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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Rat King Archives
Enemies Within, Part V

Character(s):: Khyrisse, Valende, Pieret
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: I Don't Have Burnout, But I'm Slightly Singed

"I have a few ideas left still," Khyrisse said, rubbing the back of her neck with a very dusty hand. "But I think we could use some dinner and a breather, first. Then we can compare notes and get ready for that undead thing. Laran."
Valende turned to Khyrisse as they climbed into the carriage. "What did you have in mind for protecting Ariath?"
Khyrisse grinned at her. "Are you and Vas up for a fight with the thing?"
Valende grinned back, with an unusually fierce expression. "Most definitely."
"I'm going to cast wraithform on you right before it shows up. You can try to deal with it in its mist-form, then, and Vas can try to hurt it on the physical plane. Emotion might help us conquer that paralysis. And I think I can ensure that it has to enter through a point we choose. I hope Jack's right about that time interval, though, or it's going to be a long night." Pieret grinned at her tired expression. "Mordenkainen's mansion?" he asked. She nodded. "You've certainly been throwing magic around today," he observed, arching a slightly mocking eyebrow at her. "Pieret, some things haven't changed that much," she shot back. "I'm still only good at two things that are of any practical use. And making money doesn't seem to apply right now. Everything else I suck at. I wasn't even," she finished bitterly, turning to stare out the window, "a very good goddess."

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

"Well, you seem to be pretty good at saving my life," said Ebreth, and flashed his grin at her. It didn't seem to distract her much. "And you did save the world, right? What more can you ask from a goddess?"
Khyrisse didn't answer.
"Listen," said Ebreth. "I owe you so many by now, I've given up counting. Let "dinner and a breather" include a good massage. On the house--" He raised both his hands. "--no strings attached. You need to relax in the worst way. And as for me, I've been the useless one today. I suck at a lot more things than you do. This isn't one of them."


Character(s):: Khyrisse, Valende, Ariath
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: Unanimous Female Vote

A little surprised by the offer (despite the fact that it had been made before), Khyrisse looked at Valende. Valende got a look in her eye that melded impishness with caution. She nodded slightly. Khyrisse bit her lip and looked at Ariath. Ariath grinned at her. Khyrisse turned to Ebreth as if that quick feminine consultation had never happened. Most men would be unaware that it ever had. "I don't keep count of things like that," she said quietly. "I never have. Once the mutual saving of lives happens, there's very little point. But if it gets me a massage," her smile widened into a grin, "I'll be happy to let you assume you're in my debt. Sure."

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

"You are so tense," said Ebreth, working on her shoulders in a private room of the Augustine Arms.
"I've been having a difficult time recently," she murmured.
"Hey," said Ebreth, "I can relate. This last month has just been unbelievable. But tensing up doesn't do anything for you. Work through your problems, but don't take them out on your poor body." He slid his hands up her blouse. "Don't slap me now. I'm a professional."
Khyrisse made a long sigh as he kneaded. "Professional what?"
"Professional... I don't know. Merchant? Masseur? Sailor? Guy who gets into trouble a lot? We just say "professional" on the Islands. I don't really know professional what." A hand came down on his shoulder. "Hey, who the--" Some man threw him back into the wall.
"We'll take it from here."
"Hey." Ebreth struggled with him.
Another guy had got Khyrisse's arms behind her back and twisted her to her feet. She stepped hard on his instep. The third one grabbed her face and pressed a knife under her chin. "Don't scream."
"Hey, let her--" The guy holding Ebreth punched him in the stomach, and he doubled over. A fourth man grabbed him by the other arm. "Throw him out the window," directed the knife guy, and ripped Khyrisse's blouse open in a spray of buttons as the man behind her twisted her arms and forced her
forward. Ebreth Tor drew himself to his full height and said "I don't think so" in a deadly and resounding voice that almost robbed the room of sound. The man who had punched him turned his head reflexively and almost choked as he met his blue eyes. "What?" said the younger man on his left arm, frightened. "What is it?"
"You have one minute to get out of this room," said Ebreth Tor, cold as death, "before my mood is entirely lost and I find myself turning to business." The man behind Khyrisse released her and fled in terror; Khyrisse blasted the knife guy most of the way across the room, her hands shaking with fury. "Take that with you," said Ebreth, pointing at the body, "or I will find a use for it."
"Lord Tor," cried the man who had punched him, clutching at his pant leg like a supplicant. "Forgive me. I didn't know she was yours. I didn't know you were--"
Ebreth kicked the man in the chest and knocked him over backwards. "You have thirty seconds," he said.
The kid had dropped his arm and was stumbling backwards. "Tor," he whispered, and then turned and vaulted desperately out the window. The other one dragged his blasted companion backwards through the door, still stammering "Forgive me, Lord. Forgive me." Ebreth Tor slammed the door on him. He did not look back at Khyrisse. He took his knife from his belt and drew a line of blood across his own upper arm, his teeth showing, his left fist shaking. He did not look at his arm and he did not make a sound.


Character(s):: Khyrisse Starshadow, scared spitless
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: No More Mr. Nice Guy

Valende and Vas, having dinner with their respective interests and ignoring the presence of anyone else in the room, were startled out of this pleasant pursuit by the crackling echoes of a Lightning Bolt from somewhere down the hallway. They exchanged a brief but horrified look and ran for Khyrisse's room. Jack stared after them, surprised. Ariath clapped a hand over her mouth.
"Ebreth fucking Tor," she said behind it. "Oh, man, I knew it."

***
Khyrisse wrapped her arms and what was left of her blouse around herself, and shook. Under different circumstances, she would be devoting her attention to having a nervous breakdown, but her survival instinct insisted that she keep her eyes on Ebreth instead. Why do I have this thing for the unbelievably dangerous ones? Dimly, she recognized the fact that Ebreth was between her and the door. A breeze from the open window behind her reminded her of the remaining exit. Goosebumps rising on her skin, Khyrisse inescapably remembered the only other time she had been this terrified of a man. The memory was all the worse for possibly being pertinent. Oh, Grendel, am I going to go out the window again?
Very carefully, she activated her true seeing, and looked at Ebreth. Ebreth Tor. That was all. He looked no different under true sight than he did with unaided vision. Khyrisse shook harder. Well, I can stand here all night in ripped clothing, and hope that it wears off or he doesn't notice I'm still in the room. Not very likely. Or I can try to do something to fix things. Oh goody. ...Well, it's better than waiting.
Khyrisse took a deep breath, scraped what was left of her courage together, and moved-- very gently and very slowly, but not so quietly that it seemed like she was sneaking. She concentrated on making harmless noises as she picked up a clean towel from the dresser, and a jar of healing salve from her pack.
Khyrisse edged into Ebreth's field of vision and stood there, not quite daring to look into his face. She prepared herself for the possibility of sudden violence or worse, ran mentally over her remaining spells, and spoke.
"Ebreth?" she whispered. Sorrow for what she suddenly guessed had happened to him tightened her throat, and her next words were hoarse with unshed tears. "I'm so sorry."

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

"Are you OK," he said, low, as if the three words weren't really connected to each other. He still did not look at her. His taut arm oozed blood. Khyrisse licked her lips. "Yes," she said. It was partially true.
"Go and find the others. This hotel's not safe. We should not be separated here. This was a mistake."
Just then the door slammed open again, and Vas, taking one look at his disheveled and hyperventilating mistress, spun Ebreth around and sent him flying across the hall. Ebreth didn't raise his arm. He didn't drop the knife or unclench his fist, and he didn't even look up, just hit the wall, still breathing irregularly. Ariath put both her arms around Khyrisse, dripping sympathy. "You poor thing!"
We should not be separated here.
"Skitch!" shrieked Khyrisse. "Where is Skitch?"

Character(s):: Khyrisse, Skitch
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: ...Doomed to Make Other Dumb Mistakes

Vas looked from Khyrisse to Ebreth and back again, bewildered. "Skitch? I don't know, milady. The last I knew he was in the sitting room with the rest of us." He gestured a little angrily to Ebreth, who leaned against the wall, unmoving. "What in Aerdrie's name--"
Khyrisse clamped both hands to her skull. Concern for Skitch and concern for Ebreth briefly yanked her in opposite directions. Skitch is ten years old, and my direct responsibility. She untangled herself from Ariath, then grabbed Vas' arm and shook it. "Four men broke in and tried to throw him out the window while they raped and murdered me. At least that's what I managed to guess of their plans-- I wasn't consulted, you understand-- before Ebreth made them go away. He's very upset. Don't touch him; don't bother him!"
This said, she ran down the hall to the common room of their suite. Pieret was picking up the chair that Vas had knocked over on his way out. Tarrin and Jack sat at a table nearby, looking confused and worried. She'd just blitzed by Valende in the hallway. She did a rapid scan of the room. No Skitch.
"Has ANYONE seen my apprentice? Speak up, quick!" Pieret shook his head and picked up his cloak from the back of a chair. He draped it around her shoulders. "I haven't. Anyone else? Tarrin? Jack?" Under his breath, he asked, "Khyri, did Ebreth--"
Khyrisse struck his hands away. "NO!" she shouted, "For the last time, Ebreth did NOT do this!!"
She ran into one of the bedrooms and stood in front of the mirror. She cast her Magic Mirror spell on it.
***
Rimbor City wasn't all that different from any other big city, Skitch found. And he was an expert at finding what he wanted in a big city. It might have been a lot harder if he'd never been to Rimbor City, of course...
It took him a while to find him, but Abra the Storyteller, once found, knew where the man named Barry Spivot lived. One of his best stories was about him. Skitch grinned delightedly to himself as he crept towards the small house in a nearby section of town, picturing the look of surprise on Khyrisse's face. The house was dark and looked as if no one had been in or out in several weeks. Scraps of paper and lightweight trash had blown up onto the stoop and against the doorway.
Skitch crept sideways around the house and went in the back. The kitchen was pretty well set up, lots of cooking stuff. But from the state of disarray, this was a bachelor establishment. Nothing but junk food. The copper pots hanging over the stove had dust on them. He listened hard, and explored further. Messy living room... messy bedroom... very messy study full of papers about some Palmer guy. Nothing! Skitch put fists on hips and glared, back in the kitchen. This was an old mess. There wasn't anybody living here!
He thought hard for a minute, and then went through the house again, looking for the place that wasn't messy.
He found it in the study. There were books and papers piled everywhere in the room but on one side and underneath the desk. He pushed at the desk and moved the carpet aside. The outline of a small trapdoor restored his grin. He was reaching down to open it when an indistinct figure grabbed him from behind, one arm securely around his shoulders, the other hand clamped over his mouth.

Character(s):: Ebreth Tor, Ariath
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: An Unsatisfied Customer

Ebreth Tor was trying to decide whether it was safe to kill himself. He had fallen back on Tor's connections, but he had protected Khyrisse by doing it. That ought to balance out, and this could be the best things were going to get. But then there was that man whose throat he'd cut in the sewer. And in the end he was too afraid, and he sheathed the knife hard.
"Four guys tried to rape and murder her in the hotel room?" complained Ariath. "I want our money back!"

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

Khyrisse came barreling out of one of the bedrooms into the hall. Vas caught her by the shoulder. "Milady. What has happened? We need to work together on this!"
"Skitch has been kidnapped," she said, barely keeping from screaming with frustration and rage.
"Kidnapped?" Ariath looked shocked. "Oh, that poor boy!"
Ebreth Tor closed both his hands into shaking fists.
"Why would anyone kidnap Skitch?" said Val, shocked.
"Please don't ask," said Ebreth Tor, very low. "I could answer that but I'd really rather not."
"I'm going after him."
"Then we're going with you," said Vas, firmly.
"Wait," yelled Ariath. "What about the undead thing?"
"I'll leave you with the wraithform," said Khyrisse. "I've got to find Skitch."
"Stay together," moaned Ebreth.
"I don't have a choice!" she yelled. "He's my apprentice. I'm responsible for him!" She slapped the wraithform on Ariath and whirled off down the hall. Val and Vas hurried after her. Ariath made a misty raspberry with her lips. "Guess it's just us helpless neophytes," she said, to Ebreth.
Ebreth put his fists in his eyes.

Character(s):: Valende, Khyrisse and Pieret
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: Tying Up Loose Ends

Khyrisse and Vas disappeared down the hallway. Valende paused in the doorway of the common room. "Jack?"
Jack looked up morosely.
Yet another evening together, neatly prevented by circumstance, Valende thought. Poor Jack. "Take care while I'm gone, darling. Look after Ariath. With luck, we should be back soon."
She blew him a kiss and ran after her brother and her employer.

***
Khyrisse was halfway down the stairs-- and out of this stinking deathtrap of a hotel-- when she heard her name being called. Impatiently, she stopped. Pieret stood at the top of the stairs. "I'll stay behind," he said gravely. "If Laran manages to get through your wraithform, I may be able to heal up the damage in Valende's absence."
Khyrisse blinked at him. "Do you think that's wise? I don't think you should be calling Hell for favors right now... Kardia."
Pieret met her eyes steadily. "No one said I was going to ask for Lucifer's blessing, did they?"
Khyrisse suddenly wondered what the hell she thought she was doing. She felt like the bitch of the universe, leaving everyone behind like this.
"Pieret?"
"Yes?"
"I'm sorry." She reached under the sleeve of her shirt and unwound a charm from her wrist. She tossed it up to him. "Give that to Ariath, would you? It might help. Luthien says it protects you from some of the effects of the more powerful undead. I don't think this thing drains energy, but it's worth a try."
Pieret nodded, wrapping the ribbon around his hand. "Will she be able to pick it up? She's intangible at the moment..."
"Trust me, this is Necro-Lad's item we're talking about. She will. And Pieret?"
"Yes?"
"...Would you look after Ebreth for me?"
Pieret grinned down at her for the first time in the entire conversation. "Your knight-errant will be as safe as I can make him."
Khyrisse rolled her eyes and groaned, in a tone of severe embarrassment and aggravation. She spun around and ran down the remaining stairs, whip in hand.


Character(s):: Pieret
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: In the Name of Love

Ebreth, left to himself in the hallway, heard the soft clink of glass against glass and opened his eyes. Pieret leaned casually against the doorway of the ill-fated massage room. He held out a glass with two fingers of brandy in it, a bottle with a Cynystran label dangling from his other hand. "Something to settle your nerves. You look like you need it," he explained, with a grave note of sympathy in his normally sarcastic voice. "Try not to worry; I've discovered that it only makes things worse."

 
Character(s):: Ebreth Tor
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Don't Worry Be Happy

Ebreth just looked at the Luciferian priest. Eventually he took the glass, more like he was afraid of refusing it than like he needed a stiff one, and took a quick sip. "What do you want," he said, low, with fear.
"Do I need to want something?"
Ebreth's eyes were a little dilated. He shook his head. "Where are Jack and Ariath?" he said. "This hotel is not safe. They shouldn't be alone here."
As they entered the common room together, the undead thing was lunging around Jack for Ariath and the little mage was whipping her dagger around at it with a speed almost as startling as the creature's.

Character(s):: Jack Paris
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title of Post:: Catch Up

Jack sighed. He had forgotten how much adventuring screwed around with any plans for a social life. He mentally rescheduled dinner for tomorrow night. "So basically," he summed up, trying to put this last day into perspective for himself, "since we got here, Khyrisse got attacked by a guy named Barry Spivot, Val got attacked by the Collector, someone dropped a stadium on us and now we have an attempted assault and rape by some goons who don't seem connected to any of this."
Jack paused for breath.
"I forgot Rimbor was like this," he finally sighed.

"Perhaps I can be of assistance, milady," Dac said congenially.
"Unless you know where I can find a mathematician, get the hell out of my way."
Dac blinked. For once, he could actually get a guide job without lying through his teeth. "In fact, milady, I know right where one is... just arrived recently, he's staying in the Augustine Arms."
Dac held his hand out. The woman dropped a few silver coins of odd mintage into it.
"Thanks," she said, and started rushing down the street.
Dac watched her go. Man, what a nice butt, he thought.

Jack waited in the common room with the non-traumatized, non-searching remainder of the Rat Party. Khyrisse and some of the others had gone off after Skitch, but it was determined that it wasn't a good idea to bring the imminent Collector along wherever the kid had gone. The threat of Rimbor was enough. The Collector, they had decided, they would brave in their own hotel room. Ariath, being the intended victim, had needed to stay, and she now sat, wraithlike, in the middle of the room, a dagger in one hand. The other hand was busy exercising, juggling two ceramic balls that chimed as they rolled in her hand. Jack could sense the Collector before it manifested. He was becoming accustomed to the various changes in his environment brought on by its appearance.
The rat started squealing.
The mist began to congeal, and Jack opened himself up to it. The Collector hadn't seemed to want to deal with him before, but Jack was reasonably sure with the cockiness of being called "darling" that he could handle whatever mark it wanted to make a lot better than the young mage could. The Collector skirted the room to avoid him. Now that's interesting, Jack thought.
Then the Collector was upon Ariath.

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