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The Rat King Archives
Enemies Within, Part VII
Rat Kings and Dead Villains
of Post:: Book 'Em, Dano
"All right, everyone just stay where
you are," the voice from the tunnel shouted.
A short man in a oily overcoat and a surly Rimbor grimace stepped
into the light. His hair was black, short, and slicked back. His face was
acne-scarred but alert. In one hand, he had a nasty looking magical wand. In
the other, he had a silver badge. "Rimbor City Police," he said. His
eyes passed appraisingly over the Rat Pack, finally coming to rest on Graves'
"What happened to him?" the man
"He was like that when we got
here," Vas smiled innocently.
"Right," said the policeman,
completely dubious. "I'm going to need all your names."
"Like hell you are," Khyrisse
said, half-whispering, half wanting to be overheard.
"We came down here to find a friend,
officer...?" Val prompted.
"Novoa. Detective Harry Novoa."
"I'm Valende. As I was saying, we
came here to find a friend, and we came upon this... massacre."
"So none of you saw what went on
here? Did you see where the attackers went?"
"Magic, I'd bet," Khyrisse said.
"How about 'Octavian'? That mean
anything to you?"
Vas started to say something, but a glare
from Khyrisse silenced him.
"Look," sighed Novoa. "I
could arrest all of you now for assaulting an officer..." He pointed at
Graves. "But I'd much rather find out what was really going down here. You
can help me, or you can spend a night in the Rimbor City prison."
"Wouldn't be the first time,"
Rat Kings and Dead Villains
of Post:: Three Villains and a Mathematician
"Gee. I don't even need to be a
statistician to know that there aren't many of us left," Jack said to
"Can you ever talk normally?"
"Nope," Jack grinned.
"So it's got me, the Rat, Pieret, and
Val," Tor said. "That leaves Ari, Khyrisse, Vas and you, Jack."
"You're so comforting, Tor,"
Jack sighed. "Still, it seemed to know what we were planning before it
even got here... it was ready for Pieret, and knew not to mess with
"Always a good lesson," Ariath
"It also knew to attack us when
Khyrisse, the most powerful one, was away."
"What are you getting at,
Paris?" Pieret said, pulling himself to his feet.
"He's saying that one of us is a
traitor, right, Paris?"
"I'm saying that the possibility is
"Well it can't be him," Ariath
said. "Even if he did narc on us, they'd never understand what he's
Cori Yashida looked up at the Augustine
Arms. Now that she had finally found Jack, she was a little nervous about
seeing him again. He had been so distant at her wedding, the last time she had
seen him. Still, he was her only hope against Chu-I Po, and if what the guide
had told her before she cut his hand off for trying to steal her family seal,
he was with a reasonably large party of adventurers. Maybe he had new allies
who would be willing to help her. (maybe he had found someone.) Maybe Cori was
just being silly. She pushed open the doors of the Augustine Arms and walked up
to the desk. "Jack Paris' room, please," she said, placing a small
emerald on the counter. The desk clerk
slid her a key. "Fourth floor," he said, smiling.
"I'll have you know that I highly
resent this accusation," Pieret said, getting in Jack's face. "Just
"--Looks like a criminal?" Tor
"Yes! I've had my character attacked
since I met up with you all in Rumi, and I'm getting sick of it. You should be
too, Tor. Even Ariath's been, shall we say, pre-judged."
Ariath tried to look innocent.
"We've had enough of this shit,
Paris! I demand an apology!"
"What? I was just saying..."
"You've been on Tor's back, Khyrisse
watches Ariath and I with half an eye every minute, even Goat-Boy tried to
impugn us by implying we were from hell. Well, I haven't heard anyone speak for
Jack looked hurt.
Pieret continued his attack. "From
what I hear, the only reason you're here is that you pretend to tell us what a
rat wants of us. Give me one good reason I should listen to you!"
The door to the room opened, and an
Oriental woman in full samurai warrior garb, a gleaming silver katana in one
hand was there, standing in the hall. "Jack!" she cried happily,
raced inside the room, and embraced the mathematician.
"Cori?" Jack asked.
"Of course, silly!"
Ariath looked at Pieret and shrugged.
"There's one vote for Paris,"
Pieret looked at the silver blade and the
woman who wielded it even when embracing Jack Paris.
withdraw my objection."
Hronmir Silent-Voice/"Grimthane Darkcloak"
Skeins of Fate
Post: Aesir Said Than Done
Hronmir Silent-Voice awoke deep in the
forest. The battle had been hard, but Hronmir had been able to escape just as
Flicker was knocked unconscious. Next time, Hronmir vowed, he would be ready.
In the meantime, since Norna probably had Flicker well out of Hronmir's reach,
it would be up to him to head on to Dalencia alone. More and more, Hronmir was
learning about his Aesir nature. Focusing his will, he began to levitate. The
wound in his side would have made walking hard, but his new-found power of
flight would get him to Dalencia in no time.
As he wavered uncertainly through the air,
Hronmir could see Rumi to the south. The town appeared to be in flames.
However, from this vantage, his new senses could detect a strange trail of
energy moving up from the town and curving to the north. A similar stream ran
from that northern origin point over the ocean, in the direction of Rimbor
City. Other streams were very faintly visible farther to the north. Perhaps
this is somehow connected to Norna's Valkyrie problem, Hronmir thought. Or
perhaps it is something more. Hronmir hovered, looking south. In the end,
however, he took his letter in hand and resumed the trip north to Dalencia.
Jack Paris, Warp
of Post:: Jack Paris, Spaaaaace Waaaaaarrior!
The figure that appeared on the viewscreen
was a dark olive color, with a black ridge going along his scalp, and had the
nastiest looking smile Warp had ever seen. "Orion," Warp said,
suppressing a sneer.
"Hello there, Enigman," the
alien conqueror said. "I assume you know why I'm here."
"You've got no business here. The
O.A.F. was destroyed in an illegal raid against the Infinity II. The Titan
"I'm glad to hear you say that."
"You shouldn't be. You're in Titan
space now... you're in violation."
"Not... any... longer." Orion
savored the words.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that you yourself violated
the treaty. I'm here on an enforcement mission."
"Bullshit," Warp said.
"Section Twelve, Pact Seven. No
unauthorized alien incursions in Titan Space without Treaty Council approval. I
hear tell that you yourself brought an alien through your ridiculous portal
just yesterday. Less than a week since signing. You disappoint me,
Warp looked over his shoulder at Jack
Paris, who was busy playing Wing Commander IV on the computer. Warp wondered
whether he should be more annoyed at the mathematician for causing him to
inadvertently violate the treaty or for beating Warp's high score.
"How...?" Warp asked.
"The Orion Empirate has friends
everywhere," Orion leered.
"And if I return him?" Warp
"A second violation," Orion
smiled. "No, you and your alien are to be put in the custody of a Titan
Treaty Trustee. You'll never guess who the committee appointed."
Warp's mind boggled at how much Orion must
have spent bribing officials to get his hands on this one.
"Of course, if you'd like to run for
it, we could just let the treaty collapse. I'd be happy to resume my plans for
Queen Trudith's planet."
"We'll be over in a shuttle in an
hour," Warp sighed. He was already going through the treaty in his mind,
looking for a loophole. Still, Warp was a superhero, not a lawyer. He needed
Koal, or maybe Justicar. Too bad that contacting Enigma or the Templars would
be in violation of the non-interference Pact. Warp slammed the comlink off.
Jack Paris looked up at him.
"Got a problem, Paris," Warp
said. "We've got a little detour to make before I can get you home to
"But what about Val? Cori? The Rat?
They're in danger! The King of the Kings is..."
"Chill your butt," Warp said.
"I'm a demigod there. I'll see what I can do to pull some strings for you.
Right now, however, I'm just a superhero, and we're in deep shit."
Jack sighed. What else was new?
Pieret and Ariath
Kristin L.K. Andersen
The Rats of R.U.M.I.
of Post:: Jack Throws Cori's Weight Around
Pieret turned away from the inevitable
reunion chatter, and took himself and his bottle of Cynystran brandy towards a
corner of the room to combine the one with the other.
"You people," he muttered,
"are enough to drive a stronger man than I to drink."
"Problem, Kardia?" Ariath
inquired sweetly as he stalked past her. She jumped back when Pieret suddenly
turned on her. Face close to hers, his expression took on an ominous cast, his
complexion darkening. His hazel eyes seemed backlit by dancing flames.
"The next person who calls me a priest of Lucifer," he whispered,
"will be very sorry they did. Don't dredge up any more unpleasant
He didn't wait for a reply. Turning away,
he continued on towards the corner seat. Something about his unconcern in
turning his back to her suggested to Ariath that now might not be a good time
to annoy him further.
of Post:: The Smile of Ebreth Tor
Ebreth grinned for many reasons: humor, fear,
pleasure, wishing someone was dead, and, currently, damage control. Being
blessed with a smile that looked very similar when he was about to embrace
someone and when he was about to rip the guy's trachea out did help with the
last. "Paris," he said, and his voice was only slightly shaky.
"You're the last guy I would have expected to get caught in a love
"What?" Jack disentangled
himself awkwardly from Cori. "No, no, she's just a friend."
"Were you born this clueless,"
said Ebreth, "or do you practice?"
"She's a married woman," snapped
Jack, "and if you make insinuations about her honor, Tor, I'm not
responsible for what she--"
"Haroshi is dead," she
Jack gaped. "Oh, Cori, I'm
"Worse than I thought," Ebreth
said to Pieret. "Rebound."
"Aren't you going to introduce
us?" said the still insubstantial Ariath, sweetly.
"Oh," said Jack. "Right.
These are, uh, Ariath, Ebreth, and Pieret. But none of them are the same ones.
Not that you'd know any of them."
Cori shook her head, misty-eyed, and bowed
at them formally. "Cori Yashida. I'm the same one, just about
"And this is my rat," said Jack.
"He can talk and derive equations, but most of the time, he just lies in
there and sleeps, like he's doing now."
"Same old Jack," she said,
"By the way," said Ariath,
"who was trying to kill you guys, anyway?"
"Just some marks," said Ebreth,
flatly. "Small-time criminals sometimes bribe corrupt hotels to give them
extra keys to the rooms. Then they prey on tourists. How'd you get a key,
"Uh..." said Cori.
"This inn isn't as nice as you'd
guess from what they charged me." Ebreth smiled, but he had made up his
mind, and he just felt he should wait to explain things to Khyrisse before he
Khyrisse, Valende, Vas
Kristin L.K. Andersen
The Rats of R.U.M.I.
of Post:: A First Time for Everything
Khyrisse had a flash of sudden longing for
her lost massage, strong enough to surprise herself. Okay, I could definitely
be doing better things-- well, dithering over doing better things, which has
its own charms-- at the moment than this, she thought with an internal sigh.
GodDAMNit. "Look, all I know is that this... person," she nudged the
unconscious Graves with the toe of her boot, resisting the urge to kick him in
the head, "carried off my apprentice. I saw it happen via a Magic Mirror
spell, after I noticed my apprentice was missing from the hotel. You say he's a
"Carried him off from where?"
Novoa inquired, ignoring her last comment. The arch-mage and the detective
glared at each other for a moment. Khyrisse, realizing that Skitch must have
broken into the house right before she broke into the house, didn't dig herself
any deeper. She didn't know if her near-assassination by the owner of the house
would mitigate the illegality of breaking in or not.
"Right." Novoa turned to Vas.
"You want to tell me what you know about this 'Octavian'?" Khyrisse
looked at Vas, and the detective gestured briefly at her with the magic wand
before returning it to Vas. "No, don't bother telling him to shut up.
Vas looked at Valende, who looked at
Khyrisse. Khyrisse threw up her hands in aggravation. The paintbrush went
flying and clattered back down into the sewer water.
"We've seen this mark before,
officer, but I assure you that we're not involved with the makers of it,"
Vas finally said.
"Where did you see it?"
"The Rimbor City Arena," Vas
answered agreeably. Valende closed her eyes.
Novoa sighed. "I can see that this is
getting nowhere. Your names?"
Terrific. I'm going to a Cynystran-held
Rimbor jail. I've never been arrested in a country I once helped run. Eric's
going to laugh his butt off... I wonder if he'll send my father to bail me out.
Or mabye Shannon. She'd enjoy that.
"These are my bodyguards, Valende and Vastarin. Tarrin," she
said, gesturing to the Diarian, "is an
acquaintance who came along to help me track my apprentice. My name is
Khyrisse Starshadow." She turned
and pointed furiously down at Graves, not waiting for any reply.
"Right before we got here, we overheard
part of a conversation between this guy and someone we never saw, who
apparently then beat him up. This police officer seemed to know something about
this 'Octavian' crap, and now my ten-year-old apprentice is missing. So I want
him questioned when he wakes up!"
Rat Kings and Dead Villains
of Post:: Tick Tick Tick
Novoa grinned. "Oh, don't you worry.
Graves'll have a lot to answer for. But he's a known commodity. You all
"So you're going to toss us in jail
for being in the sewers."
"Not if you're being honest with me.
I've heard of Khyrisse Starshadow... a compatriot of our old Captain, Javert.
Do you have any identification?"
"I have a Cynystran death certificate
recall in my pouch." Khyrisse reached for it.
"Hold still. I'll get them,"
Novoa said. "Don't move."
Khyrisse glared at him as Novoa reached
into her satchel. The glare was replaced by a look of abject confusion when she
saw what he pulled out. "Do you always carry bombs with lit secured fuses
in your purse, ma'am?" he asked.
At that moment, the fuse glow disappeared
as the spark activated the bomb.
The explosion could be heard from the city
Jack Paris, Cori Yashida
Rat Kings and Dead Villains
of Post:: The Rat Signal
"How did Hari die?" Jack asked.
"A wizard of the Black Serpent
Clan... who's also a demon... rallied an army of ronin and ninja against the
Crane. I... I'm the only one left."
"Oh, Cori, I'm so sorry... after all
the work we did to get your honor back..."
"Yeah," Cori said detatchedly.
"But I can't concern myself with what's gone. I need to move forward. I
need your help to gain vengeance."
Jack decided not to point out the logical
flaw in Cori's reasoning.
"My kinda woman," Ariath said.
Just then, the sound of an explosion from
across town reached the hotel. "Man, am I glad I wasn't in whatever sewer
that went off in," Jack joked.
Ebreth looked to him. Jack's face fell as
he realized what Tor just had.
Cori stood as the four Rat Packers raced
for the door.
"Come on, Cori, I'll explain on the
"You haven't changed a bit, Jack
Paris," Cori whispered.
Kristin L.K. Andersen
The Rats of R.U.M.I.
of Post:: The Fear of Death is the Beginning of Slavery
Skitch's head felt like someone had used
it for bowling in a sewer-- all bruised and sticky. For all he knew, someone
had. He opened his eyes, and didn't see anything. He felt what seemed to be a
bed beneath him; blanket, pillows, slightly bouncy mattress. He listened hard
for a minute, then cautiously moved his arms and legs. He wasn't tied up or
Skitch was about to get the hell out of
wherever he was when a voice froze him solid.
"Must you rush off so soon?" a
voice asked wryly, from somewhere in the darkness at the foot of the bed.
"You only just arrived."
Skitch, not liking the tone of voice, sat
down again, back against the headboard. He rummaged around for one of his
"No, I have your weapons. You won't
need them. I wanted to ask you for some information, and then you'll be
returned to your mistress."
"Truly. I am not the man who
kidnapped you from Barry Spivot's house."
"Then how do you know I was in Barry
Spivot's house?" Skitch flashed back.
His unseen host chuckled. "You don't
miss much, do you?"
Skitch shook his head.
"A few questions, and you can have
your freedom. Not so much to ask."
"Depends on the answers you
There was a silent pause that made Skitch
"I'm not telling you anything about
Khyrisse!" he shouted into the darkness.
"I didn't ask you to. What I want to
know concerns one of the people you're traveling with."
The sound of a muffled, distant explosion
filtered into the room. Skitch heard the man curse suddenly, and someone
clapped something over his mouth.
He fell into that nauseated, whirling,
pitchblack dream again.
Rat Kings and Dead Villains
of Post:: Day-oh! Day-ay-ay-oh! Day-us ex Machina, and me wanna to go home.
Khyrisse slowly opened her eyes. Her ears
still rang from the explosion. There was tremendous rubble still settling in
the passage they had come from. However, strangely enough, where Khyrisse was
standing, next to Novoa, was undisturbed. The far end of the sewer was
similarly pristine. "What the hell happened?" she asked.
"I happened," said a strange
Khyrisse turned to look at the newcomer.
The man, if man he was, had no face.
His entire head, actually, was blank, and
looked to be made of polished black marble. On his brow was a strange band of
metal, intricate and asymmetrical. He wore a black cloak covering his entire
body made from some fabric alien to Khyrisse. "Who are you?" Vas
demanded, stepping between the stranger and Khyrisse.
"I am..." The figure paused,
then cocked his head. "I am Janus. A master of the Five Elements. My
control over Flame was able to save you from the explosion."
"Seems a little deus ex machina to
me," Val said. "How did you know we would be in danger?"
"It has been charged to me to protect
you on this path, Valende," the strange voice from the faceless mage said.
"I can say no more. We will meet again."
"I hate these kinds of guys,"
Khyrisse grumbled. "All mystery and no follow through."
"You've got dust in your hair,
kid," Janus' voice warbled, and a stream of water flew from a white-gloved
hand beneath the cloak and soaked Khyrisse's hair.
"Watch each other," Janus said.
"There is a traitor in your midst."
With that pronouncement, his head bobbed
into the cloak, which folded up into itself.
"Hang on," sighed Vastarin.
"I'm jotting him down on my chart. I'm going to need a new scroll
Harry Novoa coughed for attention.
"Now I really want to hear what's going down here. Someone give me the
scoop in twenty-five words or less?"
The Rat Pack, Octavian
of Post:: Here, There, and Everywhere
"We'd better get back to the
others," said Val. "We can fill in Officer Novoa along the way."
She smiled beguilingly at him.
"Hurry!" shouted Pieret.
"We've got to find the others!"
By the time he reached the point of the
explosion, whoever had set it was long gone. Worse, the pipes had broken; the
place was a morass of filth. Worse still, the three men Octavian had left
behind unconscious were dead. There was no sign of Graves himself.
In fact, Octavian was having such a
frustrating day that when he got back to the room in which he had left the
unconscious boy, he was not even terribly surprised to find him gone.
"They're not here?" said
Khyrisse, her voice rising. "Well, where the hell are they?"
"I dunno," said the guy behind
the desk, and smiled at her a little.
"The fault lines in the stone here do
seem to indicate that this was the epicenter of the explosion," shouted
"Well, where the hell are they?"
Skitch came to woozily. "Where--where
the hell am I?"
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