Then the giant foot stepped on him.

Character(s): Khyrisse, mind-controlled and hating it
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Flarkin' Signetland
Title of Post: My, What A Lovely Shade Of Red It Is This Evening
Khyrisse blinked.
She looked down at herself, carrying two ice-cream cones.
She looked around at the amusement park full of screaming people, only dimly aware of what she'd been doing since she got here.
The last thing I really remember is heading towards the garden across the street, and Kit saying something as we left... What the hell am I doing here? Where's Ebreth? Khyri looked down at her hands again. I don't even like cherry ripple ice cream!!
Furious, she threw the stupid cones into the pavement, splattering white-and-dark-pink ice cream everywhere, and ran back to the bench.
Dammit, what do I have to do to keep a resolution around here? How can I have left him alone after what happened with Schneider?!
Khyrisse ran up to the bench and stopped dead, staring at the results of her momentary absence. "No." Khyrisse cleaned the ice cream off and cast forget on Ebreth, removing the last several minutes from his memory. You are not remembering that that happened, lover."
Vas flew up and hovered over the bench. "Khyrisse, there's a giant attacking everyone in the park. Val has gone to stop it."
"Grendel," Khyrisse spat. "Where are Kit and Skitch? No, don't bother; they'll get involved if they aren't already, I'm sure." She pulled Ebreth off the bench. "If it weren't for that, the thing could destroy the place for all I'd care!" She looked up at Vas' surprised face. "Oh, go on ahead, Vas, and help your sister," she sighed wearily. "I'm not leaving Ebreth alone again. We'll be there in a minute."

Character(s): Alphred and Tarrin
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Walkabout in Signetland
Title of Post: Adventure Land
Somehow Alphred and Tarrin had gotten themselves lost... again. This time they were both wandering the area of Signetland called 'The Adventurer's Corner.' There were lots of theme-type rides covering areas of Ataniel. They passed the Pirates of the Montas Archipelago. They strolled past the Doomlands Wild Donkey Cart ride. They even strolled past the Riklandir Fjord Ride. It was when they came to a central plaza that they both stopped. There, across from each other, were the Lost World of Salagia ride and the Diaria House of Horrors. Both Alphred and Tarrin frowned at this bastardization of their respective homelands.
"I do not think I like this place Signetland," said Tarrin thoughtfully.
"I agree with you, Tar'rin. I think the owner needs to be talked to," said Alphred in response.
Tarrin nodded in agreement.
"However, first there is work to do. You have heard my plight and the role the Great Spirits said you will play in it. Will you journey with me to Salagia?"
"I was looking forward to getting home, but the world has become much more interesting since the King of Kings' spell teleported me into the Barbarian Lands. I will go with you."
Alphred smiled and grasped Tarrin's elbow in an unmistakably friendly gesture.
"Now we just have to convince the Spirit Maiden and the living god Nur'ur."
"You mean Khyrisse and Jack, umm Jackie, I gather."
Alphred nodded.
"The four of us will defeat the approaching evil. I just hope we have enough time to do it. During my time in the presence of the Great Spirits they said I have until the three moons are in opposition."
Tarrin did some quick mental calculations and blanched. "That will happen in two weeks. We don't have much time."

Character(s): Talvin, Avenger of Bugs and Small Stuff Everywhere
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Boring Old Educational Signetland
Title of Post: The House of Insects
"Everyone, stay in line... No straggling!"
A small boy with scruffy white-blond hair kicked along disconsolately at the end of the line of schoolchildren. A stuffed displacer beast dragged along in the dirt behind him. "Why don't we ever go anywhere cool for class trips?!" the kid shouted indignantly. "Like Forix's abandoned tower in the Shadowlands! Or the Vampire Catacombs of Tobrinel!"
"Class trips are supposed to be educational," said the girl in front of him.
"Those are educational! I'll bet I'd learn a lot from a Vampire Lord! A lot more than a stupid trip to Signetland!"
"We're supposed to be learning about codes of morality, Talvin," the girl said prissily. "Sister Rosalyn wants us to think about what our moral codes are going to be."
"Do I hear talking back there?" came a stern female voice from the front of the line. The girl immediately subsided. Talvin's face twisted into a ferocious scowl, and he jammed his hands into the pockets of his orphanage pants, slouching along at the end of the line.
"I know what my code of morality is going to be," he said, kicking at a fallen ice-cream cone. "'Fake being sick whenever Sister Rosalyn plans a class trip.' Kids with parents get all the fun."
Several minutes later, Talvin was improving on his moral code, ignoring his surroundings except for the minimal attention necessary to stay with the group. "Fake being sick all over Suzie, that really smelly, chunky, slimy barf, and get it right down the front of her jumper. Then, when she runs off screaming, pretend I'm faint and tumble out of my chair, and when Sister Rosalyn comes to pick me up, puke again on her, and make some of it come out my nose, too. I'll never have to go on one of these stupid trips again. What can I eat the night before that will make really disgusting vomit? Slugs, maybe. Or Sister Artemisia's tuna casserole."
"There are nearly 4 000 species of Cockroaches in the world," droned a nasal voice from the front of the room, "of which only 25 to 30 are considered pests..."
"Bugs?" Talvin shouted, startled. "Where?? Signetland has a bug house! Wow! Let me see!!"
Talvin started pushing and shoving to the head of the line of orphanage children. Most of his year-mates gave him room to get past, knowing him all too well and not wanting to get involved. Unfortunately, this didn't do him any good. He reached the front of his group to discover that a bunch of older kids were ahead of their group, totally blocking the view. "HEY! Let the little kids up front! I wanna see!"
"Shuttup."
"What a whiny little slug."
"Maybe it's a bug. We should put him in a case."
"A soundproof one!"
Talvin launched himself at the obnoxious older kids, mouth open to yell-- and was jerked up short by a hand at the back of his collar. "GURK!!"
"Oh, no, you don't! Stay in line!!" said Sister Rosalyn, and dumped him on his butt behind her.
"But I can't see a thing!! This is probably the only cool exhibit in the entire park! What good is education if you can't see well enough to learn anything?!"
Sister Rosalyn bent down to look in his face, glaring furiously. "Talvin, if you don't stand right there and be quiet so we can hear the lecture, you're going to really wish I had left you back at the orphanage. Understand?"
*gulp*
"Good."

***


"Some species are parthenogenic, which means the females give birth only to other females, and no males are ever seen..."
"What a dumb idea... Get rid of the girls instead!" Talvin muttered sullenly.
"SHHH!"
Talvin subsided, with his face in such a furious scowl that it seemed to be all wrinkles.
Man, I wish I were big. I'd teach some of those kids to let littler kids alone.
I'll bet the bugs would like to be big, too. I'll bet those rotten kids up front step on bugs.
I'll bet they wouldn't like being stepped on. I'll bet the bugs would get a real kick out of seeing some of these rotten kids being stepped on, for a change...
Talvin grinned fiercely, picturing himself as a twenty-foot tall giant kid with a flaming sword, raining down mass destruction on Signetland. Roaring, he swung his displacer beast stuffed toy by the tail and stomped around in an imaginary little world of his own. The sounds of screaming and splintering wood seemed really lifelike. Talvin the Giant grinned gleefully. This was his best daydream yet.

Character(s): Valende, Talvin and Cobbes
Author: Evan Haag
Storyline: Signetland
Title of Post: Why Tigers (and Displacer Beasts) are Smarter
Val raced towards the rampaging giant, occasionally pausing to help a fleeing parkgoer who had stumbled. It was slow going, but eventually she came to the now-destroyed Insect Zoo. It was a lot quieter inside than out, if you ignored the buzzing of thousands of insects who were suddenly freed.
Val couldn’t suppress a wry smirk. And to think I was just missing the Abyss.
She moved stealthily inside, hoping to find any victims of the giant before it was too late to help them. Most of the people inside seemed to be dazed more than anything else, although there were an awful lot of small girls who were overreacting to the bugs.
“Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod, geddidoffameeeee!!!!!”
“Eeeeeewwww!!!!”
“Aaahh!! It’s in my hair!!!”
“Aaahh!! It’s in my....AAAAAAAHHHH!!!”

***


Val winced at the screaming and looked instead for someone who was more seriously hurt. As she rounded a corner, she saw a likely candidate. A young woman, dressed as a nun, was being played with by a large, purple, six-legged displacer beast. She was putting up a decent fight, her yardstick flicking out to jab at the beast’s tender snout, but she never connected, thanks to the monster's illusion-casting ability.
Val whispered a small prayer to Solonor, and closed her eyes. The spell granted her the guidance to ignore appearances and strike at the true form. She just hoped she was in time to save the poor nun.
As she leapt forward to block the displacer beast, it leaped to the side, and then leaped to the top of a stack of crates. She spun to face it, only to realize that it was moving towards her, slowly... on its two hind legs. She opened her eyes cautiously, only to meet the eyes of the creature. It had a stupid comic grin on its face, and quickly plopped down in front of her on its back. It kept grinning at her as it did so, and Val would have sworn that it would have been trying to look up her skirt, if she were wearing one.
She looked back for the nun, but she had fled. Looking down at the magical cat, she realized that it just wanted what all cats wanted - someone to pet it. With a sigh, she knelt down by the purple critter and started scratching its tummy. As if on cue, it started purring loud enough to drown out the bugs.

***


Talvin the Giant continued to smash his way through the park, a trail of dazed and confused (but relatively unharmed) people behind him. He paused briefly to bellow something in an unrecognizable tongue, waited for a second, then bellowed again. When nothing happened, he turned back around and saw (to his disgust) Val scratching his cat Cobbes on the tummy.
Traitor! he thought at his best friend. You’re fraternizing with the enemy!! Four demerits, and no live rhinoceros for dinner!!
The cat grinned back at him. I’m not fraternizing. I surrendered. There’s an important difference.
Talvin the Giant screamed in rage, and looked for more stuff to break.

Character(s): Schneider, Talvin, Cobbes, the RP
Author: Jonah S Cohen
Storyline: Signet Progress Goes "Boink"
Title of Post: S for Strength! C for Courage! H for Horrible wardrobe!...
There was a time when Schneider would have been extremely amused by what was going on. This was most definitely NOT that time. He placed a funny-nose-and-glasses on his face and his appearance began to change.
I now call to order this meeting of G.R.O.S.S.-- Get the Ratpack Out of Slimy Signetland.

***


Amidst the chaos, Princess Kristin was thinking: How the heck did a 20 foot giant get through the Insect Zoo's 7 foot doorway???

***


For no apparent reason, a flying saucer crash-landed right between Oethnar's Treehouse and Arawn's Haunted Mansion.
Talvin was having a great time. NOW this stupid amusement park was fun! But then he heard a voice behind him yell "Stop!"
The giant turned and saw a figure in a magenta headwrap and cape floating in midair beside him. He gasped. "My God! It's world famous super-hero SchneiderMan! Opponent of Tyranny! Defender of Liberty! Who bears absolutely no resemblance to Merry Jester turned Depressing Penitent Adventurer Schneider!"
"That's right, son! And I'm afraid your lawless rampage, fun tho it might be, is about to come to an end."
"Aww! But Signetland is lame!"
"I'll tell you what. I'll use my Schneider powers to fly around the world so fast that time will travel backwards-- so it'll be like you never had to come here at all."
"You can't do that!" Cobbes shouted from below. "Ataniel is flat! That'd only work if it were a sphere!"
"Oh, right!" SchneiderMan called back. "Who're you gonna believe-- a real live superhero or a dumb ole Displacer Beast?"
"Yeah! Shut up!" Talvin said.
"And when you get home you can even play some Talvinball."
"Really?!? You know how to play Talvinball?!?"
"Of course! Is it not the official sport of evil illithid dopplegangers pretending to be Dukes of Lianth?"
"Cool!"
"But I'm declaring a No-Giants-In-Perpetuity-Forever-and-a-Day."
"You can't do that!"
"You know the rules!"
"Yeah yeah... whatever we make up...."
"That's right, so you'll have to shrink down before heading home to play."
"OK, seeya later, SchneiderMan!"

***


"We are leaving now!" Sister yelled. "Stay in a straight line, students!" If there was any mercy to this awful field trip, it was that at least her main problem student, Talvin, was leaving the park in a cheerful, well behaved manner.
When I get home, I'm gonna use my Duplicator box to make myself a costume just like SchneiderMan's!

***


"You're our head of security here at Signetland! You must find out who's responsible for this disaster!"
The suit whined in a voice that was halfway between Siobhan MacLir involved in a fight, and Tila involved in something no kid should be allowed to see. But if it's a grisly scene you've got, that's why you hire me. My name's Bracer Garrotte. I'm a private eye.
"...simply awful! yada yada yada!"
This guy needed some Metamucil. I just needed a drink. I promised I would bring the culprit to justice, though in fact, I would not. The perp happened to be a good friend of mine. I closed the case.

***


"Everyone all right?"
"I think so."
"Hi guys," Schneider said, casually strolling up. "Hey, what happened here?"
"Didn't you see it?!?"
"Well, no. I was over at the Sword Of Power-Horn. Dang, the lines are long here. What'd I miss?"
"Some giant attacked, and then the superhero SchneiderMan stopped him! Hey, is he, like, any relation?"
"No, no. But a lot of people make that mistake. Gee, I'm sorry I missed seeing him..."
He's lying! Princess Kristin thought. And yet-- everyone is buying it!!!
For his part, Mild Mannered Merry Jester turned Depressing Penitent Adventurer Schneider was thinking And the worst part is even I can't bring myself to count saving Signetland as one of the 56. Dang.

Character(s): Khyrisse and the Wonder Twins
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: G.R.O.S.S.
Title of Post: Can't Help It; Love That Jester Of Mine
Khyrisse looked around for Vas, her arm around Ebreth's waist. He's probably up in the air somewhere. Now where the hell--
Her jaw dropped as the magenta-caped-and-cowled figure flew up to the giant kid. Ye gods, it's SchneiderMan! Khyrisse collapsed into giggling. "Who bears absolutely no resemblance to Merry Jester turned Depressing Penitent Adventurer Schneider," my lily-white ass...! She had a ringside seat for the conversation that ensued, ending with the kid shrinking back down to normal size and running off towards the front gate of the park, dragging a stuffed purple displacer beast along behind him.
Damn it, just when I'm mad at him, he does something like this. Schneid, you may have been messed up by the Madness... but in some ways, you haven't changed a bit.

***


Vas landed next to his sister, who was staring in astonishment towards the gate, surrounded by escaping insects. "Val? Are you all right?"
"I-- Yes, I'm fine... Ah..."
Vas tilted his head to one side and stared at her, puzzled. "Yes?"
"There was a... purple displacer beast, and it..."
Vas' eyes widened a little. "Purple?"
"...and it turned into a stuffed toy... and ran away."
"You've eaten too much cotton candy again, haven't you?"
"I have not!"

***


"Some giant attacked, and then the superhero SchneiderMan stopped him! Hey, is he, like, any relation?"
"No, no. But a lot of people make that mistake. Gee, I'm sorry I missed seeing him..." Schneider sighed a little, and looked up, to find Khyri looking back at him. Her face was lit up in a smile that took him back six years, her eyes sparkling in mischievous appreciation of a shared secret. She tapped a fingertip against her mouth in a gesture a bit like a "shhh". I'll keep this secret, Schneider.
"All right, folks, it looks like the place is closing for the night," Khyrisse said, getting everyone's attention. "Let's head back to the Mithril Dagger? I want my dinner, my drink, and a bath, in that order. I might actually get them all before this mysterious woman shows up." She smiled again, a weight seeming to have lifted a little from her shoulders.
"But I doubt it."

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