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The Rat King Archives
Dangerous Liaisons, Part VI
Kristin L.K. Andersen
Rats from R.U.M.I.
of Post: Oblivious as Usual
Khyrisse, having gotten the real,
non-acting-induced kiss she'd wanted without even having to hint for it,
wouldn't have noticed if Jack had walked into the room with Ixhriy following
him. She wrapped her gloved fingers around Ebreth's collar to hold him in place
for a moment, and made sure he'd remember this kiss. Hero's reward, after all.
Jack Paris, Valende
of Post: Jack Fails To Understand The Whole Point Of Psychodrama
"Uh..." Jack muttered upon
walking in on Khyrisse and Ebreth.
"Oops," smiled Val.
"I think, um, we should be... uh, not
here," Jack stammered, pulling on Val's hand.
Jack rubbed the tension in the back of his
neck as he strode to a table in the dining room.
"Jack? Are you all right?"
"It's Tor," Jack sighed.
"I know you had trouble with him at
first... but you seemed to have been getting along well of late."
Jack bit his lip.
"Well, when we first met him, I thought
he was the real Ebreth Tor. The
one, I mean." Val waited patiently
for Jack to go on. "My best
friend, my cousin Lita... she fell in love with Ebreth Tor. He betrayed her,
and now she's... no longer with us."
"I'm so sorry."
"She was the first person who ever
cared about me for me. When he destroyed her..." Jack choked up.
"It's not the same Ebreth Tor,
Jack," Val said.
"I thought that too. Then last night,
he called out her name."
"Are you sure?"
"I've replayed it a hundred and
ninety-two times. I'm sure."
"So what do you want to do about it?
"No," Jack said. "I don't
know what to do. It just seems like maybe we're not looking at things carefully
enough. I mean, we take Ebreth at his word, and he's lied... at least about
this. Cori told me that Pieret, who Ariath knew as a villain, had yet another
identity in Shikintu. That's two possible villains who we're trusting to
accompany us. Three, if you count Vas being possessed."
"Everyone has their secrets,"
Jack flushed. "I know, Val... and I'm
sorry I didn't tell you sooner."
"That's not what I meant," she
"I don't want to make people give up
their privacy," Jack said, "but three villains, all of whom were supposed
to be dead, is a little suspicious."
"Four," Val corrected.
"Khyrisse told me that Ariath used to be a thief in Bloodscar."
"That's not comforting," Jack
"So what are you going to do?"
Val asked, finally.
"I'm going to start trying to get to
the bottom of this. I'm going to start thinking, not just following."
"If you need help, I'm here for
you," Val said.
"I appreciate that. I really do. I
think tonight I'll take a look in Ebreth's bag. Pieret's too. Maybe you can see
what Ariath is carrying. Maybe we'll find a clue there."
"My mathematic detective," Val
"I'll be the Nora to your Nick,"
Ebreth and Khyrisse; Flicker and Norna
Rat Kings/Skeins of Fate
of Post: Carrying On
Ebreth looked around suspiciously. No
undead things. No gangs. No angry mobs, bombs, or evil birds. "Hey,"
he said. "Nothing attacked us!"
"You're right," said Khyrisse,
"Let's try it again."
Flicker discussed the situation with the
two big fat demons. They sounded like they were all hacking up phlegm together.
When he came back he shook his head. "Never heard of him. They suggested
we try Marsok's camp to the west."
"We are wasting time," said Norna.
"I don't have a better idea. Do
Vas and Khyrisse
Kristin L.K. Andersen
Girls of St. Augustine/The Rats of R.U.M.I.
of Post: Ministering to a Mind Diseased
Vas sat crosslegged on the sill of the inn's
highest window, eyes half closed. His body language was relaxed, his face
settling into a serene and distant look. A breeze swept through the open
window, caressing his face, and he smiled slightly.
The smile gradually faded as Vas reveried, searching back through
his memories, looking for a beginning to the taint of Lucas St. Augustine.
Unwillingly, he found himself reliving his more recent memories of Augustine's
control. Such was often the case, when an event or issue had not yet been
resolved satisfactorily. Hmm. I think I know why our employer chooses to sleep
more often than reverie, Vas thought. Most of the memories were vague, out of
focus, and Vas was glad of it.
"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 moved his thumb at Ariath. "What
"She was disposable," said Vas.
"You remember the type."
"I certainly do. They make a lot more
noise coming down the street."
"I don't work for powerful
"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?"
Vas came up out of what remained of his
memory with a shudder of revulsion. He lifted his face to the sky, breathing
deeply, and tried to regain his composure before going back downstairs.
"Vas?" Ariath's voice said from
the door to the common room, sounding slightly muffled. "What's up?"
There was a quiet chuckle, not muffled at all, and the sound of applause
suddenly filled the room. Khyrisse started in surprise and pulled herself out
of Ebreth's arms. Vas stood in the doorway, clapping, with Ariath peeking past
him. Both looked highly amused. Khyrisse tried to get her air back without
being obvious about it, looking a bit shaken. Ariath winked wickedly at her.
"While I hate to disturb the air of romanticism in this establishment,
does anyone know where the rest of our group is? If splitting up was inadvisable
in Rimbor, I should think it unwise in the middle of demon country as
"Oh," Khyrisse said. "Um.
You're probably right." She ran a slightly trembling hand through her hair
as she looked at Vas, then at Ebreth. Her eyes had an intense, unfathomable
expression in them, and she quickly lowered them. "Skitch went upstairs,
that-- that's all I know. We'd better find everyone."
Ebreth Tor, jumping at ghosts
Girls of St. Augustine
of Post: Save Vs. Heart Attack
Ebreth Tor almost hit his head on a shelf
as Vas walked into the room laughing and applauding. "Holy shit, Vas,
don't do that!" Khyrisse gave him a very complicated look. "You're
positive--" he said, into her ear.
"I'm positive," she assured him.
"Unless there was another sick puppy in there with him who's been
serenading me with his revolting thoughts all night."
"He's been talking to you?"
"Yes, and you wouldn't believe what
he's been telling me. That man has a mind like--"
"He's able to contact people?"
Ebreth stood up.
"No, no, only me. And he shouldn't be
able to hear any of us unless I deliberately speak into his prison. It's more
like, he's just getting out some aggression."
She looked distinctly uncomfortable.
"About what?" said Ebreth. "About me?"
"Well, yes," she admitted.
He sighed and sat back down. "So,
he's gonna get me," he said. "We knew that."
"Actually," said Khyrisse,
looking at him out of the very corner of her eye, "about
Ebreth paused. "Does he think I'm
using you for cheap thrills or business?"
"Some of both."
He nodded slowly, looking at her.
"Good," he said, very low. "Let's keep it that way. I'd rather
not think about what Lucas might do if he thought I actually cared what
happened to you."
Khyrisse put her hand over her mouth.
of Post: Hero Worship
Skitch scampered down the stairs and
hopped onto a chair. "Hi, Khyrisse. Hi everyone." He drummed his
heels on the chair's legs. He seemed like he was in a much better mood now.
After a few moments, he leaned forward on the table, his brow furrowed in
furious concentration, making soft grunting sounds. "Skitch, what are you
doing?" Khyrisse finally said.
"I'm trying to move this salt
shaker," he said.
"It would work better if you cast a
Skitch looked down, sneaked a look up at
her, and slunk away to another table, where soft grunting sounds could soon be
Jack Paris, secret agent
of Post: Getting Into Trouble
There was a lot of money in Ebreth's bag,
but nothing incriminating per se. A merchant's conversion wheel. Some rope. No
thieves' tools, no weapon, and no letters of marque from corrupt dictators or
anything. Jack sighed and then looked up very suddenly. Ebreth Tor stood
silhouetted in the door. Jack felt a giddy panic; there was nowhere to run.
"What the Sam Hill are you doing, Jack?" said Ebreth, sounding much
more surprised than anything else. "Are you stealing from me?"
"No," he croaked. He'd guessed
Khyrisse would keep the pirate busy much longer than this. "No, I'm, uh,
uh, I'm checking for, uh, bombs. Have you seen any bombs?"
"Lately?" he said. He squatted
by Jack and almost gently took his grappling hook out of the mathematician's
hands. "Do you need some money, Jack? I could lend you some. I stole most
of this from that other Ebreth Tor anyway."
"I don't need any money!" Jack
was crimson with embarrassment. This was not what happened to detectives in
Rat Kings et al
of Post: Jack Questions Ebreth Poorly
"Besides," Ebreth continued,
looking warily at Jack, "Didn't we figure out that the Duke was the one
planting the bombs?"
"If you, uh, believe him, I
guess," Jack said. "So you, uh, stole that from the other Tor? So
you've actually met him, then?"
Jack's memory flashed back:
"A different Ebreth Tor," said
"You're the one who knew him,"
said Ebreth. "You tell me; would he retrieve a filthy napkin soaked in rat
saliva for you?" He deposited its remains in Jack's palm. "Free of
Jack looked back at Ebreth. Fortunately,
Jack was way too flustered and confused to look anything but innocent.
Vas, Khyrisse, Valende, Jack
Kristin L.K. Andersen
The Rats of R.U.M.I./Girls of St. Augustine
of Post: My Brother's Keeper
Khyrisse had taken Skitch outside as fast
as possible, not wanting to stick around and be teased by anyone about Ebreth.
Not far from the front door of the inn,
Skitch practiced with his new throwing knives. Khyrisse, alarmed to find
herself still a little shaky, began wearing the grass down in a twenty foot
long strip at the edge of the trees. She had to keep squashing the contented
little smile that wanted to turn up the corners of her mouth. Stop thinking
about how Ebreth kisses, you fool. Damn the Madness, anyway. So many people died
that now all of us want to repopulate the planet. I can feel it in the air,
it's worse than Spring.
Completely wrapped up in her thoughts, she
jumped half her height in alarm when she heard Vas' voice. "Milady?"
She turned to look at him, hand over her pounding heart. "My apologies for
startling you, but you look like you could use someone to talk to."
She smiled ruefully. "That obvious,
Vas sat on the wall nearby and smiled.
"So, what is disturbing you? Wait, let me guess-- Ebreth Tor."
"Disturbing is a word for it,"
Khyrisse said, laughing a little. The laugh was too hesitant to ring true. She
sat down next to him and watched Skitch throwing his little blades at an oak
tree. "He scares me," she finally admitted.
"Do you have a reason for it?"
"Oh, it's not him," she said
quickly. "Well, no, it is sort of-- it's not anything he's--"
Khyrisse sighed in aggravation and gave up. "I'm afraid of him because I
Vas' expression looked highly amused, when
she looked at him out of the corner of her eye. "This is a bad
"Um. Not exactly." She sighed.
"I don't have much luck with relationships, Vas. I'm not very good at
moderation, either. And... he reminds me a little of someone. More than one
someone, actually, but one someone in particular." She stared into the
distance, face drawn tight and held carefully immobile.
"Before or after?" Vas asked
"Ah. I see why you are afraid."
Khyrisse nodded wearily. "I'm
attracted to a certain type, that's all. He laughs more, though," she said
with a little smile. "I could grow to like him very well. Too well."
"You should. I think it would be good
"Oh, that's easy for you to say! What
if... well, what if he is the original Ebreth Tor?" Khyrisse got up and
started pacing again.
"Well, if it helps you any, milady, I
took a careful look at his aura this afternoon," Vas said, leaning back
lazily, eyes half shut. "He's far from evil. Approximately as far as you
are. Morally speaking, at least, you would seem well suited."
Khyrisse stared at him. "Are you
sure?" Vas nodded. She collapsed onto the wall again with a sigh. "I
didn't want to look," she admitted. "It seemed so... underhanded. But
I'm glad to know it anyway."
"So... does this change your decision
about your knight-errant? Ariath and I would love to know," Vas said,
grinning at her.
She glared back.
"Damn you, he's not my knight-errant!"
Vas chuckled in amiable disbelief.
Valende appeared in the doorway. She
looked from Jack to Ebreth for a moment, then gave Ebreth a sunny smile.
"Could I borrow Jack for a moment, Ebreth?"
Ebreth sighed and shrugged.
"Sure," he said. He started patiently putting his things back in his
bag. Jack fled with Valende into the hallway.
Valende was trying hard to suppress her
giggles. Jack turned even redder. "You got caught, hmm?"
"Yeah... I though Khyrisse and he
would be-- um--"
Valende laughed merrily and took his hand.
"I don't think she would, Jack. Not this soon. She had a very bad
relationship with someone who wasn't trustworthy, and it cost her. She'll make
sure before she takes that kind of step again."
"Well, that's a relief, anyway,"
"Did you find anything?"
Jack shook his head. "How about
"He's not evil," she assured
him. "His aura looks a lot like... well, like the Lady Khyrisse's, or
Skitch's. He's a tiny bit more uncertain about which direction he wants to go
in than she is, perhaps; but she was a deity. That lends you a small amount of
certainty, I'd wager," Valende said serenely.
Jack and Valende
Remington Paris, Private Eye
of Post: Elementary, My Dear Valende
"He did slip up, though. Just a
"Well, I think so. It's kind of
"What is it?"
"He claimed to have stolen his gold
from the original Ebreth Tor, but earlier he said that he never met the
"Maybe he stole it from his house...
or ship... or whatever."
"I know. Innocent until proven
"Um, that's only in Tobrinel,
"Oh. Well, anyway, I'm going to check
out Pieret's stuff next. He seems like he might be the sloppiest. See if you
can find anything out about Ariath in the meantime."
Val gave Jack a smile and playful salute.
Jack hoped he wasn't getting in over his
The Many Loves of Dobie Paris
of Post: Don't Mess With People Who've Been Widowed
"If you try that again, you'll lose
more than your shirt, Mamasu," Cori growled.
"Many pardons," Pieret bowed.
"I merely thought..."
"You thought wrong."
Pieret muttered something under his
breath. "It's not like it's going to happen with you and Paris, you know.
I've seen people in love before, it's not so easy to derail."
"You don't know anything," Cori
spat. "Jack's the one person who's always been there for me, and I was too
stupid to notice it. Well, I'm not going to let that get away."
"You may have no choice," Pieret
Cori held Oshi's blade tight as the
priest or anarchist or whatever Pieret was wandered off.
No, she thought, Jack was the one who didn't
have a choice.
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