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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Rat King Archives
Enemies Within, Part IV

Character(s): King of Kings, The Collector
Author:: Jeff Hersh
Storyline::
Title of Post:: Moving day

"In the arena? Hmmm, this is unexpected." The King of Kings started pacing. The Collector watched the cloaked figure as he thought. "It is too soon. There are still tasks to be done before the merging can take place." The Collector's glowing eyes watched emotionlessly. "Looks like we will have to relocate. Get the blue rock from the vault." The Collector shuffled out the room and down the corridor. After a few minutes it returned carrying a blue stone about the size of a small chair surrounded by some magical force field. "Very good. I always knew shielding this thing was a wise idea. Put it in the circle of invocation." The Collector hissed in affirmation and did as his master commanded. The Collector then stepped away as the King of Kings approached chanting arcane words. Flame and energy arose from the perimeter of the circle and oozed outwards. Then with a burst of energy the stone was consumed and the lair of the King of Kings was gone leaving a large space.

***
The earth was shaking.
"What's that?" asked Skitch.
"Earthquake?" replied Pieret.
"Here?" said Jack. "I hate to say this, but the underlying tectonic structure of the island precludes earthquakes."
Everyone started at Jack blankly and the ground started to shake even more.
"Earthquakes are not very likely on this island." Jack said exasperated.
As if to reply the entire arena started to shake and groan. Just then the ground gave away beneath everyone and plunged them into darkness.

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

Had he been solid, his vertical spring from the collapsing floor of the arena would have intersected the facade of the falling box seats. From there the tightening of his arm muscles would have sent him flying over it backwards and off the crumbling dugout to the safety of the amphitheater wall, and he would probably have looked pretty good doing it.
As it was, Ebreth Tor slid foggily down the drain.

Character(s):: Khyrisse, Vas, Skitch, Pieret
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: Be Prepared is the Grendel Scout Motto!

The arena shook violently and broke apart beneath them. Ebreth, betrayed by his reflexes once again, disappeared into their rapidly collapsing surroundings.
Khyrisse, cursing, cupped her hands in a roughly circular shape and thrust them outwards. Wisps of multi-colored light swirled from her hands and circled around the group. It looked similar to the color spray she'd used earlier, but the colors pulsed rapidly brighter, in tandem with an increasingly pained look on Khyrisse's face. A scintillating sphere of blinding colors snapped into being around Jack and the Rat, Valende, Ariath, Khyrisse, and Tarrin. The shaking of the ground stopped abruptly, but the sounds of destruction continued from outside.
Khyrisse grabbed Valende, gasping in pain, and told her fiercely, "Don't let anyone leave the sphere, it'll kill them!" and dove out through the coruscating wall of color.
As the floor collapsed beneath them, Vas invoked his ability of flight. Looking quickly to Pieret, he was surprised to find him also in the midst of invoking a spell. Taking that as a good sign, he sped off towards Skitch, who was trying desperately to leap to an island of rock that had not yet collapsed. Diving low, he grabbed Skitch by the seat of his pants, and slung him around onto his back. "Hold on, kiddo!" he shouted over the noise of the demolition. Skitch grabbed tight, and looked down as the two of them soared upwards. "Holy mackerel! Wouldja look at that!" As Vas looked back down, he could see the floor of the arena collapse in a thunderous roar. Vas had a worried moment, looking down at the destruction. A soft breeze caressed his face, spiraling upwards out of the choking clouds of dust. Pieret appeared, floating gently upwards through a clearing path of air, looking completely untouched and much too comfortable. He looked back down into the mess. "I can't hold this for long," he said distractedly. "Any sign of the others?"
Vas pointed to another area of the former arena. A scintillating globe began to appear as the air cleared, hovering above the wreckage by a good fifty feet. Pieret grinned. "What a clever way to use a prismatic sphere. I wonder how she plans to get them out."
"Where's Goatboy?" Skitch asked.
Pieret shook his head. "My spell can't carry more than one person. I'm afraid he's down there somewhere."

Character(s):: Khyrisse
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post: Oklahoma This Ain't

Khyrisse dove down into the collapsing mess after Ebreth, flattening herself and wriggling through the gaps between the falling rocks. She found him underneath a pile of the collapsed arena in the sewer line they'd crawled up from. He had already figured out that his wraithform couldn't be hurt by this, from the looks of it. He was probably trying to figure out how to "flatten" enough to get out. He had that confused and tired look again. Khyrisse tapped him on the shoulder. Anything she said was drowned out by the roar of settling rock above them, but she gestured to him, and then to herself. By degrees, she led him out of the tangle of arena rubble. She flopped down on a chunk of one of the stands and grinned shakily at Ebreth. "You know, we have to stop meeting like this. People are going to talk."

Character(s):: Ebreth Tor, Jack Paris
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: The Things That Come To Mind

There were probably a lot of people out there who would have paid a lot of money to see the Rimbor City Arena fall on Ebreth Tor. For some reason that was the main thing he was thinking as he watched the big ass chunks of rock batter down around him. He was also wondering how such a shittily constructed, shittily conceived institution had ever been such a moneymaker, and why anyone would build a stadium on top of a huge empty cavern. Then he wondered if he needed to breathe while in wraithform, and then Khyrisse, apparently his new guardian angel, oozed out from between some rubble and smiled mistily at him. If this wasn't so slapstick, it might be romantic.

***
The rat sucked in its little cheeks and ran in distracted circles on Jack's chest. Jack propped himself up on his elbows and looked at him. "Yes, I agree," he said, and sucked his own cheeks in.
The rat jumped up and down delightedly. "Thank you!"
"Jack?" said Val, sweetly. "Can you fill the rest of us in, darling?"
"Vacuum," he said. "The space beneath the arena imploded when something large down there was displaced, creating a vacuum. Which, naturally, was filled by the surrounding rock, creating serious geologic instabilities in the immediate area." Ariath kind of looked at him. "Fall down go boom."

Character(s):: Khyrisse, Ebreth, Vas, Val, Skitch, Ariath, Pieret
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: Some of Us Have Wings, But Not a Halo in Sight

Ebreth's body gradually became solid as Khyrisse sat and rubbed her throbbing temples. "I was afraid of that." She held up her own hand and watched it grow opaque. "That would have been really ugly."
Ebreth helped her up. "There's probably an exit to the surface nearby. We'll use that."
"Good, 'cause I only have one wraithform spell left, and I want to save it to use against that undead thing."
A dusty slant of light appeared in the tunnel after a few minutes of exploring. Looking out of the broken sewer pipe, they saw the remains of the Rimbor City Arena lying in a shattered heap, curving downwards into the cavern that had opened beneath it. Khyrisse's prismatic sphere glowed in the distance, floating in mid-air like a multi-colored sun. Three little figures floated near it, one noticeably smaller than the other two. Khyrisse sighed in relief. Ebreth tested the stability of the nearest rock. It settled a little, puffing more dust into the air. Khyrisse eyed it dubiously. The pounding in her head hadn't diminished much. She wasn't looking forward to scrambling through the wreckage. "That doesn't look very safe, does it?" she asked him, one hand clamped to her aching skull. "Why don't I use my fly spell on you, instead? If, of course," she added with a brief but extremely impish grin, "you don't mind carrying me over there."
Vas cast dimension door and appeared inside the sphere next to his sister, with Skitch still perched on his back. Skitch waved the embroidered Trade Sigil like a flag. "We've got an idea! Everybody clear some space!"
"Don't touch the walls!" Valende warned. She tucked her arm through Jack's and got the two of them out of the way.
Vas took the scrap of fabric from Skitch and aimed carefully for the center of the sphere. With a flourish, he expanded it into the Carriage. The phantom horses shied away from the wall at their noses. The horses and the carriage barely fit inside. "Everyone climb aboard, and we may rest in comfort," Vas said smugly. "All we shall need then is for the Lady Khyrisse to dispel her prismatic sphere."
"The Lady Khyrisse," said Pieret in a wry voice from outside the sphere, "is dallying with her knight-errant... but it looks like they'll be here shortly."
"What are you standing on?" Ariath wanted to know. Pieret's voice was level with them.
"Thin air and the grace of a departed deity. Hurry up."

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

It was apparently the day for experimenting with forms of magical transportation. Luckily Ebreth Tor was blessed with a stomach like the Rock of Takatu; if there was a way to make him motion-sick, those more thorough and malicious than Khyrisse had failed to find it, so he didn't worry himself over losing his lunch in mid-air and concentrated on getting where he was going.
Khyrisse dispelled the prismatic sphere with a pop of colors. She was surprised but a little pleased to see the Trade Carriage waiting for her. "Good. Let's get back to our inn."
"Yeah," said Jack, consulting his internal chronometer, "it'll be time for our next appointment with the undead thing soon."
Val winced. "Jack, dear, do you have to put it that way?"
Ebreth felt his iron stomach plunge suddenly. "Goatboy," he whispered. "Where is Goatboy?"
"I don't know," said Pieret. "I couldn't keep a hold of him."
"Oh, fuck," said Ebreth. "We've got to find him."
"If he gets loose, he'll probably try to kill Tarrin again," agreed Val. "Jack, tell them about the vacuum."
"A large area beneath the arena was suddenly displaced," said Jack. "That caused the surrounding structure to rush into the empty space, and that caused the massive collapse we witnessed. I'd guess somebody teleported an entire underground complex without bothering to stabilize the matter exchange parameters."
"But what--what could have been down there?"
"We are going to have to go down and look," said Ebreth. "We've got to find Goatboy."

Character(s):: Cori Yashida
Author:: Doug Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Happy Days Are Here Again?

Cori sat depressed in the Mithril Dagger. The bartender had been very forthright about Jack's appearance here a few days ago. The tale of the rat had Cori in tears of laughter, but two hours later, she hadn't a clue as to how to proceed. "If Luthien comes back, maybe he'll be able to help you. At least try a scry or something," Kevin offered.
"Another blue," Cori sighed.
"So is this guy your boyfriend?" Kayla asked. The waitress was wearing a strange, fur-lined jacket that seemed like it would be much too warm in this climate, but she carried it off well.
"No, no, just a friend..." Cori said, trailing off. Reena had always been the one interested in Jack, but Jack was too silly to notice it. In the end, Reena had ended up with Crandall until his death at the hands of that bitch Gabriella. Date Jack? The thought was absurd. Especially since Haroshi had only died a week ago. Still, she felt a strange excitement at the idea of seeing her old friend again.
Cori shrugged it off. This was business.
"Cori Yashida?" a voice asked from behind her, causing her to jump in her chair. Then her sword was an inch from the throat the voice had come from. It was a young man, tall but well-built, with curly blonde hair and a thick mustache. He was dressed in seaman's clothes, and there was blood staining one leg of his breeches.
Kevin looked at the door. He hadn't even seen it open.
"I'm Anders Mahalo Paris, ma'am." the seaman said.
"Cori Yashi--but you already knew that."
"I took a short trip here to let you know what we've found out about Jack. The Word mentioned that you were looking for him."
"How did you know I'd be here?"
"Everyone coming to Lianth with a problem ends up in the Mithril Dagger," Anders said.
"So have you found him?" Cori demanded.
"Yes, ma'am. He's been spotted in Rimbor City."
Rimbor City. Cori remembered their last visit there. The Unearthed Colossus. Crandall's drinking tour that had ended with all of them in prison. Their first encounter with Gabriella. Those were good days. Maybe, just maybe...
"I've got to stay here in Lianth," Anders continued. "I'm looking for Jack's father--he's missing too--but I've talked to a friend of mine and booked you passage. Can you get to the wharfs by eight tonight?"
Cori could have kissed the rough looking sailor. "I'm there. Thank you so much, Anders. I'm in your debt."
"Any friend of Jack's is a friend of mine," he said.
"Should the Paris family ever need the sword of Cori Yashida, it is at your disposal."
"Thank you, ma'am. I'll be sure to tell the Word." Anders smiled, bowed, and slipped away.
Cori slugged down the rest of her Shikintu Blue and brought the empty glass up to the bar. "Thanks, Kevin. I'll let you know how this all ends." With that, she headed off to the wharves, first at a walk, but finally at a run.

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

Hours of searching had failed to unearth any sign of Goatboy. This was upsetting Ebreth to no end. Either he was alive and he'd escaped, or he had died and, probably, gone back to Hell. Ebreth didn't know which was worse. As he edged around a crumbling hunk of marble his hand fell on something soft. Ebreth pushed around the stone. It was ten dead rats, tied together by their tails. Before him the tunnel ended in a huge cavern full of fallen rubble.

***
"This would be where the vacuum was," said Jack, looking out over it. "Before it was a vacuum, this tunnel probably connected to it."
"I have seen the rats like this before," said Tarrin. "In Diaria the rats like this. Very strange."
The rat made a little moaning sound and huddled in Jack's satchel.

Character(s):: The Rat, Tarrin
Author:: Jeff Hersh
Storyline:: What the Rat Saw / Mind Games
Title of Post:: Memories of rodents

Tarrin put his hand up to his temples.
"What's wrong?" asked Jack.
"Pain... Many voices in pain..."
The entire group gave each other confused looks.
"Maybe you'd better sit down," said Ariath, trying to be helpful.
Tarrin looked at the rat kings and then back at Jack.
"Jack," Tarrin said with obvious strain, "Let me hold the rat. I think it holds the answers."
Jack looked hesitant.
"I won't hurt it, Jack."
Jack reached into his satchel and pulled out the quivering rodent.
"My god!" whispered Khyrisse. "I can feel its fear. Are you doing that, Tarrin?"
"No," the Diari priest responded, "Whatever this creature has been through in this place must have triggered some sort of memory trauma."
Tarrin gently grabbed the rat and his mind exploded with the rat's thoughts.
He was in a cage filled to overflowing with rats. So many rats that he couldn't move without stepping on one. Terror is all he remembered. He remembered being snatched in the alley and being tied to a stick. He remembered feeling sick, then being someplace else. He then remembered being stuffed in this cage with hundreds of other rats.
He sniffed the air. Decay, ozone, sulfur and acrid smoke flooded into his nostrils.
"It is time," he heard a human voice say. "Fetch the first group."
Memory was then fragmentary. He was placed in a circle of magic with other rats. The hooded hand and the horrible thing were just outside of the barrier. The hooded man started to chant, it was almost like singing, then the pain began. He felt himself being turned by irresistible forces. He
felt heat and cold ripple through his body. He felt his tail turn liquid and join with the others. He felt terror. Then something changed. He heard other voices like his. The other rats were in his mind. He was confused and scared. He had to flee. Strength rippled through his body; he knew he could escape if his bided his time.
"Well?" the thing said in a liquidy voice.
"It looks successful. If they all go as easy as this one the project will be archived before the year is out."
He felt the circle of magic fall, and he made his move. With all his strength, he pulled. He pulled with strength motivated by fear. Then there was that awful tearing sound, and the pain. He felt the crystals of shock fill his body, but he was free.
"Get it, Laran! That rat must not escape!" yelled the hooded man.
He felt the dead thing trying to corner him. Then something flared inside him. He felt cool, and light emanated from his underside. Then he was someplace else.
Tarrin shook his head as he came out of the trance. Val caught him as he started to faint. "Easy there," she said.
"Sorry."
"What did you find?" asked Khyrisse.
"A place. I think it was this place, before it disappeared. It feels the same. It was horrible. The rats were screaming."
Tarrin looked at the rat and the rat looked back at him with oil drop eyes.
-I understand,- Tarrin said in the rodent's mind.
The rat just looked at him, with an expression that could best be described as pain.
"The rat-- his name is Seeker of Places, by the way-- is a brave creature. I was once part of one of those," he said pointing to the rat king. "He managed to escape, and then invoke some sort of magic. However, that is not the most important thing. I found out the undead thing's name."
Everyone's ears perked at this news.
"Well, don't keep us waiting," said Vas. "What is the thing called?"
"Laran."

Character(s):: Ebreth Tor, Jack Paris
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Is There A Prophet In The House?

"I was once part of one of those," said Tarrin, solemnly, and pointed at the bundle of dead rats. Ebreth ignored his pronoun difficulties. "I found out the undead thing's name. Laran."
"Do undead things have to obey you if you know their names?" said Ebreth, hopefully. "Sit, Laran, sit!"
"Laran?" said Khyrisse. "That couldn't be Laran Raimonde, could it?"
Jack stroked the exhausted rat's head. "Tarrin just did something," he commented.
"Well, duh, Jack," said Skitch.
"No, I mean he just did something. I wonder if this is related to Goatboy's tautology."
"I understand," the rat lied.
"We'd better find a new prophetic course as soon as we can."
"Well, how do we do that?" said Val.
"Usually," said Jack, "they find you."


Character(s):: Ebreth Tor, not undead
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Blissfully Unaware

Ebreth wiped his hands on his pants as he emerged from the rubble of what had apparently once been the Rimbor City Arena. It was starting to get dark. "Well, now what?" he said cheerfully. "Looks like we're out of leads again. Want to go back to the inn and try to set up a trap for our man Laran? Or does the rat have a better idea?"
"I think this was his idea for today," Jack murmured. The rat looked utterly exhausted. "Tomorrow morning I'll see if the convergence has moved on."
"We still have a date," Val reminded him.
"Hey, save it till after the undead thing tries to curse me, Romeo!" complained Ariath.

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