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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 VI



Character(s): Vickie Dare
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: The Road To Shikintu
Title of Post: Freeing Up Some Carriage Space

"So this is the Trade Carriage I've heard so much about," Vickie said, running one finger along the trim. "Could use some more chrome... but otherwise, pretty cool. What's it run?"
"Run?" Khyrisse asked. "It's not for sale."
"No, no," Vickie said, grinning, "the speed, what's its speed?"
"It's the fastest mortal conveyance on Ataniel, now that the Farstalker's defunct."
"Awesome."
Vickie reached into her bandolier bag and pulled from it two long polished boards of wood that were way too large for such a small pack. She also removed a long silken rope, and tossed it to Khyrisse.
"I'm sure you're tightly packed in there," Vickie said, "so if you could just tie that securely to the back hitch, I'll save you some room, at least for the sea leg of the journey."
"There's enough room for you inside," Khyrisse said. "You don't need to tie yourself to the back."
"Tie myself nothing," Vickie said. "I'm going to see if this thing's fast enough to waterski behind."
Khyrisse burst into a fit of honest open laughter.
"You know," she said, "that's the stupidest idea that I've ever really wanted to see someone do."
Vickie lolled her head and gave Khyrisse the thumbs-up. "Tie the knot well," she said. "I don't want to end up in the middle of the Cynystran bay with nothing but these keeping me up."

Character(s): Laura's Less Well-Adjusted Two Characters
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Adjustments
Title of Post: Unlike Rani, Ebreth Has Been In Diaria

Rani shook Luthien's hand again. "Thanks for the info," she said. "Look me up in Rimbor if you need a psychometric investigator."
"I'll do that," said Luthien. "Good luck."
"Hey, savri!" Rani hollered at Khyrisse, who was talking something over with Garal and Vickie. "Can we have carriage, please!"
By the time anyone saw Ebreth Tor move she was already on the ground. "Ow, fuck!" screamed Rani, her right hand clamping over her face. "What is your problem?"
He stood over her with blood on his fist. "Don't you ever call that woman that word again."
"Are you the Kiljhac Cuss Patrol?" she demanded, her eyes painful slits over the red leather of her glove. "If you can't say something nice, shut up or I'll slug you? You're going to make one hell of a father some--"
"That was no cuss word," he said. "And if you say it about anyone I know again I will break your neck."
She paused a long moment. "It just means 'bitch'. It's just a word for, like, a kiljhac bitch."
"I am familiar with the term," said Ebreth Tor. "If you mean bitch, say bitch. If you mean savri, you'd better have one hell of a head start."

Character(s): Khyrisse, Rani, Ebreth, Flicker
Author: Kristin L'Kar Andersen and Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP, living up to its anagram
Title of Post: Not a Good Day to Be Den Mother

Khyrisse caught the sudden movement out of the corner of her eye, and turned her head to see Rani on the ground, with Ebreth standing over her.
She stood there and stared at that little tableau for a moment, completely startled. Fortunately, it didn't go any further. Ebreth turned and walked away.
Vickie heard the archmage mutter something in a seriously ugly language that seemed to be all fricatives. If she was any judge, there were some pretty interesting curse words in there. Khyrisse then handed the line back to her, saying, "Just a second..." and raced off.
Khyrisse met Ebreth midway and looked up at his face. He seemed a little... embarrassed, actually. Well, there's no point in asking him what happened, I heard enough of it. "Ebreth... what does that word mean?" she asked instead.
Ebreth didn't meet her eyes. "It's an old Diari slave term, that's all," he replied shortly.
"Meaning...?"
"I'd rather not talk about it."
Khyrisse sighed. "All right." She smiled crookedly. "Would you help out Vickie for me? She wants to try skiing behind the Carriage."
Ebreth sighed also. "Sure."
Khyrisse kept going and crouched down next to Rani, who was nursing a bloody nose. Khyrisse winced a little. "Are you okay? Shall I get Val?"
"Yeah, I'm okay. Do us all a favor and get your testosterone monkey a punching bag, will you?" Rani replied.
Khyrisse looked down at the ground, suppressing her immediate angry response. If I have to keep doing this all week, I'm just going to explode. "...I'll work on it." She gave Rani a rather bitter smile. "I don't know what that was all about, damn if I know who to apologize to."
"When you figure it out, let me know, because damned if I do." Rani got up, wiped her bleeding nose on her sleeve and walked away.
Khyrisse sighed down into the dirt and sat there thinking for a moment. Then she got up and went over to Flicker.
"Flicker," she said quietly, looking over at the Carriage. "What does savri mean?" Whatever it meant, Flicker knew damn well that she'd said worse in Impish... although usually not at anybody.
Flicker was looking over at the Carriage with interest as Vickie set up her waterskis. "It means, ah, 'non-honored cunt', literally. If you ever want to know what it feels like to be slapped by Shilree, that's your word. I don't know what it means in slaver parlance. Shalini didn't sail the Diari coast much, or interact with the Diari mafia."
Khyrisse whistled softly in dismay. "I think I could make an... educated guess, of sorts. Well, that explains a lot." She sighed. "You know, I'm betting that Rani didn't have the full translation."
"Given her reaction, I'd say that's a good bet."
Khyrisse looked around for Val, and found her already following Rani. Oh, Grendel. I hope Rani doesn't bite off her head. That's all I need.

***


Khyrisse looked around at all the people planning to go with them and groaned. Fourteen
people. In one Carriage. Bickering, all the way to Shikintu. Screw that noise. "Vas!"
Vas wandered over from where he was chatting, predictably enough, with Alderon and the Price Girls. Khyrisse rolled her eyes. Ten times sluttier than Candi and Bambi... but not as amusing as Big Nice Devil and friends. Grendel, theyíd make me wish I werenít female, if being male around them didnít have such obvious drawbacks. "You shrieked, milady?" Vas said, with an amused little smirk.
Thinks Iím jealous. I am jealous of no one with that little class. "No, that wasn't a shriek," she said, smirking back at him, "you'll know when I'm screaming at you, Vas, trust me. You get to drive the extra Carriage."
Vas blinked at her. "Extra Carriage."
"Coach, really," Khyrisse corrected herself absently, eyes closed, hands clasped around her whip. The air shimmered in front of her, growing suddenly dark as if a cloud had passed overhead. There was a gust of wind as the shadow solidified into a black coach-and-four.
"They multiply?" Vas asked in astonishment.
Khyrisse chuckled. "No, that's just a spell. It's the one I enchanted the Carriage with." The only one I can still cast without help. And that, only because of how I acquired it. "It'll disappear in about 18 hours, and it doesn't travel as fast, but that's all right for the moment. I won't be going full speed with Vickie on the skis anyway." She handed over the extra whip she now carried. Vas noted that it was a featureless black, like the coach itself.
Skitch bounced over. "Cool! Thatís a good idea, we were getting really smushed in there."
"I know. Why the entire world suddenly wants to join the Rat Pack is sort of beyond me, but..." Khyrisse chuckled, coiling up the braided burgundy leather strap of her own whip.
"Hey, I know! Maybe... that," Skitch said, nodding his head towards Rani and crinkling his nose in disgust, "can go in the coach instead. That way the inside of your Carriage won't get all--" he paused while he hunted down the proper word "--contaminated."
Khyrisse stared at Skitch while what he was driving at sank in. She got a good look at his expression in those few seconds, and her stomach twisted. Almost as if it were moving of its own volition, Khyrisse's hand lifted... and she slapped Skitch across the face with it. "Don't you ever spout that poisonous Diari bigotry in my hearing again," she whispered harshly, as Skitch cradled his stinging face and stared at her, completely stunned.
"Khyrisse," Vas remonstrated from behind her, not entirely unsympathetically.
"What?" Skitch wailed, tears springing into his eyes. "Tarrin says she's an abomination! I was just--"
"People aren't abominations," Khyrisse said, her tightly restrained anger giving the softly hissed words the power of a shout. "Except mabye anyone who thinks other living, feeling, intelligent creatures are."
"Tarrin wouldn't lie to me," Skitch said, a slight whimper creeping into his tone. For a moment, Vas could have sworn that Skitch was afraid of Khyrisse.
Khyrisse saw it, and the suppressed rage suddenly drained out of her, leaving behind something that approximated her normal level of irritation. "He didn't," Khyrisse said, with a weary sigh. "Iím sure Tarrin thought he was telling you the truth, he just... didn't know any better." She took his hand gently away from his face and looked at the red mark unhappily. "Iím really sorry, kiddo. You didn't know any better either. I shouldn't have hit you."
Skitch sniffled a little and straightened his spine. "I'm all right."
"We can talk about this up on the roof, once we get out of here, okay?"
"Okay," he said, not meeting her eyes. There was a stubborn cast to his features that told Khyrisse she was in for a long argument. Terrific. ...Damn the Diari, anyway.

Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Shikinti Blue
Title of Post: Mistakes Are Made Because Words, Words Are Misunderstood

Ebreth was putting a seize in the fisherman's bend he'd secured Vickie's line to the back hitch with, just in case the tension slacked or something. He sighed as Khyrisse slapped and then embraced her son, shaking. Are tensions always this high in adventuring groups? He gave the line a good hard yank, which of course the knot didn't so much as register, and crossed, not to her, but to Rani. "Look," he said, quietly, "I'm sorry. It's just, that's a word with strong connotations. You don't want to be throwing that around."
"Yeah, I figured that out, Neandarthal Boy," she snapped at him. "Next time tell me without the fist."
"All right," he said.
"And one other thing." She grabbed his wrist in one of her gloved hands as he started to go, leaning forward to meet his eyes, but let him go like she had touched a hot coal, whatever she had been going to say forgotten. "There's blood on those hands," she whispered.
Ebreth was quiet a moment. He guessed she didn't mean her own. "Yes," he said. "There is. Don't use that word again, Rani."
He left her standing there.

***


"Are you all right?" he said, putting his hand gently on Khyrisse's shoulder as he climbed onto the driver's board with her and a rather sullen-looking Skitch. Vas and Mina were on the driver's board of the smaller coach. Mina waved playfully at Khyrisse.
"Don't ask," sighed Khyrisse.
"She's mad at me," mumbled Skitch.
"I'm not mad at you. But this has to stop, Skitch. I'm serious."
"I think Tarrin is right. She's not very nice."
"We'll talk about this on the way to Shikintu. Ebreth, is Vickie clear?"
She was giving a thumbs-up. Flicker was watching her with interest out the back window of the Carriage. "Looks like it."
"All right, then," sighed Khyrisse, and snapped the whip harder than was strictly necessary.
Ebreth flinched only a very little at the sound, and put his arm around her shoulders as Annwych receded behind them.

Character(s): Amatsu, Flicker, Valende
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: On the, uh, Road Again
Title of Post: Meanwhile, back with the SANE contingent of the party...

"I never thought of doing it on water," Flicker said. Well, snow was water, technically speaking, but...
"That is most impressive," Amatsu agreed. They were watching Vickie Dare water-ski through the Carriage's back window. At one point she gave them the thumbs-up.
"So," Amatsu said, perching on the seat in a half-lotus, "you are the one who is... The Sunfighter, yes?"
"Yes."
"Lord Praxis speaks most highly of you." Flicker couldn't help but smile a bit. Not from the compliment, but because he knew from their conversations that Praxis was about as much at ease with being called "Lord" as Marty Hu was at a zoo.
"Is it true you reincarnate immediately upon death?" Amatsu asked.
"That's the short version. I can give you the long one if you like."
"Please." When Flicker was done, the ninja said "I know some followers of Vedic beliefs who would find that most fascinating."
"I've had worse religious attentions, believe me."
Amatsu glanced across the carriage at Rani and Marty, then quietly spoke to Flicker, Val and Garal: "Perhaps one of you might be able to advise me. I am somewhat familiar with eastern customs, but I have found the Rat Pack to be rather atypical."
"You can say that again."
"I cannot help but wonder at the differences in our responses to Lady Yashida's death, which was acceptance, and our resistance to Mr. Paris'... situation." A little embarassed, he tried not to look atVal. "I have also noticed that Mr. Tor seems easily offended."
"He's been under some stress," Val understated. "He and Jack were--- are, very close."
I remember how stress affected the Leader's decisions in the final days, as he made increasingly rash, ultimately fatal decisions... "There are methods and meditations which could help him remain focused and clear."
"Reverie, my people call it."
"A seemingly appropriate name. This one wishes to be of assistance, but does not wish to offend. I am unclear on some things."
"Like what?" Flicker asked.
"Such as the nature of the... altercation which took place earlier. Or, forgive me if I inquire about sensitive personal matters, why Mr. Tor and Lady Starshadow have been affected thusly by Mr. Paris' decision."
"Try asking them?"
"Would that be appropriate? Or... prudent?"

Character(s): Valende, Flicker, Amatsu, Garal
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: En Route To Shikintu
Title of Post: Resistance May Be Futile--But It's Human

There were tears in Valende's eyes. "Jack is our friend," she whispered. "We are absolutely not going to leave him there. I'm sorry Cori is dead, but there's nothing I can do about that now. Jack is still alive, and I-- it's not fair of him to try to sacrifice himself to keep me safe, Amatsu-san. He means more to me than that. I thought I meant more to him than that." She looked down at one hand, holding the other tight. "I thought we were--I don't know what I thought we were, but I thought we were a team, anyway, I thought we faced things together. He had no right to make that decision for us. I am hurt, I am offended, and I am very, very worried about him. I--I imagine Khyrisse and Ebreth feel the same."
"Except they're a little more high-strung than Valende is," said Flicker gently, touching his knuckles to the Liratyni woman's temple in the age-old elven gesture of comfort, "so their attempts at coping area little--louder."
"This one had noticed."
"I don't know Tor well," said Flicker, "but Khyrisse is pretty solid under all the sound and fury."
"And the--" Amatsu's eyes flicked to Rani, whose attention seemed to be entirely invested in trying to keep Marty from carrying on a conversation with her. It wasn't succeeding very well. "--altercations, which I witnessed?"
"Well," said Flicker, "I believe it was accidental, but she said something which, ah, very seriously impugned Khyrisse's honor, and I guess he took offense."
"Khyrisse was disciplining her son for being racist, I think," offered Garal.
"There's not usually so much smacking going on," sighed Val. "Tensions have been high."
"This one thinks our aggressions should be focused against our enemies, not our allies."
"Oh, believe me," muttered the elven priestess, twisting the hilt of her sword in her hands, "the next Remnant who attack us are going to wish they hadn't."
"I think people just need a little time to cool off," said Flicker. "I've seen Khyrisse through worse stress than this. She'll be alright."
"And Mr. Tor?"
"Well," said Flicker, optimistically, "however he handles things, it's bound to be better than the last time I knew him."

Character(s): Rani and Marty
Author: Laura Redish and Douglass Barre
Storyline: WAHP: En Route To Shikintu
Title of Post: The Man Too Stupid To Ditch

Usually, an aura of hostile, chilly unapproachability sufficed to scare off unwanted suitors.
Rani had made an art form of it.
Unfortunately, Marty Hu seemed truly to be, as Amatsu deemed him, singular.
Rani sighed and scrapped the strategy as simply too subtle for his excuse for an intellect, and moved to her tried and true back-up plan. "Marty," she interrupted his blather, "I'm a lesbian."
"Whoa, so you, like, acted in Hamlet? That's really cool. You're so talented, Rani."
Rani looked weakly at the young paladin. "You know, Marty," she said, "I've been to every bar in Rimbor City, and I do think every blow-off technique I've come up with in my adult life is completely useless before a man of your sheer stupidity."
"So does that mean you'll go out with me?" he said hopefully.
"No," she said. "It means I'm going to have to come up with something new." She looked out the window of the Carriage. There was no sign of Shikintu. "Fast."

Character(s): Ebreth, Khyrisse, Skitch
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Fumbling Towards Functionality

Khyrisse took a deep breath. "Okay," she said, "first of all, Skitch, I am so sorry for hitting you in anger. I shouldn't have done that, and I'll never do it again."
Skitch nodded. "It didn't hurt," he lied.
"Second," she said, "if I ever catch you talking like that again I am going to give you a spanking, and it will hurt."
"Hey!" protested Skitch. "That's not fair!"
"Yes, it is. It hurts people when you talk about them as if they're less than human, Skitch, and it's wrong."
"But she is less than human!"
"No, she's not human, Skitch, thereís a big difference. She's not better or worse, she's just different."
"I think she's worse. She's ruder than anybody else in the group. Kerouac was better than her. And Alphred."
"Mabye she acts like that because people treat her that way, kiddo," Khyrisse said gently. "That would make me rude." She paused. "That did make me rude, actually."
"You're not rude!" protested Skitch. "Not much, anyway."
"You've never seen how I act towards Eric," she murmured.
"He deserves it. She's mean to everyone. And Tarrin says it's because she's a bomination. He says she should never have been born."
Khyrisse gritted her teeth. "Skitch," she said, "I am sorry to have to tell you this, but Diarians think humans and elves are some kind of animals, like monkeys. That's why he thinks Rani is so horrible. Would you have children with a monkey?"
"Tarrin doesn't think I'm a monkey! Tarrin likes me!"
"Of course he likes you, Skitch, but he..." Khyrisse searched helplessly for a word. Merde. "...he thinks he's superior to us. So he doesn't mind us, but he thinks the idea of an inferior being getting a Diari woman pregnant is disgusting. It's racist, Skitch, and it's wrong. I don't ever want to hear you talking that way again."
"Okay," said Skitch, after a beat.
"And don't think you can get away with it when I'm not around, either," she headed him off at the pass. "I'm going to tell Rani to tell me if you harass her any more."
"She's not going to do that, Khyrisse," said Ebreth softly. "She's got more pride than that."
"Grendel knows how." Khyrisse exhaled. "I've hardly got any left." She looked slantwise at Ebreth, a little smile perking at the corner of her mouth. "The other reason not to belittle someone's value as a person, Skitch," she said, "besides it being morally wrong, I mean, is that sometimes their friends can't control their tempers."
Ebreth hung his head. "I'm sorry," he said. "It was a reflex."
"Well, I appreciate the sentiment," she said softly, tracing his collarbone a little bit with her finger. She liked these new shirts he'd started wearing. "And I'm not in the position to be throwing stones, admittedly. But that really wasn't necessary. I don't think Rani even knew what that word meant."
"No," sighed Ebreth, "no, neither do I."
"What does it mean?" said Skitch, curiously.
They both ignored the question. "It isn't necessary to defend my honor," said Khyrisse. "I can take care of myself."
"I know," said Ebreth. "I'm sorry." He paused. "It's just the idea of--I can't promise I wouldn't do it again."
Khyrisse wished there wasn't a level at which that pleased her. She sighed. "Look," she said, "this is a difficult time, for all of us. But we've got to stay focused, got to keep our aggression focused." It wasn't much of a religion, really, but it was the closest thing Khyrisse had. "And--we've got to stick together." She put her left hand on Ebreth's, reins and all, and squeezed Skitch's with her right, and licked her lips. "Because--because that's what families do."
There was a pause. Khyrisse didn't even dare to look at Ebreth. "Are we a family?" said Skitch.
"I hope so," she whispered. "And... Skitch, there's something I need to tell you."

Character(s): Vickie Dare
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Fun If By Land

Vickie waved down at the carriage in front of her. After reaching the coast, the skis weren't a viable idea, but Vickie had pulled her hang glider out of her satchel, and now flew along behind the carriage, supported by the airlift that came from such speed.
Pluvious had been right... these guys were fun.

Character(s): Mato Miehet
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: WAHP: Shikinti Blue
Title of Post: An Expected Arrival

Mato Miehet stood in one of the open courtyards in Shanghai. According to his lord and master, the most foul Chu-I Po, the Clan of the Rat would be arriving in this very square very soon. Here he would meet them and guide them. Then when the time was right he would show them his secret and eat them alive.

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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

First Nations art * Indian woman long hair * Indian teepees * Chickasaw food * Powhatan Indian chief

Read the Black Mirror review and graphic adventure game hints
Artwork of the day: carve totem pole
Language of the day: Cherokee Indian alphabet