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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 VII



Character(s): Jack and the Pack
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Back in the Saddle

Captain Darklock watched as the dockhands raced along the pier, slowly leading the Golden Dawn in to port with the long poles and rope loops that kept the ships in good condition. Asinus, Rauvin, and a woman Jack didn't recognize were waiting for them on the dock, and Caimen and Lora were walking up from the house. Jack waved. Someone the Parises trust... echoed in his mind.
Could it be this woman?
Jack refused to believe it was any of the Rat Pack. That left the new guy... Amatsu, possibly Captain Darklock... Jack remembered how he had brought Ariath into the party and mentally kicked himself. This was not the sort of thing he was good at.
"Jack?" Mina asked. Jack turned and blinked. The resemblance was still surprising him. "What's up, Mina?" he asked.
"I've been talking to mom and dad," Mina said. "I told them that I want to accompany you guys. I want to help out."
"I don't know that that's a good..." Jack started, but Mina shook her head assertively.
"I'm a Paris, and I'm of age. It's not a good idea for you to be traveling out, alone. No other Parises, I mean. You need someone you can trust."
Jack nodded. It wouldn't do to try to explain to Mina, or any of his family, really, that he trusted the Pack as much as any Paris. "Well, I'd be happy to have you, Mina," Jack said, before he even knew that he was going to say it.
"I knew you'd say that," she grinned, giving him a quick hug.
"Ahem," Crandall coughed from behind them. "Aren't you guys family?"
"Flark me," Jack said, laughing. He lightly punched his old friend in the arm in a playful guy way.
"I came to tell you that the gangplank's down."
"Oh. Right." Jack jogged over to the port deck where most of the Rat Pack had disembarked. Tora and Lora were embracing, and Caimen, Asinus and Rauvin were listening intently to Dar's story. Jack raced down and joined them.
"...typology was different from the types we've recorded before. Higher levels of necromantic energy, more sentience as well. I even noticed that the captain gave signs of protolichdom. A Collector-class, I think."
"Flark," Asinus, Caimen and Jack all muttered simultaneously.
"That's not going to be a problem," Valende said. "Without a living archmage to control it, a Collector-class isn't any more powerful than a strong mummy."
"Let's hope they don't find any archmages," Asinus said, somewhat protectively.
"Look," Caimen said. "Now that we've got all the surviving members of the Passage Circle together, I think we ought to have a council."
"Seconded," Rauvin said.

"I think that we should include Khyrisse and Valende," Jack said. "They're good enough to help... I'm sure they'd both have something to contribute."
"Jack," Caimen said, like a tolerant father, "we'll be discussing Paris family business, including the details of the Passage. I don't think it's a good idea."
"Caimen's right, Jack," Dar nodded. "The only thing stopping the Remnant so far is that Caimen, Asinus and I are the only ones who know the location of X Isle."
"How are we supposed to help if we don't know what's going on?" Valende demanded.
"You'll know what you need to know," Caimen said.
"Look," Jack demanded, "at least Val should be there. She's an expert on undead!"
"Jack," Caimen said, warningly, "we'll consult with your friends when we've made our decisions about the Passage. Maybe it would be best if you stayed with them while we conferred."
Jack blinked.
"I'll... I'll do that, then," he said, and taking Val's hand, headed over to where Khyrisse was watching Skitch help the dockhands turn the ship.
"Are you okay, Jack?" Val asked.
"Yeah, I'm fine," he said. "I was probably out of line. It is a Paris family secret."
"What is?" Khyrisse asked, suspiciously.
"The Passage. It's what we think the Remnant is after," Jack said. "I can't tell you about it."
"What? You trust us, Jack," Khyrisse said, frowning.
Someone the Parises trust, she had told him.
Jack shrugged. "I trust too many people," he said.
The woman who had been standing with Asinus spoke up. Jack hadn't even heard her approach.
"It's a wise man who knows he trusts too much," she said. "I'm Rani. Asinus called me in to help."
Khyrisse frowned strangely at the attractive woman.
"But you didn't get in either, huh?" Val asked.
"I don't blame them," Rani said. "That family learned distrust long before any of us were alive." Val coughed.
"Well, Mina's asked to join us," Jack said. "Maybe we should make some plans of our own. She and I are both Parises, too..."
"Ship ahoy!" suddenly came a call from high up on the Golden Dawn. "Remnant markings!"
Khyrisse flickered with energy.
"Let's get out some tension," Val said.

***


Across the bay, on the bridge of the Dire Wraith, Captain Syzygy put down his spyglass. Paris Island was exactly where the Master had told him it would be.
Syzygy smiled. The Master had been right in selecting him as one of the Three Riders. Operating outside the Remnant as a whole gave him a freedom to strike back at the Parises he had never felt.
And all this, thanks to the power of the Minaret.
Syzygy turned to his lieutenant. "Vondra," he said, "ready the Fog Skeleton. We strike with our Master's hand."

Character(s): Kynvelyn, Fleegle, Ebreth Tor
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Wanted By Hell

"They weren't so bad, actually," Fleegle said.
Kynvelyn leaned over the railing of the ship, and if he wasn't sick before, seeing all the water below did it for him. He hurled.
"I wonder if brains are kosher," Fleegle mused.
"You know," Gerhard said, "a lot of us can't stomach the really fatty brain matter. We've got a vegetarian substitute made out of grain and sap."
Kynvelyn sat down and moaned.
"Everything all right here?" a tall, bald black Remnant with a mellifluous voice asked.
"Our compatriot is a little brainsick," Gerhard offered.
"Grr," Kynvelyn said. "Me hate Parises to pieces!"
"He's a bit touched in the head, too," Gerhard added.
The man was looking strangely at Kynvelyn, and suddenly Kynvelyn recognized him. It was Ebreth Tor, master of the slave ring that he and Fleegle had busted the Lianthi cell of back in 801.
Kynvelyn hoped he wouldn't be recognized, but the look in Ebreth Tor's eyes said otherwise.
Fleegle had apparently made the same recognition, because he was already stepping between Kynvelyn and Tor. "Nice to, uh, see you, Mister Tor," he said. "We're really glad you made Remnant after your demise."
"Oh?" Gerhard asked. "You know each other?"
"We've met," Tor said.
"Me kill Paris," Kynvelyn said. "Grr. Grr."
"We, uh, ought to get him to sick bay," Fleegle grinned nervously. "Excuse us, Mister Tor."
The cleric poked at Gerhard and the two started dragging Kynvelyn off.
Ebreth smiled. He still put the fear of Tor into people, he mused ambivalently. Still, the encounter was a striking one, because Ebreth knew one thing that apparently the Remnant didn't. There was a lot of talk around Hell of eventually getting those two for some reason. However, at the current time, Kynvelyn and Fleegle were still alive.
This could make things very, very interesting, Ebreth mused. Now it was only a matter of figuring out how to best use this information...

Character(s): The Violence-loving Rat Pack, the Remnant
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Next Stop: Davy Jones' Locker

The raider The Dire Wraith pulled up to a smaller sloop that was just off the coast of Paris island, and undead began swarming over it. Sailors tried to defend their boat, but were being quickly, messily overwhelmed.
Captain Syzygy laughed raucously. "No prisoners!" he shouted. "Kill them all! All who would stand with the Paris family will die!"
"Some of my best friends are Parises," Khyrisse Starshadow said from the top of the bow. Then she fireballed the deck.

***


Amatsu turned a corner below deck and saw two of the Remnant completing a bloody rending of one of the crew. A second man cowered up against the wall as the zombies turned to him.
"Face me instead, unliving!" he commanded, sword pointed at them. The two creatures seemed only too happy to comply.
From above, there was a thunderous *crack* and-- by instinct as much as anything-- Amatsu dove to the floor a second before the blast wave hit, followed by a savage tongue of flames, snaking down the passage. He could feel the heat wash over his body like it was water.
Looking up, he saw the smoldering bodies of the two Remnants. I sincerely hope it was Lady Starshadow who cast that, he thought. He got to his feet and continued his search for any imperiled crew, or any foes who still walked.
Another zombie, standing at least 18" taller than he, stepped out of a chamber, mace in hand. Four shuriken quickly thunked into the creatureís chest. It only sneered contemptuously and broke a hole in the wall with its weapon, in an intimidating display of strength.
The bodies of the undead do not function as a living person's, Raiden said sternly, somewhere in his mind. Forget attempting to damage any important organs. Attack only the head-- sever it!
"Their may be another important part," Amatsu whispered. The Remnant advanced on him and swung.
Amatsu fell to one knee, ducking below the mace. He slashed his sword into the monster's knee and felt the steel of the ninja-to strike bone. The creature's reflexes still functioned as a living man's and it flinched, raising its wounded leg. Then Amatsu swung his foot into the undead's other shin, and it fell clumsily and face first to the floor. A moment later it was dead.
Well done, progeny, Raiden commented, with his usual pride.
"Thank you, ancestor." Amatsu heard the sounds of steel and flesh colliding, the shouts of battle, coming from the galley, and had a feeling he knew who their source was. He slipped into the shadows to investigate.
He had been correct. Cori Yashida stood in front of Jack Paris, katana in one hand, wakizashi in the other. Half a dozen remnant lay lifeless on the floor before her and the remaining two looked soon ready to join them. Amatsu prepared to assist her.
Odd, he thought, where did this fog come from?

Character(s): Otter, Rani
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: My Other Two Characters Would Have Been Much More Useful In Naval Combat...

"One ship is attacking Paris Island?" said Otter, raising an eyebrow in surprise.
"It's the Remnant," shrugged Rani. "What do they care if they get killed? They'll all be back."
"Oh, well." Otter took a claw hammer out of her belt pouch. "Their ship won't."
Rani watched her long, lithe form disappear into the waves. She stood on the dock and hooked her thumbs through her belt loops, watching the naval battle. If things got too grim she'd call Asinus. She didn't especially like the thought of touching the donkey's mind, much less interrupting the in-house meeting of a major crime family. But she was damned if she was just going to let this Remnant ship pull into the harbor and wreck the Dead Can Dance. She'd already lost two boats this year.

Character(s): The Rat Pack, The Remnant
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: The Fog Skeleton

Jack was busy trying to attach the Diari cannon to the Dead Can Dance's hull tripod. "Toolkit," he muttered. "I need to start carrying a toolkit."
Next to him, Cori and Val were standing side by side, building a rather considerable pile of deanimated corpses.
"How are you coming with that, Jack?" Cori asked.
"Um, do either of you have a Phillips-head screwdriver?" Jack asked.
"No, dear," Val laughed. "Use your thumbnail."

***


Marty leapt up, grabbing the siderail of the Dire Wraith. Effortlessly, he hauled himself up and over, taking in the scene on the Remnant ship's deck.
Standing atop a raised platform, a figure dressed in black and silver was invoking. From a blood-red bowl before him, a thick fog was wafting out, floating out across the bay.
"Whoa. Evil magic," Marty said. "That's some bad kung fu."
Grasping his egg in one hand, he thrust it forward at the legion of guardian undead. "Fear the little egg dude!" Marty cried.
At the unlikely paladin's words, twenty of the undead manning the Dire Wraith crumbled to dust.
Twice that number shuddered with fear and started to run about in terror.
"Who dares?" Captain Syzygy cried from his dais. "Master, grant this construct thy power and crush this Paris-lover!"
The fog began to take the form of a giant skeletal hand.
"This just sucks," Marty said, drawing his ancestral Sword of True Light. "I hate fog."

***


∆lwyn watched the battle through the Orbs of Kenru. Syzygy's plan to take the Parises on directly was serving its purpose, distracting them while the other two Riders moved into position. Shifting his gaze, he turned to Rauvin's gaze. The Passage Circle was still meeting, the sea battle framed in a window while they conspired. ∆lwyn couldn't hear the words being spoken, but that was not necessary. What he saw told him what he needed to know. Jack Paris was not in the meeting.

Character(s): Otter
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: And The Deep Blue Sea

Otter could hear the sounds of combat topside, muffled and hollow as if in a dream. She held the keel with one hand, her long braid floating silently from one side to the other. Things were so much more noisy up there than they had to be, she mused, and tore about a three foot hole in the wooden hull with her claw hammer. The splinters swirled inwards as the water rushed past Otter's hard body and into the hull of the Dire Wraith. Her braid swirled into the ship and back out.

Character(s): Rani and Jack
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Two People Less Well Suited To Combat

"Ahem," coughed the silver-haired woman in the red gloves. Jack looked up. She flicked the screwdriver up on her Cynystran army knife and handed it to him. "I'm Rani," she supplied. "Friend of your uncle's. This is my boat."
"Oh," he said. "Hi."
Which was when the Dire Wraith suddenly gave a huge heave and her starboard side listed about five feet down, just as the skeletal hand of fog lunged for Marty, past Marty, and into the Dire Wraith's mast with a crunch, sending the burning beam hurtling down at the mathematician and the psychometrist.

Character(s): Amatsu, Jack
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: For once, someone on our side is lurking in the shadows

Amatsu watched in amazement as the fog began to swirl into the shape of a--
The deck rocked violently. After a second's disorientation, he righted his balance and landed in a crouch. He heard the splintering crash before seeing it. The flaming remains of the mast were toppling over towards--
He leapt out of the shadows, grabbing Jack Paris as he passed and the two men tumbled just out of the way of the falling slab of smoking wood. "Whoa," Jack said, shaking his head.
"Interesting," Amatsu said, looking up at the massive, skeletal arm formed of mist.
Jack looked around suddenly. "Rani!?!"

Character(s): Jack and the Pack
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: I Don't Even Know What A Psychometrist Is, Anyway

The woman Jack had just been talking to was gone. The deck of the ship was splintered and the cannon Jack had been trying to install was sliding into the sea.
On the other side of the wreckage, Cori was helping Val to her feet. The two were much closer to the Dire Wraith than Jack and Amatsu, so the tide of undead was heading down the gangplank at them.
The skeletal hand was rising again, one bony finger reaching past the Dead Can Dance into the murky sea. Slowly, then gaining in speed, the finger started to circle the two boats, like a child stirring the bathwater.
"I don't like the way this is going," Jack said. "Where are our mages when we need them?"

***


Mina aimed two fingers at the half-wooden undead beings that had encircled her and Khyrisse. Lightning danced up her arm and arced from her fingertips to strike two in a line.
"Um, ma'am, can I get some help here?" she asked Khyrisse.
"Look at that thing," Khyrisse said, staring at the Fog Skeleton. "That's not undead. That's a magical construct."
"Less theory, more fighty please," Mina said, tossing off another set of magic missiles. "Limited spell count here."
"It's also... channeling something... else," Khyrisse said.

***


The Dead Can Dance was spinning now, as the Fog Skeleton surged the water into a whirling maelstrom.
Cori and Val had made it off of the sinking ship, onto the Dire Wraith. Jack frowned, counting to himself momentarily.
"This isn't right," he told Amatsu. "It's creating a whirlpool, but the spin isn't fast enough to account for the downward centripetal vectors."
"Sir, might I suggest getting off this ship," Amatsu said, ignoring Jack's oblique babbling.
"Rani's still here... I'm sure Uncle Asinus wouldn't want her lost. You get over and help Cori and Val... I'll find Rani and then you'll be in position to haul us over."
Amatsu nodded. His duty was with the Lady Yashida, anyway.
Jack clambered down into a hole formed by the shattering of the deck. Rani lay below, blood flowing from a wound on her head. Past her, Jack could see down into the whirlpool. Some sort of arcane energy was swallowing water deep below.
"Of course," he muttered. "That would explain the--"
The Dead Can Dance lurched, and the sound of tearing wood filled his ears. The ship split in two from the pressures of the vortex.
Jack grabbed Rani just in time to feel a terrible wrenching as their half of the ship crumbled into the hole.

***


Above, the Fog Skeleton raised itself from the water and turned to the remaining heroes.
"This is really bad," Marty said. "Satori, take me away."

Character(s): Rani
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Can't Win For Losing

Rani twisted around as things happened, as usual, at once. The Remnant ship lurched, the skeletal hand veered and slammed into the mast, a ninja leapt from its deck to Rani's and flung the young Paris out of the way, the Diari cannon rolled from where it had fallen and into the harbor with a plop--Rani had yet to see anything from that country work--and the burning mast of the Dire Wraith crashed into her body and through the deck of the Dead Can Dance with an awful crunch of wood.
The last thing she saw was the untouched Golden Dawn, bobbing gently in the waves on the other side of the harbor.
And the last thing she thought, broadcast directly at Jack, was Next time you want to use a docked ship to attack the fucking Remnant with, maybe you can start with your own.
It didn't seem to make it through normally.
That just fucking figured.
And then her head slammed into the below deck and everything faded to dark.

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