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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Rat King Archives
Prophets and Matchmakers, Part III

Character(s): Khyrisse, still in puberty after all
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Rat Kings: Who Needs 'Em?!
Title of Post: A Short-Lived and Suicidal Jeffy Character

Khyrisse dimly noted that she seemed to have changed her mind about her early decision not to hit on Jack. She felt terrible about doing this in front of Valende and Ebreth, but didn't seem to be able to stop herself. If it had been something that affected her mind or emotions, she would have been protected from it, but apparently this just jacked her hormones (already disturbed from the jacuzzi the night before) to a level impossible to deal with.
Jack, meanwhile, tried to figure out how to get himself out of this predicament. While Khyrisse wasn't a bad kisser, she just wasn't Val.

Character(s): The Collector, Ariath
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Rat Kings
Title of Post: Party pooper

The Collector was surprised. The entire room should have been cowering in fear. Instead, they were all acting like rabbits. Still, it was of no matter, they were preoccupied and the Collector had a job to do.
Ariath felt a strange mix of fear and lust flow through her as the Collector closed in on her.
"Damn it!" she thought. "Not now, I need to concentrate."
Ariath started to invoke a spell but her delay was too much. The Collector was on her, burning her flesh with his touch. It was over in a split second. The sigil was placed firmly on the back of her neck. Satisfied, the Collector evaporated in a dank fog. Ariath collapsed in a frustration of being useless against the thing.

Character(s): Alphred
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Rat Kings
Title of Post: In the jungle the mighty jungle

Now was his chance. Alphred crept forward to the throne. The oyster totem would not last much longer. He walked up to the dais. All he had to get through was the elven woman who was kissing the surprised looking man. It shouldn't be too hard.
Alphred closed in, he was just feet from his quarry. However, something was strange. The man seemed not to be affected by the totem. That was strange. Alphred examined him quickly, then turned white. It couldn't be. He was the creature of the legends of the Lizard People of the Zi'tip Valley. The god Nur'ur, the living number. Alphred prostrated himself before Jack.

Character(s): The Rat Pack
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Rat Kings: Pyramid Power
Title of Post: Khyrisse on Ecstasy

"Oh mighty Nur'ur!" cried Alphred.
Khyrisse knocked Jack over onto the dais. She was a lot stronger than she looked.
"What is your bidding, great Nur'ur?"
Jack struggled comically. "Take your spell off her!" he gasped.
"Alas, that I cannot do," the jungle man said. "The power of the totem will subside with time."
"Then bring her back to the others!"
Alphred picked Khyrisse up and tossed her over his shoulder. She ran her fingernails up his back. Jack, utterly crimson, tried to straighten his clothing as the rat, now that no one was paying attention to him any more, uncurled from his throne and slipped back into the mathematician's bag.

Alphred put Khyrisse down. She flung her arms around Fred, who wriggled away from her comically. Vas was helpless with laughter. "What did you do to her?" he gasped.
"Hey, chickie, come on over here. I'll put that fire out."
"All right," said Ebreth, grabbing her by the arms and holding her at arm's length from the donkey. "Let her alone, Paris, she's obviously in no state."
"What are you, blind, mate? That's exactly the state she's in!"
"I want you," Khyrisse moaned at Ebreth.
"Yeah, I know," he said. "Vas, could we have a dispel magic here, please?"

Character(s): Khyrisse, mortified for life
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Rat Kings: Who Needs 'Em?!
Title of Post: Thank You, Jeffy, For Making My Character FRIGID...!

Vas, nearly laughing too hard to cast straight, tossed a dispel magic over Khyrisse. Khyrisse froze instantly. She blinked for a second, then shook her head violently. "What the--"
Khyrisse blushed so hard that a layer of her stoneskin actually shattered with an audible crack.
"You can put me down now, Ebreth," she said in a very very stifled voice. Ebreth did so, noting that she refused to look at him. Vas was still laughing his butt off. Khyrisse kicked her bodyguard in the shin. "What was wrong with you, Khyrisse?" Skitch shrilled.
Khyrisse turned around and looked at Alphred, blood draining from her face. Her pupils dilated in rage.
"Take your spell off her!" Jack gasped.
Khyrisse cast something, and promptly discovered that power word stun had no visible effect on the jungle visitor. So Alphred received a right hook to the jaw with all the force a 19 strength and an impassioned prayer to Grendel could lend it.

Character(s): Ebreth Tor, Asinus Paris
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Rat Kings: Pyramid Power
Title of Post: Waiting For Jack

"You, mate," Asinus Paris told him, "are the stupidest man to ever walk the face of the earth."
"This may seem weird to you, Paris, but I like a woman to be attracted to me for my own merits."
Khyrisse knocked Alphred onto his ass with one hell of a punch. "She-yit!" said Asinus.
Ebreth sighed. "All right," he said, "can we sort this out outside?" The orgy of stoned rat worshippers was making it difficult to concentrate on much of anything. "Hey, Paris! You coming?"
"Apparently not," said the donkey, crabbily.
"I was talking to Jack."

Character(s): Asinus Paris
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Rat Kings: Pyramid Power
Title of Post: The Last Word

"Well he would have been, if he'd given chickie-baby here two more minutes," Asinus said, grinning evilly around the cigar.

Character(s): Jack Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Rat Kings: At Least He Isn't Sacrificing Anyone...
Title of Post: Sleep Late and You Miss All the Fun...

"Um," Jack said eloquently.
Khyrisse wasn't meeting his eyes.
"That, uh, wasn't my idea," Jack said to Ebreth.
"Hey, is someone gonna drag aphrodisiac-boy out of here?" Asinus asked.
"I'll drag him somewhere," Khyrisse muttered.
"Um," Jack repeated. "Yeah. We should see what he wanted with the rat."
"You just want a worshipper," Ariath offered, still a bit off-kilter from her marking.
Jack and Ebreth dragged Alphred from the pyramid, wending their way amongst copulating groupies.
Finally, outside, they took a minute to get their bearings.
"Rat?" Khyrisse asked.
"Got him," Jack blushed.
"Val? Vas?"
"Hey, like are you guys kidnapping the rat?" a fifteen-year old girl asked, interrupting Khyrisse's attendance.
"No, he's my friend," Jack offered.
"Cool. Can he be my friend?"
"I'll be your friend," Asinus said.
"Um, I think we've got what we came for... can we get somewhere to figure out our next move?" Jack asked.
"I'm Janice," the girl said to Asinus.
"Call me daddy," the ass responded.

Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Rat Kings: What Next?
Title of Post: Ebreth Is Stumped

"Jack and I are here too," offered Ebreth. She still wasn't looking at him. Maybe she thought he was mad at her. He tried to turn her chin up and she pulled abruptly away. "Thank you," said Khyrisse, rather coldly, and folded her arms. "I noticed you."
Ah, hell. He must have said something. Or maybe he hadn't been supportive enough. Ebreth just wasn't good at this part. And his stores of experience with the female gender were no help; when women got angry with him for inscrutable reasons was usually when the slave lord had them whacked.
Ebreth sighed. Maybe she'd talk to him later. One nice thing about Khyrisse, she didn't keep her displeasure with people to herself for very long.
"Sorry, Ebreth," murmured Vas, still bright-eyed from laughing. "Kissing Jack ruins women for all other men. Just ask V--"
Valende slapped her brother.
"How old did you say you were again?" said Ebreth.

Character(s): The Rat Groupies
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Rat Kings: Who Needs 'Em?
Title of Post: Khyrisse Isn't Buying It Anymore

Khyrisse kicked Vas in the other shin.
"Well, for one thing, I think I'm going to murder this guy when he wakes up," Khyrisse said while Vas nursed matching bruises. She glared down at the unconscious jungle man, casting wizard sight. "He's not a spellcaster, that's for sure... but he has a buttload of magic items. Jack, did-- did you happen to see what..." Khyrisse trailed off, flushing again.
Jack cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Um, he was holding that," he said, pointing to a object tucked through Alphred's crudely woven belt. Khyrisse snatched it with the tips of her fingers and looked at it. It seemed to be an ornately painted and decorated pair of oyster shells.
"This is really weird," she murmured, looking at it with the glowing blue-violet eyes of wizard sight. "It's not a charm item at all. It's... it's necromantic! How the... oh." Khyrisse blinked. "Oh. No wonder it got through the mind blank. It only affects the body," she mumbled to herself, very quietly.
Khyrisse suddenly looked surprised and turned to stare wide-eyed at Jack. Her hand reached out of its own volition and poked Jack incredulously in the shoulder. Jack rocked a little bit. He was tangible, all right.
"Why didn't this goddamned thing affect you, Jack Paris!?" Khyrisse demanded angrily. "You tell me you're immune to hormonal disturbance as well as fear, and I'm going to wonder what you thought you were doing in the greenhouse last night!"

Character(s): Uncle Asinus
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Rat Kings: The Farce Continues
Title of Post: Uncle Asinus Misses The Point

"Yeah, I don't know what the matter is with that boy," agreed Asinus. He trotted over and poked Jack with his cigar. "What's your problem, boy? She's a good-looking girl. You been eating enough meat?"

Character(s): Ebreth Tor, grudgingly charitable
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Rat Kings: What Next?
Title of Post: When Confusion Strikes, Take One Step Back And Consult The Rat

Ebreth sighed. "He was probably trying to distract the crowd so we could escape with the rat," he admitted, putting his own irritation with the savage reluctantly aside. "I doubt he was trying to make Khyrisse kiss Jack. Let's bring him with us and see what his deal is with the Rat. He may be important." Ebreth paused. "Maybe Jack can find out what the rat wants us to do next, anyway. Did that accomplish anything? Is the dagger amulet important?"

Character(s): Khyrisse and the Rat Groupies
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Rat Kings: Who Needs 'Em?!
Title of Post: Khyrisse Reluctantly Heeds the Call of Duty

Khyrisse looked at the unconscious Alphred for a long long moment, eyes bright and very cold. "All right," she finally said. "He's going to regret waking up when I'm through with him. But we'll take him with us and find out what he wanted with the Rat. I suppose it's barely possible that he's only unbelievably stupid, and not malicious." She turned and looked at Vas, and raised an eyebrow at him, then at Alphred. Vas picked the unconscious man up and put him on the roof of the Carriage, anxious to avoid any more kicking. Khyrisse turned to Ebreth. "The amulet's a mithril dagger, with an 'O' engraved on it," she explained. Her eyes sort of skittered around his, never quite connecting. "Odn was one of the original Mithril Dagger Heroes. It may have been his. It might mean that he was here at some point. But if that," she said, nodding through the doorway in disgust, "is his doing, I'm sorry for him. That's one hell of a mid-life crisis."

Character(s): Jack Paris, Ariath, Janice
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Rat Kings: What Next?
Title of Post: Jack Avoids the Subject

"I'm, uh, magic, kind of," Jack hemmed.
"Exactly how magic?" Khyrisse demanded. "I'm not going to be caught--"
"He's okay, Khyrisse," Val said.
"Look, Val," Khyrisse started, "it's getting so I can't trust..."
"He's okay," Val insisted. "He told me, and I'll vouch for him."
"Besides, what the hell is he going to do?" Ariath offered. "Differentiate us all to death?"
Alphred started to stir. Khyrisse shifted her rage to him.
Jack looked to Val and mouthed a heartfelt "thank you."

"So is Odn behind this?" Ariath demanded of Janice. "You know more about this orgy than we do."
"Odin?" Janice asked. "Big guy, one eye?"
"Wrong Odn... why, has the one-eyed one been there?"
"Oh. No, we're wondering about the little Mithril Dagger totem Jack punctured his buttock on. Where did it come from?"
"Oh, like, the thin guy with the skull head left that with us for safe keeping."
Ariath wondered who would be stupid enough to leave anything with these people for safekeeping.
"Of course," Janice continued, "that was back when we were a band of freelance assassins. Before we started smoking the weed that grows in the Rat Garden."
"We all have to reform somehow," Ariath said, glaring at Ebreth.
Tor shrugged.
"Hey, you got any of that weed left?" Asinus asked.

Character(s): Khyrisse, Ebreth and Jack
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Rat Kings: What Next?
Title of Post: Lunch Break

The Rat Pack broke for lunch in the fairgrounds, waiting for Alphred to regain consciousness. Khyrisse had really knocked him into next Tuesday. Jack was ostensibly going to consult with the rat, too, but Ebreth had drawn him aside. Khyrisse had the completely irrational nauseous thought that they were comparing notes on her. Ja, right. Jack would sooner die. Khyrisse put a hand on her cheek, still horribly embarrassed. Just then there was a
low-pitched whine from her bag. Not a bomb, she prayed. Please not a bomb. When she looked she found, to her surprise, that her compact was humming. She opened it and a miniature hologram of Eric popped up from it. Khyrisse just about jumped out of her skin. "Good afternoon, Khyri," said the hologram coolly. "The men I sent after Pieret inform me you're still fawning after men way out of your league."
Khyrisse clenched her fist behind her back. "Thank you," she said through her teeth, "I've had quite enough warnings."
"Actually, I don't really care," he said, "I'm just making small talk. You said you had a trade proposition." He made a gesture with his fingers like he was turning up a clock she couldn't see. "Give me the specs. You have three minutes."

"I want you," moaned Jack, in Khyrisse's voice, and then "Yeah, I know. Vas, can we have a dispel magic here?" in Ebreth's.
Ebreth sighed. "Well, that wasn't the best response, was it."
"You're asking me?"
"Go on."
"That was the last thing you said to her before she got mad."
"Damn." Ebreth rubbed his forehead. "Nothing jumps out at me. I guess she'll tell me eventually." He paused. "Run by me what she said after that bomb in the Rumi sewer."
"Uh..." said Jack. "Ebreth. You are proving to be quite the port in a storm."
"Ah," said Ebreth.
"How is that related?"
"It's not," he said. "I just wanted to hear her say something nice about me."
"Oh..." Jack did a hurried backscan, but he couldn't find another one, actually. "I'm sure she likes you," he finished, lamely.
"I know she likes me. I don't know why she doesn't like admitting it." He sighed and rocked up to his feet. "Oh well. Thanks, Jack."
"I'm sorry it wasn't more useful."

Character(s): Jack Paris, Dating Consultant
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Rat Kings: The Mushy Stuff
Title of Post: How To Get Chicks

"I dunno," sighed Jack, feeling uncannily like Ebreth had picked the least likely person to be able to offer good advice. "Maybe it's not you she's scared of, maybe it's her."
Ebreth blinked. "What?" he asked.
Jack wondered if he had just said something phenomenally stupid. "I, um, just thought that, ah, maybe you were looking at the wrong, uh, cause."
"With everyone going around playing 'Ebreth Tor Defamation Committee', I just figured..."
Jack smiled and bore up his courage. "Ebreth Tor, get over yourself," he said, quoting what Reena had always said to him.
Ebreth broke into a wide grin. "First intelligent thing you've said to me that didn't have math in it."
"I'm allowed one smart thing per month," Jack admitted.
"Maybe it's her," Ebreth repeated. "Damn, maybe you're right."
"Stop saying that. I'll get a swell head."
"Swelled head, Jack."
"Poop. Back to being wrong."
Ebreth headed off to offer Khyrisse a listening ear.
Val and Janice wandered over to Jack.
"What was that all about?" Val asked. "You and Tor civil again?"
"Just being a fount of wisdom," Jack grinned.
"How long have you two been going out?" Janice asked. "Major vibes here, man."
"She's good," Val admitted.

Character(s): Khyrisse, FREAKIN'
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Rat Kings: Shoot Me Now, Please?
Title of Post: Ah, Jareth, How I've Missed You... NOT!!!

Khyrisse came very close to giving Eric what he wanted. She thought frantically for a second, details of her plans for New Trade colliding in her head and not making much sense at all. Her nerves were totally shot. The paranoid bits of her brain were shrilling that he had picked this time on purpose, because he knew she was too upset to be effective. In the end, what surfaced out of the seething mess had nothing to do with Trade at all; it was something from The Art of War. The first of "the five factors from which victory can be known": One who knows when he can fight, and when he cannot fight, will be victorious.
Khyrisse blinked absently at the hologram of her ex-husband, a brief look of astonishment on her face. Why the hell should I do this the way Eric wants, anyway? I don't need him to rebuild Trade! I'll make the effort to stay neutral-- later, when it damn well suits me-- and if he spits on my offer, it's no skin off my nose, he'll be hurting his own damn country. "Keep your three minutes, Eric," she told him. Her voice wobbled a little despite her best efforts. "It'll take you about that long to read my proposal. I'll send something to you when I'm a little less busy." Khyrisse closed the compact with a snap and stuffed it back into her belt pouch. Then she climbed into the Carriage and closed the door behind her. With shaking hands, she gave in to her paranoia and cast false vision, which would prevent anyone (Eric...) from scrying her. As Ebreth so aptly described it earlier today, they'd get "static".
Khyrisse then plunked down on the floor, leaned her head on the seat cushion in front of her, and vented her overworked nerves by collapsing into hysterical tears. This was just not her day.

Character(s): Jack Paris, Warp
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Orion's Belt
Title of Post: Look Back And Wonder

Damn Odn anyway, Jack thought. If not for the flarking King of the Kings, he wouldn't be sitting here in some future time, with all the things he meant to say to Val unsaid. The things that she had told him the night before the big showdown still hung in the air, as did the promise he had made.
Now he was spying for a demigod in the realm where he wasn't quite so... deific.
Jack strolled down the corridor of the "secure" area of Orion's ship. He was certain that they knew what he was. Thus, their machines would have ways of detecting him while he wasn't in corporeal form. In fact, he hadn't the foggiest idea what they could do to him. After that business with the Collector, he wasn't so certain he was as unalterable as Robinson had told him.
What did Warp think that he could do? The ship hummed again. Corelain, another "guest" in the secure area, had told him that the hum came from the ship's engines as it maneuvered in and out of hyperspace.
Of course, Jack thought. They've got computers to handle the myriad calculations needed to maneuver in subspace. They wouldn't imagine anyone else would be able to extrapolate those equations from the time and directional cues elsewhere in the ship.
But Jack was the best damn mathematician on Ataniel, now that Robinson was gone.
He started to think, using the shortcuts he had developed in the month floating in space.

"Warp?" came the scratchy voice over the comlink.
Warp looked around and verified that no one was watching. He stepped sideways into a pocket dimension. "I'm here, Jack. What've you got for me?"
"Spacial coordinates for the Starcrusher. Will that be any help to you?"
"Loads. Lay 'em on me, Paris."
Jack rattled off the cobbled-together positional markers.
"You're kidding," Warp finally said.
"Why? What does that tell you?"
"You're heading into the Center's space. He hates visitors. If Orion's going after him, there's gonna be big trouble."
"But, uh, you'll be able to handle it and get me back now, right?"
"Keep smiling, Paris," Warp said, and shut off the comlink. He needed time to think.

"She's getting worse," the Center said.
"I know," Orion agreed.
"He'll have to kill her, you know."
"He will," Orion said. "He will."

Character(s): Knighthawke
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Interlude
Title of Post: Hey Laura... TFYR anyone?

The Mindsword still sang to him.
Knighthawke glared at it from his thin bedroll. Even embedded in the vertex of three branches on a birch tree, it still called for him. However, he had eschewed that power for a lesser one until he was worthy.
"Unless," he told it, thinking of the stupid book Warp had once read them. "Unless."
The man who was only now remembering that his true name was Paul looked at the setting sun. Tomorrow he would have to return to those he watched over. A little guidance, he thought. A little assistance. And no one would connect the name of Knighthawke to his deeds. No, this identity was pure.Purged of the taint of ego, of hubris. Purged of Tres. Purged of Trade.
But that was tomorrow.
Tonight, though, the only identity he could fend off Knighthawke with was a forgotten man named Paul.
And the Mindsword continued to sing...

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