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The Rat King Archives
In The City We Have Plenty Of Psychodramas, Part III
Rat Kings and Dead Villains
of Post:: Here's a Little Ditty, About Jack and Valende...
It took Jack a long time to find a garden
of adequate foliage that wasn't private property. Finally, growing along the
side of an ancient burial cairn, he found what he was looking for. A rosebush.
Looking at the stems, he mathematically extrapolated which ones fit his
criteria of having seven perfect petals. Seven was a romantic number, at least,
that's what Reena had always said. With a small knife, he cut off seven roses,
each stem seven inches long. He cropped and cross-slit each stump so that they
would grow threefold where he had cut the roses off. He wrapped them in a black
ribbon, and after much thought and many wasted cards, wrote the simple message:
"I haven't forgotten dinner, nor stopped thinking of you." He signed
it with a flourishing "Jack."
Jack smiled. A little mushy, but that's
what he got from hanging out with Lita and Raye so much when Jack was young. If
he thought about it too long, he'd lose nerve and never do it.
When he got back, everyone was asleep. He
left the roses outside of Valende's room and went to bed. Eight hours awake
ought to be more than enough time to convince himself he wasn't acting like a
At four-fifteen that morning, the innkeep
crept down the hallway from a randy guest's room. His wife would kill him if
she found out. He needed an excuse.
The roses sat outside of one of the
"I wouldn't do that if I were
The innkeeper turned around to look
directly into... no eyes. No face. Just a shiny black head with no features.
"What... are you...?" the
"I am removing the air from your
lungs," Janus said. "What you plan to do is evil. It will not be
The innkeeper gasped and nodded his
"You will cease any actions, present
or future, against those staying here."
The innkeeper was turning red.
"And if you don't, I come get
medieval on your ass," Janus' voice resonated.
Suddenly the innkeeper could breathe.
"Tell Jack Paris what I did for him
With that, Janus slipped into the void
that was the fifth element and was gone.
Warp, Jack Paris
of Post:: An Offer You Can't Refuse
"Look, it was just a big
accident," Jack tried to explain. "We were fighting the King of the
Kings and the blue stone somehow got activated..."
"Centurion, throw him to the floor."
An olive skinned alien soldier tossed Jack
Paris violently to the floor of the Imperial Chamber on board Orion's ship, the
Warp sighed. He knew Orion well enough to
not even bother to try to reason with him. Orion had the Treaty on his side,
and he wasn't about to give a damn about extenuating circumstances.
"Look, we know you're a badass, Orion.
Why don't you just get to the point?
What do you want?"
Orion looked like a kid on Christmas
morning. A particularly homicidal and evil kid.
"Why, in this particular case, I just want to torture you
until you beg for death. Your damned treaty keeps me from being able to exact
vengeance upon Enigma or the Templars, but as you are currently a free agent
and in violation of treaty, well..."
"I get the picture."
"However, I might be willing to
forego vengeance in return for your service to me. While you have been a thorn
in my side for many years, Warp, I am not without respect for you."
"And what about Jack here?" Warp
"We'll take good care of him. I'm
sure there's work for a barbarian with delusions of intellect."
"And if I don't work for you, you
throw him out an airlock."
"So I can either be tortured to death
or I work for you as a goon in your new O.A.F.?"
"That is the meat of the deal."
"Can we call the team something else?
Orion's Assault Force acronyms really badly in English..."
Khyrisse, Valende, and Skitch
Kristin L.K. Andersen
The Rats of R.U.M.I.
of Post:: Paved With Good Intentions
Several hours later, Valende was woken up
by quiet, morning-type noises from Khyrisse's room next door. Yawning sleepily,
basking in the sunlight streaming through the window, she listened carefully
and detected the cheerful complaints of Skitch being put through his paces. She
"Now I know why you got named Skitch!
I've never seen handwriting like it in my life!"
"What? It's readable!"
"Sure, if you're a drunk
"Does anybody else read
"Well, I could always polymorph you
into a drunk kobold whenever you want to read your spellbook..."
There were muffled thumping noises,
indicating that another wrestling match was occurring. Valende laughed and
bounced out of bed. Somehow she felt much better this morning.
She realized why she felt better when she
opened her door. She stared for a moment, then picked up the roses and read the
card. A soft, sentimental little smile swept over her face.
Khyrisse was braiding her hair near the
window while Skitch grumbled over his penmanship.
"Tell me, milady, what will you do when Skitch is grown
enough to beat you at wrestling?" Valende inquired from the open door.
"Beat him with magic," Khyrisse
replied equably. "He'll never catch up there."
"Cheater," murmured Skitch.
"Don't start, I've just finished
braiding my hair. No point getting it untidy again."
Khyrisse turned around and spied the roses.
Her eyes widened. "From Jack?"
"Yes," Valende smiled. Skitch
"Who would have figured on him
thinking of roses?" Khyrisse said, with a lopsided grin. "Seven of
them, too. I wonder who told him that?"
"Do you have a book I could press
four of them in, perhaps? It's traditional, after all."
"I do! I do!!" yelled Skitch,
waving his project in the air.
Khyrisse whapped him lightly in the back
of the head. "Oh, and get ink on them, I suppose. No, I've got a book of
poetry you can use," Khyrisse offered. "I'll even help you put the
other three in your hair. If," she added, raising an amused eyebrow at
Valende, "you're planning on encouraging him."
Valende smiled mysteriously and said not a
Ebreth Tor, Jack Paris
Rat Kings and Dead Villains
of Post:: Morning Admissions
Ebreth Tor woke from unknowable dreams.
The morning sun streaming in his window
gave him something to focus on.
"You've gotten yourself together, Ebreth," he muttered to
himself. "Let's keep it that way."
After a moment's practice, the rakish grin
Jack wasn't asleep, but he brought his
consciousness back to the three-dimensional world around him when he heard the
knock on the door. Jack walked over to the door and opened it. The red-faced innkeeper
was standing nervously at the door.
"Can I help you?" Jack asked
"Beggin' yer pardon, sir, but I've
come 'ere to 'elp you... Last night, er, I was passin' by the rooms an' I saw
yer roses in the hall... Ah, thinkin' they were left, uh, accidentally, I was
going to pick them up and see who they belonged to..."
Jack raised one eyebrow.
"All right!" the innkeeper
cried. "You seen through me! I was going to steal 'em, I was... but
this..." The innkeeper's voice hushed to a whisper.
"...this thing came along and stopped
me, it did... took the breath outta me lungs!"
"It stopped you from stealing Val's
flowers?" Jack asked, confused.
"Yes, sir... and it told me to tell
ye what I'd done... it had a voice like the grave, I tell ya, and no face at
all! Like a statue it was!"
"Sounds like Janus," came
Vastarin's voice from behind the innkeeper.
"The guy who saved you in the
"Yes. Claimed to be an elementalist,
but it was no kind of magic I've ever seen," Vas said.
"Well, I done told ya," the
innkeep said. "Now I want nothin' more to do with the lot o' ye!" He
rushed off down the hallway.
"Want to discuss it over
breakfast?" Jack asked Vas.
"You sure you want to discuss
Janus?" Vas asked, grinning slightly.
"Well, I'm a man of many
conversations," Jack said.
Rat Kings and Dead Villains
of Post:: The Golem's Dungeon
Fat Tom swung the sign in his shop window
from "CLOSED" to "OPEN". It was time for another day
selling quality armaments to intellectual buffoons. The Golem's Dungeon was a
quality establishment. His first customer was obviously a farmer.
"I was lookin' to buy a sword,"
the farmer said.
"And would you care to be any more
specific than that?" Fat Tom asked. "Or would you just like me to
delve randomly into my bag of collectable blades and wait to see which one lops
my hand off?"
"Uh..." the farmer stammered.
"If you are not going to be buying
something, please step back behind the yellow line. When you are ready to make
a selection, please indicate by saying something filled with local color
indicating your yokel status."
The farmer stepped back.
There was a child over by the glass
counter, looking longingly at a 682 Regent's War cavalry mace. Fat Tom waddled
"How much for the hittin'
"That, my little poster child for
meritocracy, is an extremely valuable mace designed by Rod MacFeldleif and
costs more than your entire family. Now move behind the yellow line. You are
fogging the glass."
Fat Tom sighed. Why he picked this town in
the middle of Dalencia for his weapons shop he couldn't imagine. If not for the
great burritos from the Trade-N-Post next door, he'd have left long ago.
"Can I use your outhouse?" an
uncomfortable looking man asked.
"Only purchasing customers may use
Khyrisse and Skitch
Kristin L.K. Andersen
The Rats of R.U.M.I.
of Post:: Oooh, a Challenge...
Khyrisse, who had taken Skitch outside to
safely demonstrate a magic missile, was pleased to note a weapons shop so close
to the hotel. Skitch nagged so hard that she decided to take a quick look.
She stepped through the door in a blaze of
shimmering amber silk, with her expensively dressed little shadow behind her.
Both looked around the shop, mildly surprised. Fat Tom bustled over, and
Khyrisse smiled at him. A competitive gleam lit up the gold sparks in her
violet eyes. "Good morning. I'm looking to purchase several blades for my
apprentice, here. Double-edged, straight-edged, balanced for throwing, easy to
conceal, and small-- no longer than his forearm, no shorter than the length of
his hand. Something similar in function and design to what Chaton used during the
elven Separation. I don't suppose you have anything from Kyoko-Ra, but any
properly tempered steel will do for the moment."
Rat Kings and Dead Villains
of Post:: Ebreth de Bergerac
"Excuse me, but despite the popular
mythology, it was not Chaton, but his brother Brewick who commissioned those
blades, and as they were made of elfsteel, fatal to mortal flesh, they would be
quite inappropriate for a child. Please have him step behind the yellow line.
The Golem's Dungeon is a collectable arms emporium for adults."
Skitch wanted to kick the guy in the
knees, but he couldn't find them under the leg fat.
"So..." Jack said.
"So?" Vas asked. "What's on
"He wants to go to bed with your
sister," Ebreth chimed in from the next table. Ariath, sitting across from
Jack blushed. "I do not!"
"You don't?" Vas asked.
"No, I mean... yes, but... oh,
"He means to ask you if she likes
him," Ebreth offered.
"Why don't you ask her?" Vas
said, pointing to the stairway.
Jack choked on his milk.
Luthien, the Twins, Berryn, and Oethnar
The Unbearable Swankness of Being
of Post:: Swanking My Chain
Lissa whipped around sharply to see who
had just tried to knife her. She
recognized her foe immediately, and regretted it at once. Of all the clones to
attack me, why did it have to be Schneider's? Unable to attack him, she decided
to just get him out of the way, and muttered a quick spell. Instantly, a knot
of iron bands enveloped the bouncing simulacrum, and she turned back to Swank
and the girls.
It seemed to Lissa that the girls were
actually doing a credible job of distracting the mad scientist. He seemed to be
alternating between drooling over Bambi and cruelly insulting Candi, and was
paying no mind to anything else. His clones had backed off, and were standing
stock still behind him, although they were still armed. Belatedly, Lissa
realized that not all of his clones were still. The Oethnar-clone was kneeling
over Berryn, taking the rope from around his neck.
Lissa quickly activated her link to Praxis
on the Mind Net. -Praxis? Are you
available for a quick conversation?-
-Just barely, Luth. Having some small
problems up here at home. Go ahead, though.-
-I'm currently facing the Mad Doctor Swank
and several clones. They all seem to be clones of Sewer Tourists: Janther,
Schneider, Palmer. I've also got a clone of Oethnar, I think, except that he
isn't acting as stiffly as the rest of them. Can you check to see if he might
be the real Oethnar?-
-Hmm. Might be tough; after all, he is a
plant-form. I'll give it a try, though..... You were right. It is the real
Oethnar. Man, he even thinks in that "verily" dialect! I figured you
didn't want him knowing that you were Luthien, since you're in disguise right
-You figured right. Wait a minute, how did
you know I was in disguise?! I didn't send that to you!-
-No, but all of your thought-speech is in
a female voice. I figured that it had to be that sporty little brunette number
you were wearing back in the Temple of the Weird Sisters; you would have been
way too upset if someone else had turned you into a woman.-
-I...I didn't realize that my
thought-speech had changed. I'll have to watch out for that. Thanks for the
-No prob. I'll say hi to Inez for you, if
I get the chance. Signing off.-
Lissa looked at Oethnar, and could see now
that he was helping Berryn to stand steadily, saying, "Verily, thou hast
had quite a shock. I hope you are feeling better."
Berryn blinked a couple of times, and
looked at Oethnar. "Oh man, this is the wrong time for this." He
closed his eyes tight, shook his head, and then opened them again. "Okay,
please tell me that I'm actually talking to a man that looks like a tree."
"Sadly, thou art not. This is not
"Great. What, sorry, who am I talking
"Verily, I am Oethnar of the Forest.
I am a tree that looks like a man."
That explains everything." He turned then to Lissa, held up his hand, and
said, "Check, please."
Lissa shook her head and started paying
more attention to Swank. He was the menace here, and someone had to put a stop
to his mad scheme. Taking a deep breath, she stepped forward.
"Hey, baldy! Are you just gonna gawk
at the girls there, or are you gonna tell us what the hell is going on? I'd
kinda like to know, seeing as you just attacked my little brother there."
She put her hands on her hips in that "I'm-not-taking-any-lame-ass-excuse-either"
pose, waiting for his reply.
Swank wrenched his eyes away from Bambi,
and he said, "That's simple, my dear. I am using my scientific genius to
create the next stage in human evolution. I shall create the ultimate being, a
creature who is as close to the divine as any creature can be! And you and your
little group are about to have the honor of being a part of it all! Especially
this radiant creature here..." He turned back to Bambi, a small maniacal
glint in his eye.
Lissa blinked a couple of times as her
brain was whirring. Oh Arawn, he's finally taken the final corner on the Happy
Highway. He has totally lost it. "Uh-huh. Whatever. Look, I don't know
anything about divine beings, or radiant whoozits, or any of that crap. All I
know is that my brother and I came to this town looking for some work. If you
want..." Lissa gritted her teeth, hating to say this but realizing the
necessity, "we'll work for you."
Berryn looked at Lissa with a horrified
look on his face, but she gave him a glance that quickly stifled it. Swank
turned to her, with a thoughtful and almost sane look on his face. He seemed to
actually be considering the possibility. Slowly, the sanity vanished, to be
replaced with his previous manic state. "Yes! I will hire you, lowly
unwashed one! Even though you are no doubt too simple to be of use in my
laboratory work, I may have a mission you can perform. Stay right there; I
shall write it down for you, so that there can be no misconstruance of my
orders." He turned quickly, hopping gleefully into the room behind him.
The Janther and Palmer clones slowly turned to follow him, at which point she
nodded to Berryn.
Unsure of what to do, he decided the best
option would be to keep the two of them from being able to fight effectively,
so he ripped his hood off and brought it down tight over Alain MacLone's head.
Unfortunately, this had absolutely no effect whatsoever on the blind clone. He
spun about with a powerful smash to the side of Berryn's face, causing him to lose
his grip and fall back to the floor. The girls were a little more effective, to
Lissa's surprise. Candi, while shrieking in surprise, tripped over some of the
rubble on the floor, and fell into Palmer Khlone. While he was off balance,
Bambi rushed over to see if Candi had broken any nails and pushed him further
What a perfect set-up, thought Lissa, as
she leapt from her spot to connect soundly with Palmer Khlone's head. He fell
to the floor as expected, and then started to get right back up again without
so much as a grunt. Lissa started some chanting behind her, and cursed when she
realized she had forgotten about Oethnar.
Khyrisse, Skitch, Valende, Pieret
Kristin L.K. Andersen
The Rats of R.U.M.I.
of Post:: Morningful Was Never Like This
Khyrisse actually smiled impishly, not
intimidated in the least. Someone who knows what he's talking about. Good.
"Stay behind the yellow line,
dear," she said, placing a hand on Skitch's shoulder. "I think that
Brewick's daggers would suit him better when he is older, certainly, and they
are far better known. The blades I meant were the (not to mince words)
assassin's blades Chaton designed for his personal use, long before his twin
was given command of the eastern scouts. These too were elfsteel, but such
metals-- I wholly agree with you-- are inappropriate for my apprentice."
Skitch rolled his eyes and smirked a
little. This was going to take a while.
Valende came gracefully down the stairs.
Her face seemed a little rosier than usual. Three pale pink flowers glowed in
the swept-back waves of her hair like jewels on black velvet. She sat down at
the table with her brother and gave Jack a happy, slightly shy smile.
"Ask me what?" she inquired
innocently. Pieret, just sitting down at Ebreth's table, made a strangled sort
of noise and buried his face in his coffee cup.
Send In The Clones
of Post:: Clone Sweethearts
The flaming sphere rolled over Lissa from
behind and caught her shirt on fire. Unencumbered by feminine embarrassment,
Lissa ripped it off and threw it on the floor. The smell of burnt silk was
worse than the smell of her own burnt flesh. He's Rhynwa's ex, he's a tree, and
he's casting second-level spells at me. The burning ball bounced past him and
onto Berryn. "Ow!" yelled Berryn. Lissa was just getting ready to
cast something restraining but non-lethal at Oethnar when Rhynwa shuffled out
and hit her in the face with the wrong end of her scythe.
Now Lissa was pissed.
Oethnar, Mad Doctor Swank, Bambi and Candi
Send In The Clones
of Post:: Good Help Is Hard To Find
"Forsooth," announced Oethnar,
"thine new assistants areth betraying us already, Mr. Swank."
"What the hell is he saying,"
"We are under attack, Master,"
said the clone of Janther Moria.
"Lousy temp workers!" yelled the
mad scientist. "Dispose of them, my minions! I am busy with my baby!"
"Ohhhhhh, you have a baby?" said
"Ohhhhhhh!" cooed Bambi.
"Can we see the baby?"
"Soon the whole world will see my
baby!" The Mad Doctor Swank cackled evilly.
"Like, every new father is like
that," said Candi.
"Totally," agreed Bambi.
The Rat Pack
of Post:: Merchants
Pieret looked impatiently at his timepiece
while Jack and Valende lingered sappily over breakfast. "Where is
"I think she went next door to do
some haggling," said Ebreth.
"Well, that shouldn't take very
long," said Ariath.
"Depends how good she is," said
Ebreth, and grinned.
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