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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 VI



Character(s): Flicker
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Skeins of Fate: The innocent and the beautiful
Title of Post: A Topic Of Conversation Everyone Can Enjoy (What This Says About Us...)

The road to Khyrisse's capital of Lissadell was a long one. The three Riklanders had not spoken in over an hour; Shilree was picking at a scab in silence, Berryn was trudging along in resignation, Noyarc looked lost in thought, and even Ralchar had lapsed into quiet. Luthien finally broke the silence. "You know, Norn, I--couldn't help noticing you got backstabbed through the head back in World Three."
"What of it?" said Norna, her hand moving up to her ruined eye. Her head was still at an unusual angle from where Forix had broken her neck, too.
"Well, I'm writing a book on the taxonomy of injury and death--"
"You are?" Norna looked faintly surprised. "I had not expected you to be doing anything nearly so interesting, necromancer. I thought your kind mostly dabbled with the undead."
"We're full of surprises. Could I ask you a few questions? I've never seen anyone backstabbed in the brain before."
"Well, the point of entry was about here." Norna put her thumb at the base of the skull, a bit to the left. The injury was long gone, but her yellow hair was still stained sepia. "The exit was through my right eye. I don't think it cracked the bone at all."
"Direct diagonal through the skull cavity," suggested Berryn. Luthien nodded and jotted something down.
"I've never been backstabbed in the brain!" said Shilree. "I want to try! I want to try!"
"It was a signature shot of Tor's, really," said Flicker. "He was known for stabbing people in the back of the head instead of between the shoulder blades. I don't think it's more effective. Just--distinctive."
Luthien made a note of it. "Ever been backstabbed the standard way, Norn?"
She thought about it, tapping her lip. "Yes. That ugly thief of yours backstabbed me on the Death Scar."
"Sunnnnnnnnny?" said Shilree, sidling up.
"I'm not going to backstab you, Shilree."
"Pretty please?"
"Can you compare the two experiences?" asked Luthien.
"Hmm," said Norna, thoughtfully. "The head was a lot less painful. You felt the blade going in and then nothing. It took me down instantly and even after I got up again it didn't hurt much."
"There aren't really nerve endings in the brain," commented Berryn.
Luthien blinked. "Well, how--uncharacteristically humane."
"I doubt that was the point," said Flicker.
"He attacked me from behind," said Norna, unimpressed. "Backstabbing is a cowardly act regardless of how it is done."
Flicker closed his mouth and looked away.

Character(s): Rani
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Rani, PI

"Asinus," said Rani, hopping over the low rail of the Dead Can Dance to the Paris docks with practiced ease. "I've got news for you."
"Crap," muttered the donkey. The psychometrist didn't get news unless something was wrong. "Tell me it's not the Golden Dawn."
"It's not the Golden Dawn."
"Tora?"
"No. Do you want to know, or do you want to play Twenty Questions?"
"Spill it, chippie."
"The Remnant sacked Cape Duran this morning."
"Flark. Lavin's girls?"
"Both dead, and their families too. I checked for ya." She peered at him curiously, her red-gloved thumbs hooked through the belt loops of her tight black denims. "What did I, Paris, take ugly pills this morning? This must be the first time I've been here that you haven't commented on my ass."
"I've got a lot on my mind," grumbled the donkey.
She looked at him for a few moments. "Kill her now," she recommended. "She'll break your heart and throw it in the dumpster. Nothing's worse than love."
"Flarkin' telepaths."
"I did that one by sight, bucko."

Character(s): The Remnant, the Rat Pack and Amatsu ("Astrology + more!")
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Most ships are only infested by, er, rats

Captain Darklock pulled the ship into port. "Should have her restocked for a new voyage if necessary, ma'am," he told Khyrisse. "Just take us a few hours to clean things up, then we'll be at your service again."
The Rat Pack stayed to help the crew. Jack had calculated that it would take an hour or less.

***


"Brains! Grrr!"
"Mmmm, brains!"
"I'm hungry, Gerhard. Mind if I head over to port to snag a meal?"
"Sure," Gerhard Prentiss told one of his fellow zombies. "Just don't take any chances and hurry back. I'm going to remain with these two. I fear they may have suffered quite substantial cerebral damage."

***


The hungry zombie quietly slipped aboard one of the boats and slipped unnoticed through the below deck corridors. A few times a lone sailor passed by him unaware, and he probably could have taken them, but they might have raised an alarm.
Gerhard had said to take no chances-- they were, after all, preparing to assault the Parises-- so he waited patiently for a meal that would present no risk whatsoever.

***


"Mom, I left something back in the cabin. I'll be right back."
"I'll be right here, kiddo," Khyrisse answered, securing a rope to one of the belaying studs.
It was about a minute later when the ghostly figure appeared on the deck. It was an elderly looking man dressed in Shikinti armor; archaic armor, Cori noted.
The young one called Skitch is in danger in his quarters, the apparition solemnly announced.
Khyrisse didn't waste any time in pleasant discourse-- she simply started running. It probably would have required the Staff of the Walker to catch up to her, but Valende and the others tried.
The corridors of the ship blurred past Khyrisse as she ran. A mate flattened himself against the wall just in the nick of time to avoid her. "And where's the fire?" he muttered, unheard.
With a loud crack, the archmage slammed open the door to the cabin. What happened next seemed to unfold in slow motion.
Skitch was sprawled on the floor, tunic torn, looking up at a zombie with gray, warted skin. Sickly green saliva glistened on its teeth. The moment she opened the door, Amatsu dropped silently into the room through the ceiling. The zombie turned to face her. The snarl on its face froze as its head went rolling off. The body toppled with a soft thunk.
No one moved. Khyrisse held the spell she had ready. Amatsu held the ninja-to at the creature's chest, should it stir again.
Finally, the silence was broken: "Aaah! That stupid monster tore my brand new shirt!"

Character(s): Flicker and the Skeiners, in deep kimchee
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Skeins of Fate: The innocent and the beautiful
Title of Post: Great Idea You Had There, Wyvern

"Welcome to Lissadell." A plump, pretty woman in draperied watersilk smiled warmly on them. "I am Miyrr, sister and advisor to the goddess Khyrisse. Please, make yourselves at home in our palace. My lady has scheduled an audience with you in the morning."
"We are in a hurry," said Norna, crossly.
"The goddess is very busy," said Miyrr, still smiling. "You should feel honored that she has agreed to see you as quickly as she has. We are in the midst of a war with Cynystra, as you may or may not know. My lady Khyrisse has indicated that you are time travelers. Surely, then, an extra evening can mean little to you. The palace is yours to enjoy in the mean time. The goddess has nothing to hide. If you need anything, please, feel free to ask any of the servants. Ester will show you to your rooms now." She inclined her elegantly coiffured head in a gracious but very final way.
"Fuck," muttered Norna.

***


"Are you sure you heard something?" Norna demanded for the third time.
"Positive," said Flicker, frowning. There was something very strange about this, for no matter how closely he approached the source of the sound, a faint and high-pitched magical whining, when it sounded again he was no closer to it. He shushed the Valkyrie with his hand. There it was again. This time he was sure it was on the other side of the wood paneling of the ballroom. He found the catch to the secret door and slid it open with practiced fingers. "Down here."

***


The noise did not sound again, but Flicker could now hear soft conversation at the other end of the underground passage. He put out his hand to motion the others still and edged forward alone. He didn't like leaving the others in a situation like this; Flicker would be lost in a difficult fight without Luthien and Norna, and he had little faith that Norna and Shilree could stay out of trouble long without him. But there was nothing for it if he wanted to find out what was going on with any semblance of stealth. As he slipped through the shadows of the rough-hewn hall, he caught snippets of conversation:
"...thought you said..."
"...priest of Lucifer, maybe..."
"...going to try again..."
Flicker reached the door and knelt by it as softly as a whisper, his hand straying to the hilt of the sword Norna had given him as he brought his eye to the empty keyhole.
Omeria and Luthien were bent over the badly abused body of Kardia Blackfeather, sprawled face-up on a table. Luthien had his hand on the clearly dead priest's face and appeared to be concentrating fiercely. Sweat stood out on his temples. Omeria looked annoyed. "Spill it, Pieret, you kiss-ass," she muttered.
Flicker returned to his companions, his thoughts a jumble. Pieret. That was what Khyrisse had called Blackfeather in Rumi. Was he one of Khyrisse's people here? Or one of Omeria's? "Your analog is there with Omeria," he whispered to Luthien in Gaelic. "He's trying to speak with a dead body. I don't know if they're breaking in or what."
"Omeria is one seriously evil bitch here," Luthien whispered back with certainty. "They can't be up to any good. You're sure they're the only two?"
"I didn't see anyone else."
"Dalen," hissed Norna, and smacked Flicker in the back of the head.
"He's in there," said Luthien, "with the sorceress Omeria. We should be able to take them."
"Good," said Norna. "Let's do it. I'm sick of skulking around like a thief."

***


Both mages whirled as Norna threw the door open. "What is the meaning of this!" cried Omeria, anger in her voice.
Norna skidded to something of a halt, improbably. "We are here for the death mage, sorceress," she said. "His Time is upon him. Stand aside."
Omeria lifted her hand in front of the alternate Luthien, frowning. "Hold, my friend. What nonsense are you speaking, you crazy Valkyrie?"
"We are here for the death mage," repeated Norna. "We intend nothing against you. Your world is irrelevant to us. We need only the necromancer."
"Why are you telling her this?" shouted Luthien, frustrated.
"Well, you can't have him!" Omeria clapped the necromancer on the ass and he was gone in a burst of light. "Because your world is equally irrelevant to me!"
There was a sudden crunch of bone as Shilree stuck her dagger inexpertly into the back of Omeria's head. "Ow!" screamed the sorceress, in a pissy voice that reminded Flicker--
Well, not of Omeria.
She turned and seized the mad Diari by the throat. "That is not funny," she snarled, pulling the weapon out of her broken skull with her left hand and throwing it to the floor. There was a brilliant glow from her ring finger, almost obscuring her hand. "Not only that, it was horribly graceless." A piece of Omeria's arm broke open, light spilling out from inside; her imperial cheekbone, one of her hips. A burgundy butterfly wing unfurled from her cracking back and then another.
"Oh, fuck," said Luthien.
"You will learn the wrath of Khyrisse Starshadow. Miyrr, come here."
The pretty woman in the elaborate dress materialized demurely beside the goddess. "Yes, my sister?"
"Our time-traveling guests have abused our hospitality. It seems you were right from the beginning. Let us dispose of them."
"Give us the necromancer, Goddess," said Norna. "Our business here is not with you, and your political situation does not concern me. Give us the necromancer and we will leave."
"You are not in a position to be issuing threats, little shield-maiden."
"That is where you are wrong." Norna folded her arms and smiled grimly. "For your death is written in the skeins of fate as surely as that of my mother Frigg. Would you learn of it, sorceress?"
"That is impossible!" cried Miyrr, with wide eyes. "She can't be telling the truth, can she, Khyri?"
"She is a fool," said the goddess, contemptuously, after a moment. "I have learned everything from them I need to." She threw Shilree at Norna, who batted the projectile Diari out of the way impatiently and strode forward, pulling her greatsword. Khyrisse's hand flashed, and the Valkyrie was trapped in an Otiluke's Telekinetic Sphere. "My advisors are not negotiable. If you would bargain, bargain for a quick death, at least--" She looked from the caged Valkyrie to the Diari illusionist on the floor, and up to Flicker. "For those of you for whom it is an option."

Character(s): Wyvern
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Skeins of Fate: Innocent and the beautiful
Title of Post: Poetic Justice

"Do not be a fool, sorceress," said Norna. "I can spare you a great amount of pain."
"Mabye I enjoy pain," said the goddess, smirking.
"Our world just looks less and less fucked up, doesn't it?" Luthien muttered to Flicker.
"You know already that we come from the future," argued Norna.
"An alternate future," Miyrr pointed out.
"Nonetheless I know what will become of you there. Surely that information is worth more to you than one ugly necromancer."
"Khyrisse," said Miyrr in a sweet, low voice, touching her sister's sleeve, "if what she says is true, these people could be a terrible threat to our plans."
"Yes," nodded the evil goddess, slowly, "and if it is not true, then they are liars. Either way they will not leave these halls alive."
"Hey, we could be helpful to your plans too, ya know," Noyarc pointed out. "You scratch our back, we scratch yours, kind of thing."
"Do we really need help with our plans?" Miyrr asked Khyrisse innocently.
Norna banged impatiently on the inside of the Otiluke's Sphere. "Give us what we need, Goddess, and I will tell you of something that concerns you. The Ragnarok is approaching, and with it the destruction of your kind."
That got her attention all right. "What?"
"I do not trust her," cried Miyrr, frightened. "Khyri, don't listen to her!"
"And that's not all," added Noyarc. "Have you noticed how your sister's making all your decisions for you?"
Miyrr looked hurt. "I'm advising her. As if that's your business!"
"Whose idea was it to commit against Cynystra?" Noyarc wanted to know.
"Mine," said Khyrisse, too quickly and too angrily.
"You won't turn us against each other," cried Miyrr. "Khyrisse, can't you see what he's trying to do?"
"Think about this, Khyrisse," said Noyarc. "We're from another timeline. Give Luthien to the Valkyrie and you lose nothing but a necromancer. You gain information from the future. That's useful stuff. Miyrr doesn't want you to have it. Why not?"
The goddess looked at her, slowly. "Miyrr," she said, "why did you tell Ria to kill the Sunfighter?"
"I told you," wailed the plumper woman. "I thought that was what Lord Tor said. You're not listening to him, are you?" Her eyes flashed at the werewolf. "What do you intend to accomplish here, following these time-travelers? Don't pretend you are one of them."
"I--intend--only to reveal the unsuitable bias of your advice, Miyrr. What are your plans for Southern Ataniel once your mistress is killed with the other gods?"
"Your concern would be--admirable, werewolf. Unfortunately your, ulterior motives, rather spoil the effect. Did your companions really think you intended to leave this timeline with them?"
The goddess Khyrisse stood up, her red wings unfurling behind her.
Miyrr looked at Noyarc and Noyarc looked at Miyrr, an indescribable look dawning over both their faces about a minute too late. Then they lunged for each other in a dark and distorting blur and were gone in a flash of light.
"You bitch," screamed Khyrisse, blood in her eye. "You will learn what it is to betray Khyrisse Starshadow!" She was into the godstream after the two space dragons before her voice had stopped resounding.
Flicker whipped out the evil black blade and sliced it through the Otiluke's Sphere that held Norna. "Quickly," he said. "Before they return."
"Somehow," murmured Luthien, "I think they might be a while."
"Let's kill Luthien," Shilree sang in a childish sing-song. "Let's kill Luthien."
"I am so glad I don't understand any of this," commented Ralchar.

Character(s): People with various problems
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Meanwhile, back in the real Ataniel

"Rrrrargh! Brains!"
"Hey, bozo, what if they actually give us some brains to eat?"
"Shut up and stay in character, doofus!"
"Grrrr, must kill Parises!"

***


"Are you hurt, young Skitch?" Amatsu said, keeping his sword drawn.
"That stupid monster tore my new shirt!"
"I've gotcha covered, kiddo," Khyrisse said as she cast a mending on his tunic. The spirit of Raiden Mikaboshi hovered a few inches above the ground, looking extremely pleased with himself.
"Bloody Hell!" Captain Darklock muttered, pounding his fist on a table. "Now my ship's got zombies infestin' it? Damn Remnant must be stepping up their attacks." He cursed, appropriately enough, like a seaman.

***


Gotten so I'm not even noticing other women's rears. Flark me flark me flark me.

Character(s): Otter
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Infested With Zombies? Where? Where?... Oh, Never Mind

Otter poked her head below. "Looks more like a ghost, Captain," she said laconically.
"Arr, not the ghost, the zombie! Are ye blind?"
Otter poked her head below again. "The zombie's just lying there, Captain. I'd say the ghost's more of a threat."
"That's because they already killed the zombie, ye half-wit!"
"Do you want me to kill the ghost?"
"No! That's just a Western ancestor spirit! It's got nothin' to do with the Remnant!"
"Then if the zombie's dead, and the ghost's all right, why did you yell about being infested with undead and get all of our attention over here?"
"Arrr. I was just tryin' ta be dramatic, mate."
"This is the longest trip I've ever been on," sighed Otter, and went back above deck.

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