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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 VI

Character(s):: Cori Yashida
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title of Post:: Another Name For The Record

"You speak Shikinti?" Cori asked in that language.
"I do, honored lady," Pieret replied in the same. "I spent some years in that country."
"Strange that I have not heard of you, then... there are few Easterners in our land."
"It was many years ago, and I had a different name then."
"Would I know of it?"
"I was Karihito Mamasu, the adopted son of Karihito Kaitei."
"You were the Rose Blade of the Grey Dove clan?" Cori asked in astonishment.
"I was," Pieret said humbly.

"What are they saying?" Val whispered to Jack.
"He's being someone else again," Jack replied. Pieret seemed to have a lot of experience changing identities. Jack wondered if there was perhaps more to him than he tended to show... Mentally Jack moved Pieret up his list of suspects.

Character(s):: Khyrisse
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: Bad Memories All Around

"Elena Raimonde," Khyrisse repeated. "Oh dear." Hello, Queen Elena. So sorry about dropping a city on your country-- a shame we had to destroy it, but it was attracting the wrong sort. I ran into your husband the other day; has he been ill? I hardly recognized him... Khyrisse suppressed the sudden urge to slap herself. "Grimthane, I hate to tell you this, but it might not be that easy to deliver a letter to Elena Raimonde. It might not be wise, either..." Khyrisse shook her head. "We can discuss this once we get to Edimon," she said, and closed the door of the carriage.
Once they were moving, Khyrisse pulled out the book that she'd taken from the secret room below Barry Spivot's study. She spent a few moments flipping through the pages, peeling some of the edges apart where dried blood had stuck them together. It was a journal. She picked a spot a few months before the Madness and started reading.
Yuck. This may be safer than flirting with Ebreth... but if this is playing it safe, I think I'd rather live dangerously. Too bad I'm not the one who needs to stay out of trouble, she thought, sneaking a slightly worried look at Ebreth before returning to her research. She blinked down at the page after a paragraph or two. Gods, Barry Spivot really LOST it...

Character(s):: The Mad Doctor Swank, Candi, Bambi, a Perfect Being
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Send In The Clones
Title of Post:: Wish They All Could Be Nylevia Girls

The Janther clone was still holding Berryn by the throat. "Master Swank? Should we kill them?"
"No, my obsolete minions! I shall test the power of my new masterpiece upon them! Muahahaha!" He turned to the Max-like being, chortling to himself. "Destroy them!"
His creation made a disparaging sound through his lips. "No way, dude," he said. "I'm a perfect being. I'm not fighting a couple of hosers." He put an arm around each of the twins. "Hey, you girls want to go catch some waves?"
They giggled. "Oooh, Maxie!"
"Obey me, my ingrateful spawn!" shouted the Mad Doctor Swank. "We must conquer the world!"
"Yeah, chill, Pop Swank," he said. "We'll conquer the world later. I've just been incarnated, and I'm going to Disneyland."
"I knew I shouldn't have used that wave recursion function," said Robinson, from the other room.

Character(s):: Bambi and Candi, great heroes
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Send In The Clones
Title of Post:: The Bimbos Strike Back

"First destroy our enemies," argued the Mad Doctor Swank. "Then dally with the women. I have years of experience as a megalomaniacal villain, damn it!"
"No, dally with us first," said Candi.
"Yah," said Bambi.
"That's two to one," said Candi.
"When we conquer the world you will have all the women as your love slaves!"
"Cool," said the Perfect Being.
"Maxie!" cooed Bambi, and put her arms around his neck. He turned his head, and Candi zapped him in the back of it with her Wand of Mace.
"Yay!" screamed Bambi. The perfect being stood frozen in place.
"Yay!" screamed Candi.
They flung their arms around one another and bounced joyfully up and down, screaming. "We did it! We defeated the Evil Max!"
"We fooled him! He thought we believed he was really Max!"
"Now we're great heroes!"
"You were wonderful, Bambi!"
"You were terrific, Candi!"
Lissa would have been impressed, actually, if the Palmer clone hadn't just lassoed her ankles out from under her, and a clone of her wife wasn't standing over her with a scythe, and Oethnar wasn't shouting "Forsooth! Beith careful, fair Rhynwa!"

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

Ebreth and Vas sat together quietly, watching the world whirl by. Ebreth glanced back at Khyrisse, who was thumbing through a book that looked like it had seen decidedly better days. She was thinking about him. He'd seen that look before. Too bad every time he went near her something tried to kill her. Ebreth Tor made a mental sigh and let the speed make him dizzy. His plan to simplify his life just didn't seem to be working very well.

Character(s):: Ebreth Tor, therapist
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: The Stuff Of Nightmares

'Grimthane' had gone to the castle to request an audience with Queen Elena, who Ebreth hoped was in better shape than King Laran. The rest of the Rat Pack had stopped for lunch in a Dalencian deli. The man who made the sandwiches was hitting on Valende pretty overtly. It was really flustering Jack, who didn't seem to know what to do about it. Ebreth shook his head. "Are you sure you wouldn't like some kind of disguise?" Khyrisse said to him, quietly. "Just so as to avoid angry mobs, I mean?"
"We're inland," said Ebreth, "north of the great Wall. If anyone here has ever heard of that other Ebreth Tor, it's been in the "eat your vegetables or he'll come get you" context, not the "he killed my cousin" one." He stirred his milkshake with the straw. "So. Are you going to tell me what's been eating at you, or not?"
Khyrisse was taken aback. "What?"
"Well, before we were, ah, interrupted," he said, "you were telling me how you've been under a lot of stress. Is that something you'd like to share, or, you know, bottle up inside and let give you nightmares?"
"Can I--trust you, Ebreth?"
He looked down. "I don't know," he said, a little painfully. "I, I'm not going to sell you to some violent prostitution ring or something, you know, I'm not going to do something awful to you. I'm not just going to let some guys kill you. Maybe trusting me's not the best idea, but you, you don't have to be frightened of me."
"I, uh, what I really meant was can you keep things between us."
"Oh. Yes. Yes, that I'm very good at."

Character(s):: Khyrisse, lesser goddess in forced retirement
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: In The City, We Have Plenty of Psychodramas

Khyrisse looked down and played with her salad.
Briefly, her dislike of letting anyone inside her defenses battled her desire to tell somebody about it. Her dislike of burdening Ebreth (who had troubles of his own) with her problems fought with her desire to trust him. The novel idea that perhaps Ebreth needed to be trusted decided the issue, eventually.
"I haven't made any secret of the fact that I was a goddess at one point, have I?" she began, with an awkward little laugh.
"Not unless mentioning it twice a day is keeping it quiet," Ebreth said with his ever-present grin. She suspected that this particular grin was poking gentle fun at her, and she smiled back as well as she could. She pointed with her fork, north through the wall of the deli. "I don't know if you were ever there, probably not, but the city of Trade is about two minutes that way, by Carriage." She inhaled deeply, shakily. "Well, what's left of it. That's not much. It imploded after a four day spree of rape, torture, murder and arson on the part of the inhabitants, about a month ago," she said. She tried to keep her voice steady, but the details came out on a rush of emotion, making it wobble. "The greater part of ten thousand people died horribly."
Her eyes skittered across Ebreth's face, two dark hollows of purple shadow that did not quite meet his gaze. She couldn't decipher the quick glimpse she had of his expression. "I... knew... most of them, quite intimately in some cases. I spent several... years... as their deity. And now they're all dead, and I'm mortal again." Khyrisse stared at the table, blinking fiercely against tears. She hated crying, she was not going to cry. She finally gave a little shrug, and a self-deprecating gasp of a laugh. "That's what's been bothering me. You probably shouldn't have asked. It's all pretty much common knowledge, but I didn't mean to wail at you."

Character(s):: Ebreth Tor, turnin' on the charm
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Killing time till Doug logs in
Title of Post:: Save Vs. Comforting

Ebreth was just sure this was going to bring the undead thing into the deli, but he reached across the red-checked little table anyway and took Khyrisse's white wrists in his hands. "Just think how many more people would have died horribly if it hadn't been for you," he said, seriously. "That's common knowledge too, you know." She didn't answer. She was obviously really trying not to cry. "Maybe we've all got some memories we'd rather not have. It was a big equalizer, that Bane. But you went out there and made a difference." He turned her face up, towards him. "Now that's more than most folks can say. I'm not going to tell you to forget about that. That's not how people work. But you sure as hell don't have anything to feel guilty about. I can guarantee you that much."

Character(s):: Hronmir Silent-Voice
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Empress of Dalencia
Title of Post:: Grimthane Darkcloak Revealed

Hronmir Silent-Voice was ushered into the Queen's audience chamber. "I bring a letter for Queen Elena Raimonde."
"My mo... Elena Raimonde... is not here," Cailin Raimonde admitted. "She's been missing for some time. Since Emperor Laran fled after the Tres business."
"Who rules the Dalencian Empire, then?" Hronmir asked, looking at the letter in his hands.
"I do," Cailin Raimonde said. "My sister and I are reconstructing Dalencia from the sad state it was in with the fall of Trade."
"Then this is for you," Hronmir said, bringing the letter forward.
As Cailin took the letter from Hronmir's hand, the black cloth of Grimthane Darkcloak's dark cloak... moved.
Hronmir felt his mind clear as the tines withdrew from the back of his neck. The guards stood, entranced by the magicks woven when Hronmir entered. The cloak flowed across Hronmir's arm and up the arm of Queen Cailin Raimonde.
Then the archcloaker's fangs entered her neck.
"Dispose of this man," Cailin Raimonde said.
The guards obeyed.

From behind an arras, Ariath the thief watched, the sole witness to the sudden shift in power in the Dalencian Empire. Ariath knew the value of this sort of information. She also knew that if she opened her mouth she'd be found dead within a day. The one time she had dealt with Malcar had been enough to teach her that. This was a secret worth hiding, at least until she could arrange to do something about it. I knew there was something weird about that guy, Ariath thought.
The guards had taken Hronmir to one of the lowest dungeons in Edimon proper, before it connected to the network of tunnels beneath the castle-city. Ariath followed, expertly keeping to the twisty little passages, all different, that were second nature to her. She knew from experience that bully-boy guards didn't deliver the killing blow. They wanted victims to die alone. Ariath waited until the beatings were done, then crept in that night to rescue Hronmir's body from passage.
Midnight. She didn't know where the Rat Pack had gone or where they stayed. She would catch up. They'd help her protect Hronmir until it was time to reveal what they knew. Until then... first level mage, she reminded herself.

Character(s):: Jack Paris, Cori Yashida
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title of Post:: The Worth of Free Advice

"I'm looking for a nice restaurant," Jack said, looking up from the tome in the Edimon library. "This place was the center of the Dalencian Empire for years on end. It's got to have a nice place to eat."
"I thought we were on a mission?" Cori asked.
"We are. But we're still waiting to hear from Ariath and that Darkcloak guy. I don't think we should leave anyone behind if we can help it."
"So you want us all to have an expensive dinner?"
"Uh, not, um, everyone."
"You're not telling me everything, Paris."
"I was planning a, um, romantic dinner."
Cori's heart fluttered. "Really?"
"Yeah. It's kind of overdue."
"Well, there must be a Shikinti place here... Shikinti food is always better in foreign countries."
"I don't know that she likes Shikinti. I was looking for elven cuisine."
The room got degrees colder.
"I see."
"You don't like elven food?"
"Are you asking me to dinner?"
"No, you just sounded kind of nauseated at the thought."
"Believe me, I am."
Cori strode out of the library. Jack sighed. One day he would understand the last daughter of the Silver Crane. Today was not that day.

Cori Yashida strolled through the market square. Valende would be here somewhere. Cori wasn't going to let this go without a fight. "Cori! Over here!" Skitch yelled from the stall where he and Valende were looking at cloth. Cori headed over.
"Any word from Ariath or Grimthane?" Val asked.
"I think Ebreth and Khyri are still in the deli."
"That's nice."
"Is something wrong, Cori?" Valende asked.
"It's about Jack," she said.
They both looked to Skitch. He was damned if he was going to miss this, but for appearances sake, he moved out of sight.
"I don't think you know what you're getting into," Cori said.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, I don't think it's a good idea you two getting involved."
"And what business is it of yours?"
"I care about him. And unless you're damned serious about him, you shouldn't lead him on. Jack takes things... well, a little far."
"What are you talking about?"
"Has he asked you to marry him yet?"
Val had no response.
Cori smiled. This might yet be able to be derailed before Jack made such a big mistake...

Character(s):: Jack Paris, Warp
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Orion's Belt
Title of Post:: Space, The Final Frontier

Six billion, three hundred and seventy-two million, nine hundred and eighteen thousand, four hundred and six bottles of beer on the wall... six billion, three hundred and seventy two million, nine hundred and eighteen thousand, four hundred and six bottles of beer...
Jack hated space. He had hated it for the last week.

Warp, on the other hand, loved space.
While working for Orion was a crappy place to be, at least the adventure was good.
He hoped that Jack was being well taken care of.

Six billion, three hundred and seventy-two million, nine hundred and eighteen thousand, four hundred and five bottles of beer on the wall...

Character(s):: Ebreth Tor, Lucas St. Augustine
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: Old Friends

It was getting dark. Hronmir and Ariath still hadn't returned, and Vas was starting to get worried. For some reason Khyrisse's magic mirror had been unable to pick up the little mage at all. If she hadn't come back by tomorrow morning, they were going to have to launch a full-scale search effort. Vas sighed and hung his cloak on the peg of his hotel door, and froze in place as he turned. Ebreth Tor was shuffling cards in the darkness. "So," he said, soft as the moonlight, "do you think we can make our games coincide here, one last time?"
"What are you talking about?" said Vas.
"Now that is the tricky part," he said, "I don't want to tell you too much, you don't want to tell me too much. The more things change." He bridged the cards. One went skittling across the table towards Vas, who slowly picked it up. It was the jack of diamonds. "The more they stay the same."
"We could use you," he said, low.
"You could try." Ebreth Tor smiled. "I've got my own agenda. What I want to know is can I make it work with yours."
There was a long pause. "You've heard of the Dead College?"
"No," said Ebreth. "I have been, should I say, out of the loop, since my... accident."
"Can I trust you?"
He looked somehow relieved. "Then let it suffice to say that there are powerful forces involved. I think Beliath might very much like to talk to you."
"I doubt I would like to talk to him," said Ebreth. "I don't work for powerful forces."
"That's why you're a petty criminal, Ebreth."
"That's why I have my own body." He smiled at him, his teeth showing. "What do you want with these people?"
"To kill them before Beliath's ill-advised ally has his undead minion collect them all. What about you?"
"I need Khyrisse alive. I have plans for her."
"Aside from the obvious?"
Ebreth leaned across the table on his knuckles, his elbows extending out like a cat about to pounce. "No," he said. "All of this is just to get some tail, Lucas. Isn't that why you're going behind these powerful forces' backs?"
He was shocked for a moment, and then he leaned over the table too, his face inches from Ebreth's. "That city belongs to me, Ebreth."
"No," said Ebreth, softly. "No, you belong to the city."
Lucas St. Augustine couldn't argue with that. "All right," he said, "I won't kill her if you don't interfere with me over the others."
It was a lie and Ebreth was making it very plain in his face that he knew it. "You can do better than that."
"Twenty-four hours," he said, "you have twenty-four hours to get her off this quest, Ebreth, or I will."
"Twenty-four hours, huh?" He stood up and wiped his hands on his pants. "Guess I'd better turn up the charm."
"Isn't there anything else you wanted to ask me?"
"Hey, yeah!" Ebreth turned on him. "Could the demon bird have waited until after we got laid?"
Vas chuckled. "That wasn't me," he said. "I told you there were powerful forces involved in this. Stick with me, Ebreth, you don't know what you're getting involved in. You won't make it on your own."
"The day I worry about that," said Ebreth, "is the day I pull a fear stone out of my butt, Lucas."
"Worry, or don't," he said, "but cross me and you'll find your new lease on life a short one, Ebreth Tor."
"Try hanging me out to dry," said Ebreth, "and it may still be too long for comfort." He spread the cards in a fan across the table, flashed a grin at the elf, and left.

Character(s):: Ebreth Tor, traitor
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: A Dangerous Game

"I wanted to apologize about last night," said Ebreth. "I, I felt I owed you an explanation."
"An explanation for rescuing my apprentice and probably saving my life?"
"An explanation for doing it by pretending to be someone else," he said. "I'd like to do these things on my own merit, Khyrisse. I just, I don't really know how." She looked up at him, as pale as ivory in the light of Bane from the window. "I've got to tell you something about myself, Khyrisse. I'm a coward."
"You don't act like one."
"Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't. The things I'm afraid of just don't always come into play. I'm running from something terrible, Khyrisse. And I need your help." He paused. "I can't stay here any longer. I've got to go back to the Islands. Tomorrow. And I, I need you to come with me."
"But--but I--"
He had turned her towards the corner; he touched the tip of his finger to his lips for silence and then he kissed her. She was surprised, doubly so when she felt him slip a folded piece of paper into her d´┐Żcolletage. "Just think about it," he said, softly. "Please. This is a matter of life and death for me."
"I'll think about it," said Khyrisse, confused.
"I must leave tomorrow night. Khyrisse." She looked at him. "Please don't fail me. My life is in your hands." He backed away from her, his eyes locked onto hers, and then he turned and opened the door. "Why, hello, Vas."
Vas waved his hand carelessly. He seemed to be engrossed in a book. "Bodyguarding is tireless work," he said, mournfully.
"One can never be too careful. You have a good night." Ebreth Tor went off down the hall, his cloak flipping.
Vastarin honestly didn't know why he had eavesdropped on them, or why the pirate's slickness with the ladies amused him quite as much as it did, but he was quite sure that what he had overheard was not really his business, so he put it out of his mind and went back to his book.

Vas is inhabited by the spirit of Lucas St. Augustine, read the note. The blood ran out of Khyrisse's face. He's working with something called the Dead College, run by a man named Beliath who's involved with our undead Laran and some other nasty shit. Lucas is going to try to kill you again in 24 hours. He wants you dead before Laran can "collect" us all. Something to do with Rimbor. He might let the two of us go if we took off together but then he'd probably kill the others. I have no idea how to stop him.
PLEASE be careful. If Lucas finds out I told you this you don't want to know what will happen to me. Destroy this note, don't tell anyone you don't absolutely need to, and whatever you do about this, for my sake, make it effective.
It wasn't signed.
Khyrisse felt very old all of a sudden.

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