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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
With A Little Help From Our Friends, Part II



Character(s): Jack Paris, Cori Yashida, Marty Hu
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Inbetween Days
Title of Post: Recipes

Jack rapped the egg to the bowl with the requisite force to make a 270 crack around its equator. A slight amount of hand pressure, and the two halves separated, releasing the unbroken yolk into the bowl. Jack carefully replaced the empty shells into the basket.
"What in Oshi's name are you doing up this ungodly early?" Cori asked, straggling into the kitchen.
"Cooking," Jack said. "I've got Khyrisse's birthday cake in the oven right now, and I had ingredients left over, so I'm making Val some flapjacks."
"I bet you are," Cori grinned through her drawn face.
"Couldn't sleep?" Jack asked, tapping an exact quarter of a cup of milk into the bowl without measuring.
"Bad night," Cori said. "Don't wanna talk about it."
"I'm sorry. You aren't mad we're not going to Shikintu right now, are you?"
"I don't think I'm in any karmic state to go back right now," Cori muttered.
"Well, I've got the Word keeping track," Jack said. "We can probably at least get a report when we get to Caimen and Lora's." He took a whisk and beat the batter with rapid, regular strokes.
"You're a good friend, Jack. I should have noticed that more way back when."
"Hey, we were all young then. You know, I used to have the biggest crush on you back then? This was before you met Hari, of course..."
"Shut the hell up, Jack, and get back to cooking breakfast in bed for your girlfriend."
Cori winked at him and shuffled off.
With a deft motion, Jack tipped the bowl quickly over the buttery griddle. Eight perfect circles formed, each almost but not quite touching the next.
Marty poked his head in. "What's that hissing?" he asked fearfully. "We don't have snakes, do we?"
"Nope," Jack said, wiping the counter down. "Just flapjacks."
"Oh. Cool. Because I don't like snakes much. But pancakes are cool."
"And there's a birthday cake in the oven, so don't bother it."
"Whoa, how nice of you! But, uh, my birthday isn't until February."
"I'll... have to figure out someone else to give it to, then," Jack said. "Don't you have lessons or something?"
"I'm still working on a spirit guide. Do eggs count as an animal?"
"Well, that's the question, isn't it?" Jack mused cheerfully. "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"
"Well, the egg..." Marty said, then frowned. "Except, I guess you need a chicken to lay it... so the chicken." Tension washed over Marty's brow. "But wait... the chicken would have hatched from the egg... so..."
Jack watched with rapt fascination.
"I... I gotta go," Marty said, and raced from the room.
Jack twirled the spatula around in his fingers and went back to flipping flapjacks.

Character(s): Skitch
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Inbetween Days: Happy Birthday To You
Title of Post: An Actually Cunning Plan

"Tarrin?"
"Yes, little Skitch?"
"Can I have your help with something?"
Tarrin frowned at his tone. He had a young son of his own. "Is this a good something or a bad something?"
"It's a surprise."

Character(s): Khyrisse, kicking Kris furiously
Author: Kristin L'Kar Andersen and Laura Redish
Storyline: Inbetween Days: Happy Birthday To You
Title of Post: The Day Kris Gave Up And Made Reservations For Hell

Khyrisse wandered into the dining room late that morning. She was dressed, and dressed formally at that, in a burgundy tunic embroidered with gold and silver at collar and cuffs that almost looked like a uniform; but she still looked half-asleep.
She stopped short just inside in the doorway and stared at the birthday cake on the table. Happy birthday, Khyrisse!
Khyrisse looked at Jack in total dumbfounded surprise for a moment, then blushed a bit and grinned. Jack grinned back. Skitch pointed at her expression and laughed gleefully. Oh, Grendel! she said, falling into her chair. Who told you it was my birthday today? Skitch? Ha, Val, Ill bet!
Does it matter? Valende said, with a little smile.
Happy birthday, Mom!
Happy birthday.

***


I havent had birthday cake for breakfast since I was eleven! Khyrisse said, giggling. I want the piece with the rose on it!
Blow out the candles first!
Khyrisse studied the four candles on the cake. Her face grew thoughtful as she looked at the flames, then she closed her eyes briefly and blew them out. And if her eyes had flicked towards Ebreth before making her wish, that was nobodys business but her own.

***


"Um... no cake for me, thank you," Marty said to Jack. "Its got chocolate chips in it."
"Whats the matter with chocolate chips?"
"I dont trust them. They look too much like bugs," Marty explained, with a little shudder.

***


The cake having been demolished, Khyrisse was telling Skitch and Tarrin about one of her birthdays at Cantrip Cottage. Skitch was giggling wildly, particularly when she got to the food fight part. Ebreth handed Jack his copy of The Sun Also Rises. He didnt look like hed slept very well. "Thanks, Jack, " he said quietly. "I don't think I want to read anything else by this guy."

***


All right, Khyrisse said finally, pushing her plate aside. I suppose wed better get going. I think we can make it to the islands by tomorrow afternoon, Jack. She put her map on the table and drew an invisible line from Salagia to a point in the Northlands. Itll only make it halfway by night, so Id like to stop here.
Why there? Garal wanted to know.
New Trade is going to be there, Skitch told him cheerfully.
Garal looked closer at the map. Oh, its near that footpath through the mountains... I remember that now. He smiled briefly. Its been a long time since I needed to use it.
And its about halfway to the islands, too. The only other options, really, are to head south into Nylevia, which is out of our way, or-- Khyrisse pressed her lips together and didnt speak. Her fingernail flicked over a shadowed region on the map, to the east of the Northlands.
Ick, said Skitch. No way!
Khyrisse nodded and looked around the table. Wow, I think we can all fit comfortably in the Carriage for once... She looked over at Ebreth and hesitated for an instant. Ebreth... would you ride up top with me?
Sure, Ebreth said, with a faint smile.
Can I ride on the roof? Skitch wanted to know.
Um, its going to be cold once we get to the mountains, kiddo. You should probably ride inside, she said, her eyes still on Ebreths.
Oh. Skitch grinned a little. Okay.
Um, Marty said, looking from Skitch to Ebreth to Khyrisse. Ill sit up top, too, he volunteered. I can sit on the roof and practise my satori.
Khyrisse sighed, just a little bit. Marty, I was kind of hoping to talk to Ebreth. Alone. You know, without an audience? However unconscious?
Why? Marty asked, screwing up his courage. Master Ebreth was in still in danger. It was his duty to prevent his masters satori from being damaged any further by the psychodrama of those around him.
Never mind why.
You're going to try to brainwash him again, I know it, Marty muttered.
Khyrisses eyes widened in astonishment and anger. I am not going to brainwash him!
Then why do you want me to sit inside and leave you alone with him? You might make him lose the tao again or something...
Um, kid... Ebreth began.
What?! Khyrisse said, unable to believe what she was hearing.
Wow, look, youre shouting already. If youre keen on being violent, why do you want to talk to Master Ebreth anyway? How am I supposed to know youre not planning on strangling him or...
Because Im in love with him, you idiot!
Khyrisse gasped in horror as soon as the words were said and clapped both hands over her mouth, turning a furious scarlet from hairline to collar. Skitch stared at her, goggle-eyed. So did Marty. Khyrisse didnt dare look at Ebreth.
Khyrisse covered her eyes for a moment. Excuse me, everyone, she whispered. She didnt quite run, but somehow she got out of the room in a tearing hurry.
Whoa, this changes like my whole cosmology, man... Marty said.

Character(s): The Most Awkward Ladies' Man On Ataniel
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Inbetween Days
Title of Post: Admissions

It wasn't that he didn't like beautiful women throwing themselves at him with no effort on his part.
Ebreth just wished he was in a state to be dealing with it in more constructive fashion.
"I should go after her, shouldn't I," he sighed at Jack, without looking at anyone.
"Um..." hedged Jack.
"Yes," said Val, firmly.

***


Khyrisse stood with both her hands over her scarlet face and tried to stop shaking. "Okay," she started, "Ebreth, look, it's not easy for me to say things like that."
"I know," said Ebreth, softly.
"So that's why I'm upset, you understand? It's nothing about you."
"I know."
"And it, it's not that it's not, you know, not true."
"Khyrisse," he said. "I know." She looked at him, through her fingers; he looked away. "Well, it was that or guilt," he said. "And you said it wasn't guilt. I'm really sorry. I didn't--" He rubbed his forehead. "Didn't mean to do this to you. I was just thinking--I don't know what I was thinking. I don't know what made me think I could take care of you. I'm sorry. Please don't let me ruin your life."
"Then please don't make me leave."
He closed his eyes. "I'm not the man I was then," he whispered.
"I don't care. You, we'll work it out." She slid down the wall, her hands still over her face. "If--if you want to too, I mean."
"The evidence," he sighed, "suggests I do."

Character(s): Skitch
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Inbetween Days
Title of Post: Save Vs. Distraction At +4

"Whoa," said Marty, wide-eyed. "This changes like my whole cosmology, man."
Skitch started choking loudly and inexpertly. Tarrin gave him a quizzical look, but it was good enough for Cori, who whomped him on the back, causing milk to spray out of Skitch's mouth. Skitch grinned a little, despite himself. "Thanks."

Character(s): Khyrisse and Ebreth
Author: Laura Redish and Kristin L'Kar Andersen
Storyline: Inbetween Days: Carriage Ride
Title of Post: An Actual Low-Angst Conversation

"It doesn't exactly inspire self-confidence when a man marries you for the purpose of performing a glorified science experiment on you."
Ebreth shrugged. "You were still the one he picked, right? He could have married and experimented on any teenager in the city. Must have been some reason he picked you."
"I voiced a very sarcastic philosophical opinion about love, kicked his butt at cards, and fired the deck at him when he told me I'd had too much to drink. I think I amused him."
"In other words," he said, "interesting, independent, clever, and confident. Sounds like an appeal to me."
Khyrisse opened her mouth and then she shut it. "You know, I'm going to lose my reputation as a violent irrational bitch if you keep this up. I'll be in too damn good a mood."
"Mmm," said Ebreth. "Since bitchy irrationality isnt one of your top ten attractive traits, I wouldn't worry."
"Well, it sure isn't my optimistic serenity attracting all you masochistic fools!"
He glanced across at her. "Number ten," he said. "The little freckles on your back when you take your stoneskin off. Number nine, the way you tilt your face up like a cat when someone pets your neck."
"You have a list?"
"Number eight," he said, grinning, "the way the tips of your ears burn when you get a compliment that really pleases you."
"Aaaaaaaaah!" She clapped her hands over her ears, reins and all, her whole face going.

Character(s): The Rat Pack
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Inbetween Days
Title of Post: Why Do They Call Them The Northlands, Anyway?

The trip was, for once, uneventful.
Jack silently cheered when the Carriage stopped outside the creatively titled "Northlands Tavern and In."
Jack wasn't sure if that was meant as a misspelling or an invitation, but the place looked roomy enough for the depleted Rat Pack.
"Here!" Skitch yelled. "This place looks good!"
"It does?" Cori mouthed to Jack. Jack shrugged.
"Cool!" Marty said. "Snow! We can go snowboarding!"
The Carriage slowed to a halt, though Jack assumed it was more the former suggestion than the latter.
The "Northlands Tavern and In" was not a very busy place. In fact, it was completely empty when the Rat Pack came in. Even the front desk seemed abandoned.
"Hello?" Khyrisse called. "Anyone home?"
A skinny oriental man popped up from behind the desk. "Guests! Many wonderful felicitations! Welcome to the Northlands Tavern and In!"
"Do you... have room for the night?" Khyrisse asked wryly.
"You betcha we do!" the man grinned. "Welcome to the finest hostel in this hub-bub of the world!"
"Ex... cuse me?" Khyrisse asked.
"Why, yes, admirable lady!" the proprietor said. "This area is soon to be an international hot spot! It is rumored that the great city of Trade will be rebuilt here!"
"Where the hell did you get such a rumor?" Khyrisse demanded.
"Ah, Wu-Chan Paris hears many important things, respectable maiden!"
Skitch chortled. Jack shrunk back a bit.
"Well, ah, then," Khyrisse said after levelling a quick glare at Jack, "give us six rooms. And do you serve dinner?"
"The dinner is already a-cooking on the stove of honor, caring lady. Thank you for patronizing the Northlands Tavern and In!" Wu-Chan juggled a handful of keys for a moment then placed them on the counter.
"This is a relative?" Val whispered to Jack.
Jack shrugged. "Not one who I know," he sighed. "But then, that's not too uncommon."
"Come on!" Skitch cried to Khyrisse pulling on her sleeve. "Let's go up to our room!" Imperceptibly, he winked at Tarrin.
Jack and Val headed into the bar. Jack had a sudden urge for a drink.
The sign behind the bar read, "Finest Potables in New Trade". Jack groaned to himself.

Character(s): Skitch (with a little help from Tarrin)
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Inbetween Days: Happy Birthday To You
Title of Post: SURPRISE!

"No, close your eyes! No peeking!"
"I'm not peeking," sighed Khyrisse. Grendel, did he cook dinner for me? "Can I open my eyes yet, Skitch?"
"Yes!"
She did. And stared.
"Happy birthday!" yelled the room.
"But--" stammered Khyrisse.
"You look terrific, Khyrisse!" said Max, warmly.
"No, she doesn't, she looks awful," disagreed Karellion. "What have you people been doing to her?"
Derek caught his surprised daughter in a bear hug. "Happy birthday, Khyri," he said softly.
"Hey, Mom!" yelled Gordon, coming in with an ash basket of white roses. "I found these outside!"
"Rhynwa," whispered Khyrisse, her face going sheet-white. "Luthien-- Hes a Lich Lord-- He--"
"That's an alternate-timeline Luthien, you bitch," said the priestess, affectionately. "Mine's still in that annoying Skeins plotline. Stop worrying about everybody else's business. You're going to give yourself an ulcer."
"How did you find all these people!" choked Khyrisse, looking at her adopted son with wide eyes.
"I used my psychic powers," he said proudly.
"Cake did Zzenith bake himself."
"So what's it like being the ruler of Javin, anyway?" Inez asked Tila.
"Oh, it's a pain in my ass, naturally. But at least those stupid gods are dead. Hey, Khyrisse, cute boyfriend!"
"I've never seen a spherical cake before," marvelled Jack.
"Spells many did Zzenith use. Shape perfect now is Khyrisse's cake."
Waterloo popped a champagne cork such that it hit Signet squarely in the forehead. "To forty more!" she chirped.
"To everyone's favorite goddess," said Max.
"To new beginnings," said Ebreth, quietly.
"May New Trade kick some serious ass," agreed Tila.
"To dinner," said Karel. "I'm starved. You guys are late."
"To Khyrisse," said Praxis, and the room joined him in a toast.

Character(s): Everyone
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Foreshadowing: She Just Had To Bring Them All Together, Didn't She?
Title of Post: And Many More?

The arrow whizzed through the window and cut through the wick of the fourth candle, dousing it. It embedded itself in the wall, inches from Jack's head.
He pulled it out as Waterloo raced to the window to look outside.
The carving on the side of the black fletched arrow read "One Year Left".
"Um... I think this is a birthday present," Jack said.
"You know," sighed Rhynwa, "it's not a Sewer Tour gathering without a stupid threat."
"Amen," sighed Khyrisse.
"No one's around!" Waterloo announced.
"Of course not," Khyrisse said. "Villain's prerogative to disappear."
"Um, should we be worried about this?" Jack asked.
"No," Khyrisse said. "Just put it on the list."

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