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Like A Bat Out Of Hell, Part VI
Rat Kings: Everyone Tell Your Secrets
of Post: Skitch's Turn
Ebreth flipped under the surface of the
pond and lunged at Skitch, his dark body cleaving the water.
"Aaaaaah!" yelled the boy, and got a big mouthful of pond water as he
was dunked. He came up sputtering. "You're cheating!"
"I'm not cheating." Ebreth took
the blindfold off and tossed it to him. "I come from an island, kid. I'm a
good swimmer. You're it."
Skitch said something in Diari that Khyrisse
didn't understand. This bothered her somehow. "Marco!"
He pulled up a lily pad and threw it right
into Khyrisse's face. "You little monster!" she yelled. "Now
Skitch gasped laughter and tried to get
away from her, but she caught him and tickled him. "Ha, ha! Stop!
"You were peeking! Admit it!"
They splashed around together for a few
minutes, and then Skitch slowly calmed down. "Khyrisse?" he said.
"I, uh, I have something to tell you, and you're probably not going to
Oh, NO. "What?" she said, trying
to make her voice sound even.
"I think I have to go to
"Yeah," he said. "See,
Tarrin gave me a special psionic crystal, and he asked me to take it somewhere
if anything happened to him. And something did. And maybe, maybe if I bring it
to Diaria, the other Diarians can use their psionic powers to save him."
He looked anxiously at Khyrisse.
"Um..." she said.
Khyrisse and Skitch
Kristin L.K. Andersen
Rat Kings: Oh, Grendel, What Now?
of Post: Diaria, Country of Doofuses
"Um..." Khyrisse said.
They slaughtered all the non-Diari over
there. Not just the Cynystrans, either. Everybody.
Skitch looked up at her with trusting
eyes. Khyrisse thought of Tarrin and her last real conversation with him.
Khyrisse sighed. "Yes, Skitch, we'll go. Did Tarrin tell you where to take
"He said I'd know. I guess I have to
go to Diaria and ask it for directions or something."
"All right, we'll try, as soon as we
can. But you have to help me with my accent every day, because otherwise it'll
be one short trip. Deal?"
Skitch splashed happily away through the
water like a very clumsy dolphin.
Khyrisse sighed again.
I'm going to get really sick of the word
kiljhac before this is over...
Ebreth Tor, undaunted by women who come prepared to kill him
of Post: Endgame
"Marco!" said Khyrisse.
She slowed. His voice wasn't retreating.
"Hey, Ebreth isn't running
away!" complained Skitch.
"Maybe I'm not," he said.
Khyrisse took off her blindfold. He put
his hands on her upper arms. "Khyrisse is peeking!" shrilled Skitch.
Jack, Ariath, Asinus
Rat Kings: What Next?
of Post: Good Night and Good Morning
Ariath woke up the next morning sprawled
out, dressed, over Vas. She quickly hopped to her feet and silently raced from
room to room. Val was asleep next to Jack, who was awake, reading a book about
astronomy. Both dressed. Pooh.
Skitch was curled up at the end of
Khyrisse's bed. Khyrisse was alone, but she couldn't tell by the disarray
whether or not that had been the status earlier.
"Looking for someone?" Ebreth
asked from behind.
"Don't do that, Tor!" she
shouted. "You're up early."
"So are you."
"So I am."
The two looked at each other and smiled.
"Your business," they each said
"What do you want, Paris," Harry
Novoa sighed, leaning back in his office chair.
"The Word has it that you've been in
contact with Jack Paris," the donkey said. "I need to meet with
"Why?" Novoa asked. "Not
saying I have been... just curious."
"Paris family business," Asinus
Paris said. "Hey, are those Cynystran cigars?"
"I'm not giving my cigars to a damned
ass," Novoa grumbled. "If I see Jack Paris, I'll let him know."
"Thanks," the donkey said,
turning slowly to get out of the office. "For nothing, ya big
scrumbum," he added under his breath.
Rat Kings: The Lesser Of Two Evils
of Post: The Business At Hand
"You want to go where?" Jack
"Skitch needs to go to Diaria. It's
something Tarrin asked him to do," Khyrisse told him.
"But we were going to Rimbor...
that's where the Rat says we need to go next. Tarrin was a big
"Tarrin was my friend!" Skitch
Jack frowned. "I know he was, Skitch,
but can it wait until we've finished with the world saving stuff?"
"No," Skitch insisted.
"The King of the Kings must die,
Wilbur," Fred said grimly.
"Look, I don't like Diaria either,
Jack," Khyrisse said, "but if we can get Tarrin back, he may be able
to help us."
"If we get Cori back, she could
too," Jack argued.
"I like the spine he got. You think
Val?" Vas whispered to Ariath.
"Men get stupid when they're in
love." Ariath offered back.
"Well," Khyrisse said.
"Mabye we should put it to a vote." Rhynwa never called for a vote,
she thought to herself.
"Rimbor," Jack said firmly.
"Uh, does the Rat get a vote?"
Khyrisse squeezed her temples. Why oh why
did she ever get out of the pool?
of Post: Always Obey The Rat
Ebreth shook his head.
"Khyrisse," he said, "that's probably a message to his children.
Telling them he loves them or something. It's a big mistake to turn your back
on an undead thing. Especially now that you've got all this information about
it. Let's destroy it, and then we can go to Diaria."
"And Hell," said Jack.
Ebreth licked his lips. "Right. Look,
we've come this far with the Rat. I think it's a bad idea to ignore him
"You shouldn't go to Diaria until
Jeeeeeeeeffy gets back," whinnied Fred.
"What the hell are you talking about
now?" demanded Khyrisse.
"You don't have to whinny
anymore," Skitch reminded him.
"Sorry," said Fred. "Old
habits die hard."
"Stupid deus ex machina horse,"
Khyrisse, hormones in an uproar
Kristin L.K. Andersen
Rat Kings: Oh, Goody, a Democracy...
of Post: *whew* Saved By the Dougmas-- I Mean, Bell
"I hate to be a downer, but while
Luthien and I figured out a lot about Laran the Lichling and his probable
master Odn, I have two pieces of bad news," Khyrisse said. "One: I
don't know that I can kill either of them. What I know about lichlings does not
include their weaknesses, and I don't know if I can take Odn, frankly. Two: we
don't know where they are. If they were underneath the Rimbor City Arena,
they're certainly not there now."
Skitch drummed his heels restlessly on the
chair. "So we go to Diaria first?"
"Skitch, we probably should save the
world first. I don't think Tarrin would thank us for doing anything else. Jack,
are you sure the Rat says we have to go back to Rimbor?" Khyrisse asked
morosely, turning to the mathematician. "I'd almost rather go to
Diaria..." she added to herself.
Rat Kings: Rimbor Bound
of Post: Obey The Rat
"It's a causal sequence," Jack
explained. "I've been calling it the Rat Path in my notes. It brought us
from Lianth to Rumi, then Rumi to Rimbor. We mistook Tarrin's vision for part
of the same sequence, but it wasn't. The Rat's got something we need to do in
Rimbor, then the third and final position in the sequence will be
"I'd rather go to Diaria,"
Jack sat on the roof with Val this time.
Sea air was second nature to him, and he wanted her to enjoy the bounding main.
Val, on the other hand, had turned an
unpleasant shade of green.
Jack updated his list of "romantic
"Okay, Ratboy," Ariath said upon
Rimbor landfall. "Where now?"
Jack opened his satchel and the rat leapt
out. It skittered across to Ebreth Tor and started gnawing at his boot.
"I thought I was done with all
this," sighed Ebreth.
Tying Up Loose Ends: Dead Diarians From Space Want Our Women!
of Post: Fighting Diarians By Daylight...
"What in Rekzyr's name is that?"
one of the Diarian revenants muttered.
"Looks like a cat," another
"Her hair looks like balls of
meat," a third responded.
"Look out, Diari-trash, 'cause we're
going to kick your butt!" Pilot Zharaz cried.
"Launch the scout ships," the
leader of the Undead called.
Two Diari psijammer scouts shot out from
"Moon laser activation!" Pilot
Moon shouted, spinning around before launching a crescent-shaped beam of light
at the first scout ship.
"Gila eyeball ejection!" cried
Pilot Gila, as a stream of eyeball shaped bubbles shot out from the Luna-ship.
lingo blatheration!" called Pilot Z. The Diarians suddenly found
themselves unable to communicate with their scoutjammers.
"Get out of there!" the leader
on the asteroid called.
"Whoa, like stop fragmenting my
karma, daddy-o," one of the ships responded before smashing into the
stream of eyeballs.
"Wonky, cats," the other beamed
as it was sliced in half by the crescent moon magic.
The leader of the Diarian revenants
watched helplessly as the only two ships were destroyed, stranding them in the
orbit of Saturn.
"Fekla," he muttered.
Tying Up Loose Ends: Orion's Belt
of Post: Jack Finally Gets A Break
"Lovecraft was right, sir,"
Sharpedge said. "The information he gave us led us right to the guy."
"It is not a 'guy', Sharpedge,"
Orion frowned. "It is a mathematical curiosity that we need to keep Warp
pacified until we can complete our plan."
"Yes, Lord Orion," Sharpedge
"Sir," Pyre chimed in,
"we're detecting another magical anomaly nearby."
"Details," Orion demanded.
"High levels of necrotic energy
radiating from an asteroid nearby."
"Is it related to Paris?"
"No, sir, very different magical
"Destroy it then."
The asteroid Vision blew into a thousand
pieces, three thousand years after becoming stranded in Saturn's orbit.
"Now then," Orion said grimly.
"Get me Jack Paris."
Khyrisse and Silverlace
Kristin L.K. Andersen
Rat Kings/Dead College/"To An Inconstant Mistress"
of Post: Something In Common
Khyrisse hopped down from the Carriage and
scowled at the mostly oblivious crowd around them. "Have I mentioned
lately that I hate Rimbor?" she said, coiling her whip.
Silverlace the mouse poked her nose out of
the pocket of "Iellan's" robe for some fresh air. She was getting a
little motion sick. The sight that met
her eyes made her stomach lurch in a different but equally disconcerting
fashion. The mouse puffed out a tiny breath that would have been a sigh in a
larger creature. Rimbor City... Silverlace thought sadly. She curled up in the
pocket again. Oh, how I hate Rimbor City.
Khyrisse and Skitch
Kristin L.K. Andersen
Rat Kings: Rimbor City Again Goddammit
of Post: A Need for Thieves
"I think we should find out what's
been going on in our absence," Khyrisse said, digging around in her backpack
for her notes. "That might give us some clues, unless the Rat has other
ideas. I should probably go talk to Officer Novoa anyway, just to stay on the
legal side of things."
"I could find out!" Skitch
offered. "I know some people here that I could talk to."
"Not by yourself, you don't."
"Aw, come on... How else am I
supposed to help?" Skitch wailed.
Khyrisse sighed and just kind of looked at
Ebreth. "For once in my life, I've got no thieves around, and now I want
one. This is sadder than you can possibly imagine."
Skitch looked around at the city, then at
Khyrisse. "You've got no thieves around?" he repeated incredulously.
"That's not what I meant!"
Rat Kings: Rimbor Redux
of Post: But you have a first-level mage!
"Okay, let's talk to Novoa,"
agreed Ebreth. "He seems all right for a Rimbor cop. Maybe he'll know
something about Odn and these Rat Kings."
"Maybe you could go and ask the nice
people who helped you find Skitch," said Ariath innocently.
"Maybe you could tie an anvil around
your neck and jump off that pier over there," Ebreth replied in a pleasant
voice. Ari huffed. Ebreth looked down at his boot. "Jack," he said,
"the rat is chewing a hole in my boot. Does this mean something, or
haven't you fed him recently?"
Octavian, Vas and Ariath
Kristin L.K. Andersen
Rat Kings: Rimbor City Again Goddammit/Octavian
of Post: Nosy People
"There's no reliable way to find that
out now, without asking and getting reincarnated as something icky,"
Ariath whispered into Vas' ear.
Vas gauged his employer carefully, and
chuckled. "I still say she's far too tense for anything to have... mmm,
progressed far enough. But I suppose we'll have to leave our bet on the matter
alone for today."
Ariath grinned at him. "Wouldn't it
be awful if people were this nosy about us?"
"Would it?" Vas said, with a
shameless grin back. "I doubt I'd notice, my dear. I pay attention to my
"Oh you do, do you? There goes
A note was waiting on his desk when Harry
Novoa got back to his office. "Khyrisse Starshadow and the Rat Pack are
back in Rimbor," it read, with the signature at the bottom in silver ink,
"How the hell is he getting
these things into my office?" Novoa demanded with a scowl. This was the
third goddamned mysterious note in two days. He'd be a lot more irritated if
the last note hadn't resulted in the most satisfying bust he'd made in years,
down at the docks... But it was still breaking and entering-- right through a
room full of cops. Lousy, no-good cops, but still cops that hated Octavian's
guts. Novoa sighed, and stuffed the note into the rapidly growing file on his
desk labeled "Octavian".
Rat Kings: Rimbor's Season in Hell
of Post: Jack Doesn't Know
Jack looked in his satchel. "Nope, he
seems to be feeding himself pretty well, actually," he sighed.
"Maybe there's something about your
boot that he wants to indicate?" Val offered.
"Mabye he's as crazy as the rest of
us," Khyrisse mumbled.
The Rat was pulling a thread out of
Ebreth's boot now.
"I'm ever so looking forward to going
around Rimbor barefoot," Ebreth told the rat. "Thanks a lot."
The Rat started nudging the thread around
with his nose.
"Hey," Jack said, "you
don't want to know how much stuff of mine he's destroyed trying to tell us
The thread had formed the infinity sign, a
loop twisted around itself. "Infinity?" Jack asked. "An endless
"Maybe there's a company or shop
called Infinity something," Vas offered.
endless..." Khyrisse brainstormed.
"Duh, people. It's an eight."
The Rat had sat himself down at the end of
one of the loops.
"Eight," Khyrisse grumbled.
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