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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Rat King Archives
Enemies Within, Part III

Character(s):: Candi and Bambi
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Send in the Clones
Title of Post:: Situations they didn't cover in clone school

"Omigosh!" screamed Bambi. "Quick, Candi! Distract him!"
The two models jumped up and down in front of Palmer, waving their arms at him. "Master Swank!" called the clone. "I'm being distracted by two women with big breasts!"
"Good for you, my little minion!" called a deranged voice from another room. "Your imagination will serve my evil plans well!"

Character(s):: Khyrisse and Skitch, Pieret and Ariath
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: Experimenting With the Notion of Faith

"Well," Khyrisse said with a wry smile, "if you've got to take a blind leap of faith, it's good to have someone waiting to catch you." Khyrisse jumped down into the sewer after Ebreth, catching onto his outstretched arms to steady her landing. "I still don't get it, though," she said plaintively. "You'd think the Schism Tine were still working or something. A coastal village like Rumi turns into the City of Mobs, Barry Spivot takes up assassination for fun and profit, and now Rimbor City, slime pit of the universe, is not only throwing itself at our feet, but it has... nice, clean, well-lit sewers?" she finished incredulously, glancing around.
Skitch landed behind her. "This is a sewer? I've eaten in dirtier places than this!" he scoffed.
"I didn't need to know that, Skitch." Skitch laughed at her grossed-out face and wandered a little ways down the tunnel, looking for the rat. Khyrisse looked up at Ebreth, a little hesitantly. Her hands still rested on his arms. "You don't remember ever being in Rimbor City, Ebreth? You're absolutely sure?" She quirked an eyebrow and smiled a little. "It's possible that everyone here is mistaking you for the other Ebreth Tor. That's a scary thought."
Pieret, frowning pensively, watched the torn back of Khyrisse's leather tunic vanish down the manhole. He turned to Ariath with a sudden grin and bowed. "After you, my intrepid rescuer."
"I'm not your anything, Kardia," Ariath huffed, accepting Vas' help down into the sewers.

Character(s):: Cori Yashida
Author:: Doug Barre
Storyline:: A Little Help From My Friends
Title of Post:: No Word About Jack

"What do you mean you don't know where he is? You Parises always know where each other are!" Cori Yashida was frantic with worry. If Jack was missing, her last hope to avenge the Silver Crane and to destroy Chu-I Po was missing as well.
"I'm sorry, Cori. The Word says that Robinson went after him, to Lianth, but no one's heard from him since."
Cori had finally tracked down Didi Paris in a sailor's tavern afloat off the coast of the Doomlands. Cori had never actually met Didi, but the Word kept all the Parises appraised of each other. Except for Jack, apparently. "Can you tell the Word that Cori Yashida is looking for him. It's very important."
"Any friend of Jack's is a friend of mine, Cori. The Parises are in your corner. As soon as we find Jack, we'll get the two of you together."
"I suppose I'll keep on to Lianth, then," Cori sighed.

Character(s):: Ebreth Tor, Jack Paris
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Looking On The Bright Side

"Well, that is a possibility," said Ebreth, softly. He noticed that Khyrisse was somewhat less pale than usual. Reluctantly, he attributed that to her near-death experience rather than proximity to him. "If you'd asked me, though, I probably would have guessed a big city like Rimbor or Lianth would have nicer sewers than someplace like Rumi. I mean, they've probably got a union here." He looked around. "Or something."
Jack clambered down the rungs. "You know," he said, thoughtfully, "if we assume the demon bird was a different phenomenon, the undead attacks have been occurring at intervals of five hours or more. That implies to me that it's actually preparing some kind of curse for each of us, not simply stalking us and biting us."
"Or it only needs to feed periodically," pointed out Val, who had had more experience with undead things.
Jack liked that even less. "Either way," he said, hopefully, "it does imply we've got some time before we meet it again."
"Thank you," chirruped the rat, the only human words he knew, and, once he had gotten their attention, skittered along the pipe.

***
It was easy to become disoriented in a sewer. Ebreth Tor had no idea where they actually were relative to their inn, or which direction they were heading in. He put it out of his mind and relied on the rat to handle it. It felt good. Everyone needed a rat like this.
The good thing about his mind-bogglingly traumatic recent experiences was that they helped him enjoy a twenty-four-hour period that included the living dead engulfing him, an angry mob trying to kill him, two sewers, a bomb, and a demon bird interrupting him from giving a woman in a bedsheet a body massage.
In fact, he didn't even freak out when guys with black towels wrapped around their heads melted out from the sewer pipes, swinging chains and growling "This is our turf." His first thought was Your turf is a sewer? Even the gang Ebreth had been in as a youth had had more self-respect than that.
Then one of them swung a chain at him, and Ebreth Tor scrambled back instinctively.

Character(s):: Khyrisse, Skitch, Valende, Vas
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: Warning: Cranky Mage with Bodyguards

Skitch grabbed the rat before it could run off, and ducked behind Khyrisse, heading for Jack and his satchel. Another chain clattered down towards Khyrisse's shoulder. Khyrisse backpedaled furiously. All my enhancement magic gone, dispelled by Barry Spivot, Assassin of Rimbor. No Strength-- no Cat's Grace-- fuck this physicality shit. Khyrisse hooked her thumbs together, fanned out her hands, and cast one of the spells that came most naturally to her. A fan of glaring colors, alternating shades of violet, green, gold, crimson, and blue, shot down the pipe towards the black-turbaned gang. Three men in the front of the group fell instantly unconscious. A few more shielded their eyes, groaning in pain. My taste in colors is getting worse. Must be my renewed exposure to father.
Valende edged between her and the gang, sword drawn. Vas' voice spoke behind her, sounding amused. "Your pardon, Milady," and an arrow shot right over her head, burying itself in the throat of one of their attackers, "but your diminutive stature is remarkably convenient at the moment."

Character(s):: Ebreth Tor
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Reflexes

"Help!" shouted Ebreth, and retreated. The thug swung at him again, and he barely backpedaled out of the way. "Somebody help me!"
Between loosing arrows, Vas pulled his sword from his belt and flipped it at Ebreth, who shot out his hand and caught it by the hilt with lightning-fast reflexes, twisted it around and over his head, and slashed his assailant perfectly through the throat with it before he could even finish his step. The man dropped like a bag of rice. Ebreth stared at his hand on the sword and then slowly opened his hand and dropped it, still backing up.

Character(s):: Khyrisse
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: Damsel in Ripped-but-Shining Armor

Khyrisse mentally smacked herself a good one and darted forward. Just past Valende, she reached out one slender hand and tagged Ebreth with her spare wraithform spell. Seconds later, she joined him in insubstantiality. A chain whistled through her midsection. She stuck her tongue out at the startled thug. "I'm sorry, Ebreth..." she said in a whispery voice, and took his hand. She turned a misty, contrite face to him as she led him back behind the line of combat. "I keep forgetting that reflexes don't mean you enjoy dealing with this kind of thing."

Character(s):: Jack Paris, Ebreth Tor
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Trouble

The remnants of the gang beat a disorderly retreat through the sewage pipe, dragging their stunned fellows and one of the dead men with them and screaming about revenge. They had clearly not been prepared for a magical firefight. This was much closer to what Jack had been expecting from Rimbor City. Ebreth Tor was still looking at his hand, breathing a little irregularly, and for once didn't seem to have too much to say. "Something wrong, Tor?" said Jack.
"You're getting me in trouble," he said, indistinctly.
"Looks like you can handle trouble," Jack commented.
"This wasn't my idea," he said. "I just wanted to help you guys out because Khyrisse saved me from that mob. I didn't say "Hey, let's go decapitate some people in a sewer." This wasn't my idea."

Character(s):: Khyrisse
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: Engage Protective Instinct (and Mouth, Unfortunately)

Khyrisse whirled to face Jack, still floating a few inches off the ground. Hands on hips, she glared at him. "I'll tell you one thing," she shouted, which sounded strange, given that she was still wraithformed. It wasn't loud, but it echoed weirdly. "I've done a lot worse than decapitate someone who attacked me first over whose 'turf' a stinking sewer was! I've done some pretty damned violent things in my life, actually! So mabye you'd like to lay off Ebreth and glare suspiciously at me for a while?!"
Jack stared at her in shock. Khyrisse kicked angrily at the headless thug at her feet, and turned to point at Ebreth. "That was a reflex. Does that look like the face of a man who's used to killing people?" she whispered fiercely at Jack. "I know you've got something against Ebreth Tor the slaver, but this isn't him! Snap out of it!"
Valende sheathed her sword and looked ruefully at Jack, wondering how he'd take this.


Character(s):: Jack Paris, gum on the cosmic shoe
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Why is everybody always picking on me?

This was just constantly happening to Jack. "I didn't say anything!" he said, throwing his arms out. "I never said there was anything wrong with cutting that guy's head off! I was just standing here!"
"Do not worry," said Tarrin, reassuringly, "she is a queen of hissy fits."
Skitch put both his hands over his mouth. He probably should not have taught Tarrin that one.
Ebreth Tor looked pretty surprised himself. "Uh, thanks," he murmured, and exhaled through rounded lips. "Thanks, Khyrisse. I'm OK." He looked through himself like it was a very bizarre experience. "And, ah, thanks for saving my life again. If you ever decide to go back to being a god, put me on the list of worshippers."
"Thank you," yipped the rat, impatient with all these silly human behaviors, and continued along its route.

Character(s):: Ebreth Tor, all shook up
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Not Even A First-Level Mage

The others started off after the rat. "Khyrisse?" said Ebreth, softly. He felt more stupid than he had in a very long time. She turned to look at him. "How do I, uh, move?" He put one wraithformed foot through the other, illustratively, a tired and embarrassed look on his face.

Character(s):: Khyrisse
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: 51% Sweetheart, 49% Queen of Hissy Fits

Khyrisse sighed and held her forehead. I'm going to have to apologize later. I just can't manage it right now.
"Khyrisse? How do I, uh, move?"
Khyrisse blinked at Ebreth for a moment, too disturbed to comprehend the question. How do you move? You wal-- She clapped a hand over her mouth. "Oops!" She considered how to explain this. "We're part of the Ethereal Plane, which overlaps the normal, physical one. Try pushing at the floor-- it won't feel solid, exactly, but you'll feel resistance. If you've ever been swimming, it might feel a little like trying to walk underwater. You don't weigh much, you'll drift a little, but once you reach a solid surface, you stop. It's just yourself that's intangible." She reached out and clasped his hand. "See? I'm solid enough," she said with a smile. "I'd take the spell off of you, but we're both a little safer this way. Come on."

Character(s):: Pieret and Ariath
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post: My Favorite Weapon is the Look in Your Eyes

Pieret glanced around at an intersection of pipes as they passed through it, following the rat. "Does this seem familiar to you?" he asked Ariath conversationally. "I think the pipes are converging. We must be close to the center of the sewer, if not Rimbor." Ariath snorted hostilely. Pieret rolled his eyes, glanced at the party ahead of them, and stopped. He turned to Ariath, his arms folded across his chest. "Are you planning on letting up on the," the corner of his mouth twitched, "character assassination anytime soon? I ask merely for curiosity's sake, of course."
Ariath blinked innocently at him. "I don't know what you're talking about."
Pieret grinned mockingly at this.
"You know, other than the overbearing hostility, you don't act much like Ariath."
"So? You're not acting like yourself either, Kardia!" Ariath pushed past him and hurried after the group, arms wrapped around herself.
"True," he murmured, his face strangely expressionless as he stared after her. "But then, when have I ever?"

Character(s):: Ebreth Tor
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Deja Vu Not

Khyrisse clasped his hand. It did feel solid, but strange. Ebreth banished the first thought that sprang to mind with some effort and asked the second instead. "If you did this to Ariath, could the undead thing still reach her?"
"But I didn't say anything," Jack was still saying, piteously.
"I know, dear. I know." Val patted his hand. "It's the way you said it."
"I don't understand."
"That's because you're male."
The sloping tunnel here was stained in a permanent wash of brown, as if blood had run down the drain here a number of times in the past. The rat scurried up and through the rusting grate. Vas followed and popped it out effortlessly, extending his hand down to his teammates. One by one, they emerged into the ruins. "Whoa!" said Ebreth, wafting up. "Where the hell is this?"
"The Rimbor City Arena," said Khyrisse, softly.
"This is the Rimbor City Arena?" He stared around. "Sure looks like it's seen better days."
"That depends on how you define better." Khyrisse's hand moved to the place her faded brand was. She remembered the look on Luthien's face when St. Augustine had sent him back here. It wasn't something she thought she was ever likely to forget.
"I never did get that," said Ebreth, "paying to watch people kill each other. Seems like you could get that for free in this city. People pay for the damnedest things."

Character(s):: Ari
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Thank God Dave Doesn't Read These

"Listen, Kardia. Just because you knew me eight years ago doesn't mean you know me now. My life has changed, so stop assuming you know how I'm going to react to things. Because you don't. I'm a totally different person now, and I'm really insulted that you act like I haven't changed since I was seventeen fucking years old. Leave me alone." Ariath harrumphed off down the sewer after the others.

Character(s):: Khyrisse, waiting for the clue phone to ring
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: If You Can Read This, You're In Range

"If you did this to Ariath, could the undead thing still reach her?"
Khyrisse glanced back at Ariath pensively. "I'm not sure; it seems to have a mist-form. wraithform may just give her a chance to fight it on a more equal footing. It's a good notion." Ebreth floated up through the drain, and Khyrisse followed him. The Rimbor City Arena. Oh, hell. Why am I not surprised?
"I never did get that," said Ebreth, "paying to watch people kill each other. Seems like you could get that for free in this city. People pay for the damnedest things."
"Don't they just," she whispered. "Um. Folks? I need to show you something." She pulled out the slip of paper from her belt and let go. The note suddenly became solid and dropped towards the ground. Valende caught it. "Go ahead," Khyrisse said.
Valende read it out loud. "'If you want to know the truth about your traveling companion, meet me in the place Patty died.'"
"This is where Patty died," Khyrisse explained. "Patty Spivot. It's a long story. But I came here earlier today, and her husband tried to kill me. He was acting seriously weird, and as far as I know, he's never been an assassin or a mage. The setup earlier today kind of required both." Khyrisse looked around at everyone, almost all of them strangers still. She tried hard to keep her expression and voice completely non-accusatory. "If anyone has any clues about this, I'd be really glad to hear them right now. Why do the rat and the suddenly-psychotic Barry Spivot both want us here?"

Character(s):: Vas, Pieret, and Skitch
Author:: Evan Haag (with kibitzing from Kris)
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: Scrawling Through the Wreckage

The group stood in the center of the arena, surveying the rubble. It looked like a single huge creature had carved a swath of destruction through one half of the place, judging from the way it had collapsed. Admiring the demolition, Pieret wandered over to that half of the arena, having gotten a bit bored with Ariath's constant accusations. Vas tagged along, making a bit of small talk as they walked. Neither of the two of them noticed Skitch's small form wandering along behind them, taking in the sights.
"So, you and our mistress are old friends, eh?"
"You could call it that. It's been a long time, though, and people...change. She's not the same little girl that I knew. It's refreshing, actually." A slightly predatory smile came across his face. "She was rather... fawningly devoted to her ex-husband. It's nice to see that the illusion finally wore off."
Vas grinned wryly. "It's hard to imagine her ladyship being 'fawningly devoted' to anyone, especially the lord of Cynystra. She doesn't seem the type, really. I must say, I'm glad I met her after she left that boring little country."
Pieret turned to Vas with an amused look. "Boring? You must have some fairly high standards of entertainment." Before Vas could answer, Pieret adjusted his vision, focusing on the wall beyond him. "Say, what's that over there? It looks like a slogan, or perhaps graffiti of some sort."
Turning, Vas looked where Pieret indicated. The wall behind him was still fairly intact, and above it was what looked to be a fairly large private viewing box. It could easily have held 15 or 20 people, and probably had the best view in the arena, unless you were a gladiator. Immediately below it, scrawled in dried white paint, was the word "Octavian".
"Who, or what, is Octavian?" Pieret mused, one hand rubbing his chin thoughtfully.
Skitch spoke up then, startling both of them. "I don't know, but that's all over town. I saw it on a couple of buildings, and somebody had scrawled it in the sewer, too. You ask me, they should have used a brighter color. White gets gray after a while, and then it blends right into the stone."
Vas smirked at Skitch, and ruffled his hair. "Your professional opinion, I take it?"
"Hey, watch the collar!" Skitch complained, grinning.
"Sorry, sorry. Look, maybe you should go tell our mistress about this. It just might be important, maybe even a clue. Pieret and I will be over here, taking a better look around."
Pieret stood looking at the stone. His eyes widened suddenly.
"What?" Vas inquired. Pieret shook his head.
"Oh, nothing," he said, with a slow smile. "Just an old joke."

Character(s):: The Fetch
Author:: Doug Barre
Storyline:: A Little Help From My Friends
Title of Post:: Sound Sleeper

The Fetch clambered up the side of the boat by the darkness of night. His master had sent him after the woman from a long way away, and the Fetch was in a surly mood. Prolonged immersion also didn't sit well with him. This time, the Fetch would be happy to draw human blood without ritual.
Silently, it crawled spiderlike across the wooden deck. It easily maneuvered around the ropes and oars, under the sail and finally it came upon the hatch. The woman must be below. A small boat like this couldn't possibly hold more than one person, even though it was built for long journeys. The Fetch crawled up the hatch to peer into the small porthole to the lower deck.
The woman lay on a sodden straw mattress, wrapped in an elaborately decorated blanket.
Stealthily, the Fetch opened the porthole and crawled in. It crawled along, over a satchel laying next to the woman. The Fetch pulled it open and looked inside. Other than the usual sea rations, there were two strange papers inside. One of them was a picture of the woman in regal battle armor. The other was a picture of four young adults. The woman stood in front, next to a lanky young man with long hair hanging in his eyes. Behind them was a tall muscular blonde man with a large scar down one side of the face and a matching tattoo on the other. The fourth was a feral looking red-haired woman with dark, deep black eyes. After dispatching the woman, the Fetch would be certain to bring these portraits home to his master. Anything the Fetch could bring to the master about the woman would be highly rewarded. Especially when accompanying the woman's head.
The Fetch crawled closer to the woman. His long black tongue slid roughly over his tiny claws, leaving a sheen of venomous saliva. He reached one arm up to bring it down into the woman's heart.
Cori Yashida rolled, and half-asleep, swung Oshi's blade straight through the Fetch, severing it. "You're next, Po," she yawned and went back to sleep.

Character(s):: Ebreth Tor, the King of Kings
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Octavian? Already? What happened to Sinko, Ses, and Sette?

"The truth about your traveling companion?" said Ebreth. "Could he mean Goatboy?" He pointed at the hooved captive shuffling along between Vas and Pieret, bound in the indestructible rope. "Did he say anything before he attacked you?"

***
"Masssssster," said the Collector.
It was listing somewhat, and looked unhealthy. The Collector always looked unhealthy, of course, but now it looked especially so. "What happened to you?"
"The mathematiccccian."
"I told you to mark him last," shouted the King of Kings.
"I didn't mark him," the Collector whined. "He sssssssstarted it."
"Well, stay away from him."
"Masssssssster."
"Can't you see I'm busy?"
"They're here."
"What?"
"The damned ones are in the Arena."

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