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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

For The Sins Of Somebody Else's Past



“Wait,” said Jack Yearlate, scrambling across the rocks of the improbable hilly terrain, “so did Coyote Jay say you had to go back to being the guy you were before, or just give up on getting rid of him completely?”

“I don’t know,” Ebreth admitted. “I don’t really understand half of what that guy says, to be honest with you.” He extended his hand down the plateau to the smaller man. His grip was stronger than the Jack Ebreth was used to. “I’m not sure if there’s a difference. I don’t give a damn about being a great hero or someone people remember in 500 years or whatever Brett was going on about, but I’m not real happy with the idea of promising a bunch of semi-divine spirits to keep that last Ebreth Tor around in my soul. Who knows how the hell they’re going to interpret that.”

“Well, was he really that bad?” Jack asked thoughtfully.

“You don’t even remember that?” Ebreth gave his friend an incredulous look. “Yeah. Yeah, he was. I can’t go home like that. I’ve got a baby back there.”

“Really?” Jack said happily.

“Yeah. It’s a long story. We’ve got a lot of catching up to do, if we ever get out of here.” Ebreth squinted at the suddenly-approaching woman, who he could swear hadn’t been there a minute ago. “What the--is that Aithne?”

“Who?” said Jack.

“She’s your Other’s girlfriend. What’s she doing here?”

The young woman waved enthusiastically as she neared. “Jack and Ebreth!” she said happily. She was very pretty, Jack noticed despite himself. “I am find you! Khyrisse is very worried about you.”

“You’re really Aithne, then?” said Ebreth. “Not some... impression avatar... thingie?” She gave him a strange look. “Ah, hell, don’t look at me. I don’t know how to explain this place. How did you get in here, anyway?”

She wasn’t hearing him anymore. She was looking at Jack now, and her breathing had basically stopped. “Uh, hello?” he tried awkwardly, wishing Ebreth had remembered to tell him what the flark was going on in this relationship. “I have, uh, amnesia, and--”

“Doppelganger!” screamed Aithne, and Jack was enveloped in flame.

***

Jack was following Jackson Cage down the dirt embankment to Highway 9 when it hit, a searing wash of heat and pain. “Johnny?” he heard the bard’s surprised voice, as he stumbled blindly, lost his footing, and went rolling down into the highway.

***

Ebreth tackled the young witch to the ground and got her by the wrists. “Stop it,” he said forcefully. “Aithne, stop! He’s okay, he’s with us!”

Ebreth made an involuntary gasp as his own body went up in fire. He kept forgetting the girl didn’t need her hands to cast. Or time, for that matter. Ebreth had no idea how to stop her from casting, other than killing her. He didn’t want to have to resort to that. What if Ebreth Tor is the only one who can get him out? he remembered without wanting to. He slammed Aithne’s head into the nearest rock, trying to give her enough of a concussion to incapacitate her. It was hard to do even for an expert martial artist, and it didn’t work for Ebreth now; all it did was break her nose. “Khyrisse is going to be so pissed at you if you kill us, Aithne!” he shouted, hoping the mention of her matriarch might deter her.

“You are not real Ebreth, you bad doppelganger!” she yelled back at him.

Which was when he turned into a pig.

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