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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
Through A Glass Darkly, Part I

Character(s): Ebreth Tor, doing some thinking
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: A Loose End From A Very Long Time Ago, Tied Up At Last

"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."
"Ebreth," interrupted Jack's voice. He glanced up at the mathematician as his swirling thoughts fell into place. Paris. Ebreth Tor didn't miss clues for very long. "Listen, you don't have to do this. I think you should stay with the rest of us. We need you here, and it's too dangerous for you to--"
"Jack," said Ebreth, standing up. "There's something I need to tell you. Something I--remember from when I was in Hell."
"You don't have to talk about that, Ebreth."
He blinked and then he laughed, a little shakily, and gripped the smaller man's arm. "Jack, you're so much better to me than I deserve. No, it's nothing like that. There was a list, a list of names I saw when I was being--processed. The names on it were Malleus, Rapkin, Mer, Raimonde, Laird-Clowes, Delphine, Perot, Spivot, Novoa, Tor, Williamseyn... and Paris."
Jack frowned. "That's four Rat Pack matches--plus Harry Novoa and Barry Spivot."
Ebreth shook his head. "I don't know about Spivot," he said, "but Novoa has got to be Rene Novoa, because he, Grayson Mer, Anger Williamseyn, and Malleus the Red broke out of Hell with that first Ebreth Tor when they all went good during the Madness. It's the list of the souls who escaped from Hell, Jack, and it's three Rat Pack matches, because I'm damned if you were one of them. And that means there's another Paris who escaped from Hell recently, Jack. And I'm starting to get a really bad feeling about this."
"It could have been anyone," protested Jack faintly. "I have a really large family..."
"It could have been anyone," he said. "I just don't think it was."
"Flarking hell." Jack looked really shaken.
"I've got to go, Jack. We need to find this out. I swear I can do this."

Character(s): Oh, you really DON'T want to know, folks...
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Skeins of Fate: The Innocent and the Beautiful: Prologue
Title of Post: Meeting of the Minds

Near the docks in Rimbor City there was a warren of narrow, ill-lit streets known as the Morgue. People who willingly went there either had seen more of the dark side of the city than anyone should... or they were a walking corpse that hadnt been looted yet. It was the late hours of a night in spring when a cloaked and hooded figure entered the Morgue. Not all that unusual; a lot of the people in the Morgue didnt show their faces. This individual, however, while of average height, was also slender; a skirt could be glimpsed beneath the hem of the cloak.
There were women in the Morgue, plenty of them--but instead of the exaggerated, hip-swaying strut of a whore, this woman moved with willowy, confident grace, her daintily shod feet brushing lightly over the filthy street.
As she passed by the local brothel, the lantern above the door shed its light on an expensive cloak-- dark tapestry with a subtle pattern, white fur shimmering like moonlit water around the edge of its hood. The woman walked on, disappearing into the darkness again with no sign that shed even heard the catcalls and propositions from the group on the brothel doorstep.
Shes cracked to be comin down here in a rig like that.
Or flyin. Lets catch up and find out which, eh? a broad-shouldered man with a creatively broken nose murmured, getting up off the steps.
The hooker with him paled beneath her gaudy paint and clutched at his arm suddenly, shaking her head. Her concern earned her a slap that knocked her into the gutter. Broken-nose stepped over her and motioned to his friends. They followed, chuckling quietly, and the three disappeared silently in the wake of the stranger.
The whore cradled her face and glared venomously down the street. Her two sisters giggled maliciously at her, and she turned a spiteful look on them, bruised mouth curving in a smile. I hope you got paid in advance, she said, cause those three aint comin back. They got more balls than brains, fucking with the Dukes people.
One of the whores blinked in surprise and turned to scowl down the street.
The other one shrugged. Dont they all?
Asshole promised me dinner, whined the first.
More fool you.
An odd, staticky sort of noise happened somewhere down the street, and the three fell silent, staring into the darkness. It was followed by... not screaming, but an odd sort of muffled whimper. A rapidly widening band of liquid ran down the gutter in front the brothel, bright arterial red.
The three women vanished inside the house.


In a private house in the center of the Morgue, a man looked out over the city through a cobwebbed window, pouring himself a drink. The room behind him was covered in dust, litter in the corners, bare of furniture... excepting the several expensive chairs arranged around a low table. The room was lit by many candles, pushing the mustiness of the room aside with the warm scent of beeswax, and a blazing fire added a rosy flicker to the golden glow. It was probably the warmest and most brightly lit room for dozens of blocks in any direction. The man turned away from the window to set the bottle (also slightly dusty, but for a very different reason) on the table, and paused at the sound of a feminine voice.
Good evening, Lucas, it said. It wasnt quite a purr--her voice was too dignified to purr--but it was dulcet and amused. It made a man think that, under the right circumstances, it might purr beautifully.
Lucas smiled slightly and poured out another drink before setting the bottle down. The remaining empty glass winked in the candlelight like a promise. Good evening, Omeria, he replied, with a slight, deliberate pause before her name. Come in and have something to drink. Its a cold night.
The woman in the doorway pushed back her hood, revealing an exquisitely aristocratic face framed by artfully arranged jet-black hair. She reached out with slender white fingers and took the goblet from him, undoing the clasp of her cloak with her other hand. With a sardonic quirk of his mouth, Lucas stepped forward and took her cloak, draping it carelessly over the back of one of the chairs.
Thank you, she murmured, and sat gracefully in the seat indicated. Her misty grey skirts settled around her with a seductive whisper of silk. She almost seemed a sculpture in white and black and grey, except for the touches of a shade somewhere between red and purple-- nails, lips, the irises of her eyes... and a long, beautifully patterned gossamer scarf, tied in a band around her neck and knotted at the back, the length of it falling loose behind her like the wings of a moth. I hope you wont be irked with me, the woman murmured, with a slightly amused look. The streets in this neighborhood are simply filthy.
Lucas eyes dropped to the toes of her shoes, peeking out from under her hem. Obligingly, one foot tilted sideways slightly, showing him the red-stained sole.
And I imagine theyre not much cleaner now, he remarked. She sighed a bit and drank again.
They get stupider every year, she replied, and changed the subject. Hell be here soon, I hope?
In a hurry? Lucas inquired lazily.
She looked at him in amusement over the rim of her glass, head tilted, for a long moment. In the end, her next words didnt seem to be a reply to his question. Kardia sends his regards, she said serenely, as if she had just remembered the message.
Lucas smiled, but the humor didnt quite reach his eyes. Is he doing well?
Of course.
Has he seen any of our mutual... friends, lately?
The womans mouth curved in an amused smile, and her crimson eyes seemed to glow for a moment. The expression would have sent inexplicable chills down the back of a man less cold than Lucas St. Augustine. Oh, no... hes much too busy. I think he will be for a long, long time. Lucas chuckled dryly, far in the back of his throat. Another deep chuckle sounded in the room, startling them.
I hope Im not interrupting anything, Lucas, said the man leaning in the doorway, his grin startlingly white in his dark face. Lucas companion looked at him, her expression surprised but without fear. She hadnt heard anyone approaching, and her hearing was... better than normal. The womans crimson eyes met the deep blue ones of Ebreth Tor, speculatively, and his grin widened a bit. She gave him a little smile in return, a subtle appreciation of his impact combined with a very feminine amusement.
Id throw you back out if you were, Lucas told him, pouring brandy into the third glass.
You could try.
Ebreth, Duke St. Augustine said, handing him the drink, this is the woman I spoke to you about, Omeria of Gothspadin. The woman inclined her head to the slaver lord over her goblet, eyes sparkling with red fire. Omeria, he continued, with an odd hint of amusement in his voice, this... is the head of the Slavers Guild, Ebreth Tor.

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

"The Blue Dolphin can take you as far as Port-au-Sang," said Caimen. "From there you'll be on your own."
"I can take it from there," said Ebreth, softly. He looked at the sabre they had given him, an unusual metal with a basket hilt. It had a nice balance. He caught his reflection in its flat, and it gave him pause, for he did look the pirate lord today, white sleeve blousing back from the dark muscles of his arm, floor-length blue cloak clasped in gold chain across his collarbone. He didn't know whether to feel uncomfortable with how natural it felt or not.
"We've sent Word about you," added Lora, "with quite a bit of disinformation. By morning the entire Archipelago ought to be well and truly confused about what's going on with you."
"They can join the club," sighed the pirate, and slid the sword back into its scabbard with a very final-sounding note of metal. "Thank you." He looked at Jack. "Good luck finding your aunt. I--won't let you down."
"Wait!" Khyrisse dragged at his arm, and then she threw herself on him and kissed him. Caimen and Lora exchanged glances. "Don't you dare die on me, Ebreth Tor," she hissed, wobbling. "I wouldn't deal with that very well at all."
"Gee, no pressure or anything." He mussed her hair up. "I'll do my best to survive, but you'll be all right no matter what, okay?"
"I'll take care of her for you, Tor," Asinus announced.
Ebreth looked at the ass kind of funny over Khyrisse's head. "Thanks," he said. He rubbed her cheek, then kissed her again; started to let her go, and then hugged her to him almost unbearably hard. "Be all right," he said, into her hair.
"Good luck," said Jack.
"Thanks," he said. "I'll be fine." He said it with more confidence than he felt, and added an unspoken prayer to his nervous system: Please give me the strength for this. All he needed was to break down in front of the Remnant--Ebreth shook his head and looked back. "I'm going to hold you to that, Paris," he yelled, pointing at him. The wind whipped his cloak around his arm. "Get goin'," yelled the donkey.
"You--do know--" said Caimen.
"Everything," said Khyrisse.
"Your business, then."
"Let her alone, Caimen," snapped Asinus. "Now ain't the time."
Caimen blinked. "But I--I just said it was her business."
"And so it is. Let her be."
"What the flark has gotten into you, Asinus?"

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

"This," Caimen said, escorting the Rat Pack farther down the pier, "is the ship you'll take." The ship Caimen indicated was a smaller ship, probably about two hundred feet from stem to stern. On the front was an intricately carved masthead depicting the now-dead goddess Eluria, Mistress of the Seas. The ship's trim was painted a dark blue and white, and the brass was all freshly polished. The ship's name, embossed on the side, was the "Golden Dawn." A gentleman in a long seaman's coat with perfectly-kept hair saluted the group from the ship. "That's Captain Jameson Darklock," Caimen said. "He's one of my best men, and he's hand-picked the crew to handle the sailing. He's under instruction to follow either yours or Jack's orders," he said to Khyrisse.
"What's the crew compliment?" Valende asked.
"Darklock, of course, his mate Nicolas Kier, and four other seamen. She's not the largest ship, but she's the fastest we've got available."
"You know, it would be faster to take the Carriage," Khyrisse mentioned.
"Folks around here don't take well to magicks, especially strange ships. Besides, taking a Paris ship sends a message. People will be more inclined to help out. Those that aren't in bed with the Remnant themselves," Caimen added.
"Are there a lot of those?" Valende asked suspiciously.
"More than one might hope," Caimen said. "Jack will know who to trust."
"I will?" Jack muttered to himself.
"The sea-gods be with you," Caimen said. "If you're not back in three days, we'll come after you."
"We'll be back," Khyrisse said.
"You better," Asinus said. "It's my boat."

Character(s): Khyrisse, Asinus, Jack, Valende, Skitch
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen (finally!)
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: Going to War

Khyrisse leaned one black-clad hip against the rail, her hands behind her head, trying to braid her hair before the wind turned it into an impossible tangle. "Thank you, Asinus," she called to the donkey on the pier. "I'll take good care of your ship!"
"When you get back, you can take care of its owner," Asinus replied, grinning around his cigar.
Khyrisse ignored this, more amused than anything else.
Well let you know what we find out in Port Mayhew! Jack called to his family. The captain says we should arrive there late tonight.
"I'll keep us in touch via dream, if it's all right with Asinus," Khyrisse added. She gave a quick glance over her shoulder at Jack, then looked back at Asinus with dancing eyes. "Have an entertaining one waiting for me." Lora covered her eyes, wincing in anticipation. Asinus, leering, began to reply, and Khyrisse interrupted him. "Not that entertaining."
"Pity-- I'm pretty flarking good at those," he said. "But I doubt I could get you to show up naked anyway, babe."
"Not a prayer, Asinus," she said, grinning.


Valende took Jack's hand and lifted his arm around her, tucking herself next to him on the forecastle. She smiled up at him, the wind blowing strands of her cropped hair around her face. "All finished with the captain?"
Jack squeezed her waist. "All set." He tried to tuck an errant curl behind her ear, and discovered that it was too short. "I think your hair looks good like this," he said shyly. "It looks sort of pixyish. Why did you cut it, though?"
"We're going to war, dear heart... more or less. It's safer, and it's easier to deal with. I've done it many times." She shrugged a little, smiling, and changed the subject. "I have something for you..."
Valende gave him the lock of her hair she'd saved, long black curls tied together with a green ribbon. Jack smiled, obviously delighted. She reached up and kissed him, with a pleased little laugh. "For luck. You can wear it over your heart."


Khyrisse tossed her backpack onto one of the hanging cots in their cabin. Skitch hopped into the other with a hoot, making it swing wildly, the frame rapping against the wall. "These are cool!"
"The Dyved patrols have something like these, for sleeping in trees," she told him, checking her crossbow. "They're fun, once you get used to them. At least," she grinned, "as long as you're not afraid of heights."
She studied the small crossbow in her hands for a long moment, then looked at her son. "Skitch, how good are you now with those knives I got you?"
"I dunno, pretty good..." He rolled onto one side and propped his chin on the edge of the cot. "How do you tell?"
"Hmm, good point. Well check you out sometime soon." Khyrisse set down the crossbow next to her pack. "Come on, I want to put some protective spells on you.
Ive still got most of that stoneskin left, he said, casually tumbling out onto the floor.
Mental note-- get Skitch some armor for Yule. Where can I have leather armor made that will be fancy enough to suit this kids vanity...? A mental image from her childhood danced through her head, of her father in garish but skillfully tailored leather. Dad. Dad used to run around in that stuff all the time... Ill ask him when I call him about the contract stuff. Yeah, well, thats not enough by a long shot, she told him. Trust me, kiddo, you do not want to take chances with the undead.
...Yeah, I know, he said ruefully, rubbing his shoulder.
A rap sounded on the door. Yes? Khyrisse called.
Um, its Jack! Are you busy? Captain Darklock wants to speak to us, the mathematician called back.
Be right there! Is anything wrong?
He says no, but he was checking the instruments and he looked kind of surprised, Jack replied, sounding worried. I think we may be heading into some rough weather.
And not even to Port Mayhew yet. Thats not good... But on the other hand, it does give a possible reason other than the Remnant why Tora and Dar Paris havent made it home yet. That might get us there faster, if the winds blowing the right way, wont it? Hey, will I get seasick? Skitch wanted to know.
If you havent already, probably not. Boy, wheres Vas when you need him, huh? Khyrisse quipped, and finished casting her armor spell.
Skitch grinned. Chasing a girl. Where else?

Character(s): Amatsu Mikaboshi, Some dead guy
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always have Paris
Title of Post: What's One More Undead at This Point?

Amatsu sat in a half lotus on the floor of his cabin (possibly the most luxurious ship's cabin I've ever been in, he thoughht) and poured a small amount of wine into a cup. Then he sprinkled some grains of brown rice onto the floor.
You call upon me again? Raiden Mikaboshi said, materializing out of the air.
"Yes, honored ancestor. This one requires your assistance."
Is our clan still destroyed and unavenged?
This was a sore point. "I have explained, honored one. The clan was destroyed in the coming of the moon called Bane. Those responsible are already dead. All I may do is attempt to begin over."
And why do you require this one's assistance to do so?
"I have taken on the responsibility of protecting a woman. Your wisdom and... ability would be helpful to me, if you wish to provide it."
Hmm. Is this woman from an honorable lineage?
"She is a noted samurai of the Silver Crane clan."
Is she in danger of consequence?
"A demon seeks to kill her. And currently, she and I will be facing a horde of undead beings."
I see. There could be honor to be gained in defeating such opponents... Very well!
"Amatsu!" the elf Valende called from outside the door. "Captain Darklock wants to speak to us."
"I am arriving presently. Thank you, honored one."
Yes yes. Whatever.

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

Ebreth Tor moved silently through the murky night of Port-au-Sang like one of its shadows, something that belonged there. This city was not so deadly as Srankaijhi, not so depraved as Rimbor, but he knew its darknesses better than either. Ebreth Tor had been born here.
The Remnant. Ebreth shook his head at himself as he moved. What am I getting myself into. A pimp was beating the shit out of one of his girls in the alley. Bane glinted down through the tattered awning. It was too late to turn back now, though, and he owed it to Jack to try. Ebreth kicked the pimp in the jaw as he passed. After all Jack had done for him, and under the circumstances he had. It would mean so much. The pimp lunged for him with a knife and Ebreth whipped the sabre out and down in a diagonal slash, sending the man's forearm flying across the alley, knife still curled in its fingers. The pimp screamed and dropped to the packed earth, clutching at the stump of his arm, as the girl, still sobbing, escaped into the night. Ebreth turned the sword in his hand as he walked on. It was a good blade. It occurred to him that Caimen and Lora had not, even once, brought up the idea of an exit plan. He wondered if they weren't expecting him to come back, or just didn't care to expend their energy ensuring it. He rather hoped it was the latter. Ebreth Tor took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the blood from his sabre as he slid effortlessly through the shadows of Port-au-Sang. Stay focused, Tor. If lwyn kills you he kills you. You've got people riding on you, and you just need to do your part.

Character(s): The Other Greatest Thief In Ataniel and Bjorn Borg
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Infiltration
Title of Post: Just When It Couldn't Get Any Worse

"This is by far, the stupidest idea you've ever had," the long haired cleric moaned.
"Are you kidding?" the smiling blonde half-elf asked in mock astonishment. "I hear that this guy has the Minaret. Do you know what we could do if we had the Minaret?"
"Sell it for lots and lots of money?"
"Man, you have, like, no imagination."
"Okay. I'll bite. What could we do with the Minaret?"
"Well, I was going to say we could sell it for lots and lots of money... but that's apparently not good enough for you anymore."
"Feeb. No, it's a major artifact. It's listed on Heirweiden's list of the top twenty-five Items of Power on Ataniel."
"Isn't that the thing that donkey hit you with a year ago? The one that turned you green for weeks?"
"Yes. Yes it is." The half-elf glowered at his companion. "You know, you don't have to keep bringing that up."
"So how come the donkey doesn't still have it?"
"I heard from this poser in Rimbor City, some weege named Orm, that he stole it and gave it to the leader of the Remnant."
"Isn't he the guy you stole the prosthetic leg from?"
"Do you have to be a pain in my ass? Is it, like, your job here?"
"Somebody has to."
"Well, we're almost there. Shut up and put the mask on."
"I can't believe you talked me into this."
"Hell, you're not in any danger. You look like you're undead anyway."
"No one is going to believe you're a vampire, you know. They're going to catch us."
"You are such a downer. Trust me, I've got this under control."
The small dinghy approached the large ship. Shambling figures moved slowly back and forth on the deck, above. Kynvelyn took a grappling hook and tossed it up to the railing. Slowly, he began to climb.
"They're never going to believe we're part of the Remnant," Fleegle sighed, and followed his friend up the rope.

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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

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