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The Book of Ataniel

The Rat King Archives
Like A Bat Out Of Hell, Part V

Character(s): Ebreth Tor, refugee
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Rat Kings: Everyone Tell Your Secrets
Title of Post: Like A Bat Out Of Hell

Ebreth paused. "You've been talking to Jack," he said.
"I've been talking to everyone and his brother," said Khyrisse, wearily, "and everyone except Vas is afraid you're going to kill me." Or worse, she didn't say.
"They think I'm going to kill you," he repeated. "Khyrisse, you could kick my incompetent ass."
"Mabye," she said, "mabye not. I've been over this and over it, and now I--need to know."
"About Ebreth Tor," he said. "The master slaver."
Ebreth sighed. "He was a mean man," he said, "and he went to Hell. Then-- then Hell broke loose. Somebody killed Lucifer, and the damned souls started turning good. I know it sounds like I'm making this up."
Less than you'd think, thought Khyrisse ironically, thinking about the Schism Tine.
"But that's what happened. There was a breakout, and Ebreth Tor and a woman named Grayson stayed behind to cover the others' escape. The two of them made it as far as Limbo together but then their minds reverted. I, I recommend against having an alignment change in Limbo. Our personalities were completely destroyed. I am what came out the other side." He shook his head. "I don't know what happened to Grayson. A Death Slaad attacked us and we were separated. I wound up fleeing across the Abyss. Oh God. Khyrisse, that other Ebreth Tor was a brave man. Whatever else you have to say about him. He wasn't afraid to take risks. Even in his worst days he didn't just hide behind his guild and prey on the defenseless; he took on people his own size too, and it ultimately got him killed. When he was good he was willing to risk being trapped in Hell forever for the sake of four people he barely knew. But now I'm a coward. And I'd do anything to stay out of Hell. Do you understand, I couldn't handle the things that happened to him there. I am scared out of my fucking skull. And I can't go back." He put his hands on the table and bowed his head, his back to her. "So am I the same man or not? You make the call. I am a, a re-roll of the dice, a second chance. I am a recombination of a lost mind, a survivor from the shipwreck of Ebreth Tor, haunted by memories that don't feel like mine, and--running for my immortal soul. Please help me."

Character(s): Khyrisse, Ebreth, and Ariath
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Rat Kings: Everyone Tell Your Secrets
Title of Post: An Interesting Point

Khyrisse sat and listened to Ebreth's story, feeling the skin on her face and hands grow cold. She'd figured out a good deal of this on her own, but it didn't make hearing the details any easier. And if I tried, I couldn't come up with a story more likely to make me trust him. He'd have to know an awful lot about me to do that. I am either damaging someone very like myself by pursuing this, or I am in serious trouble. Or, just possibly, both. Oh, help. "I'd like to help you, Ebreth," she whispered. "I really would. It sounds like we're more alike than you can possibly imagine." She was quiet for a long moment after that, staring absently over his head while she thought. Something in her field of vision nagged at her until she paid attention to it. She blinked, and one of her many divination spells outlined Ariath, hiding in the shadows of one of the bookshelves beyond Ebreth. Khyrisse stared for a moment, furious, then closed her eyes. I knew I wouldn't be given privacy for this discussion. It's all right. I have the means to make this balance. Chill. She opened her eyes, calm again, and returned her attention to Ebreth. "I think the answer is yes and no," she finally said. "Yes, you are Ebreth Tor, but no, you aren't the same Ebreth Tor. I don't know how much of his knowledge and memories and skills you retain-- I have reason to think that you retain nearly all of them-- but you apparently don't like using them, which I can certainly understand."
Ebreth laughed shakily, almost silently.
"Ebreth, there's one thing I can't understand, and if I hadn't seen examples of it with my own eyes, I wouldn't believe this story at all," she said, slowly. "Why do you have a body? You must have been in Hell because you died, you should be a spirit... but you have a physical presence-- none of us knows it better!" she interjected, with a small, embarrassed breath of a laugh. "You can be wounded, you bleed... How did that happen? The body of the original Ebreth Tor is probably at the bottom of the ocean somewhere."

Ariath saw Khyrisse look right at her, saw the butterfly outline flash into being around her eyes for a brief instant as they met hers. Khyrisse then closed her eyes, and the glowing wings vanished again. Ariath could almost hear her counting to ten. Uh-oh. The jig is up. Is she going to tell...? No, the little mage decided, as Khyrisse went back to her conversation. Whew. Looks like I'm going to be in trouble later, though...

Character(s): Jack Paris, Ariath
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Rat Kings: Everyone Tell Your Secrets
Title of Post: Ariath Gets In Trouble

Okay, Ariath thought. Khyrisse looks like she's going to be safe. I don't believe Ebreth's story, but it also doesn't look like he's liable to go fairy-nailing wacko just because he gets confronted. Still, if he makes one move against her...
Ariath slid back and squeezed herself through the library vent. When she opened the living room end, however, Vas was standing over her, frowning. "Where were you?" he asked. "As if I couldn't guess."
"I was watching out for the person you're bodyguarding, Vas. So don't get all snitty at me."
"No, no," Vas corrected, smiling. "I want to hear all about it!"
Ariath grinned. "Okay, gossip boy... first he asked why she was afraid of him..."

Jack watched as everyone gathered around Ariath. He didn't want to hear. It didn't matter now. Khyrisse and Ebreth were both adults, and Jack didn't want to intrude. Besides, Jack thought, it probably ends with a lot of making out. Boy, Val looks good tonight. Sigh.
"I'm going for a walk," he said to no one in particular.

Character(s): Jack and Valende
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Ditty Bout Jack and Valende
Title of Post: Methinks Doug Is a Bit Bored With Psychodrama...

Valende sighed as Jack left the room. Of all the things she could be doing at the moment, sitting here listening to Vas gossip with Ariath was low on her list. She looked at the door absently, wondering if that was tact on Jack's part (something other people in this room could use more of), or if it were something else. She wished she could follow him, but Khyrisse was in there with Ebreth... She looked at her brother. He noticed this after a few moments and looked up. He looked at her, then glanced around for Jack. He looked back at his sister and raised an eyebrow; she nodded slightly at the door and raised one back.
Vas grinned and nodded.
Valende left the room to find Jack.

Jack discovered that he couldn't open the front door.
Sennett appeared nearby and cleared his throat. "I'm sorry, Mr. Paris-- Lady Khyrisse has locked the door for the duration of your stay. Shall I ask her to unlock it for you?"
"Um, no," Jack said quickly. "No, don't bother her." Khyrisse and Ebreth would hardly thank him for that. Jack wandered towards the back of the mansion.
Valende found him near the kitchen. "Jack?" she called quietly. Jack turned quickly around. "Is something wrong?" he asked.
"I was going to ask you the same thing," Valende said, smiling, as she caught up to him. "Do you just want somewhere to wander? Skitch tells me there's a garden of sorts in here, a decorative greenhouse. Shall we go see?"

Character(s): Ebreth Tor, scared straight
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Rat Kings: Everyone Tell Your Secrets
Title of Post: A Question Of His Own

"They, ah, they give you a physical body in Hell," said Ebreth. "Can we, not talk about why."
Khyrisse took in air sharply. She pressed on, though. She didn't want to have to broach this subject again. "What about Tor's memories? How many of those do you have?"
"I have them," he said, "they're just kind of--dissociated. I could tell you plenty of things you'd rather not hear. About his childhood, his guild, his time in Hell. I just don't have a lot of--emotional connection to them. It's more like I watched them."
She licked her lips and steeled herself for the last question. "That night in the Augustine Arms." She thought about Luthien's dream and put one hand on the other to keep it from shaking.
"Yeah," he said, so very softly. "I still. I still remember how to be Ebreth Tor. I just--don't want to. I don't dare. I only did it that time because--because I didn't know what else to do. I can't cast spells. I couldn't have beat those guys off. That assassin had dispelled your protections and the punk had a knife to your throat. I had to do something." He held his head miserably. "I didn't want them to hurt you. It was the only thing I could think of to do."
"I'm sorry," she whispered, her eyes stinging.
There was a long silence. "You said you needed to know this now," he finally said. "Why did you need to know this now?"

Character(s): Jack Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Rat Kings: Ditty About Jack and Valende
Title of Post: Jack Needs A Little Crab Following Him Around

The two sat on the ornate bench in the middle of the greenhouse garden. Jack's hand rested on Valende's. She didn't seem to mind. "It really is a beautiful night," Valende said, looking up through the glass ceiling at the cool light of Bane amongst the stars.
"Yes, it's really pretty amazing how something that brought so much pain can be so beautiful," Jack agreed.
Kiss her, Jack.
Valende frowned. "I'd rather not go into that," she whispered.
"Anytime you want to talk, Val," Jack said. "I'm here."
Kiss her.
"You're sweet, Jack. I wouldn't want to burden you, though."
"That's what friends do, Val. Pain shared is pain halved."
Kiss her, you dork.
"I'd rather just enjoy the night," Val smiled wistfully, and leaned her head on Jack's shoulder.
"I already am," Jack said happily.
Kiss the girl, Jack Corfa Paris!
"Jack?" Val asked.
"Are you just going to sit there?"
Don't make me tell you again, Paris.
Jack leaned over and touched his lips to Val's.

Character(s): Valende and Jack
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Rat Kings: Ditty Bout Jack and Valende
Title of Post: Valende Ignores a Bizarre Impulse to Run and Hide in the Bathroom

Finally. Thank you, Haneli...
After a very long silence in the greenhouse, Valende sighed blissfully and opened her eyes.
"Have you done this sort of thing often, Jack Corfa Paris?" she asked quietly, looking serenely into his eyes.
Jack looked extremely uncomfortable for a moment, and Valende wove her fingers together at the nape of his neck. Just in case he thought of bolting. "No, not all that often, actually," Jack finally said, blushing miserably.
Valende smiled dazzlingly at him, and Jack sighed in what might have been relief.
"Really? Then I have to tell you, Jack darling, you're a natural," she whispered with unmistakable sincerity, and pulled his lips back down to hers.

Character(s): Khyrisse, paranoid with a cause
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Rat Kings: Everybody Tell Your Secrets
Title of Post: Having Much Less Fun Than Jack and Valende, Dammit

Khyrisse sighed shakily, wishing she could just burst into tears for once and have done with it. Instead, as usual, she blinked them away. "I don't know how to explain this," she said miserably, resting her forehead against her clasped hands. "Everyone's been warning me about you; but I'd figured out what had happened to you, more or less, that night in the Augustine Arms, so I sort of shelved the matter of asking you about anything."
"I'd wondered," Ebreth said quietly, and didn't elaborate. Khyrisse wished she knew if he was referring to her figuring it out, or to her not asking him before this, and sighed again.
"And then today, I... I used this spell called Dream, where you can talk to someone far away by waiting until they're asleep and entering their dreams." Khyrisse saw Ebreth wince, out of the corner of her eye. Probably at the idea of someone walking around in his dreams. He wasn't far off, unfortunately. Doesn't anyone have nice, normal dreams on this planet? "I needed to talk to a friend of mine, Luthien," she continued. "I think you saw him, briefly, in the temple; the homicidal-looking guy in black, with Norn and Flicker. Luthien's a necromancer, so I thought he might be able to tell us something about our friend Laran... and when I 'arrived', he was having a dream about you."
Ebreth stared at her in a numb kind of surprise. He was fairly certain that he'd never seen the man with Flicker and Norn.
"He was captured from a ship on its way to Annwych, when he was twelve, I think. He looks... a lot different now. You wouldn't recognize him. But I saw the old you in his dream, and I realized that I could be horribly wrong about everything. If it had just been you and me, I would have waited, and tried to figure out over time whether or not I could trust you," Khyrisse whispered, not looking at him anymore. "I wanted to trust you. But there's everyone with us... and I've lost several people already, one of whom actually was untrustworthy, another one because he was untrustworthy... and I have notoriously bad judgment in things like this. I had to at least make an attempt to find out. Even if you lied to me, I might be able to tell something was wrong. I had to try."

Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Rat Kings: Everyone Tell Your Secrets
Title of Post: A Close Call

Ebreth suddenly put his finger on what was underlying both the resolute and agitated elements of her behavior tonight. "You--came here to kill me, didn't you," he whispered.
"No!" She jumped up out of the chair, knocking it over. "No, I came to talk to you, I--"
"Khyrisse. Khyrisse!" He caught one of her hands up in his, without force. "It's okay," he said. "It's all right. I, I'm glad you didn't have to."
"So am I," she said, muffled.
"I can see that," he said. "That's why I'm glad." He put his arm around her, a little dazed, and stroked the back of her head with his thumb. "It's okay," he repeated, shakily, staring over her into space. "It's okay, Khyrisse, we're going to be all right."

Character(s): Vas and Ariath, those nosy troublemakers
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Rat Kings: Everyone's Secrets
Title of Post: A Bet

Vas was giving a faintly smug-looking Ariath some coins as Ebreth and Khyrisse came out of the library. "Is everything all right?" he said quickly.
Khyrisse was just looking at the money changing hands. Her pent-up emotions came pouring out in a wave of rage. "WHAT IS GOING ON OUT HERE!"
"Nothing," said Vas, "nothing at all, milady, I--"
"--uh, I sold him something," said Ariath.
"--that's right, I bought someth--"
Skitch wandered in. "Jack and Val are kissing each other," he said, in a grossed-out boy's voice.
"Really?" said Ariath.
"Excuse us, please." Vas hurried out, Ariath close on his heels.

Character(s): Khyrisse and the Rat Pack
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Rat Kings: Everybody's Secrets
Title of Post: Take Me Home, Mother, I'm Through

Khyrisse shouted at the top of her lungs after the two, fists clenched at her sides and trembling.
"Well, wherever you're going, IT HAD BETTER NOT BE TO ANNOY ANYONE ELSE! Any more of this, and I'll-- I'll start killing some NOSY PEOPLE off and reincarnating them as thri-kreens, do you hear me?!!"
Skitch burst out laughing. Khyrisse, shaking with pent up energy, grinned wickedly and pounced on him. The two of them tumbled around on the floor for a few seconds.
"OOF! AUGH! I give!!" Skitch shouted. Khyrisse fell onto her back on the carpet and panted for air. "Come on, let's go swimming," Skitch coaxed. "There's too much stress and mushy stuff around here."
"Mabye. Mabye! You go see if the pond is fit for human habitation," she instructed breathlessly. As he raced off, she added to Ebreth, without getting up, "Although I don't know how Skitch testing it will tell us anything of the sort."

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