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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Rat King Archives
Lost Souls, Part IV

Character(s): The Children
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Rat Kings
Title of Post: From A Child's Perspective

"Thank Tal!" cried the Sturtevanter, as the Rat Pack pulled up with the nine kids. He flung his arms around Mick as the boy scrambled down from the carriage. "Thanks," he called up, waving at Skitch. They were about the same age, Khyrisse noticed.
"And," said the youngest girl, "and the strangers came and they were magic. And there was a demon with a head and it hitted Mick but a man with a sword hitted it and pushed it in the water and killed it and killed everyone. And, and everything burned up but a man made it snow. Then the door opened and some devils came through the door but they were really people, and the big evil man fighted with the strong lady, and the big black monster eated the man's head--"
"OK," said her mother. "Carrie, that's enough."
"But, but I'm not finished!" Her mother sighed. "And then the ghost hitted the lady but the lady hitted the ghost too, and the magic boy saved us and we couldn't see him. Then the horse talked. The end."
"OK, Carrie. Let's go."

Character(s): Flicker, Khyrisse, Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Rat Kings
Title of Post: Flashback: Khyrisse Wins A Bet

Flicker waved at Khyrisse. "We'll catch up," he said, in Elvish. "I just want to keep her out of your hair for a while. We'll meet you at the rift. Oh, Khyrisse!" She glanced back. "Don't kill the demon horse, OK? We need it for a prophecy."
Khyrisse made a pregnant pause. "OK!" she said, cheerfully, and swung up onto the roof. She poked Ebreth in the ribs. "You owe me five gold."
"The horse?" he said.
"Yes."
"Ah, rats." Ebreth took the money out of his pouch.

Character(s): Skitch
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Pitching Camp
Title of Post: The Best-Laid Plans Of Ten-Year-Olds

The Rat Pack had stopped and set up camp so that Tarrin could replenish his "crapped" mental energies. Skitch trailed Khyrisse idly as she warded their campsite. "Khyrisse?" he said. "Have you ever thought about getting married again? To someone who isn't a jerk, I mean?"
She stared at him. "You want me to get married?"
"Well, if it's someone stable, and nice, who'd take care of you," he said. "We could be like a family."
"I--thought we already were like a family."
"Well, more like a family," he persisted. "Like, like you could have a baby. You need a man to do that, you know."
"I--I knew that, Skitch." Her ten-year-old apprentice was trying to teach her about the birds and the bees.
"And we could do things together and stuff. Maybe live in a house. Tarrin can cook--"
"Tarrin?" exclaimed Khyrisse.
"Well, why not?" said Skitch, defensively. "I mean, he's smart. He's nice. He's good-looking--"
"--and he already has a wife!"
"Really?" Skitch looked crestfallen. "Nuts."


Character(s): Khyrisse
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post: A Young (and Very Old) Man's Fancy

Khyrisse sat on a log near the edge of their camp and rested her forehead on her knees, wrapping her arms about her head for good measure. Her brain was still spinning and she kept wanting to be sick. What maggot got into Skitch's brain? she wondered dazedly. Let's hope it's a desire to keep Tarrin around and not a desire for a real, "normal" family. Save me, Grendel, from my marriage-minded apprentice.
Waiting for her stomach and mind to calm down enough to face the idea of dinner, she fell asleep.

***
Her stomach was tying itself in knots. If she had to wait another two hours for the rest of the guys to get here, she'd probably wind up knitting a sweater with it. "Look, can we not dissect me and Eric? Failed marriage or successful one?"
Wyvern leaned back in his chair and waved a hand lazily in acquiescence. "Very well, if you don't want my assistance with your problems... I thought an impartial point of view might be helpful to you."
"No. Thank you," Khyrisse said through her teeth. "I don't need any help. Certainly not from you."
"No, pride is considerably more important than assistance for you, isn't it? Easier to raise your chin at a problem than open your heart to it. No wonder you and your first husband got along so famously." Khyrisse, in the process of opening her mouth to shout at him, froze. A cold tingle raced over the surface of her skin, and her hands rose mechanically to rub at the sleeves of Kayla's blue blouse.
Don't ask him please don't ask him he wants you to ask him he's just waiting for it look at him--"My first husband?" she repeated faintly. "I've only been married once."
Wyvern looked momentarily surprised, then nodded serenely. "Ah, yes. I lose track of time in here, you know... I had forgotten. That hasn't happened yet, forgive me."
Khyrisse's eyes stared directly into Wyvern's in transfixed horror. He looked... amused. Cold rain seemed to be flowing through her veins instead of blood. Her mouth moved on its own. "Who was--is--my second husband? What are you talking about?"
"Oh, I really can't tell you, you know. Our good Rip Hunter is overworked as it is. Let's just say," he said, eyes twinkling with an unholy gleam of delight, "that your second marriage made even better reading than your first."
She felt suddenly and completely ill. Her brain ran in circles, trying to figure out what Wyvern meant, and got nowhere... but a horrible sort of dread began to creep into her soul.
Khyrisse stared at her tormentor as a sparrow stares at a snake. Wyvern's eyes flicked briefly to just below her collarbone, above the loose collar of Kayla's blouse. Khyrisse's heart was beating so hard that her throat and the upper curve of her breast vibrated with it. He watched her pulse race for a moment, and a tiny, eerily satisfied smile flashed across his expressive face.
Khyrisse suddenly remembered that Eric had once found that physical peculiarity fascinating and jumped up, sending the chair over backwards.

***
Khyrisse tumbled off the log with a strangled shriek and fell on her butt in the dirt. Ebreth leaped about a foot and a half, dropping an armful of kindling. "AAAH!... Khyrisse?! What is it?" He stared at her as she looked around wildly. "Khyrisse?" Ebreth asked again, crouching down to look into her face. "Are you all right?"
Khyrisse gulped air. "Uh-huh. Never mind. Nightmare. I'm okay."


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

"Shhhhh," he said, and gathered her into his arms. "Shh. Shh. It's okay." He stroked her back. "It's all right."

Character(s): Berryn, Silent-Voice
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Skeins of Fate
Title of Post: A Boring Job

"So," said Berryn, "what do I do, being a minion?"
"Wait," said Silent-Voice, "mostly."
"Oh."

Character(s): Jack Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Rat Kings Are Cool. Huh huh huh huh.
Title of Post: Look, It's Trying To Think

Jack looked over the Rat Pack as they settled down for rest. The party seemed a lot smaller with Cori and Pieret gone.
So they were going to the Rift, next. Jack wondered at their propensity for following talking animals. Uncle Asinus Paris would have a field day with this crew. Jack was just happy at this point to have something to do. He didn't even know which rift they were going to... the one in Diaria or the one in the Doomlands.
Jack started doodling a flowchart in the dirt. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the path, but Jack knew that everything had a pattern somewhere. He started with Lianth. "Plus Jack, Val, Rat, Flicker, Ari, Khyri, Skitch, Vas," he wrote. "Rat leads to Rumi." He drew another circle to indicate Rumi.
"Plus Ebreth, Tarrin, Pieret. Minus Flicker. First bomb. Meet Norn." After a moment, he wrote, "Rat leads to Rimbor." For Rimbor, he drew a square. "Plus Cori. Second bomb. Meet Novoa. Tarrin leads to Sturtevant." That seemed strange. Cori wasn't involved in this; she had explained why she had come. Now she was lost again. It seemed to Jack that the trip to Rimbor hadn't yielded any pieces to the puzzle. According to what Novoa told Khyrisse, Octavian wasn't involved either. Why go to Rimbor, then, Jack wondered.
He continued his map. Dalencia added Grimthane, but that was a stopover. Sturtevant took away Grimthane, Pieret and Cori. It added the horse, Fred. Fred was pointing the way to the rift.
Every stop added something, gave them some clue to their next destination.
Except Rimbor City.
"Jack?" Ebreth asked, and Jack jumped with panic. He hadn't heard the slaver approach. "Everything okay?"
"I'm trying to piece this all together. It doesn't all fit. I feel like I'm missing an important piece." He looked straight at Ebreth. "Are you involved in this? Or are you peripheral, like Pieret was?"
"I'm not involved, except that I'm trying to help," Ebreth said quickly.
"Then why do you keep lying to us?" Jack asked, not even bothering to care. "Don't deny it. I'm a mathematician."

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

"Now what have I lied to you about?" said Ebreth, annoyed. "The one thing I've actually known something about, I told Khyrisse about it right away. I don't know anything about this goddamn undead thing. Neither do you, and I don't accuse you of lying."

Character(s): Jack Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Jack Paris, Private Eye
Title of Post: Jack Is A Lousy Interrogator

"You said that you had never heard of my cousin Lita," Jack said. "But you were lying about that. Or else my mention of her made so much of an impression that you called it out in your sleep a few nights ago."

Character(s): Ebreth Tor, Tarrin
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Jack Paris, Private Eye and Audio Recorder
Title of Post: Remembering Lita

"I called her?" said Ebreth, stunned. "Jack, you must have--"
"Lita!" said Jack, in Ebreth's voice. Ariath looked across at him. "What?" said Jack, in Jack's voice, and then in Ebreth's "Just. Just a dream." He cut off the playback, looking Ebreth Tor in the face.
"That was great," said Ariath, impressed.
Ebreth still looked surprised, but he shook his head. "So?" he said. "Do you think Ebreth Tor the pirate would have been dreaming about her? Have you got any idea how many lives he ruined? Do you think it bothered him? If he was frightened he would never have fucked with a Paris in the first place. He would never have done half the things he did but he wasn't and he did. Now I'm afraid and you think something's wrong with me? You're fucked up, Jack! You should be worrying about me if I don't have nightmares! You should sit there and watch me sleep and if I sleep peacefully you should slit my fucking throat!" He turned his shoulder on the smaller man with a certain intensity, his hand shaking. He had been shouting. He didn't care. "These aren't my memories. Now just tell me what you want to know, right? Ask me whatever it is you've been waiting to ask Ebreth Tor, I will answer you, and then I never want to talk about this again. Do you understand me?"

Character(s): Jack Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Jack Paris, Private Eye
Title of Post: Jack Too Much For His Own Good

Did you love her?
Why did you betray her?
What really happened that night on Boche Island?
How did you come back?
Why shouldn't I kill you?
Can we really trust you?
Did you love her?

"Um, you're sure you don't know anything about all this?" Jack stammered under the weight of Ebreth's pain and accusation.
"I. Am. Sure," Ebreth said.
"Um, that's all, then," Jack said, and quickly slunk off.
Ariath was beaming.
"You say one thing about this," Ebreth said to her, "and I tell what I know about your friends. I don't think anyone else heard you."
"Works for me," grinned Ariath, who stood and skipped over to where Vas was whittling.
"Damn me, but I like the guy regardless," Ebreth spat. "Parises! Sheesh!"


Character(s): Khyrisse, Tarrin and Skitch
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post: Making Plans and Getting Organized

Khyrisse had some questions of her own to ask.
She composed herself, closing the cover of The Art of War and her eyes at the same time. Once she was sure she was as calm as possible, she used one of her sending spells.
"Pieret" is dead. Warn your ambassador that an arch-cloaker is loose in Edimon. Who do I contact for an appointment to discuss international trade agreements? she sent in a perfectly polite and fairly serene mental "voice". She smiled a little, pleased by the tone she'd managed to project. Khyrisse got up, dusting her hands off, and walked off to do the next thing on her list. She hardly knew whether Eric would receive that message or not-- although he should. Neither did she know if Eric would deign to reply. The spell would wait around indefinitely until Eric "told" it that he would not reply... but catch her doing the same!

***
"Tarrin?" she said hesitantly, standing at the edge of the little circle he and Skitch made, holding her own notebook and pen.
"Yes?" he said, looking up from their spelling lesson.
Skitch looked at her, then at what she was carrying, and grinned in delight.
"Would you teach me how to pronounce High Diari correctly?" she said, with a wry smile.

Character(s): Khyrisse and Skitch
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post: Damned Weird-Ass Fricatives...

Khyrisse groaned and flopped backwards to lay on her back next to the fire. "Gods, learning how to communicate with Ixhriy wasn't this bad."
"Hey, you could always call her by her nickname," Skitch said suddenly. "That's got an 'ee' sound at the end, like a normal girl name."
Khyrisse glared at him with one eye. "A 'normal' girl name? Whaddaya mean, 'normal'?!" Skitch grinned unrepentantly.
"Really?" asked Tarrin, brightening a little.
"Yeah, 'Khyri'," Skitch supplied. "Does that mean anything in Diari? Elf names always have to mean something."

Character(s): Tarrin; Eric
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Rat Kings
Title of Post: A Greased Weasel

"In the Diaria," said Tarrin, "is enough for a name to mean a person. It doesn't also have to mean something else." He paused respectfully. "But I think you should be very careful to pronounce the K, because Khyri, with hard K, that means a weasel." Khyrisse looked indignant. "Uh, Diari weasel. Diari weasels are the most beautiful weasels in the world. Very expensive fur. But you pronounce that with the elven K, write that Kyri in Diari, and that doesn't mean anything except you." He beamed at her.
Thanks for info, Eric's clipped reply suddenly interrupted Khyrisse's thoughts. Will have someone get back to you on trade issues. Thought you didn't have a city to speak of anymore. No time to chat.
Khyrisse's eyes crossed. "Tarrin," she said, "could you teach me some curse words?"


Character(s): Khyrisse and Skitch
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post: Playing Games

Khyrisse suddenly sat bolt upright in surprise. "My gods... he actually said 'thank you'." She fell over again, laughing her butt off, while Tarrin and Skitch looked at her in astonishment. "Oh, this is going to be fun," she laughed, wiping tears from her face.
"What are you talking about?" Skitch said.
"I'll tell you later."
"Weasel!"
Khyrisse returned to her Diari lesson, musing over this. "It means 'weasel with expensive fur', huh?" She grinned a little. "Okay, it's not that far from what my name means in Elven. I can live with that."
"What does your name mean?" Skitch wanted to know.
"Ain't tellin'," she said, and stuck her tongue out at him.
"Awww!"

Character(s): Ariath
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Bride of Rat Kings
Title of Post: Ariath Worries

"So, Vas?" Ariath asked absently.
"Hm?" Vas asked.
She took her hands out of his hair. "Is it just me, or do you think Khyrisse is taking this whole Pieret thing pretty well?"
"You are too," Vas said.
"Yeah, but I didn't like him when I knew him. I get the impression that Khyrisse did. I mean, he was her uncle and all."
"And he stranded Cori in Hell."
Ari whapped him upside the head. "That just makes it worse, you... you... oh!" Ariath huffed off to where Khyrisse and Tarrin were talking.
"What does your name mean?" Skitch wanted to know.
"Ain't tellin'," she said, and stuck her tongue out at him.
"Awww!"
"My name means 'Gypsy Heart' in Diari," Ariath chimed in.
"Khyrisse's means expensive weasel!" Skitch provided.
"Huh," Ariath grinned. "You'd think mine would be that one."
Khyrisse smiled.
"Hey, I just wanted to let you know, Khyrisse, that if you needed to talk, I wasn't planning anything tonight. You know, only if you want." Skitch was looking up Ariath's skirt. Khyrisse yanked him hard and he landed on his ass. "It's been a tough day, and even leaders need to talk," Ari said. "And I've got some really good Dalencian wine in my tent."

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