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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Rat King Archives
In The City We Have Plenty Of Psychodramas, Part I

Character(s):: Harry Novoa, Jack Paris
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title 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 confidently.

Character(s):: Khyrisse
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title 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 have felt.

Character(s):: Jack Paris
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title 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 happened."
"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 that."
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..." Jack muttered.
"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 message."
"How do you know all this spellcraft, Ariath?" Pieret demanded.
"Because I'm a mage you deaf moron."
"Bitch."
"Buttmunch."
"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
Jack's sending sounded so strange.

Character(s):: Ebreth Tor, Dead or Alive
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title 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 said numbly.
"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--"
"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."
"Trust me!"
"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 Vas.
"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," said Pieret.
"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 talking about?"
"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 again."
"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 Tor."
"I'll find him, Khyrisse. I owe you that much."
"Take me with you."
"Not this time." He melted out the door and into the night.

Character(s):: The Rat
Author:: Jeff Hersh
Storyline:: What the rat saw
Title 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.


Character(s):: Tarrin etc.
Author:: Jeff Hersh
Storyline:: Mind games
Title 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 sky.
"There is a wound in the world," he said half whispering in Diari. "There is a wound in the world and they are returning."

Character(s):: Ariath and Pieret
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: A Rare Concord

"I think he's the traitor," said Pieret, looking darkly at Tarrin.
"I agree," said Ariath.

Character(s):: Pieret
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Oh, by the way...

"By the way," said Pieret, conversationally, "what the hell has been going on here, Khyri?"

Character(s):: Khyrisse
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title 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?"

Character(s):: Flicker, Norna
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Skeins of Fate
Title 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. Right?"
"Do you think I've forgotten this?"
"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. "They are?"
"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 you--"
"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 idea?"
He paused. "Luthien."
"The Lich Lord?"
"Not yet."
"What makes you think he can help us?"
"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 said, "once."
"And how would we go about finding him?"
"Oh, that's easy." Flicker stood, the corner of his mouth quirking. "I follow my geas."

Character(s):: Ariath, policemen's friend
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title 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. Right, Vas?"
"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.

Character(s):: Khyrisse, Valende
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen, storyboard pain in the ass
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title 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.
Character(s):: Ebreth Tor
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title 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 tunic up!"
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! Leggo!"
"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 hungry."

Character(s):: Tarrin
Author:: Jeff Hersh
Storyline:: Mind Games
Title 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 important.
"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 cluelessly.
"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 Jack.
"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 returning!"
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.
Tarrin 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."
"Where?"
"Sturtevant."


Character(s):: Ariath
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Ari Gets Ennui

"Goddammit," said Ariath, crossly. "Are things from outer space going to threaten to destroy the world every month?"

Character(s):: Tarrin
Author:: Jeff Hersh
Storyline:: Mind Games
Title 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 huffed.
"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."

Character(s):: Shalak
Author:: Jeff Hersh
Storyline:: Interlude
Title 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 something.
The Lich Lord got up suddenly. "Or the world..." he said. "I cannot sit here any longer. Time to take some action."
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.

Character(s):: Khyrisse
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title 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 back. Okay?"
"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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