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The Rat King Archives
In The City We Have Plenty Of Psychodramas, Part VI
Rat Kings and Dead Villains
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.
Kristin L.K. Andersen
The Rats of R.U.M.I.
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...
The Mad Doctor Swank, Candi, Bambi, a Perfect Being
Send In The Clones
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.
Bambi and Candi, great heroes
Send In The Clones
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
"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
"We fooled him! He thought we
believed he was really Max!"
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!"
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.
Ebreth Tor, therapist
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.
"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
Khyrisse, lesser goddess in forced retirement
Kristin L.K. Andersen
The Rats of R.U.M.I.
of Post:: In The City, We Have Plenty of Psychodramas
Khyrisse looked down and played with her
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."
Ebreth Tor, turnin' on the charm
Killing time till Doug logs in
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."
Empress of Dalencia
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
"Dispose of this man," Cailin
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.
Jack Paris, Cori Yashida
Rat Kings and Dead Villains
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
"Uh, not, um, everyone."
"You're not telling me everything,
"I was planning a, um, romantic
Cori's heart fluttered.
"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.
"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."
"Is something wrong, Cori?"
"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
"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
Val had no response.
Cori smiled. This might yet be able to be
derailed before Jack made such a big mistake...
Jack Paris, Warp
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
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
Six billion, three hundred and seventy-two
million, nine hundred and eighteen thousand, four hundred and five bottles of
beer on the wall...
Ebreth Tor, Lucas St. Augustine
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?"
"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,
"You could try." Ebreth Tor
smiled. "I've got my own agenda. What I want to know is can I make it work
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,
"That's why I have my own body."
He smiled at him, his teeth showing. "What do you want with these
"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
"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
"Twenty-four hours, huh?" He
stood up and wiped his hands on his pants. "Guess I'd better turn up the
"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
"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.
Ebreth Tor, traitor
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."
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 décolletage. "Just think about it," he said, softly.
"Please. This is a matter of life and death for me."
"I'll think about it," said
"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,
"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
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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