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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
Ties That Bind, Part I

Character(s): Three Cranky Females
Author: Laura Redish and Kristin L'Kar Andersen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Bitch Session

Rani wiped blood from her mouth and slowly, gingerly, sat up. The two ships were sinking. The Remnant appeared dispatched. Near her on the pier, two elven women were decapitating the fallen undead bodies and kicking them into the sea, with rather more violence than the routine nature of the task warranted. "Bastard," fumed the light-haired one. "After I trusted him to go with me to Hell."
The dark-haired one kicked a severed zombie's head savagely off the pier and said "Did you hear how Caimen talked to Jack just for defending me? How dare he treat him like that?"
"If it wasn't for Jack," agreed the first woman, "I'd be halfway to New Trade by the time they got out of this precious meeting. I can live with not being trusted, but I'm damned if I'll be treated with this little respect. Do I look like a servant? Do I look like someone they can just tell to stay put like a good little girl and wait for marching orders?"
Rani liked these people already.

***


"I've been a goddess, Val," Khyrisse continued to bitch. "They don't have to tell me all their family secrets, but they're going to have to do better than 'you stay here and we'll tell you what to do once we've decided what's best'. And not one word out of Asinus. Not one word!"
"Welcome to Paris Island." Khyrisse started and whirled around at the unexpected voice. It was the woman Asinus had been standing with, a little the worse for wear. She was elven, with a curling silver ponytail and an especially delicate face; had it not been for a faintly sour twist to her mouth she would have been very beautiful indeed. "You'd better get used to it, because they never warm up to you. Rani. Private eye." She stuck out her red-gloved hand. It wasn't until Khyrisse shook it that she noticed the sixth finger. "Pleased to meet you."

Character(s): Crandall
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: A Seed Is Planted

"Are you okay?" Crandall helped the shaken Jack to sit as the last remains of the Dire Wraith and the Dead Can Dance sank into the harbor. "How many fingers am I holding up?"
"Two-point-four," Jack joked, weakly.
Crandall laughed. "That's one impressive girlfriend you've got," he said, watching her and Khyrisse methodically disposing of the undead bodies scattered across the pier. "She made mincemeat out of that captain."
"She kicks undead butt," said Jack, wanly.
"I'll have to remember that." Crandall lowered his voice, looking across at the Paris Estate. "Jack, is it just me, or is your family-- treating you a little differently these days?"
"I--what are you talking about?"
Crandall looked at Cori. "Well, back when--Robinson was alive--weren't you a member of the Passage Circle?"
"Oh, I am a member of the Passage Circle. Uncle Caimen just..."
"Just what?" said Crandall. "What's with him, Jack? Why doesn't he trust you anymore?"
Jack didn't really have an answer.
"You know it's hard for them to trust outsiders like us," Cori mitigated.
"Jack's no outsider. And I don't like the way they're closing ranks on the other side of him. Are they planning to do something he wouldn't approve of? Or do they just not consider him a member of the family now that Robinson's not here to argue that he is?"
"Crandall!" said Cori.
Crandall hung his head a little. "I'm sorry," he said. "That's probably not fair. I'm just worried about you, Jack."
"I have to trust my family," said Jack.
But as his old friends turned from him to start cleaning up the fight, the subvocal thought was already ringing in his mind.
Don't I?

Character(s): Introducing Alderon
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Skeins of Fate: Latecomers
Title of Post: In Search

"This is like looking for a needle in a haystack," frowned Nora. "If Flicker and Luthien have, in fact, left the timeline, how can asking after them be any use?"
"There was an old saying back in the land of the Little People," said Garal. "You can never be too thorough."
"Most of these people have never even heard of Flicker, though."
"It helps if you ask for 'Ragnarokkr'," suggested an elven kid in a parka, sitting down at the bar next to Garal. "Took me two months to figure that out."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Shal seems to have some trouble hanging onto names. Hi, I'm Captain Torikin." Most elves looked young to people less well-traveled than Garal, but the halfling was positive this boy really was younger than twenty-five. He projected an air of casual and somewhat arrogant familiarity with the world, though. Garal wondered which appearance was cultivated, or if the elf was just very precocious. "I'm Flicker's cousin. I've been looking for him for months now. Apparently he went to Lianth in June and no one's seen him here since, but when I went to Lianth, his girl friend told me the last time she'd seen him a Valkyrie had been dragging him off somewhere, so here I am again. I couldn't help overhearing the two of you talking about Flicker and timestreams, and that's just about the most believable explanation I've heard yet, given her-- uh, his, character, so since you're looking for him, and I'm looking for him, what do you say we look together?" He flashed a crooked grin at them.

Character(s): Garal, Nora, Alderon and the Gray Wanderer
Author: Eric Gasior
Storyline: Skeins of Fate: Latecomers
Title of Post: Nothing Here is This Easy

The halfing gave the kid an are-you-sure-you-want-to-get-involved look, "He was last seen in a fight a couple of months ago in Sturtevant. I'm told that he was with the Valkyrie and Luthien Mageson. They're currently in another timeline trying to ruin the plans of a potential lich lord, who also happens to be Luthien. The lich may be hunting them," he added for effect. "Still interested?"
The young elf laughed. "Now I know you're looking for my cousin."
Garal wanted to ask Captain Torikin how could help-- not that he was sure that he could trust the elf yet-- when the barkeep yelled in Riklandic. "I've told you before! You can't bring those filthy birds in here!"
The barkeep sounded so angry that the adventurers turned around, even Nora who didn't understand the language. What they saw was an old man dressed in a gray cloak bending down and whispering something to a pair of ravens. The birds walked out the door and the man unbent with the aid of his staff.
"Very well," the one eyed man said to the proprietor in Riklandir. "My business is too important to waste time arguing with you." As the man started walking over to where Garal, Nora and Captain Torikin sat he stroked his gray beard and muttered in Dalen, "Yes. The they were right. You are the one."
"The one what?" Nora asked.
"No, not you. Your friend. He is the halfling of the prophecy."
Garal gave the man a disbelieving look.
"Forgive me," the man continued as he reached the group. "I am the gray wanderer, and I have heard you are seeking a man named Flicker. There is a prophecy that says one day a dwarf will come seeking Ragnarokkr. I have known for a long time that dwarf was a mistranslation by someone who had never seen a halfling. I must give you this."
The old man retrieved a gem from within his robe. It was a clear gem roughly the size of a human fist, but much longer than it was wide. It had many facets and seemed to contain many threads. The threads seemed to be of all possible colors and even though the colors gave the appearance of making them distinguishable, they were hopelessly intertwined. The threads all went from one end of the gem to the other, but no one could be followed from beginning to end.
"I assume that is the Myriad." Nora said.
"You are perceptive. I see your friend does not know what we are talking about. The Myriad, or more precisely this manifestation of it, is an artifact that lets one travel between timelines, provided the traveler knows how to open planar gateways. It is a combination map and compass, sort of." The old man grinned enigmatically. "It also lets you communicate with acquaintances who are traveling the timelines. Your halfling friend here will be able to use it."
"How?" Garal asked.
"You focus on going inside, then you enter. The rest will come to you."
"But if I go inside, I won't have it any more. How do we get back?" the planeblazer continued.
"You'll have that timeline's Myriad." The gray wanderer paused. "I see you don't believe me. It's all quite complicated and if I took the time to explain it to your satisfaction the world would come to an end before I finished. It is enough to know that just as a map is not the place you travel to, this is not truly the Myriad but merely a connection to it." The man paused. "I must be going. I should see if the birds are causing trouble out there." With that, the old man turned and left the bar.

Character(s): Amatsu Mikaboshi
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Culture Clash

"I'm just worried about you, Jack..."
Amatsu watched in silence, betraying none of the shock he felt at what Crandall was saying.
He did not fully understand the ways of easterners, and one look at Asinus Paris revealed that the Parises were no ordinary clan. He didn't fully understand the struggle against the Remnant which he found himself a part of, but that did not matter. He was present because Cori Yashida saw this struggle as important. He was compelled by honor to follow her lead, and so he did so. Why was it that Jack Paris would have a problem with his family's actions? The clan elders had made a decision, as a loyal clan member, he should obey it-- not question it. Amatsu himself had done so many times as the Rainmaker of the Red Crab clan.
Still, was I right to do so? He had never wondered about this until meeting Lord Praxis.
He looked at Crandall. The man reminded him of a kunoichi he'd once known.

Character(s): the Parises
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Those Mean Ol' Parises

"I'm telling you, Caimen, they're a force to be reckoned with."
"I don't doubt it," Caimen sighed. "And Jack's recommendation notwithstanding, I'm impressed just by what I've seen." Caimen waved his hand by the picture window.
Asinus squinted at Caimen. "This wasn't one of your flarking tests was it?" he demanded, honest indignation in his throat.
"No," Lora said. "The Remnant attack was real. The summary dismissal..." She looked down at her hands. "That was my idea."
"Our idea," Tora added. "Jack told me on the boat this morning that he had reason to believe that someone we trust isn't... well... trustworthy."
"It struck me that if we don't know who to trust," Lora continued, "that someone outside the family might be able to."
Asinus puffed a cloud of cigar smoke. "So what was the point of pissing them off?" he asked, less sure of his indignation.
"Because if they don't trust us, they're more likely to notice a traitor in our ranks."
Asinus pondered a moment. "Your plan sucks," he said. "But it makes sense. You know what you're doing to me, right?"
"It's a sacrifice we're all making, Asinus," Rauvin said. "I don't like being the villain any more than you do."
"Flark," Asinus muttered. "So what do we tell them about this 'Passage Circle' conference."
"We tell them what we know," Dar said.
"We didn't accept their help to be messengers or sycophants," Caimen agreed. "We give them all the information on the Remnant that we've got and we let them do what they do best."
"You don't wanna know what that is," Asinus sighed. "But why Jack?"
"Blood," Rauvin said.
"My ass," Asinus muttered to himself.

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

"Let me do this," Rani said, brushing past Jack like he wasn't there.
Jack turned to Val and shrugged. "I was just going to start looking over what the Remnant left behind."
"She's the private eye. I'm more concerned about what your family thinks they're doing."
"What do you mean?" Jack asked.
"How come they didn't include you in that meeting. You're a member of this secret cabal."
Jack thought of what Crandall had said. "No idea." He shrugged, trying to indicate carefree worrilessness.
"Well, I don't like it."
"The Parises... we... are really good at this sort of thing. I'm sure Caimen had a reason..."
"Well, I'll be watching them," Val huffed.
Well, this is going to make my future interesting, Jack thought to himself.

***


"How did you do that?" Cori asked Marty, who was watching over Rani's shoulder as she analyzed the remnant of the Remnant.
"Do what?" he asked, rubbing his egg.
"Destroy all those undead."
"Um, they were all afraid of the little egg dude?" Marty asked.
"And that sword... I could feel it resonate with Oshi's blade."
"Yes," Marty said, understanding not at all.
"Where'd you get it?"
"Family heirloom," Marty said. "I got the Sword of Truth's Light, my sister got the Grimoire of Fell Paradox."
"Well, you were pretty great. Like a true samurai."
"I've never had one of those," Marty said. "Is it like ham on rye?"
"You are just too stupid for words," Rani muttered to no one but herself.

***


"So how did you get started?" Mina asked Khyrisse.
"Started?" Khyrisse asked, uncomprehendingly.
"With the Craft? I've heard all about your achievements in the Time of Madness... how you used your Magicks to save the world and all. I was just curious what got you started."
"My father," Khyrisse said, her mind elsewhere.
"Lord Derek, right? Also 'the Deranged'. The only man to wield the Wilde Magicks and return sane?"
Khyrisse scowled. "How do you know all this?"
"I'm a Paris, ma'am."
"I'm getting tired of that answer," Khyrisse said.

Character(s): Rani
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: What Would Be A Reasonable Request, If She Weren't Such A Snot

Rani picked one of the severed heads up from the pier before Khyrisse could kick it off, frowning at it with a very strange expression. "Do--you know that one?" said Khyrisse, uncomfortably.
"Not yet." She turned it in her gloved hands. "White human female, young adult, I'm guessing zombie. I'm a forensics analyst."
"I thought you said you were a private eye."
"I wear a lot of hats." She closed her eyes.
Valende was helping the battered Jack up with great tenderness. "Are you all right, dear?" she was saying. Khyrisse felt strangely lonely. Rani's eyes flew open then and focused behind the sorceress, who whirled reflexively. Caimen, Asinus, Rauvin, and Dar were walking down the boardwalk towards them. The twins were hanging several steps back, conferring about something behind their hands. "Is everything under control out here?" said Caimen.
"The, uh, Remnant attacked," said Jack, gesturing around a little lamely. "We defeated them. It's okay."
Rani tucked the head under her arm and walked directly up to Asinus, ignoring the others. "You're buying me a new ship," she asserted.
"Is a question mark part of your flarking vocabulary?" he growled around his cigar, his mind clearly elsewhere. "Ask me about that later. We have important things to discuss now."
"I had important things to tell you this morning," she said. "I came a long way to tell them to you, about your cousins and your Remnant, and your stupid imaginary nephew commandeered my boat and sank it. I didn't come here looking for payment, but I'm damned if I'm leaving without restitution."
"Oh, that's right, Rani," said the donkey, exasperated, "I'm so starved for company, I have an imaginary nephew. Get a--"
"I don't care what you're up to with him, Paris, I want a shortsail sloop in the harbor by tomorrow morning." She held the head out at him. "Do you want to know why the Remnant attacked us here, or not?"
"Are you trying to extort us?" said Caimen, quietly.
"And you're going to do what about it, have me killed? I bet the Remnant could use a good detective."
"Don't mind her," Asinus grumbled at his brother-in-law. "She's always like that. It's the Diari in her, I think they menstruate three weeks a month. Yes, I'll get you your boat, chippie. Stop being shrill and get to the point."
"Meet Sula," said Rani, holding the severed head out in front of her with both hands, her feet planted apart. "Two-hit-dice zombie. She was a hard-time hooker; a john beat her to death two years ago. She blamed her madam, Genevieve Paris. It wasn't really work Sula was well-suited for; she'd been running from an abusive boyfriend, and it was all she thought she could do. But she wasn't turning a lot of tricks, and the girls at the bottom of the list were the ones Mistress Genevieve assigned to the hardcores. Some of them came back, and some of them didn't. Sula didn't. She was fifteen."
There was a moment's pause. "And?" said Asinus, impatiently. "This relates to the Remnant how? Is she important?"
"Of course not," said Rani. "She was totally expendable. People like her don't matter to those with single-minded priority systems." She waited just long enough for Asinus to put his ears back, but before he could say anything, she continued. "In other words, the Remnant had every intention of your dispatching this ship. Its sister ships are already on their way to Agone, and I don't think there are any second-level zombies on either of them." She flipped the head at Caimen Paris, who caught it reflexively. "The time it took to fight them will have given them an insurmountable head start, I'm afraid. You're never going to get there in time to rescue anyone. Not unless you've got some way to go a hundred miles an hour up your family sleeve."

Character(s): Khyrisse (back and bitchier than ever, bless her black little heart...)
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Bitchiness Appreciation Day

Khyrisse watched Valende angrily shove another body off the pier, with a faint crinkle of annoyance between her eyebrows. A sudden thought struck her, and her frown eased for a moment.
Val looked up in surprise at the sound of Khyrisse's rueful chuckle. The archmage said, "I was just thinking that I feel a lot less... I don't know, I think I'm glad to see that you've actually got a temper. You seem more--" Khyrisse paused, then shrugged helplessly, unable to come up with a better word. "--mortal."
Val blinked at her with wide emerald eyes, evidently completely bewildered.
"Bad enough that I suck at being mortal, without having it blatantly pointed out to me,” Khyrisse explained, with a wry little grin. “You’re kind of like Praxis, at times. You’re a little too together. --Am I making any sense?”
“...Not in the least,” Valende murmured, somewhat amused.
“Ask Vas about it sometime,” Khyrisse advised her with a mischievous glint in her eye, and returned to their rather grisly chore. “I’m sure he’ll be able to explain it.”

***


Khyrisse tilted her head at Mina, her expression a just a trifle bitter. I wonder if the Parises know that most people spend their lives without a clue? I wonder how they’ve missed the fact that their knowing about anything they want to is really insufferable to the rest of us? She shook her head slightly. Twenty years later-- seven of them spent as a deity-- and I still don’t have any meaningful answers about the most pivotal thing that ever happened to me; but the Parises probably know everything they want to about my life. GodDAMN. “Yes, that’s him, all right,” she sighed, and smiled at Mina, unwilling to be rude to someone Jack was so obviously fond of. “My earliest memories of Dad involve him using magic; it was very much a part of our daily lives. I think he was probably teaching me from the time I could talk, just by example.”
“How old were you when you began practising the Craft?” the younger sorceress asked curiously.
“I was a full-fledged mage by the time I was ten.” Khyrisse smiled, a lot more honestly this time, her eyes dancing. “Although I remember casting my first spell a good bit before that. I think I must have been around six.”
“That was before he changed his magickal tradition, though, wasn’t it?” Mina said thoughtfully. Khyrisse nodded. “Did he ever tutor you in the Wilde Magicks?”
“He... tried to teach them to me, later on. It didn’t work out very well,” Khyrisse murmured, and firmly changed the subject.

***


Khyrisse listened to Rani getting in Asinus’ face about her boat with half an ear, more amused by it than anything else. Serves them right. I’d demand damages paid, too. Most of her thoughts, however, were bent on finding Skitch. She hadn’t seen him since the fight started. Kiddo, tell me you’re not in trouble. Be safe and out of the way somewhere.
She exhaled in relief as she spotted him sitting in the shadow of one of the posts-- what the hell do they call those things, anyway?-- on the pier behind Jack. He smiled a little and gave her a signal for everything okay. And another that she thought meant have information. Skitch had been keeping an eye on Jack, then. Khyrisse exhaled a laugh. Good thing, probably; both she and Val had been a little distracted. Anything could have happened.
Rani’s dialogue about Sula grabbed all of her attention, however. Khyrisse’s head snapped back around to look at the silver-haired woman in surprise. I thought she said she didn’t know her...? she thought, listening to Rani’s description of the girl’s life.
Echoes from Trade began ringing through her head, dozens of them, for no good reason. Her hands twitched, lifting in an abortive gesture towards her ears, and the sunlight flashed from the silver band of the Godmaker ring. Shut up. SHUT UP. Khyrisse furiously shoved the clamoring voices of memory back into their cubbyholes-- her own memories first of all. Grendel, only fifteen... The hum in her ears eventually died away, and her vision cleared.
"And?" she heard Asinus demand. "This relates to the Remnant how? Is she important?"
"Of course not," Rani replied sarcastically. "She was totally expendable. People like her don't matter to those with single-minded priority systems."
Khyrisse blinked for a moment, surprised; and then her eyes blazed, her face lighting up with a fierce and exultant grin. For the first time in her heterosexually-oriented life, she was seized with the urge to kiss another woman silly.
YES. She wanted to scream it into the sky, beat it into Ariath’s thick skull, carve it into Eric Tremontagne’s heart. Pain is still pain, even if it’s not yours. The victims of the world may not matter-- but we should, damn it.
“You're never going to get there in time to rescue anyone. Not unless you've got some way to go a hundred miles an hour up your family sleeve."
Skitch ducked under her elbow and wrapped his arms around her waist. “Mom does,” he said, with a pardonable note of smugness.
Khyrisse hugged him to her tightly. Think of the devil. Well, one of my devils, anyway. You matter to me, kiddo. She looked at the psychometrist, and then past her to the Parises, her head held high, mouth still curved in that odd, fierce smile. “A hundred miles an hour?” she inquired serenely. “Is that all?” She pulled the Trade Sigil from the neck of her tunic. “Anyone want to tell me a little bit about where these other ships are headed, and why? Or should we just go charging blindly off to the rescue and stampede over everything?” Her mouth twitched. “The Rat Pack is good at the latter, but it tends to be a mixed blessing.”

Character(s): Rani
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: The Guilty Pleasure Of Playing A Real Smart-Ass

Rani blinked. "Oh," she said. "Well, if you can get two hundred miles in an hour or two, you've got a good chance of making it there before the Remnant, then. I thought I was just being snide."
"You were," Asinus assured her.
"Suck it up."
"And what's going on in Agone that the Remnant are trying to keep us from preventing their convergence there?" Khyrisse asked again.
"Damned if I know. You weren't expecting me to do all the work, were you?"
Asinus shook his head and muttered something.

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