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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 II

Character(s):: Ebreth, the Rat Pack, a frustrated cop
Author:: Puppet Head
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: No! No! EVERYTHING'S gonna be OK!

"I hope so," said Ebreth, very softly, without raising his head.
"Excuse me," said Harry Novoa, sharply. "We're not finished here."
"Sorry, officer," said Ariath, apologetically. "When the rat says move, we have to move."
"I want that boy to identify everyone who kidnapped him. You don't want this to happen to other kids, do you? And I want to know what the hell you mean by Barry Spivot. You would think you'd show a little more interest in cooperating when an assassin trying to kill you is at large."

Character(s):: Khyrisse
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: An Old Tale Retold

Khyrisse covered her eyes and sighed. "Yes, well, people trying to kill me is very old news, Detective. You'll have to forgive me. When you've come back from being dead half a dozen times, an attempted assassination loses a bit of its impact." She looked around. "Skitch will be back in a moment. You're welcome to come with us, but we've already been attacked once here. If you have any suggestions of somewhere to go that might be safe, we're willing to entertain them."
Khyrisse gave Ariath a pleading look for some breathing space. She nodded her head in the cop's direction. Ariath suppressed a smirk and nodded back. Khyrisse went back to Ebreth. "You suggested that we stay together and go somewhere safer. Well, we're going to try." She sat down in a nearby chair while Ariath chattered away at Detective Novoa, keeping him distracted. "You said something about leaving before you went after Skitch," she murmured, leaning close so the detective wouldn't hear. She wished briefly that she could see Ebreth's face, but understood why he might not want anyone to. "Do you still want to leave?" she asked after a moment. "I've got no right to get you into any more trouble."

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

"There. is. nowhere. to. go." Ebreth spoke quietly, as if the words weren't really part of the same sentence.
Skitch had returned with Khyrisse's things. It didn't look like any of them were missing. Or that there were any bombs mixed in. She'd been wrong before, though. Skitch was cheerfully drawing pictures of his various abductors for Officer Novoa. "Do--you want to talk about it?" said Khyrisse, wishing it sounded less awkward.
"Of all the torments of Hell," he said, so softly, "the worst is the silence. In that hollow, consuming silence, sometimes. Sometimes he could hear voices."
If Khyrisse had guessed all night, that would not have been the sentence she would have come up with. "What?"
"Terrific," said Pieret. "More prophecies."

Character(s):: Jack Paris, Harry Novoa
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title of Post:: On The Road Again

"Look, you really don't want to go talking prophecies. They tend to have a tautological recursive effect."
"Dalen," both Cori and Val said simultaneously.
"If you call something a prophecy enough, it starts to become one."
"I'm going to be rich!" Skitch cried. "I so prophesy!"
"Look, Ebreth," Jack said. "Temporal metaphysics aren't my specialty, but statistical metaphysics are. If you're worried that you're trapped in a no-way-out situation, you tweak the odds." Jack looked at the man in a new light. "You can't be Ebreth Tor," he whispered to himself.
"Look," said Novoa. "As much as I'd like to, I don't have anything to hold you with. I can't force you to stay here. What I can do is ask that you keep in contact with me. I'll follow up the kid's kidnapping and you can tell me if you find any connections on your vision quest or whatever the hell it is you're doing."
"Was that a reasonable, non-threatening, understandable compromise?" Khyrisse asked Vastarin in shock.
"First one of the mission," Vas agreed.
"It's a deal, Mr. Novoa," Jack said. "Just promise you don't use a sending spell," he muttered under his breath.

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

Khyrisse blinked several times, still staring at Ebreth, who still hadn't moved. A hollow look invaded her face, and she swallowed hard. "I know a little about hearing voices," she whispered absently. She tightened her hand on his shoulder in a comforting way and stood up. "Ebreth... thank you for making sure that Skitch wasn't one of mine. If you ever want to share... this... with someone, I might deal with it better than you imagine."
Faced with Ebreth's continued silence, she nodded. She went to answer questions for the detective, grabbing Pieret along the way. He opened his mouth to say something, and she yanked fiercely on his arm. "Don't. Say. A word. I don't want to discuss it," she hissed at him, scrabbling mentally for her lost composure.

Character(s):: Warp, Jack Paris
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Orion's Belt
Title of Post:: With Enemies Like This

"So who is that guy?" Jack asked.
"That 'guy' is Orion the Conqueror. He's the leader of a stellar empire covering fifteen star systems. He's been trying to make our system number sixteen since the early Eighties."
"And you... fight him?"
"Me and some friends. I've been staying out here orbiting Titan for the last year, helping Darkstar and some of the Saturnian Templars fend him off. We just recently signed a treaty, and you showing up broke it. I'm not supposed to warp anyone into treaty space."
"I'll pretend that made sense," Jack sighed.
"You've got me in buttloads of trouble, my friend," Warp grinned, his eyes sparkling even beneath the sunglasses. "That's what it means."
The sound of the Orionian shuttle docking with Warp's rented runabout hurt even Jack's ears. Moments later, the airlock cycled and a woman in less clothes than Jack had ever seen stepped in. "Dom," Warp nodded.
"Warp," she said.
Even Jack could tell the tension in the air.
"I've got to take you to Orion," Dominator said.
"You could help me escape," Warp said charmingly.
"I could get my cells downwashed, too. Not bloody likely."
Warp sighed. "Well, we'll always have Paris."
"You knocked me out in Paris and left me with French gendarmes," Dom said, suppressing a grin.
"That wasn't me! That was... uh... Tessa!"
The two laughed.
"I hope you're on as good terms with Orion," Jack interjected.
They both looked at him querulously.
"New guy," Warp said.
"I can tell."

Character(s):: Khyrisse
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen, face red for a week...
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: I Don't Speak COBOL!

Khyrisse looked at Jack when he mentioned the sending spell. "No, I can do that, Detective Novoa. I'll keep in touch with you via magical means, if that's all right."
"What on Ataniel was that about, anyway, Jack?" she then asked quietly. "I got back the strangest reply..."

Character(s):: Jack Paris, Cori Yashida
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title of Post:: "Lies Make Baby Jesus Cry"

"Huh," Jack said. "Maybe there's, uh, some sort of magical, um, static in Rimbor City."
"It worked pretty weird on Jack's end, too." Ariath said. "Sounded just like you, but his lips were moving."
"I doubt it's an issue. I bet I was thinking of a math problem while I was sending to you. That's probably what you got."
Cori had forgotten what a bad liar Jack was. Apparently he hadn't told them yet what he really was. Cori determined then to do all she could to help him keep his secret.

Character(s):: Valende
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: I Don't Do Cat-Fights

Valende looked at Jack while he attempted to explain away the unexplainable... and then looked at his recently arrived friend, Cori. Oh, dear.
With an internal sigh, Valende put her dinner with Jack in the indeterminate future. After this woman figured out what kind of relationship she wanted from him. Jack was just not going to understand, either. She'd have to find a way to do this gracefully, without alienating him. Valende sighed again, this time out loud.
"Val?" her brother asked quietly, surprised.
"Never mind," she murmured back, with an ironic smile at her own choice of words.

Character(s):: Harry Novoa, Beliath
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title of Post:: Blame Tila

Harry Novoa watched as the Rat Pack zoomed off in their magic carriage across the water. Harry doubted he'd ever hear from them again, and hoped he made the right choice. It was hard trusting people in Rimbor City. "You and me, Graves," he said to the unconscious man tied up next to him.

Beliath stepped through the portal. It had cost him dearly to learn about the Thief's Bridge, a residual path from Hell to Rimbor City, created a few years back by an overzealous thief. The last remnant's of Grayson Mer's identity were gone, and his face was open for all to see. The devils he didn't mind, but here, in Rimbor City, none may look upon his true identity and live.

"I've got to clear passage for us with the Guild Authority," Harry Novoa said to Graves. "Stay here," Novoa smirked. The police detective went into the unmarked shopfront to pay the tax on passage through the undercity to the only safe precinct he knew of.

There was a man, tied and unconscious, leaning against a building across the way. Beliath thanked the mortal gods for his luck. Keeping to the shadows, he crept over to the bound figure. In moments, there was nothing left of Graves but a true seeming, worn by Beliath of the Dead College.

"Shit," muttered Harry Novoa, as he exited. All that remained was rope. Graves was gone.

Character(s):: Lilith
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Hell in a Handbasket

"Thirteen," First Intendant Lilith said to Geryon through her teeth, "is a very unlucky number."

Character(s):: Pieret
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Road Trip

"Khyrisse?" said Pieret.
"I don't want to TALK about it, Pieret!"
"Look, I know Rimbor City's been kind of rough on you--"
"I said I don't want to TALK about it!"
"--but it's the middle of the night, and everyone's exhausted, and how far are you going to drive this thing before we can get out and sleep?"
Khyrisse paused. That wasn't what she'd been expecting him to say. "Oh."

Character(s):: Lilith and Geryon
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title of Post:: Everybody Needs One

Geryon pondered for a moment then addressed "But wait... if we lost twelve souls..."
"And I recovered one..."
"Then we're at eleven."
"Your point?"
"So we lose that one again."
"That puts us back to twelve."
"Not thirteen."
Lilith looked to her hands. No fingers, only serpents, too wiggly to count on.
"Damn it all, we need to get a mathematician down here."

Character(s):: Ebreth Tor, the Rat Pack
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Inside the Carriage

"I am so glad--glad, yes?--you are okay, little Skitch."
"Me too," said Skitch, and hungrily devoured the handful of hotel mints he had stolen as they had left. "Man, you guys could have waited dinner on me!"
"You shouldn't run away on your own like that," admonished Ariath. "Didn't you see how much trouble that got Khyrisse in? And she's much more powerful than you are."
"Yeah, well, well you followed her alone, and you're only first level," said Skitch, and stuck his tongue out.
Ariath didn't really have an answer for that. "How did you find him, anyway?" she asked Ebreth, sweetly.
Ebreth was kind of leaning against the wall of the carriage, staring out the window at the passing blur. "I. Called a favor."
"He can talk pretty creepy," Skitch offered with his mouth full. The whole cabin was starting to smell kind of minty. Jack felt faintly disgusted.

Character(s):: Jack Paris and the Rat Pack, Hronmir Silent-Voice
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title of Post:: South Side Story

The "Trade-N-Post" Inn in Southern Dalencia was about halfway between Rimbor and Sturtevant. Between Pieret's whining, Ebreth's silence, Skitch's mints and Jack's apparent nausea, a rest stop seemed like a damn good idea. Besides, she needed to talk to the manager about the name.
The Rat Pack moved slowly, together, towards the inn. Jack felt like he was part of a street gang. He began to snap his fingers in perfect rhythm. "When you're a Rat, you're a Rat all the way..."
"Shush," shushed Cori.
Val looked back at the two of them. Her expression betrayed nothing.
They waited in the common room for Khyrisse to finish haggling for the rooms. They each put a silver piece in Skitch's pool of how cheap she was going to get the rooms. Jack put his on "2 silver per."
Khyrisse came back. "Great news! Everyone gets their own room!"
"How much?" everyone asked in unison.
"Free! I had some... copyright issues... I could bargain with."
They looked at Skitch's scroll. The kid had put his own piece on "Free".
"Wow! Looks like bed time!" Skitch said, scooping up the silver.

Hronmir Silent-Voice watched the Trade Carriage. Something that fast would be a tremendous help in his mission. Perhaps the driver would be able to help him. He pulled his black cloak around him and turned towards the "Trade-N-Post."

Character(s):: a mysterious stalker
Author:: Douglass
Storyline:: Skeins of Fate
Title of Post:: The Danger of Being Grimthane

Someone... or something... had been stalking Grimthane Darkcloak. It had caught him in the forests outside Rumi, and it believed that it had killed Grimthane there.
Now it suspected there was something wrong.
Rumi was in flames. That had held the stalker's attention long enough for Grimthane to crawl away. Now the being had found Grimthane's body... but that which Grimthane carried was gone.
A howl of rage joined the crackling of burning buildings in the night. The hunt was on once again.

Character(s):: Bambi and Candi
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: The Unbearable Swankness of Being
Title of Post:: They Look Alike, They Walk Alike, Sometimes They Even Talk Alike

They should have listened to Lissa.
Now Palmer Khlone had dragged them before his evil master, the Mad Doctor Swank.
"So, like, you aren't going to put us on a conveyor belt heading towards a buzzsaw or anything, are you?" Candi asked.
"Silence!" Swank shouted. "Cease your infantile prattling, cow!"
"No, she's not a cow," Bambi corrected. "She's a human. I know, 'cause I'm her twin, and I'm human."
"You are more than human, my dear," Swank said to Bambi. "You are a divine beauty."
"I'm her twin!" Candi added.
"Shut up, you pestulent boil! You are nothing next to her! Like night is a pale shadow of day! Like peanut butter as compared to jelly! Like..."
"Like Paul McCartney and Wings?" Bambi offered.
"You speak nonsense, but I love you nonetheless," Swank beamed.
Candi pouted.
"Excuse me," Robinson Paris called from across the room. "I've almost finished those stupid fractals you wanted me to debase my science on."
"Excellent," Swank said. He reached up and yanked a hair off of Bambi's head. "I'll throw this in the mix, and we'll soon have our very own demigod! Muahahahahaha!"

Lissa sniffed. The clothes she was wearing seemed a little ripe. She'd have to remember to polymorph new ones next time.

Character(s):: Pieret
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: A Good Point

Pieret took his boots off. "Man, am I going to sleep well tonight," he muttered. "Khyri, unless I'm mistaken, Sturtevant has a lot of demons mucking through it, right?"
"Well, it can't be worse than Rimbor City," she said, unpleasantly.
"I was just thinking that the odds of our being attacked there are probably pretty good?"
"It's been a long day, Pieret. Get to the point."
"Skitch has no weapon," he said. "Ebreth has a sailor's knife. I don't know if Jack has anything either. A little redistribution of weaponry might be in order."

Character(s):: Jack Paris, the Rat Pack
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title of Post:: Sleep, Perchance...

Jack watched as one by one the Rat Packers went off to bed. Khyrisse and Pieret had a discussion for a while, then Ebreth and Khyrisse. Most of them seemed to be deferring to her as leader. Jack smiled. Better her than me, Jack thought.
Finally, when Khyrisse was the last one left, Jack wandered over to her. "Khyrisse," he said. "I'm going out for a bit tonight. I don't need much sleep. I just didn't want anyone worrying."
"I'm not your den mother," Khyrisse said.
"No, but you're our leader. Uh, next to the rat, of course," he grinned.
"What if we need you?"
"I'll be back in a few hours. Don't send... just holler. I won't be far."
"I trust you, Jack."
There is a traitor amongst you.
"Glad to hear it. I won't be long."

Cori waited in her room. She figured Jack would stop by shortly, even just to say goodnight. He was always so sweet that way.

Ariath sat indianstyle on her bed. Vas had declined again. Still, she thought smiling, she was patient. She reached over for a book with the initials "ASR" on the cover. "Spells don't learn themselves," she said to herself, and threw herself into the book.

And the dreams started to come...

Character(s):: Khyrisse
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: Den Mother to the Rat Pack-- Does That Make Me a Rat Queen?

"Ariath has at least one knife," Khyrisse pointed out with a strange smile. "No, you're right, we'll need to pick up some weapons tomorrow. Of course, I'll have to be told what everyone can use..." She tilted her head at Pieret with an amused look. He smiled back with a wry twist to his expression. "Oh, just about anything," he replied. "But then, you know I can use a sword from back in Cynystra."
"I know. It's what you can use from other places that I wondered about..." she said, then shook her head. She bent down and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. "Sorry. I'll be less bitchy in the morning."
Hesitantly, she went over to Ebreth. He still didn't look very steady. She discovered that she missed his grin, and gave herself an irritated shake for the thought. "Ebreth?" He looked at her, but she was busy staring at her hands, the right one yanking at the glove on her left, as usual. "I'm not going to be able to sleep, but someone should probably keep watch for a while, anyway. If you want to talk to someone, I'll be up."
Aware of the blush on her face, she pictured the possible misinterpretation of her words, and turned hurriedly away.
Relieved by the news that someone else would be awake and nearby (thank you, Jack), she went to her room and searched it thoroughly for more bombs. Then she dug out the roll of silk she'd gotten from the Carriage before she itemed it back into the Sigil. She held the soft lengths of fabric up, and a rich amber glowed in the lamplight, accented by transparent swirls of burgundy and black. She'd bought it a long time ago, hoping that the burgundy and black in it would let her wear it, but the amber had turned dark red the instant she'd wrapped the material around herself, spoiling the subtleties of the pattern.
Khyrisse looked down at her ruined clothing, then at the bed. She wasn't even going to bother going to bed. She didn't WANT to sleep, not until she was exhausted enough not to dream. It wouldn't kill me to fall asleep in my chair, anyway. She wizard-locked the window and turned a chair to face the half-open door to the hallway. Humming quietly to herself, she sat down and started sewing herself a new tunic. The tune, an eerily complex one that skipped from one cultural style to another, seemed to calm her, and her stitches grew less erratic as her hands finally stopped shaking.

Character(s):: Valende
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: Promises and Puzzlement

Valende stood staring out her bedroom window at the sky, puzzling over Jack and his friend Cori. She was married to another... she seemed to be truly despondent over his death... yet she is interested in Jack. Perhaps she never realized it, she thought with a sigh. It's probably just as well. Here the Madness is less than a month gone, my promises to myself on this matter mint-new; yet I lay eyes on Jack, and my intentions vanish like smoke. Vastarin is as steady as a weathervane, I can understand his change of heart; but mine? She turned away from the window, frowning. I am doubly a fool, because I do not know what Jack is hiding, and Cori clearly does.
Valende curled up on her bed with her eyes on the sky, waiting for dawn.
Corellon, where is your illumination when I truly need it?

Character(s):: Ebreth Tor
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Ask Me Again Tomorrow

It sounded like a pass. Ebreth, who wasn't feeling at his most attractive, was somewhat taken aback, especially since the last couple of times he had tried to touch Khyrisse had resulted in her being attacked by a gang and a demon bird. "Uh," he said, "uh, thanks, Khyrisse, but you know, I think I, think I'd really just like to get some sleep, if that's all right."
Ebreth Tor collapsed onto the bed, utterly exhausted, and vowed not to mess tomorrow up as badly as he'd messed up today.
His dreams were violent and when he finally woke the bedsheets were stuck to his body.

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