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The Rat King Archives
Enemies Within, Part VI
Endicott and the Dead College
of Post:: The Stakes Are Raised: The Dead College
Endicott slid silently into the office
with all the stealth of his ninja training.
The room was black, but he could tell by the sound within that he was
alone. Pulling out the pouch of dust
Pluvious had given him, he took a pinch and tossed it into the room. Two chests
began to glow with a dull purple light.
Those would be the warded ones. He focused
his energy like Garth had taught him and coughed up a bit of tulpa into his
hands. He didn't have much of the ectoplasm to work with, and he'd need some of
it to pull off Iellan Tach, but he had expected to use a little to circumvent
wards. Rubbing the tulpa over the locks, he watched the glow fade. Two minutes
and an inexpert lockpick later, the first of the chests opened. Inside was a
stack of scrolls, each labeled.
Endicott reached for one labeled
"King of the Kings". The Dead College was supposed to be involved
with some major players, and this sounded like a likely candidate for that
He unrolled the scroll. On it was a map of
Ataniel, with about thirty points marked with ten pointed stars. Below the map
was a list of names: "Raimonde. Laird-Clowes. Delphine. Perot. Spivot.
Novoa. Tor. Williamseyn. Paris."
And then, below the list, was a scrawled
note. "No Lich Lords. Very Important."
"Shit," murmured Endicott.
"What the hell are these people involved in?"
Someone was coming. Endicott dropped the
scroll in the chest and lowered the lid. He clambered up onto a bookshelf and
watched as the door opened. It was Greymalkin.
"Damn Beliath anyway," Greymalkin muttered under his breath.
"Ever since he got involved in this mess, things have been falling apart.
Now Mayor Perot claims that he never showed up in Rumi. Where the hell could he
have gone to?"
Greymalkin made a few mystical passes over
the other chest, opened it, and pulled out a small, grey metal armband and a
matching helmet. "Hard times call for hard measures," he said. He
strolled out of the room, locking it behind him.
Endicott let out his breath. The stakes
had just been raised. The Dead College apparently controlled two of the Septum
of Post:: Foreshadowing: Blue Stone? Did Someone Say Blue Stone?
The view from the spaceport was stunning.
Tally would have loved it. The debris from the destruction of the Infinity II
sparkled through the streams of sentient light in the Dogen Nebula.
"Earther," came a warbling voice
from behind him. Warp turned, and looked into the eyestalks of Argos' greatest
"Vert, you bastard! What've you been
"Profound sorrows to you, Wrr'p.
Destruction of Infinity II sadness much is."
"Hey, she's just a ship. At least
Trude got out okay before Orion's people trashed the thing."
"Vengeance to take, Vvert'x is.
Command to give, you just have."
"No plans right now. I don't want to
screw up the Titan treaty over a individual vendetta. Darkstar'd kill me if I
tried," Warp grinned.
"Plans now what are?"
"I've got a buyer for a load of
Warpite... with the credits, I'm thinking of buying the I-1 from the U.S.
government and refitting it. Maybe taking it to the Void. I keep meaning to
explore that dimension, but I always had too much to do. Now that Trudy's got
her kingdom and the O.A.F.'s off my back, maybe it's time."
"Responsibilities many too, wish
though accompany you Vvert'x could."
"Hey, we had some great times. Maybe
once you guys find that homeland."
"Thousands of years search has been.
Thousands more expected."
Warp grinned. "I'm not dying
A tall, green humanoid approached the
"Which one of you is Warp of
Earth?" he asked, his voice low and melodic.
"Warp he is," Vvert'x said.
"Are you Calitrod?" Warp asked.
"I am. We had discussed a...
"That we had. Do you have the
"They're ready to be transferred to
your account upon receipt," Calitrod said.
"Then one flork of Warpite, coming
up." Warp creased his brow in
concentration, and a familiar blue glow manifested between his hands. Slowly, a
small part of the light began to condense in the middle. "Ngh..."
Warp grunted. "Been years since... I last tried... this..." The
strain showed on his face.
Suddenly sound came from the blue stone.
"And now," a dark voice intoned,
"the Rat Kings have opened the way!"
"Vas, look out!" a woman's voice
"Shit! It's the thing that killed
Pieret!" A man this time.
"What is this?" demanded
"Dalen?" Warp said, confused.
"Oh God!" came another voice. "That
face... the King of the Kings... it's impossible..."
"Jack, you're our only..."
There was a strange flash from the Warpite
and the stone clattered to the ground, the contact broken. Calitrod picked it
up and barked an order into a comlink.
"M-money's been transferred,
Earthling," he said, running off in panic.
"Shit," Warp muttered.
"I've never had something like that happen..."
"Excuse me?" a voice asked in
Dalen. Warp looked up into the face of a thin young man dressed in Ataniel
garb. The man's hair hung into his face. "Where... am I?"
"You're on Transit Station D36,"
Warp said in Dalen. "A long way... a long time... from Ataniel," he
"This just hasn't been my day,"
sighed Jack Paris.
Skeins of Fate
of Post:: An Escape, A Death, A Promise and A Name
This wasn't working the way he had hoped.
He wanted to give Norn enough of a distraction for the two to get away. He
didn't want the townspeople killed, mad as they were. Nor did he want Norna
dead. Od only knew what that would do to him.
Hronmir opened his mouth to say something, but the grim look on
Ragnarokkr's face silenced him. This was now his fault.
After Rumi was left behind, the two stopped
and leaned up against a tree.
"I..." Hronmir started.
Flicker cut him off. "Whatever you're
about to apologize for, hold it. There
are more important things."
Hronmir didn't even bother to ask how he
knew. He nodded. "So we head back
to Riklandir?" Hronmir asked.
"I've got a friend who's also a
Valkyrie. She might be able to help."
Or she might betray us to Norna, Hronmir
thought but did not say. Hronmir knew the Doom foretold to him by Norna. The
Valkyrie would be there at his death again, she had told him. The Valkyrie
would watch as Hronmir was silenced forever. Still, he was a man of honor, and
he owed a debt to Ragnarokkr.
Then they heard a noise from ahead, deep
in the forest.
The two approached cautiously. An old man,
weak and broken, wrapped in torn leather armor and a dull black cloak lay
dying. "How may we help you,
grandfather?" Hronmir asked in his low tone.
"Deliver the letter--*koff*--in my
"Letter? To whom?" Hronmir
The man was suddenly seized with coughing.
Blood ran down his lips. His eyes widened with fear as death came nearer to
"M... ma..." the man coughed.
Flicker was looking to his wounds. The
skier looked up at Hronmir and shook his head.
"Be... wa... maaaahlck--"
The old man choked on the blood in his
throat and expired.
Hronmir looked at his companion, then
reached into the old man's pouch. It was empty except for a sealed letter and
some identification papers. The old man was apparently a bonded courier known
as Grimthane Darkcloak. The letter was addressed to Queen Elena Raimonde of
"Dalencia is on the way,"
"And as another man, perhaps my Doom
might be avoided," Hronmir agreed, taking the pouch and cloak and donning
them. "Call me Grimthane Darkcloak," he said, his voice louder than
Rat Kings and Dead Villains
of Post:: The Search For Skitch: Those Who Watch
Everyone hated Harry Novoa.
It was bad enough being a cop in Rimbor
City. It was worse being an honest cop in Rimbor City. It was the pits to be
the Cynystran appointee to Internal Affairs. Not only didn't the other cops
like him, but they tried on a regular basis to whack him.
The last attempt had come two weeks ago,
and Harry felt that the next was overdue. That was why he took to the streets
of Rimbor to do some undercover work. Lance Graves was a Rimbor City police
detective, the one in charge of handling spillover cases from the Duke St. Augustine
regime. When Javert had been in charge, most of the Duke's "loose
ends" had gotten taken care of, so Graves primarily used his position to
strongarm local merchants and youth gangs.
Recently, however, Graves had started
acting strange... like he suddenly knew
what he was doing or something. Graves had taken to meeting with a man named
Spivot. They would meet at Spivot's house, occasionally wandering down to the
old arena tunnels. Novoa just watched. Graves would screw up sometime, and
Novoa wanted this collar.
It was late when the young boy broke into
Spivot's house. Novoa considered going after him, but thought that if the kid
was after something, Novoa'd be better off nailing the kid after he got
whatever he wanted. What the kid didn't see, however, was Lance Graves. Novoa
moved closer to Spivot's house. Through the window, he saw the kid's discovery
of a trap door. Then Graves grabbed the kid. If the damn kid hadn't been
breaking the law himself, Novoa would've been able to nail Graves there. As it
was, the situation had potential but hadn't quite realized it yet.
Graves opened the trap door and dragged
the kid down into it. Novoa would've liked to call for backup, but there wasn't
a cop on the force who would've spit on Harry if he was on fire.
Drawing his wand, Harry Novoa decided to
Then he saw four other people with the
same idea approach the house.
"What the hell is this?" Novoa
asked no one in particular.
The leader of the new group, a blonde
haired sorceress, magicked the door open and headed in.
waited until they were all inside, and then he followed. Someone was going down
Khyrisse, Vas, Valende, Tarrin
Kristin L.K. Andersen
The Rats of R.U.M.I.
of Post:: Let's Get Some Confusion Into This Chaos
Khyrisse glanced around Spivot's study,
shaking her head. "Look at this mess," she whispered. She picked up a
stack of papers and flipped through them agitatedly. "They're all about
Vas bent down to open the trapdoor.
"Wait!" Khyrisse hissed at him,
and activated her true seeing again. No glyphs, but there was a weird,
lingering glow of magic leaking through the door. "Okay... but be careful,
there's something strange down there. Tarrin?"
Tarrin came over and nodded to her, as
Valende dropped through the open trapdoor. "There is... an old bitterness
in this room," he whispered.
"I'm not surprised." She bent
down to call through the opening in the floor. "Okay?"
"I think so," Valende replied
hesitantly. "You should come down, milady."
Khyrisse exchanged a look of puzzlement
with Vas. She shrugged and dropped into the secret room.
"Oh my God."
Valende nodded in wordless agreement.
"A summoner's laboratory, was it not?"
"I think so..." Khyrisse
replied, slightly pale. "But what the hell happened here?"
The room was small, so small that the
bookshelf, lab table, and desk probably had left only enough space to get
around the chamber. The table had the remains of a summoning circle inscribed
on it, but the outline was scorched and covered with dried blood. Several books
had been ripped from the shelf and thrown around the room; the desk was
overturned. There were scorchmarks and the reddish-brown splashes of old blood
everywhere. Tarrin arrived, followed by Vas, who closed the trapdoor behind
"Where is the Skitch?" Tarrin
asked, looking around the room with a mildly horrified gaze.
"Not here, and I can only be glad,
from the looks of things," Khyrisse mumbled, rummaging around the
overturned desk. She stood up with a large journal in her hands, its cover
charred and torn. "This looks like it was closest to whatever happened.
Probably his private journal or spellbook.
We'll take it with us."
"Over here," called Valende. She
pushed the bookshelf aside and peered cautiously around the edge of the ragged
opening behind it. "It looks new.
It seems to lead back into the sewers."
Khyrisse hurried out of the tunnel into an
intersection, and stopped short. The tunnels branched out in several different
directions. "Oh, no..."
Tarrin reached a comforting hand out to
pat her arm, but obviously thought
better of it before he touched her and withdrew it. "I can find the
Skitch," he reassured her. "He cannot be very far from here."
Vas edged around the intersection wall to
another tunnel opening and listened. "Shh!" he whispered, and
gestured for them to follow him as he disappeared into it.
"...the boy down..." an
indistinct voice said. It was calm and unthreatening, but it was obviously an
A laugh echoed down the tunnel towards
them. "...must be joking."
Silence. The scurrying sounds of movement
from far ahead, as the group of four approached. When the voices spoke again,
they were clearer. "Graves, surely
you can see that you and your friends are surrounded.
Utilize what little brainpower you have and be sensible about
"You'll be dead! You and your entire
scheming pack of gutter trash!"
"I am less affected by that threat
than you intended, you realize."
Something about the first voice, the one
that spoke to "Graves", made Khyrisse shiver. It sounded familiar,
but she couldn't place it. She blinked suddenly, realizing that it reminded her
of Bill Endicott's voice, on his travels through Trade with Sway.
"Why couldn't you have done this the
normal way, damn you!" The voice of "Graves" was balanced
somewhere between abject fear and acid hatred.
"Graves," the first voice
sighed. "You are a parasite and a butcher. In other circumstances, I might
indeed have killed you for overstepping the boundaries of your position, as you
so obviously fear."
"I know what you are! I've worked in
this town for years!"
"You know nothing. Nothing pertinent,
at least." The voice turned away to speak to others. "Take them.
Don't damage them unnecessarily, and don't harm the hostage."
Khyrisse gave up any pretense of sneaking
and bolted down the tunnel towards the distant sounds of a scuffle, the others
By the time they arrived in the
intersection at the end of the pipe, it was over. The man she'd seen in the
mirror-- Graves?-- lay unconscious against the wall of the sewer. Several other
men were scattered around the intersection, clearly beaten senseless, but still
alive. Skitch, however, was nowhere to be seen.
the hell!??" Khyrisse shrieked.
"Khyrisee," Tarrin called.
Khyrisse blinked at the mispronunciation distractedly. Oh, right. That stupid
Diarian female-name suffix. She looked around to find him pointing at the wall
above Graves' head. Scrawled hurriedly across the stone was the word
"Octavian" in gleaming white paint. She came over and stared at it in
"Pieret saw the same word on the wall
of the arena earlier today, milady," Vas offered from behind her.
"But nobody knows what it means.
Terrific." Khyrisse bent down and picked up the abandoned paintbrush,
still dripping watery white paint off of the bristles. She stared at it
bemusedly, wondering where to go from here. She nearly dropped it in
startlement at the sound of another voice, coming from the tunnel they'd just
The Collector, etc.
of Post:: Another one for the collection
Fear filled the room, flowing like cold
tar from the Collector. Ebreth and Pieret were stunned by the force of the
emotion. The Collector turned to the intruders and smiled.
"At last you are here," said the
thing in its bubbling voice.
The thing moved away from Jack and Ariath
and rushed with surprising speed for Pieret. Before anyone could do anything it
was upon him. Its fetid hand stuck him across the cheek, flesh dissolving at
the touch. Pieret screamed.
Ebreth, fighting against the fear, moved
to help Pieret. The Collector, seeing Ebreth's motions, started to laugh.
"Nice try, marked one," it said,
"however, you are mine!"
Collector spit forth a word with too many consonants and the blue sigil on
Ebreth started to glow. Ebreth tried to move but he was wracked with pain. All
he could do was fall to the floor and scream. Jack and Ariath tried to close in
to help, but the Collector uttered another word and a invisible barrier came up
between them and the Collector.
"But you said you were going to come
for me," said Ariath, half confused.
The Collector smiled. "I lied,"
he said, as he finished his grisly task on Pieret. The wound quickly healed as
the Collector moved his hand over it. It looked like nothing had ever happened
to the priest.
"Who's next?" Jack asked.
The Collector smiled at Jack as it started
to turn to mist.
Then the Collector was gone.
of Post:: And this is STILL not the worst day of my life
just didn't even bother getting up.
Skeins of Fate
of Post:: More Than We Could Chew
Flicker opened his eyes woozily. The world
was spinning somewhat. Two Nornas converged into one Norna, at his side.
"Are you going to blow up?" she said.
"No." He cursed himself for
provoking a confrontation he'd known he could never win, but he'd had to try,
for Silent-Voice's sake.
"Are you in pain?"
"Good." She dropped his head
onto a rock. He winced a bit. "What the hell were you thinking?"
"That following a rat makes more
progress than following you," he said, and sat up, feeling his ribs.
"That if you're right and I need to avert this future I have to get into a
position to do something. You can't keep me in your pocket and hope you stumble
on an answer, Norn. I'm not a rune."
"Shut up." Norna pressed her
temples. "Where is Hronmir?"
"I don't know."
The Valkyrie gritted her teeth, reached
behind herself, and ripped the arrow from her back.
"You didn't need to do that,"
said Flicker. "I could have taken care of that."
She broke it in her hands. "I will do
what needs to be done," she said, through her teeth. "If that means
sacrificing you. If that means sacrificing your friends. Don't think I won't do
"What if it means trusting me,
She looked at him narrowly. "It has
not come to that yet."
Flicker sighed and stood up slowly.
"Then you have already lost."
"Don't try to pull this ominous shit
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