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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
Priorities, Part IV



Character(s): Crandall
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Beat To The Punch

Crandall stared out across the underground wreckage as the rest of the team tried to find a way to extract Skitch's body from the temple.
Jack Paris had totally broken.
And Crandall had had nothing whatsoever to do with it.
The undead rogue felt strangely empty.

Character(s): Jack Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Not Quite What You Wanted To Know About

Jack wasn't talking.
No matter how badly the penagglion's minions tortured him, no matter what lies they told him, the secret that only he knew was kept deep in his mathematics.
In the meantime, all of his thoughts had been devoted to escape. He needed to warn Caimen and Lora that the Riders had found him, that they knew more than they had expected about the Passage. He needed to tell them that their shell game hadn't worked.
The dimensions of his cell were inconsistent, offering a variety of points of departure, but from what Jack had observed about the body language of his captors, the entire cell was bounded with an anti-magic field. Passing through that would cause him to lose the enchantment that allowed him to take physical form.
Jack wished Cori was here, but something sad in the back of his mind told him that she wasn't coming.
Crandall, Reena... he would have even enjoyed a visit from Gabriella right now, the thought, suppressing the truth that no matter what he would have liked to see her one more time.
No cavalry came, though.
Jack turned to the stone block where he had been scrawling his proof to the Johhn ratio. There was still the hope that if he could cause a spike in some of Ataniel's mathematical constants that Robinson would notice.
In the meantime, Jack wasn't talking.

Character(s): The Children
Author: Eric Gasior
Storyline: WAHP: And The Children Shall Lead
Title of Post: It's No Fun If The Good Guys Get Killed

The spectral children spoke at once. "Uh oh." "He died." "That wasn't supposed to happen."
Cassie said, "We have to bring him back to his mother."
All the Rat Pack saw was Skitch's body rise and slowly float through the air through the barrier to the temple.
The children laid Khyrisse's son at her feet. Unmoving, Khyrisse looked down at him at him. Perhaps because of the children's memories within her or because the spirits let her, through the corner of her eyes she saw a group of children, some crying, watching. One of them seemed to be saying, "I'm sorry."

Character(s): Rani, forensics analyst
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: And The Children Shall Lead
Title of Post: A Moment Of Tact From Rani

"Thank you." Rani turned the boy's dead head in her hand, probing expertly beneath its charred jaw. "Even burn patterns consistent with magical radiation. Strong holy ward, in all likelihood." She took out a long slim knife with a serrated blade. "Marty, take the mother elsewhere."
"Yes, ma'am!" Marty brightened at being noticed.
"I've seen worse," snarled Khyrisse.
"Just do it," Rani said to the young paladin.
"Come on, Khyrisse. Come on over here and, uh, look at the centipedes."

Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Telegrams From The Front
Title of Post: Worse Before It Gets Better
Khyrisse opened her spellbook to the sending page and cast it right out of the book, tears streaming down her face. Please come back, I need you. Skitch is dead, Jack's gone, I don't know what to do.
I'm sorry, Khyrisse, I can't. ∆lwyn's returned from Hell. You must contact Geryon the Hunter. He can trace the ring you gave me. Our only hope. I love you. Ebreth.

Character(s): Rani
Author: Laura Redish (who just isn't going to leave a little boy dead for more than one day, guys!)
Storyline: WAHP: And The Children Shall Lead
Title of Post: From The Dead

Valende watched Rani deftly split Skitch's forehead open with a swift, sure sawing motion. "Are you looking for cerebral rot?"
"That's right," said Rani, working. "Familiar with autopsies?"
"I used to work for a necromancer."
"Huh." Rani took a metal speculum out of her pouch and pried the skull case open. "That's undead all right."
Val leaned over her shoulder. "There's barely any."
"He was undead for what, five minutes?" She slid two of her fingers onto the necrotic lesion on the grey matter, her eyes flickering shut. It seemed like a long time before she spoke again. "It's good. The kid's an incidental Remnant. He was pressed into service by the master undead we saw, but since he wasn't directly killed by a Paris he has a choice about whether to keep returning there or not, and he doesn't blame the Parises. Resurrection should work." She opened her eyes but didn't take her fingers out of the brain cavity. "Do you have raise dead?"
"Not anymore," the priestess murmured, looking down. "My god has Left."
"Well, then you'll need to find someone who--" Rani blinked a few times. "Hold it, I've got something."
"Got something, what kind of--"
"A lead," said Rani. "I think I've found someone who might be able to help."

***


Skitch rolled his head woozily and promptly threw up on Tarrin. "Are you all right, little Skitch?" said the priest anxiously.
"I feel like crap," moaned the boy.
"You have been dead, Skitch. You should feel like the crap." Tarrin frowned. "You were not in kiljhac Hell, were you?"
"I'm a good boy." Skitch smiled shakily. "Good boys don't have to go to Hell."
Khyrisse enfolded him, sobbing, in her arms.
"Hey," said Skitch, weakly, patting her back. "Hey, don't muss the hair."
Khyrisse didn't even tell him about the long, neat scar down the center of his forehead where Rani had cracked his skull open.
Tarrin beamed at the mother-and-child reunion. "How did you reach me, Khyri?" he asked. "The person who called me spoke to me in the Diari."
"We have a Diari friend with, uh, the Gift." Khyrisse gulped air and tried to regain her composure. "She's in the watchtower monitoring the island right now, so the Remnant wouldn't sneak up on us while we waited for you. Tarrin, thank you. Thank you, if you ever need anything--"
"I am always glad to help the friend," he interrupted, smiling.
"Oh, man." Skitch rubbed his eyes with the backs of his hands. "Ten years old and I've already used up one of my three resurrections. I've got to be more careful."

Character(s): Shilree, Anjra
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Reclamation: Sources of Power
Title of Post: Dinner Conversation

"So did the negotiations go as expected?" said Anjra, taking a forkful of roast duck into her mouth.
"Yes, there were a few details that had to be ironed out at the last minute, but overall we got what we wanted," replied Shilree after she swallowed the last piece of her steak.
"So that makes official contracts with..."
"With all the major cities in Nylevia as well as with the entire nation of Tobrinel," said Shilree
"Excellent. The first series of merchants left from Tesin while you were gone. They should be in Nylevia as we speak," said Anjra, ripping open a roll.
Shilree nodded. "Now could be talk about the other matter?"
"Of course. The forces in the Shadowlands."
"Yes."
Anjra sighed, stood up from the low table, walked to the window and spoke. "The plan is to reclaim what was stolen from us. The Shadowlands were once Northern Diaria and rightfully belong to us. I have instructed the Diarshi to accomplish this task with some help from the Sisterhood."
"What about Magnate's warning?"
"I have taken that into account," said Anjra turning back to face Shilree. "Currently the plans are on hold. The forces are camped and scouts are exploring the area. No more land will be reclaimed until I am certain that the Shadowlands are indeed dead."
Shilree nodded, agreeing with this wisdom. Still, this whole business with the Shadowlands bothered her. She guessed it reminded her of the entire episode with Shadow, including the vision of Lotus she recently had while in the ruins of Southern Diaria.
"Anj.." she said weakly.
Anjra sat back down across from Shilree, her amber colored eyes staring intently at her.
"Something has been bothering me. Something serious."
"What is it?"
"Well I already told you about what happened to me when I left Shastarin."
"Yeah," she said softly.
"Well I didn't tell you everything and it worries me."
Anjra didn't say a word, just sat there listening.
"The problem is that I don't remember much. Gila did things to my mind and I am afraid I paid a high price to get it back." Shilree sighed, like she was trying to hold up a ton of bricks. "Anjra, I am worried. I have the feeling that something is going to happen. Something not at all pleasant. Call me paranoid, but I am getting the same feelings I had in Trade just before the world went to hell. There is something going on under the surface and we are in danger of being swept away by it."
Shilree breathed in heavily but this time all that came out was gasping sobs.
"I am afraid, Anjra. For the first time someone broke me. The broke me completely. I am afraid that they could do it again."
Anjra got up and sat back down next to Shilree. Anjra placed her hand on Shilree's tear streaked face.
"Shhh..." she said. "It is ok. We all can't be in total control all the time. You know that."
"That doesn't mean I have to like it."
"No it doesn't. Shilree you and Diaria are the two greatest loves in my life. I would never let anything happen to either of you."
Shilree's lip twitched and she broke down crying onto Anjra's shoulder. Anjra just sat next to her friend letting the mental poisons drain out of her system. As they sat Anjra's mind gently caressed Shilree's mind and the healing began.

Character(s): Marty and Mina... are they all I've got left?
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We May Not Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Look, It's Trying To Think

"Wow," Marty said. "You're really smart, figuring all that out, Rani."
"You know, I heard a joke you'll like, Marty," Rani sighed.
"I love jokes!" Marty said, excited by the half-Diarian's interest in him.
"How do you stump an idiot?" Rani asked, and walked away.
"Hmm," Marty said. "That's a tough one."

***


Mina watched as the archmage hugged her newly returned son. Lesson thirty, she thought. It's okay to be human, too. This was turning out to be a real learning experience. Pulling herself up, imagining herself to be taller than she was, she cleared her throat. "Um," she asked the group, "I was just curious... but are we going to listen to cousin Jack or not?"

Character(s): Rani
Author: Laura Redish (with much input from Jeffy)
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris, or so we think now
Title of Post: Learning By Example

"It's a little late for us to abandon this quest now," said Khyrisse. The shell-shocked look had faded from her face; now she just looked like she was trying to think too fast. "Let's go back to Paris Island. Maybe Jack just needs some time to cool off." It happened to Khyrisse sometimes. "Val, would you drive, and Mina, may I borrow your spellbook? I need to memorize message as soon as I can. I have--arrangements I need to make."
Skitch bounced from one foot to the other, working out the free-floating energy that came with new life. "How did you resurrect me, Tarrin? I didn't know psionicists could do that!"
"Psionic gestalts can do anything, little Skitch. In the temple of Pysiri we empower the Diari crystals of restoration with many priests. I am the faithful priest so the House of Pysiri lets me to use a crystal psionically if my families and friends are died."
"You're the greatest," said the boy admiringly.
"Rani!" yelled Khyrisse. "Marty! Let's move!"
"Rani?" said Tarrin, surprised. "What an unusual name. Is she the Diarshi nomad? This is Diarshi nomad word."
"What are Diarshi nomads?" said Skitch. "Are they the best nomads in the whole world?"
"I'm coming, I'm coming!" Rani emerged from the watchtower and cornered sharply onto the gravel path, followed adoringly by Marty. "Still nothing for miles around. We should have no problem getting out of here. Is the kid all right?"
"Yep." Khyrisse grinned at the boy and mussed his hair. "Rani, this is Tarrin. Tarrin, Rani."
"Yeah, charmed," muttered Rani, not looking at him.
Tarrin's eyes were wide as saucers. "You--" he stammered, and put his six-fingered hand over his mouth. "I am so sorry," he said, his voice almost breaking with sympathy. "You poor woman."
"Save it for the sermon, god boy."
"This is the great sorrow, that you must exist as the abomination against nature in this way. I thought the half-breeds were only the cruel myth to frighten children..."
Khyrisse was staring at the kindly Diari psychologist like he had grown a third eye. "What?"
Tarrin looked dazed, but then he shook his head with a sudden resolve. "Though it is against the doctrine of the Pysiri for priests to do the mercy-killing, still I offer you to break that rule in the case as extreme as yours," he said, firmly. "No creature should have to suffer such a terrible existence."
"Tarrin!" said Khyrisse, shocked.
Rani just made jerk-off motions at him.
Tarrin looked a little confused. "Does this mean yes or no?" he asked Skitch, repeating the motion at the boy.
"It's like a curse word," explained Skitch, and frowned at the detective. "Don't be a jerk to Tarrin, Rani. It's not his fault you're a bom, abomination."
"Well, achtung to you too," said Rani drily, clicking one boot into the other and rolling her eyes.
Tarrin turned away to Skitch and to Khyrisse, visibly shaken. "Khyrissee," he said, "I hate to be, umm, a butthead? Yes, a butthead. But could you bring me back to the outskirts of Irla? I would really like to get back home."
"Oh, that's a great idea, let's all go to Irla," muttered Rani.
"Not to Irla," said Tarrin, horrified. "Mabye you can drop off me outside the city..." He fidgeted, looking uncomfortably at Rani. "Mabye you can drop off me on the coast of the Diaria. I should not bring that into the country."
"I'll detour by the east coast," said Valende, somewhat upset with herself for how much she was secretly enjoying the shoe being on Rani's foot now.
"Thank you," said Tarrin, humbly, and started to climb onto the roof of the carriage with Khyrisse and Valende.
"Tarrin, Tarrin, sit with me," protested Skitch.
"No, little Skitch, I think it is best if I sit out here."
"But I never get to see you!" He kicked some pebbles. "Rani, why don't you sit on the roof? I want to talk to Tarrin."
Rani rolled her eyes. "Thanks for saving my life, Rani. Go sit over there now. Don't you just love that age when kids start learning about the world?" She hitched up to the driver's board. "Cootie-free cabin, mein fuehrer. Go on in."

Character(s): Mina Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Lessons from the Front

The Trade Carriage whizzed along to the shores of Diaria, and Mina noted down in her journal, Lesson Thirty-one, Diarians are not in fact all the same, though they are all annoying in their own way.
Since leaving Tyldant's tutelage, Mina had come to appreciate the structures for learning the old mage had taught her. "An open mind for incoming thoughts," he had said. "But a steel trap for keeping them."
Mina had been adopting that policy when it came to the Rat Pack. She had already started to get a feel for the group dynamic. Strangely enough, people seemed to be reacting worse to Jack's abandonment than to Cori's death. Mina wondered if Cori had done anything to distance herself from the group.
Rani, across the carriage, was playing with the Remnant head again, the one she had gotten off of the Dire Wraith. Mina liked the way Rani kept herself busy. It reminded her of Tempesse, Tyldant's other apprentice.
The half-Diarian suddenly looked up directly into Mina's eyes. "What're you looking at?" she demanded.
"I... I was just wondering what you were doing?" Mina asked, refusing to be stared down.
"There's something different about this Remnant. I'm trying to figure out what it is. You see, information about our enemies helps us."
Lesson Thirty-two, Mina noted, Disposition and helpfulness are two separate things.
"Have you figured out what it is..." Mina corrected her question. "Of course not, or else you wouldn't still be probing it. What are your suspicions?"
"This Remnant exhibits unusual amounts of certain brain chemicals that are associated with independent thought. It also has a much more deteriorated skeletal structure... indicating that its age is far greater than the others we've seen. I'd estimate that it's been walking Ataniel for at least two hundred years."
"The Three Riders..." Mina breathed.
"What?" Rani demanded. "What do you know?"
"Just rumors," Mina said defensively. "That tell of three powerful Remnants that were freed by ∆lwyn hundreds of years ago to wander the earth independently... to secret themselves away and work from behind the scenes."
"That might explain this," Rani said. "And if we can get a decent necromancer to look at them, I think we could trace the unique emanations to find the others."
"You're, like, the smartest person I've ever met!" Marty beamed.
Lesson Thirty-three, Mina noted with amusement. You never know who's going to fall for who. Or is that whom?

Character(s): Praxis the Psionic Buttinsky
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: too many, come to think....
Title of Post: Trouble Shared is Trouble Doubled

The Mithril Dagger. It was good to know that one could always count on some things. Lianth, on the other hand, was still looking beat up. The city hadn't recovered from the Madness nearly as well as Shanghai; unsurprising, given the hatchet job that the Trade/Shadow armies had done while having it out with the Cynystran forces.
I hope this country is able to get back on its feet soon, Praxis thought. He like Nylevia, and it was home to a lot of his friends.
"Hi there!" Kevin said cheerily, as he entered. "Guiness stout, right?"
"Yes, thank you. And... I was told there was a package here for me?"
"Right here," the bartender said, handing him a crystal. "Actually, you just missed Shilree herself. She was in here with Flicker and one of his cousins." Praxis didn't bother to ask which incarnation the cousin was related to.
It was good to know that Flicker was back safely -- Praxis found alternate worlds to be a huge pain in the ass. And he's still in town. Better contact him, get to see him, finally. Perhaps Shilree wants to discuss whatever is in this package.
He was a little surprised to have received it. He knew how most Diarians felt about "kiljhac" with the Gift, and he'd seen no reason to believe Shilree was any different, but perhaps he'd been mistaken about her. It would be nice to be wrong.
He also wanted to find out how Luthien was doing, but Rhynwa probably wouldn't be letting him out of her sight for at least another day or two. Having no desire to get beat about the head and neck with a top hat, he wisely decided to delay contacting the necromancer.
Back home, the Black Serpent Clan was becoming more and more of a concern. Time to get an update from Amatsu soon.
But first things first. He reached out with Psios into the mind of Flicker Sunfighter. Hello, old friend...

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