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The Rat King Archives
Luthien, Berryn, and the whole Swanky Crew
Dangerous Liaisons, Part I
The Unbearable Swankness of Being
of Post:: The Swank Stops Here
Lissa had gotten pretty fed up with the
whole situation, and decided that it was time to end this farce. Summoning up
powerful energy from within, she glared at Rhynwa's clone and shouted a power
word. Struck by its force, she toppled over backwards, stunned. Oethnar cried
out, "Forsooth!" and rushed over to her, a ridiculous look of concern
on his wooden face.
While all this was happening, Berryn had
managed to get free from Alain MaClone's grasp. The blind simulacrum was
swinging around blindly for him, and Berryn got in a lucky shot and tripped
him. He wasn't quite sure what to do next, so he took a step back to heal his
throat, hoping that 'Lissa' would give him some help. He noticed as he healed
himself that the entity called 'Maxie' was walking out the door, holding the
twins on either side of him, while the Mad Doctor Swank continued to shriek.
Lissa, meanwhile, turned her attention to
Palmer Khlone. As he came towards her mechanically, she cast shocking grasp and
waited for the obvious strike. It came moments later, as Palmer drew his sword
and tried to stick it into his helpless opponent. What he got instead was
several thousand volts of magical energy transmitted straight through his
not-quite-so-perfect body. The results were far more impressive than Lissa had
hoped for, as Palmer's entire nervous system short-circuited, leaving him a
lifeless and slightly smoking husk on the floor.
The Mad Doctor Swank stopped shrieking
when he saw his creation fall. He started up again right away though, this time
directing it at Oethnar. "KILL THEM, MY MINION! I have given you your
silly first love back, didn't I?!? You still work for me! KILL THEM!" He
was hopping up and down on his chair furiously, and Berryn couldn't help but
think that he looked like a ridiculous cartoon frog.
Lissa shifted back to his normal form, and
Swank grew slightly pale as he stopped shrieking. Luthien could hear Berryn
sigh in relief behind him, just before he tripped Alain MaClone again. He
turned his attention back to Swank. "Your little scheme is over, Swank.
You didn't keep track of your notes and your samples, and now your creation is
off getting laid instead of doing your bidding. You are a fool, and now you're
coming with me." With that, he cast a polymorph spell, and soon the only
thing left of the Mad Doctor was a tiny caterpillar wriggling furiously on the
Berryn had managed to tie Alain up, and
was going to untie Robinson. The tree-man was cradling the Rhynwa clone in his
arms, and was gently caressing her face. She was alive, but it looked to
Luthien like the stun had really knocked her for a loop. Luthien came over
cautiously, stopping when Oethnar spoke.
"Alas, I hast now tasted the bitter
pill of psychodrama. Verily, I shouldst never have lefteth my woods on this mad
pursuit. Doeth what thee will, necromancer. I shall not stoppeth thee."
Luthien just shook his head, having
finally figured out what must have happened to him. "I'm not going to do
anything, Oethnar, except ask that you don't pursue this kind of mad dream in
the future. I know you and Rhynwa were close for a time, but she's my wife now,
and that's the way it is. You'll have to accept that."
"Verily, I had, good Luthien. I
kneweth truly that she and thee were wed, and that she had sprouted."
Luthien tried to repress a laugh at the
idea of Rhynwa "sprouting". She still had a hard time accepting the
idea that she had once been pollinated.
"Now, I shall dismantleth this wicked
place. It is most unnatural, and I do not wish to see it any longer." He
started to move towards the console, growing as he did so.
"Wait!" shouted Luthien, rushing
past him to grab the still-furious caterpillar and the stack of notes. He put
the former scientist in a jar, and then helped Berryn get the prisoner out of
the way. "Now you can dismantle it."
As the three of them made their way to the
hole they fell through, they could hear the tree-man's demolition behind them.
It gave Luthien sort of a warm feeling, because it reminded him of the
demolition of the Rimbor arena. As he flew the three of them up to ground
level, Robinson introduced himself.
"Did you say your name was
Paris?" asked Luthien as they got outside.
"Yes, Robinson Paris. I, uh, I came
to Lianth looking for a relative of mine, named..."
Luthien finished his sentence for him.
Robinson looked relieved to hear someone
say that name. "Thank goodness someone around here has seen him. Do you
know where he went? Did he say when he'd be back?"
Luthien shook his head. "Actually,
neither of us have seen him. He left the Mithril Dagger some time ago with some
friends of mine. I was going to wait for them to return, back at the Dagger.
Would you care to join us, Robinson?"
Seeing no other prospects in sight,
Robinson shrugged and sighed. "Might as well. Say, you wouldn't be in need
of a mathematician, would you...."
Norna, Rudest of the Valkyrie
Skeins of Fate
of Post:: Bull In A China Shop
Flicker walked into the Mithril Dagger and
almost straight into the newly docile clone of Janther Moria. He went back
about five feet into Norna, who shouted and smacked him in the back of the
head. "It's a clone, you stupid demon!"
"My master is a worm, Kayla,"
said the clone, sounding somewhat depressed.
"I'm Kevin," said the bartender.
"What is going on here?" Flicker
said to Luthien.
"We were having a little trouble with
the Mad Doctor Swank. It's handled." The necromancer took a pull on his
Guinness. He was really getting to like this stuff. "But I didn't really
know what to do with this. Do you have any ideas?"
"Could you start with polymorphing
it?" Flicker clapped himself on the chest a few times, trying to get his
heart rate back down. "Luthien, we need to talk."
"Are you OK?" Kayla came in from
the back room, looking concerned. "Your head is bleeding."
"I'm fine," he said. "I got
into a fight with Malcar--"
"Malcar?" shouted Norna.
"Why didn't you tell me this?"
"You mean the last time you let me
get a word in edgewise?"
Norna gritted her teeth. "You hold
the key I need, Luthien."
Luthien looked at her. "Norn,
"That's right," she said.
"And if you ever want to see your son again, you had better
"What?" said Luthien, angrily.
"Norna, shut up!" shouted
Flicker. She was so startled at the amount of noise he had made that she forgot
to hit him. "I need your help," he told Luthien. "We've got a
"Evil alternate future?"
"Man, I hate those."
Kayla put some ice on the side of
Flicker's head. He touched her fingers and blinked at the old scientist.
"Robinson? Is that you?"
"I'm a, a friend of Shalini's."
"That's enough socializing,
Messala," snapped Norna. "You and Luthien come with me."
"Actually," said Flicker,
"Robinson might be able to help us. He's a mathematician too." The
connection had only just occurred to him; they looked nothing alike. "Is
Jack your son?"
"You know Jack too? I need--"
"Can you do search algorithms?"
demanded Norna. "I need to trace a timeline backwards. Luthien the Lich
Lord has returned from the future."
Flicker struck his forehead. I had better
social skills in the Abyss.
Harry Novoa and Octavian
Evan Haag and Kristin L.K. Andersen
The Rats of R.U.M.I./Octavian/"To An Inconstant Mistress"
of Post:: Crossroads
Harry Novoa had had a crappy couple of
days. It was bad enough that he couldn't keep Ms. Starshadow and her cohorts
from leaving, but then he'd lost Graves as well. The worst part of that was, he
had already collared Graves. He still wasn't sure how the dirty creep had just
disappeared from his bonds. To top it all off, some street kid had thrown a
horse-apple at him on his way to the station today. It was definitely one of
As he opened the door to his office, his
survival instinct kicked in. He entered cautiously, hoping that his 'coworkers'
hadn't left some nasty surprise for him. He didn't notice anything immediately
out of place, which made him even more nervous. He closed the door behind
himself carefully, drawing his wand. As he turned the key, a light came on
behind him. He whirled, and found himself face to face with a man in a heavily
cowled grey cloak.
The man's hands immediately shot up over
his head, flipping the edges of the cloak to either side of his body. He said
quickly, "Please don't fire, Officer Novoa. I am unarmed and
"Everybody's hostile in Rimbor,
buddy. Just sit down on that chair over there and tell me what the hell you're
doing in my office." He waved the stranger to the guest chair, while he
himself went behind his desk.
"Actually, officer, I've been meaning
to make your acquaintance ever since my return to Rimbor. I've been following
your career, and I like what I've seen." He smiled slightly as he settled
into the chair. "You and I have a lot in common."
"Like what? Breaking and entering?
Possibly the unlawful examination of police files? You had better start
explaining yourself, before I just arrest you on those two counts."
The strange man shook his head. "That
wouldn't help your struggle in the least. In fact, all it would do is make your
fellow... 'officers' very happy." Harry noticed a definite tone of disgust
when he said the word 'officers'. "After all, it wouldn't hurt them in the
least to have the notorious Octavian under lock and key."
Harry was floored by this. Octavian? Here?
Jesus, this is not how I expected to spend my evening. "So what do you
want with me? From what I hear, police officers are not high on your list of
"Only the wrong sort of police
officers. You, on the other hand, are honest and efficient, and you actually
give a damn about the people on the street. It's just that your hands are tied
by the current system." Harry nodded absently, having felt restrained ever
since he got to Rimbor. "I'm a lot like you in these respects, really. I'm
just not quite so... restricted."
Harry just looked at 'Octavian'. He wasn't
at all what he expected him to be. For one thing, he was short. The guy was
barely five-five, if that, although he looked to be pretty healthy. For another
thing, he wasn't much to look at, although he couldn't see much of his face.
Harry still had the vague romantic idea that heroic types should at least look
the part. "Fine. If you're
Octavian, then you can start answering questions. What do you know about the
abduction of a small boy yesterday at approximately one in the morning?"
"Quite a bit. I was there."
Harry was surprised to hear so bald-faced a confession. "Before you assume
the worst, hear me out. I saw Officer Graves follow the lad inside Mr. Spivot's
residence, and I acted quickly to get the boy out of his hands. Fortunately, I
had prior knowledge of the tunnels and entrances to the house, so I was able to
cut him off. After that, well, Officer Graves has never had the most skilled...
"And what were you doing watching Mr.
"Mr. Spivot has been acting... odd,
since the Madness. He has acquired some unsavory acquaintances of late,
including Officer Graves and some of his... street-level contacts."
"Yeah, I know all about them. That
doesn't explain why you were watching Barry Spivot."
"From what I understand, in the past
year Mr. Spivot has displayed an unhealthy interest in magical experimentation.
In particular, the summoner's arts. And recently, I've noted a drastic change
in personality. I fear that he is
involved with something that might... cause a lot of damage."
"You're right about damage, anyway;
he tried to whack Ms. Starshadow at the Rimbor Arena, just before it blew.
Okay, so what happened to the kid?"
"I tried to question the boy about
some of his traveling companions, before returning him to his mistress.
Unfortunately, we were interrupted by an explosion. I left to investigate, and
by the time I could return, someone else had kidnapped him."
"Yeah, I heard. A gentleman going by
the name of Ebreth Tor brought him back." Octavian sat up a little
straighter at the mention of this name. Harry made a note of that. "From
what I understand, he used some... unsavory contacts to get him back. He
refused to make a statement, though, so I don't know anything else. Perhaps you
could fill in the blanks?"
Octavian shook his head. "Not those
blanks, officer, but a few others are being filled in, apparently. I am more
afraid than ever for those people, now. Did they mention where they were
"Yeah, Sturtevant. Another question:
what made you investigate the explosion? Most people tend to stay away from
loud noises in Rimbor; it's healthier."
"I'm not most people, officer.
Anything that happens in Rimbor is my business... but particularly if people
are being hurt. When I got there, though, there was no sign of any wounded or dead,
other than Graves' men. I did find something, though: a piece of the bomb
wedged into the wall. It's there on your desk."
Harry had noticed the charred piece of
metal when he sat down, but he had chosen to ignore it in favor of questioning
Octavian. "Yeah, I noticed. What about it?"
Octavian leaned forward and sighed.
"I have reason to believe that someone in their group set that bomb. The
hand that created it is... familiar to me. This person might be in league with
the man called Ebreth Tor; if what you say about his contacts is true, I can
only assume the worst. If there is any way you can contact Ms. Starshadow, I
urge you to warn her-- there is a traitor amongst those she has reason to
trust... and quite possibly more than one."
Skeins of Fate
of Post:: Time, Look What's Become of Me
"I'll make you a deal," Robinson
said. "I'll track your temporal skein if you help me find Jack."
"Deal?" Norna said. "You
expect me to..."
"Do it, Norna," Flicker said.
Norna was silent for a moment. "Very
well, Mathematician. I accept your terms."
"See, was that so hard?" Flicker
"It matters little," Norna said.
"He won't live long enough to see his son again."
"Norn!" Flicker cried.
"There is such a thing as too much
information," Robinson Paris sighed.
"Don't worry," Luthien said.
"Death is a matter with which I have an acquaintance. Things aren't always
as clear as that."
"And that's part of your problem, necromancer,"
The Unbearable Swankness of Being
of Post:: Throw Another Max On The Bambi
"So we were really tricky!"
Bambi said. "I bet Luthien didn't even know we knew it was him!"
"We didn't," Candi replied.
"Yeah, but don't tell Max that!"
"Whoa. You chicks are way cool."
"You know, Candi, we can't keep
calling him Max."
"But he looks like Max," Candi
"But I look like you, and people
don't call me Bambi."
"Yes they do. You are Bambi. I'm
"Are you sure?"
"I think so..."
The girls looked at each other confused
for a minute, before forgetting what the problem was.
"So what do we call him?"
"What do you want to be called?"
Bambi asked the Perfect Being.
"Um, what's a cool name?"
"Devon!" Candi yelled.
"Derek!" Bambi yelled.
"Uh, Bambi, wasn't that what we were
trying to avoid?"
"Oopsie! You're right! Well, let's
try again next post."
"Sounds good to me!"
Jack Paris, Ariath
Rat Kings and Dead Villains
of Post:: Debriefing
Jack poked his head into Khyrisse's
room. "Khyrisse?" he asked
tentatively. The ex-goddess merely
stared into space. "Hello?
"Oh, Jack... what's going on?"
Jack bit his lower lip. "Not much,
actually. We're still waiting for Ariath, and now Val and Cori have wandered
off somewhere. I was just wondering if you had seen them?"
"No," Khyrisse said absently.
"No, I haven't."
"Well," Jack said, putting on a
cheery face, "it's a big castle. Fortunately we can all be trusted to look
out for each other. Someone's probably seen them."
Jack popped out of the room.
Khyrisse wanted to sob.
"Okay, buddy. I've just saved your
ass, so you're in my debt."
Hronmir Silent-Voice (not Grimthane
Darkcloak) looked up at the young blonde woman who had snuck him out of the
Edimon dungeons. "That... creature..." he said. "It..."
"Controlled you. I know."
"Who... are you?"
"I'm Ariath. I'm a, uh, friend of
"You saved me," Hronmir said.
"I am at your service." There was a sad resignation in Hronmir's
voice as he admitted that.
"Damn straight you are. And the first
thing you're going to do is to keep your yap shut about Malcar and the
"But we should--"
"Do. Nothing." Ariath insisted.
"If it's learned that we know, we're both dead. I know how that thing
"Silence is not an unfamiliar
path," Hronmir whispered.
"Good. We're going to get back to the
Rat Pack, and you're going to explain that after delivering your letter you
took me on a tour of the keep. I'll apologize for being late, then you'll keep
a low profile with the 'Pack until I tell you not to."
"As you command," Hronmir
Jack was lounging on the roof of the Trade
Carriage, optimistically ready for travel, counting the stars in the night sky.
He had hoped to have dinner with Val tonight, but she was as elusive as Ariath.
And Grimthane. And Skitch. Boy, adventurers sure like to go off by themselves a
lot, he mused. Must make a lot of work for whatever gods look after them.
"Jack?" came a familiar voice. It was Ariath, followed by Grimthane.
"There you guys are!" Jack said, leaping down from the coach.
"We've been waiting for you."
"I took her on a tour,"
"Whatever. Let me go tell Khyrisse,
and maybe we can finally get going to Sturtevant."
Skeins of Fate
of Post:: Convergence
"Sturtevant?" Ariath batted her
lashes and pouted. "They frown on magic use, don't they? I'll be
"Vas is in there," said Jack
helpfully, pointing towards the inn.
"Sturtevant." The music box
tinkled its obsessive refrain. Norna's mighty hand shook on the skein.
"That's it. I've found it. We have to go to Sturtevant."
"And Jack?" said Robinson.
"Sturtevant," she said.
"He's in Sturtevant."
"Are you just saying that?"
"No," she said. "Fate is full
of coincidences. We may need to kill him."
"We will find a way that does not
involve killing him." Flicker helped the old mathematician up.
"Flicker?" said Luthien, in
"I don't know," said Flicker, in
Gaelic. "She thinks it's not a true future. Maybe we can avert that and
the destruction of the Valkyrie at the same time."
"Are you talking about me?" said
"No," he said, in Dalen,
"I'm talking about Sigrid. I'm getting more and more inclined to let you
fend for yourself."
Khyrisse, Skitch, Vas and Valende
Kristin L.K. Andersen
The Rats of R.U.M.I.
of Post:: The Mother of Invention
Khyrisse stared into space for a long
time, while her brain spun its mental wheels. A cantrip had reduced Ebreth's
note to colored powder, which she had then rather mechanically dumped into her
glass of wine. The wine sat untouched on the table next to her as she stared
into space. The Dead College? Beliath? I've never even HEARD of these people!
And what the hell is Duke St. Augustine doing in Vas?! He's supposed to be
dead! A knock on her door made her jump. She snapped herself out of her stupor
and reached for the glass of wine. Thank god it was Jack last time. I doubt he
noticed anything wrong with me. "Come in," she said, before placing
the glass to her lips.
The door opened to reveal Skitch, carrying
his book. Vas smiled at her a little over the boy's head. She crinkled her eyes
at Vas over the rim of her glass, as if she'd smiled back, and finished off the
wine. Vas went back to his reading.
"You said you wanted to check my
stuff tonight," Skitch reminded her. He sauntered in without asking and
thumped the door shut behind him with a yawn.
"Right, sorry. It's been a long
"Well maybe if you slept, it wouldn't
be so bad!" he said, grinning up at her. Khyrisse sat down next to him at
the table and picked up his notebook. She flipped slowly through the pages,
thinking furiously, discarding most of the spells she had access to as being
useless. She couldn't exorcise him-- she wasn't a priestess. She didn't dare
ask anyone for help, which left out asking Tarrin or Valende. She didn't even
know if St. Augustine was a dead spirit or just incorporeal; with the few
options available to her, it was certainly going to make a difference. Nor did
she know how complete or constant his control of Vas was; Vas seemed to be
perfectly normal most of the time. That made a difference, too. She absently
scribbled some corrections on one of Skitch's pages. I don't have time to
enchant a gem to use for Trap the Soul. I could GET a suitable one, but I can't
cast the spell and have it work reliably with only a day to prepare the damn
thing... She was distracted from her thoughts by a soft, repetitive sound. She
looked up, frowning. Skitch was playing with her brand-new deck of cards,
shuffling and reshuffling them. He piled them all together, fanned them out,
and extended them to her, face down. "Pick a card," he invited
Khyrisse's face altered strangely as an
idea finally hit her whirling brain. For a moment, her eyes blazed with an
almost mischievous, wholly dangerous light.
She looked startlingly like Derek the Deranged for that instant.
"What?" Skitch said curiously.
Valende dropped into the chair next to her
brother's and stared out the window. Vas blinked at her. "Something wrong,
"I suppose that is a yes..." he
said, looking contemplatively down at his book. He turned his attention from
the spelling lesson in Khyrisse's room and grinned at his sister. "Allow
me to hazard a guess. Our Shikinti warrior maiden has accused you of
"Marriage," Valende murmured, in
a tone that wavered between confusion and alarm. Vas' eyes widened.
"That seems a little fast, for the
Jack I know!"
"No no no..." Valende sat up and
Skitch crawled invisibly back in through
the window, package gripped tightly in his teeth. He grinned momentarily at the
illusion of himself, scribbling away at Khyrisse's table, before placing the
parcel carefully in Khyrisse's lap. He sat down, pulled out his pen, and meshed
his movements with those of his double. Khyrisse, without looking up from her
spellbook, removed the improved invisibility spell from her apprentice and the
illusion spells from the room, and kept studying. A little smile flickered
across her face and disappeared.
Alphred of the Jungle
of Post:: Watch out for that tree
Alphred didn't like the signs. The thunder
lizards of the Dismal Swamp had fled to the highlands. The elephant and piranha
totems all pointed to famine and strife. On top of all of that, his bunions
were killing him. Things definitely did not look good in Salagia.
The self-appointed "Lord of the
Jungle" swung from one vine to another. He needed to get to the Great
Obelisk of Tiki-too. There the spirits of his ancestors would tell him what he
needed to do.
Alphred landed on the upper branch of a large
gwino tree. From here he could spy for miles around. He wasn't far from the
large black obelisk. In fact, it would be easier to walk from here on. He
didn't feel like dealing with the great feathered Awk Raptor that lived in the
tree tops surrounding the obelisk. Grabbing a vine, he shimmied down to the
Alphred arrived at the ruin a few short
hours later. He hadn't been here for a long time. At least twelve rains had
passed since he battled with the demon lizard that guarded the mysterious
oracle. Alphred walked up to the obelisk, sensing the spirits of all the totems
around him. The ancient carved letters on the pillar of stone twinkled with a
"By the covenant with the Flanzra
people of the great waterfall, I, Alphred of the Jungle, ask the spirits of the
holy obelisk of Tiki-too for their wisdom," the jungle lord screamed out
into the air.
"Jungle lord," the spirits
whispered on the wind, "pay your fee and ask us your question."
Alphred tore free the amulet bag that hung around
his neck by a leather thong. He opened the pouch and tossed its contents at the
base of the obelisk.
"As you demand. The knuckle bones of
a shimmer cat killed under a berri tree. A stone from the river that runs up
the mountain. A feather from the nest of the swark eagle that nests on the
western edge of the plateau. I have brought all these as payment. Now will you
answer my question?"
"Ask," the spirits whispered.
"All the signs point to a great
pestilence approaching the land. How might I stop it?"
"The pestilence is already here,
jungle lord. You cannot stop it. But you can heal it. Seek the sage from the
east. He holds the answers. Seek the one who has fallen. She holds the
solution. Seek the rodent without a tail. It understands."
"I do not understand, great ones, but
I will do as you instruct. Where shall I start?"
"Go towards the rising sun until the
jungle lands are no more. There in a land of terror you will find those you
Alphred nodded and walked away from the
oracle. He had a long trip ahead of him.
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