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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
Priorities, Part I

Character(s): Amatsu
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Failure... for Now

Jack Paris was on his knees, weeping like a child. Valende tried to comfort him and the Rat had hopped up onto his shoulder, whiskers twitching like a forlorn puppy.
By all that's holy, Amatsu thought, staggered. I was sworn to protect Lady Yashida's life with my own. And she is... gone... Only one option left at this point, The Rainmaker knew all too well.
He drew his sword.
Then, his eye caught the Rat. Then he thought of the master's harsh rebuke to hari-kari. "Always another path to redemption," he would have said. He was, as usual, correct.
This one swears you shall be rescued, or avenged, Lady Yashida.


Hou-Hsieh Haito was troubled, and confused. "Todd," she said, "there is something puzzling occuring."
"It was only a matter of time," Praxis answered drily.

Character(s): Skitch and Crandall
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Midterms
Title of Post: Water, Water Everywhere, Goddammit

"Well, if you're a fire elemental, can't you just, like, evaporate the pool?" Skitch asked.
"It would invalidate the treaty of, uh, Aqua... Flame."
"Oh," Skitch nodded in understanding.
"You know," Crandall said, "if there's one thing I learned hanging with Jack and Cori, it's that there's always a solution... we're just missing something."
"Yeah," sighed Skitch. "I feel the same way."

Character(s): The Rat
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Rat Therapy

The Rat didn't understand humanoid behavior very well. Even so, he could tell Jack was very upset.
The Rat was determined to make him feel better.
The rodent squirmed into Jack's satchel which was laying on the ground and dragged out a large piece of torn paper and a red crayon. On it were the last scribblings the two of them had made. They were trying to solve the problem of hypersquaring a fractal circle in non-integer dimension space. A challenging problem, but a fun one.
The rat pushed the bundle to Jack's feet and nudged him.
"Thank you?" he said.

Character(s): Jack, Marty
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Report Card Time
Title of Post: How Not To Be Cheered Up

Jack looked at the Rat. "No, thank you," he said.
Gazing at the problem, he suddenly felt a solution leap unbidden to his mind. For a brief moment, he felt the thrill of accomplishment, only to have it plummet into even deeper despair.
Cori is dead because I failed her, and I'm feeling good over solving a stupid math problem?
I'm never going to be human, not really. I don't even know why I try.


"Man, they're taking a long time," Marty said. "I hope they're okay. I wonder if there's anything we can do to help?"
"Not bloody likely in your case," Rani muttered.
"Thanks," Marty said, smiling at Rani, genuinely consoled.
"I give up," sighed Rani.

Character(s): Valende and Jack
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Report Card Time
Title of Post: That Priestess Stuff

Valende wrapped her arms around Jack and shook her head gently at the Rat. A few careful questions posed to Jack gave her a fairly good idea of what had happened to Cori. Val sighed softly and rested her head on top of the mathematician’s. I should have seen that in her, she thought remorsefully. I've been so twitchy about Vas, and so concerned about Khyrisse's emotional state, that I think I've been walking around blind.
“Jack,” she finally said, quietly, when he’d calmed down a bit. “I understand that her loss is upsetting to you... but I wonder, is it possible that Cori didn’t fail the test?”
Jack leaned back and blinked teary and incredulous eyes at her. “What?”
Val sighed again. “Jack, darling, you tell me that she said she was staying with her husband--”
“That wasn’t really Hari...!”
“How can you be sure? Wouldn’t Cori know better than anyone?”
Jack sighed and admitted, “Probably.”
“So. Cori stayed behind with her husband because she was happy there, because that was where she belonged. Death is not necessarily failure, Jack. Choosing the path that causes yourself the most pain is not necessarily the noble thing to do, either.”
“It just seems like she was giving up because I wasn’t there for her...” Jack said miserably.
“I’m certain she knew how much you loved her. You were who she came to, after all. And I think she would have felt guilty over simply giving up, darling. Particularly if she truly thought you needed her. From what you tell me, there was no sign of any such thing.” Val’s eyes grew distant for a moment, and she spoke hesitantly, as if she were remembering something she’d seen a long time ago. “There are... stories amongst the elves, of couples who bond so closely that when one spouse dies, the other cannot live. They complete something essential for each other; they are simply meant to be together. If well-meaning people somehow preserve the bereaved spouse’s life, the emotional results are... usually not good.”
“She... she said she felt lost in a world without Hari.”
“That was probably putting it mildly.” Val smiled sadly at Jack and squeezed his hand. “Might it have been Cori’s test to... make peace with her limitations in this regard? Cori didn’t strike me as being a woman who willingly accepted anyone’s will but her own-- not even Fate’s.”

Character(s): Rani
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Tests
Title of Post: Elementary, My Dear Asinus

Rani was more startled than she felt like letting on, so she just watched with her usual appraising eye. She'd never seen Asinus like this. She knew Cori had been a friend of the family, but hell, so was she, and like any of the Parises gave a rat's ass when she had almost been killed. She toyed with the idea of Cori having been an in-law--after all, Caimen and Dar had married in, and Asinus felt close enough to them to share secrets with them he wouldn't share with his own sisters, the sexist rat bastard. But then Val started talking about Cori's husband, and he wasn't anyone in Asinus' inner circle. So Rani didn't know quite what to make of it. Perhaps it was Cori he had been so hopelessly in love with, but then what was with the human projection seducing Val? Rani tapped her black denims with her fingernails. Even if Val was right that Jack was someone other than Asinus, she couldn't quite get her mind around a Paris getting this worked up over the death of an outsider. Regret she'd seen, sorrow, even shock, but never devastation. Kiljhac were kiljhac, as it were. She and Asinus liked each other, but there weren't many people better at the ambient thing than Rani, and she knew that when it came down to it they were all expendable. It might piss Rani off, but it was the way of the world, and at least the Parises were honest about it.
So who, or what, was Jack Paris, and why was it sobbing in Valende's arms like a man who had just lost a child?
Rani sighed, and like any good detective, she waited, and watched.

Character(s): Shilree B and the Skeiners
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Skeins of Fate: Denouement
Title of Post: Bittersweet Endings and Ominous Beginnings

Behind the Skeiners, who were looking up where Norna and Luthien the Dead vanished, came a wet slurping sound which was followed by a painful groan.
Everyone turned around to see Shilree sitting with her head down.
"No..." she said again with remorse.
"Why is she still here?" Flicker asked Luthien who just shrugged in response.
"NO!!!" Shilree screamed pounding the floor with her fists leaving bits of flesh and shattered bone behind.
Flicker did the only thing he could think of. He walked next to his friend and put his hand on her shoulder. Shilree looked up at him, bloody tears streaked her face and she collapsed at Flicker's feet. Flicker sat next to her holding his arms around her.
"Sunny, it didn't work," she said between sobs. "It didn't work."
Flicker opened his mouth to say something, but then Shilree violently pushed him away and got to her feet. A cold and calculated madness washed over Shilree's face as she looked at the Skeiners.
"It didn't work," she said again. "So be it."
"Shilree..." Flicker said not knowing what he was going to say next. Shilree put up her hand to stop him.
"I know what you are going to say Sunny. Don't bother. One way or another I will find oblivion."
Shilree moved her hands in arcane motions and spewed forth words with too many consonants. Reality around her warped and she disappeared with an inrush of air.
Flicker stoically looked at the place where Shilree had been and hoped that she would find the ending she was looking for.

Character(s): Jack, Val, Marty, Rani, Crandall, Skitch
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Finals Time
Title of Post: Jack Copes And Overreacts

Jack swallowed to stay his tears. Get with it, Paris, he told himself. What kind of a leader cries his eyes out in front of everyone?
The same answer as usual about his leadership abilities sprung to his mind. Still, Val was right... Cori had seemed confused lately, and maybe things were the way they were meant to be.
After all this was done, Jack was going to find out for sure, though. One way or another. I've been to Hell for her, he thought. I can certainly go see if she's made it to heaven.
Jack cleared his throat, and looked around at what was left of the Rat Pack. What is that, now, eight?
Khyrisse, Crandall, Mina and Skitch were still missing, too, but the fact that there were four of them meant that there was still hope.
Screwing up his courage, Jack turned to the ceiling and addressed the Ghede Cinqjours. "Those whom you have found... worthy... call upon you, Ghede Cinqjours!"
"I don't think this is a good idea, Jack," Valende said.
"We have passed your test, and demand an audience!"
"Oh, fuck," Rani muttered.
"It's okay, babe," Marty said to her, "they're only, like, spirits."
"You're afraid of fish and not of demigod spirits?" Rani asked incredulously.
"Spirits are, like, just a myth," Marty smiled.
Valende had moved up next to Jack, in case something was about to attack him.
The buzz and hum filled the air again.
"Nonbeing, why do you address the Ghede Cinqjours with such impudence?"
"I want to know what's happened to our friends!" Jack called, ignoring the chill that being called "nonbeing" gave him.
"Their tests are incomplete. They may not return until they are."
"But they haven't failed?" Jack demanded.
"Only one has failed."
"You didn't need to tell him that," Valende whispered to herself.
"Then I request that we be sent to join them."
"It will not be," the buzzing voice said. "The testing time is almost over. You will wait."
"Almost over?" Jack demanded. "What happens when it is over?"
There was no response from the voice, and the buzz slowly faded away.
Jack bit his lip in anger. He really wanted to hit something, but their opponent right now wasn't even solid. It was just time, and the flaws in his friends, and how did one fight that? He just hoped that the missing four were close to their solutions.


"Are there enough rocks to build a bridge?"
"No, they're all pebbles."
"How about a vine. You could swing across."
"Only wisteria."
"This sucks."
"Watch your language, kid."

Character(s): The Ghede Cinqjours
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Tests
Title of Post: Ah, For a True Seeing Spell...

At right angles to the Material plane, a handful of spirits flitted around the Ethereal plane, watching the Rat Packers-- both in and out of the tests-- carefully.
More or less.
A tanned, lanky girl of perhaps twelve mortal years skipped in circles around the Rat Pack, whirling a spectral bullroarer in her smudged hands, dark braids flying behind her. Another four crouched nearby, with a megaphone and what looked suspiciously like a small box with a rubberband stretched across the open ends. Two of them were speaking into this getup, while a third collapsed in a fit of shrieking laughter and the fourth pounced on her, muffling the noise by smothering her with a summoned throw pillow.
“Quiet, you goober!”
"It will not be," the two kids still on the job bellowed into the megaphone, after a whispered consultation. The rubberband vibrated and hummed, giving the melodramatically lowered voices an eerie buzz. "The testing time is almost over. You will wait."
“I think you’re a big meanie, Tark,” commented the girl with the bullroarer, serenely continuing to skip.
“You just like the boy with them,” Tark replied with scorn. He finished chastizing the giggler, dusting her off and giving her an absentminded but friendly noogie. She hiccuped and squirmed away good-naturedly.
“Do not!” An angry, embarrassed russet suffused the older girl’s face, and she threw the bullroarer at Tark. It bonked him on the head and went flying, cord whipping behind it.
“Do too!” Tark replied, unfazed and undamaged.
“Doesn’t matter, they’ve got an undead with them,” said the smallest boy wisely, sitting on the ground with arms and legs wrapped around the megaphone. The mouthpiece reached higher than his head did. “Pere Cinqjours will go baaaaLIStic if the undead thing sets foot in the temple.”
The giggler chewed on the tip of her pinky and made a face. “Ewww... I remember the last time that happened! It went everywhere. And it smelled.”
Tark rolled his eyes and gave her another noogie, continuing on to give the small boy one as well-- a noticably gentler one, though.
“No, no! Bah, nobody listens to me...” A dozen pairs of eyes blinked attentively at him, giving him the lie. “The undead would die, and it won't let the adults in anyway, but we’ve gotta know if they’re okay people or they might get it out themselves and give it to the undead! Pere Cinqjours can’t leave the temple, you know that!”
“Well the Skitch boy and the undead are still stuck.”
“I hope he melts into a little gooey red puddle with eyes on.”
“What about his mom?”
“The undead’s got a mom?”
“No, dummy!”
“She’s doing something really cool and sneaky...”
“With no magic? Lemme see!”
“Wouldn’t the eyes melt too?”
“No, cause it’s more fun that way.”
“I don’t want Skitch to melt!”
“The undead, goober!!”
“Cassie and Skitch, sitting in a tree, KAY EYE ESS ESS--”
“Shut up!”

Character(s): Flicker
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Skeins of Fate: Epilogue
Title of Post: Regrouping

"Long time no see," Kayla said lightly as the weary group trundled into the best bar on Ataniel.
"I am so sorry," said Flicker. "We've been trapped in these alternate timelines."
"We have," said Luthien. "I can vouch for him."
"These things happen." The waitress shrugged, with her usual cheery smile. "It is good to see you again, though."
"What can I get you, folks?" said Kevin.
Flicker looked at Hronmir. "Aquavit, actually."
"Aquavit," whispered Hronmir.
"That sounds interesting," said Alderon. "One for me, too."
"What are the Valkyrie going to do now that they're back, anyway?" Luthien wanted to know. "There isn't much point to gathering souls for Ragnarok anymore."
"I--don't know," said Flicker. "Hronmir, what are you going to do now?"
"I don't know," said the Aesir softly.
"Well, I think I'm going to go after that cute Diari chick," decided Ralchar. "She seemed like she could use a little help."
"But we don't know where she went."
"Oh, I'm sure I'll run into her if I really want to. That's how things usually happen."
"I'm going home," said Luthien. "I'll call Khyrisse tomorrow and see if she made it back from Hell okay."
"She did," Garal informed him. "Let me know if she and her group need any more help, though."
"Me too," said Flicker.
"I think I'll go to Annwych with the boss," said Berryn. "I'm getting this feeling like I really ought to be spending some time praying right around now."
"I should see how Philip's doing," mused Nora, to herself.
"What are you going to do, Eren?"
Flicker looked at her as she set the shot of aquavit down in front of him. "Well," he said, "would you--like to see a play?"

Character(s): Corinna
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Death Be Not Proud
Title of Post: The Well Of Souls

Corinna watched as the souleaters prepared for their next assault on the Temple of Arawn. Damn that Rhynwa, she thought. For one so "special" to Arawn to now deny his future dominion was infuriating. She, Corinna, should have been the chosen of the Grey Man, not that upstart child.
Still, the false priestess' deluded acolytes could only hold against the beings of the Necropolis for so long. Corinna turned once again to the Well of Souls.
Deep within, she heard the Voice in her head bubble forth. "How much longer?"
"Soon, my lord. Soon."
"It had better be," the Voice said. "The other linchpins are already prepared for my emergence. Do not let me down, Corinna."
"Never, Arawn," the deluded priestess said.
Then the visions from the Well of Souls surrounded her.

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