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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
With A Little Help From Our Friends, Part I

Character(s): Khyrisse, taking inventory
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Calm After The Storm
Title of Post: What? You Mean She Can RELAX Now?

Khyrisse dropped her backpack on her bedroom floor, nearly tossing her sword down after it. Shaking her head briefly, she laid it carefully down on her dresser. Tossing an unsheathed blade onto the floor like discarded clothing. Pieret would kill me--
She blinked, then shook her head harder and turned away from blade and dresser with a sigh. The archmage looked around her room a little dazedly, wondering what to do next.
Nothing. I don't think I have to do anything right now. We're ahead of schedule for finishing our quest to Salagia, so we'll be getting to the islands before the Parises expect us... She blinked again. Wow. I don't have to do anything! Smiling, she undid the tie around the end of her ruined braid, carefully removing the rose from her hair. "Sennett, a vase with water, please?"
Sennett appeared with the requested item, and she placed the rose carefully in it. She ran her hands through the remains of her braid, pulling it apart. "Oh, and my appointment book, please. Thank you."
Rubbing the back of her neck absentmindedly, she flipped through her personal calendar. One fingertip tapped hesitantly on November, and she counted forwards with a puzzled frown. Let's see, we reappeared on this plane here... She grinned, ruefully. Yep. Goody for me. We made it back just in time for my birthday. It's November 19th. Chronologically speaking, I'll be forty, tomorrow at sunset. She rolled her eyes and looked at herself in the mirror. I look like hell. Literally. How old am I physically? I can't remember. Stopped aging at sixteen... didn't age as a deity, in any meaningful physical fashion... reconstructed the body I had before the Godmaker ring, which means sixteen again... aged fifty years for the wish spell... I think that's it. Sixty-six, give or take. She grinned, hard. I still can't vote in Liratyn. She peered closely at herself in the mirror. Other than those flecks of white at the temples-- which actually look rather cool, I always did like Dad's hair-- I think I just look like I haven't been taking care of myself. Which, it must be confessed, I haven't.
Humming a bit, she collected her new nightgown and robe from the closet and headed for the bathing room. The music box, her scented bubblebath, and a bottle of hazelnut liqueur followed her, dancing in the air. I think I'll go spend an hour or so in the tub trying to figure out how many mortal years equal a god-year, so I'll have a smart remark ready the next time Vas twits me about my age, she thought, with a mischievous look.

Character(s): The Rat Pack
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Inbetween Days
Title of Post: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Neutral

Jack was itching to leave, but as team leader, he knew that everyone was going to need a little down time. Khyrisse had promised to contact Asinus with the news of their imminent arrival, so at least Jack didn't have to worry about that. Alphred's funeral had been quiet but meaningful, and it left Jack in a state of pensive meditation. He wasn't even sure what he should be doing now. Val stepped into their room, drying her hair off from the swim. "You know, Jack," she said, smiling. "All things considered, you did a pretty good job in Salagia."
"Yeah," Jack laughed sadly. "I only lost half the team."
Val clucked her tongue. "And saved all of Salagia, and probably the world. You held your own against demons, elementals and all the natives Salagia could throw at you."
"You should be a merchant, Val," Jack smiled. "I almost believe you."
"Shush," Val said, putting a finger to his lips. "Tonight's our time. No more leader, just my Jack."
"I... I love you, Val," Jack said.


Marty was doing his homework. Ebreth had told him to come up with animals that he wasn't afraid of, in the hopes of finding his destined spirit guide.
So far the list read "1. Stuffed animals. 2. Some dead animals. 3. Rocks." Marty was leaning towards number three.
"Hey, Marty," Skitch said, moping by.
"Yo, kid," Marty nodded. "Hey, are flowers animals?"
"No," Skitch said, waiting for the punchline.
Marty crossed something out on his list.


Ebreth lay alone in his room, staring at the ceiling.
He had finally convinced Marty to go elsewhere to meditate, Khyrisse was taking a long bath, then planning on sleeping for a day or so, Jack had gone off to bed with Val... and now that he found himself alone, he wasn't sure he wanted it at all.
"This is one hell of a depressing book," Ebreth sighed and placed The Sun Also Rises on the bedside table.
Silently, the door to his room opened. Years of paranoia and suspicion caught the movement almost immediately.
It was Cori.
She was dressed in a green kimono with an ornate dragon embroidered as if curled around her neck. Her hair was up with a long wooden pin through it. "Hey, Ebreth," she said.
"Cori, what's up? Reading hour?"
"I..." Cori started, then looked at her feet self-consciously. "You know, I've been doing some thinking lately."
"Haven't we all," sighed Ebreth.
"You know, it occurs to me that we've got a lot in common," Cori continued. "We're both trying to pick up new lives after losing our old ones... we're both kind of waking up after being dead inside a long time... but I think we're both ready to face the sun again."
She slipped the kimono from her shoulders, revealing nothing beneath, and crawled onto the end of Ebreth's bed.
"I never did thank you properly for saving my life, you know..."
She moved closer and pressed her lips to his.

Character(s): Garal
Author: Eric Gasior
Storyline: Inbetween Days
Title of Post: Blink

Garal thought it was time to introduce himself to Ebreth. The halfling was still mourning Ember, but that was no excuse to let life slide by.
He approached Ebreth's room in time to see Cori slip inside.
"Sennett," he whispered to the mansion, "I heard someone mention a jacuzzi. Where is it?"

Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Calm After The Storm
Title of Post: Mrs. Yashida, are you trying to seduce me?

Not, of course, that it was the first time a woman Ebreth Tor barely knew had shucked her clothes unexpectedly and knocked him over.
To the best of his memory, though, it was the first time he'd been left at such a loss for words by it.
Ebreth pulled back from Cori with a gasp, his hand shaking. Oh, God. Please don't break down, Tor. He didn't, for which he would be eternally grateful, but that left him still in the position of having to think of something to say. "I," he started, and put his hands on Cori, to hold her back from him. It didn't hold her back very much. "What?" she whispered at him. His panicked urge to flee was even stronger than his immediate hormonal response. Ebreth fought them both down. "I--actually don't think I am ready for--"
"You won't know until you try."
"I'm still not--dealing very well with being touched," he said, through his teeth, as she slid her hand along him. "Just now."
"That's why you need to be."
"Cori, in case you hadn't noticed, I am not a well man. Please cut this out, it's not a good time."
"Why not?"
"I don't know!" he cried out, hoarsely. "I have no idea why I do anything anymore. I'm a mess. I'm trying to pretend I'm together, but I'm not. I don't know where I'm at, I don't know what I want--" He looked at her. "I know you're really fucking attractive." He shook his head, exhaling. "But I don't know what the hell I'm doing, right? Please, please just leave me alone till I figure it out. I'm going to fuck something up if I don't-- I've just got to get my feet on the ground before I--" He wrenched out of bed and stumbled to the window. "I'm sorry," he said, without looking at her, "I'm just trying to get by here, Cori, I'm just-- trying to get by. Things are already too complicated for me to untangle right now, and I have just--got to do things one step at a time. I'm sorry, I am acting like a fucking idiot. I can't believe I am handling this so badly but I don't know what I am doing."
Cori kind of shrugged. "Well," she said, something inscrutable in her muted voice, "good luck figuring it out."
There was a rustle as she retrieved her kimono and a click as the door closed behind her. Ebreth banged his hand against the windowsill three times. "What is the matter with you!" he shouted at his reflection in the pane.

Character(s): Cori Yashida
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Inbetween Days
Title of Post: When You Can't Get A Guy While Leaning Over Him Naked...

Cori raced into her room, kimono loose and flowing, almost tripping over Marty.
"Hey! I forgot ass!" he muttered, scribbling something.
Safely in her room, she looked around to make sure that there weren't any magic eyes watching her. As soon as she was sure she was alone, she collapsed to the floor and burst into tears. "How could I be so stupid!" she screamed, clenching her hands into fists and slamming them angrily into the floor. "I am such... an... idiot!" There was, fortunately, no answer.
"Hari, where did I go so wrong?" she asked as she sobbed herself to sleep.

Character(s): Khyrisse
Author: Kristin L'Kar Andersen, posting from the Waiting Room
Storyline: Inbetween Days
Title of Post: A Popular Destination Tonight, Ebreths Room

Khyrisse stepped out of the bathing room just in time to see the door to Ebreths bedroom open.
It might be fair to say that the sight of Cori (only partially wearing a green kimono) coming out it was one of the last things she expected to see.
What on Ataniel!
Cori ran down the hallway, stepping right over Marty, and into her bedroom.
Khyrisse just stood there and stared for a long, long moment.
Well. Looks like Ebreths had about all the company he wants for the evening. I think that scraps that idea.
With a faint sigh, she wrapped her arms tightly around herself and walked down the hall. "Hi, Marty," she murmured.
"Hi," Marty replied warily. Khyrisse smiled ruefully.
"I just thought Id mention something I thought of earlier," she said. "A spirit guide doesnt have to be an animal. Mine is the butterfly. So if you dont like animals, mabye insects or plants or other natural things would be more your style."
With a despondent little wave, Khyrisse stepped past him in a swirl of violet satin, and disappeared into her room.


When her door opened again a little later in the evening, she was carrying a box, and her violet nightgown was gone. She was wearing a long sleeveless black tunic instead, belted tight around her waist.
Khyrisse flitted through the shadows of the mansion like a ghost, loose hair a streak of bronze, bare arms and legs shimmering in the darkness. She ran through the front hall and into the ballroom.
Vas may not be here, but Ill be damned if I lie up there and stare at the ceiling anymore, trying not to scream, Khyrisse thought with a sigh, and pushed the door closed behind her.
Music chimed faintly out into the hallway.

Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Inbetween Days
Title of Post: AUGHHHH! I sent her away and I STILL got in trouble? Being a guy SUCKS!

"All right, Tor," muttered Ebreth, "get a grip on yourself." He dragged the armchair into the corner of the living room and sat in it. He leaned his cheek into the palm of his hand for a minute and then he said "Sennett?"
"Yes, sir."
"Where's Jack?"
"Master Paris is in his quarters with the Lady Valende. Shall I take him a message?"
"No," said Ebreth quickly. "No, leave them alone." I've caused more than enough trouble for one night. "Vas is gone, isn't he."
"That is correct, sir."
"What about Tarrin?"
"Master Illiesiri is in the pool with young Master Skitch."
"Mmm." Ebreth didn't want to cut into the kid's time with him. "Never mind. Could you get me a drink?"
"Certainly, sir. What would you prefer?"
"Ahhhh..." Ebreth looked at the book in his hand. "How about some whiskey."
The spectral butler bowed his head in assent and vanished. Ebreth rubbed his neck. What a mess I'm making of everything. "Shall I inform Master Paris that you would like to speak with him, if he quits his chambers?" asked Sennett, reappearing with the drink.
"Only if he comes out. Don't bother him." Ebreth took the whiskey and turned to his page in the Hemingway. "At least someone around here knows what the hell he wants."
"Very good, sir."

Character(s): Jack and Valende
Author: Kristin L'Kar Andersen (still stuck in the Waiting Room) and Douglass Barre
Storyline: Inbetween Days
Title of Post: The Exception to the "Unhappy Couple" Rat Pack Rule, Apparently...

"You know," Jack said, a little while later, curled up together in front of the fire, "we could always make it a mutual decision"
Valende thought about this for a while, looking into the fire. She sat up and looked closely at him.
"Would you make that decision on your own, if my vow werent involved in this?"
It was Jacks turn to be silent. Eventually, he asked, with a rather meek look, "You wouldnt think any less of me if I said yes?"
Valende laughed a little. "No, silly. Why would I?"
"Well, its not, uh very, ah, manly"
She raised her eyes briefly to the heavens. "Oh? And who says that? Willpower is very manly, in my opinion." She paused for a moment, then continued, very gently. "Can I know the reasons you'd make that decision? Would you mind telling me?"
"Well, I, uh... well, if we did... it'd be my first time." He smiled at her wryly. "I'd kind of like to know beforehand that you couldn't go anywhere afterwards." Jack grinned at her.
Valende giggled. "As if I would!"
"And... I think it should be important. I wouldn't want to share that with someone I didn't want to spend my life with." He looked suddenly horrified. "Oh, Val... I didn't mean it like that. Really, I didn't..."
Val, blushing, shushed him by placing her fingers gently over his mouth. "That's all right, Jack... It's-- it's still early days for either of us to be making that decision. It's not a question of would or wouldn't, it's just that it's too soon to know." She nodded thoughtfully. "Well, your second reason is certainly a good one. And I wouldn't want you to do anything that made you unhappy."
"Nor would I, Val. Ever."
Valende smiled up at him. "So it's a mutual decision, then. I can live with that." Her look turned impish, and she added, "Although it'll be frustrating at times, I'm sure...!" She snuggled closer to him and kissed him lightly, just under his jawline, and laughed a little. "You're too cute to leave entirely alone!"
"Well, topologically, we've actually got a lot of surface area to work with..."
Valende collapsed in a fit of helpless giggling.
A little while later, her head on his shoulder, she said, very softly, "You can say that whenever you like, by the way. I like hearing it."
Jack beamed. "Well, I like saying it to you. I'll keep it in my repertoire."
"Good!" Val said, with a pixyish smile in return. "I love you too, Jack."
Valende hadnt known that Jack could actually blush. She had just enough time to resolve-- rather mischievously-- to make him do that often, before Jack kissed her. When she decided, equally mischievously, that shed done enough thinking for one evening.

Character(s): The Diarshi Nomads
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Reclamation
Title of Post: Conclave

The meeting tent was in an uproar. Sheik Al'vazran al Haran just told the leaders of the other eleven tribes of the Emperor's plan.
"This is madness!" exclaimed Sheik Mohim al Qaraj. "What the Emperor proposes is suicide."
A number of Sheiks nodded in agreement.
"Yes it is madness," said Sheik Al'Vazran. "But it is a madness that rings of truth."
"Does he know how long this is going to take?" said Sheik Zjaj al Halrae.
"Yes it will take at least a century!" exclaimed Sheik Al'Makar al Szar. "Do we want to commit ourselves for this long?"
"Why shouldn't we," said Sheik Fadig al Fassa. "Ever since the borders were closed our peoples have spent the time wandering the desert. My blade aches for foes other than those of the family of Hajjar or Sharran."
The Sheiks of the Hajjar and Sarran families nodded in agreement.
"The Emperor is not asking for us to drop everything and leave our land," said Sheik Al'Vazran. "He is only asking for 144 of our finest warriors. I myself will be going on this campaign. It is an honorable goal."
Sheik Al'Vazran threw his sword into the center of the tent, a sign of his willingness to go along with the Emperor's plan. A murmur of agreement passed through the tent.
"Well?" Sheik Al'Vazran asked. "Who else?"
Slowly sword after sword fell into the center. The only holdout was Sheik Huran al Jhrae. All eyes focused on him.
"I agree that the thought of the honor to be gained is tempting, but I am worried about the welfare of the tribe. Before I commit, I suggest we call off the rivalries and fighting between out families. At least until this mad plan is over."
The Sheiks nodded. It was agreed. The last sword fell into the center. The Diarshi nomads were going to war.

Character(s): Khyrisse and Ebreth
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen and Laura Redish
Storyline: Inbetween Days
Title of Post: Ye Who Enter Here

Khyrisse faltered in the middle of a spin, and came to a halt in the middle of the ballroom floor. With a sigh, she pushed her hair back from her face and stared thoughtfully at nothing, while the music box chimed on, unheeded.
For someone who was once a deity, Khyrisse Starshadow, you're a real idiot. What if he did sleep with Cori? Which even you have to admit doesn't look likely, what with that precipitate flight out of his room... she thought, head tilted, kneading the back of her neck. She blushed suddenly, and a little smile appeared on her face. You didn't want to go anywhere afterwards, Grendel knows.
Khyrisse sighed and walked over to the music box. And if he did, you've got no room to talk. You slept with Schneider. And you're not exactly in a hurry to confess that little incident, either. What's this double standard idiocy all of a sudden? She switched off the music with a decisive snap. And if he got in some... she briefly shook her head, bizarre argument with Cori, he might actually be upset, and could use someone to talk to. An uneasy feeling of certainty twisted her stomach as she thought this last, and she sighed again, in aggravation. It's no wonder all of your relationships end miserably. Moron.


Khyrisse stopped suddenly in the front hallway, still tying back her hair. She had registered the fact that someone was in the darkened living room, now that she wasn't tearing past the door. Khyrisse closed her eyes for a moment. Sennett.
The individual in the living room is Lord Tor, Milady, Sennett replied internally.
Khyrisse was through the living room door before Sennett's voice had faded from her mind.


Ebreth flinched when she walked into the room. Khyrisse paused, swallowed hard, and continued towards him. She perched on the edge of the table next to his chair and looked carefully at him. He was gazing into the fireplace.
"Ebreth, are you--" she stopped herself and sighed. "Sorry. I just wondered if you wanted to talk to someone. I'd like it if you'd talk to me. I... I want to be able to help." She picked up the empty whiskey bottle next to her and looked down at it pensively.
"The worst is being so alone." He spoke softly, not really to her, still looking into what was left of the fire. "Being--continually--brutalized, and no one will lift a finger to stop it, not even try to help you, not a kind word, a sympathetic look, nothing. I could handle pain, I swear I can handle pain. Suffering alone, over and over, with no end in sight and knowing--no one cares." He shut his eyes, bowing his head. "Hell is having everything stripped away. Sometimes I don't think there's anything left. Just one gesture. Do you know, the cleaning crews there, they just stepped right over my body, they just. Stepped right over me."
Khyrisse had grown pale over the course of this, until her cheeks were ashen. She closed her hands carefully around the bottle; and then closed her eyes equally carefully, as if she were afraid that would break something, too.
"I'm so sorry," she said, some passionately restrained emotion making her voice tremble slightly. "It's so much worse that you didn't deserve any of it..."
Ebreth just shook his head, exhausted. "Just stepped. Just stepped right over me."
Khyrisse sighed and looked into the fire also, her face very still. "A long time ago, Ebreth, I was on the run from my ex-husband, and one of his... hunting parties caught up with me, rather-- rather unexpectedly. The details aren't really important, but I'd..." She cleared her throat and continued, "I'd managed to piss off their leader quite considerably by the end of the fight. I don't know what his original orders were, but I got beaten to death. It took... it took a long time. The last thing I heard was the sound of some of his men going through my things and making some rather... crude and unpleasant jokes. Given the context." She stood and set the empty whiskey bottle on the table, hands shaking only slightly. "When the Godmaker ring resurrected me, I was in a cage, inside a wagon on its way to the Cynystran capital. Someone rescued me, obviously; but I was in rather bad shape for a long time after that." Khyrisse knelt in front of Ebreth and looked up into his face. "I have faith in you, Ebreth. This will get better, I promise. Every day, just a little. Jack and I are here for you, and I don't think anything you could tell us would make either of us turn away," she added. Her face was painfully red, but her gaze was steady. Ebreth closed his eyes and nodded. He looked infinitely weary. Poor Ebreth... All this on top of more whiskey than is good for him, too. She took his hand gently, bracing herself for him to flinch again, or pull away.
He squeezed it, instead. Khyrisse closed her eyes briefly, with a sudden, gentle smile; and when she opened them again they were suspiciously bright. "I don't think you should sleep here," she murmured, standing up. "Come on; I think you'll feel better in the morning if you go back to bed, rather than giving yourself a backache in this chair. Trust me, I've done it before."

Character(s): Caimen and Lora, Rauvin
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Preparations

"Any luck?" Lora asked as Caimen and Rauvin wandered in, fresh from their trip to St. Xavier's.
"No," grumbled Caimen. "The city's destroyed. Lavin and Pruze are missing, presumed captured."
"Well, the good news is," Lora sighed, "that the Word says that the turmoil in Salagia is taken care of. We'll probably be hearing from Jack and company in a few days."
"Thank the Gods," Caimen said. "We could use all the help we can get."
"I've been preparing the rooms. We should probably arrange for a feast upon their arrival... it's been so long since Jack has been home, and they are important guests."
"Asinus?" Caimen asked.
Lora smiled and shrugged.
"Honey capon au Rauvin?" Rauvin smiled.
"The order is already in, Ro," Lora nodded.
"Then I've got to go get your spice cabinet in order. This could take a while."
"Bastard," Lora grinned.
"So how many are we expecting?" Caimen asked.
"Asinus says to expect around twelve, the way Jack picks up strays, so I'm starting there until I can get a clear number. I'm putting them in the west wing... there should be enough room there."
"What about the ghost?" Caimen asked playfully.
"Oh, and that's going to bother anyone over the age of two?"
"Fair enough."
"Now, I put together a list of things I need you to pick up at the Floating Market." Lora handed Caimen a sheaf of papers.
Caimen frowned and started skimming it. "We have towels," he said.
"Read the color list. I'm having the rooms painted today to fit the guests personal color schemes. And no improvising, Caimen... remember when the Minister of Haltrodden came? The problem with your 'replacement' for the birdbath?"
"Yes, dear," Caimen sighed. "Burgundy towels. Like I'll be able to find that."
"There's a coded list of itinerant merchants on the back that should correspond to everything on there. This is important to me, dear. It's been a stressful time for all of us, and I never get a chance to hostess. Let me... please?"
"Anything for you, Lora," Caimen said.
"Thank you."
"But could you at least tell me what the hell we need 'disposable vases' for?"
"Asinus tells me there are a few... frustrations. I thought that offering things to throw would be a nice touch."

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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

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