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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
Go Down Swinging, Part II

Character(s): Ebreth Tor, failing his saving throw; Khyrisse
Author: Laura Redish and Kristin L'Kar Andersen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris--Tomorrow
Title of Post: Compliments From An Unexpected Quarter

"Is it okay with me?" said Khyrisse, incredulously. "No, and the ocean's at the top of the sky today, too. What do you think?"
He laughed a little, wearily. "I'm sorry," he said. "It's been a long day."
Khyrisse was quiet a moment, and then she took his hand between hers. "Ebreth," she said, a little hesitantly, "when you were pretending to be that other man, did anything--happen?"
He didn't need a translation. "Nah. We--have a lot more in common than I'd like, but that's really not who I am anymore. At least I know that much. I mean I, I'm starting to get pretty experienced with what blocking things you can't deal with feels like. It's not like that. I really think he's gone."
"Good," she said, relief evident in her voice, and stroked his hand.
"And it's nothing I have to fight down or anything. I can play him with my eyes shut but it doesn't change how I feel about things when I do. Good or bad. I'm not less afraid; I'm not more cold." Ebreth only wished he could really believe that his own pathetic weakness was less likely to cause him to do something terrible than his predecessor's callousness. He shook his head hard. At least it mattered. "I don't think he ever cared about anyone," he said, "that last Ebreth Tor. I mean he enjoyed people's company but I don't think he ever really cared what happened to any of them at all. Not like I care about Jack, not like I care about you. It's important."
"Very important." She squeezed his hand and sat next to him on the bed. "Ebreth? Would--it be okay if I stayed in here tonight?"
He touched her hair. "I don't think I'm such great company," he said softly, "these days."
"I don't care," said Khyrisse. "You have no idea how I've missed you, Ebreth. It's not good for my poor long-suffering ego to spend so much time away from you."
"I'm good for your ego, then," he murmured, his eyes twinkling a little.
"What do you think?... I have an unbelievably sexy, smart, amusing, powerful, experienced man here who flirts with me every chance he gets, offers me countless massages, and touches me as if I'm made of crystal-- despite the fact that I am literally surrounded by women who are more gorgeous and less bitchy than I will ever be. Now why on Ataniel would this make me feel good about myself...?"
Ebreth stared at her stupidly. "I--you--" He shook his head, trying to clear it, trying to think of anything to say. "You--still think I'm sexy?"
"You idiot!"
"I mean--" He shook his head again, violently. "That wasn't what I meant to--" He looked at her. "Where the hell did that come from?" he said, his voice cracking. "You never say things like that!"
"Well, I'm saying it now."
He accepted her embrace, still a little dazed. He touched her head and then he held her hard. "You are so confusing," he whispered.
"That must be why you like me," said Khyrisse, snuggling contentedly into him.

Character(s): Asinus Paris, Syndy, Alain
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Heaven's Ass
Title of Post: Lookin' Down From Up On Heaven

"Fuck," Asinus grumbled. "I didn't need to see that."
"You were the one who asked Janther to see the goddess," Syndy reminded him.
"I know how it is to see one you love with another," Alain, or "Janther", as Syndy called him, said.
"Yeah, well, I guess I'd rather she be happy than be with me. I'm dead anyway."
"I keep telling him that he's supposed to be here, Janther, but he won't listen to me!"
"Did you make him play cards?" Alain asked.
"Well, yeah..."
"No wonder he doesn't believe you, my dear," Alain smiled. Asinus was impressed that the Bryttan's smile could even make him feel a little better.
"Look, wing-girl here says that you can help get me wherever the flark it is I'm supposed to be."
"I think that she was supposed to bring you to meet me," an older man said, stepping down from a non-Euclidean staircase through the ceiling.
"Robinson," Asinus said. "I'm glad you made it here."
"I travel," Robinson said. "Since my death, I've learned a lot about the realms beyond. There's quite a beautiful implicate order to them, one that I've been logicgate mapping on a elliptical topology grid..."
"Whoa, jeez, Robbie," Asinus said. "I'm just dead, I'm not a flarkin' geek now."
Alain put his hands on the two Parises' shoulders and smiled that disarming grin. "Look, I know that you two have much to discuss, but from what Robinson's told me, time is of the essence."
"Indeed, indeed," Robinson agreed. "I need your help, Asinus."
"What could you need help for? You're in paradise. I thought everything would be peachy-keen up here."
"I like peaches!" Syndy offered.
"Well," Asinus corrected, "at the very least, pretty saccharine."
"I wish it were so," Robinson said. "But my researches have shown me otherwise. Since the death of the sociocultural icons, or gods, in the common parlance, Heaven... well, Heaven has been disappearing."
"Flark, I can't even die right," Asinus said. "There's always one flarkin' thing or another to be done."

Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: While She Lay Sleeping

She slept fitfully, and he still couldn't bear to turn to sleep.
He stroked her hair. It was not, of course, as if he forgot these things when he was awake. Paradoxically, it had become somewhat easier to face the night now that his dreams had followed him into the day. Ebreth Tor didn't really feel safe anywhere. But he'd been able to spend so little time with her, what with this thing and that, and so much of it had been painful. He just wanted to hold her in his arms a little longer. Who knew where they'd be tomorrow.
He watched her breathing, in what little light there was. Even in sleep her face was drawn, her muscles tense. Ebreth remembered how she had let herself relax that one night, almost as if she believed he could somehow keep her safe. Then the next day her best friend had stabbed her in the back. Would it have killed you to give me one week, you bitch? Ebreth sighed and touched her sleeping face, so fragile in the darkness. He had known she wasn't ready for anything this difficult, but he hadn't been expecting to be this difficult. He'd been intending to help her. He had been going to be the strong one. Ebreth was too exhausted to laugh, so he just held her against him, aching with thwarted tenderness. He wanted more than anything to take care of her, to beat the ghosts that haunted her back into the shadows, but there was nothing he could do. It was all the strength he had not to drag her down more, to keep on with his own slow, wobbling path. So instead he stroked her hair and whispered to her as she slept: Khyrisse, my love, you are wonderful, you're beautiful, you're strong. Khyrisse. As if the words might sink into her heart while she lay sleeping. You were a wonderful goddess and you are a wonderful person. Khyrisse. My love. You deserve more than I could ever give you. One day he would make her believe it. Today he just whispered to her in the darkness. But I'm going to try. Khyrisse, my love. Khyrisse. While she lay sleeping.

Character(s): Rani
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Bad Morning To You

Rani was already at the bar, drinking a screwdriver. "Good morning," she said, without turning around. There was a human head sitting on the barstool to her right. Ebreth blinked at it. "What did Asinus say?" said the half-Diari detective.
"I, uh, didn't message him yet," murmured Khyrisse. "I'll do that right now."
"Don't tell him too much. I don't know how much we can trust him." She threw back the rest of the drink and pushed the square glass back across to Kevin. Skitch watched with a morbid curiosity. "You're not going to use that glass again, are you?" he asked the bartender.
Kevin looked confused. "What?"
"Go play in traffic, kid."
Khyrisse's eyes flew wide. "My--my message bounced," she whispered.
"Holy sh--" Rani put two of her fingers to her left temple, and a faraway look skimmed across her cloudy eyes. "Oh, fuck, he's gone. Did they kill him?"
"He's not dead?" said Valende, staring.
"Mabye--mabye they've just put antimagic shells up," said Khyrisse. "That would bounce my message too, and they were acting paranoid enough to--"
"Hello! Not magic over here!" said Rani.
"A mind blank takes care of you," said Khyrisse.
"Yeah, but I can tell the difference." Rani jerked her fingers at Kevin, a stunned look on her face, and he poured her another. "He's either dead or he's left the plane. Holy shit. That tears it; if the Parises are killing their own family they're beyond reasoning with."
"You don't think Caimen killed--" Ebreth started.
"I don't know. I could find out, but I suspect my faculties would be better spent on the Remnant. At this point we're talking fairy-nailing here." She looked at her hand. "We can't afford to get caught up in that if it is true. We get to the bottom of this Passage thing of Ælwyn's first. Cure the disease, then maybe we can do something about the symptoms. Asinus, Jesus." She took the second drink from Kevin without thanking him. "He was a good guy under all that. "
"Wow..." said Marty. "Rani... I'm sorry..."
She brushed his hand off her shoulder with a twitch of annoyance. "Don't ever touch me again, menjhac."
"Oh, like okay!"
Ebreth frowned. "Hey, Marty, are you going to let her talk to you that way?"
"Yes," beamed the paladin.
Rani muttered under her breath in Diari.
"She can't help it," explained Skitch. "She has inferior genes."
"Guess that scar's permanent, huh, kid," said Rani.
"Hey!" wailed Skitch, and put his hand self-consciously over his forehead.
"What's wrong with her jeans?" said Marty, looking at her denims in confusion.

Character(s): Marty Hu, Ebreth Tor
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Codependent In Training

"You know, Marty," Ebreth said, taking his "apprentice" aside, "we're going to need to talk about how you relate to the, ah... fairer sex."
"My mom always said that if a girl teased you, it meant that she likes you," Marty offered.
"Rani doesn't like you, Marty."
"Oh. Okay." Marty held one eye open to wink the other at Ebreth. "I get you. Play hard-to-get, huh?"
"Give me strength," Ebreth sighed to no one in particular.

Character(s): Khyrisse Starshadow
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: And The Morning Started Out So Well

Khyrisse surreptitiously dropped the crumpled, now-blank page she’d torn from her workbook this morning, and kicked the balled-up paper under a table. Sorry, Kayla... Up until a few minutes ago, it had been a copy of her sending spell.
“He can’t be dead.” Khyrisse sat staring unhappily out the window of the Dagger, head propped on one hand. “Why would his own family kill Asinus? Goddamn, they’ll sacrifice anybody on the altar of their stupid goals,” she muttered under her breath.
“What, Mom?”
“Nothing.” Cure the disease before worrying about the symptoms, Rani says. I don’t know if I want anything to do with the symptoms. It’s easier to assume that some of the Parises were always crazy, in my opinion. Her mouth twisted angrily. But I’m not exactly an impartial judge of the Parises. Not anymore. She sighed and let the anger drain away. I was pretty damn pissed when I left, Asinus, but I never wanted you dead. It's probably because of us, too. I’m so sorry.
“Hmm?” Khyrisse came out of her blue funk to blink at Val, who was holding a pot of coffee and looking at her inquiringly.
“Do you want coffee?” Valende repeated patiently, with a little smile.
Val looks like she feels a lot better this morning, she thought. Vas is pretty good at cheering a person up, I have to admit. “Oh. No, thank you. I just want some tea.”
Skitch stared at her in surprise. “Boy, you really like tea now.”
“It’s the closest thing to coffee.” Khyrisse grinned at her son.
Skitch giggled. “So have coffee.”
“It’s been upsetting my stomach, or I would. My nerves are shot. --Thanks, Val.”
“You’re welcome,” Val said, and pushed the honey towards her.
And then the plate of cinnamon-raisin toast.
Khyrisse squinted mock-menacingly at her bodyguard over the rim of her cup. “I said just tea.”
Val smiled innocently, eyes dancing.
“It’s good toast, Mom,” Skitch said encouragingly.
“What is this, the ‘Fatten Up Khyrisse’ conspiracy? I’m not anywhere near traditional Yule fare, you know!”
Vas leaned over her shoulder to peer into her face, nearly startling Khyrisse into spilling what was currently her breakfast. “No?” He lifted an eyebrow at her with a roguish grin, and glanced behind them at Ebreth. “Are you certain? You look good enou--”
“Vas!” Val shouted, interrupting her brother. Vas chuckled, and gave Val a quick peck on the cheek as he sat down next to her. She rolled her eyes. “Honestly. Some things never change.”
“And aren’t you glad?” Vas asked, with a contented smile.
“What did he mean?” Skitch wanted to know.
Khyrisse choked on her tea.

Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Observations

"He means she looks real pretty," Ebreth rescued her, pouring himself a second cup of coffee. He hadn't slept well. He never did. Except for the glaring absence of Jack--and Cori, he thought, wishing for the umpteenth time he'd handled that more gracefully--it sure did look like the old Rat Pack again. Ebreth wasn't a hundred percent sure, but he thought the sailor with the long braid was looking kind of interested in Marty, who, of course, was still eagerly hitting on the annoyed Diari half-breed who clearly wanted nothing to do with him. Garal was equally ineptly but with somewhat more success hitting on the perky woman in the mask. Flicker was hanging out with the waitress. Vas had on his usual strained trying-not-to-respond-but-really-failing-miserably face, being chatted up by an overly casual Mina.
Ebreth sighed internally. It was strange seeing Mina, like something from a dream. He had tried to explain to her that he wasn't the same Tor, but she didn't seem too concerned by the prospect in the first place, which only made things that much more surreal, and wasn't letting him get much of a word in edgewise. He'd given up, and was just trying to get used to her presence in the background now. I look the same, he reasoned, and people are dealing. It was disorienting, but he would cope. He drank his coffee quietly, looking at her there. He was vaguely offended somehow that she didn't think he was worth dying over, but you couldn't really blame a girl for that.
The Diari woman, Rani, threw back her screwdriver and pushed some coins across the bar at Kevin. "Right," she said, "are we going to go get my head examined, or what?" She chuckled at herself, but her eyes were distant.
"Does she have to come with us?" Skitch asked Khyrisse, still smarting about his scar.
"Oh, no, Rani, your head is fine," Marty explained earnestly. "We need to examine the dead head."
"Borrow that brain yourself, did you, Marty?"
Ebreth shook his head. This boy was going to be work.

Character(s): Asinus Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Heaven's Ass
Title of Post: The Talking Heads Were Right

Everybody's trying... to get to the bar...
Asinus sat at the Heaven's Gate tavern and no matter how much he wanted to think about the problem before him, couldn't get Ebreth and Khyrisse off his mind.
And the name of the bar... the bar is called Heaven...
"You know," he told the bartender, a woman named Merry, "I could've been there. I could've been a contender."
"You look like a donkey to me."
The band in Heaven... they play my favorite song...
"Yeah, and nobody loves a donkey. If I looked like Billy-flarkin'-Dee Williams, I'd get all the chicks too."
"Only if you learned a little charm, too."
Play it once again... play it all night long...
"I just wish I had gotten a chance. A real chance. One that didn't strike everyone as a big joke."
Merry shrugged, and poured some more tomato juice into his next drink.
"I'd've done things differently. I should have taken the opportunity while I was still with her."
"You wouldn't believe how many times I've heard that up here," Merry sighed.
Heaven... heaven is a place...
"So you know anything about the missing pieces of heaven?" Asinus sighed.
"Nope. But you could talk to Meliel. He might."
"Then do you know any ex-goddesses who might not have fallen in love already?"
"That one you're on your own."
"I always am," Asinus sighed.
A place where nothing... nothing ever happens...

Character(s): Jack Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: The Fugitive
Title of Post: Whatever Happened To Jack Paris?

Jack Paris looked around one last time at his new quarters.
The Remnant had apparently taken his skills into account this time. There wouldn't be another escape attempt like last week's. Still, it wasn't Jack's fault that despite being undead, the Remnant still followed human statistical leanings...
Things would be so much easier if Jack could return to a pure mathematical state, but even Robinson hadn't known what would happen if he were to do that now.
Still, the magic wardings were only proof against Jack himself. They hadn't, for instance, prevented the grasshoppers from coming in.
Jack loved grasshoppers. They were so wonderfully structured, and their minds operated on a very sensible boolean network system. It had taken Jack twenty-seven days to finally determine their language, and that was only because they were such particularly mathematical creatures.
Today Jack would get out of here.
The previous escape attempt had served its purpose. In the transfer, Jack had been able to scope out the full topological layout of the building he was moved into. The hastily scrawled plans he had drawn on his cell wall had offered a wealth of options, so Jack had settled on the one that would mean the deaths of the least amount of grasshoppers.
No, this escape attempt wouldn't be at all like last time's...
Outside, the chirping of the crickets began.

An hour later, Jack Paris was running through the jungles of Gennosuke province. He needed to find help.
He needed to find Cori Yashida.

Character(s): Ebreth and Flicker
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We’ll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: I don’t actually look like Billy Dee Williams, you know

Ebreth blinked. "Hey," he said, "is that shortsword antimagic?"
"I don't know," said Flicker, and then, a bit hopefully, "Is it yours? Do you want it back?"
"I--" His eyes slipped involuntarily to Khyrisse. "No. No, I don't."
"Too much to hope for," sighed the Norseman. "It's evil, isn't it?"
"Well, it doesn't possess you and put you into berserk evil rages or anything like that," said Ebreth. "But it works better for an evil wielder, I think, and it does do more damage to good people. Especially good extraplanar creatures. You want to backstab a ki-rin or something, that's the sword to do it with."
"Well, that's useful."
"That other Tor never used it for that either. What it's really good for is fighting with mages. Its touch destroys magic, and once you cut someone with it he can't cast spells for a few rounds."
Which explained what had happened to Jack Paris back in World Four. Flicker put his hand resolutely on the pommel. Even without his Viking pride he would probably have felt obligated to keep it at this point, just to prevent it from falling into hands in which it would be more effective.
"Ahaha!" laughed Alderon. "You got a di sword a Tor now? Dat's real funny, Shalini!"
"I guess it is kind of funny, isn't it," said Flicker, smiling a still little smile downward.

Character(s): Marty, Flicker, Ebreth
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Dumb and Dumber
Title of Post: Marty Gets A Subplot

"Whoa! So that thing kills mages? You better not let Khyrisse see it."
"It doesn't kill them just by looking at it," Ebreth sighed.
"Oh. What, you have to, like, stab them with it?"
"That's usually the procedure," Flicker nodded.
"My, uh, apprentice," Ebreth sighed. "I'm teaching him satori."
Flicker nodded.
"I've got my own spirit guide and all!" Marty said, showing Flicker his latest egg.
As Flicker approached to look at the spheroid, there was some sort of angry hissing. At first, Ebreth thought it came from the egg...
"Whoa!" Marty said, stepping back.
Both Marty and Flicker looked at their swords.
"I don't think they like each other," Flicker said.
Destroy it! hissed a voice in Marty's head. Now! Before it's too late!
"I think you're right," Marty said.

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