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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Rat King Archives
Dangerous Liaisons, Part VI

Character(s): Khyrisse
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Rats from R.U.M.I.
Title 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.

Character(s): Jack Paris, Valende
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Rat Kings
Title 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
pirate 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? Challenge him?"
"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," Val said.
Jack flushed. "I know, Val... and I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner."
"That's not what I meant," she smiled wistfully.
"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 sighed, smiling.
"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 grinned.
"I'll be the Nora to your Nick," Jack said.

Character(s): Ebreth and Khyrisse; Flicker and Norna
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Rat Kings/Skeins of Fate
Title 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, blinking.
"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 you?"

Character(s): Vas and Khyrisse
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Girls of St. Augustine/The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title 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 said.
...

He moved his thumb at Ariath. "What about her?"
"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 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?"

***
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 well."
"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."

Character(s): Ebreth Tor, jumping at ghosts
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Girls of St. Augustine
Title 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 your--intentions."
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.

Character(s): Skitch
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title 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 cantrip first."
Skitch looked down, sneaked a look up at her, and slunk away to another table, where soft grunting sounds could soon be heard.

Character(s): Jack Paris, secret agent
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title 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 novels.

Character(s): Jack Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Rat Kings et al
Title 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 Jack.
"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 charge?"
Jack looked back at Ebreth. Fortunately, Jack was way too flustered and confused to look anything but innocent.
Character(s): Vas, Khyrisse, Valende, Jack
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: The Rats of R.U.M.I./Girls of St. Augustine
Title 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, huh?"
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 like him."
Vas' expression looked highly amused, when she looked at him out of the corner of her eye. "This is a bad thing?"
"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 quietly.
"Before. Mostly."
"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 for him."
"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," Jack replied.
"Did you find anything?"
Jack shook his head. "How about you?"
"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.

Character(s): Jack and Valende
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Remington Paris, Private Eye
Title of Post: Elementary, My Dear Valende

"He did slip up, though. Just a little."
"Really?"
"Well, I think so. It's kind of circumstantial."
"What is it?"
"He claimed to have stolen his gold from the original Ebreth Tor, but earlier he said that he never met the man."
"Maybe he stole it from his house... or ship... or whatever."
"I know. Innocent until proven guilty."
"Um, that's only in Tobrinel, dear."
"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 head.

Character(s): Cori Yashida
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: The Many Loves of Dobie Paris
Title 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 said.
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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