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Khyrisse, stuck in an Escher print
Like A Bat Out Of Hell, Part IV
Kristin L.K. Andersen
The Rats of R.U.M.I.
of Post: You're a Blockhead, Charlie Brown!!
Khyrisse circled something on the paper.
It was the same incomprehensible equation buried in the spell correction for
her Carriage. "Jack, I'm just going to factor this thing into all of my
spells that involve spatial warping of any kind. I imagine that'll save me a
lot of time," she sighed. "All right, everybody out."
Khyrisse popped out into the ruins, faced
the portal and made a twisting, sweeping gesture across it. "Valende? If
you and Jack would do the honors?"
Valende took Jack's arm and went back
through the shimmering Portal. After a few moments, she stepped back out,
smiling. "Much better. Jack says he doesn't even have a headache anymore.
"The jacuzzi better still be
there," Khyrisse murmured with a sigh, as everyone piled back through the
door. "Because I'm gonna need to spend the next five hours in it."
Rat Kings: Hotel Khyrisse
of Post: Ebreth Makes A Pass
"How big is the jacuzzi?" Ebreth
wanted to know.
Khyrisse's stoneskin kept her from
blushing too much. "I have some, uh, private business to attend to,
Ebreth. I mean I have some important calls to make. And things."
"Damn," said Ebreth, and grinned
"Really," she said.
"Well, if you'd like some company
when you're done." He made an easy shrug. There was something inexplicably
graceful about his shoulders. "I do still owe you a massage. If you're
brave enough to collect. Khyrisse."
"What?" she said.
"Promise me, no matter how the calls
turn out, you'll get some sleep tonight."
Luthien and Khyrisse
The Rats of R.U.M.I.
of Post: A Trouble To My Dreams
Luthien sat on his horse, glaring at
Norna. He knew she didn't care if he hated her or not, nor did she feel any
particular discomfort from his stare. He just liked glaring, and she was the
best target around. After a while, the group stopped for camp, and Luthien got
settled in to study. At least, he tried to.
"Get off your ass and make yourself
useful, necromancer!" Norna bellowed at him. "I know you can cook, so
get to it. I don't like waiting for dinner."
Luthien glared briefly at her, then turned
his attention to the firepit that Berryn and Hronmir had just finished digging.
He summoned his will, and within seconds, there was a healthy bonfire blazing.
He looked back up at her, and said, "When Flicker comes back with the
food, I'll cook it. And I'll even leave out the poison." He then went back
to his book, ignoring her snippy reply.
He didn't get far before another
interruption broke his line of thought. This time it was Khyrisse, via sending
Returning to Rimbor City to look for
clues, concerns undead creature. Too much to explain by sending. May I use
Dream? When will you sleep?
Luthien thought for a moment, then
replied. Give me about three hours. I have a few questions for you, so be
prepared with some answers.
Realizing he wasn't going to get to study
before he ate, he returned his spellbook to its amulet form, and began to get
out his cooking gear. He had hoped to put off sleep as long as he possibly
could tonight, but it looked like now he had no choice.
Luthien opened his eyes to the sound of
screams. The room was rocking back and forth, and the smell of salt water
reminded him of where he was. His boat was three days out of Lianth, on its way
to Annwych. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he moved forward, fumbling in the
dark for his shirt and his spear. He found his spear (or did it come to his
hand? he couldn't tell) and crept from his stateroom.
His room opened onto the bloody deck,
where he saw the bodies of sailors piled up like spare bolts of canvas. The
deck was manned now by grotesque, evil-looking men, dripping with blood and
covered with grisly souvenirs of the fight. Luthien raised his spear to fight,
but it was struck down immediately from over his head. Luthien whirled to face
his opponent, only to find himself looking into the ebon face of Ebreth Tor,
the Slaver King.
Khyrisse suddenly appeared on deck, and
took a startled step backwards as she noted where she was. A ghostly pair of
wings flashed and fluttered behind her.
"Grendel," she whispered. Her
face turned towards Luthien and paled to an impossible shade of white as she
noted his ...companion. "Luthien." It was barely a whisper. She
cleared her throat and started again. "Luthien. You're--"
The young figure turned to face her.
"I heard you the first time." Khyrisse
took another involuntary step back at his response. This dream
contact was becoming more disturbing than she had expected. It looks so real.
He spoke again. "Well, this is your
contact. What news do you have for me, before I ask you my questions?" It
took her a moment to get used to Luthien speaking in a child's voice; in fact,
he sounded a bit like Gordon. That bothered her more.
"There's a unique undead creature
harassing my group," she said, after a moment. She tried not to look at
Tor, but Luthien-- gods, he can't be more than twelve-- was standing right next
to him. Possibly on purpose. "It seems to once have been Laran Raimonde,
but an imprisonment spell didn't work properly when I used that name. It marks
people with a sigil, invisible to normal sight, that looks like this." She
held up her left hand for Luthien to see. The sigil glowed an angry
whitish-blue from her palm. The stone of her ring flashed an equally angry red.
"It causes fear and paralysis in anyone within striking distance. It has a
mist-form, something like a vampire's; and it can teleport. Can you tell me anything?"
Luthien thought for a moment, then looked
up at her with a boyish grin. "Yes, actually, I can. The creature who was
once Laran Raimonde is now a lichling." Khyrisse got a worried look on her
face, not liking the sound of that. "A lichling is a lesser undead
creature that is bound to a mage or a higher form of undead, usually a lich. It
has several magical powers, including fear and paralysis, and according to the
sources I've read, it can cross dimensional barriers to simulate teleportation.
The sigil thing is unique to this particular entity, but I think I know
"The sigil can cause pain. What looks
like a crippling amount of it, but I'd have to ask. Wait a minute, though-- I
thought all the Lich Lords were banished or dead or imprisoned or something.
It's not one of them using this critter, is it?" Khyrisse looked actively
horrified by the notion. Most people would.
Luthien shook his head. "No, I don't
think it's one of the Lich Lords. The M.O. actually points to someone a lot
more familiar. I think the person controlling Laran Raimonde is Odn."
Khyrisse blinked twice. "Odn? That
son-of-a-bitch? I thought we got rid of his sorry ass..."
"Unfortunately, we didn't. He has
been alive and well, and running the Dalencian Wizard's Guild. At least, he was
up until two years ago. He dropped out of sight then, and none of us in
SPECTRAL could find him. If you remember, a lot of his magic had to do with
sigils, runes, and symbols. He was
actually quite an innovator in that realm, almost a specialist." Luthien
set his jaw, staring out over the water. "I never did get the chance to
punish him for Merwyn..."
Khyrisse started in surprise.
"Luthien, is it possible that he has a glyph to dispel magic? I don't know
where he is now, but I might know where he was."
Luthien shrugged his young shoulders.
"Could be. I don't enough about glyphs and runes to say that he couldn't
have one. For all I know, he has a glyph to summon a young prostitute."
"I think he was underneath the Rimbor
City Arena. Ummm, two days ago. No, mabye three." Khyrisse looked over to
the frozen figure of Ebreth Tor, then turned back to Luthien with a grim smile.
"It's a crater now."
"Hmm. A fitting place for him. I
guess it's too much to expect that he was still there when the whole place went
"No, I don't think he was still
there. In fact, I think he was the one who made it collapse." Khyrisse
looked suddenly excited. "That's it! That's what Jack is looking for.
That's what we missed!"
"Glad I could be of service. Now, if
you don't mind, I'd like to know what the hell you are doing traveling with
Ebreth Tor?!?!" Luthien finally let his anger show on his face, and
Khyrisse gulped as she tried to figure out how to answer him.
"It's not the same Ebreth Tor,"
she said faintly. She waved at the man standing next to Luthien. "I didn't
know, Luthien. I'm sorry."
He took a deep breath before continuing.
"I don't know what sort of man you are dealing with now, but the Ebreth
Tor I remember slaughtered an entire ship's crew and sold five passengers to
the slave market on Rimbor City. To my knowledge, I am the only one of them
still alive." He looked her square in the eye. "I hope to Arawn that
he's a different man. For your sake, and for Skitch's."
Khyrisse put her hands on her hips and
stared at the bloody deck at her feet for a moment. Then she walked over to
Luthien's side and looked the slaver in the face. Physically, it was the same
man, down to the last detail. She'd expected that, though. And his
The expression was the same one she'd seen
on Ebreth's face, for a few brief moments, in the hotel in Rimbor. The slaver,
frozen in Luthien's dream, had an expression of cold and impatient contempt,
his hand pinning the end of Luthien's spear against the wall of the cabin.
Khyrisse made a strange noise, sounding
like someone had just stabbed her. Her hand clutched at her stomach as if
someone had, the other hand rising to cover her mouth as she stared at
Luthien's version of Ebreth Tor. She closed her eyes and leaned against the
wall for a moment.
Luthien moved forward, but didn't touch
her. Instead, he said quietly, "I'm sorry, Khyrisse, but that's what I
remember. I've had nightmares about him for 15 years. I couldn't keep it
bottled inside anymore, not after I saw him in your group. If he truly is a
different man, on the inside, then so much the better for all of us."
"Valende said that he's not
evil," Khyrisse said, pushing herself upright slowly. "But there are
ways and ways to fool someone, even about that. I'll find out what's going on.
I've left it too long as it is. I'll find out," she promised Luthien
quietly. "And if he is the same Ebreth Tor..." She looked at the
dream-slaver's face steadily, hollow-eyed. "...I'll kill him."
Luthien started to say something else, but
he saw Khyrisse's dream-form start to fade and disappear. Khyrisse felt it as
well, and she turned quickly to her friend with one last statement.
"Malcar is loose in Edimon. Be careful! I'll try again tomorr..." She
disappeared suddenly, leaving Luthien alone on the deck with a crew of
now-moving pirates and their leader. He gritted his teeth, and decided that
this time, the dream would end differently.
Khyrisse, Valende, and Skitch
Kristin L.K. Andersen
The Rats of R.U.M.I.
of Post: The Thane of Fife Had a Wife
Khyrisse tossed violently in her dreams,
and Valende began to wonder about the advisability of letting her sleep after
the spell was done. Despite her undeniable exhaustion, sleeping did not seem to
be doing her mistress much good at all.
Khyrisse's hands clutched at her left
shoulder, and she rolled over to the far side of the bed. She was mumbling
something that her bodyguard, try as she might, couldn't make out. Is that Elven?
It can't be... Valende thought. She picked up the candle from the table and
approached the bed with it. I think I'd best wake her, at this rate...
The light fell on Khyrisse's face, and her
eyes flew open. They stared for a single instant at the candle flame in her
bodyguard's hand, obviously still dreaming. "D'tiet!" Khyrisse
shouted the word at the top of her lungs, a
half-plaintive note in her voice. She recoiled violently, arms shielding her
Valende slammed the candlestick onto the
bedside table as Khyrisse fell over the far side of the bed. She raced around
it and found Khyrisse lying on her side, awake now, staring at her hands.
Valende was suddenly reminded of the expression on her brother's face, after
Duke St. Augustine had used his body to kill Ariath.
"Are you all right? Milady?
I'll find out. And if he is the same
Ebreth Tor... I'll kill him.
Khyrisse shuddered once, then swallowed
hard. "No." Her voice was flat, and she didn't look up. "I take
it someone decided that they should let me sleep?"
"Vas and I did," Valende said
hesitantly. "I'm sorry."
"It's all right," Khyrisse
sighed, pushing herself off the floor. "Ow. How long was I out?"
"Not long. Four hours, spell
included; perhaps five. It's close to dinner time."
"Good. I spoke to Luthien. We now
have a lot of very useful information."
She briefly outlined the information she
and Luthien had pieced together about Odn and Laran.
"I'd like you to tell Jack all of this for me,"
Khyrisse said, opening her door.
"Certainly, but why not do so
yourself?" Valende asked, a little puzzled.
"I have to go talk to Ebreth. I have
to ask him to explain something for me. In private. Keep Skitch with you until
I'm done, all right?"
"Skitch," Valende said, once she
found him. He was making a fort out of stacks of books in the library.
"Uh-huh?" he replied, balancing
a short pile atop two other stacks, forming a narrow archway.
"Do you know what 'D'tiet!'
"Sure. It's Cynystran... it means
'stop', or 'don't', or something like that. I heard it a lot," Skitch
added, flashing her a mildly sheepish grin.
Skeins of Fate
of Post: On Trying Flicker's Patience
Luthien was just about to shocking grasp
the fuck out of Tor when Norn shook him awake. "Get up, death mage. We
have a long journey ahead of us."
Luthien really considered using it on her
instead, but reluctantly decided it wouldn't be productive. "All
right," he said.
Berryn was washing up the dinner dishes.
"Hurry up," she told him. "I serve," he said.
"Any luck?" said Flicker,
"I don't know. I got her attention,
"That's better than I did."
Flicker sighed. "I hope she's right."
"Are you two talking to each other
Flicker didn't even answer that. "Why
do you want to destroy the Myriad, Norn? Won't that disrupt--"
"You ask too many questions,
Messala," she interrupted him. "Just do as I tell you."
Flicker stood up. "Norn," he
said, "I am losing my patience with you."
"Is that supposed to be a
"No," he said. "It's an
insult. I once spent four days in a fifteen-by-fifteen foot room with Khyrisse,
Tila, Shilree, and Signet the Significant."
Rat Kings: More Secrets
of Post: Privacy
Ebreth and Vas were laughing about
something in the newly three-dimensional library when she came in. Their
expressions both changed when they saw her face. "Milady," said Vas,
uneasily. "Are you all right?"
"Just a bad dream," she said,
lightly. "May I speak to Ebreth alone, please?" Vas got up.
Vas looked embarrassed. "That was,
uh, St. Augustine," he protested, and left. Khyrisse listened to his footsteps
recede down the hall. Ebreth closed the door. He had a look of concern on his
face and was probably trying to ensure the privacy she had just asked for, but
her heart skipped a beat anyway. Ebreth Tor looked at her, looked at his hand
on the doorknob, slowly took it off, went back several paces until he was
farther from the door than she was and sat. "Why are you afraid of
me?" he said, plainly and with a certain amount of pain. "If I really
just wanted, if I was going to force myself on you, wouldn't I have done it
Jack Paris, Ariath
Rat Kings: More Secrets
of Post: Jack At The Door
Jack watched as Vas stomped annoyedly out
of the library. Val put down the Queen she was about to capture Jack's Dragon
with and went over to her brother.
"Is it happening?" she asked.
"Yes," Vas sighed. "And
she's doing it without anyone in there to protect her."
"Is what happening?" Jack asked.
"The best we can do is to be
ready," Val comforted her twin.
"Ready for what?" Jack asked.
"If I had been expecting it, I could
at least have at least made sure I had some long distance spells."
"Expecting what?" Jack demanded.
"Khyrisse is finally confronting
Ebreth," Val said gently.
"Why didn't she ask me?" Jack
said, a little hurt. "I already had this conversation."
"And do you trust him?" Vas
"No," Jack sighed. "But I
don't hate him any more. He's got a heavy weight he's trying to deal
Inside the library, Ariath watched from
her hiding place. She was damned if she was going to let Khyrisse fall to
Kristin L.K. Andersen
Rat Kings: Everyone Tell Your Secrets
of Post: Nobody's On Nobody's Side
"Why are you afraid of me?"
Ebreth said, plainly and with a certain amount of pain. "If I really just
wanted, if I was going to force myself on you, wouldn't I have done it
Khyrisse sighed and sat down across from
him. Ebreth noticed, without really
wanting to, that she'd picked a chair close to him... but far enough away to
defend herself, if she had to. And she was still closer to the door than he
Khyrisse blinked for a moment, looking at
him. She had so many spells up that affected her vision, that she was suddenly
hit with deja vu; and for a moment, looked for the underlying pattern of the
room, the ongoing weaving of the inhabitants on the tapestry of their
surroundings and history. Her mind jittered and spun for a moment, trying to do
something only a deity could manage.
The portion of her brain that was ruthless and cynical and truly
paranoid-- the part that believed no one's story; not Ariath's, not Ebreth's,
not Vas', not Luthien's... and for that matter, had never believed or trusted Pieret--
stomped angrily on this and forced the rest of her brain to pay attention. The
various spells told her nothing she didn't already know and/or hadn't already
been told. Not yet. Khyrisse smiled a little, sadly. "No, I'm not afraid
of you because of that," she told Ebreth quietly.
"But you are afraid of me," he
said, very low.
"Somewhat." Khyrisse looked
briefly at her hands, then back up at him, facing the pain she saw in his face
squarely. If she didn't look at him, she'd never know for sure. She still might
never know for sure, no matter what she did. "I'm a fairly intelligent
woman, and I've been piecing together the things I know about you, but they
don't make a clear picture-- and now I need one. I wouldn't ask you this if I
could avoid it, Ebreth," she added, very gently. "If some of my
theories are actually true, explaining what happened will be extremely
unpleasant for you-- but other of my theories force me to ask. I know that you
have an intimate connection of some kind to the original Ebreth Tor-- can you
explain that for me?"
Khyrisse waited, eyes fixed on his face,
trying to tell him with her expression that she wasn't going to be satisfied
with an evasion, without being harsh about it. She was ready for just about
anything. At least she hoped so.
Let's see how much I really HAVE learned
in twenty years, shall we?
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