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The Rat King Archives
Khyrisse and Skitch
Cat and Mouse, Part III
Kristin L.K. Andersen
Rats, Rumi, and Recollections
of Post:: But Do You Play Backgammon?
Skitch scrambled to his feet and bounded
over to Khyrisse. He stood behind her and a little to the side, glaring
jealously and suspiciously at Vastarin.
Khyrisse looked over at Flicker and the rest, her hand still in the
grasp of the flirtatious young man. "I don't mind using the Carriage for
this." She arched a rueful
golden-brown eyebrow at Vastarin, greeting him in Elven.
"Yes, I'm Khyrisse," she said.
"I'm very glad you arrived, we were just about to leave."
For a brief instant, her eyes took on a
strange expression as she looked at him. There was an unfocused emptiness
behind her widening pupils, that disappeared when she blinked.
"I remember you and your lovely sister,
of course," she added in Dalen, pulling her hand from his with a blushing
and amused grin. "The Chain Gang passed through Trade
frequently." As an afterthought,
Khyrisse reached out and took one of the two cards Jack held in his hand. She
read it, then looked down at it with a pensive smile. "Well, it wouldn't
be the first time..."
Val, Vas, and the Purring Menace
Rumi-nating about Khyrisse
of Post:: Two Elves and a Cat
After Khyrisse responded, Vastarin smiled
again, and said, "Then it is truly a pleasant wind which blows us in
here. We were given your name by a
mutual...friend, as I believe you are already aware. He said that you could use
a pair of highly capable specialists, and that we would be welcome to approach
you. I wish, though, that he had been a bit more complete in his description of
you. He made no mention whatsoever of your sublime beauty and grace."
Kayla leaned over to Flicker, and
whispered, "Vas is the only guy I've ever met who would describe Khyrisse
as having 'sublime beauty and grace'.
Except for maybe Kieran. He actually called me a 'radiant jewel,
illumined by the gentle touch of the evening'. Puh- leeze. Like I hadn't heard
that one before."
He went to one knee, acquiescing in the
common elven fashion to his new superior. He then rose, and continued, "I
believe a more formal introduction is in order. I am Vastarin the Windbourne,
an archer and follower of the free spirit of Aerdrie. I also claim some modest
talent with magic. My sister...excuse me for a moment."
At that, he turned to see if his sister,
Val, was paying attention. She was currently talking in a low tone to Kevin,
who had apparently put on his "that's-ok-you-can-tell-me" face. She
appeared far less playful than she had been, and Kayla, Flicker, and Ubert were
in a position to see that she actually looked distant and sad. Kevin noticed
Vas turn to them, and nudged Val to perk up. She smiled in a melancholy sort of
way, and then leaned over the bar and kissed him on the cheek. She then turned,
and joined her brother with the rest of the group.
"So, have you yet dazzled her with
your charm and wit?" joked Val, in a rather good attempt to hide that she
had been down. Vas nodded with a wry grin, and bowed to his sister with an
exaggerated sweep. "Afraid not, my dear. She seems quite the stone
wall." He winked at Khyrisse. "I'm afraid she might not take to my
attentions. Perhaps you should have a go at her." He stepped aside
elegantly, allowing Val to face Khyrisse.
She smiled sweetly to Khyrisse as she
approached her. "You will have to pardon my brother's comments. It has
been a long and...tiresome journey. I am Valende Shiarintal, priestess to our
Bright Star, Corellon Larethian, and an avowed slayer of the undead. My brother
and I offer our swords and our hearts to you as bondsmen and as allies."
She dropped elegantly to one knee in allegiance, her eyes never leaving
Khyrisse blinked in astonishment twice,
once for the immediate offer of allegiance, and once for being accused of
"sublime beauty". After her mind got hold of itself, she smiled
again, and pulled Val gently to her feet.
"Thank you, both of you. I didn't really need that formal a
declaration of allegiance," Khyrisse said, blushing a little in what was
probably acute embarrassment, "but I thank you for the sentiment, and I
accept." She looked very wry as she added, "Luthien must have told
you more about me than I expected."
"Actually, dear lady, he told us very
little. Least of all, he didn't tell us how soon you would be leaving Lianth.
Are we going somewhere, and do we have time to eat first?" Vas turned to
the rest of the group with a friendly smile, and waved hi.
Val looked over at Jack, taking the card
from his hand and tucking it into her dcolletage. "Pardon me, sir,"
she asked, pretending to ignore Jack's eyes as they followed the path of his
card, "but are you aware that your bag is doing a marvelous impersonation
of a mimic with indigestion?"
The cat, meanwhile, had been licking
What the rat saw
of Post:: Don't let the rat out of the bag
"Well, this is great," thought
the rat. "Just when someone finally gets a clue, a cat shows up."
The rat was discouraged. He felt he was
getting through to one of the humans when he put him back in his satchel. Oh
well. Might as well make himself home.
Turning once in a circle the rat
over-looked his nest to make sure he got it right. Yep, the shiny piece of
paper was chewed in the right spots. The various napkins with the awful tasting
black bits were torn and placed accordingly and even the hard, shiny metal
things were in their proper places. But wait, what was this? The rat sniffed
one section of the nest and was confused. There was an odd odor here. The rat
knew he didn't mark this area when he made the nest. He also knew that the
humans didn't put anything into the satchel while he was out. Strange. The rat
looked over his topological construction once more. It was then he saw it. It
was subtle, but it was there. One of the shreds of shiny paper was torn
differently than he remembered tearing it. The rat groaned inwardly. This one
factor changed the whole meaning of his nest construction! At least it changed
it to him. He hoped that the human who actually seemed to understand net
topology didn't get the wrong idea and decide to head to the wrong place. But
then again, he might just have.
The Once And Future Jack Paris
of Post:: Rumi Rumi, We Gotta Go
Jack shrugged as he hoisted the satchel
over his shoulder. "It's got a rat in it. I think it's commissioned me for
a job as translator. We both speak net topology."
"Whatever that is," muttered
"Anyway, anyone else who wants to
follow the rat is welcome to come along."
Jack strode happily out of the bar, then
took a deep breath, hoping he hadn't made too much of an ass out of himself in
front of the women. Jack's luck with women wasn't so great, ever since the, uh,
problem with Amendolin. Occasionally Jack cursed his father for giving him the
Then Jack noticed that his horse was gone.
"Oh, crap in a bucket," he
muttered. "I knew I shouldn't have trusted a town with a guy hanging in a
vat of piranha."
"Can I be of assistance?" a
young blonde woman in a tight-fitting robe asked.
"Someone stole my horse," Jack
replied with his characteristic lack of wit around attractive women.
"Hmm," the cute blonde murmured.
"Well, I don't know 'locate object', but I could maybe help you look
"That'd, uh, be great," Jack
said. "I'm Jack Paris. My card." Deftly avoiding the rat, Jack
procured a card from his satchel.
"Nice to meetcha, Jack," the
blonde smiled. "I'm Ariath. Uh, no relation."
Khyrisse and Skitch
Kristin L.K. Andersen
Racing to Rumi with Rats and Revenants
of Post:: You lie like a rug, Evil Dougmaster!
Khyrisse blinked and stared after Jack.
She shrugged. "I think we're in a
hurry..." Turning to Val and Vas, she asked, "Would you mind if we
ate on the way to Rumi?"
Vas, with an impish look in his eye, put
one hand to his forehead and feigned dismay. "I'm likely to get
indigestion, but for the sake of so charming an employer, I suppose we must...
Val?" He turned to his sister, who
smiled serenely and nodded, turning away to get their things.
Khyrisse rolled her eyes, also smiling,
and turned to Skitch. She quickly checked him out for bites and scratches,
Skitch squirming in protest the whole time.
"Aw, c'mon! You're wrinkling my tunic!"
"Shut up, Skitch," Khyrisse
said, swabbing the scratches with alcohol and dropping his tunic back down. He
sighed and yanked at the hem. "Can
we GO now?"
"Would you go get us something to eat
from Ubert?" She rummaged in her belt pouch and gave a handful of coins to
Skitch looked at her with a dubious frown.
"You don't think you can wheedle it
out of him?" Khyrisse inquired, arching an eyebrow at him.
"Hah!" Skitch said and bolted
after Ubert, who had given up in disgust and gone back to the kitchen. Shouting
suddenly erupted from the kitchen again.
Kevin rolled his eyes. Khyrisse,
looking amused, waved to Kevin and Kayla and went out the door after Jack.
"Oh," she said upon seeing the
newcomer. "Hi." She glanced from the girl to Jack and back again.
"What's going on?"
"His horse got stolen," the
blonde girl supplied with a smile.
"Hmm. I guess you'll need a ride,
then." Khyrisse pulled a heavily embroidered piece of fabric from
underneath her black leather top. Walking into the street, she made sure the
space before her was clear, with no one likely to run across it. She then hit
the scrap of fabric lightly with the handle of her whip and tossed it forwards.
A sudden gust of wind swept down the
street, away from Khyrisse, carrying on it the distant sound of bells. The
diamond-shaped piece of fabric metamorphosed into a black coach, with a team of
four somewhat eerie-looking black horses standing in harness before it. The
coach was a large one, over twelve feet long, with an intricate silver border
inscribed around the doors and roof and wheels. On the passenger door facing
them was a seal, the design of which matched the pattern of the fabric Khyrisse
had been holding. Skitch, standing in the doorway with an enormous packed lunch
in his arms, grinned. "I love that part."
Val and Vas (and the little furball)
Rats and Rumi
of Post:: All Aboard for Rumi (wherever that is)
Val walked outside of the Mithril Dagger
with Khyrisse, a small smirk on her face. She couldn't help but notice how much
Jack was trying to hide his self-consciousness, and it was absolutely adorable.
She sighed to herself, and remembered her new vows. It's not going to be easy,
that's for sure. At least I have a good reason to avoid Flicker.
As she got outside, she noticed (along
with everyone else) Jack talking to a cute blonde with a bemused look on his
face. When the blonde turned to the group and mentioned his stolen horse, she
started looking intently about for the poor creature. Before she was able to
suggest that she start looking for it, though, Khyrisse pulled out her driver's
whip and a piece of expensive cloth. Within an eyeblink, the cloth transformed
into an eerie-looking carriage with four wicked looking steeds.
This is DEFINITELY one of Luthien's
friends, thought Val, as she stared at the magical coach. She shook her head,
wondering about the prospect of working for this strange elven woman.
Meanwhile, Vas had been saying a few last
playful goodbyes to Kayla, causing him to skip lightly backwards out the door
of the Dagger as he mock-dodged whatever she was planning on throwing at him.
He took a few more steps backwards, bowed towards the smirking barmaid one last
time, and then turned, coming face to face with one of the phantasmal steeds
attached to Khyrisse's carriage. "Gaah!" He jumped back about five
feet, hand immediately going to his sword belt. Val grabbed him, and whispered
something quickly into his ear. He immediately regained his composure,
straightened his cloak, and turned to Khyrisse. "Ah, well, I see we have
ample space for all of us. I take it, though, that you will not be joining us
in the coach? Such a pity. My sister and I had been hoping to speak with you
before we reached our destination. Now, it seems I must have only the passing
landscape to bring joy to my eyes.
*Sigh*" He raised his hand to his forehead and feigned a swoon, and
then turned to his sister and took her hand. "Ladies first."
Khyrisse touched the seal on the side of
the carriage, and the door sprang open. "If you'd like, there's room for
three on the driver's seat. If you and your sister want to ride up top, you may."
Her mouth twitched as she added, "It'll be a squeeze, but somehow I don't
think you'll mind."
Val rolled her eyes again as her brother's
grin took on a (more) mischievous aspect. He bowed again, slightly, and said,
"Good lady, I would be delighted. I do not presume to speak for my sister,
though; her thoughts are quite different from mine where travel is
Khyrisse turned to Val. "It does
travel quite quickly. Would you like to ride up top, or would you prefer the
Val paused for a moment, then answered.
"I think perhaps I would like to ride inside, this time. Perhaps then I
can get to know our other traveling companions. Speaking of which, would you be
so kind as to help me inside, my darling Jack?" She turned to Jack and the
newcomer, hand outstretched to him.
The cat, meanwhile, had followed the group
outside, and had spent a few moments while they talked playing with the strap
on Val's satchel. Getting bored with this, he looked around a bit, and then
decided that Jack's leg was the most appropriate thing in the immediate area to
use as a scratching post.
Khyrisse turned and looked at the cat,
eyes wide, for a moment. Shaking her head, she then turned back to the
Carriage. "Wait just a second while I get my maps out, Vas, and then you
can come up." She climbed up to the driver's seat, to rummage around in
the compartment beneath it.
Cat and Mouse
of Post:: Farewells
"Hey," said Kayla. "Take
care of yourself."
Through the temperamental door of the
tavern, Flicker could see the flirty elf, some blond human woman, and the cat
all competing for Jack's attention. Khyrisse was up on the driver's board,
burrowing under the seat; Vas was watching her bobbing backside appreciatively,
and Skitch was glaring daggers at him. "It doesn't look like I'm the one
you need to be worrying about," he said. "This may be an interesting
"Vas is harmless," she said.
"Well," he said, "I'll--try
not to die on you."
"I'd appreciate that."
Khyrisse snapped her whip outside.
"Flicker!" she yelled. "Are you coming or not?"
Flicker tapped his fingers on the bar.
"Hey Khyrisse!" he called.
"Your right rear wheel's out of alignment."
"It is?" There was a thunk as
she jumped off the coach.
Flicker leaned across the bar. "I'll
see you when I get back," he said softly.
"Flicker, you liar, this wheel is
"Bye," whispered Kayla, and
Jack Paris, "Ariath"
That Dastardly Douglass Barre
of Post:: Paris to Rumi
Jack Paris clambered into the weird
carriage that had appeared before him.
Its topology was completely symmetric, and he noticed the slight bending
of magic's rounding of pi in the wheels. Definitely arcane. Jack hoped that it
didn't bend time and or space... he really didn't want to have to explain what
would happen if his constants on those were altered.
His new friend, the young mage Ariath, stayed there, talking to
Vas. It looked like flirting. It figured. She did seem to keep looking in at
Flicker, who was lagging behind. Was she showing some recognition? Jack
couldn't tell. The rat in the satchel
was still, but Jack thought it would be okay in the carriage to let it get its
legs. He opened the satchel to let the rat go its way.
Kayla waved to the party from the door of
After a few minutes, Ariath climbed into
the carriage, lagging behind.
"I need you to arrange an...
accident," the woman said to the tall, handsome man with the sullen sneer.
"In the past, I've worked with Alverado, but he doesn't seem to be taking
contracts any more. I was referred to you."
Charles Of-No-Matter opened the bag on the
table between them. There was a wealth in gems inside. He pulled the bag shut
and slid it back to the woman. "I
don't need it," he said. "Flicker, I'll do for free."
Cat and Mouse
of Post:: Bad Omens
Flicker hopped up into the coach, flashing
a wave back at Kayla.
"MGGRRAO!" said the cat, loudly and insistently. Flicker
looked down at him. "Do--you want to come?" He looked across at Jack
and the rat. "And if he does, do we have anywhere to put him where he
won't panic the--" Before he could finish his sentence, the cat uncoiled
his sleek body and leapt to the step, and then the driver's board, where he
immediately sprawled lazily across the footrest and started batting at the
"Looks like we've got us a
coachman," said Jack.
"In Riklandir," said Flicker,
"cats are omens of death."
Khyrisse leaned down to the coach window,
her hair hanging. "Flicker," she said, "when Sunny had dreams,
didn't that usually mean someone was going to die?"
"Not always," he said. "She
dreamed about her own death a lot, but she was kind of a tragic figure."
"So you still think we should
"In Riklandir," he said,
"one always goes towards bad omens. That way, at least you die facing
"Cheerful bunch," said Jack.
Cat and Mouse
of Post:: Ariath Redux
Jack realized he hadn't actually
introduced the friendly blond mage to anyone. She had just sort of climbed into
the carriage and joined the group without comment, smiling at Jack. Probably
hoping he'd come to his senses and introduce her soon. "Um, this is
Ariath," he said, awkwardly.
"A lovely name," said Flicker,
of Post:: In the Garden
Shannon lifted it with the handle of the
pitchfork, contemplating it with a narrow eye. Their tails were knotted
together and they were all dead. She leaned in a bit and touched the tails,
without flinching back, and then she flipped the pitchfork deftly over her head
and around and watched the tangle of rats go flying over the hedge. Shannon
stuck the pitchfork tines down into the earth. "You'll live to regret
that, Eric, you petty bastard."
Jack Paris, "Ariath"
of Post:: Strike Two For Jack
Ariath immediately turned her attentions
back to Vastarin. "Nice hair," she said, her hand sweeping across his
Jack sighed. It wasn't the first time he
had been tossed over for another guy, and his second since the storyboard
began. "At least you like me,
right, Rat?" he said soothingly.
He failed to capture the Rat's attention.
The carriage took off with a start, and
Jack was suddenly fascinated. His eyes dilated and unfocused to keep from
locking on any particular landmark. He was watching the speed. The Trade
Carriage was moving at an exponential rate, heading southwest towards Rumi,
into occupied Nylevia. The rate of speed increase was phenomenal. Jack gauged
it to be at least 71.8 inches per turn, using the Metric System that Jack
preferred. Colors blurred by, but Jack wasn't interested. He was trying to
measure the wheel size by comparing rate to current eye level. By the time he
had finished, seven minutes and thirty-eight seconds later, the carriage was
slowing. "I think it best if we don't come in like a bat out of
hell," Jack heard from the front of the carriage.
"Here, let me help," Ariath
said. "That wind really messed it up."
Jack smiled ruefully and turned to face
Cat and mouse
of Post:: Remembering Rumi
The last time Lian had played Rumi,
Flicker was remembering, had been before Duke Kostarin had paved these streets;
before Faraker, before Trade, and long before Cynystra, in a time he used to
think was simpler. Flicker's head was
on straighter and he was quite sure it had not actually been, but it made him
nostalgic just the same. The last time Lian had played Rumi must have been
twelve or thirteen years ago. She had married Gordon not long before that and
even a port as mundane and dirty as Rumi had seemed somehow reborn. The last
time he had seen Rumi.
Flicker watched Ariath play with Vas' hair
as the coach pulled up to the gate.
Blackbeard shook his head. "I'm
sorry," he said, ruefully. "I'm still in a, ah, adjustment period
with the Lord of Light here. Maybe if you could bring the thing here."
"I'M not carrying ten goddamn
Riklandic rats down the Jotun's Hand. Don't you look at ME." The priest
shrugged. "Those things are two feet long and they're DISGUSTING."
Jason looked up from the runes.
"Eren's in trouble," he said.
"Ragnarokkr can take care of
himself," said Sigrid. "Find out about the rats."
Khyrisse, Skitch and Patches
Kristin L. K. Andersen
Rats, Rumi, and Realignments
of Post:: The Rumi Express
Khyrisse staggered down off the driver's
board, gold-brown curls coming out of her once-severe braid in every possible
direction. She looked kind of dazed.
"What the hell...?" Khyri circled the carriage, blinking at it
in astonishment. "And what happened to the roof, anyway?" She muttered,
glancing upwards as she kicked the wheel. "Flicker, you WERE kidding about
the wheel, right?"
Skitch jumped down after her, clutching
the terrified cat and a very squashed parcel that might have contained a packed
lunch, once upon a time. "Wow! I've never seen it go that fast!! What
"I have no idea, kiddo!"
Khyrisse gave up and straightened her wind-blown attire. "*whew* Welcome
to Rumi, everyone." She wandered back to the driver's seat, redoing the
magical equations under her breath.
Patches sat down on the road near the gate
and furiously cleaned himself, glaring up at the Trade Carriage every so often.
Cat and Mouse
of Post:: Arrival
"I was just kidding," Flicker
assured her, and climbed out of the coach.
"That was quite a ride. Shalini would really have enjoyed it.
What's wrong with the roof?"
The Artist Formerly Known As Jack Paris, "Ariath"
of Post:: Rumi With A View
Jack watched the mage mumble to herself.
She was wondering why her math wasn't working. Jack could tell the look.
Unfortunately, he thought he knew the cause, and it was he. Jack's life had
certain constants that sometimes overlapped onto his environment, especially
where particularly complex magicks were in play. Jack had to remember to focus
next time he rode, lest something more dire happen.
"So, uh, everyone, this is Rumi."
"I know," Flicker said.
"I've... been here before."
"Right," Jack said. "Just
The rat was still in Jack's
satchel. Jack wondered if it had fallen asleep. It had certainly been through a
lot, recently, the tests he had to endure to make it to the kitchen, defending
his mission from such as Ubert, and perhaps the cat. Jack petted it gently,
unworried about another bite. Something was going on in Rumi. Jack couldn't see
what, but he heard one word clearly, shouted from the crowd gathered in the
town square. "Pirate."
Jack shrunk back. Maybe Rumi wasn't such a
Ariath glanced quickly at a small paper in
her hand, before it disappeared from sight.
"So," she said to Vas. "You're in charge, right? Where
should we go now?"
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