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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
Shikinti Blue, Part I



Character(s): Praxis n pals!
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Shikinti Blue
Title of Post: The Gift - and I Don't Mean Psionics

Check it out, boss! Body thought with extreme amusement. That chick's yanking this guy around by his---
I noticed, thank you. Shaolin entered, repressing a bit of dismay that Jhaeran seemed to be slurping the tea, bearing a large bouquet of flowers. The leaves were waxy and the petals a sickly crimson, though in full bloom. Small cream-colored berries dotted the stems.
"Lord Haito sends regrets that he is unable to meet with you at this moment," the monk said. "He wishes to greet you formally soon, and sends this gift."
"He's been taking lessons from Schneider?" Flicker asked, deadpan.
"When monkeys fly out of my butt," Praxis replied in gaelic, equally straight-faced. Then in Dalen: "They're not really a gift for the flowers. These berries are the important part."
"Are they tasty?"
"Not really."
"Something about those plants..." Garal said, concentrating.
Praxis looked impressed. "You might sense traces of a connection to another plane that the plants have when rooted. Hou-Hsieh discovered a way to brew the berries into a poison."
"Isn't poison, like, evil?" Marty asked.
"This poison," Praxis answered, smiling, "only affects the undead."

Character(s): Marty Hu
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Star-Crossed
Title of Post: Aren't I Annoying Enough To Warrant That Kind Of Treatment

Marty was getting really confused.
Master Ebreth said that women didn't like you if you annoyed them. Yet here was Rani, plum-dumpling of his eye, throwing herself at the Diarian guy who spat on her.
I wonder if that's some sort of Diarian courting ritual, Marty thought. Maybe I should try it sometime.
In the meantime, it was time for action.
"So, uh, you're Jeran?" he asked the Diarian once Rani had headed off.
"Jhaeran," Jhaeran said.
"Jaheran?"
"Jhaeran."
"J-Ran?"
"Jhaeran."
"Kiljhac?"
"No."
This wasn't getting Marty anywhere. He decided to change tactics.
"So, like, how much to go away and never talk to Rani again?" he asked.
"You need a lot of healing, don't you, young man?"

Character(s): Vickie, Amatsu
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Jacks or Better to Open
Title of Post: Raiders Of The Lost Temple

"That is the temple," Amatsu said, nodding to the overgrown structure in the valley below them. Vickie pulled a spyglass out of her pack and put it to her eye. She slowly spun the end in an arc, covering the entire temple area.
"I don't see any guards," Vickie said. "How about you?"
"The spirits of the clan of the Forgotten Daimyo guard this place," Amatsu explained.
"Well, they're not out partying tonight, it looks like. Shall we?"
"It is best to take such endeavors slowly and carefully."
"I'd really like to see you drunk one of these days, Matsie."
"I do not drink," Amatsu said, "when I am on duty." He paused. "Which, before you ask, is always."
"I know," Vickie said. "I was trained in martial arts by Tomoe Ame, and learned bushido as well. You're a ronin now, right? But promised to the guardianship of Cori Yashida. A wardenhood that you believe you failed. Until she's avenged, you're not your own man."
"A true follower of bushido is never his own man," Amatsu said.
"Ah, but the duty of a samurai to his master is second only to the duty of a master to his follower. In other words, Matsie, you gotta give yourself some slack."
"Your grasp of philosophy is... unlike any I have ever encountered."
"You should see my grasp of tai chi," Vickie said, grinning. "I'm going in. Back me up."
"I do not advise--" Amatsu started, but Vickie had already grabbed a hanging vine and was swinging down into the valley.
Raiden give me strength, he thought, but whether he refered to the infiltration or to dealing with his new partner, even Amatsu wasn't sure.

Character(s): Praxis, Hou-Hsieh, the Rat-magic quartet
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Shikinti Blue
Title of Post: Gone But Not Forgotten

Khyrisse, Mina, Val and Vas stood in one of the hallways, talking with Praxis.
"Poison that screws up the undead. Luthien is going to love that!"
"I've been keeping him appraised of our progress in developing it," Praxis said. "If you all have some time, Hou-Hsieh can show you the process she's developed to create it. And... there's someone else I think you should meet." They descended a stone staircase and entered an archetypal laboratory. The place smelled of chemicals, potions were bubbling in beakers of all sizes, two braziers were smoldering, several shelves were lined with books, and the desk was a hopeless clutter. A ferret scurried across the floor.
"Welcome," said Hou-Hsieh. She was a pretty woman, somewhat older than Mina, standing well under five feet tall. Her cheeks were full and her black hair hung loose to the middle of her back. a large pair of spectacles gave her an owlish look. "You would be Todd's friends in the... Rat Pack, yes? Is Amatsu-san with you?"
"He's on a mission with another woman from our group."
"They seemed to be flirting rather shamelessly," Vas said with mock horror. Val elbowed him.
"We're talking about Amatsu Mikaboshi?" Hou-Hsieh burst out laughing. "Excuse me," she said, wiping her eyes. "Ah, yes. This would be the formula for creating the poison." She handed Khyrisse a scoll case. "Not difficult. The only rare ingredient is the plant, which we discovered by pure good fortune. It can be orally ingested or applied to weapons. Positively no effect on the living."
"Thank you."
"You, uh, also might wish to speak with my assistant..."
A ghost stepped through the wall, and bowed. "I am the shade of Hari Yashida," it said. "Is it true? Are my wife and our good friend Jack Paris with you?"

Character(s): Khyrisse and Val
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Shikinti Blue
Title of Post: Thanks A Lot, Jonah!

Khyrisse blinked in surprise at the spectre. Val winced and closed her eyes.
Gathering her wits, Khyrisse nodded formally in greeting to Hari Yashida. "It grieves me to tell you this," she said quietly, laying a comforting hand on Val's arm. "But Cori was lost to us in the Temple of Ghede Cinqjours. There was a spiritual test of sorts, different for each person, that had to be passed before entering the temple. Cori... didn't pass hers."
It could not be said of an already spectral person that he paled, but Hari's posture stiffened. "And Jack?" he asked, not quite in a whisper.
Khyrisse sighed. "Jack returned the leadership of the Rat Pack to me and vanished. Ebreth told us that he surrendered himself to Ælwyn of the Remnant in return for our safety."
Val sighed also and opened her eyes to look at Hari. "I believe Jack blamed himself for the losses the Rat Pack has suffered, since he took command from Khyrisse several weeks ago," she explained softly. "In particular, the loss of your wife and the death of Khyrisse's son. We were able to bring back Skitch, but Cori..."

Character(s): Hari Yashida
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Shikinti Blue
Title of Post: A Little TOO Ironic... Doncha Think?

The spirit of the man who was once Hari Yashida tried to avoid wincing, didn't really succeed, and placed a hand on the side of his face. Mercifully, the dead did not weep.

"Cori... and I --- I have taken a geas to remain in this world until Chu-I Po is destroyed, and now my wife is with the ancestors of the Silver Crane Clan." He looked incredibly miserable.
Hou-Hsieh spoke to him, soothingly in Shikinti. Then, in Dalen: "The penagglion will be destroyed soon."
"And we'll save Jack," Val added. "I'm sure he'd want to see you."
"...Thank you, yes..." Hari said absently.

Character(s): Amatsu, Victoria Wilhemina Dare
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Shikinti Blue (KPKA)
Title of Post: Ask & Ye Shall Receive, Dougmaster

They looked up at the weather-worn, overgrown temple. "Remember," Amatsu said, "according to legend, there is only one thing which cannot be taken from out of this structure: knowledge of who the Forgotten Daimyo was. He placed a curse on any who would make his identity known."
"So he's famous for being anonymous? Worked for Joe Klein."
"Who?"
"I don't mean to be critical of the local architecture or anything, but this place doesn't seem to have any doors."
"Symbolic of protecting the daimyo's secrets. I did notice what looked like a potential entrance on the roof."
"Ginchy. Race you to the top!"
Vickie hopped up, grabbing hold of the wall, and, wondering at this woman, Amatsu followed a second later. "C'mon, Matsie! You're falling behind," she called to him, maybe five feet below her and ten feet to her left. Then an arrow struck the wall six inches from her head. "Of course, this could delay things a bit."
There was a ferocious screech as two riders on gryphons swooped towards them. Both were armed with daikyu and wore the full ninja blacksuit. "Black Serpent Clan," Amatsu said, instantly recognizing the symbols they wore as those of Chu-I Po's minions. "Get to the top to counter-attack," he said to Vickie, this one will delay them."
"But--"
"Trust me!" he implored. It did make tactical sense to attack from above -- and while not clinging to a wall. After a fraction of a second considering his statement, she continued towards the roof, readying a crossbow bolt even as she climbed.
The airborne ninja riders were closing in when a very large, very black, mostly human form emerged out of the wall, reaching to grab them. The gryphons pulled up, squawking, but too late, and they were enveloped in blackness...
...then a second later, emerged from out of the dark, flying through it like the shadow it was. By then, Amatsu Mikaboshi was hidden from sight, thanks to a more subtle use of the same ability. Lord Praxis would be proud, he thought as he continued to cover his presence with psios.
For her part, Amatsu's partner was just about at the top of the temple. Then, the stone her feet were perched on crumbled. She grabbed for the abuttment at the top of the wall, but came away with nothing but a handful of moss.
Then, Vickie Dare was tumbling backwards through empty air.

Character(s): Ebreth Tor; Jhaeran
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Shikinti Blue
Title of Post: Admissions

"How's it coming?" said Ebreth.
"I'm about half done." Khyrisse puffed air. "Grendel, but I have a lot of spells."
"The better to kick butt with." He grinned, but there were weary creases around his eyes. "Where are Vickie and Amatsu?"
"They went to infiltrate the temple." Khyrisse turned the page.
"Alone?"
"It seemed like they wanted some time together." Khyrisse shrugged. "Besides, this group has all the subtlety of a brass bed. If we all tried to infiltrate the temple, we might as well bring Haito's elephant." She looked at her spellbook. "And now that Praxis has restored my magic, I personally want to get these spells memorized as soon as possible. I'm sick of being a third-level fighter."
Ebreth nodded. He was standing in the silkscreened window, looking out at the Banelit courtyard, and his hand was unsteady on its sill. "Khyrisse," he whispered.
She stood up from her spellbook. "What? What is it?"
"I'm scared," he whispered.
She put her arms around him.
"He's got my friend, Khyrisse," whispered Ebreth.
"We'll get him out of there."

***


Jhaeran woke up in a blind sweat.
He had been dreaming about her.
Cursing in Diari, the priest struck his hand on the bedpost.

Character(s): Vickie Dare
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Jacks or Better to Open
Title of Post: The Mathematics of Falling

Vickie's hands were in her satchel the instant her feet lost contact with the mossy rock. Crampons... letter opener... hooded lantern... stapler... where the hell is that damn grappling hook? As she passed a stone statue jutting out from the wall, she kicked off against it, hoping to direct her descent away from the rubble below and into the center of the temple. If she couldn't find the grappler, she could at least land on a stable surface.
At that moment, something whizzed by Vickie's head. It was a rope tied to a stone, and it struck the statue just below the chin, bounced off, and wrapped itself around the statue's arm. One hell of a rebound shot, she thought.
Her gloved left hand reached for the rope and grabbed it, sliding down the length of the rope and into the courtyard.
Her savior was nowhere in sight, but three black-garbed ninja were. Their swords flashed bright in the Banelight.
"This is better," she said, falling into the Stance of the Coiled Tiger. "Keep me busy until Matsie gets in here."
From his hiding place, Jack Paris watched, and hoped the ninja wouldn't notice him...

Character(s): Vickie Dare
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: You Don't Know Jack!
Title of Post: Enjoy the Violence

Vickie Dare quickly assessed the situation, as Pluvious had tought her. Two opponents. Mercifully they had left the animals behind. Both fought two weapon style, each had a flat shikinti shortsword like Matsie's; one complimented this with a dagger, the other with a sai. Disrupt their plan, take the offensive.
She hurled a bola at one while reaching for a crossbow, her best weapon. The ninja tried to block it with his sai, and it tangled around his left arm, but his sword hand was still free.
Then his buddy stabbed her in the side. She tried to twist out of the way, but still, he got in a decent hack to her ribs. He raised his dagger and was about to bring the sword back for another slash when a blade emerged from his heart.
The Black Serpent dropped his weapons and fell to the stone floor. He did not stir.
"Thanks, Matsie," Vickie said, raising her crossbow and pointing at the second serpent. "Say cheese, pal."
Meanwhile, the third ninja had slipped into the shadows. He didn't recognize the occidental woman, but he certainly did know the man who had come to her rescue.
Rainmaker! I am going to savor this death for a long time.

Character(s): Vickie n' Matsie
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Jacks or Better
Title of Post: Paris Never Dies

Amatsu spun around in time to avoid getting the ninja-to right between the shoulder blades, but not in time to avoid getting hit, hard.
The other black serpent ninja dodged the bolt that Vickie Dare was about to fire -- only to discover too late that she wasn't aiming at him. Guessing (correctly) which side would be the more logical way to sidestep a missile weapon, she raised her aim and fired. The bolt struck the rope which held up a mold encrusted plant urn. Glancing up at where her shot had gone doomed the ninja, who was struck square in the face by the clay pot.
Amatsu slashed his opponent across the chest with his sword, and received a glancing blow to his head in return.
"Blasphemer!" Raiden Mikaboshi shouted menancingly, as he suddenly appeared, pointing at his descendant's enemy. "As one of the guardians of the Temple of the Forgotten Daimyo, I order you to desist!"
That froze the Serpent long enough for Amatsu to drive his blade through the man's abdomen, just as a crossbow bolt struck the enemy ninja, who keeled over, dead.
"Are you okay, Matsie?" Vickie Dare said.
"Yes. You are also injured---"
"Just a scratch. Hey, are you really one of those guardian spirits of the Temple of the Forgotten Daimyo?"
"No," Raiden said with his usual amount of pride, "I merely heeded the advice of the wise Sun-Tzu -- to always take advantage of the stupidity of an enemy." That was something of a paraphrase, Amatsu thought.
"You guys don't seem friendly with the Black Serpent Clan," a voice said. "Maybe you can help me." Amatsu uttered an oath.

Character(s): Jack, Vickie, Amatsu
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Jacks or Better to Open
Title of Post: The First Meeting

"Do I know you?" Jack asked Amatsu. "You're with the Rat Pack, right?"
"If you know the latter, you should know the former," Amatsu said. "Are you all right, Mr. Paris?"
"Aren't you supposed to have betrayed everyone?" Vickie asked, frowning at Jack.
"Um. No, no, I don't think so," Jack said. "I was told that people from the Rat Clan would be coming... but that doesn't mean that you're, uh, familiar."
"Doppleganger?" Vickie asked Amatsu.
"My senses indicate that it is indeed the strange, scentless Mr. Paris."
Jack sniffed at his arm. "Huh. In all the ruckus, I forgot to, uh... oh, never mind."
"If you are Jack Paris," Vickie said, "Say something that only Jack Paris would know."
"Um, how would you know if it was true if only Jack Paris would know it?"
Amatsu nodded. "It is indeed Jack Paris."
"Fine," Vickie shrugged. "Let's get him back to the boss. But I'm watching you, pal... no funny stuff."
Jack held his hands out, empty. "What am I going to do? Bore you to death?"
"If you're really Jack Paris," Vickie muttered to herself, "I hear tell that's possible."

Character(s): Khyrisse and Ebreth
Author: Kristin L'Kar Andersen and Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Flashba-- uh, Paris
Title of Post: Dreams and Shadows

Khyrisse came struggling out of her dreams, with the vivid sensation of finally breaking the surface of a dark lake. Her lungs burned; her eyes were full of water. Someone had her by the shoulders and was shaking her, she couldn’t tell which way was up. Luthien! She had a brief moment of panic and tried to free herself, panting. “No!” She heard the heavy thud of her spellbook hitting the floor and struggled harder.
“Khyrisse.” A completely different voice than Luthien’s, dead or alive. “Khyrisse, honey, wake up, you’re dreaming.”
Khyrisse blinked wildly. Ebreth, already dressed, swam into focus. Early morning sunlight was coming through the window behind him.
She exhaled hard. Her hands fell from his wrists. “Ebreth,” she whispered raggedly. “I’m sorry.” Khyrisse massaged her bare left wrist, looking down at it. ...I can’t even tell him. I can’t tell anyone. Without warning, she burst into tears.
Ebreth held her and stroked her hair gently as she cried on his shoulder. “Shhh, baby, I know. It's okay, it's all right, I know.”
“I cry over every little thing now,” she complained through her tears, a little embarrassed. “My nerves are just shot.”

***


Khyrisse bent down and picked up her spell book from the floor next to the bed. “Oh! Ebreth!”
“Hmm?” He turned away from the window, coffee cup in his hand. He didn’t sleep well again, I can tell. I’m definitely weaving those spells into his Yule present. One last enchantment before the baby’s born.
“I can fix your ring now.”
Ebreth dropped the brilliant blue circle into her hand. Khyrisse placed one of her gold coins from Trade next to it. Smiling, she sketched a symbol in the air over the two, and the stone and metal turned liquid and swirled together; mingling without blending, like oil and water, inside the shimmering circular barrier on her palm.
Khyrisse looked down at it happily, the energy of the spell tingling on the surface of her skin, dancing along her veins like her own heartbeat. She played with the magical matrix of the intermingled gold and precious stone, adjusting the design until it suited her-- an abstract pattern a little like the rosettes of leopard spots, shimmering in gold over the surface of the lapis lazuli. “Ebreth,” she murmured, her head still bent over the solidifying ring, while she let it cool. “I wanted to ask you...” Khyrisse took a deep breath. “You’re still having dreams like the one I wandered into, while you were with the Remnant, aren’t you?”
Ebreth sighed and rubbed his neck. “That was one of the better ones, Khyrisse.”
“Oh, Ebreth...” she whispered, closing her hand on the ring. He looked up in time to catch her pained look.
“But it's morning now, and we, we're all right now, you and I.” He touched her hair, gently. “Aren't we?”
She smiled, a little sadly, and caught his hand in hers, placing a light kiss in his palm. “I’m always better when you’re here,” Khyrisse admitted softly. She swallowed then, holding down the shiver that wanted to race up her spine. “Ebreth... You said that having me in the dream with you... you told me that knowing I was there helped you. Would it help to have me dream with you again?” Ebreth looked at her in blank surprise. “You look so tired lately, lover. I just wondered if there was anything I could do.”
“Khyrisse, thank you,” he whispered, visibly touched. “Thank you for wanting to do something like that for me, but I can't, I'm not ready to--there are things that happened to me, Khyrisse, I'm not ready to talk about them yet. I'm sorry. You deserve to know these things, I'm just, I can't.”
“Ebreth... you don’t have to tell me anything until you’re ready. You don’t have to tell me at all-- only if you want to.” She folded his fingers carefully around the still-warm ring, then leaned forward and kissed him. “Your ring, s’parde-vois,” Khyrisse said with an impish little smile, changing the subject. “Wear it in good health... or I’ll have to come blow someone to kingdom come.”

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