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The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
Starcross, Part VIII

Character(s): Clem Johnson, Used Spaceship Salesman
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Interlude: The Dramatic Setup

All my fault, Clem wept. If only I hadn't sold such sub-par spaceships, none of this would have happened... now that poor Rigellian has a bruised knee all because of me! How can I live with myself?
"Clem?" Mitzi, his secretary asked, "are you okay?"
"No," Clem sobbed. "It's all my fault!"
He slammed his head on the table, just missing the crystal Minaret.

Character(s): lwyn, Rauvin, Orion
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Starcrossed
Title of Post: The Best Laid Plans

Rauvin watched as lwyn killed the fifth person in the line of those responsible for the protection of the Minaret. It was a fruitless task, as the device was gone, but lwyn's anger needed appeasement.
"It is now too late to change our plans," lwyn sighed, licking the blood from his hands. "We will have to move with the forces we have."
"I will send the word to Ataniel," Rauvin nodded.
"It has already been sent," lwyn smiled. "But you are welcome to make whatever plans you need for your own vengeance, Rauvin."
"Thank you, Lord lwyn," Rauvin said. "I know just how to do that, too."

Character(s): Khyrisse and Ebreth
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen and Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Little Steps

Khyrisse wandered into the bedroom, rubbing the back of her neck wearily. After a moment, she sat down on the bed facing Ebreth. "Ebreth... you do know Val's not trying to hurt Jack with this, don't you?" she asked.
Ebreth put the book aside with an exasperated and slightly angry look. "How nice for her. That last Ebreth Tor wasn't trying to hurt people half the time either."
Khyrisse flinched a little, then took a deep breath and tried to wipe away the glare that wanted to invade her face. She discarded the first several things that popped into her head, and finally settled on, "I don't think that's fair at all, Ebreth. Val was crying on me out there. Did the first Ebreth Tor ever cry over his emotional tangles? Did he even have them?"
"Hell no. He was a guy. I bet Ariath does." Khyrisse stiffened, her eyes narrowing, and he shook his head tiredly. "Look, don't mind me. This is really bothering me. I respected her more than this, that's all. No, I don't think she's doing this from malice, but I don't think she cares what it's going to do to Jack, either, and the fact that she's hurt enough to be crying over this herself doesn't justify anything." He shrugged. "It's between them. I don't know. She doesn't think this is going to bother him. I think she's on crack. But I've been wrong before."
Khyrisse sighed and rubbed her forehead with the heel of her hand. "I'm sorry. She's very worried and unhappy, Ebreth, really. I don't think Luthien would have sent someone to guard me who was naturally irresponsible or two-faced, I just don't. ...And loath though I am to say it, I don't think Jack behaved very well by leaving like that. But all I can do is try to offer her advice." She sighed again. "If it's any help, I told her that I thought it was likely to hurt people in the end. She promised to think about it. I think she was thinking about it before I got to her, to be honest."
"I just feel like I'm watching two chariots colliding, Khyrisse. How can she not see this? She's throwing away a good man who loves her, over a one-night stand with a woman she barely knows, and she really doesn't believe this is going to hurt anyone?" He shook his head firmly. "Two wrongs don't make a right. I know that for a fact. And falling into bed with somebody else because she was upset with Jack, that's wrong. And it's not only wrong, it's a mistake, and it's one she's going to regret, Khyrisse, I mean really regret."
Yes, I know. Better than you can possibly imagine. "Did it ever occur to you that she might wonder if he really does love her? She told me she thinks he didn't trust her, not even enough to tell her goodbye. Love and trust go together or neither of them works well, and I know that for a fact." Khyrisse took a deep breath. "I know she's making a mistake. But I don't believe she's doing this deliberately. Stupidity this might be, but it's not vengefulness." She made a wry face. "I recognize that emotion, trust me."
Ebreth picked up the book again and put it away, obviously too disturbed to read. "No, no, I don't think she's doing this out of spite or anything. It's just--indifference isn't much better than spite, Khyrisse. That's all I'm saying." He sighed heavily. "He was trying to save her life. Maybe he did it in the fucking stupidest way humanly possible, right, I won't argue with you on that. But he was doing this for her. Could she wait the couple of days it takes us to find him before hopping on the next person who gives her a kiss?"
Khyrisse blinked at him several times... and kept herself from smacking herself in the forehead at the very last second. Oh, gee, what does that scenario sound like? Ring any bells, Khyrisse? Looking down at the coverlet, she sighed and said, "I think if you did to me what Jack did, I might chase you down and shout at you and demand an explanation... or I might get mad and go away and hate men for another few years... but I really don't see myself doing this, Ebreth."
Ebreth replied after a long pause, so quietly she almost didn't hear him. "Thank you. That--matters."
Oh Grendel, that was it, all right. Khyrisse let out the air in her lungs, twisting her hands together. "Ebreth, I should probably tell you something," she said in a low voice. "I'm particularly unlikely to make this mistake because I've made it before. It's... on my all-time list of stupidest things I've ever done. I hurt two people that didn't deserve it, and wound up completely miserable myself and seeing neither one." She looked up at him hesitantly and gave him a rueful smile. "So I know where Valende is coming from, you see. I just can't hate her for this."
"I don't hate her, " sighed Ebreth. "I'm just--very disappointed with her, that's all. I thought there was more to her than this."
"Are you disappointed with me, too, then?" Khyrisse said, very quietly.
"For something you call one of the all-time stupidest things youve ever done?" he said incredulously. "Im in one hell of a position to bitch at anyone short of Trillarillia fucking Carraria about their past behavior. There's a difference between making a mistake and hanging on to a mistake. Its not that she felt fragile and went and slept with someone, so much. Its that her attitude is "I didn't do anything wrong, Jack did something to me first, and besides it wouldn't be cheating anyway because she's a woman and that's different, and I don't think it would hurt Jack if I cheated on him anyway, and besides he hurt me first, did I say that already? So I'm just going to keep doing this now." What the hell is with that? If she came out of this saying "What a mistake, I cheated on Jack," you know, I don't know what would happen between them, but he'd give her a chance to explain before he did anything about it. He would at least give her that chance. That is part of trust. Not only isn't she giving him that, she's using it to justify her own screw-ups. This isn't good, Khyrisse."
"I know," Khyrisse said unhappily. "I think Val might wind up where I did. I think she might break up with Rani, but not be able to go back to Jack. And then everyone will be upset. Trust me, I know."
"Well, you may be right. But she owes it to Jack to try. She owes him that."
"I... think she owes it to him to try and patch things up, yes." Khyrisse also sighed, reluctant to disagree with Ebreth any further on this issue, but needing to anyway. Better he know now than find out later... I couldn't do all that on my own. "But I think Jack owes her the same sort of effort. He's going to have to explain why he did what he did, I'm afraid."
Ebreth turned around. "Khyrisse," he said directly, apparently tired of skulking through the subtext, "I--can't promise you I'll never do anything stupid. But I promise that if I do, if you give me one chance, if you bring it to me and try, I'll make it up to you. Is that a deal?"
"Will you let me do the same thing?" she whispered, looking up at him ruefully through the wisps of her hair. "I'm--not exactly immune to doing stupid things."
He leaned in to kiss her. "Deal."

Character(s): Khyrisse, Ebreth, Skitch, Garal
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen and Laura Redish, bucking for Best Running Gag, 1999...
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Planeblazer Starts with a P!

"Hey, Mom!"
Khyrisse pulled away from Ebreth and cast her eyes at the ceiling. "What?"
"The library's still locked," he complained. "How am I supposed to do my homework?"
"I'll get it in a minute. Your stuff's on the Cynystra-Diaria wars anyway, doofus-- those books are in my study!"
"Oh." You could hear the rather sheepish grin in his voice. "Right."
"Am I sure I want to be a mother?" Khyrisse muttered, suppressing a smile.
Ebreth chuckled. "Too late now... Why is the library locked?"
"Oh... I locked it after you-- after you went to Hell." Her voice was very low on the last word. "I didn't want anyone in there. The last time anyone was in that room was the night I declared vendetta." She looked very sad for a moment.
"I have kind of good connotations with that library, actually."
Khyrisse laughed and went red to the ears.
"Your vendetta's over," he reminded her softly. "You said you'd get me out of there and you did." He kissed her hand. "Let's unlock it, shall we?"


Garal thought he would relax by reading a book, so he opened the door to the library. He got two steps into the room before a soft noise stopped him in his tracks. He stood with his hand on the doorknob, blushing furiously at the sight of Khyrisse, en deshabille, kneeling across Ebreth's lap on the couch. It was readily apparent that the former goddess of Trade did not realize that someone had entered the room.
Ebreth hardly even looked at the open doorway. Before Garal could react, the pirate captain had unwound his hand from Khyrisse's tousled curls, picked up a beautiful dark red bottle sitting on the endtable, and whipped it at the door. It shattered loudly on the doorframe, missing the halfling by about a foot. Khyrisse gave a startled gasp at the explosive noise, eyes flying wide open.
"CLOSE THE DOOR BEHIND YOU, GARAL," Ebreth growled against Khyrisse's throat, obviously somewhere between irritated and amused.
Garal fled the room in embarrassment. The door slammed shut.


Khyrisse, who had never even gotten a chance to lunge for her discarded tunic, fell over on the couch in a helpless fit of mirth.
"That was my absinthe bottle!" she gasped, delighted by the appropriateness of the gesture. "Well, I guess I didn't need it anymore, did I...?"
"Someone," Ebreth said, "forgot to lock the door."
"I did! I totally forgot!" she giggled. "Poor Garal!"
"Thinking about something else, were you?" he inquired, grinning down at her.
Khyrisse's breath caught sharply at the look in his eyes. She wound her arms slowly back around his neck. "You could say that, yes..." she whispered, with a warm smile.

Character(s): Rani and Val
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Reaching Rani

"It's been a long day," said Rani. "I could really use a little company. Besides, we're rescuing your boy soon. You'll probably want to spend tomorrow night with him."
Valende was trying not to cry.
"And I don't do threesomes or anything like that," Rani continued, a little too animatedly, as if she were covering silence. "No offense or anything, but nothing puts me out of the mood like a penis."
"Rani," said Val, tightly, "I--" She struggled for some way to put it.
"--need to think things over, huh."
"Please don't read my mind now!" she half-sobbed.
"I'm not," said Rani. "It's that obvious."
"I hate this," moaned Valende. "Why does everything need to be so difficult?"
"Hey," she said, "look, I'm not going to be a bitch about this or anything. I like you, I want this to work out, I feel like there's a--connection--between us, but I'm not going to go fairy-nailing on your ass if you're having second thoughts here. But I'll tell you what I'm not going to do is sit around waiting for you to see what your boyfriend wants. I'm worth more than that. I've got no problem sharing you with men, if you're into them, but I'm damned if I'll be some kind of optional frill for you. If this is over, it's over. I'm not waiting to see what the deal is with your relationship with him, and I'm not waiting to see if I'm all right with him, okay?"
"Of course," said Val, throttled. "I would never ask you to-- that's just not fair."
Rani drummed her fingers on her jeans. "Hey, Val," she said, "you know what my name means?"
Valende shook her head, sighing.
"It's a Diarshi nomad word. They live out in this bigass desert in West Diaria. Anyway, when you're travelling desert trails, you know, water's tight, resources are tight. There comes a point where it's just not feasible to turn back. You've chosen your path, and you're pretty much stuck with it, for good or for ill." She rubbed the back of her neck. "That's Rani. If you've reached rani, you know, there's not a hell of a lot either of us can do about that. There's no sense fighting that." The halfbreed detective stood up. "I've been losing things to rani for a long time now," she said. "One more time wouldn't kill me. You let me know what you decide."

Character(s): That Dastardly Crandall
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: A Little Information Goes A Long Way

Valende was trying not to resent Jack for making her leave Rani. He's not even here, she admonished herself. This wasn't really Jack's fault. And angry though she was with Ebreth, and Mina, and even Khyrisse, Val had a high enough wisdom to admit to herself that there was truth in what they were saying, and that it wasn't really their faults either. Maybe it wasn't the smartest move in the world, sighed Valende. She wished she knew how Jack really felt. He'd been so nonjudgmental about the incest issue, and so unfazed by the incident between Cori and Val. If it turned out Jack was supportive of her having female lovers and she had thrown Rani away over nothing she was going to kill her meddling friends. The elven priestess crossed her arms. And if it turned out he wasn't, Val didn't know if she and Jack were going to be able to patch things up anyway. He would think she'd cheated on him, and Val certainly wasn't about to apologize. I'm going to lose both of them. She shook her dark head. Everyone was right, and Val hated situations like that. The only fair thing to do was to put everything on hold until she had a chance to talk to Jack. She had already made up her mind.
"Val?" said Crandall.
"I don't want to talk about Jack any more tonight, Crandall," she sighed.
"No, I just wanted to know if you and Rani had a fight or something."
Rotten gossipy Rat Pack. "Why?"
"Well, because I couldn't help but notice that she's been locked in her room by herself crying for the past forty-five minutes?"
Valende pushed by him and ran down the hall.

Character(s): Valende and Vas
Author: Evan Haag
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Poor Val's Getting Advice from All Sides

Val turned the corner heading towards Rani's room at a fast trot, and almost smacked right into her brother's raised hand. "Hold it right there, sister. I don't think you should do this now, not with what's been going on."
"Get out of my way, Vastarin Windbourne. I don't have time for your japes or frippery."
"This is no joke, Valende Shiarintal. Talking to Rani right now could be disastrous, for you, for her, and for Jack. I don't want that to happen, and I'm sure you don't want that to happen. You need to think, not dash off everytime someone says there's a problem."
"Look, Vas, Rani needs..."
"Rani needs an intelligent and fair decision from you, not a hasty emotional reaction based on the words of someone who may not have your best interests at heart. While I'm sure the two of you will be comforted somewhat if you are there for her right now, I think it would be much better if you can come to a decision that will let you be together more often in the future. True?"
"Well, yes, but..."
"No buts. You need to think about your heart, and what directionss it will take. It might also be that Rani needs to cry a little. We all do, after all, every once in a while. If you want, I will talk to her for a while and keep her company." Valende started to shake her head, but Vas waved her off. "Oh, I know she doesn't like men at all, and I don't have any delusions about being able to instantly cheer her up. But I won't let her be alone right now, not with... certain people poking their noses in where they most definitely do not belong."
"Then what the hell am I supposed to do, big brother?!" Vas nearly shouted.
"My suggestion to you would be to pray for yourself, Jack, and Rani. After all, Sehanine smiles on prayers of love."

Character(s): Rani and Vas
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Like A Woman Scorned

"What do you want," said Rani, turning her shoulder to the elven fencer as he entered, her hair falling carelessly over one shoulder to obscure her face. Vas could still tell she'd been crying.
"I--know you're not fond of men--"
"Why does everyone assume that I don't like men just because I don't want to fuck them?" snapped Rani.
Vas blinked. "--but I thought you might need someone to talk to," he finished.
"Valende sent her brother after me?" she said through her teeth, fury rising in her voice.
"Oh, no," he said hurriedly, "no, I came myself, I thought--"
"You thought what? What did she tell you?" Rani turned around.
"Nothing!" he protested. "Look, she's having a difficult time right--"
"Get. Out."
"--now, and if you want someone to talk to... cry on... scream at... I know her better than anyone else, and I'm here."
"Get. Out." Rani was shaking with rage. "Don't you ever speak to me again, you patronizing priss. Get out. Leave me the hell alone. And if you ever tell one person one word about this, I am going to--" Rani choked on her own inability to come up was any kind of threat she had the capacity to carry out, and she struck the nightstand over in blind frustrated fury. The glass lamp exploded on the floor with a splintering crunch and rolled. "Or I am leaving this case," she hissed. "There is nothing tying me to Ataniel. There is nothing tying me to you. There is nothing but my pride tying me to your mission. Take that away and you can damn well do this without me. Do you understand? This never happened. Get out of here and never mention this AGAIN!"
Vastarin fled down the hallway, and Rani slammed the door behind him loud enough to rattle its hinges.

Character(s): Shilree and Anjra
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Reclamation: Sources of Power
Title of Post: Swedish Meatballs

"I don't know about this..." said Anjra staring like a biologist examining a specimen at the hunk of meat on the end of her fork.
"Don't be such a flazhjha. Trust me you will like it. See..." said Shilree eating a mouthful.
Anjra eyed her friend as she chewed. She then plaintively took a taste. It was unusual, but Anjra thought she liked it.
"Ok, so it isn't so bad. Now will you tell me what it is?"
"A friend of mine from Riklandir gave me the recipe. He called it Swedish Meatballs."
"Well it is unusual," said Anjra taking another mouthful. "I forgot how good a cook you are."
"The chef accepts your complements," said Shilree who then leaned across the table and kissed Anjra.
Anjra giggled trying to keep the food in her mouth.
"Don't do that!" she said after swallowing. "You know I hate it when you kiss me with my mouth full!"
"That is why I always do it," said Shilree mischievously.
"So, how are you dealing with running the country?" asked Anjra.
Shilree sighed. "Well it is what I expected. Still, helping to run Trade was a bit easier. There I wasn't the one making all the major decisions. There has been the typical nonsense. I finally got the infrastructure back into working order. There are only a few local magistrates that need to be appointed. Trade through Kardani and Tesin are on the increase due to your new openness program. However, you realize that this will also cause some problems."
"I know. I know. We will have to increase the police force to keep any foreigners in the designated sectors."
"Yeah, but you know all we need is one crime by a kiljhac and we will have a hairball on our hands."
"Hrmmm..." said Anjra staring down into her plate.
"Anjra, I know that look. What is it?"
"Well I was trying to figure out how to tell you," Anjra sighed. "I guess I might as well just say it."
"What is it?"
"A few of our people have been murdered in the outside lands."
"I see. How long has this been happening?"
"All the murders have happened over the past three weeks. Almost all of them in the Sturtevant."
"I was afraid something like this would happen Anjra. At least it is not on Diari soil. This, at least, we can keep quiet for a while. Still this murderer must be dealt with."
"I have already assigned someone to the problem."
Shilree's face blanched. "You assigned who??? Anj are you nuts?!? She is dangerous!"
"I know it is a risk. But she has both the mental and physical abilities to take care of this quickly. I am also sure she will do it in such a way to send the correct message."
"I don't know Anj. Belle has a tendency to do things her own way. She might come back to bite us."
"Then I will just have to deal with her."
Shilree grabbed her lover's hand and squeezed. "Be careful Anjra. While I know you can't be harmed as the Emperor you still can be gotten to. I don't know what I would do if I lost you."
Anjra smiled, leaned forward and deeply kissed Shilree.
"Kajari," said Anjra, "You will not loose me. I will be with you always."
Shilree cupped her hand against Anjra's face and kissed her back. After they separated Anjra smiled then spoke.
"Now let's finish this meal you prepared. I can't wait to see what you cooked up for desert."

Character(s): Aint telling :p
Author: Jeff Hersh
Title of Post: Voyeur central

Shilree and Anjra's image rippled like a surface of a pond.
"Still spying?" said a dry voice from behind the observer.
"I wanted to see."
"Do you really think you can stop it?"
"What have I got to lose?"
The image of the two leaders of Diaria wavered again as they kissed. The one behind the observer left the room and the observer continued to watch. Shilree and Anjra continued to talk and be very happy. A single tear fell into the image distorting it.
"I will not let it happen," thought the observer. "Not if I have anything to say about it."

Character(s): Another happy couple on the cusp of major angst
Author: Jonah Cohen (with B.W.)
Storyline: Lianth Shrugged
Title of Post: Carson Explain It All

It had been one eventful morning. Rumors were flying, and Phil, a former blacksmith's apprentice, whose master had died in the Madness, was bubbling with excitement. He arrived at the center of town and couldn't wait to share some of the gossip with one of the new friends he had met. "Wow, pretty incredible stuff, huh, Schneider?"
"Eh?" The jester looked up, seemingly uncertain where he was.
"Weren't you there? Didn't you hear?" The teenager didn't wait for an answer. "Some slaver was found tied up. Somebody said he was caught by the Joker, who's like, some grim avenger of the night or something. It looked like he was going to be lynched! But then Randall said we don't murder people, so we didn't."
"That's nice."
"Hello? Ataniel to Schneider! Are you okay?"
"Better leave him alone, kid," Carson Delany said. "His old lady is supposed to be arriving today, so he's going to be a little out of sorts."
"That's nice," Schneider mumbled again, to empty air.
"Why?" Phil asked. "What's so big about this romance thing?"
"You ever been in love, kid?"
"No. What's it like?"
"Well," Carson said, matter-of-factly, "say the object of your affection walks by, first your heart falls into your stomach and splashes around in your innards. The excess fluid makes you sweat like a dog. The sweat evaporating causes a short circuit in the brain, leading to wooziness, vertigo and loss of speech faculties. More or less, you're left crippled and babbling until she leaves."
"That's love?!?"
"Medically speaking."
At that moment, a small, lanky woman stepped into the tent. "Sideshow? Schneider?" she said very softly.
The jester sprang to his feet, as though with great alarm. "Roxy," he said. They stared silently at each other for what seemed like a million years, but was in fact only a few seconds. Then...
"Geez, can they even breathe when they're doing that?" Phil asked.
"C'mon, kid, let's get to work," Carson answered, dragging him out of the tent.

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