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The Book of Ataniel

The Rat King Archives
Cat and Mouse, Part IV

Character(s):: Flicker
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Cat and mouse
Title of Post:: Pirates?

"Pirate!" yelled someone. Jack seemed to shrink back a little. Flicker blinked a few times. Pirates? In Rumi? Rumi was far too provincial to be a useful smuggling depot, and too large to be attacked by raiders. Something was very strange here...

Character(s):: Khyrisse and Skitch
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: Rat (Pirate?) Kings
Title of Post:: Rumi, Roofs, and Resemblances

Khyrisse shook her head, and stood on the driver's step to wave a hand through the roof of the Carriage. It disappeared as her hand passed through it, then reappeared again. "That's not supposed to happen...!"
Shouting came from the town square nearby, something about pirates. Khyrisse looked at Flicker, surprised. Seeing that Flicker was just as surprised as she was, she climbed up to stand on the driver's board for a better look.
Khyrisse scanned the milling crowd in the center of town. "I can't see what--"
She broke off, blinked a few times, and nearly climbed onto the roof before she remembered that it wasn't solid. Khyrisse craned her neck, trying to get a better look at someone in the crowd.
Skitch, sitting on the ground next to the cat, asked, "Whatcha looking at?"
"I just thought I saw somebody who looked familiar, that's all." Khyrisse blinked again, sitting down on the seat and shaking her head. She bent to get her pack, returning her attention to her problem with the carriage. "I can't have factored the Leomund's Hut in with the Haste, the whole thing would have reduced to zero!" she muttered, scrabbling in her backpack for a stick of charcoal.

Character(s):: Jack Paris, "Ariath"
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Other Things
Title of Post:: Two Divided By Zero

"Um, here," Jack said, handing Khyrisse a pocket slate and stylus. "I think your problem might come from an alteration in your assumed passenger constant. By replacing that--" Jack jotted an exceedingly complex-looking string of equations on the stylus in Khyrisse's hands "--with a stable factorial to mass and energy, you shouldn't have any more problems." The equations on the stylus made sense from a spell use basis, but were completely nonsensical from a mathematical one.
Ariath's head shot up upon hearing Khyrisse's pronouncement. "Who?" she asked. "Do you, uh, have friends in Rumi?"

Character(s):: Khyrisse
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Other Things
Title of Post:: Reading, Rat Kings, and Arithmetic

For Khyrisse, to whom magic WAS mathematics, and vice-versa, this mysterious string of equations was a severe puzzlement. She traced it lightly with her charcoal, absentmindedly pulling her notes out of her backpack. "That looks a little like some of the Leomund's Hut bits, after I multiplied them by the Tenser's Disc for the combined mass/living unit capacity..." Khyrisse nibbled on the end of her pencil, pushing her loose curls out of her face as she studied Jack's slate. "I'm not sure what that will do when I change the weight distribution, though. Keeping the geometric speed increase might be nice, too, but who knows what would happen to the axles. And THIS bit," as she lightly underlined a large section in parentheses, "I don't understand at all..."
Startled out of her brown study, briefly, by the blonde girl's question, Khyri looked up and shrugged. "Oh. Friends in Rumi? Not that I know of."

Character(s):: Flicker
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Cat and mouse
Title of Post:: Clarification

"I think she was asking who you saw out there," Flicker said quietly. Ariath, he noticed, had lost a little weight, and lost the ridiculous inch and a half of black dye on the ends of her long honey-blond hair. Whatever else proved to be the case, that was an improvement.

Character(s):: Jack Paris, "Ariath"
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Other Things
Title of Post:: Blast from the Past

Ariath huffed in annoyance and went back to playing with Vas' hair. "So you know her?" she asked. "Is she always this dismissive?"
Meanwhile Jack chewed on his lower lip. "That's, uh, just a factorial that adjusts to different environmental constants. You know, like if you drive through the Shadowlands or something, where things are... different."
"So you can put the top down when it's not raining."
Jack looked up at the stranger. "I suppose so..." he trailed off, happy to let the attention shift away from him.
"Nice to see you again, Khyrisse," the stranger said.
"You?" Ariath said from inside the carriage.
Jack blinked. He wondered what the big deal was, but was sure someone would tell him before too long.

Character(s):: Flicker
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Cat and Mouse
Title of Post:: Mob Rule

Flicker barely noticed the newcomer approach Khyrisse; his attention and his sharpened senses were on the town square, where there was most certainly not a raid going on. Instead a mob had gathered, shouting angrily for someone's blood. "Pirate," he heard again. "Murderer! Child-killer!" It was a few moments before he could filter out the clutter. "I'm telling you!" shouted the man frantically. "That--it wasn't me!" Two guards pushed him back from the crowd, none too gently, and Flicker was shocked to see that the crowd was entirely right, for the man was Ebreth Tor, the master slaver. There was absolutely no mistaking him. The problem was Tor had been dead for nine years. Flicker supposed someone might have resurrected him, though he couldn't imagine who. "Listen!" yelled Tor, or whoever it was. "That guy is dead. I'm someone else. And I didn't do anything wrong!"
Strangely enough, Flicker found himself increasingly inclined to believe him.

Character(s):: Vas (of the Manga-Do), Val, Skitch, and the Cat
Author:: Evan the Ferally Hungry
Storyline:: Pirates? In Rumi? The pirate's tropical!!
Title of Post:: Elves, Hairdressers, and Lynch Mobs, Oh My!

Vas leapt down from the top of the carriage, a wild and exhilarated look in his eyes. "By the gods, that was fantastic! I don't think I've ever flown that fast in my life!" He turned immediately to Khyrisse, and exclaimed, "I insist that you consider me first if you ever, EVER, need someone to drive this magnificent device. Whoof, what a ride!"
Khyrisse looked down from the coach seat, still wondering about the speed of the coach herself, and mumbled, "Sure."
Having gotten his land legs again, he turned to the ladies in the carriage, one of which was furiously playing with his hair. Not that it didn't need it, after all that wind. She was cute, as well, which was the primary reason he hadn't asked her to stop. He realized a little belatedly that she had just asked him a question, too, and he quickly answered it as he helped her to the ground.
"My apologies for seeming aloof, my lovely one. It's just that, well, I've just had a religious experience and I'm still a little overwhelmed. To answer your question, I'm not the leader here. Actually, I work for the lady on top of the coach, as does my sister. I'm flattered, though, that you mistook me for an officer of this impromptu band. Personally, I find the whole concept of command to be dull and onerous. Keeps you away from all the best parties, you know."
While her brother chattered, Val paid attention to the target of his dialogue. She had learned recently to be more wary of her traveling companions, and something about this young mage rubbed her the wrong way. She would have to keep an eye on this one.
She made sure her things were secure and easily grabbed, and moved to the carriage door to join the rest of the group. She blinked, startled, as the boy from the inn scrambled from his seat on the ground nearby and appeared at the door. Skitch looked up at her with a shy smile, hand extended to assist her out of the coach.
She smiled sweetly at him when he leapt up, and took his hand gently. "Thank you, my gallant young man. Would that every man learned their manners as quickly as you." As she touched the ground, she bent to give him a big kiss, right on the forehead. As she rose from the kiss, she heard the commotion nearby, and her adventurer's instincts kicked in.
"Quit fawning over your admirer, we have work to do," she said, as she smacked her brother in the back of the head. Passing to the front of the wagon, she drew her bow and nocked a blunted arrow. She crouched down, ready to stun anyone who threatened.
"Ow!" Vas rubbed the back of his head, then noticed the sound of the crowd. Muttering a quick spell, he peered down the avenue as he drew his own bow. He hopped back up onto the carriage's seat, bow ready, and was able to quickly identify the goings-on.
"It would appear that a lynching is in progress. There are several dozen villagers with the usual assortment of makeshift weapons, a few soldier-types, and three, no, make that four people being pelted with fruit and rocks on a scaffold. Apparently, the four are pirates of some sort; I guess the townspeople caught them napping." He pondered the scene for a moment, then turned the group. "Considering the large number of...misunderstandings over the past several weeks, don't you think it might be a good idea to step in and try to straighten things out a bit?"
The cat was nowhere to be seen. Moments later, the entire group (except, maybe, the cat) was surprised as a man familiar to only Khyrisse and, apparently, Ariath, came up to them and made himself known.

Character(s):: Khyrisse and an Old... Friend
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: Regret and Remembrance

Khyrisse studied the underlined portion intently. "That's, uh, just a factorial that adjusts to different environmental constants. You know, like if you drive through the Shadowlands or something, where things are... different," Jack explained.
Her pulse tripped over itself at the mention of the Shadowlands. This can compensate for different environmental constants? she wondered dazedly, staring down at the equations on the slate. Oh, what this might have meant for Trade... Why do I always learn things too late for them to do me any good?
"So you can put the top down when it's not raining," commented an eerily familiar voice.
"I suppose so..." Jack said, his words trailing away into silence.
"It's nice to see you again, Khyrisse," the strange voice then said.
Khyrisse finally, absentmindedly, placed the man's accent. Her pulse stopped altogether. She lifted her head and stared at the man standing in front of her, her eyes like two dark bruises in the stark white skin of her face. "Pieret...?" she murmured. The man grinned, looking hardly a day older than when she'd seen him last, over fifteen years ago. White flecked the dark hair at each temple, but his hazel eyes were still bright and mocking as they twinkled at her.
"Is that all you can say?"
Khyrisse flung herself off the coach step and into his arms. The stranger's mocking expression shifted briefly to startlement, and then vanished completely. He held her gently, murmuring quiet words in Cynystran into her pointed ear. Khyrisse untangled herself after a moment, scrubbing at her eyes. "Pieret," she stammered, "wha-- what are you doing..." Her voice came to a choking halt, and she stiffened, one hand rising to cover a faint triangular scar at the side of her throat.
"What am I doing here?" he asked, smiling as he leaned against the side of the coach.
"What are you doing ANYWHERE?" Khyrisse whispered. "Eric and Ixhriy murdered you sixteen years ago."
The noise of the crowd grew deafening as it surrounded the platform. A wildly gesturing figure standing on the platform went down, as a hurled stone struck him in the temple. Khyrisse glanced dazedly towards the town square of Rumi and saw Flicker being shoved away by an angry-looking man in uniform. "What the hell is going ON here?" Khyrisse demanded suddenly, in an almost normal tone, and reached behind her for the sword strapped across the top of her backpack.

Character(s):: Flicker
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Cat and Mouse
Title of Post:: Ebreth Tor

Flicker darted back and nearly collided with the stranger. "Excuse me," he said, and caught Khyrisse by the sleeve. "Come here and act Mithril Dagger Hero-like. There's trouble."
The archer led her deftly along the perimeter of an angry crowd. A large black man, restrained by three guards now, was shouting at them and gesturing at a fallen fellow. "They don't even look like anyone who's done anything wrong!" he yelled. "Leave them out of this!"
"Get their attention," said Flicker, in undertone. Khyrisse shot off some pyrotechnics; it sobered the crowd up right quick. The guards kind of hesitated as they recognized her. "What's going on here," said Flicker.
"We've apprehended a dangerous pirate," said the captain.
"I'm an honest merchant!" said the man. "If I was a powerful sociopath, do you think I'd be wandering around getting my butt kicked like this?"
Flicker looked at him. "This is not the man you think he is," he said.
"He said he was Tor!" shouted a heavy man in a blacksmith's apron.
"Tor is a very common surname on the Islands," said Flicker. "There has been enough misunderstanding and enough violence here for one year. Has this man done anything wrong while he's been here?"
The guards kind of looked at each other.
"Are you okay?" said the man, to the guy who'd been hit by a rock.
Khyrisse took him firmly by the arm. "Aren't you going to break up this crowd?" she said sweetly to the guards.

"If I had wanted this kind of rough and tumble mob rule," said Ebreth, "I could have stayed on the Islands."
Flicker looked at him until he looked down. "Who are you?"
"I'm Ebreth Tor," he said, "but I'm not the same one, do you understand? I'm a different Ebreth Tor. If I was the same man, would I be stupid enough to be traveling around here as myself, without any protection or anything?" He shook his head, and then he grabbed Flicker's arm. "Look," he said. "I'm doing the best I can."
The mob seemed to be dispersing. The other sailors had disappeared as surreptitiously as possible. Jack looked up from his calculations to see Flicker and Khyrisse returning with Ebreth Tor, the butcher of the high seas.

Charles Of-no-matter stood against the wall of the pawn shop as Flicker and Khyrisse moved across the town square. "That," he said, watching them, "was easier than I'd anticipated."

Character(s):: Jack Paris, "Ariath", Special Surprise Interlude
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title of Post:: Unhappy Reunions

Jack looked up into the deep blue eyes of Ebreth Tor. He tried very hard not to kill the man. "Ebreth Tor," he murmured.
"Do I know you?" Tor asked.
"Jack Paris, of the Montasi Parises," Jack said coolly. "You knew my cousin, Lita."
"I'm not the same Ebreth Tor," said Tor.
"No, I suppose you wouldn't be."

"What the hell are you doing here, Pieret?" Ariath demanded, cutting rudely in front of Khyrisse.
"Ari?" Pieret asked. "This is indeed a reunion of old friends!"
Ariath punched Pieret in the stomach. He doubled over and fell to the ground.
"Bastard," she spat. Then it was as if she suddenly remembered where she was. "I hate you!" she cried, and ran back to the carriage, wailing.

"Well, that went well," Pieret said to Khyrisse.
Jack wandered over, leaving Ebreth with Flicker.
"Jack, this is Pieret."
"Nice to meet you. Jack Paris, of the Montasi Parises. My card." He held out a card to Pieret, who took it, and in the blink of an eye, the card vanished. Only the rat's eyes were fast enough to see it slipping down his sleeve.
"Pieret Laird-Clowes," Pieret said, bowing with a flourish. "Prestidigitator and professional anarchist."
"Isn't that paradoxical?" Jack asked.
"That's why I have the prestidigitation... to juggle the two," Pieret grinned.

"Welcome to the Dead College," the man in the mask said. "Welcome to nonexistence."
"I didn't really think it was true," the man in the white, loose-fitting tunic said. "I mean, I thought it was just a myth."
"No myth. The Dead College has been as long as men have needed new lives."
"And you found me, even after my own faked death?"
"We heard tell. Your skills would serve the Dead College well, Iellan Tach."
"But my god is gone... my powers are no more."
"Your presence on the board will be more than enough. The Dead College has a place for you."
Bill Endicott felt a chill run up his spine. The stories were true. The Dead College not only existed, but was indeed looking for those thought dead. Iellan Tach might be spinning in his grave, but he made for a great disguise. After only two weeks of planting clues and rumors, they found "Iellan Tach" and brought him here, wherever here was. The man in the mask lunged forward with amazing speed. Endicott stood still. If he defended with his arts, the figure would know he wasn't Tach. The man's arm shot past Endicott and grabbed something. It was a rat. "Follow Greymalkin," the man in the mask said. "This audience is over." Endicott turned and saw the old man who had approached him yesterday, Greymalkin, standing by the door. As Endicott followed Greymalkin out, he heard a rat's screams from the chamber he just left.

Character(s):: Flicker, Ebreth Tor
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Cat and Mouse
Title of Post:: Karma

Vas hurried to comfort Ariath, who was doing her best to look wretched. "If you'd rather not be assaulted pretty much continuously," Flicker murmured, "you may want to consider disguising yourself."
"I'm a law-abiding person!" said Ebreth. "I shouldn't have to sneak around like a thief!"
"May I at least recommend an alias?" said Flicker. "Or maybe some sunglasses?"
Ariath turned and started to say something to him, and then her jaw dropped. "Behind you!" she screamed.
Flicker whirled and ducked violently; the sword thrust skimmed over his shoulder, and he grabbed his tall attacker by the upper arm as his momentum carried him past and threw him after his sword. He landed with a hard clatter. Ebreth backed away with something of a gasp. Flicker got his own blade out and to the man's throat. "Thank you," he said, breathing, "Ariath." He recognized the man then. "Charlie," he said, "in case no one's told you yet, you're not under the evil influence of Bane anymore."

"Well?" said Lilith.
Geryon paused. "We're still twelve short, Intendant."
"On a positive note, the others all seem to be back to normal."
"Well, thank the Light-Bringer for small favors. That would be just what I need right now." She pressed her forehead. "Assign a detail to see if those demon cretins took them. If they've left the lower planes forget them. Keeping order here has to be our top priority. I want every espionage unit we've got on the internal situation, and I want insubordination taken out as brutally and publicly as--"
"Intendant," said Geryon. "I know."
Lilith exhaled. "And those fucking demons are priority number two. I want no ground given to them, General, not an inch. If Lord Monas were to return, and it wouldn't be the first time, twelve missing souls are peanuts compared to holes in our borders and our hierarchy, and they are much more easily covered up, if you catch my drift."
"You don't--think they're still..."
"I still don't know what happened," she said, through her teeth, "but it won't happen again, I can promise you that. Geryon." He looked at her. "Take their names. If they've reverted as our population here seems to have, we'll be seeing them again eventually. And I intend making an example of them."
The archdevil inclined his head.
"You are dismissed."

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