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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 III

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Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Inbetween Days: New Trade, New Trade
Title of Post: Reputation

"Khyri," said Karel, frowning, "you know, isn't that man Ebreth Tor?"
"Anyone else want to say it?"

***


"Hey, Jack." Ebreth drew the mathematician away from the party by the elbow, uneasily. "Listen, I wanted to talk to you for a minute."
"Shoot!" said Jack, cheerfully.
"Paris Island tomorrow," he said. "Your Aunt Lora's going to be there. Isn't she."
"Unless someone kills her," quipped Jack. He thought about the Remnant and it seemed a lot less funny suddenly.
Ebreth spread his hands. "Help," he said.
"Oh, she's not going to attack you or anything. You're her guest. She takes that very seriously. Besides, you're my friend."
"I know," he said. "What the hell do I say to her? Do I apologize? Just act like it's not my business? Stay out of her way? Any advice you could give me. Would be really appreciated."

Character(s): Jack and Ebreth
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Preparations
Title of Post: Miss Manner's Guide To Dinner With The Parents Of The Girl You Lost In A Card Game And Who Ended Up Enslaved, Then Dead

"Mm," Jack bit his lip and thought. "Lora will be really professional, which in your case might mean cold. Chances are she just won't talk much to you. Caimen, on the other hand, will probably be a bit more confrontational."
"Should I stay someplace else?" Ebreth asked.
"No, no..." Jack said with certainty. A paper airplane made of a torn page from a book flew by. Jack ignored it. "Caimen won't attack you or anything. But he might end up asking some pointed questions. The best way you can deal with him is by being honest and direct. He'll respect that, and he's pretty good at knowing when people are lying, so he'll be likely to believe you."
"Hey! Stop tearing those out!" whined a nasal voice from across the room where the Banestoppers were. Jack didn't want to get involved. Their presence reminded him how much out of his league he was. He hoped Khyrisse didn't tell them that he had been leading the group.
"Do you think they'll be receptive to my helping?" Ebreth asked.
"Of course. In fact, from the last Word I got, Caimen already has an idea or two of what to do with you."
"Why do the words 'suicide mission' come to mind?"
"Because you're being silly," Jack said.
"This is not. Going. To be fun."
"Oh, and you should use full sentences, not fragments. It just makes you sound more confident."
"I'm not confident."
"Yeah, but that'll keep you from advertising it."
"You know, for someone who claims not to know anything about relating to people, you're pretty good at this."
"Oh, hell, Ebreth... I make it up as I go along and hope it sounds good."
"Don't we all, Jack..."

Character(s): Marty Hu
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Inbetween Days
Title of Post: Danger Most Dire

"So, like, tell me more about this 'Significance'," Marty asked.
"Well," Signet said, taking a deep breath, "it all started about fifteen years ago with a poor lost boy named Ulmo Glub..."

Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Inbetween Days: New Trade, New Trade
Title of Post: Just To Give Luthien Nightmares

Skitch and Gordon came tearing over, gasping with laughter, pulling a ripped-up copy of A Return To Significance between them. The younger boy ran headlong into Ebreth, spilling grape juice on his pants. "Oops," he said.
"Gordon!" Rhynwa came across with her hands on her hips. "What did Mommy tell you about running with liquid in your hands?"
"You said it about embalming fluid," said Gordon, clearly.
"Well, I mean it about anything that spills. Now apologize to the nice man."
"Sorry," said Gordon, not sounding very sorry. "Hey, who are you guys? I don't recognize you from any of my father's portraits."
"These are Khyrisse's friends from our new group," explained Skitch. "This is Ebreth Tor and that's Jack Paris."
"Hi," said Jack.
"No problem," said Ebreth, secretly glad it hadn't been embalming fluid.
"Paris," said Rhynwa, "Is that any relation to Chloe Paris?"
"Second cousin."
"She's a priestess in our order. She's got an--interesting attitude."
"That would be Chloe."
Gordon looked curiously at Ebreth. "I've had some bedtime stories about you."
"About me?"
"They mostly involved killing you."
Rhynwa whapped him lightly. "Company behavior, Gordon!"
The boy sighed.


Character(s): Derek, Karellion, and Khyrisse
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Inbetween Days: Happy Birthday to You
Title of Post: CCC28YR

Khyrisse sat down with her pyramid-shaped slice of cake at the bar, where she could see the whole room. She wiped happy tears away and looked around at everyone, smiling so hard her face hurt. Look, if you're going to hog the biggest piece of cake, the least you can do is eat it, said a voice behind her. Khyrisse turned around on her barstool, an impudent grin gracing her face. I'm the birthday girl, I can do what I like!
Karel nudged the plate at her, smiling back. The warm brown eyes lingered on her face, though, and she could see concern in them. Eat. You're too thin, you havent been eating again.
Oh, Grendel, you're not going to start babysitting me again... Khyrisse groaned.
You got the best frosting! Eat!
Ill rub it in your hair again! She surveyed the butterfly-decorated piece of cake on her plate, then shook her head. Naah, too good to waste on you. She jammed a forkful in her mouth. Her eyes narrowed as she darted a glance at Karel, as if to say There, happy?
Yes, he replied. Khyrisse snickered, almost choking on her cake.
There was a momentary silence then, as the "siblings" looked at each other.
Are you better? Karellion finally asked quietly.
Khyrisse sighed a little. You mean from the last time you saw me?
No, I mean from yesterday. Karel rolled his eyes.
Yes... and yes, she said, smiling.
So can I have a hug or what?
Khyrisse hopped down from the barstool with a rather watery smile and wrapped her arms tightly around his waist. Karel rested his cheek against her hair and closed his eyes, holding her. For a long moment, an odd look sat upon his quiet features, the signs of an old regret.
Theres something I havent seen for years, said their fathers voice.
Two idiots crying on each other? Karellion said, and released his sister. How uncommon can it be?
Derek shook his head. I cant get used to the idea of you two as adults.
Good thing were not, then, Khyrisse said, grinning up at her father.
Derek gave a shout of laughter. Then this should be appropriate. He handed her a garishly wrapped box.
Karel leaned over the bar, rummaging around behind it. Ive got a present too, I forgot.
Who needs presents? she said, and hugged Derek again.
Ill open it, then, Karel remarked behind her. The sounds of a bottle opening followed.
Khyrisse turned around and looked curiously at the bottle, then gasped. Karel, what--
He sighed, pouring tiny glasses full of the pale blue-violet liquid. You owe me, but Ill be magnanimous, since its your birthday. After you... Karel paused, then continued, ...left Cynystra for good, Whisperwynd went to your father. But Miyrr and I wound up managing it for him.
Khyrisse picked up her glass and closed her eyes, inhaling the crisp scent; on its own it was enough to give her a hint of its peculiarly clear-headed high. She could see the long rustling avenue of trees at Whisperwynd, black and gold against a velvety purple sky. Oh, this is old home week, isnt it? she murmured.
Not quite, Derek murmured, taking a glass from his son.
Yeah, theres someone still missing, isnt there? Karel looked down into his glass for a moment, then lifted it. To Mother.
To Laelissa.
To Mother.
The three elves inhaled against the smooth icy burn, and set aside the glasses. Whew, thats stronger then I remember, Khyrisse said, puffing air.
Karellion laughed suddenly. After drinking me under the table for most of our adolescence!
Khyrisse grinned, blushing a bit.
Open your other present.
Khyrisse opened the box ...and stared, mouth open. Dereks purple eyes danced impishly. This one fits... but I made it with a high waist. I couldnt resist.
She pulled out the brightly colored crazyquilt skirt and shook it out, beaming-- then hopped off her stool and ran for the stairs. Ill be back!

***


Khyrisse came dancing back down in a few minutes, formal attire discarded in favor of a blue halter top and her new skirt, laced tight from midriff to hips, then spilling loose to just above her bare feet. Derek closed his eyes for a moment, shaking his head. Can you imagine her as a goddess?
Karellion grinned as she picked up Skitch and spun around in crazy circles with him, their mingled laughter ringing out over the noise of the party. All too well. Scary, isnt it?

Character(s): Marty, Cori, Ataniel's stiffest couple
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: Interlude: No BD spankings, please
Title of Post: Birthday help from the NMDH

"...Wow," Marty Hu mumbled, "I'd never even considered the ramifications of Significance on the zen aspects of satori nothingness. How much more perfect it could be."
"True perfection isn't achievable while you're alive," the creepy-looking woman in the top hat said.
"And nothingness is only half of zen," the creepy-looking bald guy added.

***


"...if you need help when you get to Shikintu, please, let us know."
"Yes, thank you."
"I was saddened to hear of the Silver Crane's demise. My condolences."
"Thank you, it has been... difficult for me."
"I understand," Inez said. "I remember what it was like, just after the Madness..."

***


"Nora."
"Yes, Praxis?"
"You've got frosting on your nose."

Character(s): Siobhan MacLir
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Inbetween Days: Happy Birthday To You
Title of Post: The Only One On All Of Ataniel Who Wishes This...

Khyrisse smiled, a bit wryly, and asked, "So, how is your mother doing?"
Siobhan sighed. "Well, of course I'm missin' her, but it's-- Oh, wait, you mean me birth mother, don't you. Well, she's fair enough. It's been a difficult year or two, but she's a resilient woman. I've got lots of ideas for her to get her husband back, but she doesn't seem to like any of em. They usually make her laugh."
"Well, at least she's had something to laugh at since I visited her...!" Khyrisse said, grinning.
"Hey, where's Eren? I haven't seen him in a long time."
Khyrisse sighed, this time. "Flicker is... well, he's in another timeline with Luthien. They're trying to prevent him from becoming a lich. It's kind of complicated... but they should be back soon, I think. I wish they could have made it to the party!"
"Coooooool. I wish he'd invited me," Siobhan laughed.

Character(s): Max and Ebreth
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Inbetween Days: New Trade, New Trade
Title of Post: It's Harder Than That To Faze Mithril Dagger Heroes

"Hey," said Max, frowning, "are you okay?" The pirate's arm had locked up a little, and his eyes seemed to be focused somewhere beyond Max. The hero glanced reflexively over his shoulder, but didn't see anything. He touched the other man's arm. It was oddly cold. "Is something--" The goblet exploded in Ebreth's hand as his fingers closed around it, sending wine flying in a crunch of glass. "Uh-oh. Cleric!"
"Coming through!" said Rhynwa.
"Oh, fuck," said Tila, crossly. "Is this wine poisoned? I hate it when that happens."
"Tarrin!" called Skitch.
Ebreth had given no sign of noticing when he had slashed his hand up and he gave no sign of noticing when Rhynwa healed him. He went into a convulsion. "Praxis?" called Max.
The psionicist frowned. "Not picking up any mental attacks," he answered.
"Maybe this means my dad's back," said Gordon hopefully, looking around for him.
"And he doesn't appear possessed."
"He's having a dissociative flashback," Skitch explained to Praxis.
"Oh, okay," he nodded. "I'm on it." Ebreth slumped over like someone had pulled a pin, shuddering.
"I'm psychic too," added Skitch.
"Um," said Praxis, looking at the boy. "That's nice."
The Diari priest came hurrying over. "Everything is okey-dokey?"
"Looks like we're under control," said Rhynwa, scanning everything quickly. "Are you okay now?"
Ebreth put both his hands over his face, his eyes dilated with shame. "I'm sorry," he whispered.
"Oh, something like this happens at every party we go to," said Rhynwa, waving her hand dismissively.
The crisis safely past, the celebrants returned to their conversations and merrymaking. "I think maybe I'd better go up to bed now," whispered Ebreth, still not daring to look up.
"Would you like me to--" Max started.
"I'll go with him." Skitch squeezed past the warrior mage. "Come on, Ebreth, let's go upstairs."
Max shrugged. "Well, good night!" he said, friendily. "It was nice meeting you."
"Good night," Ebreth mumbled into his hands, and escaped on Skitch.


Character(s): The Rat Pack, The NMDH, The Cantrip Cottage Crew
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Inbetween Days: New Trade, New Trade
Title of Post: Absent Family

Skitch came back downstairs and found Khyrisse with Jack and the rest of her family. She looked all right, just sitting and listening to them talk, but he went over and gave her a hug anyway. She sighed and hugged him back, hard.
Ebreth says hell be okay, hes going to get some sleep, Skitch told her, and squirmed his way into the armchair with her-- not without some insincere protests from Khyrisse, which he grinned at and ignored.
Thanks, kiddo.
Valende returned with a fresh bottle of wine. She poured out a glass for Khyrisse first, without asking if she wanted one. Khyrisse smiled faintly and took a sip, murmuring, Is it that obvious?
Only when you know what to look for, Valende replied, with a mysterious little smile. Khyrisse blinked at her, slightly puzzled. Well talk about it later, itll keep.
I think the two of you need to come for a visit to the Maplemead, Derek commented, and rumpled Skitchs hair from behind Khyrisses chair.
Grandpa Derek!! Skitch complained, slapping his hair back down with a grin. Just because your hair sticks out every which way...!
Karel, who had just upended his glass, sent wine in a fine red spray over the coffee table. Khyrisse, Derek, and Skitch all howled with laughter at the utterly startled look on his face. He set down his glass, coughing a bit, and squinted at the two waifs in the armchair next to him... both with finely drawn features and slender, wiry builds, both with curly, golden-brown hair. He reached over with a swift gesture and brushed the hair away from Skitchs ear. It was slightly pointed.
What the hell...? Karellion blinked at Khyrisse, who was still giggling. Khyri, is he yours?
Khyrisse wrapped her arms around Skitch. He is now, she replied... with a deliberately enigmatic grin.
Skitch hooted with glee. Oh, man! Good one, Grandpa Derek!!

***


It seems that Karel knows some of Jacks relatives, Derek said, once the uproar was over and the table cleaned off. I wish I remembered this, I know I must have been around for some of it...
Oh? Valende asked Karellion, curling up in her abandoned spot next to Jack.
Well, Pieret... left us, someone had to pick up the slack with the familys trading house, Karel explained. Khyrisse shuddered briefly. And a few years later, when the Baron died...
Miyrrs father died? Oh, Im sorry, Khyrisse interjected, surprised.
We would have told you, but-- Karellion shrugged, smiling. We didnt know where you were, of course.
Khyrisses mouth twitched. Of course.
Anyway, the Minarye merchant house is one of the largest in Cynystra, Karel said to Valende. So as it turns out, Ive done business with the Parises on several occasions.
Remind me to come talk to you once I actually start building New Trade, Khyrisse said, with a wicked little grin.
There go the House finances, her brother sighed, and poured himself another glass of wine.
Oh, as if Id bankrupt Miyrr, she murmured, taking another sip of her own.
Or your namesake, Derek agreed, and innocently ignored his daughters start of surprise. Valende, would you pass me the bottle?
What namesak-- Khyrisse blinked at Karellions grin. Grendel, you and Miyrr had kids... Why didnt I think of that?
Rissas eleven, Karellion told her, with an odd smile dancing in his eyes. Khyrisse stared at him for a long, long moment-- and then her face went through the strangest contortions, as if she were holding in shrieks of laughter by force alone. Tears sprang to her eyes.
What on Ataniel-- Valende said, staring at Khyrisse.
Rissa was a rather ...unpopular name that year, Im told, Derek explained into his wineglass, with a slightly rueful grin.

***


I miss Kit, Skitch said softly, a little while later.
I know, I thought about her a lot tonight, too. I wish she were here. ...Im sorry she ran away. Khyrisse sighed. Im afraid I didnt do too well with getting her to trust us.
Dont you need to call Vas tonight about Kit? Valende said, tilting her head back to look at Khyrisse. Hes going to be so upset that he missed the party...
Hold that thought... Khyrisse closed her eyes. A few seconds later, she chuckled. He says that Kits fine... hes going to go with her and make sure shes safe, and hell send to us if theres trouble. She laughed and opened her eyes. He also says that well have to have another party, since they both missed this one.
Well have one for New Trade, Valende said, with a little smile.
Oh, before I forget... Khyrisse closed her eyes again. Eventually she sighed and opened them.
No answer. Siobhan! she shouted.
What!
I just checked-- seems Flicker and Luthien are still bopping through timelines...
Some people have all the luck, dont they?

Character(s): Garal and Waterloo
Author: Eric Gasior (witn many thanks to Laura Redish)
Storyline: Inbetween Days: New Trade
Title of Post: Changing Ways

"Khyrisse, would you say that a good way to remember somebody is to practice what they taught you?" asked the halfling.

***


"Hi, I'm Garal. How do you know Khyrisse?"
"I'm Waterloo. We were Mithril Dagger Heroes together. We saved the world from Bane using positive thinking. How about you?" She smiled encouragingly.
"I led the Rat Pack to Hell and back." Garal returned the smile, adding, "I'm a planeblazer."
"Planeblazer? That sounds interesting. What do you do?"
"I usually travel around the outer planes. And you?"
"I'm an inspirational speaker. Flexibility is the key -- to living a fulfilled life. If we adapt to our situations and conquer our negative attitudes, we can overcome -- anything! Even things like the Madness. We just have to NOT BE BOUND BY RIGID INFLEXIBLE RULES!"
Signet approached from the other side of the room and broke in, "Right thinking depends on consistency, Iona--"
Waterloo turned her back on Signet. "So what outer planes have you been to?"

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