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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 VI

Character(s): Marty Hu
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Epilogue
Title of Post: Homecoming: Marty's Story

Lora and Marty came out to greet the spacecraft that skimmed north over the ocean towards Paris Island. Tora was unconscious, and Marty had spared Lora the job of cleaning up the bodies of the Remnant which included her husband.
The ship that had been parked outside of the island's lagoon had sailed off a day ago, and Marty had seen hide nor hair of the mysterious stranger since it left.
The psionic communication from Orlen had come as a surprise to Marty, who at first thought his imaginary childhood friend Mister Panjy-Widdles had returned. Still, Marty was pleased to hear that the Pack had made it back, albeit short one Jack Paris, a situation that Marty had no idea what to make of.
"I think that they better explain it," he had told Lora, "because I'm not sure I get this one."
Lora had nodded like she understood, which impressed Marty.
Now, the reunion with his love and his friends was imminent, and Marty waited with Lora Paris at the dock.
The ship sailed into port and slowly lowered itself to the level of the pier. A strange doorway opened, much like in that dream Marty had had with those big-headed, black-eyed grey dudes when he was young. From out of the portal, a somber looking donkey strode. He ignored Marty, who was already looking past him for Rani, and came up to Lora.
Marty couldn't hear the words exchanged, and even with his dim understanding of such things, knew that it was private time.
Marty was somewhat surprised to see Jack Paris come out of the ship, but again, figured that he had somehow confused the issue.
When Rani came out, he ran up to her. "You're okay!" he cried happily. "I, like, got teleported back here, and I fought some of the Remnant and stopped the traitor and stuff! How was your day?"
Rani pinched her temple and took a moment.
That was when Marty saw Amatsu and Vickie helping Mina out. Marty's friend looked terrible, her eyes were puffed from crying and she seemed unsteady on her feet.
"Whoa," Marty said, frowning. "Uh, Rani, can you excuse me? I gotta go see how Mina's doing." Marty patted Rani on the shoulder affectionately and raced past her to see to Mina. "Whoa, Meen, you okay?"
Mina looked up, and smiled weakly at Marty. "I should be doing better than this," she admitted. "I didn't think loss felt this bad. It's... it's kinda my first time. First time like this, certainly."
"Totally," Marty nodded understandingly. "When Mom and Dad died, I became a total wreck and Gaby just went nutzo. But you, like, get past it, you know? I mean, I'm totally more together now."
Mina couldn't help but laugh. "I'm glad you're okay, Marty," she said.
"Me too," he said. "I almost threw up in the Passage, but once I finished capturing the traitor and all... uh, I mean... oops."
Mina put her hand on Marty's shoulder. "I understand you saved my... aunt Lora. My mother and I haven't gotten on well in a long time, part of why I went away."
"I'm, uh, still not going to, uh, keep bringing it up, okay?" Marty said wisely.
"Thank you."
"So, like, did Rani miss me?" he asked eagerly.
"Like she misses Diaria," Vickie laughed.
"I can honestly say that she was not the same without your company," Amatsu agreed.
"Oh, you people are bad," Mina smiled.
"Dude!" Marty said. "I saved her a Remnant foot! I'll go get it for her now!"
Marty raced back, joining the solemn procession to the estate.

Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Homecoming
Title of Post: Losses

"I tried," said Ebreth. "Lora, I'm sorry, I really tried."
"I know," she said softly. "Mina told me. Go with my blessing, Ebreth Tor, you've discharged your debt to this family."
Ebreth rubbed his neck. "I thought," he said, "that that part of it didn't really matter. I mean I was pretty sure that wasn't why I was doing this. That guy, he doesn't even feel like me. I know everything I've got is his but the whole is more than the sum of its parts, it's got to be." He shook his head. "But I heard about Caimen--I feel bad, Lora. I mean I really feel bad. There were things I feel like he needed to hear me say, I just don't really--know how. They wouldn't be honest to say right now, but I was going to try to get where maybe they would be. I don't know. I'm really sorry, Lora. I mean I'm really, really sorry. For all your losses." Ebreth turned away from the pain in her sky-blue eyes.

Character(s): Lora, Ebreth
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Epilogue
Title of Post: Pain Shared Is Pain Halved

Lora put one hand to Ebreth Tor's cheek. "Having seen loss so closely, Ebreth Tor," she said, "I can see it in others. We share a loss today, and in that, I'd rather discard the pain between us and concentrate on helping each other deal with the pain still before us."
"I... thank you," Ebreth finally said.
"Besides," Lora said with a twinkle in her eye that even the pain couldn't quite dispel, "I hear that one of these days you might be family."
"Uhhh..." Ebreth didn't quite say.
Lora smiled. "Dinner will be in an hour."

Character(s): Shilree and a Bunch of Merchants
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Reclamation: Gold and Amber
Title of Post: Trade negotiations are much worse than crop reports

Shilree had a headache. Not the type where the back of your neck hurt, but the full migraine kind where it felt as if demons from hell were trying to burst out of your skull.
"That is totally unacceptable," said the trade guild head from Rimbor. "Those tariffs would bankrupt us!"
"Bah!" said the head of the Deepsea Shipping Company. "What about the tariffs you charge us when we want to unload at your docks? Those are downright criminal!"
The crowded room burst into argument. Shilree knew this was going to be difficult, but she never thought it was going to be this difficult.
"Gentlemen," said Shilree softly. The crowd continued to argue. "Gentlemen.." she said again a little louder. They still argued. That was it. "GENTLEMEN!!!" she screamed at the top of lungs. The room fell quiet.
"Thank you, now I realize your concerns but you need to look at big picture here."
"Paaff," harumphed the guild master from Rimbor.
"Yes Ferrix, I said the big picture. You complain about the tariffs we are imposing. Well what would you do in my place. We are giving each of you an exclusive contract for trade via the ports of Tesin, Retkin and the land route via Kardani. Believe me I know how much Diari goods go for in your perspective counties."
"That is a lie," said the merchant from Malachi. "Eveyone knows that Diari never leave their homeland."
Shilree's face grew cold. "I am not most Diari Mr. Kin. I was one of the founding members of Trade and number two in its power structure. Believe me when I say I know what I am talking about."
An uncomfortable silence filled the room. The world was still touchy about Trade and the trouble it caused. Shilree hoped she didn't ruin things by mentioning it, but sometimes she had a real hard time controlling her temper when dealing with kiljhac.
"Anyway, that is in the past," she continued. "What we are trying to settle here is the future. More exactly the future of your bank accounts. Shall we continue?"
The guild master from Rimbor spoke first. "Tell you what, if you knock down the tariffs ten percent I will eliminate the docking fees for Diari vessels for the next five years."
Shilree smiled. She had gotten the worst of them to negotiate. Despite her headache, this looked like it was going to be fun.

Character(s): Ferrix and some unpleasant people
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: Gold & Amber/Lianth Shrugged
Title of Post: NOTHING is worse than crop reports, Jeffy

Ferrix, head of the Rimbor City dockworker's guild, returned home. It had been a difficult negotiating session at times, he found something creepy about Diarians, but things looked to have turned out alright. Rimbor could only make so much money victimizing its own citizens, or the sclubs in Nylevia. Maybe this deal with Diaria would bring in a lot of money to the guild. More accurately, to him.
He was about to turn on the light as he entered his apartment, when he heard the unexpected hiss of a match being lit, and flinched in the sudden, dim glow of a newly lit candle.
Three men were in his home. He recognized two of them as George Mahoney, the gladiator-turned-racketeer, and Nox, an elf supposedly a skillful wizard. It was the third man, however, seated comfortably in Ferrix's best chair, that caused him to sharply draw in a breath.
"Good evening," said John Tucson.
"U--uh, hello, Mr. Tucson," he shakily greeted the one known in Rimbor as "The Scorpion."
"How were the negotiations with the Diarian?"
"Oh, g-good. Good deal. Contract's right here."
"Congratulations. You did make sure to have it drawn up so as to leave yourself in control of the incoming funds, I trust? I'd like to think you've learned something from living in Rimbor."
"Of course. That is, yes. I do. Do control the money."
"Well done. However, seeing as you'll soon be making money hand over fist, you should consider having your assets protected."
He's here for his cut. OK, of course, he's the big boss. A percentage of a fortune is still a lot. Just do what he says."Yeah. Of course."
"I could provide that if you wish?"
"Yes. Of course I.. I do."
"My associate has a contract drawn up." Mahoney paused from idly flipping a gold piece and placed a parchment on the table.
In less than the time it took for Mahoney to flip the coin once more, Ferrix had signed his name.
"Heads," Mahoney said to Nox. "You win."
The elf nodded and a lightning bolt fried Ferrix's body. It fell to the floor, the stench of singed hair filling the room.
"Thank you for turning over control of all your assets to me upon event of your death," Tucson said.

Character(s): Asinus Paris, Khyrisse, The Paris Family
Author: Douglass Barre (with Khyrisse bits by Kris Andersen)
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Epilogue
Title of Post: Homecoming: Asinus' Story

"You've got to be flarkin' kidding, sis," Asinus cried.
"You know as well as I do that it's the only way to keep things here together."
"Call Fiona!" Asinus shouted. "Call Harlan! Hell, get Glenn and Chang for the job!"
"She's right, you know," Khyrisse said, amused. "And I'm a lot more likely to trust you in the job than some Paris I don't know."
"You can do it, Lora! It's not traditional, sure, but we could fudge the genealogies to put you in a maternal generation."
"I don't even want it, Asinus. I dealt with enough of that sort of thing with Caimen. I'm actually thinking of leaving the island for a time. There are... too many bad memories here."
"So you strand me here? I've got a wandering soul! I can't be stuck on an island running the family! Rauv... how about you?"
"Don't look at me," Rauvin smiled wanly. "I'm a traitor to the family, remember?"
"You can't do this to me!" Asinus wailed. "What did I do to you all?"
"You care about us," Khyrisse offered. "And from my perspective as an outsider--"
"Hardly that."
"--you need a Paris who cares in the center of things. No offense to... anyone else..."
"Caimen was many things," Lora said understandingly, "but he wasn't one who always saw what was in people's hearts. He was a good man, but he didn't always show people." Lora frowned and wiped away a tear. "I knew, though," she whispered, "and it was enough."
"I didn't mean that, Lora," Khyrisse said, placing her hand on the Paris matriarch's.
"I know, dear," Lora smiled faintly. "And it's something I'm living with, one day at a time. But it's not what we're here for now."
"Could be," Asinus offered. "Let's find a subject we all like."
"We all like you as head of the family, cousin," Rauvin offered. "And you won't be alone. I'll stay on here, and already Diana and Harlan offered to take positions in your circle."
"I'm so flarkin' glad I got consulted on this," grumbled Asinus. "Fine, I'll take your flarkin' job... on one condition."
"What?" Lora asked.
"Khyrisse takes a place in the circle. Both our records and hers confirmed what ∆lwyn--curse his flarkin' metatag--said. She's family. Her, I trust."
"I'm never going to live this down, am I?" sighed Rauvin.
"Look, I'm not even sure I want to be a Paris," Khyrisse said. "I don't even know what it entails."
"It means you're a Paris. You've got a huge support base when you need it, and if you're needed, you try your best to help. You also pass information along the Word, offering what you know when it's useful to another. It's less a strict responsibility or duty than a common agreement to help each other. You could do none of the above and still be a Paris, and Parises would still help you when they could."
Lora took Khyrisse's hand in hers. "It means what you make of it. No more, no less."
"You know that I can't let anything conflict with New Trade," Khyrisse tried.
"Flark it," Asinus said. "You've got my personal word that any time you feel conflicted, you're off the hook. I just need advisors I can count on good advice from."
Khyrisse laughed. "And you picked me?"
"I wanted two perfect looking asses in the circle," Asinus smiled.
"Too much information," Rauvin said, covering his eyes.
"Then it's settled," Lora facilitated. "Asinus Paris, by declaration of a quorum of Caimen Paris' circle, you are now Family Head."
"Great," sighed Asinus. "First order, burn down that damn stable and get me an architect."
Rauvin sighed. "Any other business?"
"Not family business," Lora said, "but I did have one more thing to ask."
"No, you can't take the featherbed with you when you leave," Asinus said.
"It wasn't a question for you, dear brother," Lora chided. "I wanted to ask Khyrisse if she might have some work available in her New Trade endeavor."
Khyrisse blinked, wide-eyed. "Grendel, yes! Do you want a list?" she asked. "I'm heading to start things right after Yule... what sort of a job do you want?"
"Look," Asinus growled, "is this my story or glimmerbuns', here?"
"Glimmerbuns?" Khyrisse mouthed.
"Lora, as head of the flarkin' family, I order you to go get dinner going. Rauvin, uh, set the table or something."
"This was a bad idea, I can tell already," sighed Rauvin.
"Khyri--" Asinus leered.
"Don't even think it, Asinus," she said.
"Man, this job is gonna suck," he sighed.
"I'll see if we can sneak you out for an adventure now and then," Khyrisse promised.
"Yeah, and if not..."
Khyrisse nodded. "Go ahead, you've earned it."
"We'll always have Paris," he said, winking.

Character(s): Flicker
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Coda
Title of Post: Vikings Know Genealogy

"∆lwyn's parents were your great-greatgrandparents," explained Flicker, "and Asinus' great-great-great-great-great-great-greatgrandparents. You're third cousins, five times removed."
"Flicker," said Khyrisse, "I don't think I've ever met someone who knew what it meant for cousins to be a time removed before."
"We're kissing cousins," Asinus translated, with a wide donkey grin.

Character(s): Garal
Author: Eric Gasior
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Epilogue
Title of Post: Garal Mourns

Garal sat alone. He had found a hiding spot Skitch would have trouble getting into. He didn't need to think. He didn't want to think. He just thought.
He had lost many people in his life. It was always beyond his control. From the flood that took his home village and his parents to the Madness that took all the people of Trade, he couldn't save anybody. What use was an ability like his if he couldn't do anything that mattered.
He had a way to trap ∆lwyn. It might have worked, but he had needed Jack or Jack to do the calculations. There hasn't been time. Jack had decided. Beyond Garal's control. Beyond his influence.
Garal sat alone, disconnected. He missed Jack. He missed all the people he had lost. He didn't know how other people mourned. He didn't know how they supported each other.

Character(s): Vickie Dare, Garal
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Epilogue
Title of Post: Watching Out For Each Other

Vickie wandered up silently behind the mournful halfling.
"Sucks, huh?" Vickie sighed, startling him.
"I was... just thinking," Garal said.
"You know," Vickie said, "These aren't the times to be alone." She sat down next to him and fished around in her satchel.
"I just didn't want to bring anyone else down," Garal said.
"Pshaw," Vickie smiled. "Aha!" From out of her satchel she pulled a small figurine with absurdly big hair. "Here. Anytime you get mopey and I'm not around to kick your ass, you can use this to remind yourself you're not alone."
"That is the ugliest thing I've ever seen," Garal said without catching himself.
"It's a troll," she said. "They're cute little friends. And you can do their hair."
"I thought trolls were big and green," Garal frowned. "This looks like my uncle Eelspin."
Vickie sighed. "Look, just accept it and give me a kiss. I've got to report back to Pluvious and I may not catch up with you guys for another month or so."
"You, ah, will catch up after that?"
"Sure will, Garry. 'Til then, just spin the troll. It makes the hair puff out."
Garal looked at the ugly little thing and tried to imagine where he would keep it that no one would ever notice.

Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Coda
Title of Post: Home

"Good luck." Ebreth gripped Jack's arm only a little awkwardly. "I--could hardly have helped doing better than the last guy. You've kind of got your work cut out for you." Jack smiled a little sadly. "Look," said Ebreth, "if you ever need anything, anything at all." He stopped, and squeezed the mathematician's shoulder with his other hand, shaking him a little. "You take care of yourself."
The ride back to New Trade felt somehow very long.

Character(s): Marty Hu, Rani
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Leap Week: What Now?
Title of Post: Post-Paris Plans

"So," Marty said, hustling after Rani, "Where're we going now?"
"We?" Rani asked as if the word had been "plague" or "Trillarillia".
"Yeah! I figured I could, like, be your Mr. Watson."
"Doctor. It was Dr. Watson," Rani sighed.
"Cool! My mom always wanted me to be a doctor!"

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