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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 VIII



Character(s): Khyrisse, Ebreth, Marty, Skitch, and Lora
Author: Kristin L'Kar Andersen and Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Breakfast
Title of Post: Sorceress Barbie Makes an Unexpected Comeback

Khyrisse danced into the kitchen as if she still had her wings. Skitch wandered in after her, still scrubbing his eyes sleepily, but giggling over something. Good morning, Lora! she said cheerfully. That smells delicious... Is there anything I can do to help that doesnt involve cooking? she asked Lora. She laughed a little and explained, Id offer to help with that too, but no one would want to eat breakfast then.
Thank you, Khyrisse, but youre our guest, Lora said, smiling. I have plenty of help if I decide I want it. Breakfast will be ready in a bit. Would you like some coffee?
Yes, please! Khyrisse took her cup and sat down at the table with a happy sigh. This coffee smells wonderful. Good morning, Marty! she said to the apprentice, with a bright smile. Good morning, Ebreth!
Marty gaped at her, and fumbled the egg he was holding. Muddled theories of multiple personality disorder were clearly going through his head, but Khyrisse had other things on her mind.
Ebreth managed a faint smile in return. Hey there. You look happy, he replied.
Khyrisse went off into a fit of somewhat gleeful laughter. Skitch stifled a snicker.
Whats gotten into her? Marty whispered to Ebreth.
Khyrisse pulled a carefully tied sheaf of papers from the front of her tunic and held them out, grinning like a pixie. I got a wonderful birthday present this morning. Here, take a look.
Ebreth untied them and looked at the contract. His smile had firmed up by the time he was halfway down the page. Hah! Serves that bastard right. Khyrisse clapped her hands, delighted.
I know! she crowed, and began giggling again. Oh, to have seen the look on Erics face! Ill bet he looked like he was swallowing a porcupine! And look at the bit about Dad! Ill get to see him all the time! Isnt it great?
The sound of another egg breaking heralded this remark. Khyrisse looked around, as did Lora.
Ebreth just sighed a little.
I think you need something less breakable for a spirit guide, Marty, said Skitch.

***


The lot of them got shooed out onto the patio by Lora to wait for breakfast. Maybe if we hard-boiled it! Skitch said. Marty held the last egg that Lora had given him in front of him with exaggerated care, and sat down in lotus near the door.
Khyrisse tilted her head towards a corner of the patio, raising her eyebrows in a question to Ebreth. She picked a spot where they could see the ocean, and leaned on the low wall. Well, looks like we go after the Remnant today, she said, still cheerfully, and sipped her coffee.
"Ah, I wanted to talk to you about that. " She looked up at him enquiringly. "I don't think I'm going with you, Khyrisse," he said, very quietly.
She blinked at him and put her coffee down. Why not? she finally managed. I thought...
"I'm a little bit--familiar--with the Remnant. I've been thinking I probably ought to go undercover on this one."
A good bit of the rosy color faded from her face. Alone? She blinked. Pretending to be the first Ebreth Tor... Ebreth, are you-- are you sure?
"I think I can do this, Khyrisse, I really do. And I've got to try."
Khyrisse swallowed and looked away for a long moment. Finally, she turned back to him with a faint little smile. All right, she said softly. I think I understand, and... Im glad you want to try, I think. Just-- just dont get yourself killed, all right? I dont know if Id deal with that terribly well.
Ebreth shook his head. "You know, I started this whole thing trying to give you less stress. Arrogant bastard that I was, I guess I thought maybe I could coax you out of your troubles a little. " He sighed. "See how well that worked."
Khyrisse turned away from the wall impulsively and placed her hands on his shoulders. I think it worked beautifully, she told him, stood on tiptoe, and kissed him.
For a moment, he didnt respond at all-- just stood there frozen, as if shed completely surprised him. Khyrisse had just enough time to start wondering if she was in trouble before his arms went around her, cautiously. Khyrisse sighed in relief, and after another moment she let him loose. She offered him a rueful little smile, standing in the circle of his arms, hands still on his shoulders. Sorry... Her smile quirked, as if it wanted to turn into a grin. Well, sort of.
"Don't be," he whispered, touching her hair with an unsteady hand.
Ebreth, look, Ill deal with this a lot more easily if you let me cast some defensive magics on you, before you go. To help you do this. May I?
"Sure. "
A distant cracking sound. Mom, we need another one! Skitch called from back near the house.
Khyrisse grinned at Ebreth. I think I should cast stoneskin on the next one, before Lora runs out of eggs.

Character(s): Rat Pack
Author: Laura Redish (hug by Kris)
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Breakfast
Title of Post: Khyrisse Remembers

"Oh, Asinus!" cried Khyrisse, leaping up from the breakfast table beaming as the donkey and his nephew entered the dining hall. "Thank you so much! I don't know how to thank you for this!"
"Well, you could--" Asinus started, but then she threw her arms around his furry neck in a hug and he lost track of his thought.
"Isn't it wonderful?" gushed the sorceress, releasing the fairly dazed donkey lawyer and showing her new contract to Jack. "I can't believe he agreed to this. How he must have--" Khyrisse stopped suddenly and sat down. "Oh, gods. I didn't."
"Didn't what?" said Skitch, around his omelet.
"Aughhhh!" yelled Khyrisse. "I told Eric he was sexy!"
"Eric Stupidhead?" Skitch wrinkled his nose. "When?"
"After Kit mind-controlled me! Oh, damn it..." She took a long draw on her orange juice. "I'm going to kill that girl..."
"What girl?" frowned Valende, still clueless.
"Did you tell him past or present tense?" Ebreth wanted to know.
"Past," she said. "Aughh, but he'll know I still think so! What if he teases me about it?"
"Spank his butt."
Khyrisse spewed orange juice. "What?"
"Give him a whack on the ass," said Ebreth, "and tell him he had his chance. You know, like normal exes do."
"Ha ha ha!" howled Skitch. "I want to see that!"
Khyrisse laughed until the tears ran down her face. "Oh Grendel," she gasped. "The look on his face!..."
"You need to be more playful," said Ebreth. "Don't be so scared of him, what's he going to do to you? His ass is all over that contract of Asinus'. Ahaha!"
Khyrisse wiped her eyes on her napkin, feeling better about acting like an idiot than she had in a very long time.
"Mrs. Paris?" said Marty. "Can I have another egg?"

Character(s): Caimen, Lora, Rauvin, Asinus, the Rat Pack
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Against The Remnant

Marty didn't think it possible, but the lunch spread was even more elaborate than breakfast had been. Sandwiches, crusts cut off, were piled in pyramids two feet high. Fresh fruits and vegetables were decoration as much as a side dish. Two large ceramic bowls contained some sort of cream soup and freshly-baked breads steamed in a willow basket.
On Marty's plate was a single egg, a face painted on it in three colors and an odd rune drawn on the back.
"Uh, Miz Paris?" Marty asked Lora, "I already have an egg. See?"
He held his latest egg out to her, and it toppled from his fingers and shattered on a pewter saltcellar.
Lora smiled patiently. "I painted this one for you. The rune on the back is for protection."
Khyrisse peered at it and raised one eyebrow. "That's not--" she started.
"It's a rock that I painted white," Lora whispered.
Khyrisse smiled and nodded.
Caimen, Jack and Rauvin entered, still in conversation.
Amatsu and Cori looked up from their conversation in Shikinti. Caimen sat down at the head of the table and placed a leatherbound tome down next to him. "The Remnant," he said without prelude, and the table went quiet. He continued. "The Remnant is a curse that the Paris family has been bearing for centuries now. It is our burden, and thus none of you except Jack are in any way obligated to be here to help."
Khyrisse stood. "Caimen, the Rat Pack is here to help. We know our position and are at your disposal. You don't need to say any more on this part of things."
Caimen nodded. "Well, let me give you some background about what you'll be dealing with, at least. The Remnant is a fleet of ships manned by undead. I won't mince words; all the undead in the Remnant are people who were killed by Parises at some point or nother, either by action or inaction. Many people say that we deserve the Remnant. Others say that it should be a private matter for our family. Regardless, the Remnant has always made the Paris family its target. No one else is in any danger except by being around us."
Ebreth looked down at his feet.
Caimen continued. "As to exactly what the Remnant is, it takes a bit of a history lesson to explain. I hope you'll forgive the long exposition."
"We're used to it," Skitch said under his breath.
"About five hundred years ago," Caimen began, "the Paris family was led by Darion Paris, who controlled almost the entire archipelago and large sections of what today is the Seven Princehoods. Darion ruled well, though his tendencies ran more toward the political than the family does today. However, a large part of Darion's success was due to the intelligence and planning of his brother lwyn Paris."
Jack, Lora and Rauvin all made a small warding motion with their hands.
"This brother was not an evil man, at least, not at the beginning," Caimen said with the historian's objective tone, "but operating in Darion's shadow made him progressively more bitter. Things came to a head when both Darion and lwyn both fell in love with the same woman, a refugee that was rescued from a shipwreck off Boche Isle."
Khyrisse imperceptibly bit her lip. So did Cori.
"She ended up with Darion, right?" Skitch asked. "And so lwyn got pissed and turned evil?"
"No," Caimen said smiling. "She chose lwyn, actually. The two were married, and Darion gave them both his blessing. No, what happened afterwards was unfortunately much more sinister. The woman in question turned out to be a witch from some fell ancient era... over the next year, she taught lwyn things... magical things... that man was not meant to know. At the same time, she slowly worked her wiles upon Darion, stirring his loins and blackening his soul with a dark jealousy."
"Well, I knew someone would get jealous," Skitch said.
Most of the Rat Pack looked at the ceiling.
"Finally, one day, Darion went to lwyn's home to challenge him. There, he found lwyn involved in an evil ritual to widen the Paris family's power out over the world. Darion was appalled, and in his fury, excommunicated lwyn from the Paris family forever, stripping him of his name and banishing him from Paris lands."
Asinus chimed in. "Needless to say, that's one hell of a punishment for a true Paris."
Caimen continued. "lwyn wasn't heard of for a decade after that. Neither was his wife, the witch refugee. Darion learned years later that she had vanished from lwyn's life that day as well. Anyhow, the first Remnant attack occurred ten years to the day after his banishment. A merchant ship out of Port Royal was beset by a ship filled with zombies. It was driven off, but not before Francis Paris, a cabin boy, was brutally slain. On his body was found this note."
Caimen opened the leather tome and removed a small piece of parchment. "All Parises Shall Die At The Hands Of Their Victims," he read. "It was found in the boy's chest, where his heart should have been," Caimen added.
"Eww," Marty said, fumbling his egg. It landed on the floor with a dull thud, and Marty picked it up, pleased.
"From that time on, lwyn drove the Remnant against the Paris family. Darion eventually passed away fighting it, and his position was taken up by his daughter Adria. Adria fought it all her life, and so on through eleven generations. During that time the Remnant whittled away at Paris interests until all they controlled was a small part of the archipelago. Parises more often than not went out into the world to escape it, though there were rumours of Remnant killings as far as Bryttanwch and Kyoko-Ra." Caimen paused to take a sip of wine. "Finally, three hundred years ago, after two centuries of Remnant attacks, a young mage of the Paris clan who had spent many years in the land of Frexia returned to the estate with a plan to destroy the Remnant at its head. He had learned the tale of lwyn, and studied the magicks that the witch had supposedly taught him. With the assistance of Kara Paris, the leader at the time, they lured lwyn from his tower and defeated him, sending his soul into oblivion."
"How?" Khyrisse asked.
"The mage kept his secrets. After lwyn's Fall, as it has come to be known, the mage left the family of his own accord. It is said that his defeat of lwyn caused him to suffer similarly."
Asinus made a noise something like a cough.
"Who was the mage?" Khyrisse asked.
"In those days, he was Arthur Paris," Lora answered.
"So what happened to the Remnant after lwyn was destroyed?" Skitch asked, interrupting.
"A good question," Caimen said. "The curse lasted after lwyn's death, though the fleets of the Remnant had become aimless. For the past three centuries, they have occasionally sailed up out of whatever Hell they come from to attack a Paris ship or port, but there have only been two major incursions since then, both led by particularly hate-filled enemies of the family. It seems that the more anger towards the family the person has, the greater their power in the Remnant."
Ebreth noticed that Caimen was averting his gaze from the ex-slaver.
"Things have changed, though," Caimen said. "For the first time since lwyn's fall, the Remnant has been following a long-term plan. Their numbers have increased... beyond even our current fleet size... they've been employing brilliant tactics... even seeming to know our plans beforehand. What's worse, they apparently have a particular goal in mind this time."
"They're not trying to destroy Parises?" Cori asked.
"No, Cori," Caimen said sadly, "unfortunately, that hasn't changed. However, they have been unusually selective in which Parises they've chosen."
Jack looked to Asinus with a worried look.
"You aren't gonna tell?" Asinus asked.
"They need to know," Caimen said to his brother-in-law. He turned back to the Rat Pack. "About a year ago, some of the Parises, everyone at this table included, worked together on a project known as the 'Passage.' The nature of the Passage is highly confidential, and I can't reveal that to you--the knowledge is both dangerous and vitally secret--but I can tell you that the Remnant has either killed or captured almost everyone involved. We believe that they are seeking out the secret of the Passage f r some reason."
"It's not anything bad," Jack added. "I know what it is, and it's not anything anyone would have a problem with... it's just secret."
Asinus made a disgusted grunt in Jack's direction.
"Myself, Lora, Rauvin and Jack are among the few who have survived. Two others, Tora and Dar, were on their way here to be with us. They were last heard from yesterday morning, setting out from Port Mayhew on a ship called the Serene Moon. No word has come since, and the ship should have arrived here last night. Tora, myself and Asinus are the only ones who know the actual location of the Passage, and it is imperative that we find her and Dar."
"So that's what you want us to start with?" Jack asked.
"Unless anyone has any other ideas," Lora said.

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

Ebreth cleared his throat. "Well actually," he whispered, "I do." Caimen looked at him, and he rubbed his neck. "If I, ah, went and joined up with the Remnant," he said, "with the intention of betraying them later, right, would you tell your people not to kill me?"
"If I remembered," he said.
"Damn me," sighed Ebreth, "but I guess I'll just have to trust your memory, then."
"Hold on a minute," said Jack. "Ebreth, you're not well. You can't go infiltrate the Remnant like this."
"The flark he can't," snapped Asinus.
"What else can I do, Jack? I have an ace up my sleeve, you want me to leave it there?"
"I'll go too," announced Marty.
"Ah," said Ebreth, "Marty, I think that's not a great idea. Why don't you and the egg stay with Jack."
"But I'm, like, your apprentice!" wailed Marty.
"Yeah, and I'm telling you to stay here and do what Jack says. This is something I have to do alone."
That made Rauvin cough. "Please forgive the way this is going to sound," he said, sounding genuinely apologetic. "But how do we know you're not going to join them and betray us?"
"Well, you don't," he said. "I'm afraid you're just going to have to trust me."
"Thanks," muttered Caimen. "You're sure about this, Jack? Our whole house could be riding on this."
"I trust him," said Jack, "but this is a terrible idea. He's in no condition to be doing--"
"Jack, shut up," said Caimen.
"I'll be okay."
Rauvin was looking at him carefully. "I think we should let him go," he opined.
"I have to try," said Ebreth, not really to anyone.
"Guilty conscience?" said Caimen.
"The Remnant isn't my fault," he said. "I didn't kill those men. I am doing this--for my friend. That's all."

***


"Ebreth Tor," murmured lwyn. "Very interesting indeed."

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