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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
Through A Glass Darkly, Part II



Character(s): Luthien and Flicker
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Skeins of Fate: The innocent and the beautiful
Title of Post: Artifacts of Evil

Luthien recognized Rimbor City by smell more than by sight.
It smelled like despair.
Luthien hated this place.
He closed the window and drew the blinds, trying not to think about the implications their emerging here had for his analog's fate. Better dead than in that slave pit, anyway. Norna was lying across the one bed, exhausted, her body quivering with its own regeneration. Her eye seemed to be permanently gone. Flicker and Shilree were playing a hand-clapping game and chanting quietly in Diarian. "Oh, Arawn," he pleaded, "not you too."
"I'm just keeping her company," said Flicker, softly, not looking at the necromancer. The evil black blade lay unsheathed on the ground beside him. "It's not your fault," said Luthien, in undertone, motioning at the sword with his chin. "You couldn't have known."
"I'm having a bad day for collecting evil artifacts," said Flicker, quietly, and opened his belt pouch. The Claw of Margonal was resting inside. "I should have ditched it back on the last world, since the space dragons were already there, but I didn't think of it in time."
"We'll find something to do with it," Luthien promised.
"I let him kill you," Shilree sing-songed sadly, twitching her head in a strange fashion. "I let him kill you."
"It's okay," said Flicker.

Character(s): Luthien, Flicker, Noyarc
Author: Evan Haag
Storyline: Skeins of Fate: The Innocent and the Beautiful
Title of Post: Puzzle Pieces

The small group of Luthien (disguised as Lissa), Flicker, and Noyarc moved quietly through the back streets of Rimbor. They didnt like leaving both Norna and Shilree back at their impromptu hideout, but they needed information. Besides, Norna was still too weak to really start any trouble, and Shilree had retreated into a semi-autistic catatonia. Berryn, Hronmir, and Ralchar should be able to handle things.
As they exited the alley onto a larger thoroughfare, they spotted a small group of beggars just ahead. They had seen groups of beggars all morning, and had been ignoring them; Lissa thought they were probably all spies for the Thieves Guild. These were different, though; they were Diarians.
Flicker approached them quietly while Lissa and Noyarc hung back. As he got close, a couple of them cautiously extended beggars cups, as though they were afraid of being kicked. Flicker pulled a few coins from his pouch and said in Diari, Pardon my asking, honest sirs, but are these streets not dangerous for you and yours? Have you no family or friends who would take you in and shelter you?
The oldest Diarian scowled at Flicker and said, angrily, Dont mock us, elf! You should know full well that we have no homes any longer, not since Cynystras ultimate atrocity! Keep your money, kiljhac; we want none of it! As he spoke, the other beggars withdrew their cups, hiding them in their dirty robes.
Flicker spoke a quiet apology and moved away, not wanting to anger them anymore. When he returned, he just said, in low tones, Diarias gone. It seems Cynystra actually destroyed it. Lissa and Noyarc traded incredulous glances.
Lissa said, I think we need to get information, fast.
Noyarc nodded his head, pointing towards the docks. Thats probably our best bet. Sailors know everything about the world at large. We should hit the loading docks, the shipmasters, the bars...
Lissa said, You and Flicker talk to the sailors and the local officials. Im not great for face-to-face interrogations. Ill hit a tavern down there and listen in to the sailors gossip. I should be able to pick up a lot of little details that way.
As they headed down to the docks, Noyarc tapped Lissa on the shoulder and said, You might want to change into something a little less comfortable. All youll get in a sailors bar with that get-up is a lot of offers.

***


They met up a few hours later, in a semi-sleazy tavern called the Skewered Maidens Head. Flicker and Noyarc saw Luthien sitting at the far end of the bar talking to an attractive young hooker, where he had a good vantage point of the door and the rest of the taproom. They also saw two gentlemen laying face down on the ground next to him; one had blood streaming from his nose, and the other seemed to have several teeth laying next to his head.
Noyarc pointed down at the two men. Friends of yours?
They didnt have the courtesy to move their legs off the stools. I was just helping Breanne here get a bit of rest before she had to go back to work.
The doxy flashed a smile at him, and then turned to Flicker and Noyarc. So, these are your friends, huh? Nice bods. Say, you fellas wouldnt be looking for some company, would you...? She leaned in close to Noyarc, giving him a healthy look at her decolletage. Your friend here says hes a priest, but I think hes just a little shy.
Noyarc grinned at her, and said, Tell you what: after we finish our business here, Ill look you up. For now, though, weve got some important spiritual matters to take care of. He playfully swatted her rump as he helped her off the barstool, and she squeaked in mock surprise. He kept looking at her as she made her way over to another group.
Ahem. Noyarc spun back around as Luthien cleared his throat. Well? What have you heard?
Flicker spoke quietly. Ive been talking to a few of the sailors. The big differences between here and home are that the Wall is still up, theres a new country between Cynystra and Nylevia thats being run by Khyrisse, and... Diaria has been destroyed. According to a few sailors who were at sea when it happened, it was like the whole country was just swallowed up by the ocean. All thats left are some scattered islands.
Noyarc nodded, and said, Thats what Ive heard as well. The harbor master was telling me about more local news. It seems that our buddy Tor is still around and doing well, but fortunately, I dont think your analog is with him. He does seem to have a mage in his pocket, though, name of Omeria. Used to run with a bunch called Bloodscar where I come from.
Luthien said, From where we come from, too. Anything else?
The two shook their heads, and said, No, not really. You?
Luthien grimaced. All Ive picked up is a lot of really crude jokes, two songs I wouldnt let Gordon hear if he turned fifty, and the unfortunate fact that St. Augustine is still alive and running Rimbor. I think maybe we should get back to the house and get ready to leave.
Where are we going? asked Noyarc.
I think we should go to Lianth, said Luthien. Im sure we can get more accurate information from the Mithril Dagger.

Character(s): Otter, Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Contacts

"Otter," she supplied, minimally. She was the first woman Khyrisse had talked to in a long time that didn't make her feel self-conscious, an unremarkably plain sailor with a long brown braid. "Yeah, I worked the Serene Moon. She wrecked yesterday, though."
"Wrecked?" said Khyrisse.
"Damndest thing. But I can't tell you about it. Sorry."
"Would this help?" Khyrisse put a purse on the bar.
"Nope."
Jack and Valende came over. "I'm afraid poor Marty's still pretty sick," Val sighed. "That turbulence the last few miles just did him in. He's not keeping any dinner down."
"Great," muttered Khyrisse, shaking her head.
Otter looked the couple over appraisingly. "You're Caimen Paris' nephew."
"What?" said Jack, who had been paying attention to the dress Val had changed into. "Yes. Yes, I am."
"Is she with you?" Otter inclined her head at Khyrisse.
"No, she is," said Jack, holding Valende's hand.
"Right, I can see that. I mean is she one of your people."
"Oh," said Jack. It was easy to get distracted by Val's bar attire. Jack wondered if she had worn such a plunging neckline tonight with the intention of distracting him, or whether it was her way of tweaking the odds of a male bargoer telling her something useful. "Yes, I'm Jack Paris, and this is Valende, and that's Khyrisse. Do you have news for us?"
"Yeah." She flipped Khyrisse's purse of gold at the mathematician, who caught it, a little surprised. "You'd better come with me. You caught the tail end of a storm on your way through to Port Mayhew tonight?"
"That's right," said Khyrisse.
"It wasn't natural. Let's find a place to talk."

***


"Dat i be eempossiball, mon," Caliban said in the full Montasi creole. "Ebret' Tor a bin dead com'pon ten year now."
"How well you've done in that time for a man with such a naive outlook," he said, in the soft, formal Dalen that had been his trademark.
"Naaaah, naive i gon be believe a firs' mon wit' di pollamorph spell an' di bad story, fren."
"Our definitions vary." Ebreth Tor stood up and whipped the chair 270 degrees around himself and into the man creeping up behind him without turning his head much. He fell back clutching at his broken face, and Tor unsheathed his teeth in a slow and frighteningly unfathomable grin at the Port-au-Sang thievesmaster before him. "I recommend you switch to mine. Right now. Before I attribute your mistakes to something else."
Caliban had stood and backed off an involuntary few inches, but now he reached under his desk. "You on my ground," he hissed.
"Your ground is in my ground," said Ebreth Tor, and put his hands slowly and deliberately into his pockets. "I am not here to collect on old debts, Caliban. You are going to do what I tell you because it is easy for you and because you don't want to risk the consequences of guessing wrong. Put the wand down. Get us something good to drink. And don't try blindsiding me again. I'm looking for some information. Ours is a friendship you'd do well to put some effort into maintaining, Caliban." He half-turned and inclined his head at the thief with the broken nose, pressed into the wall with some terror. "Get me another chair, kid."
"Aaaah," said Caliban, and broke a smile of his own. "Mon has to be a little bit careful round here, Lord Tor. Na fall a di hard feeling. What you wanna know? We sure done miss a you round here, no fool."
"Half that will do," said Ebreth, and grinned. "How's business been, you old pirate?"

Character(s): The evil 3some
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: Skeins of Fate: Innocent & Beautiful (flashback)
Title of Post: Next Victim, Please

"I've heard... quite a bit about you, Mr. Tor," Omeria purred.
"I'm only sorry I haven't encountered a woman of your skill -- and beauty -- before," he answered, grinning with perfect white teeth.
"Excuse me sir," one of the guards said to Duke St. Augustine, "a message arrived for Mr. Tor." The Duke waved his hand. "I was informed that a... piece of merchandise which had been... causing some difficulties for your business operations?"
"Would you be referring to The Joker?" Ebreth said, raising an eyebrow in sudden interest.
"Yes, sir. Your men succeeded in... acquiring it."
"Alive?"
"Mostly. It arrived into master St. Augustine's dungeon within the past hour."
"Excellent. Perhaps I will be able to give you an entertaining demonstration, Miss Omeria."
"Looking forward to it."

Character(s): Otter
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: A Guide, And A Less Savory Cousin Of Jack's

Otter sat down cross-legged in the private room, took out her sailor's knife, and made a vertical slit down her forearm, her mouth just barely twitching as she did. "What are you doing!" exclaimed Khyrisse.
"Not from around here, are you?" She extended her lightly bleeding forearm to Jack. "I'm alive. The Parises have been a little paranoid about this lately, for obvious reasons."
"Tora and Dar?" whispered Jack. "Did the Remnant--"
"Not per se," she said. "An evil storm overtook our ship from out of nowhere. No way was this an ordinary squall. We wrecked on Anasti Island, pretty far east of here. Unless the Remnant has reached them there, they and the other survivors should still be there. I returned here and sent Word by Genevieve Paris, but you seem to have beaten it back. Do you have a ship?"
"My uncle's ship," affirmed Jack.
"We can go after them in the morning. You just put a word in for me with Caimen, right?"
"Is Genevieve someone we should contact?" asked Valende, innocently.
"Do any of you need really nasty whores no one much cares what happens to?" Otter wanted to know.
"Um," said Jack, uncomfortably, "it, uh, sounds like not."
"We could get some whores and they could distract our enemies," offered Skitch. "Like Big Nice Devil and her sisters did."
"Bedtime, kiddo."

Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Telegrams From The Front

Tora and Dar Paris have shipwrecked. Going after them tomorrow. Everyone's fine here. How are things going?

Making some contacts. I'll be with the Remnant soon. Take care of yourself. Ebreth.

Character(s): Mikaela and Captain Moneague
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: And The Sound Of A Voice That Is Still

The Tz'u-hsi rocked in the shadows of an inlet, waiting silently as the last of the storm blew over the island. The trees arching over the ship were untenanted, their branches lashing furiously in the wind. A pale figure stood at the stern, gazing impassively out to sea, water dripping from the tattered captains longcoat.
As the evening wore on, the rain died away to drizzle, then mist; the sighing of the leaves above him grew still. The crew came and went in their shuffling fashion. In the distance, the sounds of nocturnal animals and insects began to be heard.
From the sea came a chill breeze, stirring the sails with a whispering sound like dead leaves in a graveyard, moaning in the rigging like the distant wails of a fallen angel. A luminescent figure swept towards the ship, skimming the surface of the water.
With a fine disregard for the solidity of anything between herself and the captain, she flew up to the stern and hovered there-- a glowing creature in the rags of an ornate festival gown, her shadowy hair in wind-whipped snarls. The right half of her face was gaunt, but the remains of a calm beauty lingered in it-- the left side was a hideous mass of seared flesh, slashed to the bone in several places, the hair burned from the skull all the way back to one delicately pointed ear.
Mikaela," the captain said, sounding a trifle surprised... and a hint of a smile hovered at one corner of his bloodless lips. "Report.
The Serene Moon has been destroyed, she whispered in accented Dalen. Her voice carried a hint of music, a shivering sort of background harmony with itself. The survivors are on the island of Anasti. And most important-- tell Lord lwyn that the Parises still live.
"They what?" Moneague whispered angrily.
"So I was instructed."
He looked at Mikaela for a long moment. Her glowing eyes met his without fear. He nodded slowly. "I see. And the dead?
The spectral bard smiled slightly. Are on their way to Lord lwyn, of course. A long-fingered, transparent hand drifted pensively through the ruined half of her face. ...Death by water is so much slower.

Character(s): The Rat Pack + crew
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: A different kind of ROUS

Otter was coldly scanning the deck, then the sea, then the sky; then repeat. Reminiscent of Shilree's reliable paranoia, Khyrisse thought. At least this woman doesn't bother trying to hide it. This was a beautiful part of the world. The sea was truly jewel-like blue-green, the winds fresh and full of life. Today the sun was shining. Must have been a nice place to grow up, Jack. She wondered about what it was like, life with the Paris family...

***


"Ah, Jack. You and your little squadron of knights errant have had far too easy a time thus far. This isn't a vacation, it's a dance of revenge. "
"Time to at least keep you on your toes." The sorceror lwyn chuckled.

***


Valende examined the map. Nautical ones were different than land ones, and Jack, bless him, had gotten entirely too technical when trying to explain the conversion method. "Which islet is that one?"
Jack pointred it out on the map.
"How long til we reach Anasti island?" Khyrisse asked.
"Aye, presumin' the prevailing winds hold," Captain Darklock answered, stroking his stubbly chin, "she should be in sight by..."
"A thousand pardons," Amatsu said, hopping down from the upper deck where he had been helping secure the main sail. "Does my perception deceive me, or did we just enter a particularly turbulent current?"
Jack looked over the stern side. "Uh, judging by the fluid patterns, I think we're about to ---"
There was a jarring crash.
"--- hit something."
Skitch quickly scuffled back to his feet. "You're just always right, Jack!" he said incredulously. Jack mumbled something self-depreciating in response.
Cori, Amatsu, Khyrisse and Captain Darklock were the first to reach the rail. "That," Cori said, "is a very large turtle!"
"Unusually large," Amatsu agreed.
Captain Darklock swore. Marty Hu fainted right away.

Character(s): Crandall
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: To Keep Jack On His Toes

Crandall waded onto the beach at Anasti Island and waved the undead skipper that had dropped him off away from the inlet with two fingers. He did not look back as the ship pulled about. He had a score to settle, and lwyn had sent him here to settle it. His fingers slipped into his loose shirt and fingered the long scar over his undead heart. "You're not alive, Jack Paris," he said softly, to himself. "And I've got something much worse than death in mind for you."
Crandall started the long trek across the island.

Character(s): Otter
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Like Throwing Brer Rabbit In The Briar Patch

"That," Cori said, "is a very large turtle!"
"Unusually large," Amatsu agreed.
"'Bout par for the course," said Otter, nonplussed. "Excuse me." She slipped overboard and into the churning water, disappearing with barely a seam in its surface where she had entered.
Captain Darklock shouted some words that none of the Rat Pack understood, even Skitch. "We're taking water!"
Asinus' ship! Khyrisse stumbled below deck as quickly as her sea legs would allow her. One of the walls was buckling inward in an unhealthy manner, leaking through the broken wood. Khyrisse quickly cast mending and the ship's side straightened and fused together. The flow of water stopped. The captain breathed a sigh of relief and disappeared above-deck. By the time Khyrisse had made it up the ladder, the choppy water had calmed. "Well?" Darklock was demanding. "I don't know," said the mate. "Looks like it left."
Otter's long arm broke the surface of the water with few ripples, and then her head. "Can I have a rope here?" she yelled up.
"Marty," said Val, gently, making light slaps on his cheeks. "It's okay. The turtle is gone."
"Oh man, I hate turtles," moaned the paladin. "My egg! Is my egg okay?"
Otter hauled herself up the side of the ship by the rope with a single fluid motion, her long brown braid dripping and her clothes stuck wetly to her hard body. "Right," she said. "Let's make some distance."
The mate gave her a single nod.

Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Infiltration
Title of Post: En Route

Ebreth Tor leaned against the rigging and looked out over the water, one boot hooked idly and professionally through the crossrope, trying desperately not to think about it and only half-succeeding. What if he's right? What if that's me under there? It was some reassurance how little he found himself drawn to the political intrigue that had been Ebreth Tor's world, but the ease with which the persona slipped on was an unsettling numbness beneath his heart, and one he couldn't completely push aside. Stay on task, Tor. It didn't help that he knew how easily his psyche crumbled away, and if that man was still there, in remission, and if. Stay on task. And if he pushed aside the fragile pieces of his personality and emerged to destroy everything that mattered to him, would there be anything. Stay. On. Task. He wrapped his shaking hand around the rope of the rigging, felt its hairy surface bite into his palm. Anything he could do about it. Or would he be gone into whatever void he came from, and everything he'd struggled so hard for be lost. He closed his exhausted eyes. Stay on task, Tor. You're going to be there soon, and you just need to keep yourself together.

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