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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

Bring Your Alibis



“Ebreth and Jack are in a hotel?” said Khyrisse, giving Asinus a very odd look.

“Not a Motel 6, chickie, the Hotel. Didn’t you learn all this crap in god school?”

Khyrisse looked down. “I, probably didn’t have time to get to it,” she said softly, the shadow of an old sorrow fluttering over her face.

“Too busy learning divine beauty and grace, right?” the donkey leered, successfully distracting her into a laugh. “Anyway, no, they’re in the Hotel, and the Hotel is a, ah... oh, flark, what’d you call it?”

“An extradeific theological construct of personal crossroads,” Zerthimon stated proudly, manifesting around Asinus.

“Not you, ya berk!” yelled Asinus, and the golden glow sucked back into his long donkey ears.

“Actually, I kind of like his better than mine,” Mina offered.

“Don’t flarkin’ encourage him, kid.”

“Personal crossroads?” Khyrisse said slowly, looking around the conference room. No one met her gaze with confidence but the Rat.

“Our knowledge of the Hotel is, well, obviously rather second-hand,” said Mina apologetically. “And what is known isn’t very consistent--each person seems to experience the Hotel in his or her own way. Just like a real hotel, what exists for you there is largely the baggage you bring with you.”

Khyrisse paled.

“So make sure to pack lots of lingerie,” added Asinus.

“It’s really completely unknown how the Hotel functions at all,” Mina continued, her excitement at the possibility of finding out peeking through her reflective pedantry. “It’s been conclusively disproved as another plane or an alternate temporal space... but the diaries of Arthur Paris strongly suggest against it being a wholly internal space, either. Whatever it is, it does seem able to manifest the interior struggles of the sentient soul in semi-physical form.”

“And Ebreth’s trapped in it?” Khyrisse buried her fingers in her hair, trying not to shake. “Grendel, this is going to tear him apart!”

“I doubt it,” Mina replied thoughtfully. “I mean, it’s not like Hell or anything... it’s just a hotel.”

“How did Jack get trapped in it?” Khyrisse looked up suddenly. “Asinus, I thought he didn’t have a soul.”

“The Word doesn’t know,” the donkey admitted. “Nine’ll get you ten he found a way to go in after Tor-boy, though.”

“And now we’re going to go in after the two of them?” Valende frowned. “I want to rescue Jack and Ebreth as much as any of you, but speaking as a priestess... if this thing’s primarily metaphysical, then by sending more and more people in, we’ll only be creating more and more spiritual conflicts. And increasing the likelihood of one of us losing ours.”

“Parises don’t face things alone,” Asinus said with finality.

“Besides,” Mina added to Khyrisse, “if Arthur Paris’ notes are accurate, I think Ebreth may really need our help.”

There was something overly familiar--exclusive of the others, almost conspiratorial--about the way Mina Paris said that “our”, but Khyrisse was too strung out to put much effort into trying to decipher it. “I’m sorry, Val,” she said, a little tightly. “I do see your point, really I do... but I don’t have a choice. Perhaps it’s better if you two stay behind.”

“Don’t start this again, talricce,” murmured Vas, his blue eyes dancing.

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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

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