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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

Holding Together

“Evil monkeys!” Marty cried in abject terror, and dived behind a statue of a woman riding a unicorn. Rani didn’t know what the hell a statue of a woman riding a unicorn was doing in the jungle. Probably Mina’s fault. “Make them go away, Rani!”

“I’m-- trying--” She struggled with the one on her chest. It bit her on the hand, and to her horror, the psionicist felt her PSP’s starting to drain away. “Shit!” she screamed, and punched the su-monster in the balls with her other hand. It didn’t let go. “It’s draining my psionic energy... somebody kill this thing! Val!”

Unfortunately, a second su-monster had already dropped from the trees onto the priestess. Rani cursed frantically in Diari and tried to mold some of the Hotel into something sharp in her grip. I’m the only person who can find anyone in this godforsaken place. If I run out of gas... She got some of the ether into a half-assed spike shape and jabbed it into the su-monster’s throat. It made an angry squeal but didn’t let go. A third monster, she could see out of the corner of her eye, was now menacing Mina. “Where are these things coming from?” said Val, her sword flashing as two beasts now circled her.

“They must have magic resistance,” Mina deduced as her lightning bolt dissipated against her assailant’s hide. “Pull yourself together, Marty... we need you!”

“Dammit--” Rani punched her crude dagger into the monster’s throat again and again, gasping as it drained her.

“Don’t look now, but--”

“Rani!” Val suddenly cried. “Mina, quickly... do you have an emotion spell?”

“They don’t work on Marty,” the sorceress said apologetically, getting her wraithform off just in time to not be skewered by the onrushing su-monster.

“Not Marty, girl, Rani! She’s creating these things somehow--they must be feeding off her distress.”

“Fuck me,” groaned Rani, dropped the dagger, closed her eyes, and took a deep calming breath, trying to will the monsters away.

A pair of two-inch canines laid her face open.

“Fuck!” she screamed. “Get this thing off me and then we’ll talk about--”

An arrowhead suddenly bloomed from the su-monster’s chest, a few inches above Rani’s. It looked down at it with an almost sad sort of look. Then a second arrowhead joined it, and Rani shoved the stricken monster dizzily off of herself. Anyone but Edyric, she prayed. The butch archer had probably forgotten the B&E case that had brought the then-neophyte detective into mercifully brief contact with the Web, but Rani hadn’t, and she didn’t need any more humiliation today.

Looked like luck was finally with her, though. It was Flicker on top of the hill with his bow nocked, and she’d never seen him rub a rescue in on anyone.

Rani closed her eyes and focused again, an exercise that went much better when no one was biting you, she had to concede. Then Mina must have gotten her spell off, because she suddenly felt calmer than she had in months. Not that she wasn’t still completely pissed off at every fairy in the house, mind you, but at least she felt calm about it.

Rani opened her eyes. The su-monsters were gone. “Whoa,” Marty sighed in relief, emerging from behind the statue. “That was, like, a close one. That monkey was just about to use its quivering palm attack on me, I could totally tell.”

Mina smiled and shook her head. “Those are monks, Marty.”

“No, they were monkeys. Didn’t you, like, see their scary tails?”

“Thank you,” Mina added to Flicker, as he joined them on the jungle floor.

“No problem,” he said. “Khyrisse sent me with a message.” He stopped, and looked at the statue with more disbelief than he’d accorded the su-monsters. “Where did that come from?”

“The unicorn?”

“No, the--the woman.” He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. Are you all right?”

“I’ll live.” Rani accepted the cure serious from Valende with all the equanimity of a woman under an emotion spell. “Hurry up and hit me with the message before this thing wears off. It doesn’t sound like I’m going to like it.”

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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

English to Native American translation * Mikmaq tribe website * Cayuga Onondaga * Blackfeet Indian recipes * Indian name origins

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