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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
We'll Always Have Paris, Part II

Character(s): Endicott, Silverlace, Promisekeepers
Author: Rebecca Nagel
Storyline: Loose ends
Title of Post: Famous last words

Silverlace shut the door to Endicott’s inn suite carefully, and sat herself at the table which contained their half-played poker game. This gambit had lead to far too much waiting, but she looked pleased enough to indicate some news. “Time to talk shop?”
“Indeed. Your hunch was right-- the messenger did contain instructions on not only where to feed but also a specific target the Duke would like eliminated. Some sort of religious nut who’s been a nuisance. Didn’t say whether to Embrace him or just suck him dry-- I guess that’s up to Beliath. He gets some autonomy in this alliance.”
“You got a look at the message itself?”
“It was a verbal message. But I got it. I have my ways.” Silverlace smirked. “No, not that. Please-- if anything, the man swings far more your way than mine. But you don’t survive as a courtesan for very long without learning more than a little politics.”
“But you didn’t. Survive.”
“An elegantly staged retreat-- staged death, even-- isn’t a sign that I don’t know how to get information out of people. Rather, it’s a sign I know how to use it.” Silverlace’s eyes made it quite clear that she considered the subject closed.
“If Beliath has been dealing with Tobrenese messengers, it does at least explain why the other vampires have been willing to accept our presence-- assuming he has been telling them that we also serve some political purpose. What I can’t quite figure out is why Beliath has been keeping us around-- I doubt our defection from the Dead College has inspired this much abiding loyalty.”
“Maybe we’re a backup plan? If somehow taking over Tobrinel’s vampiric hordes goes horribly wrong it might be useful to have some allies among the living to bail him out?”
Endicott frowned. “Assuming whatever he is hasn’t become altered in becoming the vampire’s #1. But I don’t know how much of an escape route he needs. He seems content enough where he is, at present. He’s been playing it awfully conservative-- keeping the overt attacks to a minimum and still keeping everyone fed-- its seems to me his connections to the Duke have done him well. Taken a lot of the risk out of it, anyway. I mean, at this point, how much could really go wrong?”


“Grave news, holiness. It’s Tobrinel. Again.”
“Who was it we had posted there this time?”
“Brother Bakker, holiness. He has disappeared without a trace. We can keep the prayer meetings running on the staff we have but--”
“But the founding of a church takes charisma. And oratory skills beyond their abilities.” The priest sighed to himself.
“It’s also going to take some more, well, results. The people of Tobrinel simply aren’t listening. I would have thought after not only the Madness but the death of Deveaux they would have been ripe for our message. But Omeria has proved unbelievably popular. There simply isn’t the unrest to use. And she has added a unique--stumbling block-- to our sermons that emphasized the need for women to be supported at home. People actually jeered that one. There’s still the guilt at the loss of the gods but I’m afraid it may not be enough.”
“Give me some time to think it over, Brother Roberts.” Amazing how the people would follow a woman who had so obviously whored her way into her position with such devotion. But after the Madness, very little surprised the priest anymore. The people of Ataniel were all reinventing themselves, in one way or another. And he was no exception.
The loss of Ielus had led to his new calling-- the creation of an order that would bring meaning back to Ataniel, to let the men know that their failures as husbands and as providers which had lead to the chaos that could cause this Madness and others could be forgiven-- if they would stand strong together. His brotherhood would lead to a new foundation out of which the reports of miracles were already encouraging. Tobrinel would be no different, in the end. It simply required once more the ability to reinvent. “This Omeria has chosen the elimination of the vampires as the cornerstone of her domestic program’s successes, yes?”
“She has been remarkably successful in that endeavor, yes.”
“Well,” he smiled “let them see how faith can move mountains-- and turn the occasional undead. Use what staff we have to attempt to locate a stronghold, lair, what have you. Something large enough to be noticed. And arrange for transportation for the two of us and an entourage to Tobrinel. This matter now demands my personal attention.”
“Very good, Brother Tach. I shall see to this immediately.”
Iellan Tach frowned to himself. He did not like getting directly involved in these matters, but with so few high- level clerics at his disposal, there was little choice. He just hoped the matter could be resolved quickly.

Character(s): Asinus and Khyrisse, together again
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen (with rude comments by Doug, natch)
Storyline: WAHP: Endgame
Title of Post: MOST People With Big Guns Are Asses, Doug... ;)

Khyrisse looked at the donkey in the doorway and tried to suppress a grin. "Asinus, how the flark did you find us?"
"Ya got a freakin' seventh-circle Mansion floating in a science-dominant zone! I'm surprised you haven't got Remnant like a bad wedgie."
The grin wouldn't stay suppressed. "Thanks," she said, indicating the Rat Pack as a whole, "but I've got one already."
"Well, if ya ever need help pulling it out, this snout ain't just for show, you know. If you catch my drift."
Khyrisse covered her eyes, biting down on the laugh and blushing a little. "You know, I was going to tell you not to say it... but I realized you wouldn't listen."
Asinus grinned at her. "Yeah, the ears actually are just for show."
"All right, we've got votes for offing Ćlwyn now, and votes for going back to stop the Remnant on Ataniel." She thought for a second, joining in the collective pacing. "We might be able to trick Ćlwyn into the Passage, actually," she said after a moment. "A simple illusion probably wouldn't work... but there are lots of other options that would make it look like we'd gone through. ...What I'd like to know is if taking Ćlwyn down will stop the Remnant as a whole," Khyrisse said, looking at the two Jacks, Asinus, and Mina. "Too much to hope for, I'm sure. Can anyone tell me?"

Character(s): The Pack
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: All Other Things Being Equal, Rani Favors The Plan That Involves The Most Violence

"We don't need a 'passcard' to the Remnant pyramid," frowned Flicker. "Lady Anais can beam us in directly, remember, Vickie? That was the whole point of invading the Dencrite docking station."
"Oh," she said. "I wasn't really myself then, you know what I mean."
"Let's just go confront Ćlwyn," said Ebreth, "and if Khyrisse can't trick him into going through the Passage, Garal can open it, and we'll just shove him through."
"Garal?" said Khyrisse. "What do you think?"
He looked at her like he was trying very, very hard not to picture her naked, and only partially succeeding. "Okay," he said, humbly.
"Let's just get out of this goddamn mansion and go hurt something," muttered Rani.

Character(s): Asinus, Flicker, the Rat Pack
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Endgame
Title of Post: The Merits of Passcards; A Weak Save

"Yeah, well, the passcard'll keep the automated defenses from blowing us to h... oh, someplace I haven't yet been," Asinus said.
"Dude, good save," Marty said.
"Weak," Flicker smiled.

Character(s): Rauvin, Jack
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Endgame
Title of Post: Jack Paris Dies, Again

Rauvin Paris walked into the cell.
Jack Paris paced about, paying him no mind. Rauvin knew instantly that Jack Paris--the real Jack Paris--was gone.
"I didn't think you could do it alone," he said. "I suppose your betrayal of our family wasn't all you made it out to be."
Sighing, Rauvin lobbed a dispel magic at the subset and it flickered and vanished.
Rauvin shook his head as he wandered out of the cell. "You can't rely on anyone these days."

Character(s): Rani and Asinus
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: One Impossible Thing At A Time

"Well, what are we waiting for?" demanded Asinus, switching his tail. "This gun ain't light."
"We don't have a good plan for getting back to Ataniel yet!" protested Garal, horrified.
"We might as well tank Ćlwyn first and then worry about how to get home," said Ebreth, "since the Passage won't work for us anyway."
"What?" frowned Asinus. "Why the flark not?"
"It's unstable," Khyrisse quickly rescued Jack.
"It's not like we'll be any more stranded with Ćlwyn dead, and the Remnant will probably be in worse shape." Ebreth shrugged. "Let's do one impossible thing at a time."
"Keen-o!" said Vickie.
Rani had come up beside Asinus quietly and slipped both her arms around his wooly neck. "Hey!" said the donkey, gruffly. "Hey, what's that for, chippie?"
"Nothing," she said, softly, "it's just good to see a friendly face."

Character(s): Belle, ???
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Reclamation
Title of Post: Guardian Angels

Belle stayed in the shadows of the Sturtevantian streets. Sturtevant was the one country more fucked up than Diaria in Belle's mind. Still, things had worked out fairly well. A few broken necks here, a few bribes there and she was able to get a bearing on her quarry. If her information was correct the assassin would be in the inn across from the alley. Doing what she needed to do would be no problem.
Belle took one step forward when a cold mist surrounded her.
"Great. Just great," she said under her breathe.
A cloaked figure walked out of the mist and stood directly in front of Belle.
"Hold warrior," said the figure with an androgynous voice.
Belle gritted her teeth.
"I know what you are about to do. I say again hold."
"Listen jerk," said Belle, "I am not going to stop just because some cloaked figure with a penchant for magic stands in my way. Now stand aside or you will get hurt."
The figure didn't move. "You will listen to me Belle. You do not have to do this. I offer you a way out."
"Yeah right."
"I do. Do what I say and you will live Belle. Ignore my offer and I will see you die for what you are planning."

Character(s): Belle
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Endicott Nominee For Stupidest Move
Title of Post: It's Hard To Scare A Genetically Perfect Being

"Yeah, Mister Scary-pants? Which plan are you talking about?"
"Do you accept my offer?" the being repeated.
"Wanker," Belle sighed, and turned around. "If you want to talk, talk. If not, go find some little girl to scare from under her bed."

Character(s): The Guardian, Belle
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Reclamation
Title of Post: Never Piss off the Dark, Cloaked Mysterious Stranger

As Belle turned fibrous metal bands exploded from the interior of the cloak of the stranger. The bands whipped up, over and around Belle and soon bound her in a tight cocoon.
"Now listen to me Belle. I will be very, VERY specific. I really don't give a flazhnae about you and I am sure you feel the same about me. Just do what you were asked to do and leave your plans regarding the Emperor out of it. Understand?"
Belle just stared at the cloaked figure. It was a look that usually meant someone was going to die.
"Fine kill me if you can. However, believe me when I say you can't. Just do your job and leave your thoughts of revenge or getting even behind. Do so and I can provide you the means so you can live your life without ever being manipulated again. Don't and I will squeeze you like a grape."
As if to emphasize this last point the bands that tied Belle tightened. Belle knew that the only reason her bones didn't break was due to her enhanced strength.
"It is time for me to leave. Remember what I have said Belle. I will be watching."
The mist gathered up and around the cloaked figure like a cloud being sucked into a bag. As the last of the mist departed the bands dissolved to fog. All that remained in the alley was Belle.

Character(s): Belle
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Endicott Nominee For Stupidest Move
Title of Post: Digging In Deeper

Belle smirked.
"Yeah, smart move to use illusion on someone with Zaptian blood in their veins."
She stood and dusted herself off.
"Just puts you on the list too, Shilly. And that may even make this project cheaper than it was before."

Character(s): The Rat Pack
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Endgame
Title of Post: Into the Fire

It took not at all long for Lady Anais to focus in on her place of power in the First of the Three.
"This will take you to a small shrine, just outside of the council chamber. If your Lord Ćlwyn is inside, that is where he will most likely be. The controls for the whole complex are located there."
"Thanks, babe," Asinus said, winking at the Arbiter. "We'll have your pad clear in no time."
Garal noticed that the spacial shift was nothing like he had experienced before... it was less a moving through subspace than a convincing the universe that the place you were and the place you wanted to be were the same. His mind boggled.
Then they were there.
The chapel itself was sparse, almost austere. No Remnant were in sight.
Marty collapsed over. "Oh, man, bigass evil!" he grunted. "Really close."
"I didn't think a paladin's detect evil caused such a violent physical reaction," Vickie asked Amatsu.
"I was told that Mr. Hu is... allergic to evil."
Vickie laughed quietly. "Figures."
"Okay, folks," Khyrisse said, pulling up her final round of defensive magics, "this guy's an archmage, so we'll be pretty well matched magically. I'll rely on some physical backup. The rest of you hold off whatever Remnant he's got guarding him."
"Leave Rauvin to me," Asinus said.
Khyrisse nodded. "Jack, anything else we need to know. Now isn't the time to try to protect us."
"No," Jack said, looking down.
"Okay... on my count."
"We need a cool Rat Pack battle cry," Skitch observed.
"How about 'Rat Pack Run Away'?" Marty suggested.
"How about deciding on this when we're back in the 'pointless discussion' time?" Rani muttered.
"Please don't let anyone in there be naked," Garal muttered to himself.
Vas kicked the door open and the party stepped forth into the central hall of the Arbiter's pyramid. Anais had been right. The room was huge... about two hundred feet from end to end, and at least half that high. There were three large floating platforms at the far end, strange machinery on each of them. Similar machinery adorned all the walls. Beneath the central platform, a crystalline half-dome encircled a raised dais, atop which was a large throne, hundreds of thin wires jutting out from its surface to join the banks of machinery surrounding it. Sitting in the chair, fingers together in classic villain fashion, was a tall, thin, pale man.
"That's him," Ebreth said.
Next to Ćlwyn stood Rauvin Paris with a strange wand-like device strapped to one arm.
Between the Rat Pack and the dais were a few hundred undead of varying sorts. Valende recognized a few penagglion and a Collector among them.
"I think I like Marty's battle cry," Mina muttered.
Ćlwyn stood and smiled.
"At long last," he said. "the Rat Pack. Jack's told me so much about you. You're right on time, Mr. Paris. I'm impressed. Signed, sealed and delivered, just as promised."
Jack's face was a poem of regret and sadness.
"Just as promised," he said to Ćlwyn.
Then the Remnant attacked.

Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: This Thing I Know

Ebreth's eyes flicked swiftly from Ćlwyn to Jack, to the other Jack, and back to Ćlwyn, where they hardened into violent cold flames. "Kyber," he said very softly, pulling his rapier from his side and holding it back at the younger captain without looking at it.
His dark fingers curled around the hilt of the antimagic shortsword the elf silently put there in return.
Whatever else happened here, this day.
Ćlwyn was going to die for this.
Ebreth Tor slid into the shadows so effortlessly and entirely the undead themselves did not see him go.

Character(s): Dexy LaRue
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: The Cheated
Title of Post: Dead Man's Hand

Dexy was still looking.
The man he had seen in the casino last week had had potential, and he had slipped a small geas onto him to meet with Dexy again here in Tobrinel. He had done the same with the cardsharp in Edimon who hadn't been able to hide his true skill beneath his grifting.
Still, Dexy felt like there was someone perfect. Someone he would know when he saw them.
Unfortunately, there was little time left. The Cheated were returning, and Dexy wasn't going to be able to stop them by himself this time. He had sensed traces of their work in that strange theme park outside Lianth. There were also traces here, in Tobrinel.
Dexy had found a game in a small gambling house in the business district. He had staked enough money to get into the back room, and he was about halfway through the process of setting up the merchant next to him for a windfall. The merchant had some obvious tells, and Dexy figured him for the easiest to goad into going all in.
The dealer shuffled, and slowly passed five cards to each player. Dexy picked up his hand, and immediately his poker face took control of his musculature.
It was a good thing. Dexy had been dealt a natural full house, against astronomical odds.
Even more so, he found that he was holding aces over eights.
A dead man's hand.
Dexy knew the omens to be found in poker were as prophetic as any, but he also had hundreds of years of experience in watching how prophecies came about. Death would be here, but if he was smart, it wouldn't land on him.
Six dreams belayed, he thought, six dreams betrayed. The Cheated awaken, the debt is repaid.
Dexy's debt was a large one, but there was still a chance to pay it off without losing everything. Without losing the soul of the world.
He tossed the full house down to the table, face down.
"Fold," he said. Anything gained with a hand like that would be tainted, and the last thing LaRue needed was more bad karma.
At least the hand had told him one thing: he was in the right place. Tobrinel was where he would face the first of the Cheated.
And one of them would not walk away alive.

Character(s): Dexy LaRue, Araiji Vaseriae
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: The Cheated
Title of Post: The Gambler and the Gypsy

Dexy was still searching for the gambler he needed when he came upon the wagon in the Tobrinese countryside. The vehicle was covered in wild, multi-colored decorations. Words in many languages, Dalen, Shikinti, Diari, and Riklandic Runes to name a few, covered the walls of the wagon. Each one said the same thing: The future is unwritten. Learn what it holds for you.
The gambler stood, half-interested in what the words said. What interested him were the pictograms underneath the text. There was a montage of coins and cards. In the center was a group of figures sitting around a table playing a game of chance. Only one of the figures was distinct. The others were like wraiths and looked extremely out of focus. Dexy's interest perked even more when he saw the distinct figure was cheating at the game. This, he decided with cold interest, bore closer investigation.
The gambler walked to the back of the cart and knocked on the door.
"Shalzhae verinla," yelled a voice from inside in a strong dialect. Dexy recognized the words and dialect as Diari. Whatever the chances, he mused.
The door bust open revealing the wagon's occupant. She was an average looking woman and unmistakably Diari. Her silver and black hair was unkempt mess, but at the same time it was very stylish. Her skin was dark, almost as dark as the Montasi. What struck Dexy most was her eyes. Her eyes were every color of the rainbow, but at the same time no color at all. The colors constantly fought with each other like they were players in a grand battle to decide who would rule the iris.
"Excuse me miss," Dexy said in Diari (which he knew was a few thousand years out of date).
"By Charoc, your accent is horrible," said the woman in Dalen albeit with a strong accent. "Speak Dalen for Diar's sake and spare my ears."
"I apologize," said Dexy calmly. "I was wondering about your the images on your cart."
The woman smiled. "Come in gambler. I am Araiji Vaseriae. I am traveler, wanderer and gypsy. I have also been waiting for you."

Character(s): Crandall
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: A Cranky Revenant

Crandall was so pissed off.
It was wonderful to see the tortured look on Jack's face as he delivered his friends to the Remnant, of course. It had been very nice to see him crack after the boy's death, before.
But goddammit, this was ruining Crandall's perfect romantic revenge.
The revenant irritably took out his mace. These odds sucked. He supposed that if the Remnant killed everyone, he could taunt Jack about it a little and go around destroying Parises with the rest of the Remnant. It wasn't optimal, but it would probably have to do.
Why does everyone else keep breaking Jack before I have a chance to?
Crandall stepped out in front of the bearded Jack, whose company he was starting to enjoy despite himself, and prepared for the onslaught.

Character(s): The Rat
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: WAHP: Endgame
Title of Post: Rat ho!

The Rat did what Marty wished he could do, he hid. Actually to be more precise the Rat found a nice hidey hole in the wall. He sniffed the air. Yes, this is where he wanted to be. The Rat crawled inside the passage to the far side of the room. Even here the sounds of battle could be heard. The Rat sniffed again. What he wanted was here. Seeker of Places crawled up through the duct work along some wires. There sitting in a small niche was an obsidian icosahedron. The Rat grabbed the black shiny thing in his jaws and rushed back down and into the crawl space. He needed to give this to someone and fast.

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