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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
Passage, Part I

Character(s): people whose names all end in vowels
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: R.I.P.

"So, what do you do to redeem the honor of the house now?" Vickie whispered to him.
"I believe I have an idea," Amatsu replied, looking at the rest of the Rat Pack. Then his attention was drawn to Hari Yashida, who sighed and began to fade.
"Arigato," the ghost said quietly. "Please give my thanks to Lady Haito." With one last glance at Amatsu, Hari diappeared.
Shikintu, the whole world was gone... but one person stood before him. "Cori..."

Character(s): Ebreth, Valende, Rani
Author: Laura Redish, with input from Kristin L'Kar Andersen
Storyline: WAHP: That Damn Passage
Title of Post: Complications

The undead head of Chu-I Po hissed into sanctified stillness as Valende ritually poured the last of the holy water over its glassy eyes.
"Excuse me," said Rani, her face unevenly flushed and her eyes downcast, and pocketed a piece of the intestine Amatsu had severed from the ground near Garal's feet.
"Valende," said Ebreth, low.
"Huh," the elven priestess replied, frowning at the vampire's form as it crumbled to dust. "You know, that went surprisingly quickly. You'd think a powerful unique undead entity would have more spells, or special attacks, or something."
"Val."
"It was almost like he was being--distracted, somehow."
"Valende." She finally looked at him, and he jerked his head at the door Jack had gone through. "A little help here?"

***


Val moved tentatively into the hall, where the mathematician was leaning against the wall, his thin frame shaking. It was the same exhaustion she had seen in her own Jack not long before he snapped. "Jack?" she tried, putting her hand softly on his shoulderblade. He didn't pull away. "Is--there anything I can do?"

***


"Sounds like we need to go through this Passage, then!" said Vickie, and grinned. "You guys sure do get spiff adventures."
"Not until Jack tells me what it is," said Khyrisse, with resignation.
"I thought you didn't want to know what it was," said Vas, his eyes twinkling mischieviously, and ducked out of the way of her whap.
"If he expects me to go through it, I do. Little things like where we're going and how, what we should expect to find on the other side..."
Rani hadn't given up trying to understand what Jack was, exactly, but she was certainly at what she would call an impasse. She knew the Paris family pretty well by now, though. "They're not going to tell us that," she said, with reasonable certainty.
"Jack will," said Khyrisse firmly. "He'd better. Because if he doesn't, my people, and my Carriage, don't budge. Period."
Vas blinked. "My--lady?"
"If this Jack doesn't trust me enough to tell me even as little as what I'm flying into, Vas, I--can't trust him with any of the lives I'm responsible for." She spoke simply, but something in the way she folded her arms signalled finality to Rani. "We've done what we need to here. Let's get the others and head back to Praxis'. We can get some healing and some rest there, and talk about this again in the morning, but unless this new Jack is willing to level with us this is as far as the Rat Pack goes."
Vas nodded a little, sympathetically.
Ebreth put both his hands in his pockets. "Then I'm--going on without you, Khyrisse," he said.
She turned her head quickly, her eyes suddenly very fragile.
"I don't care what it is," he said, "I don't care where it goes. It can't be worse than places he's been for me. You don't have to come with me." He looked away. "None of you do. This is my fight. I said I was going to take this guy down and I--finish what I start."
"Ebreth," she said, throttled.
"Um," whispered Jack, from the doorway of the pagoda, where he and Val were standing together. Valende had gone white as a sheet.
Rani had just known these people couldn't make it an entire day without some psychodrama or other.

Character(s): Majji, Sheik Al'Harran
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Reclamation: Movement of Fire and Shadow
Title of Post: The First Hint of Trouble

The trek through the Shadowlands was slow going at best. A week after Majji and Sheik Al'Harran left the flat blasted area they called the plains, they entered a hilly region they dubbed the foothills. However, the land was strange. Its contours seemed almost non-Euclidean. Paths that looked to be sloping up usually did the opposite. It made travel painfully difficult.
It was another week before they saw any sign of life. Plants, like nothing anyone had ever seen, started to appear. They were sparse at first, but soon became more plentiful.
"Looks like the land is not quite dead as we were told," remarked Sheik Al'Harran.
"These plants mean nothing," said Majji. "Yes they are strange, but they can simply be mutations of ordinary seeds that blew into the area after Shadow left."
Al'Harran plucked a surreal looking thistle from the ground and waved it under Majji's nose.
"You are telling me that this is just a new breed of flower?"
Majji didn't answer and Sheik Al'Harran threw the flower down with disgust.
"Come on," he said. "I want to try to reach that hill before nightfall."

Character(s): {{Jack Paris}}, Valende
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Before the Grand Finally
Title of Post: Sometimes Getting What You Want Doesn't Help A Bit

Jack was denying when Val came out to talk to him.
"Jack... is everything okay?"
Jack looked up, almost surprised. "What? Oh, sure. Yeah. Just caught off guard, you know? I... I didn't mean to worry anyone. I'm fine now."
Valende knew that "fine" wasn't a word that meant fine to Jack Corfa Paris, but wasn't even sure if using that knowledge was fair to this Jack. This Jack, that Jack, my Jack... I don't know what I'm supposed to think about this anymore!
Jack must have caught the pause, because he was apologizing again. "No, come on, let's go back, I'm sure you guys want to catch breath and all. I need to get back to Paris Island and tell Caimen and Lora what we learned."
"Don't you think we should try to simulate the Passage? That's where Po said that Ælwyn had taken Jack... uh, your Other Jack..."
"Oh, I couldn't ask that of you guys..." Jack said. "You've already done enough for me, helping avenge Cori and all... I don't want to be a burden."
Val grabbed Jack by the collar. "If you try to ditch us one more time, Jack Corfa Paris, I'm going to nail your feet to the carriage board, got it?"
"Yes, ma'am," Jack said.
Flushed, Val let go, still tense, and followed Jack back into the chamber of Chu-I Po.
Khyrisse was frowning, and Jack immediately wondered what he had done to annoy her so quickly.
"I'm... I'm afraid I'm with Ebreth here, ma'am," Mina said with sincere regret. "I know I'm new to travelling with you all, and I do want to help in whatever way I can with your adventures, but I can't leave my cousin in the Remnant clutches."
"What's the problem here?" Valende asked, suspicious.
"Um, we're not allowed to go out adventuring until Jack tells us where to go," Marty offered.
"That is not..." Khyrisse started, then took a calming breath.
"Not now, Marty," Ebreth warned.
"You mean about the Passage?" Jack asked. "I didn't--"
Valende stepped on his foot. Hard.
"We need to know what you know before we can commit to tossing ourselves through some Paris device to who-knows-where."
"Oh, that's easy," Jack said. "The Passage is at a planar/spacial vector of .24 by .53 by 1.91, with a relative energy/work distance of 98.21 arcanojoules."
Everyone gave Jack an uncannily similar look that consisted of equal parts incomprehension, confusion and hanging-open mouths.
"Which puts us where?" Khyrisse sighed.
"About a hundred arcano--"
"When we get there," she clarified.
"Um. No idea. I just have the coordinates. The bending of time/space in a magical continuum--"
"Can you give us a direction, Jack?" Val asked.
Jack shrugged and pointed down.
"This is going to be fun," Vickie smiled.

Character(s): Marty, Mina
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Don't Talk To Me About Continuity Until May 13th

"Hey," Marty said to Mina, "When did you guys get here?"
"While Jack was moping in the hall, we came in the back way."
"Not paying attention again, is he?"
"Give him a break, he's been twelve days without comics."
"Ooh. Harsh."

Character(s): Khyrisse, Vas, Val, Skitch
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: WAHP: PIKA
Title of Post: Dux Femina Facti

Khyrisse looked where Jack was pointing for a long, silent moment. She was forcibly keeping her expression neutral, and the tension made her features sharper than ever. Skitch was suddenly, for no reason he could figure out, reminded of his mother’s name-story. He swallowed a hysterical fit of the giggles at the last second.
“I hate secrets,” she whispered finally, in elven.
“Khyrisse,” Vas replied gently in the same language. “You have secrets yourself.”
He would know, wouldn’t he? “I don’t ask the people around me to risk everything for my secrets, though, do I?” she said, turning her head to look at him. Her face was calm, but her eyes were dark and angry. “And if I did, I’d have the courtesy to tell them what they were doing it for.” Her mouth twisted bitterly. “Even Wyvern did better than this.”
“So, like, does that mean we can go?” said Marty cluelessly.
Khyrisse took a deep breath and held it for a moment, before sighing explosively. She switched back to Dalen. “Look, I’m going to say this once, people. I’m leading, okay, but the whip’s for the Carriage. I don’t have the patience or the inclination to make everyone’s personal decisions for them. If people want to leave to pursue their own goals, that’s fine; as long as they tell me, and it’s not in combat. But where my--” Family, Khyri? Not quite accurate, is it? “--House... and my personal resources go is up to me.”
“So you’re not going,” Val whispered, still rather pale.
“I don’t. Know,” Khyrisse bit out. “I need to think. If we have to go right this instant, then ...my answer is still no.”
Val grabbed at the nearest reasonable excuse. “Many of us need healing or rest-- and I think we’re rather low on magic?” She raised an eyebrow at Vas, who nodded. “We wouldn’t be terribly effective if we went now. We should spend the night at the Order of Redemption.”
“Fine.” Khyrisse spotted Skitch lurking in the doorway and summoned up a rather wan smile. “Skitch, go tell Flicker that we’re all right, and Chu-I Po is dead. We’ll be leaving shortly.” Skitch sped off. “And can we loot the place before we go, please?” she sighed, to no one in particular. “Let the bad guys finance the Rat Pack for a change.”

Character(s): {{Jack}}, Khyrisse
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: More a Grand Finally than a Grand Finale
Title of Post: The Walk Home

Jack caught up with the elven mage as they wandered out of Po's citadel.
"Um, Khyrisse," he said. "Look, I don't want you to feel like you're obligated to do this... I know it's not your concern, and from what I hear, you've done so much to help me and mine already. I just want you to know that I'll respect whatever decision you make."
Khyrisse said nothing, but her body seemed to sigh.
"Look, uh, before you do go, though," Jack continued, "I, um, got some prophecies about the Rat Pack. You probably don't want to know all about that right this minute, but I wrote them down. As the head of this family, I figure you're the one I ought to pass them on to."
Jack held out a scroll.
"Anyway, thanks for helping with Po. This was something very important to me... uh, doubly so now that Cori is... gone. As far as I'm concerned, you've already gone above and beyond the call."
"Thank you, Jack," Khyrisse said.
Jack shrugged. "I didn't do anything."
"Yes, yes you did."

Character(s): Majji, Sheik Al'Harran
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Reclamation: Movement of Fire and Shadow
Title of Post: Thoughts by a Campfire

Majji and Al'Harran sat across from each other, the campfire between them providing a modicum of warmth. As the two of them traveled closer inland the nights were getting colder and colder. Al'Harran felt the very land was telling them that they were not welcome here.
The Sheik eyed the Sister of Pysyri. She looked worried. Earlier that day they had found the remains of some humanoid creature. Neither he nor the psi-witch had ever seen it likes before. Still, now that he knew the Shadowlands weren't dead he could prepare. In his heart he felt the push of fate and destiny. He knew they had reached rani and to fight what must be would be futile.

Character(s): Rani, Jhaeran
Author: Jeff Hersh and Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Prelude To A Finale
Title of Post: Jhaeran Tries To Get In Rani's Genes

Jhaeran joined the battered and weary-looking group in Lord Praxis' courtyard, greeting their leader in polite Elvish as he took his seat. He doubted attending to Lady Starshadow first was fooling anyone into thinking he hadn't come out here to speak with Rani, but he had stopped caring. He had been thinking about her all night and all day now, and he had to do something. Jhaeran cleared his throat. "I have a--proposition for you," he said, across the low tea table.
"Really?" said Rani, innocently. "In front of all these people?"
He ignored it. "Come back with me. To Diaria. I--have great influence in the House of Pysyri. The Church gestalt can heal you. What we should have done years ago, instead of irresponsibly trying to drown you like a rat. We can--remove--your non-Diari half, Rani. I would do this, for you. Come home. With me."
She looked at him for a full minute and a half, her lips a bit open, and then she leaned forward across the table to him. "That is a wonderful idea," she breathed, her face inches from his. "And then after that I can--remove--your inconvenient male apparatus, and we can live happily, ever, after."
Jhaeran pushed violently back from the table, his face flushed. "Woman, I am offering you--"
"You are offering me," she hissed, "something I do not want. In fact, Jhaeran. You are offering me several things I do not want." She whirled and stalked away.

Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Prelude To A Finale
Title of Post: Was That Supposed To Be A Pass?...

Ebreth blinked after Jhaeran in confusion as the Diari psychologist left the courtyard with gritted teeth.
That, he decided, was the single most boneheaded attempt at a pass I have ever seen. He looked at Marty. Including manual winking.
Valende hurried out of the courtyard after Rani.

Character(s): Khyrisse, fallen divinity
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: WAHP: PIKA
Title of Post: On the Dubious Benefit of Being Offered Things You Never Wanted, and Being Expected to Be Grateful for Them

Khyrisse raised an eyebrow at Jhaeran's retreating back with a faint but unmistakable smirk. ...Oh, sister, do I hear that.

Character(s): Skitch
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Prelude To A Finale
Title of Post: Not Racism This Time--Just Blind Acceptance Of Star Trek Science

"Hey," said Skitch, "maybe he could separate her into her elven half and her Diari half!"
"Why?" said Khyrisse, warningly.
"Well, because then they could fight each other for control of their destiny or something!"
"You read too much, kiddo."

Character(s): Fahrlee Alakryn, Marcus Blackbone
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Reclamation: Gold and Amber
Title of Post: The Only Good Diarian

Fahrlee had come to the despairing town of Sevren, in the far west of Sturtevant. She had been, at first, uncomfortable leaving the country she had known all her life, but the word of the Emperor was enough for her. She had accepted the task put before he with gusto, and was even starting to feel like she was doing some good in the world.
She had set up a tent in the market square of Sevren, and for the past two days, people had come to her with their problems. Most of these issues had to deal with food and poverty--both of which were prevalent in Sturtevant these days--but a few had come to her with wounds still open from the Nights of Bane.
Fahrlee's talents were limited to heightening her own senses, but that had still come in useful. Kiljhac were less familiar with the skills of metabolic maintenance, and their heartbeat and resperation often gave Fahrlee clues.
"Madame seer?" a deep voice asked from outside her tent, jarring Fahrlee from her reverie. She looked up and saw a wide shadow on the tent door.
"Please, enter," Fahrlee said. "All are welcome here."
The man who entered was not a tall man, but his figure indicated strength. He was dressed in clothes much finer than she had seen in some time. Fahrlee guessed that he wasn't from Sevren. An adventurer, perhaps.
"I..." the man started, "I... am troubled."
"Then you have come to the right place, darjhac," she said. "We have come out from our realm to bring peace to those who have none."
"This is a noble thing," the man nodded. "I am Marcus Blackbone, a traveller."
"I suspected you were not a local, Marcus. What has brought you to Sevren?"
"I am following a criminal, Diari mother," Marcus said. "One who has done much ill, and whom I am sworn to put an end to."
Fahrlee could hear Blackbone's heart rate rising. He is nervous, she thought. Perhaps he is not even certain of his own quest.
"And how may I be of service?" Fahrlee asked. "I can only heal the wounds of the heart... I am not well-versed in the ways of law enforcement." It was a joke, but Marcus didn't seem to have gotten it.
"It is said that your people have powers of the mind. I need to know more about an artifact I have found. I believe that it once belonged to the one I seek." Marcus Blackbone reached into his pouch and pulled out three knives, all white. He handed one to Fahrlee. "These were taken from my enemy," he said. "I was curious if your abilities could tell me more about them."
Fahrlee ran her fingers down the flat of the blade. The texture was strange, worn smooth with time or effort, but still irregular. She put the blade beneath her nose.
"It is bone," she said. "And there is a scent of blood still upon it."
"Is that all?" Marcus asked.
"It..." Fahrlee put the blade to her lips and extended her tongue. The coppery taste of blood was as strong to Fahrlee as it would have been had the blade been just pulled from its victim. "Diarian blood," she said. "And... Diarian bone."
She looked up at Marcus just in time to see him thrust one of the other blades into her throat. She tried to call out, but the only sound she made was a sick gurgling.
"Ptah," Marcus spat. "Diarians are good for little else but bone and blood. You should have stayed at home, you condescending bitch."
Fahrlee fell to the ground, and the room began to spin.
"Don't think you're fooling anyone with your 'helpful envoy' pose. Getting into people's minds, preparing to control them when the armies come out again."
Sight left Fahrlee, but her psionically enhanced hearing caught the last words she would ever hear with uncanny clarity.
"I won't rest until every Diarian outside your borders is dead. Dead, and bone."
She felt strong hands on her forearm, and her elbow was bent back.
Then all sense left Fahrlee Alakryn forever.

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