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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 IV



Character(s): Khyrisse, Skitch, Valende
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Like Flying Foxes Amongst Birds

"Our mission was successful, yes? You appear troubled."
"Just thinking over a message I received," she replied absently.
"Is there any way this one may be of assistance?"
Khyrisse hesitated for a moment. There's only two ways Jack can be hurt that I know of. The first has to be done in person... and the second is a lot easier that way. If Jack's in danger, there's the possibility that it's from someone with us. Someone new. Khyrisse sighed internally. Which includes Amatsu. A lot can happen between here and Shikintu.
She shook her head and smiled. "It might not turn out to be anything to worry about. If I find I need help, I'll let you know, Amatsu. Thank you."

***


Valende, on her way to a late dinner with Jack, blinked as Khyrisse's voice suddenly sounded in her head.
Ebreth says Jack is in great danger. He urges you stay with him at all times. We'll watch those around him. There was a brief pause. She then added, Let me tell Jack?
Valende glanced carefully around and saw Khyrisse and Skitch standing at the rail, her chin on the top of his head. They looked like they were staring out at the moonlit water, but Skitch's eyes flicked towards Valende at a little squeeze of his shoulders from Khyrisse. He winked at Val with an impish grin, and went back to looking at the ocean. Khyrisse smiled slightly, her eyes still on the pale streak across the waves.
Val stopped in an out of the way place on the deck and composed her reply. I'll keep him safe, and try not to make it obvious that I'm doing so. Be careful; keep Skitch close to you. She, too, paused for a moment before agreeing, in a slightly amused tone, I wont tell. Jack, dear that he was, was too honest and trusting to be subjected to... or very good at... intrigue. Khyrisse must have reason to think that it might be someone with the Rat Pack. If Jack knew that, his manner might change towards the guilty party, giving them warning. Worse yet, if it were someone he trusted, Jack might give them warning outright.
Valende sighed, wishing again that Vastarin were with them. Skitch was wise for his age, but far too young for this sort of thing.
"Val? Is something wrong?" Jack was standing next to her, looking puzzled.
Val looked up at him and smiled. "No, darling, nothing's wrong." Not if I have anything to do with the matter. I simply hope hell forgive me later for not telling him. She tucked her arm through his and let him lead them towards wherever one ate dinner on board a ship. "I miss my brother," she confessed, amused. Can you imagine...? Missing a scamp like Vas.

Character(s): Shilree B
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Skeins of Fate: I&B
Title of Post: Death and Chocolate

Shilree skipped merrily down the streets of Rimbor City. So far she had been accosted five times. Each time the attacker ended as a shriveled husk. Each time the gem glinted a bit brighter. Each time Shilree gained strength.
She was just going to turn down another alley when she suddenly stopped in her tracks. She sniffed the air and a look of child-like joy filled her face. She quickly found the source of the smell. The store was that of a confectioner. Shilree entered. A bell over the door announced her arrival.
"Good day, miss," said the proprietor who was a rotund but a healthy looking man. "What can I interest you in?"
Shilree pasted her face up against the glass display. There were sweets of all types. Caramels, chocolates and creamy creations danced before her eyes.
"Umm, miss?" the proprietor asked.
Shilree, not taking her eyes off the case, pointed to a large brick of chocolate fudge. The proprietor took the brick out and wrapped it in paper.
"Three silver, miss," he said.
Shilree absently reached into her pouch when the bell over the door rang. The proprietor looked up and all cheer faded form his face.
"Time for this week's payment, Raymond," said the large thug who just entered. "Keeping your protection up has been expensive this week. Maury wants 5 gold this week instead of the usual one."
"But I don't have that kind of cash," the candy store owner said.
"That is just too bad," said the thug with mock compassion. "I guess I will just have to redecorate the place."
The thug pushed over a stand of sweets and came forward.
"Out of my way, refugee," he said to Shilree and pushed her aside.
Shilree landed on her rear with a thump. A look of grim understanding destroyed the childish glee on her face. She got up and walked behind the thug who was destroying the place. Shilree tapped him once on his back.
"What?!" he said with surprise as he turned around.
Shilree grabbed him by his shirt and grinned the grin of a predator.
"Vy oran Shalak yejan necrizy," she said with malice.
The thug moved to push the Diari off when a red glow surrounded him. He tried to scream but the words turned to ash in his throat. An ethereal energy flowed from the thug and into the eye gem. Soon all that as left of the extortionist was a mummified husk. The store owner looked on with shock.
Shilree turned to him and gave a kind smile. She then took a small diamond out of her pouch and placed it on the counter. When that was done she grabbed the brick of fudge and skipped out of the shop humming like a little girl.

Character(s): The Skeiners
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Skeins of Fate: I&B
Title of Post: A Gift of Fudge

"How could you let her go?" said Flicker to Hronmir.
Hronmir's eyes were downcast. "I didn't think she would recover so fast."
"Great, so now we are going to have to hunt for Shilree again," said Luthien.
The door to the groups hiding place opened with a loud creak. The entire party moved into battle mode. Swords were drawn, claws were prepared, and spells readied.
From beyond the door it sounded like a girl was singing a nameless song.
"Wait!" exclaimed Noyarc. "It is her."
Shilree, hands and face covered in chocolate, skipped merrily into the room. Shilree saw them, waved once then gave the remnants of the brick of fudge to Flicker. The elven viking took the offering with a nod. Once he did Shilree collapsed into a heap.
"Oh shit. Luthien!" said Flicker exasperatedly.
Luthien cautiously examined Shilree's vital signs.
"She is ok," he said. "Wait what is this?"
Luthien's eyes glowed for a moment as a spell activated. His eyes scanned up and down the unconscious Diarian like a miner looking for gemstones.
"This is not good," he said. "She is swimming in necromantic energy."
"How is that possible? She's and illusionist." said Flicker.
"I don't know," said Luthien. "I don't like it."
Shilree stirred and awoke groaning. She sat up and rubbed her temples.
"Zhey ran je," she explained. "What a headache!"
Shilree looked up and saw everyone looking at her.
"What?" she said with a look of total cluelessness.

Character(s): Jack Paris, the Rat Pack
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: The Long Slow Month
Title of Post: The Joys of Obliviousness

Jack, Cori and Crandall were playing poker. To Jack's credit, they were playing no-peekie Indian style, and the one card stuck to each player's head wasn't giving Jack an undue statistical advantage.
"Your go, Yashida," Crandall said, frowning at his cards. "You have to beat two pair, sixes and threes."
"Statistically likely," Jack admitted.
"Haven't gotten any better with that 'stating the obvious' thing, have you, Paris?" Crandall chuckled.
"Nope," Jack said, grinning. "I certainly haven't," he said, trying to milk the joke.
Cori flipped her cards. Three. Five. Nine. Five. Three.
"Two pair," she said.
"Too low," Jack said.
Cori flipped another card. Three. "That's a full house!" she grinned. "Beat that!"
"That's five threes," Jack said.
"Are you accusing me of cheating?" Cori asked.
"I's accusin' you o' cheatin'," Jack said in a perfect imitation of Dexy LaRue.
"Whose cards are these, anyway?" Crandall asked.
"Kit left them," Jack admitted.
"Right," sighed Cori. "No fault redeal?"
Crandall and Jack nodded.
"Do you get the feeling that for all this time spent playing, we're not getting anywhere?" Cori asked.
"Don't I know it," Crandall said enigmatically.
"Well, we're almost home," Jack said. "I think that things will pick up once I get back home."
"I'm enjoying the peace and quiet," Cori said.
"Me too," Crandall said. "It lets me plan for what's to come."

***


"Mom, do you know why Jack's being all weird at me?" Mina asked.
"I think you remind him of Lita," Tora said.
"Plus," Khyrisse added, "We don't do well with low level mages."
"I'm seventh level!" Mina insisted. "It's not like I only know identify!"
"Don't remind me," the archmagess sighed.

Character(s): Amatsu & Raiden Mikaboshi
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Family Responsibilities

Amatsu lit the candle and meditated.
Greetings, progeny.
"Greetings, honored one."
And how does your present quest proceed?
"We have rescued several of the Paris family and their kobun. We prepare for assault by the Remnant."
Excellent. May it be a glorious battle.
"Lady Starshadow appears pensive."
And what are you doing to support your leader in this time of trouble?
"I await any orders she may give."
The ancestral spirit winced like the victim of a spastic colon. No, no, child. If you are to begin a new era for the Red Crab Clan you must learn to show initiative!
"Sir?"
You must become more proactive! I of course forbid you to commit any dishonorable acts. But you must do, as a man does, not merely respond. An insect is capable of response! Now think - this is not a woman troubled by mere danger. What might require your assistance?
Amatsu thought, and presently said: "She does have a son..."
Ahh. Yes, it was always a heavy burden on me, knowing that the lives of others, especially the young and helpless rested with me. Then you must act to safeguard the child. Merely remain in his shadow, ever watchful.
"I do not know if that would be... prudent, honored one. Lord Praxis did tell this one that Lady Starshadow is easily ... upset by any actions that might be deemed suspicious."

Very well. This one shall assist you.
"Are you certain that is necessary. And what if your vigilance is mistakenly perceived? She is a sorceress of great---"
This one is quite familiar with the ways of Wu Jen. I shall do nothing obtrusive. And if the young one is in any danger you shall be made instantly aware.
"This one... thanks you for your assistance, ancestor."
Yes, indeed. The spirit faded away and Amatsu repressed a sigh. His life had never been easy.

Character(s): Skitch, Khyrisse, Valende
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Khyrisse Gets A Talking To

Skitch held onto the stern of the ship, listening carefully to the progress of the poker game. He'd placed himself near the small window-- out of anyones line of sight, unless they opened it and looked out.
Not that that would do them much good, either. Mom made me invisible. Skitch grinned, and did something that only Kit had ever seen him do. He tucked his hair behind his ears, so he could hear better. Nobody can see the stupid points if Im invisible, anyway.

***


Khyrisse sat up on deck, curled up in a coil of rope at the stern, flipping through the book Rauvin had loaned Skitch. She was within earshot of the little vandal-- Oh Grendel, dont let him get bored and write on Asinus ship-- so he could yell for help if he got in trouble... or if anything happened with Jack.
A light step signalled Valendes arrival. You wouldnt believe the stuff thats in this book, Khyrisse remarked in considerable amusement. I probably should censor it; but Skitch wouldnt learn anything then, would he?
Val laughed and sat crosslegged on the deck next to Khyrisse. No, probably not. In a much lower voice, she asked, Anything? Khyrisse shook her head slightly. Valende sighed. Rauvin left notes in the margins-- I think they must be about some of his patients. The archmage shook her head again and set the book aside. Im getting a headache. Its probably too dark to read out here anyway.
Well, Id been hoping for a chance to talk to you in private, her bodyguard confessed with a smile.
Khyrisse looked warily sideways at her. Really? ...What about?
Where do I begin... Val studied the cautious look on Khyrisse's face. From the looks of it, at the beginning, she said, a trifle sadly. Khyrisse, have you been spending much time in reverie lately?
That had not been what Khyrisse was expecting. No, she said, blinking. But then, I dont usually. I havent reveried on a regular basis since I was a teenager.
Nor communed, I suspect, Val said, very gently.
Would you, if you had my memories? She shook her head sharply, trying to dispel her annoyance. Half of it was being caused by the headache, not to mention the way the rope was digging into her spine. Im going to be one solid knot in the morning. And I surely wont be getting a massage from Ebreth anytime soon... What are you trying to ask me, Val? she finally asked, with a sigh.
Im not, Im trying to tell you something. You are far too easily upset recently. Val held up a hand to forestall Khyrisses tart reply. And with good reason. Many of them, in fact. But I think that it would do both you and Ebreth good if you were a little less... prone to emotional outbursts. I think that spending more time in reverie would accomplish that, done properly.
Khyrisse stared at Valende in disbelief. Are you crazed? Id think that would make me worse!
It would depend on which memories you relived, wouldnt it? Val replied sharply. You must have some positive memories. What about your childhood? Your time spent with Ebreth? Your years as the goddess of Trade?
Khyrisse hesitated for a long moment, then nodded. Are you sure this will work? she asked plaintively, and her voice fell to a whisper. Ever since-- since the Madness, really, but particularly since the Rat Kings, Ive been horribly on edge. Things have been happening that would normally upset me... but not this badly. I feel like Im out of control, and I dont like it.
I'm certain. I'll help you. --But its been getting a little better lately anyway, hasn't it?
Yes, Khyrisse said, blinking at her in confusion.
Valende smiled and didnt comment. Instead, she got to her feet and remarked, Its getting chilly out here, isnt it? I think Ill get us some tea-- would you like some? Its very good for what Vas calls jangled nerves.
Khyrisse grinned ruefully. Please.

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

Her bow leapt under his feet like a singing wave of its own, wood slicing through the water. Ebreth Tor's knees took up the slack of her pitch with automatic grace. He stood the straightest man on deck and his hands did not leave his pockets as she turned about her nose into the channel, with a briny spray that whipped his long cloak around him.
And damn him, but he loved it.

Character(s): Kynvelyn, Fleegle
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Infiltration
Title of Post: There's Gotta Be A Better Way To Make Money

"Brains," Kynvelyn said in a loud monotone. "Must eat brains."
"Yummy brains," Fleegle added.
"Dear me," a shambling zombie sitting next to them at the dining table said. "You two seem not to have weathered the conversion process very well."
"Uh, no. Me just want to eat brains," Kynvelyn said.
"And kill Parises. Grr," Fleegle added.
"At least you maintained a level of skin quality," the zombie said. "Mayhaps I can assist you with some of your present... ah, vocabulary difficulties? The name's Gerhard. Gerhard Prentiss, astrologer."
"You guys have astrologers?" Kynvelyn asked. "Uh, grr."
"Of course. The Remnant is made up of a large variety of peoples, ranging from drones and warriors to tacticians, architects, shipwrights and dermatologists."
"But we all eat brains, right?" Fleegle asked.
"Well, on the good days we do!" Gerhard grinned.
Fleegle leaned over and whispered to Kynvelyn. "This is the worst idea you've ever had."
"Hey," Kynvelyn responded. "At least we can see that dermatologist about getting rid of that mole of yours."

Character(s): Skitch, Valende, Khyrisse
Author: Kristin L'Kar Andersen and Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: One If By Land, Two If By Sea... Three Doesn't Sound Good At All

Khyrisse was still sitting in her coil of rope several hours later, reading and drinking tea. A dimly glowing sphere hovered above her, shedding light on the pages. A voice whispered from the empty air next to her. "Mom? The poker game is over; Jack's gone to bed."
Khyrisse set aside the book and went to their cabin, careful to let Skitch, still invisible, sneak in with her. She removed the spell once the door was closed. "Good job, kiddo," she said, tucking him in. "You can give me a report in the morning unless it's important-- it's way past your bedtime."
Skitch nodded, yawned, and pulled the blanket over his head.

***


Khyrisse snuggled down into her spot on the deck again and sipped at her fresh cup of tea, but it didn't do anything for her nerves at all. She was getting more jumpy as the evening wore on, not less. After a while, she discovered that she'd given up trying to read, and was instead staring pensively at the door to Jack's cabin, listening to the wind.
Khyrisse started when the door opened. Sighing, she placed a hand over her heart and watched Val cross the deck towards her.
"What's the matter?" she whispered to the cleric, who wore a thoughtful frown.
Valende shook her head. "I'm not sure. I thought..." She let her voice trail away and cocked her head, her expression edging towards one of suspicion.
There was an increasing chill to the air, and the wind picked up a little, making the rigging sing above them.
Both of the women strained their ears at the otherwise quiet night around them-- Val staring into the darkness behind the ship, Khyrisse frozen in place on the deck.
"I thought I heard something," Val finally said, in the tiniest breath of a whisper.
Khyrisse kept her eyes on Jack's door, despite the increasing urge to run to the rail and look. "Do you see anything?"
"No."

"Do you think it's the Remnant?"
Valende cast several things, scanning the darkness. She then made a soft sound of annoyance. "I don't see anything."
Khyrisse risked a glance at Val-- who looked like her internal spring was wound just a little too tight. "But you think there's something out there, don't you?"
Valende nodded and propped her chin on her hand.
"If it's not the Remnant, then--" Khyrisse stopped as Valende held up her free hand. The wind brushed past them, tendrils of it stirring Khyrisse's hair as well as Val's. Carried on it was what might have been a distant voice, singing. It was maddeningly impossible to be sure. When the breeze died away, both held their breath and listened, but nothing further was to be heard.
After a long, cold wait, Khyrisse gave in and got to her feet. "Val, I don't think that... whatever it is... is after us. Not tonight, anyway. We can take it in watches, if you want, but I've got to send to Ebreth and get some sleep if I'm going to be any good in the morning."
Valende nodded. "All right. I'll take the first watch, then. --Khyrisse?" She looked up, arms cradling books and mug. Val hesitated for a moment, then said with a little smile, "Mention it to Ebreth, would you? He might be able to tell you whether or not I need to worry."

***

Will reach Paris Island by noon. Skitch, Valende, and I are guarding Jack. Valende thinks we are being followed-- something has her undead-slayer hackles up.
With the Remnant. There is a traitor among those the Parises trust. Too complicated to get into. Tell only Jack. Please be careful. Ebreth.

***


Khyrisse opened her eyes and stared blankly at the wall of her cabin. "A traitor among those the Parises trust. Tell only Jack." What could she tell him? She didn't have any details. Where did they start looking? Oh, Grendel. The former goddess fought a brief battle with her conscience, and lost. She leaned forward and rested her forehead on the edge of her cot, taking a deep breath. It's why he went in the first place, she reminded herself. We need the information. Jack's family is in danger, and so is Jack.
Khyrisse sat up, drained the rest of her mug, and got under the covers, suddenly cold. "Here's hoping that tea works, Val. I may need it," she murmured.
Khyrisse closed her eyes and cast dream, looking for Ebreth.

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