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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 My Friends, Part IV



Character(s): Garal, Khyrisse, Rhynwa, NMDH
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: Happy Birthday! Go to Hell, Springfield!
Title of Post: The Day all of my friends got together and talked about killing me

"They're waiting for us. Jack's having a fit."
"This will just take a few minutes," Rhynwa said.
"Don't worry, Garal," Khyrisse said soothingly. "We'll be on the high seas soon enough."
Rhynwa opened the door and Khyrisse saw that Waterloo, Tila and Praxis were waiting. "Thank you both for coming," Praxis spoke. "I've asked you here to have a brief chat. About Luthien the Dead."
Garal winced at the name of Ember's killer. "That might not be a very short talk," Khyrisse was saying.
"Frankly, I think the whole idea is absurd," Tila opined. "Fiurst of all, underneath all the phony macho bullshit, Luthien is the world's biggest teddy bear." Rhynwa smiled a bit. "Secondly, he hates undead. He hates the thought of being undead. He's looking forward to dying, for heaven's sake!"
"It seems that the future Luthien the Lich Lord may literally not be the man we know. He's from an alternate version of Ataniel."
"Well alternate worlds can--" Tila launched into a brief testimonial that would have done Siobhan proud.
"She's right about one thing," Praxis said, "our Luthien hates the thought of being undead. He once told me he wanted us to kill him if it ever came to that. There's obviously no simple way to kill an archmage, but there may be a way to make it easier."
"Do tell," Khyri said, her interest quite piqued.
"Well, I don't want to go into too much technical detail..."
"Bullshit. Praxis, when have you ever not wanted to go into huge amounts of detail?"
"Thank you, Tila. The short version is this: Magic is a natural force, like gravity or fire. To cast spells or other effects, you just need to know how to control that force."

"More or less," Khryrisse replied.
"Necromancy is a little different. Most necromantic spells, and most undead latent powers are extradimensional. Theyt come from the necrromancer or undead being having a connection to the negative material plane. Cut off that connection, you can cut down the being's power. I've seen it affect vampires. Theoretically a lich could be affected, too."
"Very interesting. But how does one isolate a lich onto the prime material plane?"
"I could do it. Luthien the Dead might have defenses against that, but a being so inherently magical might not be able to ward off a psionic attack of that kind. However, I'm told that the Rat Pack might have a different way, theoretically, of weakening Luthien the Dead."
"That's where you come in, little big guy," Waterloo said, looking right at Garal with a big grin on her face. The halfling gulped as all eyes focused on him...

Character(s): Garal
Author: Eric Gasior
Storyline: Inbetween Days
Title of Post: The Inspirational Speaker Is Convincing

Garal took a moment to regain his composure "Well... I can think of a few ways. I could adapt a method I use for travel out of the Prime Material or the way I get into pocket dimensions. It might be best if I caught up with Luthien and the others now. Is there any way I can find them?"

Character(s): The Rat and other folks
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Inbetween Days
Title of Post: Adventures of the Rodent-Kind

The Rat was exploring again. This new place was full of wonderful smells that he just couldn't resist. Additonally there were new people, the good kind, around. Maybe he could finally come out of hiding.
The Rat found a particularly nice place to rest. It was a tangeled mess with tons of stuff in which to make a nest. The Rat started to do so.
"Umm Dad," said Khyrisse looking oddly at Derek.
"Hmm..." he answered.
Khyrisse pointed to his mop of chaotic hair which was moving of its own accord.
Derek looked confused for a moment then put his hand through his hair removing the Rat from his nest building.
"What the.." he said.
"Thank you," the rodent squeaked.
Everyone around the table burst into laughter.

Character(s): Skitch
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Inbetween Days: New Trade, New Trade
Title of Post: Party Tricks

"Aah!" shouted Skitch, clapping both his hands over his ears. "What are you doing!"
"We're ululating," said Tila and Siobhan.

Character(s): Jack and Khyrisse
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen and Douglass Barre
Storyline: Inbetween Days: New Trade, New Trade
Title of Post: Dear Oh Dear

Um, Khyrisse, did you remember to send that message to Uncle Asinus?
Khyrisse covered her eyes briefly. Merde. No, no, thats okay, Ill use the dream spell I was going to use to visit Dad.
Jack blinked at her. Are you sure you really want to go mucking about in there...?
She grinned wryly back at him. ...No.
"I mean, it's probably not dangerous, but you might want to have a hot bath and change of clothes ready for afterwards..."
Khyrisse laughed.

Character(s): Khyrisse, quatrigenarian rhopalocerienne
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Inbetween Days: New Trade, New Trade
Title of Post: Decisions, Decisions

Khyrisse yawned and cast an unseen servant to clean up the mess. The room began merrily upending itself, and she walked to the window, skirt swishing oddly against her legs. She turned the arrow over in her hands. One more year... One more year until what? One more year left to do what? Was it meant for me, or for the Sewer Tour, or S.O.L., or the Rat Pack?
She looked out the window, at the sharply increasing slope of the land as it swept up into the mountains dividing northern and southern Ataniel. The pass through them-- the only pass through them, that she knew of-- began less than a mile from here, hardly more than a goat trail. The moonlight sparkled oddly on the snow, and she shivered a little. Out in the dark, in the freezing cold, under the light of Bane, with a psychotic archer possibly looking for me. Forget it. I may be crazy, but not that crazy. She looked down at the arrow in her hands and walked back to put it on her desk. She sighed and gently tapped the items waiting for her there, a small silver box and its mate, the silver flask Luthien had prepared for her. Ill do something about you later, when I come back to New Trade... at the turn of the year, mabye. There are too many good reasons that it would be a bad idea right now.
It was very quiet in the inn when she crept down the hallway to Ebreths room. She pushed the door open and peeked cautiously in. She could see Marty in the light of the dimmed lamp, oblivious on the couch; Ebreth was asleep in the bed. No awkward visitors tonight, thank goodness... Poor Cori, though.
Ebreths ragged breathing and the traces of tears made her close her eyes for a moment. I was afraid of that. On tiptoe, she moved a chair to a spot near the door and sat down. Well, if it was ethical to cast it for Jenny, its equally ethical to cast it for Ebreth, isnt it? Khyrisse balanced her notes for New Trade on her lap, then looked over them at Ebreths troubled face, and cast her emotion spell.
Hope shouldnt be such a difficult thing to concentrate on, for once, Khyrisse thought with a determined little smile, and attacked her list of letters to write for the morning. Lets see, one for Signet about the Institute opening a branch in New Trade; one for Waterloo about speaking there, to balance him out; one for Praxis about the feasibility of classes about/in psionics; one for Tila about buying a building in her capitals business district; one for Karel about the old office in Tremontagne; a letter for him to take to Miyrr... Grendel, I need a secretary.

Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Inbetween Days: The Slow Road Home
Title of Post: Dreaming of Strength

In his dream he kissed her and said "Cori, I already have a woman, and I don't know where I stand with her but she means too much to me to turn my back on her until I know. Please understand." And she nodded and said "I do."
In his dream he said "That man was once me and I know I must take responsibility for him. What he did was wrong and I am so very sorry, Lora." And she said "I understand."
In his dream he stood straight as a man and touched her with a hand that did not tremble and he said "The past is behind us now. Now it is time for the future." And she said "Yes."
And then the bottom gave out and he fell back into nightmare.

Character(s): Khyrisse and Asinus
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen and Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Preparations
Title of Post: Mucking About

Khyrisse appeared on the deck of a ship in her birthday halter and skirt, iridescent wings flaring as she stepped backwards in surprise. There was a naval battle going on around her.
The enemy ship was manned with undead. Khyrisse stared at it for a moment, the sound of cannons roaring in her ears. She realized that she recognized their leader, just moments before she heard the voice of the person shed been looking for.
"Ah! Come to help drive back the scurvy horde, m'dear?"
Khyrisse blinked and looked at the captain. Taller than she (wasnt everybody?), thin, dark curly hair and mustache... a fairly good-looking man.
With a cigar.
Khyrisse grinned, a little dazedly. "Any way I can!" She pointed at the enemy captain as she walked towards Asinus. "Isn't that Arturian?"
"Yeah, flarkin' bastard. Hey, math boy! More on the cannons!"
Jack, obviously the cabin boy, scurried past. "Yes, sir, whatever you say, sir."
Khyrisse gave a shout of laughter at this. She got herself under control after a moment, and looked across at... what must be the Remnant. Although she didnt think Arturian was the one leading them, in real life.
"Well, let me see if I can give the cannon a little help, shall I?" Magic danced over the wood, just above the waterline. The next shot to hit Arturian's ship set the entire hull on fire in an explosive rush, as if it had had been soaked in oil. Khyrisse grinned fiercely. Dream magic is always more fun-- you can bend the rules all you want! "That was the first spell I ever learned," she murmured.
"And you learned it damned well! If you ever want to captain a ship, I'm the guy to see."
Arturian was glowing with energy and rising into the air from the burning ship, looking ...rather scary, actually. Uh oh.
"Allow me." Asinus picked up an intricately carved longbow, nocked an arrow-- and shot it right into Arturian's crotch.
Khyrisse burst out laughing as Arturian shrieked in a nastily soprano voice and fell back down onto the deck.
"I was internationally ranked with this, you know," Asinus said, almost pensively, laying the bow down gently. Khyrisse touched it carefully, turning it to study the woodcarving. An expensive piece of work.
"It's beautiful. You're a great shot."
"Years of practice. But you didn't come here to, ah, 'fondle my bow', I assume."
Khyrisse smiled impishly and looked briefly up into the rigging. "No, I came to talk to you. The crisis in Salagia is over. We're on our way to the islands, as fast as we can."
"You missed me, didn't you?" he grinned. "Is Jack sure he doesn't want to run by and liberate Cynystra or Kyoko-Ra on the way?"
"No sir! Swabbing the deck, sir!" Jack said.
Khyrisse laughed again. "Well, I'd be all for liberating Cynystra, Grendel knows, but that's for another day. No, we'll be there tomorrow, provided nothing else world-shattering happens." She rolled her eyes. "Give Salagia a miss, Asinus."
"Tell me about it. Last time I was there, I had to unearth the lost Mind Gem. Ended up fighting a whole horde of robots left around from the Tychotic Era."
"I've never seen Skitch so consistently filthy... Poor kid!" She tilted her head and looked at Asinus thoughtfully. "So this is what you really look like, huh?"
"No, unfortunately. I really look like a donkey." Asinus grinned and winked at her. "I'll tell Caimen and Lora and we'll make sure to have the works ready for you. Hot baths and all."
"Heating the water, sir!"
Khyrisse grinned back. "You're terrible. Jack's really been worried about you all, I swear. He's been leading the Rat Pack, too. So don't be too hard on him when we arrive."
"No wonder it's taking you so long. But the Remnant'll still be around when you arrive, so I guess no harm done."
"It didn't even take the two weeks we expected," she pointed out, hopping up to sit on the rail. "I think he did pretty well."
"Well, at least he didn't lose anyone. We can use all the help we can get against those bastards." He gestured to the sinking ship, with Arturian waggling his hand and squeaking curses.
Khyrisse closed her eyes briefly, face very still. "Well, not all of us will be coming to the islands," she said quietly. "Alphred has to stay in Salagia, and Tarrin has to go home to his family..."
"Well, as long as you're still coming, we'll do okay. Lora's been dying to meet you."
Khyrisse blinked, putting the thought of Ember aside for the moment. "Really?"
"Hell, yeah. She's a merchant too. Probably wants to talk shop. I think she's just sick of all the flarkin' men around here."
"I know that feeling," she said, with a wry grin. "Sounds like fun! Wow. Mabye I can get some more work done for New Trade, while I'm there..." She shook her head a little. "Well, wish me happy birthday, Asinus," Khyrisse said, jumping down again and looking up at him with a little smile. "I turned forty today."
"And you don't look a day over thirty-nine and a half. Happy birthday, chickie-babe."
"I look a lot worse than this in real life," she shot back, still grinning. But thanks."
Asinus looked briefly uncomfortable, as if he wanted to say something, and couldnt decide to go ahead and do it. Fortunately, Arturian distracted Khyrisse by sinking, with an embarrassingly high-pitched burbling, in the wreckage of his ship. Khyrisse lost it in a fit of the giggles, holding onto the rail next to her.
"You think this is good, you should see my dreams on an up night," Asinus told her.
"I'll try to be more entertaining, sir!" Jack said.
Wiping her eyes, Khyrisse replied, "I'll have to make a habit of visiting them more often, then..."
Under his breath, too low for Khyrisse to hear, Asinus muttered, "You already do."
"I have to go... Anything I should tell the others?"
"Tell 'em not to drink the water."
"We drank most of the alcohol in this place last night, I don't know what else is left." Smiling, Khyrisse waved to Asinus and disappeared in a multicolored cloud of phantom butterflies.
Asinus looked thoughtfully at where shed been standing. "Hm. That must've been real... last time she was naked."

Character(s): Asinus Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: A Donkey With An Idea Is A Dangerous Thing

Asinus woke up from the dream in the donkeyest equivalent of a sweat.
Pulling a robe over his shoulders with his teeth, he nuzzled the stall door open and stepped out into his suite. He pulled a stogie from the rack and pressed it to the fire stone. Cigar smoke trailing like a steam train, he stormed down the hall.
A door opened, and Caimen stuck his head out.
"Asinus, what in Darion's name are you doing up at four in the morning?"
"I got business. Go back to bed."
Asinus continued downstairs, trotted across the compound, and finally headed out to the docks.
After kicking the hell out of a drunken sailor who found it amusing that a donkey liked cigars, he finally made it to his destination, the Seaman's Teind. The Teind was a place where the sailors who manned the Paris family ships "payed their dues", as they liked to call it. Asinus called it "boozing up", but it was just what he needed.
"Ay, Rico!" he shouted at the bartender.
"Mistah Asinoos!" the bartender said, looking up. "What can I do fah yoo?"
"Get a piece of paper and take a flarkin' letter."
"Yoo dah boss," Rico said.
"It needs to go out tomorrow on the Mermaid's Song," Asinus said. "That won't be a problem, will it?"
"No problem, Mistah Asinoos."
"Okay. Start it, 'Hey, you flarkin' bastard...' "

Character(s): Khyrisse, Skitch, and Valende
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Preparations
Title of Post: Meeting-the-Family Jitters

Skitch popped back into her room as a very sleepy Khyrisse was getting her bath stuff together. "All delivered!" he announced, flopping onto the bed. "I shoved the letters under the doors, hardly anybody's up yet. Wow, Val's acting really funny. She nearly ran me over in the hallway coming from the bath, and it's like I was invisible. She's a million miles away."
Khyrisse thought about this for a minute, then grinned. "Was she getting dressed up?"
Skitch cocked his head. "Yeah, she had one of those pretty, uniform-type outfits with her."
"Val's meeting Jack's family today. I'll bet she's nervous. Oh, that reminds me-- if you get a bath, you can wear your nicest outfit."
"Cool!" Skitch grabbed a towel and raced out of the room.
"And I want you on your best behavior when we get there, remember!"

***


Skitch popped his head into Valende's room, where she was turning circles in front of the mirror, checking the fall of a cream-colored tunic embroidered in dark green. "Hey Valende, are you nervous?"
Val jumped half a foot. She turned and looked at Skitch with an amused glare. "No, I am not nervous, you scamp. Go get your bath."
Skitch vanished with a laugh.
"Nervous?" Valende murmured, trying to pin her hair up-- for the third time that morning. "No, not so you'd notice..."

Character(s): Ebreth Tor and Good Old Reliable Jack Paris
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Inbetween Days: New Trade, New Trade
Title of Post: November In The Northlands

"Good morning, Ebreth," said Jack. The ex-slaver was leaning against the inn window looking out into the grey November sky, shuddering. "Is something wrong?"
"I can't breathe." He thumped himself on the chest with his shaking hand.
"Can I help?"
"I don't know." He gasped raggedly for air. "Damn it but I used to--used to like a foggy morning. Watch the mist rolling off the water. God damn." He shook his head. "I'm a fucking wreck. In the--Ar'xhay. It's always overcast there. There's no sense of time. Devils come to work at nine sharp and they leave the minute the whistle blows at five, but in the Ar'xhay you never know when the fuck that is. You wake up in the morning and you don't know if it's four-thirty or eight-forty-five. You're always just waiting. God damn."
"At the sound of the beep," said Jack, "it will be nine-twenty-six and thirty seconds." Jack beeped. Ebreth laughed shakily, holding his face in one hand. "No kidding," said the mathematician. "You can set your watch by me."
"I know, Jack," said Ebreth, softly, and shuddered a little. "I've noticed that."

Character(s): Rat Pack and Guests
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Inbetween Days/Reclamation
Title of Post: Special Delivery III

The group of Rat Packers and New Mithril Dagger Heroes milled together in the inn's common room before they would part ways.
"Great party," said Tila. "Even though I didn't have sex."
Numerous chuckles erupted from the party at Tila's remark. As they laughed the innkeeper came up to the group. "Pardon me," he said gaining everyone's attention. "It has come to my attention that four packages came for you during the night."
"Who from?" asked Khyrisse suspicously.
"The gentleman didn't identify himself. He just made it very clear that the packages were to be delivered."
"Who were they for?" asked Signet with the glee of a child expecting a present.
"Umm let me see," the innkeeper said grabbing the four small bundles out of his pockets.
"Umm... Rhynwa."
The clearic of death raised her hand and was givin the bundle.
"Praxis."
The package was handed over.
"Khyrisse."
The merchant shook her head, not at all surprised, and took the item.
"And let's see... Luthien."
"I'm his wife," said Rhynwa. "I will take it for him."
At first the innkeeper looked like he wasn't going to hand the package over, but he soon acquiesced.
"What do you think it is Praxis?" asked Max.
The psionicist scanned the item. "It's a Diari message crystal."
The three of them opened the bundles and indeed each contained a single quartz crystal. Khyrisse fingered the crystal and its message flooded into her mind.

Khyrisse Starshadow,
It has come to my attention that you will be attempting to restablish a version of Trade. I offer you a rare opportunity. Diaria wishes to open its borders a crack to outside trade. It is my opinion that doing so via your new city would be the best way to achieve this. I invite you to come to Diaromyn to discuss arrangements at your earliest convenience. This crystal will be your passport, do not lose it. Enter Diarni via the city of Kardani. From there you will be escorted to the interior.
Sincerely, The Regent of Diarni (Western Diaria)

Khyrisse awoke to see everyone staring at her.
"Well?" asked Signet impatiently.
"It is a message all right. What does yours say?" she asked Praxis and Rhynwa.
The two of them touched their crystals. A small light emanated from within. After a brief moment the light died, the message delivered.
"Hmmm..." said Praxis.
"Shit, I have been invited to Diaria." said Rhynwa. "You?" she asked Praxis and Khyrisse.
Both nodded an affirmation.
"I don't need this," said Khyrisse matter of factly.

Character(s): Ebreth Tor, freaking Luthien out in absentia a little more
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Inbetween Days: Crystal Messages
Title of Post: Friends In High Places

"Another threat?" said Ebreth, trying not to sound as short of breath as he was.
"Political overtures from Diaria," sighed Khyrisse. "I don't know when I've received such a vague, mysterious, unhelpful communique, either. This is either Shilree or it's a trap."
"Probably both," said Rhynwa. "Gordon, honey, you're spilling syrup all over the floor."
The boy gave her a sleepy look. He'd been up way past his bedtime last night. Rhynwa sighed and knelt with a napkin. "No, no, don't step. You're going to get your new church shoes dirty. Pick him up, could you?"
"Sure," said Ebreth.
"Trade with Diaria," sighed Khyrisse. "It is tempting... Mabye in my copious free time."
"We can visit Tarrin!" cried Skitch. "Tarrin, will you come visit us in Diarni when we go to do diplomat stuff?"
"Yes, little Skitch. Only let me know when. My family and I will be happy to meet you there."
"Can we, mom, please? We can all go when we're finished helping Jack! It can be like a vacation!"
Diaria is not a vacation. Khyrisse looked at Tarrin's smiling face and didn't say it. "Mabye," she said. "We still have to help Cori. Mabye we can stop off in Diaria in between."
"DiarNI," corrected Skitch. "That's Western Diaria."
"I--think maybe I'd better skip that one," said Ebreth, softly. "I think I'm still on Diaria's Most Wanted, and they have a pretty fast execution track there."
Khyrisse whistled. "Well, you can wait for us in Nylevia. It wouldn't be a bad idea to have someone keeping an eye on us from outside anyway. If this does turn out to be a trap, you could go for help."
"Oh, if the government's pulling stuff on you, I'll come in." Ebreth set the child down as Rhynwa finished wiping up the spill. "I have plenty of, ah, powerful contacts in Diaria, I just don't think it would do wonders for your diplomatic position to call them in. If they abduct you or something all bets are off. But I don't want to associate you with the Diari mafia if I don't have to, and since my other choice is probably the death penalty, I think I'll stay out of Diaria unless there's a crisis."
"What?" said Tarrin, perplexed. "There is no Diari mafia!"
"Tarrin," said Ebreth, "you are so naive."
"But I bet they're the best mafia in the whole world," offered Skitch.
"Actually," said Ebreth, "just about."

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