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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Hell and Back Archives
Tonight All Is Silence In The World, Part III

Character(s): Kerouac and Val
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Jungleland
Title of Post: Slapstick At Its Finest
"The glue of the giant sundew will wear off by tonight," explained Alphred.
"Kerouac wishes the cleric babe wouldn't be so noisy when she is standing so close to Kerouac's ear."
It was going to be a long afternoon, Khyrisse realized.

Character(s): Asinus, Caimen, Lora, Rauvin
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Detect Secret Passage
The news was not good.
Asinus snorted and walked away from the table to gaze pensively out the estate window. Rauvin's eyes followed him.
"I did all I could," Rauvin said. "I told them nothing."
"Still," Caimen sighed, "you've at least been able to confirm what we've suspected for some time. The Remnant is after the secret of the Passage."
"It was too much to hope that no one would have noticed, what with the Madness," Lora said, putting her hand comfortingly on her husband's shoulder. "Even keeping a low profile, they had to know that something was... different."
"If the Lady finds out about this, we'll have a lot more to deal with than just the Remnant," Caimen said.
"She won't," Asinus grumbled from the window. "Margo's on her side, we're on ours."
"Oh, that's cold, Asinus," Lora scolded. "Don't you care anymore? She is your wife."
"Ex-wife," Asinus insisted. "And we can handle this Remnant thing here. We don't need to bring her or any of her kind in on it."
"I... I wish I knew more about the Remnant's plans," Rauvin said sadly.
"Don't worry about it, cousin," Caimen said, patting Rauvin on the back gently. "You're with us now, safe and sound. Together we'll keep them out."
No one noticed the slight smile that flashed across Rauvin's face.
No one except lwyn, gazing through the Kentu Orbs, finally privy to the secrets of the family Paris.

Character(s): Rat Pack, Portobello
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Bungle in the Jungle
Title of Post: A Guide
Val and Kerouac sat back to back. Jack sat in front of Val, and was talking to her in low tones.
Kerouac was rolling his eyes and chortling.
Alphred suddenly looked up.
"That scent on the air..." he said, thinking.
"Kerouac does not smell!" Kerouac shouted.
Val opened her mouth and Jack diplomatically placed two fingers in front of it. She frowned but stayed silent.
"No, it is a smell that is familiar to me," Alphred said. "The smell of the fungus people."
"Oh, great..." Khyrisse said. "Giant plants that eat people aren't enough... we have to have ambulatory mushrooms?"
"The fungus people are one of my ancient enemies," Alphred said. "We should arm ourselves."
Just then, however, a lone fungus man stepped into the campsite.
"Help me... stop... Ta'al..." he said, collapsing.
"This could be a trick! The fungus people are cunning and evil!" Alphred cried.
Val stood to tend the intruder's wounds, yanking hair and skin off Kerouac's arm. The glue held. "Kerouac is coming, pushy lady," Kerouac said. "At least tell Kerouac next time when you're going to move us."
"It looks like he's been in a fight," Val said, kneeling over the fungus man. "But he'll be okay. I'll heal him."
"Then Kerouac can kick evil mushroom butt!"
"I don't really need this arm," Val grumbled.
The fungus person opened his eyes.
"What do you know about Ta'al?" Khyrisse asked.
"He is... seeking the fourth obelisk..." the fungus man said.
"We knew that," Alphred said. "Tell us who you are and why you have come here, or I will send you back to your king in pieces!"
"I know where... the obelisk... is..." Portobello said. "And I know the truth... about Ta'al..."
The mushroom man passed out again.
Khyrisse sighed. "Okay, Alphred, what can you tell us about mushroom people? We need to decide whether or not to trust this guy."

Character(s): Sarracenia Gargantua
Author: Laura Redish (with more thanks to Anhthy Nguyen)
Storyline: Jungleland
Title of Post: More Plants That Eat You
Alphred was grudgingly carrying the unconscious fungus man, waiting for him to recover sufficiently to be interrogated. "That was very brave," Ember said to Garal.
"Uhhhhhh--" said Garal, turning bright red.
Valende, looking more and more like a cranky Khyrisse with each passing minute, was shouting at Kerouac. "No, you idiot, left foot. Left!"
"Which foot is Kerouac's left foot again?"
"Just step with the leg that is closest to me, dammit!"
Kerouac took too big a step, and she tripped. The berserker fell on top of her. "Oof!" he said. "Kerouac remembers why he never won the three-legged race."
"That, and Kerouac kept biting the other children."
"No biting!" said Khyrisse, hurriedly.
"Aaaaaaah!" Skitch fell through some loose mud and was gone.
"Skitch!" Khyrisse was horrified. She rushed over to the place he had disappeared, having the sense to jab at the ground with her sword instead of stepping on it. Most of it crumbled away into some sort of pit. "It burns!" wailed Skitch's thin voice, from somewhere down below. "I can't get back out, there are spikes pointing down!"
"Oh, mercy!" Ember whizzed down into the pit like a hummingbird.
"This is a pitcher plant," said Alphred, sagely. "Animals and men fall into its bowl and are digested by the acid there."
"Could you tell us these things before we fall into them!" Khyrisse hollered at him.
The ground shook, Skitch cried out, and then Ember caromed out of the pit like a wasp breaking free of a spider's web. Her embroidered cloak was none the worse for wear, but her violet dress was badly ripped and eaten through at the knee and the shoulder; her dark hair was burned and slimy, and her face was blotched with an irregular burn. The ten-year-old clasped to her chest had his hands clamped painfully over his eyes, was half-naked, and his skin was red where it was exposed. Ember made a crash landing on her shoulder, gasping. "My eyes sting!" shouted Skitch. Val grabbed Kerouac by the collar and dragged him over to the boy.
"That was very brave," Garal offered. Ember rolled over onto her back, put both of her hands on her head, breathing, and did not say anything at all.

Character(s): Ember, Vas, Khyrisse, Tarrin
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Jungleland
Title of Post: Done In By The Maternal Instinct
Vas rushed over to Ember, with Khyrisse a step or two behind him as she checked on Skitch. Valende was making soothing noises, gently touching Skitchs eyes with fingers that glowed. Hell be all right, she reassured Khyrisse without looking up from her work. His eyes are healing up normally, he wont have any permanent damage.
Relieved, Khyrisse continued on towards the time-traveller. She arrived in time to see Vas help her sit up, then pull his hands back with a hiss. Acid, Vas, Khyrisse reminded him. She covered Embers eyes with her free hand, saying, Sorry, hold still, and dumped the contents of her waterskin over her head. Vas, get me more water.
Cant you use cantrip? he said, handing over his own waterskin.
Not for this. Cantrip cant negate an attack, you know that. She made sure the acid was completely gone from the beautiful hair and face, then rinsed off where Embers dress was eaten away. Youre not supposed to be looking at this without an invite anyway, Vas, Khyrisse added, amused. Go get more water.
Yes, mother, Vas replied, equally amused, and sped off.
Not that youre really showing much, Khyrisse said to Ember, casting a cantrip to dry her off, but I wouldnt want him hovering over me in this state. Hes got an unpredictable sense of humor.

Ember smiled a bit, lifting a hand painfully to her drenched and frizzled curls. That bad, hmm?
Mmm... Khyrisse cast another cantrip, and the dark curls repaired themselves. Not anymore. Your dress, however, is pretty much ruined, but I can repla--
Tarrin touched Khyrisses elbow, interrupting her. I will heal the burns of the plant, Khyri.
Khyrisse smacked herself for forgetting and got out of his way. Ember sighed in relief as Tarrin touched her face gently and healed the acid burns.
Thanks, Ember, Khyrisse said quietly, with a warm smile for the time-traveller, and got up to go to Skitch. I wont forget. haracter(s): Skitch, "Ember"
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Jungleland
Title of Post: Matters of Vanity
Ember stretched out along the damp earth with an inordinately contented sigh as Khyrisse rinsed her off and did her hair. She reminded Skitch strangely of a cat being scritched behind its ears. She batted her lashes at Tarrin in sleepy fashion as he healed the burn on her face. "Thank you, zheyrin," she murmured. Vas hurried back with more water, then relaxed when he saw it wasn't necessary. "Are you feeling better, my heroic sylph?"
"Oh, much." She let him help her up, holding her cloak shut around her ruined dress. I want a magic cloak like that, thought Skitch enviously. "Thank you."
"Ember," said Khyrisse, as she crossed to Skitch. "I won't forget."
"One does like to be remembered," she said to herself, a little sadly.
Khyrisse knelt by her adopted son. "You okay, kiddo?"
"I'm fine," he said, in a little voice, "but can you get me some more clothes, please?"
"Oh!" Khyrisse hurried to do so. Kit was giggling at him. Skitch bowed his head miserably. I've never been so embarrassed in my life. Thank God Ember is distracting all the grown-ups.

Character(s): "Ember"
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Ashes to Ashes
Title of Post: Illusion and Reality
Whispering the last words of her spell to herself, Ember let her magic cloak fall open. Her dress was in one sophisticated piece again, her body contained once more in its undamaged violet cloth. "How remarkable!" marvelled Vas, who had given up all pretenses of neutrality. "Tell me, my young beauty, was that a mending spell or an illusion?"
"You are welcome to try and disbelieve it, monsieur," she murmured demurely, and took to the air after Alphred.

Character(s): Khyrisse, Jack
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Skeins of Fate: Trade Wars
Title of Post: World Four Sees Us Coming
Khyrisse Paris' eyes went white.
"Risse?" Jack asked. "Is everything all right, hon?"
Slowly, Khyrisse refocused on the room in the Paris Family Estate at Tremontagne. "They're coming," she said.
"Who's coming?" Jack asked.
"The anomaly. The one you calculated. They're getting close now."
"Okay, dear," Jack said, taking her hand, "relax. They're not going to do anything to harm our world."
"They are," Khyrisse Paris said. "It's going to be much worse than we imagined, Jack. I saw our future..."
"Hush... futures can be changed. We just need to stop them from doing whatever it is they're coming to do."
"They're coming to kill Luthien Mageson. Jack, he sits on Knighthawke and Ender's Trade Council! There's no way we can get near him, even to protect him... not with the Trade Wars going on!"
"Well, it looks like the Parises and Tres will just have to work together against a common enemy."
"Oh, right," Khyrisse scoffed. "Like they did during the Gila Betrayal?"
'Good point," Jack sighed.
"Don't let me get you down, dear," Khyrisse said. "Between your skills and my goddesshood, we'll think of something."
"It's times like these that make me wish I hadn't killed Ebreth Tor," Jack sighed.

Character(s): Alphred
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Walkabout/Jungle Land etc.
Title of Post: Why Mushrooms are Evil
As the Rat pack got its act together, Alphred quickly explained about the Mushroom People.
"They live in the Forest of Grey. It is an area at the very north of Salagia. The Mushroom folk survive by absorbing all those around them. They turn others into Mushroom folk. That is why they are so evil."
"But can we trust them?" asked Khyrisse pointing to the fungus man.
Alphred thought for a moment. "Normally, no. But this is not a normal time."
That is when the tentacle snaked from the underbrush and wrapped itself around Vas's leg. It yanked once and knocked him off his feet.
"Help!" he screamed as he was dragged into the underbrush.
Alphred leapt up, pulling a long dagger out from behind his loin cloth.
"Mantrap!" he yelled as he entered the jungle.
The rest of the party followed.
"Hey, where were you hiding that dagger?" asked Kit, as the party went to rescue Vas. Skitch turned to her and shrugged.

Character(s): Khyrisse, semantician
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Jungleland
Title of Post: ...On The Hate List Right Below Cute Female Thieves
Alphred leapt up, pulling a long dagger out from behind his loin cloth.
"Mantrap!" he yelled as he entered the jungle.
Khyrisse stormed off into the undergrowth after Alphred, extremely annoyed at the way she seemed to attract innocent idiots. "No, really?" she demanded with blistering sarcasm. "It's obviously a trap, and it just dragged a man into itself. Mantrap, what an odd thing to call it. I'm glad you're here to tell us these things, Alphred-- ten seconds after whatever it is has eaten another party member."

Character(s): Jack Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Bungle in the Jungle
Title of Post: Love that Anhthy Paris...
Jack frowned while watching the mantrap pull Vas off. It was only moments before Kerouac and Alphred had cleared away the shrubbery and the giant tentacled plant towered over the party. This can't be right, Jack thought. He was no botanist, but Anhthy Paris had told him enough about plant mobility to know that a cellulose-based tentacle couldn't have the prehensility that this thing was exhibiting. "Um, you know, a cellulose-based tentacle can't have the prehensility that this thing is exhibiting," Jack offered.
"What?" Khyrisse asked.
"English, Brainiac," Kerouac said.
"You mean Dalen," Ember offered.
"It's just that my Aunt Anhthy taught me enough about plants to know that thing can't really be doing that."
"It is! It is!" Vas screamed from his position over the plant's maw.
"What are you suggesting?" Khyrisse asked.
"He's suggesting an illusion," Ember said, frowning and squinting. "And he's right."
"What good would an illusion that kidnaps a party member do?" Khyrisse demanded.
Then the ground beneath them started to collapse into a sinkhole.
"Mantrap," Khyrisse grumbled. "Got it."

Character(s): The Not-Very-Manly Rat Pack and Kerouac
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Jungleland
Title of Post: A Threat To Everyone's Y-Chromosome (Take Two!)
"Sssssssst! Khyrisse's bodyguard isn't very manly either!" Kerouac remarked. He was oblivious to the fact that the ground was moving until it dumped him on his butt, pulling an aggravated Valende down with him.
Khyrisse, who had glared at Kerouac hard enough to blister paint the last time he'd made manliness comments, ignored this one. She grabbed Skitch by the collar as he slid past. The plants dont stick! he spat, tossing aside a much-too-easily uprooted plant and holding onto her arm.
Most of the Rat Pack began sliding into the sinkhole as they lost their balance on the shifting earth. A crackling noise erupted from directly above the plant, and lightning coursed over the plant's surface. There was an odd sort of shriek, and the illusion disappeared in a cloud of acrid, singed-smelling mist. Vas stepped out of it, skin blistered in several wide streaks, wisps of smoke still rising from his clothing. Standing in midair over the center of the pit, he went rapidly through the gestures of a spell, hair flying in a rising wind. A miniature tornado whipped into angry life around him and expanded upwards and outwards, picking up the Rat Pack and depositing them fairly gently in the piles of hacked-down plantlife at the edges of the clearing. Vas dove out of the whirlwind at the last second, catching Ebreth as the wall of air tossed the pirate out of the sinkhole with the others. Khyrisse hit a pile of uprooted shrubbery, wrapped protectively around Skitch. Several sticks jabbed her in the side when she hit, but other than the handful of bruises that would probably give her, they both seemed to be fine. Skitch sat up, slightly muddy but grinning a bit. That was cool!
Vas landed nearby, with one of Ebreths arms slung over his shoulders. Im glad it meets with your approval, kiddo, he said, also smiling a bit, but looking tired. Anyone hurt?
I dont think so, Valende said, glancing around. She pulled herself out of a muddled pile of people that seemed to consist of herself, Kerouac, Jack, Cori, Marty, and the Rat. Cori leapt to her feet as if burnt and immediately took herself across the clearing from the elven cleric. Marty leapt out of the pile as well, for some reason Khyrisse couldnt fathom, his face pale. "I think it's time we packed it in for one day, Alphred," Khyrisse said firmly, as Val sighed and went to heal her brother, dragging the berserker with her. "Too many of us have been hurt. Find us something approximating an archway, okay? I don't care if you have to plant two sticks in the ground and tie another across the top, we're spending the night in the Mansion. Some of these damned plants probably walk around after dark."
"Very true, Spirit Maiden," Alphred said, nodding soberly as he helped Tarrin to his feet. Khyrisse stared at him for a moment, then propped her elbows on her knees, rubbing the side of her head.
"I used to like plants," she said plaintively.

Character(s): Cailin Raimonde
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: The Empress of Dalencia
Title of Post: Uneasy Alliances
"Empress, the envoy from Tobrinel has arrived. They seek an audience."
Cailin Raimonde pulled her cloak around her and frowned. She had been watching the events of Election Time to the north, and knew that she had cause for concern. She knew Omeria of old. The archmagess would cause trouble for her vision of a unified Dalencian Empire.
Castellin Stabbins opened the doorway to the throne room, and a tall, oriental man in dark clothes walked in.
"I present K'Mar, emissary of Duke Omeria of Tobrinel," Stabbins announced.
The ninja bowed to the empress. Stabbins left the room, closing the door behind him.
"If your duchess wishes me dead, she should have sent more than just one assassin," Cailin said coldly.
"I am not here as an assassin, milady," K'Mar said. "This is an honest diplomatic mission, one I take as a member of the Duke's inner circle. You would not wish a common ambassador to bring the tidings I bear."
"And what tidings would those be?" Cailin scoffed.
"Duke Omeria wishes to inform you that she knows the truth."
Cailin raised one eyebrow. "What truth?" she asked.
"She knows who you really are." K'Mar said coldly.
Cailin froze, and the chill raced up her spine to the point on the back of her neck where the archcloaker Malcar was plugged into her central nervous system.
"Before you consider having me killed," K'Mar continued, "know that the Duke has no interest in revealing her knowledge. Rather, she wishes to forge an alliance between our two states."
"An alliance? To what end?"
"You know my lady's past. She knows yours. She wishes to establish peace. You leave Tobrinel alone, and she doesn't tell Maxwell Silverhammer who the Empress of Dalencia is."
Cailin frowned, and sat silent in thought. The ninja stood patiently, awaiting her decision.
"Tell your mistress that I will accept this offer," the Empress finally said.
"I return with all speed," K'Mar bowed.
Cailin Raimonde watched the ninja leave. Her plans did not include Tobrinel for some time. There were other matters to pursue first. This "alliance" would not be a hindrance. Yet. And when the time came that it did... well, even Maxwell Silverhammer would not stand in her way.

Character(s): Garal, Khyrisse, Alphred and Skitch
Author: Eric Gasior
Storyline: Jungleland
Title of Post: What, Me Worry?
"Khyrisse! How's this?" Garal indicated a hollow in a tree at the edge of the newly formed clearing. "It looks like a normal, non-carnivorous tree."
"As long as it's not getting up in the middle of the night," Khyrisse replied, eying the tree suspiciously.
"It looks well rooted to the ground."
"This is a good tree. Birds nest here," Alphred contributed.
"It must be safe, Alphred's telling us about it before we get near it," Skitch said as Khyrisse prepared to cast her spell.

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