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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
Passage, Part III



Character(s): Khyrisse and Ebreth
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen and Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Prelude To A Finale
Title of Post: Whither Thou Goest

Khyrisse walked over to where Ebreth was sitting, heels clicking on the courtyard tiles. She hesitated for a long moment, studying his face in the darkness. "Ebreth, I've decided to go," she finally said.
An indefinable stress faded from the corners of his eyes. "Are you sure?"
Khyrisse sighed. "Yes. I'm sorry I said I wouldn't... I know Jack still needs rescuing."
Ebreth nodded, taking her hand in his. "To be honest with you, Khyrisse," he said, very quietly, "I could really use your help."
She held his hand tightly. "I'm also still angry about being manipulated, somehow, into risking my family for the Parises," she admitted, running her free hand through her hair with an aggravated gesture.
"We're risking our, family, for our friend, Khyrisse, not for the Parises. This isn't about Caimen, it's about Jack. He's put it on the line for us enough times. To hell with the secret Paris trade route. Maybe they think that's why we're doing this, but we know better, you and I. And I don't care what they think."
Khyrisse smiled faintly, a little amused by the ease with which he said "our"... but the difficulty he had with "family". She reached out and brushed her fingers lightly over his temple. "Even if I did care what they thought, it's still not a good enough reason to let you go it alone," she whispered sadly. "I have such a terrible temper." Her voice dropped even lower. "...And after you've been so supportive of me. I'm really sorry, Ebreth."
Ebreth got up and folded his arms around her, cloak and all. Khyrisse rested her head against his shoulder with a sigh.

Character(s): Ebreth and Khyrisse
Author: Laura Redish and Kristin L'Kar Andersen
Storyline: WAHP: Prelude to a Finale
Title of Post: Just Don't Even Read It, Jonah; We've Earned Your Occasional Mushy Moment

"Ebreth," murmured Khyrisse, "you--know why I needed to think this over on my own, don't you?"
He shook his head. "Why?"
She traced his shoulder. "Because otherwise," she confessed, "you probably would have persuaded me. You--do that pretty damn easily, you know."
He laughed a little, low in his throat, and stopped. "I never asked you to come," he whispered. "I mean I, I didn't want to put any pressure on you or anything."
"I know." She put her hand gently on his arm and looked up at him. "I'd noticed."
"But I do, you know, I am glad, you're coming with me."
"I'm--glad you want me there."
He lifted her effortlessly in his arms. "I never want to be apart from you again," he said, low and intense, and carried her up the spiral stair of the Order of Redemption.

Character(s): Anjra
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Reclamation: Sources of Power/Gold and Amber
Title of Post: Heightened Perceptions

Anjra's mind was afloat in the Cave of the Past Emperors. In this state her mind joined those of all Emperors past in a group mind, a gestalt. While hers was the guiding mind, the others could speak to her and they often did.
-Did you feel that?- said Malaer Jhrizhae (who was Emperor two thousand years ago).
-Yes- replied Anjra and the other minds.
-Strange,- said Zhijhae Viran (Emperor 3047 past). -We have never had that ability.-
There was the silence of contemplation in the gestalt of the Emperor. With slow and calm thoughts the oldest of them spoke.
-It must be because of the goddess. Her melding with us has joined us somehow.-
There was hushed reverence in the group mind. This mind almost never spoke, but when it did every mind that made up the Emperor listened.
-Now we must decide what to do,- said the oldest of them all.
There was an uproar of debate. Plans were offered, rejected and compromised on. It all took less than a second.
-Then it is agreed,- said Anjra. -One of us has died in the kiljhac lands. Her death must be avenged. We will locate Belle 1236A and request her help.-
-What if she refuses,- said Sarar Malani (the Child Emperor of 5431 years ago).
-Then we will activate her program,- said Anjra. -Something I hoped we would never have to do.-

Character(s): Belle & the Emperor
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Belle, Book and Candle
Title of Post: Art of Coercion

Belle loved her island. It was one of the smaller islands of the Montas Archipelago. However, it was private and out of the way which was just how Belle liked it. The Diari "perfect warrior" sat lounging on the beach enjoying the warm sun. Since she managed to break away from Diari control she had fairly much lived her own life and she wanted to keep it that way.
Belle was thinking about what she was going to do next when the hairs on the back of her neck started to tingle. The warrior turned and looked straight into the face of the Diari Emperor.
"Zhey franzhae," she cursed while taking a fighting pose. "You are not taking me! I am not..."
-Calm yourself Belle 1236A. I am not here to take you back. I am here to enlist your services.-
"Screw you. I had enough of providing my services for you."
-Listen warrior. I tolerate your insubordination because I know how you were treated by Talakan as well as others. However, my tolerance only goes so far. Do you really think you would survive a confrontation with me?-
Belle relaxed her stance and stood silently.
-Good. I see you are still using that enhanced brain the doctors gave you. Now listen to me. A Diari priest was murdered in Sturtevant. I want her killer eliminated as a warning to those who would kill our people. In return for your services I give you my personal word that I nor any other Diari will try to use you again.-
Belle grimaced. She was getting that feeling in her stomach. It was the feeling that told her she was about to be forced into major trouble.
"What if I say no?"
-I don't want to have to activate your program Belle. After all, if I was to do so the person who stands before me would cease to be only to be replaced with someone else.-

"I dare you to try."
The Emperor scowled and focused his thoughts. Belle felt the cold wind of psionic energy gathering around her and the Emperor. Then, quite suddenly, the tide abated and a calm look passed over the Emperor's face.
-Is there no way I can convince you?-
"Go to hell."
-Very well. I am sorry.-
The tide of psionic energy grew again. Belle couldn't wait to see the Emperor's face when he found out that her genetic programs had been removed. She felt him enter her mind. She felt the cool touch of his mental focus searching through her very being. Soon, she knew, he would try to activate her only to be very disappointed. Yes, there was his mind getting ready to activate... wait... no... what was he doing? A flash of images filled Belle's mind. A sense of fear, of pain. The image of a knife made of bone and the stink of fresh blood. And there was a face. It was a horrible face.
"What are you doing?" asked Belle though half-breaths.
-I am persuading you. I do not wish to destroy you Belle 1236A. There has been much too much destruction lately. Instead I put you in touch with the mind that links us all.-
-If this monster kills another Diari you will feel it like I do. In fact, I have tied it to your enhanced emotion centers. Every time this person kills one of us you will feel it as if you were the one being killed. You will feel the life slip out of your body. You will feel death. The only way to stop it is to kill the killer. Once that is done the conditioning I planted will be removed.-
-You could, of course, live your life ignoring it. However, I am sure it wouldn't be much of a life. Even so, I will keep my word. If you kill this person, and do it in such a way to warn others who have the same idea, I will free you utterly from use by the Diari. The choice is yours.-
The Emperor shimmered and started to dissolve into a ball of light.
-Think about it Belle 1236A. A lifetime of misery or one of freedom. It is up to you.-
With that the Emperor vanished leaving Belle to decide what course of action she was going to take.

Character(s): Khyrisse and Asinus
Author: Douglass Barre and Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Leading to Finally
Title of Post: Twice the Kicks, Half the Angst

It was early morning when the shimmering donkey head appeared over Khyrisse's dressing table. "Morning, chickie," Asinus said, looking her over. "You decent?"
Khyrisse gasped. The hairbrush flew right past her hair and fell on the floor.
"Yeah, yeah, I know. I look like crap in the morning. Who doesn't, present company excepted?"
"Asinus?! ...Where were you, dammit? You had us thinking you were dead!"
"I was dead. What, it never happened to you? Anyway, I couldn't pass on without letting you have sampled some donkey love, now, could I?"
Khyrisse grinned at him. "Six times. You've got a ways to go to catch up, unless there's a lot you're not telling me--and I'm not even in the lead."
"Yeah, well, that's not what I called you about," the donkey sighed.
She looked warily at the mirror and leaned over to pick up the brush. "What did you call about?"
"Two things. First off, I needed to warn you about Jack."
"Which one?"
"The one that just sent ∆lwyn through the Passage. While I was--ah... let's call it 'indisposed'--I learned that there were two Parises who were working to help ∆lwyn. One of them turned out to be Rauvin--don't trust him, by the way--the other has to be Jack. I suspected something was wrong when he played Caimen to get rid of you all... and the fact that ∆lwyn's activated the Passage confirmed it. I sent you to find the... oh, what the flark do you call this new guy?"
She shrugged. "Jack. I've kind of mentally labeled them Val's Jack and Cori's Ja--What do you mean, Ďplayed Caimen to get rid of us allí?"
"I'm glad to see that patriarchy is well and dead," Asinus muttered. "Jack sent Caimen a message telling him not to trust the Pack. I didn't want to say anything at the time, because I didn't know why he had done it. But my sources said that two Parises were in league with ∆lwyn. I just didn't think that Jack had this sort of sneakiness in him. That's why Caimen told me to ditch you guys. As for me... well, chalk it up to a donkey making an ass out of himself."
Khyrisse put the hairbrush down on her dressing table and just stared at the mirror for a second. "I can't believe it... Can you tell me what sources these are, Asinus?"
"Well, did you ever have that dream where beautiful glowing winged beings hover over your bed, telling you that they're watching over you? Anyway, while I was dead, I kicked them out of their little voyeur booth and tried to check in on things back in the living world."
"I mean are you sure? Grendel, how am I supposed to tell Val this?"
"Look, I saw him working on the prototype you guys went to Agone to find. I saw him tell ∆lwyn that he'd trade his services if he let you guys live. And I saw you naked, so it wasn't a total depress-o-rama."
"You what?" Khyrisse turned scarlet. "When?" She suddenly looked very alarmed. "You couldn't hear thoughts or anything, could you?"
"Oh, yeah, like I want to hear what people think about me. I'm glad you're following the important parts of this conversation, chickie-babe." Asinus grinned from within the shimmery communications enchantment.
Khyrisse laughed. "Sorry. I used to be able to. Back when I was a relatively beautiful glowing winged being."
"Whattaya mean was?" Asinus muttered to himself.
"We already knew that he'd done that. Well, turned himself over to ∆lwyn in return for letting us live, anyway." Khyrisse sighed.
"Look, the point is, I needed to warn you that Jack might have more to do with ∆lwyn than we thought. What Rauvin knew wouldn't be enough to find the Passage, even with the Prototype. Anyway, I'm planning on heading through the Passage to stop ∆lwyn... I might not be back, and I wanted to warn you. That and, ah hell... that and apologize. I was a right ass the last time we talked. I didn't want to lose the chance to tell you that."
Khyrisse propped her elbows on the dressing table and her chin on her hands, and studied the donkey soberly. "Asinus... lately I've been starting to feel like a weathervane. If I have to change direction much more I'm going to fall off the roof," she said plaintively. "I never know where I stand with your family, not even with the people I really like."
"Well, you should always know where you stand with me, even if I'm not acting it. As much as the wind blows your direction around, I'll be the sturdy roof underneath."
After an uncomfortable pause, Asinus cleared his throat.
"You know, assuming you like the female superior position, of course."
Khyrisse burst out laughing. "No comment," she told him, smiling. She picked up her hairbrush again. "Apology accepted, too."
She stared into space for a second, thinking while she tried to get her hair to behave. "Asinus, I'm still not convinced that Jack is really a traitor. Have you told anyone there that you're planning on going through the Passage?"
"Yeah, we had a meeting after Lora and Rauvin got back with Margo... Lora and Tora are going to stay behind and handle Caimen's burial while Margo, Dar and I head out there. I don't want to believe it about Jack myself, hon... he's like a nephew to me... but after Rauvin, I didn't want any of us to go in without expecting the worst."
Down went the brush again. "Caimen's burial?" she whispered. "Oh, merde... This Jack doesn't know, does he?"
"From what Caimen told me about him, he shouldn't know anything Jack learned about in the last three years or so... that was when Robinson and Caimen did... ah, whatever math crap they did."
"The other Jack doesn't know." Khyrisse held her head. "I can't deal with this stuff at this hour without any damn coffee," she muttered.
"I tell you what, chickie-babe... we get through this thing all right, I'll take you for breakfast at the best damn coffee place on the continent." Asinus' serious face faded into his normal leering grin. "Play your cards right and you won't even need to get up early to meet me."
"You know, I was just going to ask if you meant that as a date, or after a date. Look, Asinus, when are you going? Right away?"
"Yeah, Margo's land is under attack as it is... if the flarkin' Remnant's there too... well, her people won't have much chance."
"Ouch. Who's Margo?"
"You might want some coffee first."
Khyrisse paused and thought about this. "Right. Never mind, you can tell me later."
"Look, are you guys up in Shikintu?"
Khyrisse nodded.
"Apparently one of the Remnant's Riders is up there... I wondered if Rani could sneak in and find out if he knows anything about ∆lwyn's plans."
"Chu-I Po. He's dead." Khyrisse brushed her hair with false casualness, smiling. "He recently succumbed to an attack of allergies. Holy water, silver and sunlight, I believe."
Asinus grinned widely. "Sorry... forgot who I was talking to. Remind me never to get on your bad side. You know, if you actually had a bad side..."
Khyrisse returned the grin. "Val did the actual honors. Jack has good taste, no?"
"Yeah, if you like second-bests. So what're your plans now? It's probably not a good idea for you to head back here..."
"Well, that leaves one Rider left... Any idea where or what it might be? We thought we'd get Rani a complete set."
"Some chick riding a dead horse across Cynystra when I last checked. You might try heading her off before she hits Diaria and does something we'll all have to applaud her for."
"Damn, that would be awkward... Luthien would probably kill me for cheering on an undead." She smiled at the screen. "Take care of yourself, Asinus. Watch your back."
"Yeah, easy for you to say, your neck doesn't go halfway down your flarkin' spine. And, hey... when I get back, could you spare a minute to meet somewhere... I've got a big favor I need to ask."
Khyrisse blinked, then nodded thoughtfully. "Sure. We can talk about it over coffee." She chuckled. "...coffee, Asinus. Just coffee."
Asinus smiled as if he hadn't really expected to get even that. "You say that now, but wait until you taste the java."
The donkey winked at her and the enchantment faded.

***


"Are you done in there yet?" Margo demanded, pounding on the bathroom door.
"Chill your flarkin' jets, ya harridan. Some of us have business to take care of."

Character(s): Khyrisse
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: WAHP: PIKA
Title of Post: Good Is Gullible

Khyrisse let her breath out all at once and sat back, staring at the mirror.
Well, damn. I just don't know what to make of half of that. I wonder if the rest of them know he called me?
...At least I didn't tell him we were going through the Passage ourselves. We may need to keep that a secret for a while yet.
...That didn't sound like Asinus' normal unsubtle 'get them into the sack' pass.
...Poor Jack.
She sighed, studying her reflection absent-mindedly, tapping the brush against the heel of her hand. Khyrisse, you are a creampuff," she said, and threw her hands up in amused exasperation, sending her hairbrush flying over her shoulder.

Character(s): The Final Player
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: The Grand Finally
Title of Post: Foreshadowing: One More At The Party

The conqueror sighed and looked at the wooden table upon which the small wooden pieces that represented his invasion force sat.
It had taken him over three years to put together such an armada, but it was the only way he would be able to take such a well-protected city, even if they were barbarians.
Most of the conqueror's original forces were lost to him... even his own flagship had been destroyed, crashed upon the rocks that surrounded the city with the great pyramids. He had barely been able to salvage a few pieces of his past glory from the wreckage. Now all he had was that which he had taken.
"Lord Hunter," his lieutenant said, racing into the conqueror's war chamber.
"For disturbing me," the conqueror said, "you shall die. Your next words will determine how quickly and painlessly that death will be."
The lieutenant paled, an odd look for that strange skin tone. "Lord Hunter, it is your... relic."
The conqueror, honestly surprised, whirled around.
"What?" he demanded. "What has happened to it? It is all that remains of my past empire... if someone has dared--"
"It glows, Lord Hunter!"
The conqueror felt a feeling long forgotten to him. A feeling of hope.
"And what color does it glow?" he asked slowly.
"It glows green, Lord Hunter."
It was not the best answer that the conqueror could have gotten, but it was a close second. "Fate truly does shine on our forces this day, lieutenant. Not only shall we take the city at the delta, but I am given a gift of personal vengeance as well."
"My lord?" the lieutenant asked, still unsure on whether he would live or die based on the news.
"The relic has sensed the presence of an old, old enemy. One whom I had never expected the pleasure of having within my grip again."
The conqueror smiled, and it was the coldest thing that the lieutenant had ever seen.
"This time," the conqueror said, "there will be no escape for you... Jack Paris."

Character(s): Ebreth Tor, newly the highest-level pirate lord on Ataniel
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Prelude To A Finale
Title of Post: Breakfast At Praxis'

"Oh, crap," sighed Ebreth, when he saw her face. "More bad news?"
"Asinus says Jack's a traitor," Khyrisse said tiredly.
"Asinus says?" Ebreth blinked. "I thought he was dead."
"Caimen's dead now, Asinus is alive."
Ebreth surprised himself by wincing. "Nothing we could have done," he said. "At least Asinus is all right. That's good news. What makes him think Jack's a traitor?"
"He sent Caimen a letter telling him not to trust us anymore. That's why he dumped us when he did."
Ebreth pinched the bridge of his nose. "I've got to start going with my first instincts on things," he said.
"You'd thought of this?"
"Dismissed it. I didn't think Jack had it in him to think that way. I'll have to remember that."
"You believe it, then," whispered Khyrisse.
"Yeah," sighed Ebreth, "if he was willing to narc on me to ∆lwyn to keep me out of this, he'd be willing to lie to Caimen about it. He probably figured either the Parises would withhold information or you'd get so angry with them you'd drop it, maybe both. I don't think he's a traitor, Khyrisse. I know he's not a traitor. If he was a traitor he wouldn't have insisted on our safety the way he did. He's not a traitor, he's just--making bad choices, that's all." He rubbed his neck.
"Valende," said Khyrisse, "is going to kill him." She paused. "I think I may kill him," she added, thinking of how the Parises had treated her at the island.
"Yeah, well," he said. "I feel a little like kicking his ass myself, but it's taking second billing to the desire to get him the hell away from ∆lwyn."
Khyrisse nodded. "Did you get any sleep at all last night?"
"A little," he said, and poured himself a third cup of weak Shikinti coffee. "You look nice this morning."
She tilted her head down, smiling a little. "I do?"
"Yeah. I like your hair down. Where is everyone, anyway? Didn't we use to have about eighty people in this party?"
"I think everyone's sleeping in," said Khyrisse, ruefully. "It was a long day yesterday."
"It'll be another long one today," he sighed.
"Spring roll?"
"Please."

Character(s): Khyrisse, with four people who think she's still a goddess and counting
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: WAHP: PIKA
Title of Post: Everyone Gets At Least One Boneheaded Move

Khyrisse poured herself some tea, looking longingly at the pot of coffee as she did so. "Well, really," she sighed, "Jack's stunt isn't any more stupid than my trusting Ariath was. I think I can forgive him, anyway."

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