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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 Our Friends, Part VI



Character(s): Khyrisse, Skitch, Asinus
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Acquiescing to the Inevitable-- Somewhat

Khyrisse opened the door to her room... and stood there for a long moment, eyes wide. I used to have a bed just like that back in Cantrip Cottage, she thought dazedly, taking in the bed, its four posts carved with wooden vines, leaves and little trumpet-shaped flowers. Smaller, I think, and the coverlet was pink, not burgundy... Oh, what a gorgeous room!
Several pieces of furniture in the same style as the bed were arranged around the room, all in a deep golden wood, with swirls and circles in its grain that reminded her of the eye-spot patterns of butterfly wings. The chairs and the little bench for the dressing table were upholstered in a heavy burgundy satin that matched the coverlet.
The walls were white, curving in at the corners of the room rather than ending in right angles, in a way strongly reminiscent of Trade's slightly alien mode of architecture. Across from her, a large tapestry hung on the wall, white and gold and vibrant gem tones marching across a background of varied green, many small scenes each centered around a unicorn. She gasped in recognition and rushed over to look at it more closely.
I didn't know anyone had made a tapestry of it, she murmured, her fingertips carefully touching the exquisitely embroidered fall of water from the unicorns fountain. How on Ataniel did they know?
The connecting door next to the headboard of her bed flew open, and Skitch bolted through. Mom, you've gotta try this bed, he enthused. I think it's a Diari mattress, cause it's the best one I've ever seen for bouncin-- Hey! That's from The Last Unicorn!
Well, it's a very old story, she murmured, as Skitch examined the tapestry rendering of the Red Bull, flames streaming out from it in an eeriely lifelike aurora. Trust a boy to check out the monster first, she thought with a little grin.

***


Wow, you've got a garden!
Khyrisse turned around. Across from the bed was an open set of double doors, leading out into a sheltered little corner of the patio lined with trellises, many different kinds of flowering plants scattered in low white planters. A wide archway on the other side currently framed the sun, falling slowly towards the ocean.
Khyrisse closed her eyes and breathed in slowly. Several scents she recognized came to her on the breeze streaming through the doorway, and she walked out onto the patio. Oh, I always wanted one of these, but Knighthawke has such a damned thick skull... it never got done, she murmured, looking up at the blue and white flowers.
Why, what is it?
Khyrisse smiled impishly and reached out to tap the trellis-- and was instantly surrounded by a lazy cloud of butterflies, disturbed from their sleep amongst the leaves. Its a butterfly garden, she explained. Isnt it beautiful? ...I love this place.
Ill bet Jack had a hard time leaving home, Skitch said. I wouldnt want to.

***


Khyrisse set her backpack on the bed to unpack, and was greeted by a crinkling sound.
Puzzled, she rummaged around underneath it and pulled out a piece of paper.
Khyrisse blinked at it a few times, and then began chuckling, very softly. He never gives up, she whispered, shaking her head at the map in her hands.
Hiya, chickie-babe.
Khyrisse turned around and waved the map-- with his room marked on it in big unmissable red lettering-- at Asinus, suppressing a grin. Whats this for, Asinus?
Asinus didnt bother suppressing a grin. This is a big place, you know. Wouldnt wantcha to get lost in the dark.
The archmage closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose, struggling with the urge to laugh. The oddest thing about this is that I can see the other Asinus in my head now. And he acts almost exactly the same.
Hows the room? Need anything? He shifted the cigar to the other side of his mouth, and leered. I can suggest a few things, if youre short on ideas. There should be some lacy kinda things in the dresser.
Its fine, its beautiful, she said, grinning. And no, thank you.
Hey Mom...? Skitch said, coming back through the connecting door, nose in his new book. Whats this word mean?
Thank you, Grendel, for my adopted son and his ability to know when I need him. Amen. Let me see. She looked down at the page where he was pointing. Her eyes widened. Um, ask me when youre older. She suddenly grabbed the book and tossed it onto her bed with the map. Hey, kiddo, want to see the beach now?
Skitch blinked at this sudden change of subject. Oh. Yeah, sure!
Asinus, would you show us the grounds? I think theres enough light left for that.
Sure you wouldnt rather see my room?
Ive got the map if I do, Khyrisse said, eyes dancing. Tour, please.

Character(s): Ebreth Tor and Caimen Paris
Author: Laura Redish and Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Catching Up On Old Times

Ebreth swung his legs off the side of the bed as Caimen entered. "Shoot," Ebreth said, as if he was half-expecting the other pirate to actually do so,
"For Jack's sake," said Caimen, quiet and cold, "I thought I'd give you a chance to explain."
"Abridged version?" he said. "I've got his memories but not his mind. He went to Hell and then his personality was completely destroyed."
"Couldn't happen to a nicer person."
"No argument. Anything else?"
"Yes. Do you have any proof of this, or am I just supposed to accept it on some kind of misguided faith?"
"Misguided faith, I'm afraid," sighed Ebreth. "I sure wish I had a better answer. If you have any diagnostics you want to run on me you're welcome to. But I can't prove anything. Sorry."
Caimen was quiet a moment. "Do you even remember what you did?"
"Yeah," he said, tired, and rubbed his neck. "Yeah, I do."
"Then how do you feel about it?"
"How the hell am I supposed to feel about it? Are you asking me if it was a shitty thing to do? It was a shitty thing to do. The man had no regard for human life. But I can't feel guilty about that, Paris. There's nothing I can do about that now. I'm not the same man, do you understand? I've just got to live my own life here. That's all I've been trying to do."
"And you feel no responsibility for the man you once were? Do you really think that there's such an easy break from your past? Or can you just not deal with ever having been that man?"
"I don't know," he said, "but it's all I've got. I can think about it, or I can hold myself together and try to do something about the Remnant." He closed his hand. "I can't handle both."
"Then I want two things," Caimen said. "First, you never tell Lora one thing about what happened."
"I wasn't. Even going. To tell you."
Caimen nodded. "Second, when you do have an answer to my question, you come back through hell or high water and give it to me. You owe me that."
"Right." Ebreth rubbed his eyes. "Right, I'll put you on my list of people to get back to if I ever figure out what the fuck I'm doing."
Caimen grabbed Ebreth by the shirt and pulled him off the bed and into his face. "Boy," he growled. "I am your list. This is your good option. You don't want the bad one."
"Ahem," Cori said from the door.
Caimen gently dropped Ebreth back to the bed.
"Am I interrupting anything?" Cori asked.
"We were just finished," Caimen said, and silently strode out of the room.

Character(s): Cori and Ebreth; Caimen Paris
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: The Wrong Apologies

Cori looked after Caimen strangely as he blew past her. "What's going on?..." she said, gesturing between Ebreth and the door.
"We have a history," sighed Ebreth. "He remembers it better than I do." He looked up at the samurai. "Listen," he said, "I'm sorry about last--"
"Let it be."
Ebreth shook his head, wearily. "Thank you," he said, "for thinking I might be as together as you are. But I'm just not."
"You will be." Cori shrugged. "Don't sweat it."
He looked out the window. "Could you do me a favor?" he said. "Could you bring everyone my regrets? I think I'm going to take a pass on dinner."
"Are you sure? This is supposed to be relaxing."
"Things are going to get very difficult tomorrow," said Ebreth. "I need a little time with myself. I've got to get my head on as straight as it gets. I sure as hell can't do this worrying about who the fuck I am. Just tell them I'm sorry."
Cori frowned a little. "Okay."

***


Caimen stalked through the halls of the Paris Estate with long and violent strides. Many things were on his mind, and he didn't want to think about most of them. The one that was sitting on top at the moment was the total lack of a reaction Ebreth Tor had had to being called "boy" by Caimen Paris.
And it was very, very hard to slide reactions by Caimen.
Crazy flarking world.

Character(s): Khyrisse, Praxis
Author: Jonah Cohen (with input from Kristin L'Kar Andersen)
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: What are friends for?

Hot water felt very good. The former goddess of Trade felt her muscles start to relax in the bath.
The door opened.
"Hey, babe," Asinus said, "some shmo calling himself Praxis says you should take down the damn Mind Blank. By the way, nice rack!"
"Asinus!" Khyrisse shouted, throwing the soap at him.

***


Khyrisse took a deep breath and carefully lowered the magical barriers. The man who had destroyed Trade appeared in her mind.
-Am I disturbing you?-
-Praxis... No, no. It's actually one of the few calm periods I've had in a while. Not that that will last much longer.-
-I apologize for interupting the reverie, then. I wanted to let you know that Inez had talked to Ms. Yoshida at your party. We've been doing some investigating into Chu-I Po and the Black Serpent Clan.-
-She'll be glad to hear that. I mean, as glad as a person can be about dredging up the murder of a spouse.-
-Yes, I see. Anyway, they're a group that will have to be dealt with, eventually. In the meanwhile, if it's alright with you, I was going to send someone to help you, and Ms. Yoshida out. You did mention that your group was a little short-handed?-
-Yes, I suppose so. What's your boy like?-
-I think he could prove useful.-

Character(s): The Rat Pack, and introducing...
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

"Let's go, my little Woobie."
"Very funny, Val." They left the room to head down to dinner, and ran into Cori and Skitch.
"Good evening," the samurai said. "Ebreth, uh, sends his regrets. He will not be able to make dinner. I think he wanted to rest, before tomorrow."
"Oh. Okay." Please, oh please, Jack thought, don't let Caimen have turned into the avatar of Grendel or something.
"You're looking quite sharp, tonight," Val said.
"Thanks!" Skitch replied happily. "Your family has the bossest threads, Mr. Paris! Where do---"
There was a loud whistling sound from outside.
"What was that?"
"Signalling arrow," Cori said, unconsciously reaching for her sword. "Someone wants us to know that they're here..."

***


Amatsu Mikaboshi fitted the bulbed arrow to his bow, and fired it out over the sea. Lord Praxis had alerted the mistress of this group that he would be arriving, but still, it was probably best to clearly announce his presence. After all, the sun was setting, and Amatsu's instincts when it was dark were to sneak up on any location.
Paris Island was in a fairly remote part of the Archipelago, but still along routes that would be traveled frequently by ships. Hou-Hsieh Tavashi had made use of her crystal ball to help him reconiter the foreign environs he would be entering. He learned about the sailors, pirates and traders who frequented the distant islands. He briefly studied the native cultures, primitive by Shikinti standards, who lived there. He made note of the area's customs, economics, religion, its underclass. Such information might be needed if he was to assist the Rat Pack in their struggle against the being known only as The Remnant.
He did not attempt to scry the Paris family, his hosts. To do so would have been unacceptably rude.
As he prepared to depart, he was debriefed by Hou-Hsieh Tavashi, and the Lady of the Order of Redemption, Inez Jardin. The Dragon.
"Remember," Lady Inez spoke, "you are to obey the orders of Cori Yoshida and Khyrisse Starshadow, who is a close friend of my husband. We know you will do well, Rainmaker."
He stiffened briefly in shame at the name from his old life, then bowed respectfully. Then he was off to the east.
Cori Yoshida, at least, would recognize his signal, so Amatsu waited patiently. There, a door opened up the hill on the mansion's side. People were coming.
He prepared to greet them.

Character(s): Cori Yoshida, Amatsu Mikaboshi, and pals!
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Pleased to Meet You

Several of the people who came to meet him were armed. Amatsu was unsurprised.
Caimen Paris had to look down quite a way to check out the oriental man who stood before him, simply clad, carrying a modest pack, and with a large, flat sword strapped to his back. The stranger bowed low and introduced himself: "Greetings. I am Amatsu Mikaboshi, of the Order of Redemption. I have come to seek the organization known as the Rat Pack, and its leader, Khyrisse Starshadow."
"Er, actually, I'm kind of acting leader of the Rat Pack at the moment."
"My apologies, sir."
"Yeah, no problem. Jack Paris, pleased to meet you and all."
"Paris? Are you the lord of this estate, then?"
"That would be me," Caimen replied gruffly.
"Apologies, sir." Amatsu was looking more embarassed by the moment. Cori didn't decide to assist him. She sternly said: "Pardon me, Amatsu-san, but I have never heard of this Order you speak of. What exactly is your business here?"
"The Order of Redemption is young. Would you, ma'am, be Cori Yoshida?"
"I would."
"My lord Praxis has instructed me that I am to assist the Rat Pack, especially yourself, not ceasing from this duty until the Silver Crane Clan is avenged."

Character(s): Amatsu, Cori Yashida
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: A Long Overdue Mention

"And you say that the Monkey Lord has gone missing? Damn, I've let this slide for too long."
Amatsu placed a supportive hand on Cori's shoulder. "Madam Yoshida, if you wish me to accompany you back..."
"Yashida," Cori said. "Yoshida was my maiden name, but since marrying Haroshi, I've been Yashida."
"My error, mistress."
"No," Cori sighed. "My plan for retaking the Clan requires Jack, and since I've been here, I've... I've made some additional connections that I'll need too."
"Then I am at your service until then."
"I appreciate it," Cori said. "And please, just call me Cori, okay?"

Character(s): Ebreth Tor, as well-adjusted as can be expected
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Sticking To Essentials

Ebreth sat alone at the end of the boardwalk watching the last vestiges of the sunset over Paris Island. The waves lapping at his bare feet weren't pleasant exactly, but it was a sensation he hadn't felt in what seemed like a very long time, and that in itself was reassuring somehow. He closed his eyes and focused his thoughts as best he could, the pull of the Bane-strengthened tide on his feet an anchoring rhythm of reality. "What's the worst they could do to you, Tor," he said, "turn you into a horrible undead thing?" He put his hands behind his neck and exhaled a long breath, willing his heart to stillness as the surf washed against him and back, against him and back. Ebreth Tor let as much as he could fall away. Try not to think about Lita now, about Khyrisse in the Arena, the things Caimen and Lora must be feeling. Try not to think about what you would have done to get out of Hell. Ebreth Tor shivered a little and let the tide take what it could. You can do this, Tor. Just stick to the essentials.

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