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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
Priorities, Part V



Character(s): Praxis, Flicker, Amatsu
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: Here's Looking at You, Kid....
Title of Post: About time for some hopeful news

"... yes, Nora told us about how she and Philip and Siobhan helped you out with Bloodscar. Still, at least he's just a brute. But Omeria." Flicker's brow furrowed a bit.
"For now, Silverblade is keeping an eye on Tobrinel for us. With a little help from Quattro."
"That's good. Pass the salt...."
"And to think -- I thought what we were involved with was strange," Praxis said, after his friend had related the story of the Skeins of Fate...
"...I don't mean to pry, but, well, are you and Inez...?"
"Much better," the psionicist said, smiling.

***


"C'mon, Amatsu, we're about to-- what's wrong?" The ninja's eyes were fixed in space, looking at something that wasn't there. He held up a hand and continued to stare. Finally he said:
"My lord has asked me to relay a message. He says that the lich known as Luthien the Dead is destroyed." A few people breathed audible sighs of relief. "He also says that a man named Flicker intends to join us soon. Moreover, he extends invitations to meet with him in Shanghai at our earliest convenience."
"That's cool," Val said, "making fun of Praxis is almost cool as making fun of Luthien!" Amatsu was deciding with whom to discuss news he had received about Hari Yashida.

***


"Thank you for lunch. I was rather concerned about you and Luthien."
Flicker said nothing, but gave him a big hug.

Character(s): Rani, private eye
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Maybe We Won't Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Officially A Mystery

"Thank you for your help," said Caimen, politely but very firmly. "Your services are no longer required here. Good afternoon."
Khyrisse blinked several times. "What the h--" Her voice caught before she'd half-started the word, and she kicked the wheel of the carriage furiously. "What do you mean our services are no longer required? Where is Jack? Something's wrong with him!"
"We appreciate your help," he repeated, "but it is best for everyone involved if our family deals with this matter ourselves. We're sure you can understand that."
"No, I most certainly can not--"
Rani grabbed her arm and said "You don't want to argue too much, savri" in her ear.
"You don't know me too well, do you?" She pushed the half-Diari away. "Listen, Caimen, my son was killed out there, fighting your Remnant, and I think I deserve more of an answer than this! Where is Jack?"
-When I say you don't want to argue too much-, came Rani's voice in her head, -you probably want to be listening.-
Khyrisse gritted her teeth and resolved to rememorize mind blank as soon as possible. The detective's memo sent chills down her spine, though, and she remembered Ebreth: No matter what happens to me, don't cross the Parises. Please. It's important.
"I am sorry about your son," said Caimen, impassively. "If we have information we feel can be of use to you, we will get it to you, and Jack will contact you if and when it is convenient. We're fighting a war here, Khyrisse. I am sorry, but you are no longer welcome on Paris Island. Do not return here." He looked at Rani. "Asinus said to tell you your new ship will be waiting for you at Port-au-Sang."
"Tell Asinus he can kiss my ass." Rani hopped up onto the driver's board, saluting Caimen sarcastically, but once Khyrisse had taken to the air she turned to look back at the island and her eye was narrow and contemplative. She poked Khyrisse in the shoulder and held out her hand, without turning to face the still-shaking sorceress. "One-twenty-five."
"What?"
"Gold. Consider me hired."

Character(s): Asinus Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: We May Always Have Paris, But We Don't Get Much Choice Which One

Khyrisse stomped back to the carriage.
"I can't believe I ever trusted a Paris as far as I could throw him. When I was dead, that is."
Waiting by the carriage was the lamest looking horse Khyrisse had ever seen.
A note affixed to the horse read, "Dwarven Warhorse -- Perfect for Training Young Folk."
"Neigh," the horse said in Dalen.
Khyrisse sighed and massaged her temples. "Asinus, this is the stupidest disguise I've ever seen. And I've been to masquerades with Signet."
"Yeah, yeah," the 'dwarven warhorse' said. "You miss seeing me in my donkey glory. But this is important, and I'm flarking breaking the family rules to even talk to you now."
"And I'm supposed to be impressed by that?" Khyrisse snapped with displaced anger at Caimen.
Asinus was silent for a moment. "Look, you want to get booted, keep it up, chickie-babe. I was under the mistaken impression that you cared."
Rani was doubled up laughing.
"And you!" Asinus growled, "I don't have to put that good word in with the Tobrinese government to get you your license back."
"Can I ride him?" Skitch asked.
"Only if you rub that oyster totem when I tell ya, kid."
"Okay!" Skitch said.
"No!" Khyrisse shouted, louder than she intended. "You came here for a reason, Asinus. What is it?"
"I'm here to tell you what you're gonna need to know to keep at this thing. And I'm hoping that you never tell another soul that I'm doing it. This could get me disinherited, and family is the most important thing in my life."
Apparently not, Mina Paris noted with romantic amusement. And wouldn't she make a wonderful aunt!
"Are you going to tell us what the Passage is?" Khyrisse asked.
"No," Asinus said. "But I'll tell you who can. There's this temple in Shikintu that you'll need to visit..."

Character(s): Khyrisse Starshadow
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen, holding the tiger's tail
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris, But Will We Want It?
Title of Post: Cripes, She's So Mad She's Not Even Listening to ME...!

Khyrisse could actually feel her heart pounding so hard with anger that it shook her ribcage. Oh, that is not a good sign...
You know what, Asinus? she said quietly, her voice shaking. I dont give a rusty goddamn what the Passage is. I wouldnt pay a clipped copper to save the life of any Paris on the planet other than you, Jack, and Mina right now. My family is the most important thing in my life, too... and Caimen just apologized to me for the death of my son with less regret or sincerity than I would over breaking a teacup. Khyrisse had to stop and take a deep breath in order to keep her voice quiet. I no longer work for or with the Paris Family. So if you have information to give me, word of it will certainly not reach them from me-- but unless it pertains to how I can destroy the Remnant or where I can find Jack, Im not interested.

Character(s): Asinus Paris, Dwarven Warhorse
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Doing Things That Damn Us

"Look, hotpants," Asinus growled, his eyes squinting level to Khyrisse, "I don't give a rat's ass--sorry, Rat--whether you'd spit to save me in the desert. But I assumed you cared about Jack, so I sacrificed--you know, you're not the only flarking martyr on Ataniel, chickie--a hell of a lot to try to help. Forget being appreciative, I guess I don't warrant that from you... but unplug those perfect elf ears of yours and listen for once in your self-indulgently miserable life."
Khyrisse's mouth opened like she was about to deliver a blistering rant, and Asinus licked her face to shut her up.
The shock of the donkey tongue seemed to work. Aside from turning red as a furious beet bent on donkeycide, she didn't say anything.
"Go to Shikintu. Find the Temple of the Forgotten Daimyo. In it will be someone who can take you to Jack. With what he knows, you'll also be able to take on the Remnant from a position of power."
Asinus turned back towards the family compound, but stopped. He looked back at Khyrisse, wanting to apologize, but knowing that he couldn't... not without invalidating what he felt she sometimes needed to hear. You always hurt the one you love, he thought, watching the Rat Pack board the Trade Carriage and jet out over the waves, taking his heart with them.
Asinus shrugged off the 'dwarven warhorse' disguise. Who ever heard of a dwarven warhorse anyway?
"Asinus Paris?" a somewhat familiar voice from behind him said.
Asinus whirled.
"Alverado," he growled. "What the flark are you doi--"
The crossbow bolt shot through his throat, severing his carotid artery and making mincemeat of his esophagus.
Asinus fell to the ground, unmoving.
"Damn me," Quint Alverado, the most dangerous man on Ataniel, said, and he moved in to verify the kill.

Character(s): The Rat
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: WAHP
Title of Post: The Meek Shall Kick Ass

Alverado cautionsly approached and bent over Asinus's body. Blood was pooring out of the wound. Asinus tried to speak, but blood welled up in his mouth.
Just then something scampered up the assassin's leg an bit him the the crotch. Alverado screamed and pulled the Rat from his privates.
"Son of a ..." he yelled just as an arrow flew by his head.
Quint looked up and saw forces from the Paris estate running towards him. The assassin, knowing when it was best to retreat, threw the Rat onto Asinus's body and limped out of sight.

Character(s): Three Bitches On A Bench
Author: Laura Redish and Kristin L'Kar Andersen
Storyline: WAHP: Adjustments
Title of Post: Rani's Turn

"One-twenty-five."
"What?"
"Gold. Consider me hired."
"You know, most people ask to be hired!" Khyrisse snapped at the half-Diari. "What is this, Push Around the Former Deity Day?? Hired for what?!"
Rani leaned across to Khyrisse and Valende, her eyes hard and grey. "No," she said, "no, as a matter of fact most people do not ask to be hired. Most people get asked for help. And you need me, for all the two words of thanks I've gotten thus far. I saved your lives, I brought your charming little snot of a kid back from the dead, I've provided almost every important piece of data you've gathered since I've been here, and I've gotten the shit kicked out of me doing all of this. In return you treat me like a second-class citizen, you tell me nothing, and then you hit me for knowing nothing. You're as bad as the fucking Parises. Well I've got my pride too, lady. I am not a servant, I am not a freak, I am not gutter trash, I am not something that belongs to Asinus. I am the best fucking private eye in Rimbor City, and you're going to treat me that way, former deity or no. I don't know what this Jack Paris is. You haven't told me. But if I can't find it, it can't be found." She sat back on the board, her eyes glittering. "You need my help. Now are you going to ask me for it as if I was a human being and pay me what I'm worth, or would you rather go it alone?"

Character(s): Khyrisse
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris-- Or Rather, Paris Will Always Have Us
Title of Post: Wow, You Have Pride Left?

A muscle twitched rapidly along Khyrisses jawline as she stared at Rani. Her eyes seemed to be all pupil for a moment. The charming little snot of a kid, she finally said in a sort of flat, distant voice, has had his head polluted with Diari prejudices via a regrettable case of hero worship-- but I didnt feel right about shouting at him when half an hour ago hed been dead. Im grateful to have him back. I apologize for the way he talked to you.
Khyrisse took a slow, deep breath and continued. As far as treating you like a second-class citizen and telling you nothing-- we knew nothing about you. The last person we trusted who walked in off the street carved a hole in my back you could plant a small tree in, and sold another of us to Hell while I was lying face-down in the gutter. Shed saved my life twice, before that. I hope that given the circumstances you can forgive us for being a little paranoid and leaving you out of the loop.
She fixed her eyes on the horizon and ignored the acidic Moebius strip her stomach was tying itself into. Yes, I could use your help, Rani. But Id appreciate it if you start by assuming that were not stupid and were not assholes and we occasionally do our jobs as well as you do yours. Were distracted and were stressed out beyond belief and our manners are shot and Im sorry about all of whats been going on because of it. Thats all.
Khyrisse gave Rani a sort of half-hearted, crooked smile, eyes not quite meeting hers. So, whats the 125 stand for? Per day? Per hour? Just how broke am I?

Character(s): Marty Hu
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Hu
Title of Post: You Want To Talk About A Guilt Complex?

"I'm sorry, scary mage lady," Marty said, his face downcast. "I don't remember stabbing a big hole in you, but, like, sometimes I have these blackouts... usually one per night..."
Khyrisse looked at Marty perplexed. Then she realized. The last person we trusted who walked in off the street carved a hole in my back you could plant a small tree in, and sold another of us to Hell while I was lying face-down in the gutter.
"Oh, Marty..." Khyrisse said. "I didn't mean you. It was another person entirely."
"Whoa. So, like, you trust me?"
"Don't give me straight lines," Rani muttered.
Khyrisse gritted her teeth and shrugged. "I can honestly say that I don't think you've got any cunning plans to betray us, Marty."
"Dude. Cool."

Character(s): Rani, private eye
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Rani Is Self-Aware Enough To Be Amused

"One-twenty-five up front," said Rani, leaning back in her seat and ignoring Marty. "Fifty a day plus expenses from then on in, paid on completion. Technically you don't have to pay the rest if we don't find what we're looking for, but that hasn't been an issue in what, seven years now?" She hooked her thumb through the belt loop of her denims. "To be honest I'd reduce the price if you needed it, but you obviously don't. Look, girls, I'm from Rimbor City. I'm not complaining about your manners here." She chuckled to herself. "That would be pretty precious of me, wouldn't it? I'm not asking you to trust me; I'm not asking you to like me. Just give me some credit here, and Christ, if you're hiding stuff from me, don't bitch at me for not understanding it. Either tell me what the deal is with your Jack character or stop jumping down my throat for saying it doesn't have a brain, because it doesn't." She paused and drummed her fingers on her hip. "I've never seen the Parises like this. It's not normal. They're always kind of imperious, mind you, but this is starting to remind me of the Madness here. Either something's wrong with them or they're distancing themselves from us for a reason. And either way we want to be very careful with them until this is over. My professional instincts are saying follow the Remnant lead first"--she indicated the head, nestled on her lap like some macabre pet--"and the Asinus lead second. Val here said she used to work for a necromancer." Valende looked up slowly. "A good necromancer would be able to tell us a lot more about these Riders than I can. I can't promise you this Shikinti temple of Asinus' isn't a trap. It's probably still our best bet, but it doesn't hurt to get as much information as you can before meeting in the alley at midnight, as it were."
Khyrisse frowned. "Either way," she said, "our first stop is Lianth. Praxis said Flicker's back in town and looking to join us, and we can use all the help we can get. And--I need to find Garal." You must contact Geryon the Hunter. Our only hope. She twisted the reins around her glove until she could feel them biting into her hand. "Before we go anywhere. There's something I need him to do for me. After that we can go to Shanghai. And if anyone doesn't like it--" She looked down at the Deepsea the spectral horses were speeding over. "You can start swimming."
"No one's arguing with you," Valende came out of her own black study to point out.
"Hey, I'm getting paid by the day," grinned Rani, putting one of her boots up.

Character(s): Hou-Hsieh, Hari Yashida
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Someone here has to be polite

Hou-Hsieh Haito looked down at the skull, examining it with her magical sight. It remained unchanged. "And you have no memory of what happened when you became... staticky?"
"None," said the spirit of the man whom the skull had once belonged to. "I only hope that this Rat Pack arrives soon. I'm sure you can understand that I'm very eager to see Cori again."

Character(s): Amatsu, Praxis
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris/The Rainmaker
Title of Post: Five Pieces of Silver

Things were proving more confusing than he could ever have anticipated. Amatsu Mikaboshi failed to see the reason why Khyrisse Starshadow and most of the others seemed unwilling to abandon the struggle against the Remnant. It was a struggle they had undertaken on behalf of the Paris clan, whose leader had in no uncertain terms stated his wishes. Perhaps it was merely curiosity, or stubborness -- a desire not to end matters with questions unanswered, or foes unvanquished.
Perhaps it was a sense of loyalty to one of the group's former members, but Amatsu did not understand this either. He looked less than favorably upon Jack Paris and his recent departure, which struck him as a mixture of hubris and panic. To be sure, no ninja would abandon mission and clan so easily or abruptly.
He warned himself not to be too judgmental. It had not been easy for he himself to come to a resolution with his own difficulties, once...
When the Madness faded, all of the Red Crab clan were dead, save himself. Shikintu was shaken to the foundations -- thousands of years of honor and civilization, devastated in 96 hours.
Because the Leader deemed them enemies of the clan. That had seemed like more than enough reason at the time. Seemed honorable. But what had the clan to show for it now? The rain of tears he had left behind... What have I to show for it?
Many were in a similar predicament, faced with their actions -- not of their own volition, even -- during the days of Madness. Those days alone were enough to drive many to hari-kari to atone. How, then, would one atone for a lifetime?
He heard of some in Shanghai who believed they had an answer. How to atone not with their deaths, but with their lives. Amatsu was skeptical.
And so, to investigate further, he came to meet the leader of this Order of Redemption, the outlander called Praxis. They spoke of Bane, of the clan wars, of honor and morality. They spoke of killing.
"You've told me about those you've killed over the years," Praxis said. "I once did something similar." Praxis related the story of his youth in a far-off land, his career as a bandit.
"Once, some friends and I attacked a man to get his purse. I hit him on the head and he fell down. He was an old man, I think I may have killed him. I don't know, to this day, whether he lived or died. I think your reasons for being the Rainmaker were not sufficient to justify your actions -- but I do understand them. They were not wholly without merit. Let me show you the motive I had for, perhaps killing a man."
He placed five silver coins on the table.
"Of course, my share was only a fourth of that. The price of a man's life. I like to think that I have made changes in my life, so perhaps you can, also. Choices may not be easy, but as long as you continue to struggle, I think success is eminently possible."
Words some of the Rat Pack would do well to consider, Amatsu decided.

Character(s): Ebreth and Jack
Author: Laura Redish and Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Final Meeting

Ebreth Tor stood on the foredeck and looked his hand to steadiness where it rested on the staysail boom. Keep it together, Tor. It won't be long now.
Then Jack Paris materialized on the bulwark in front of him.
"Jack!" hissed Ebreth, caught the smaller man by the arm and forced him back between two coils of line, drawing his long cloak around them and looking with panic over his shoulder. "What are you doing here? You'll be killed!"
"Not if you're as good at this as you say you are." He grinned shakily. "I need you to get me in to see your boss here. Make something up."
"My 'boss' here is lwyn, Jack, what the Sam Hill do you want to see him for? Do you have any idea what that man does to Parises?"
"lwyn? But how..." Jack started, then shook off his childlike surprise. "Why am I still surprised by who's not in Hell?"
"Look, just get the information back to Caimen. Don't try anything yourself, Jack."
"That's--a chance I'll have to take," said Jack. "I have the means to end this war now, Ebreth. I have the Passage prototype." He opened his hand to reveal a dull grey stone shot through with red. "And I know how to use it."
"Ten bucks says lwyn does too. Let me get rid of this guy first, Jack, we're on track here."
"We don't have time. Cori and Skitch are already dead." He looked up at the big pirate, his narrow jaw clenched, dark hair hanging in his face. "I'm not losing any more. Valende and Khyrisse are still alive. Help me end this before it's too late."
Ebreth paused. "You swear you know what you're--"
"--know what I'm doing."
"And it's going to work?"
"98.22% certainty."
"Did you factor in lwyn?"
"Call it 97.04. If you can get us in."
"I can get us in."
"Then get us in."
"I don't know if I can get us out."
"I'll handle that." He closed his hand around the stone.

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