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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Rat King Archives
Cat and Mouse, Part II

Character(s):: The Rat
Author:: Jeff Hersh
Storyline:: What the Rat Saw
Title of Post:: Rats and Napkins

Rip! Shred!
"Almost there," the rat thought.
After he fought back the invading hand, the rat decided on how he could try to communicate with these humans. It was unfortunate none of them actually spoke the complex pantomime language that rats and most rodents used to communicate with each other. For example, to most humans the sequence *twitch* *clean whiskers* *twitch* *lick fur* *squeak* was just typical rodent behavior. What they didn't realize that *twitch* *clean whiskers* *twitch* *lick fur* *squeak* in fact meant "Look out, there is a terrier out there. By the way, did you know about the pile of garbage outside the tavern?" Nevertheless, the rat knew he had better try to communicate somehow. That was when he decided on the art of net topology. It was a good a choice as any.
Rip! Shuffle. Tear!
Almost there. Whoever's bag this was, the rat was sure happy it was full of such wonderful stuff. In his wildest dreams he never even considered such a horde.
Shuffle! Plink! Rip! Rip!
There, it was done. Now to alert the humans. Taking a deep breath he rushed out of the bag to get some attention.

Character(s):: Khyrisse
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: Rats With Tails (and Without)
Title of Post:: The Attention of a Woman with Money

Khyrisse, meanwhile, had acquired a shot of grain alcohol and a clean scrap of fabric from Kevin. She wandered over, glancing at Flicker with a mildly alarmed look. "You had a DREAM about it...?" Shaking her head as if to clear it, she set the shot on the table and turned to Jack. "You'd better clean that out. Trust me, you don't want to know what the rats in Lianth have been eating lately." She was just reaching for his hand with the alcohol-dampened rag when the rat jumped out of Jack's satchel.

Character(s):: Jack Paris
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Not a visit to Tharrfest

It was like a Tobrinese farce, with people running around the bar after a loose rat. Jack tried not to laugh at the fat chef with his weapon specialization in spatula. Jack was more concerned about the notes in his satchel. The rat had chewed them up pretty well, but fortunately the vital calculations were still intact. Jack didn't look forward to what might happen if those were destroyed or altered.
Still, something was strange about the seemingly random destruction caused by the rat's teeth and claws.
"I will baste you in honey butter, you leetle monstair!" cried Ubert.
Kevin ducked as a cleaver flew across the tavern, jamming itself into the door. Kayla took a position of security behind Flicker.
"Wait a flarking minute..." Jack muttered, folding a tattered brochure for Tharrfest. "Look at this! It's a topological analog of a city map!"
"It's a brochure for Tharrfest," Kevin said.
"No, no..." Jack continued, excited. "The pattern of chewing on here is clear inverse net topology! The shape remaining is perfectly topologically equivalent to the wharf district in Rumi!"
"I won't even ask how you can recognize a map of the wharf district of Rumi," Kevin muttered. "It looks like a chewed up Tharrfest brochure to me."
"No, don't you see... there could be all sorts of messages here! That rat's trying to tell us something!"
"Aha! I have you now! Ubert is zee victor 'ere!" Ubert suddenly cried.
Jack looked up to see Ubert slam a frying pan hard at the cornered rat.

Character(s):: Khyrisse and Skitch
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Continuing Saga of a Rat with a Mission
Title of Post:: Oh Grendel, This is Going to Hurt...

Khyrisse looked over Jack's shoulder at the chewed-up mass of paper in his hands. She wasn't a topological expert, but even she could see that it formed a deliberate pattern of some kind.
"Aha! I have you now! Ubert is zee victor 'ere!" Ubert suddenly cried.
She looked up, startled, to see the frying pan descending on the rodent author in question. "Skitch!!"
True to form, Skitch was already a step ahead of her, right where she needed him to be. He dove under Ubert's frying pan, grabbing the rat and rolling away. Khyrisse winced and closed her eyes, anticipating the flurry of rat bites that would surely ensue. Poor kid...

Character(s):: Flicker
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Of Mice And Men
Title of Post:: Rumi

The rat squirmed up Skitch's sleeve in a frantic attempt to escape from Ubert. Though Ubert looked none too happy with the kid, he didn't bean him with the frying pan, just flung his arms around in a Tobrinese furor. Flicker tapped his hand on the bar. "Rumi," he said. "I suppose we could go and check it out. It might be nice to do something that doesn't involve the fate of the world for a change."
"Ow!" yelled Skitch, as the rat scrabbled up his shoulder and poked its furry face out of his collar.
"Please tell me this doesn't involve the fate of the world," Flicker beseeched the rat.

Character(s):: The Rat
Author:: Jeff Hersh
Storyline:: What the Rat Saw
Title of Post:: So this is how wars are started....

The rat climbed up the shirt sleeve of the small human in a frantic panic. His instincts were in full swing and they told him to flee. However, the rat knew he couldn't do so. He was here for a reason, a reason that was just beyond his grasp. This angered the rat. After all, all he wanted was a nice harem of female rats, a good supply of food and a place free of cats. But no, that was not his luck. Not since... not since.. Damn! He couldn't quite remember anymore. It was going from him like a dream within a dream. All he could remember was the dry bones, the wet stone walls, and the rats, lots and lots of rats.
Climbing up the small human's shirt, the rat perched himself on the child's head. Maybe now he'd got their attention. Maybe now they would understand.
*lick fur* *twitch nose* *twitch nose* *clean whiskers* *run in circle*
The rat stopped, perched on his haunches, waiting for someone to understand.

Character(s):: Jack Paris
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Rat Communication

Jack blinked uncomprehendingly at the rat. "What is it, boy?" he asked. "Is Timmy in trouble? Down at the well?"
Suddenly remembering that he wasn't talking to himself, he looked around sheepishly.
"I, uh, don't speak rat," he admitted.
"I don't think anyone speaks rat," Kayla added.
"Too bad he doesn't speak COBOL," Jack murmured.
"Why would he speak kobold?" Kayla asked.
Jack decided it wasn't worth it. He put his hand out to the rat. "We all seem to be willing to follow a rat," he said to the company. "Maybe we should put it down and see where he leads us. Anyone know a quick route to Rumi?"

***
Meanwhile, in Rumi, a woman rubbed sleep-encrusted eyes. Suddenly, sensing something, she sat straight. "He's coming," she said. "He's coming here." Her left arm reached for the sword on the bedside table. "This time, Eren Messala, things are going to be..." She sliced the sword in a wide arc, embedding it in the bedpost. "Cut. And. Dried."

Character(s):: Khyrisse and Skitch
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: Rats from Rumi
Title of Post:: The Mouse That Roared, This Ain't

Khyrisse reached behind her for her spiked coffee and drank half of it. "I'll bet that *clean whiskers* *run in circle* part means exactly what Flicker hopes it doesn't," she said, smiling down into her cup. "'Reason-to-Fret for Everything'." She tossed back the rest of it and set the mug carefully down on the bar.
Skitch shifted gently, careful not to dislodge the rat, and straightened his tunic. "Did he rip my shirt? This little guy's got some bad-ass claws..." he mumbled.
"I know a quick route to anywhere," Khyrisse said, picking up the burgundy whip she'd carried in with her. "But if I'm going to use it, I'd kind of like some help after whatever this is is all done." She looked around. "Where the heck is Rumi, anyway?"

Character(s):: Patches
Author:: Evan Haag
Storyline:: Rats from Rumi
Title of Post:: A Feline Approacheth

It had happened again. One minute, he was walking lazily down the street, whiskers twitching slightly in anticipation of a full belly, and BAM! The world shifted. What had been a fairly deserted back alley in a human city with tall shiny buildings became an even more deserted main street in a human city with short wooden ones.
His first clue was the change in smell, which was much more earthy and interesting than where he had been. It smelled like real food and real things, with a slight touch of smoke to make it unique. His next clue followed quickly, as the sounds of humans shouting (and fighting?) came closer and closer. Figuring humans were the best way to find out where he was, he slowly stalked down the street.
As he turned a corner, he spotted a group of three humans, two toms and a bitch. They were arguing about something or other, and he sat down patiently and listened, hoping that their "caterwauling" would shed some light on his whereabouts. As he started to patiently clean his foot, one of the toms looked down the street and noticed him.
"Lookee, there's a healthy one. He must have at least a meal on him fer each o' us." With this, the tom started moving slowly towards him, playing the stalking game like a newborn kit. He made ridiculous clucking noises as he did so, too, apparently in an attempt to get his quarry's attention.
A meal for each of us?! I think NOT! With this, he leapt up from his relaxed position and arched his back in his best pose, spitting and hissing like a champion. As he glared at his would-be predators, he let his demeanor and obvious fighting skill sink into them, waiting for them to get the hint.
It didn't take long. Within seconds, the three of them were running down the street, yelling at the top of their lungs. "Aah! Run! Now it's a plague of rabies come down upon us! Geddouda my waaaayyy!!!" They disappeared around a corner almost instantly.
Well, that was mouseless. Maybe someplace a little more relaxed would be in order.
Sniffing the air for a minute, he eventually found a welcome aroma. Lamb! It had been ages since he'd conned some lamb out of someone, and so, that was just what the vet ordered. Following his nose, he came to a eatery of sorts, with one of those useless sign-thingies proclaiming its identity. He ambled cautiously inside, the door politely opening for him as he neared it.

***
Kevin looked up from the bar as the door opened. "Man, that's weird. First it opens on its own, then it won't open at all, and now it's opening for... a cat. I've GOT to get someone to look at that."
The cat was about the size of a well-fed housecat, with the extra bulk in muscle instead of pampered fat. He was healthy, too, with no visible scars on his calico-mottled fur. His ears were whole and perked forward, and his tail twitched almost appealingly as he looked about the room.
Ubert cried out gleefully, "Oho! Perhaps Monsieur Pussycat will make ze hors d'oeuvres from ze leetle rat!" He gripped his frying pan tighter, but didn't make any moves towards the rodent still perched on Skitch's head.
The cat looked at the rat, then at Ubert, then at the rat again. Then he yawned, as if to say "You must be joking." With almost a bored shrug, he ambled over to the group, looked up at Kayla, and let out a long, lonely, miserable "Mrrowr!".
"Oh, you poor dear, you must be starving. C'mon, punkin', let's get you something to eat." She scooped the cat up into her arms, and whisked into the kitchen to look for some scraps. The cat purred happily, snuggling close on her shoulder and almost...smiling...at Flicker.

Character(s):: Flicker
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Cat and mouse
Title of Post:: Great, someone wants to kill me.

"On the Nylevian coast," Flicker told Khyrisse. "Not far from here, though it's probably--a long walk for a rat." His head turned after Kayla and the cat, not at all in the usual way in which heads generally turned after Kayla. He paused that way for a second, almost as if he were looking for something.

Character(s):: The Rat
Author:: Jeff Hersh
Storyline:: What the Rat Saw
Title of Post:: Cats and Rats, Rats and Cats

The rat just perched himself on the human's head when he saw HIM. It was a cat, a large cat, and worst of all, a HUNGRY cat. The rat knew this was not good. In the past he had been able to get away from cats, but this one looked different... meaner... more of a professional rat killer.
The rat's instincts were again telling him to run, to get the hell out of here, and he was about to act on them. Suddenly, he was grabbed by human hand with a characteristic rat bite on its finger.

Character(s):: Flicker
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Cat and mouse
Title of Post:: Prey

Flicker watched Jack slip the rat deftly into the safety of his satchel and click it shut. He suddenly wished someone besides Khyrisse, an urchin, a mathematician, and a rat was going with him to Rumi, but he shook it off without comment. "All right," he said, and stood. "If Khyrisse doesn't mind, perhaps we can take her carriage."
Kayla returned from the kitchen with the strange cat, who was purring in languid fashion. It looked at him and didn't look away. He definitely wasn't imagining it; the cat was touching his mind somehow. Flicker felt disquieted. "Have fun," said Kayla, brightly. "Don't get killed, OK?"
"I certainly hope I haven't survived Shadow to be killed by a bunch of rats," said Flicker. He thought about it, shrugged at her, and smiled a little. "Of course, stranger things--have happened."


Character(s):: Valende and Vastarin
Author:: Evan Haag
Storyline:: We're On The Road To Rumi, Come On Let's Ride
Title of Post:: Two New Heroes

The door to the Mithril Dagger opened again, normally this time. As it opened, the final few words of a conversation in Elvish were heard.
"...if she is here at all. Frankly, I think we're going to have to go it alone."
As heads turned to identify the speaker, they noticed a pair of good-looking elves walk into the bar. Make that a stunning pair of elves. The lady elf was tall, brunette, and had the kind of figure that caused paladins to start stocking up on condoms. Her eyes had more than a come-hither look to them; they could convey whole paragraphs of her intentions. Her mouth, however, had a cute, quirky little smile that said "Don't listen to my eyes; they lie like a rug." She was wearing a well-tended suit of elven chain armor, and had a longsword and a longbow within ready reach. Her boots had stylish little heels on them, and her tunic was a daringly cut green and brown number that gave every man something to pay attention to.
Her companion was striking as well, but in a more roguish fashion. He was a brunette also, with sort of a manga-esque sweep to his hair, and he wore blue and white leather armor which looked sort of like clouds and a clear sky. His smile was his most obvious feature; he looked like the sort of man who found some measure of amusement in just about everything. It wasn't a malicious smile, though; it was obvious that he liked to share his good times, especially with the ladies. His eyes touched lightly upon Kayla and Khyrisse in turn, and he bowed slightly to each of them, his smile shifting slightly with each as if to say "Don't worry; I won't tell about us if you won't."
Kevin recognized the pair and said, "Hi, Val, Vas. Luthien told me you might show up here. What'll it be, your usual?" Kayla rolled her eyes at Vastarin, and pointedly turned away from him to be a little closer to Flicker.
Valende glided over to the bar (followed closely by Vastarin and the eyes of any males with a healthy interest in that sort of thing) and nodded playfully. "Oh, Kevin, you always know just what I want. What would I do in Lianth without you?" She leaned forward at the bar, giving Kevin a healthy eyeful as she traced little patterns in the surface of the bar.
Vastarin shook his head ruefully at his companion's actions, and turned to the rest of the group. Approaching Khyrisse, he asked her directly, "Pardon, gracious lady, but would you be the sorceress Khyrisse Starshadow?"

Character(s):: Patches the Cat (and Kayla)
Author:: Evan Haag
Storyline:: Rats, Rumi, and Impending Doom(sayers)
Title of Post:: Restless Kitty

The cat jumped off of Kayla's shoulder and trotted over to Jack Paris. He purred a bit, and started rubbing up against Jack's leg.
Kayla looked a bit annoyed, but then shrugged and turned to Flicker, "Figures. Trust a cat to change his mind faster than a Bryttani fishwife. I just don't get it. YOU wouldn't give up such a comfy deal, would you?" She glanced slightly towards Vastarin, making sure he got the implied message.

Character(s):: Flicker
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Cat and Mouse
Title of Post:: That reminds me...

"Cats have brains the size of walnuts," Flicker assured Kayla. The cat looked at him balefully. "Well, I'm sorry, cat, but you do." Flicker's facial expression did not change as Valende squeezed past him to the bar and leaned way over it towards Kevin; Flicker's facial expression never changed involuntarily, really, but he was especially glad of it this time, particularly given the insights into the female perspective he had recently inherited. "Besides," he said, still to Kayla, "I think he has ulterior motives." He indicated the bag with the rat in it with his left hand. Jack put the satchel on the bar, well out of the cat's reach. Vastarin kissed Khyrisse's hand; Flicker looked at him for a second, and then said "Say, Kevin, you haven't heard anything from Kieran Talbot in the past--eight months or so, have you?"

Character(s):: Jack Paris, International Man of Mystery
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Will Calculate For Food

Kevin shook his head slowly. "Nope, but then, the last time he was in here, he made the mistake of trying to pick up Margrethe. I wouldn't be surprised if he was sleeping off a turning hangover somewhere."
Jack kept one hand on the satchel. The cat was looking at him like it wanted to say something, and Jack hoped it wasn't asking for the Rat. He had become strangely fond of the little creature. And animals didn't normally get along well with Jack, for what he knew were obvious reasons."You aren't talking about a ghost bard, by any chance, are you?" Jack asked.
"Yes, actually," Flicker nodded. "He's a friend."
"There was a ghost bard named Kieran on the coach I took from Talaria to the Northlands. Kind of a heavy drinker, for a ghost." Jack could feel the rat inside the satchel, but he didn't want to let it out while the cat was right there. "Well, I'm happy to go down to Rumi with you all, provided that I'm in on any work that comes our way." Jack flicked two cards into his hand and held them out to the elves. "I'm Jack Paris, by the way. My card."
The satchel squirmed impatiently, and Jack opened it a little, watching the cat. The cat seemed to watch Jack with a calm intelligence that unnerved him.

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