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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

Things Fall Apart, The Center Cannot Hold



“Fuck!” Rani punched her hand into the jungle floor three times in rapid succession, a spike of pain shooting up her arm as her bare knuckles barked on a rock. It didn’t help her focus much. “I lost him,” she told Mina, her voice starting to fray at the edges. “I can’t find him again.”

“It’s all right, dear,” said Val, putting her arm soothingly around the psionicist’s thin shoulders. “Asinus can take care of himself. I’m sure he’s fine.”

“It’s Ebreth we really need to be finding,” Mina agreed.

Val frowned on the young sorceress. “What about Jack?”

Rani shook her head. “I’ve got no chance in Hell of finding him,” she rasped. “He hasn’t got a soul for me to latch onto. If he’s not with Tor then God only knows how we’re going to find him.”

“Which would be really bad, right?” Marty said nervously. “What with them all being, like, dead?”

Valende sighed. “Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” she said resolutely. “Maybe the Rat will be able to help.”

“If you can’t find Asinus, do you think you could try Ebreth again, then?”

“Could you let her catch her breath first?” Val snapped at the younger woman. Mina looked startled, and raised her hands in acquiescence.

“I’ve got to find Asinus.” Rani buried her hands in her hair. “God only knows where I dropped him. If he loses his soul because of my fucking incompetence...”

“Hellllllp...” Marty intoned subvocally, the way he often did when the ambient stress level got too high. “Helllllllllllp...”

Then the first of the Diarian su-monsters emerged from the undergrowth and sprang for Rani’s throat.

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