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The Rat King Archives
Harry Novoa, Jack Paris
In The City We Have Plenty Of Psychodramas, Part I
Rat Kings and Dead Villains
of Post:: Return of the Farce
Harry Novoa drummed his fingers as he watched
Khyrisse and Valende try to get information out of the desk clerk. Stupid, he
thought. These modern women think a pretty smile and a bit of leg can get them
out of any problem.
Harry walked up behind the two and pulled
out his badge. "Rimbor City Police," he leered, trying to look as
corrupt as everyone else.
"They... uh... ran out in a
hurry," the clerk stammered. "Right after the earthquake!"
"Oh, we're back in the Tobrinese
farce again," Vas smirked.
"The strange thing," Jack
continued. "Is that the entire force of the explosion seems to have been
directed in one direction. See, there's a cutoff line right along here.
However, the area of effect is consistent with the effects of the previous
bomb. It's like half the force of the bomb just dissipated."
"Something that can absorb
fire?" Ariath offered.
"Perhaps," Jack said. "I'm,
uh, not the best in terms of magical zoology."
"Could your friends have been
destroyed in the explosion?" Cori asked.
"Khyrisse couldn't," Tor said
Kristin L.K. Andersen
The Rats of R.U.M.I.
of Post:: It's Been Lovely, But I Have to Scream Now
Khyrisse blew the last of her sending
spells to contact Jack. She wasn't staying in this hotel and waiting for a
fourth attempt on her life, that was for sure.
In fact, if it weren't for the fact that
Skitch were still missing, she would have taken her bodyguards, her apprentice,
and her Trade Carriage right the hell out of Rimbor. Fuck the rat. Fuck the
creepy undead thing. Fuck the police. Barry Spivot could have Rimbor. Tarrin,
Vas, Valende, and I are at the hotel, she sent. Skitch still missing. Police
involved, detective with us. Where shall we meet you, if at all?
She sat down, poured herself a brandy from
Pieret's abandoned bottle, and waited for a reply. Now she knew how Rhynwa must
Rat Kings and Dead Villains
of Post:: What's Dalen For "Buttmunch"?
"There has to have been some sort of
energy absorption," Jack murmured to himself. "Concussive force just
doesn't disappear. We're going to need to find them to figure out what
"Did you notice the graffito?"
Ebreth said, pointing to the word "Octavian".
"I wonder if he's the one who set the
bomb?" Ariath said.
"Octavian," Jack murmured.
"Eight. Eight sides. Eighth. Eighth month... eighth bomb..."
"Oh, look what you did," Ariath
grumbled at Ebreth. "Now he's thinking again. It's creepy when he does
Jack's voice suddenly changed.
In a perfect auditory simulation of
Khyrisse, Jack said loudly, "Tarrin, Vas, Valende, and I are at the hotel.
Skitch still missing. Police involved, detective with us. Where shall we meet
you, if at all?"
"Oops," he whispered afterwards
in his own voice.
"Man, that was great!" Pieret
said. "Do it again!"
"I... I didn't... oh, shit..."
"I've never seen a sending spell do
that before," Ariath offered.
"I'm going, uh, over here now,"
Jack said, looking nauseated.
"Wait! We need to send a return
"How do you know all this spellcraft,
Ariath?" Pieret demanded.
"Because I'm a mage you deaf
"Children, come now, let's just get
it together and respond. Jack, shall you do the honors?"
Jack looked pained, but squinched his eyes
and said, "we'll come back to the hotel."
Across town, Khyrisse wondered what
734D39B21900F9DC441 meant, and why
sending sounded so strange.
Ebreth Tor, Dead or Alive
of Post:: Reunited
"There you are!" shouted Ariath,
as she came into the hotel lobby.
"There we are?" Vas said.
"You're the ones who left!"
"Oh, Jack, darling, I've been so
worried about you." Val draped her arms around his neck and stared
directly at Cori, who looked rather startled.
"Khyrisse," said Ebreth. "I
wanted to apologize. I'm going home. I've done nothing but cause trouble here.
For you, for me. It would be better if I left."
"I can't find Skitch," Khyrisse
"You--you can't find him? I thought
you saw him in a spell?"
"He's not there anymore."
"I cannot locate this boy,"
Tarrin said sadly. "I am a big fart. So sorry."
Ebreth's head swam. "You didn't--see
who took him?"
"No. I--I thought I heard
"Endicott?" said Ebreth.
"Bill Endicott?" He hit himself on the forehead.
"Congratulations, Khyrisse, you've finally found an assassin I know."
"He's not an assassin. He's a reporter."
"But I can't find him in a scry at
all. And Skitch is gone." Her eyes filled with tears. "I lost Skitch.
I lost Flicker. I fucked up you, and I'm getting everyone cursed. I'm the worst
leader on Ataniel."
"Oh, come on now," protested
"Signet was better than I am!"
"I... really don't think so,"
said Ariath. "Uh, from what I've heard."
"It's not your fault, Khyri,"
"All right," whispered Ebreth.
"All right, I'll find him."
"Excuse me," said Novoa, and flashed
his badge at him. "You're under arrest."
"I'm what?" Ebreth blinked at
him, distracted. "Under arrest, what for?"
"You name it," he said.
"Let's start with murder."
Ebreth shook his head. "No," he
said, "no, that was self-defense or something. That guy was attacking me
with a chain."
"That's true," said Ariath.
Novoa looked at them. "What are you
"He's not really Ebreth Tor,"
Jack supplied, helpfully. "He just looks like him."
Khyrisse wasn't so sure, but despite that
(or maybe because of it) found her heart skipping a beat. "You can't go
out there alone," she said. "Someone--someone tried to kill us
"Then stay here with the nice
policeman. You'll be OK." He put his cloak back on. "Hey," he
said, and gestured at the policeman, "hey, maybe you can have a little
conversation with the proprietors here about letting criminals into the rooms
to fuck up the guests, huh?"
"Musta picked the lock," drawled
the guy behind the front desk.
"Ebreth, wait," said Khyrisse.
"I thought you said he wasn't Ebreth
"I'll find him, Khyrisse. I owe you
"Take me with you."
"Not this time." He melted out
the door and into the night.
What the rat saw
of Post:: When the rat dreams people scream
The Rat was dreaming again. Every so often
his whiskers would twitch and his paws would move as if he was seeking
something out. As he slept a sigil on his chest started to throb with a
familiar dim pale blue glow....
There was a wound in the earth in the
middle of a desert. Wild things wandered the desert trying to survive Every so
often a shadow of some flying creature passed overhead. However, as it flew it
avoided crossing the crack in the earth. Yards around the crack there was no
life, just cracked earth. Still, there was something alluring about the wound.
It was almost as if it was calling.
The scenery changed...
There was a wound in the earth. A dark
evil looking forest surrounded the hole but refused to encroach to near upon
the fissure. Animal life with glowing eyes scampered in the darkness of the
woods looking for food or shelter. Every so often a mist would arise from the
crack with a sigh. Then again, every so often something crawled out of the pit
not of this world and promptly meeped away into the woods.
The world blurred out of focus and the
scenery changed again.
There was a large rock floating in a sea
of stars and blackness. It turned over and over on its axis but at the same
time was moving on a definite trajectory. Lights, like fox fire, danced across
the asteroid's surface. Sometimes on of those lights would jump off and fly
away. Sometime later it would return falling into one of the great craters that
scared the rock's surface.
The world moved closer.
The rat was now traveling in an ornate
hallway carved from the living rock of the asteroid. Great edifices of wrought
silver and gold covered the walls. Rich and plush carpets covered the floors.
He was not crawling, but more like flying down the hall. Rounding the corner he
came into a cyclopean chamber. Even the rat could tell it was a perfect sphere.
Floating about the chamber were bodies and remnants of bodies. Hundreds of
corpses floating in a macabre dance. Still, they all looked to be hiding
something in the center.
The rat approached. Dead six fingered
hands grasped and crossbows and swords. They all seemed to part as the rat
approached. Then the bodies tapered away. There was a wound in the center of
space and it was drawing the rat in.
The rat awoke screaming. He felt energy
surge from his brain and lash out randomly. It was hungry for a target and had
the sharpness of a scalpel.
of Post:: Incoming!
Tarrin felt a tingling on the edge of his
perception. "Strange," he thought. "If I didn't know better I
would say it was...."
Then it hit. His mind was assaulted by
pure psychic force. Falling back on his training he shielded his mind from the
force of the blow. Still the onslaught was powerful. Looking around, he saw
everyone else except for Jack screaming with their hands to their temples. It
was like a mental hurricane. Then it passed.
As it trailed off Tarrin saw a vision. For
the first time in his life Tarrin felt real terror.
Everyone was giving Tarrin dirty looks.
Tarrin was unaware. Dream-like he walked to the window and stared up at the
"There is a wound in the world,"
he said half whispering in Diari. "There is a wound in the world and they
Ariath and Pieret
of Post:: A Rare Concord
"I think he's the traitor," said
Pieret, looking darkly at Tarrin.
"I agree," said Ariath.
of Post:: Oh, by the way...
the way," said Pieret, conversationally, "what the hell has been
going on here, Khyri?"
Kristin L.K. Andersen
The Rats of R.U.M.I.
of Post:: Reasonable Informed Discussion of the Issues As Soon As Feasible
Khyrisse took several deep breaths.
"Count to ten," Pieret advised
in an undertone, grinning.
"I went into the hundreds hours
ago," she murmured, running a hand through her drying hair. She pulled it
back out of her hair and looked at it, smeared with dust from the explosion,
most of the nails broken. She looked down at herself bemusedly-- she was
wearing a hastily tied-together, badly ripped blouse with no buttons,
sewer-spattered black breeches, and Pieret's cloak. "Now I know why Rhynwa
had that Ring of High Fashion," she said, apropos of nothing. Wearily, she
looked around for somewhere to sit and realized they were all standing around
in the lobby still. For an instant, her eyes locked with the watchful gaze of
the clerk before his eyes dropped back to his magazine in feigned disinterest.
Khyrisse's eyes narrowed. Okay, I'm apparently pretty damned naive, but I'm not
quite as naive as Ebreth thinks I am. "Let's discuss this in our
rooms," she said, shooing everyone towards the stairs. Trailing behind the
group, she wandered over to the desk. She scribbled a note and handed it to the
desk clerk with a sunny smile. "Would you see that the manager gets that?
Thanks." Khyrisse had hardly turned away before the clerk was opening the
note behind the cover of his magazine.
One more person "finds a spare
key" to our rooms, and I'm going to come
find you, personally ram a Delayed Blast
Fireball down your throat and
watch you explode. I'm damned hard to
kill, you asshole, and better people
have tried-- don't fool yourself that I
won't be around to do it.
Khyrisse, halfway up the stairs, heard an
odd little choking sound from the desk, but didn't bother looking back. Please,
Grendel. Let him disobey me. Murdering someone with cause would feel SO good
right now. She snapped her fingers once she was sure he'd read the note,
cantripping it to multi-colored ash in his hands. "'Stay here with the
nice policeman'?" she murmured angrily to herself, and slammed the door to
their fourth floor suite. "Okay, I think introductions are in order.
Everyone, this is Detective Harry Novoa of the Rimbor City Police. I'd like to sort
things out with him before we discuss anything, all right?" She gave the
Rat Pack a strained and very wry smile. "No point in boring him with our
personal business, is there?"
Skeins of Fate
of Post:: Three Ideas
The music box tinkled. "Listen,"
said Flicker. "We're back where we started. You have to find what we need
to do, but our only leads haven't happened yet and you can't trace them back.
"Do you think I've forgotten
"I'm building a case," said
Flicker. "We need help."
"If this involves the other
Valkyrie," she started, dangerously.
"I have three ideas."
She thought about it for a long moment.
"Rip Hunter," he said. "If
you're right that this isn't a true future--"
"Hunter's not available," she
said. "That's how I know it's not a true future."
Flicker sighed. He guessed he couldn't
count on Rip to bail him out every time. "A mathematician might be able to
help you search the skeins backward. If we could find the man I told
"Already thought of that," she
said, half-weary and half-smug. "He doesn't seem to have a skein."
That was surprising, but Flicker didn't say anything. "What's the third
He paused. "Luthien."
"The Lich Lord?"
"What makes you think he can help
"Poetic justice." She thought
about that. "It's a bad omen. We might as well go towards it."
"That's--not actually as half-assed
as most of your other ideas have been, Messala."
"I was a prophet," he
"And how would we go about finding
"Oh, that's easy." Flicker
stood, the corner of his mouth quirking. "I follow my geas."
Ariath, policemen's friend
of Post:: Singing like a canary
"Oh, officer," said Ariath, her
eyes misting a little. "People have been trying to kill us since we
arrived. We came here on some complicated business involving an undead thing
named Laran, but then an awful man named Barry Spivot asked to meet Khyrisse in
the Rimbor City Arena and he hit her with some anti-magic and stabbed her in
the back. I, I barely rescued her. Then the Arena collapsed on us. That was
when we saw the graffiti my good friend Vas told you about." She fluffed
his hair. "Then some guys attacked Khyrisse in our hotel room! And then,
Khyrisse's brave little apprentice, Skitch, must have decided to take matters
into his own hands, and he must have learned too much, because he was kidnapped.
"By that Graves character,"
agreed Vas, as Ariath's fingers ran through his hair. "And then someone
put a bomb in Khyrisse's bag, which is where you came in."
"Can you help us, officer?"
Ariath looked at him soulfully.
Kristin L.K. Andersen, storyboard pain in the ass
The Rats of R.U.M.I.
of Post:: Well That'll Learn Me
Khyrisse inhaled a good half-inch of
Cynystran brandy in startlement as Ariath chattered blithely away to the nice
police officer. Valende patted her on the back as she coughed, and looked
ruefully at her oblivious sibling. Engage hormones, she thought, watching
Ariath fluff his hair, disengage brain. Ah, men. She looked back to Khyrisse,
who thumped down the brandy glass and got up to pace restlessly. Every few
minutes, despite a determined effort to concentrate on the discussion at hand,
Khyrisse slanted a worried frown at the door to the hallway.
Valende's mouth quirked. All right, women
aren't immune either.
of Post:: The Ghosts That Haunt Us
It was an hour and a half later that
Ebreth walked into the common room with Skitch. "Skitch!" shrieked
Khyrisse, and threw her arms around the boy.
"Okay," he said, muffled in her
embrace, "okay, Khyrisse, all right. I'm all right! You're messing my
Ebreth dropped his cloak on the floor. He
pulled off his shirt and sat at the table with his head down on his forearms,
the dark muscles of his back shining with sweat. His right arm had a slash
across it now too. He didn't say anything.
Khyrisse's eyes flashed then, and Skitch
looked alarmed and tried to get away, but she caught him by the neck. "YOU
COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED!"
"Aw, Khyrisse!" he said,
plaintively. "Come on, I was just trying to help you! Look, I'm fine!
"What happened to you?"
"I don't know. I kept getting
kidnapped. One guy kidnapped me, and then another guy kidnapped me from him and
knocked me out with a chemical or something, then I woke up with some other
people and then some other guy kidnapped me again. Then the last guy brought me
to Ebreth, so I guess he was a good guy.
The second guy didn't seem too bad either.
Anyway, I'm here now. Can
I have something to eat? I'm
of Post:: A New Sense of Direction
Tarrin sat quietly. He could feel the
suspicion and hostile emotion around the room. It made him uncomfortable. But
still, the vision disturbed him more. Three gaping holes in the land. Well two.
He didn't understand the vision or where it came from, but he knew it was
"I think we should get out of
here," he said in Dalen.
All eyes turned to him. It was the first
time he spoke since the psychic onslaught.
"What do you mean?" said Jack
"Didn't you see it? There is are two
wounds in the earth. A third one is approaching. Three is a very bad number. It
represents conjunctions of forces. It is half of being complete. It is one
quarter of totality."
"It is just a number," said
"No!" Tarrin said almost crying.
"You don't understand. They are returning but they are bringing something
with them. They have been gone for over 5,000 years and they are
Tarrin was in tears. Waves of desperation
of fear emanated from him.
-You don't understand,- he sent, -If they
return the land will not survive. We must heal one of the wounds. The weakest
one. The one in the forest where things from beyond enter our world.-
"So where do you suggest oh
mysterious one," said Pieret sarcastically.
shoulders slumped with exhaustion. "I told you. We have to go where the
things from beyond are entering the world."
The look of understanding came across
Ariath's face. "I think I know what he is talking about."
of Post:: Ari Gets Ennui
"Goddammit," said Ariath,
crossly. "Are things from outer space going to threaten to destroy the
world every month?"
of Post:: Destruction... possibly
"I do not think this will destroy the
world," Tarrin said contemplatively. "I am not positive, but the more
I think about it the more it seems like what I said. A conjunction."
"What's the difference?" Ariath
"The difference is that a conjunction
of three, while bad, usually represents the gathering of power. Not its
utilization. Still it is bad. We must heal one of the wounds."
of Post:: Meanwhile...
Tremors echoed through the dark palace of
the First Lich Lord. Shalak, who was sitting on his throne of stone and bone,
ignored the bits of falling mortar and dust. The tremors were becoming more
frequent. It was almost as if his palace was approaching resonance with
The Lich Lord got up suddenly. "Or
the world..." he said. "I cannot sit here any longer. Time to take
Shalak walked out of his throne room into
the interior of the palace. First, he needed to do some investigating. For that
he needed to consult his brethren.
Kristin L.K. Andersen
The Rats of R.U.M.I.
of Post:: Stronger Than Reason
Khyrisse pressed the tips of her fingers
into her temples, with a half-crazed look in her eyes. "All right! I think
we can all agree that we should leave this hotel, at the very least. Everyone
get your things. We can discuss where we're going and what we're doing when
we're someplace more secure."
Khyrisse ignored the ensuing bustle and grabbed Skitch. "Go with
Valende and get my things and Ebreth's things from the other room. Come right
"Okay!" Skitch hurried Valende
out the door, the elven woman laughing a little at his energy.
Khyrisse took a deep breath and went to
Ebreth, who was still sitting at the table. She put a careful hand on his
shoulder. "Ebreth? Are you..." Khyrisse bit her lip and stopped. Of
COURSE he's not all right, you idiot! Does he LOOK all right? "Are you
going to be okay?" She paused, and laughed a little, shakily. "I was
going to shout at you when you got back, and now I'm too glad you got back to
do it. Go figure..."
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