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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Art Of Losing Archives
Men Without Souls: Part 15

And Psychometry’s My Game

Where the mansion had been was now a strange swirling morass of magical energies.

“Uh...” Vickie said.

“Huh...” Schneider added.

“You didn’t leave that wand of yours laying around in there, did you?”

“I’m laying odds on the new girl.”


“Uh, no, the other one.”

“Me, I’d guess this was a Jack Paris problem. Haven’t you noticed how he’s always messing up dimensional portals?”

“Maybe Thermador,” offered Schneider. “Or Garal.”

“Not Garal. But you might be right about Thermie.”

“You know,” Schneider sighed, “it’s kind of sad that we assume first that it’s one of our own, and not, say, a band of evil dwarves attacking or something.”

“That’s the Rat Pack for you.” Vickie drew her crossbow and shot a grappling hook and rope into the dimensional flux. Schneider was already tying the other end to a nearby lamppost.

“Ten gold on Paris?” Vickie asked.

“Ten on Thermador,” Schneider responded.

Rani staggered as the mansion space rocked with the magical energies Stump was unleashing. Dimensional pieces the size of fists were buffeting the Rat Pack. Rani felt one carom painlessly, marklessly, off her temple. Outside the window was swirling mist.

Rani concentrated.

Outside the window was the Nylevian coast.

Then swirling mist again.

Rani peeled off one of her gloves, gasping, and plunged her bare hand into the mansion wall.

The mansion space shuddered.

Then the other.

Rani concentrated.

The batter of dimensional hail stopped, then started again, stopped.

Swirling mist, Nylevian coast, mist.

Rani battled with the magical environmental control the halfling was operating, her Gift opening out into the house until she was the house and the house was Rani, inching, slowly, inexorably, home.

I don’t try to corner the slave trade, John, Rani was thinking.

Don’t you try to supersede my control of a magical construct.

The batter of dimensional hail stopped.

Outside the window was the Nylevian coast.

Thalia was headed for the door when the building began to shake again. Odd fragments of something were flying around the room, and the bookshelves started to rock violently. Thalia reached out a hand to steady one of the cases, which effectively prevented the furniture from falling, but did nothing to stop every book on it from flying out on top of her.

Thalia yelped a little as she fell under the pile. “Owww!” This is amazing. I’m not even in the fight and I’ve managed to get hurt.

Skitch doubled back. “Constance? Are you okay?”

The shaking stopped as suddenly as it had started. Thalia shoved some books off of her and stood up. “Yeah, I think so. And I think we know each other well enough for you to call me Thalia.”

“How do you get ‘Thalia’ from ‘Constance’?”

“I ... I’ll explain later. I think we need to go find the fight now.”

Rani slumped down, tired from the psychometric battle.

“You little Diari bitch!” snarled Stump. He raised his nasty knife above his head, poised to deliver a deathblow to the weakened detective. Rani didn’t have the energy to block him.

Then a grappling hook flew out of nowhere and hit Stump in the back of the head.

The halfling fell unconscious.

“About time, Dare,” Rani said as she passed out.

Combat Banter: Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places

“Vas, will you stop flirting and fight?”

“Flirt?” demanded Vas incredulously, looking at his own fist as if the touch of Nox’s blood had contaminated it. “With this filth? Have you lost what little mind Corellon gave you?”

“Oooh, and verbally abusive, too,” Nox sighed happily. “You would have been so much more fulfilled on the other side of the tracks...”

“Vas, our reputation around here is in the dirt without any putative help! Will you kill that thing?”

Nox made an utterly disgusting tongue gesture at Valende. “I’ll bet you two are fun as a team. Do you have any playmates, sister? With cleavage like that, you can easily manage a few at once...”

Vas instantly spun around and slammed Nox into the ceiling, so hard that pieces of plaster exploded from the impact. Nox gasped in a fashion that made Vas’ skin crawl... particularly since he was certain he’d just broken multiple ribs.

“I’m never, never having sex again...!” Val groaned, retching.

“Tell me,” Vas gritted into the disgusting elf’s face, “that you come with a safeword.”

Nox grinned at Vastarin as if he’d found a kindred spirit. “Frequently.”

Newell Hates A Happy Lovelife

A dwarf was menacing the only slightly shorter but much slighter Garal with a morning star when Vickie Dare came ricocheting in through the window, her straight red hair flying out behind her.

“Hiya, Garry!” she grinned, and planted her denim boot in the side of the dwarf’s head. “What did I tell you about not starting combats without me, huh?”

Camaro Pearl whirled from Marty’s lap to face whoever had just slashed her across the back. It was the scarfaced assassin woman who used to work for Crack Upshaw. “Fuck, Benetti,” Camaro sighed, “you could at least have waited until I actually got some of the guy’s clothes off.”

“Now that you’re done molesting the imbeciles, prepare to face the power of Grendel.”

“Uh, I was, um, taking care of this one, Kingfisher. She’s not attacking us.”

“Well, not until now,” Camaro said, and punched Kingfisher with the strength of a storm giant.

“Uh, stop? Don’t do that?” Marty asked politely.

George Mahoney had battled his way almost leisurely across the living room, his gladiatorial prowess not much hampered either by Orlen or by the aggressive coffee table. He slung his spear back over his shoulder and into its holster, punching Orlen in the face with his cesti-clad fist hard enough to send the telekinetic bard careening, and drew a slender rod from his belt pouch with his other hand.

He tapped Ebreth Tor on the shoulder, ducking the instinctual slash of the slave lord’s blade with practiced ease. “Mind if I cut in?” he said.

There was a staticky blue glow from the rod as it snapped. Mahoney discarded it and caught Tor’s sword in the same motion, parrying the recovered Orlen’s blow with it.

Across town, John Tucson looked at the figure that had suddenly appeared in the small cage. “We meet at last, Mr. Tor.”

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