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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Hell and Back Archives
Fatal Attractions, Part II



Character(s): Vic Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Hell to Pay: Ditty About Vic and Valende
Title of Post: Vic Makes His Move
"Well, enjoy your rest, beautiful," Vic crooned to Khyrisse. "Sometimes there's nothing like rolling alone, your bare skin on satin sheets."
Khyrisse kept going and hoped that her blush wasn't noticeable.
Vic turned to Valende, who was looking unhappy. "So, baby, same room as usual? I've got a great idea for tonight, pretty lady."
"Um." Val said, thinking of how to best put it. "I think that I should, ah, stay with the kids tonight. Hell isn't someplace we should overlook caution."
"We don't need a babysitter!" Kit cried.
"Yeah!" Skitch agreed. "We're both grown boys!"
Vas caught Val's eye. "Listen to Aunt Valende, boys."
"Aw, spit," Kit muttered.
"Maybe you can bunk with your Uncle Asinus," Val said, and turned towards the boys, her back to Vic.
Vic watched her go, his cool grin hiding his confusion. "Huh. And tonight I thought I could teach her some of those Montasi waltzes she loves," Vic sighed.

Character(s): Khyrisse
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Vendetta: Offense/Hell To Pay
Title of Post: To Sleep, Perchance To Dream
Khyrisse paced around in her room for a while, drinking little sips of brandy in an effort to relax without getting drunk. She glanced over at her spellbook every so often, lying open on her desk. After a long while, she went to it and closed it. She reached over and picked up another book, and left the room.

***


Khyri sat crosslegged at the foot of the bed, book open across her lap. She was using both hands to gesture, often with them linked together at the thumbs, dancing through the air like a white bird.
"'I am a roving gambler...! How do you do?'" "Hello, Butterfly! Welcome! Have you traveled very far?" "'How far would I travel... to be where you are?'" Khyrisse caroled, hands swooping around the bed, over the heads of the two giggling boys. "'Clay lies still, but blood's a rover.' 'Red Rover, Red Rover, let Charlie come over!' 'Won't you come home, Bill Bailey? Won't you come home?' 'My wild Irish rose...!'" "Be a little respectful, Butterfly! Do you know who I am?" "'Excellent! Well, you're a fishmonger!'"
Ixhriy swooped into the room, shouting excitedly. "Ixhriy knows this part! 'You're my everything...' 'You are my Sunshine...!' 'You're old and gray and full of sleep.' 'You're my pickle-faced, consumptive Mary Jane!!'" the imp sang, flying drunkenly around Khyrisse's head. Khyrisse fell over, shrieking with laughter.
"Wow, she must have read this story a lot," Kit said, grinning. Skitch nodded, and smothered a yawn. "It's her favorite. It's really cool, you'll like it. We're starting over so you can hear it from the beginning, and I don't even mind."
"'Oh, have you seen the muffin man, the muffin man, the muffin man?'" Ixhriy warbled at Khyri from the bedpost.

Character(s): Vic, Alphred
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: A Night In Hell
Title of Post: The Unfathomable Ways Of Women
Vic lay alone on the top bunk in the infernal guest room, one of his legs dangling over the side, combing his hair back idly as he ran an internal replay on everything he had said to her today. Improbably, he found himself wishing Ebreth Tor was here.

***


The spirit maiden had declined the assistance of the sloth totem. She still did not trust the ways of his ancestors. Though she did keep the totem of the blue oyster on her person at all times, Alphred reminded himself. Perhaps she misunderstood the totems as charms, and hoped it might bring her good luck in recovering her mate. These people had strange ideas about magic.
Alphred wanted to take her aside and try to explain to her why his ancestors wanted him to use the totem of the bat in this strange land of Hell. He didn't quite know how to put it. Because we enter a place without paths, and we must make one where none exists? No. Because bats have echolocation? No. Because otherwise we will become lost? That sounded good. Unfortunately, the spirit elf seemed to be instructing the youngsters in the legends of their people. Alphred sat down and listened to her chant the story of the muffin man. He could tell her about the path through Hell and the totem of the bat when she was finished.

Character(s): Khyrisse, Valende, Ixhriy, the Rat
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Hell To Pay
Title of Post: Khyrisse Lies And Claims To Want Sleep...
The boys didn't last very long, not even with the amusing sight of Ixhriy playing bit parts from The Last Unicorn. They were snoring softly half an hour later. "Retty still want sleep?" Ixhriy said hopefully as she closed the book.
"Yes, Ixhriy," she said patiently. "I still need some sleep. Why don't you get something to eat?"
Valende smiled at her as Ixhriy zoomed off to ask Sennett for something grotesque to eat. "You read stories very well-- although I have to admit that Ixhriy made an interesting addition. You are much too young for children of your own, of course," she said with a teasing look, "but you need not worry about having adopted these."
"I'm worried about where I'm taking them, mostly," Khyrisse sighed, running her hands over the cover of the book. "Skitch is beginning to look rather twitchy. Kit seems to be handling it better, but..."
Valende sighed as well. "I had best bring this up now. Jac-- Vic told me earlier that we are heading into what looks to be a trap, based on the nature of our surroundings. He said that space was beginning to warp, and that soon every direction would be the same. We couldn't retrace our path to get out."
Khyrisse thought about this. "The Island of No Return. I suppose that's possible; the physical laws of the Prime Material don't apply here, necessarily." She bit her lip, thinking. "I know there's a clerical spell... but I don't think anyone has it anymore..." Eventually Khyrisse sighed. "I think I'm going to have to get Vic's help on this one."
Valende nodded. "Do you want an escort?" she asked with a wry smile. "I think he's staying with Asinus for the night."
"Oh, no..."

***


The Rat jumped up on the bed where Vic was reading. He was carrying Jack's little notepad and a scribble-stick, which he pushed at his friend. The Rat looked up at him, obviously a little puzzled. "Jack okay? Jack's body okay, but Jack different. Need fixed?"

Character(s): Uncle Asinus
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: A Night In Hell
Title of Post: Swinging
"Chickie-baby! I knew you couldn't contain your passion forever!"
This was such a mistake.
"I have something I must tell you," repeated Alphred, for the eighth time.
"In a minute, Alphred," said Khyrisse, impatiently. "This is very important, and I have to talk to Jack about it."
"Vic," corrected Vic, hopping off the bunk bed with hope in his face.

Character(s): Khyrisse, losing both patience and tact
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: A Night In Hell
Title of Post: ...When In Fact She Does Not
"Jack--"
"Vic, beautiful. Call me Vic."
Khyrisse put a hand to her forehead. "Vic. Valende tells me that we're walking into a strange area of Hell, a place where every direction becomes just like every other, and you can't get out. There's a clerical spell that would work, it was called find the path, but no one has it anymore. I could try to reverse a maze spell, but I don't know if it would work. I need some help figuring this out, I am not here for some weird foursome!"
"No offense intended," Valende murmured ruefully from behind her, ever the peacemaker.
Khyrisse sighed. "Right. No offense."

Character(s): Alph
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Like A Bat Out Of Hell
Title of Post: Alphred Explains
"Excuse me," said Alphred, again.
"Not now, Alphred!"
This woman was in serious need of the totem of the sloth, mused Alphred. "We enter a place without paths, and we must find one where none exists," he said, patiently. No, wait, that wasn't the explanation he'd decided on. "We should use the totem of the bat because otherwise we will get lost." He looked from the spirit maiden to the god Nur'ur. "Math and magic are not what is needed here," he explained. "We need echolocation."

Character(s): Vic Paris, Rat Pack
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Hell to Pay
Title of Post: Vic and Alphred: The Odd Couple
"Well, honey," Vic said in a low, pleasant voice, "what I noticed was that we're entering an area where the spatial constants seem to be adjusting... as x approaches 0, all the factorials begin to meld."
"The bat!" Alphred cried. "We need the bat totem!"
"Why's that, Jungle Jim?" Vic asked. "Because devils are a cowardly and superstitious lot?"
"I vote for the oyster totem again," Asinus said, nuzzling Khyrisse from behind. Val swatted him on the tail.
"No... it has... echolocation," Alphred said.
"Fat lot of good that'll do when the only thing it can reflect off of is itself, bunky," Vic crooned.
"Mabye Alphred means something else," Khyrisse said.
"I mean that with the ears of the bat we will hear through the illusions and find the true path."
"Do we get to fly?" Kit asked.
"I thought you were asleep," Val said, taking the thief's hand. "Come on."
"Do you think that might work, uh, Vic?"
"Beautiful, if you think it's worth a shot, I'm all over it." He clicked his tongue and grinned.

Character(s): Vic Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Hell to Pay
Title of Post: Flashback: The Rat's Offer
Vic looked at the rat, paper in its mouth.
"What do you mean, fix me?"
"Jack different. Thank you!"
"Little buddy, I don't know what you're talking about. I'm as cool as I've ever been."
The rat looked confused. "Jack's math off? Jack talk different."
"Call me Vic," Vic said, petting the rat. "And my math's the same... promise. I can check these things."
The rat frowned. "Thank you?"
"Hey, Robinson was worried about my traveling the planes, but he should've known that no silly afterlife could mess with Vic Paris." Vic grinned broadly. "Now why don't you go to sleep, my ratly little pal?"
The rat crawled up onto Vic's pillow, resigned.
Vic lay back. He didn't want to say anything, but people had been treating him differently lately. It must be Hell, he thought. It must be affecting them all somehow. Making them nervous and distrustful.
Just in case, Vic stared at the ceiling and began to check his math.

Character(s): Valende
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: A Night In Hell
Title of Post: Valende Plays Rhynwa
"Khyrisse?" said Valende softly, putting her hand on her boss' back as they left the Paris quarters. "You look terrible. Do you think maybe you ought to get a little sleep with what's left of tonight, instead of pursuing your vendetta against Ariath? We have to fight Big Mean Devil tomorrow, and we may need to fight some other devils to get Ebreth back. You really look like you could use the rest."

Character(s): Khyrisse and Valende
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: A Night In Hell
Title of Post: Smart Remarks
Khyrisse smiled wanly. "Oh, I'd already decided that I wasn't going to bother Ariath tonight." She cocked her head at Valende. "Sleep, huh?"
"Sleep," Valende said firmly.
"I think I've heard of it somewhere. What's it good for?"
"Not messing up your spellcasting... being alert enough to dodge Asinus..."
"I'm there."

***


Khyrisse woke several hours later, discovering that good dreams were, in their own way, as bad as nightmares.
"S'parde...?" she murmured sleepily, opening her eyes, half-dreaming still. Khyrisse remembered where she was and why, and woke up with a vengeance. She took a deep breath and sighed heavily, then kicked off the covers with muted violence.
"I never thought I'd say this," she grumbled, sitting up and glaring around her at the opulent four-poster, "but this bed is too damn big."

Character(s): Skitch
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: A Night In Hell
Title of Post: Talking To Yourself Only Works If You're Alone
"Why?" said Skitch innocently. Khyrisse realized with a start that he'd been sleeping in the armchair at the foot of her bed. "Are there too many covers? And what's a s'parde? That sounds like Elvish."

Character(s): Khyrisse
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: A Night In Hell
Title of Post: The Perils of Motherhood
Khyrisse stared for a moment, surprised.
"Um." She shook her head and pushed her hair back from her face. "Yes, I think there are too many covers on here... You know how I kick."
"Have Sennett get rid of some. So what's s'parde mean?"
"S'parde-vois," she clarified, blushing a little and getting out of bed. Not least so that she didn't have to meet Skitch's eyes. "It is Elvish, you're right. It means 'panther'. I was dreaming."
"Oh," Skitch said, not understanding in the least.

Character(s): Bloodscar
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Vendetta: Defense Side, The Third Coming of Bloodscar
Title of Post: A Brief Respite, or, Who's Watching the Store?
Ariath lay with her eyes open. Omeria sat vigil at the end of her bed. Marhault was sleeping off the effects of his trip, and the rest didn't want to be around while Siann did what she did. Still, Omeria couldn't leave Ari to face it alone. Nor did she trust Siann. "Are you sleeping, little knife?" Omeria asked.
"On and off," Ariath confessed. "It's a strange feeling. Like the acoustics in my head are different."
"Well, I'm here if you need anything."
"I don't think it's going to happen tonight."
"No?" Omeria asked.
"She usually does this early in the nighttime. I think she spends a lot of the night dealing with what she's done."
"Morality," Omeria sighed. "Gets you every time."
"I don't know why she worries. I know why she's doing it. She thinks she has cause."
"Don't ask me to understand heroes, Ari. That's your job."
"And one I like to think I do well," Ariath grinned.
"You do. Now try to sleep. If she isn't going to bother you tonight, I'd rather you get good rest. I need you tomorrow morning, remember."
"I remember. I'll be ready."
Ariath closed her eyes.
Omeria continued to keep vigil through the night.
No dreams came.

Character(s): Ixhriy
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Morning Over Hell
Title of Post: I Do Not Like Them, Sam-I-Am
"Good morning Retty!" shrieked Ixhriy. "Retty kill big mean devil today? Please Retty?"
"Ewwwwww!" said Kit, delightedly. "These eggs are green!"

Character(s): The Rat Pack
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Hell To Pay
Title of Post: Grief and Avenging Cares
Khyrisse grinned a little at Ixhriy over her coffee, and pushed her breakfast towards him. Green scrambled eggs. Brrr. I don't even need an excuse to not eat. "Yes, we'll kill the Big Mean Devil today, you crazy creature!"

***


Skitch caught up to her after breakfast, while she was getting her things together. "Khyrisse?"
She looked up from her pack. "Yes?"
Skitch looked uncomfortable. "You do remember that we've got to find Tarrin too, right? I know you-- you want to rescue Ebreth pretty bad, but we're gonna need to bolt after that, aren't we?"
Khyrisse sighed and sat down. "Yes, I remember. Skitch, come here and sit down, would you?"
Skitch came over and perched on the bed next to her, looking warily at her serious expression.
"Kiddo, I have to be honest with you. I checked with Ixhriy, and he hasn't heard anything about someone like Tarrin being here. The cat hadn't either. Living mortals are rare here, it's why I've tried to keep us out of sight." She sighed and held his hand in hers. "Skitch, I don't think Tarrin ever was here. I think he probably died."
Skitch's face fell in on itself, and Khyrisse squeezed his hand as he closed his eyes and swallowed several times. "It's just not fair," he mumbled angrily around the knot in his throat. "Tarrin was so nice to everybody, and he was lost, and he never got home...!"
Khyrisse opened her arms wordlessly. Skitch gave up all pretense of being adult about it and cried on her shoulder while she rocked him. "I know," she whispered. "I know. I'm sorry."
"Why does all the bad stuff happen to nice people!" he shouted hoarsely.
Khyrisse closed her eyes and held him tighter. "I've been wondering that for years, kiddo," she said, her own eyes stinging.

***


Khyrisse came down the stairs, rubbing her forehead wearily with one hand. Garal was in the hallway already, pack at his feet, as he peered out the front door. "Anything out there?"
"No," Garal replied. "It seems pretty quiet, actually. I think it'll be safe for us to leave the mansion."
"Garal, I wanted to talk to you about something..." The halfling turned to look at her, and Khyrisse sat down with a sigh. I seem to be doing nothing but sighing these past few days. "That cat-thing... you realize that it's surely awake by now..."
Garal nodded. "I've been worried about that myself. We said more than we should have in front of it, I'm afraid."
"How likely is the creature to tell someone what it knows about our purpose in being here? How much does it know?"
Garal paused and thought about it. "For the most part, I simply got whatever rumors it knew about mortals, still living ones, being here. But I know we all mentioned names in front of it. I hate to tell you this, but it's likely to tell the tale to anyone willing to feed it for the information."
Khyrisse put her head in her shaking hands. "Gods, they'll have Ebreth surrounded by guards... I'll never get to him..."
Garal touched her shoulder, hesitantly. "It may take a while for the information to reach the right people. This is a cat we're talking about, they're not the most organized of creatures. We'll have to hurry." He paused. ďAs for his information... Ebreth is here, but the cat-thing can't tell me where. He doesn't care about place names. He knows how to get there but he said we're too big to fit."
Ixhriy half bounded, half flew to Khyrisse. "Ixhriy knows! Ixhriy will tell Retty!"
"As for Cori... He saw her leave with a young demon queen named Ailonwy."

Character(s): Norna and her minions ("I am not a minion!" - Shilree 2)
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Skeins of Fate: Lord Kyber's House
Title of Post: The Leader
"You're the leader?" Norna demanded. "This is absurd."
"Mock me not!" the halfling cried. "Lord Kyber will fall to my might!"
Luthien wasn't sure whether to laugh or to laugh really hard.
"If we must destroy Lord Kyber," Norna sneered, "then I will take command. I will not listen to your idiotic catspaw." She glared momentarily at Wyvern then swung her spear around, impaling Spiffy Garbonzo to the wall. "This resistance is mine," she spat.
The halfling, however, was no longer on the spear. He reappeared, the wound healed, behind Norna. One stubby foot kicked her in the back of the knee.
"You little shit!" Norna cried, grabbing Spiffy by the neck and snapping it between her fingers. "Now, Wyvern, how will defeating Lord Kyber..."
The body was gone. He appeared again opposite the room from Norna, a wizened potato in his hand. The potato sailed across the room and hit Norna in the nose.
Wyvern watched without reaction. Luthien was starting to lose it. Hronmir thought about stepping in, but Norna hadn't ordered him to, so he decided to watch.
"There is a reason that he is the Leader of the resistance," Wyvern said dryly as Norna thrust her fist through the halfling's rib cage.
Another disappearance and miraculous healing later, Garbonzo was standing atop a table, a nasty looking blade in his hand. "These fools are the allies you bring me, Wyvern?"
"Oh, what a cat's paw," Luthien sighed.
"Stop. Both of you. Stop." Wyvern spoke with no assertiveness whatsoever.
"Kneel to me, fool!" Spiffy screamed at Norna. "Kneel to me or be destroyed, Evil One!"
"This is going to take a while, isn't it?" Luthien asked no one in particular.
And then Shilree stepped forward.

***


Twenty minutes later, after fleeing the scene of the explosion and avoiding the Overlord's guards, the party gathered in the wine cellar.
"If you're all done, now," Wyvern said. "I think we should discuss what to do next."
"We get Flicker," Luthien said.
"My armies are massing!" Spiffy cried. "We just need entrance to the castle!"
"We kill Kyber and get out of this timeline," Norna said.
"I leave it up to you all to decide," Wyvern said.
"Fuck," Luthien whispered.

Character(s): Skitch and Kit
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Morning Over Hell
Title of Post: One Method Of Stress Management
Strangely enough, it was raining in Hell. It did seem to be raining blood, which kept it from looking too un-hellish, but the temperature was considerably cooler. The rocky arroyos that had been dry as old bones yesterday were rushing madly today. There was something somehow beautiful about it, which was very disturbing. Alphred was finishing his communion with the totem of the bat.
"To Palace That Fell From Hell!" shrieked Ixhriy, clinging against Khyrisse. Skitch, still morose after the news about Tarrin, did not seem thrilled about either Ixhriy or Asinus constantly taking excuses to grab at the only mother he really had, but he was tensely polite.
Then Kit gave him a wedgie.
"You son of a--"

Character(s): The Brat Pack
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Tucson To Pay
Title of Post: Rhyme, Rhyme, Who's Got a Rhyme...
"SKITCH!" Khyrisse shouted warningly, cutting him off.
Kit dissolved into laughter.
Skitch tackled him. Khyrisse covered her eyes and shook her head as the boys tumbled around, getting muddy.
"Oh, we're real subtle," she sighed. "I should be carrying a sign. 'Former Deity and Leader of Mortal Extraction Force-- Shoot Me Now, Please?'."
"Aw, man, my tunic!" Skitch said, completely filthy but looking less stressed, oddly enough.
"That's what you get for messing with the Greatest Thief on Ataniel," said Kit, grinning.

Character(s): Vas
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Morning Over Hell
Title of Post: The Running Gag That Would Not Die
"We're coming up on a building," said Vas. "Could that be the Palace That Fell To Hell!"
"No, dummy!" shrilled Ixhriy. "Palace That Fell To Hell on Island Of No Return! That way!"
"Then what is this place?" asked Vas. "It looks like a diner."
"That 100% Human Hair," said Ixhriy. "Ixhriy not like eat there. Serve only hair. Mostly dead evil souls eat there."

***


"This is so gross," said Doug.
"I wonder if this hair comes from Diaria," said Laura.

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