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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Rat King Archives
The Darknesses Love Can Transform, Part V


Character(s): Lilith and Geryon
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Like A Bat Out Of Hell
Title of Post: Lilith Quests

"Your command, Mephisto." Lilith threw the cloak of the Aether about her shoulder. "I will be back when I have avenged the Lightbringer."
"Good hunting, Intendant."
She very nearly bumped into Geryon on her way out. "Intendant," he said. "I've been looking for you."
"See Mephisto, General. I am off-duty."
He grabbed her arm as she went by. She turned on him with a dark fury. "How dare you--"
"You just said you were off-duty," he pointed out.
"Hmm. So I did." She frowned, and shook the huntdevil off. "What is it?"
"We got one."
"Good. See that an example is made."
"Lilith."
"Now what?"
"One of the others turned him in. She had a Get Out Of Hell Free contract. She betrays one of her colleagues to us, we have to leave her alone."
"Fuck," muttered Lilith. She hated Get Out Of Hell Free contracts.
"I'm having Talia go over the fine print, but it looks legit."
"That puts us out fifteen, right? One of them off-limits. Forget about her. The nice thing about Get Out Of Hell Free contracts: if you're willing to fulfill them, you're probably coming back here on your own. Get the other fifteen."
"Right-o," said the Hunter. "Have fun on Ansalia."

Character(s): Khyrisse, Skitch, Vas, and Valende
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: The Female of the Species
Title of Post: Do Not Pass Go, Go Directly To Chaotic Evil

Sense returned to the staring eyes as Valende's magics restored Khyrisse to some semblance of health. Khyrisse sat up slowly, and said nothing.
"Are you--" Valende said, and fell silent at the look on Khyrisse's face. Vas stood horrified behind his sister. "Ariath did this?" he whispered.
"Yes!" Skitch shouted at him. "Yes, yes, YES! And she sent Ebreth to HELL!"
Vas winced at every word.
"That's enough, Skitch." Khyrisse's cold voice cut down the impending argument. She got up painfully and stood swaying in the street for a moment. Skitch looked up at her and went from white to a sickly green. "Sorry," he whispered. She patted his shoulder mechanically as she passed him, heading back up the street.
"Get everyone together," she said quietly over her shoulder as she left. "The Carriage leaves in half an hour. Anyone who doesn't want to go to Hell will stay behind."
"Val?" Jack's voice echoed from the headset, startling the three people standing in the empty street. "Val, was-- was that Khyrisse?"
"Yes," she whispered.
"Um-- is she all right?"
Skitch clapped his hands over his mouth, making an odd choking noise, and ran after Khyrisse.


Character(s): What's Left Of The Rat Pack
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Like A Bat Out Of Hell
Title of Post: Fallout

The darknesses love can transform. Khyrisse pounded the side of the Trade Carriage with her hand. "Dammit, Flicker, why didn't you TELL ME!"
"He did," said Vas. He looked very pale. "He said you shouldn't trust Ariath to get you drunk, so why-- well anyway, that's what he said."
"You see what happens!" Val screamed at him.
"Valende, please don't shout at me." He looked like he almost might cry.
"Uh, Val?" said Jack's staticky voice. "What happened?"
"At least you're okay," said Skitch, his eyes brimming, and put both his arms around Khyrisse. "At least, no matter what else happens, there'll always be us."
"If you turn me into a pit fiend, I'll hunt her down and kill her," bargained Fred.

Character(s): Lilith, Geryon
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Like A Bat Out Of Hell
Title of Post: Unfortunately For Lilith, Robinson Wasn't Evil

"Uh, Lilith?"
"What now?"
"Don't you mean fourteen?" She looked at him. "Fifteen minus one is fourteen."
"Just do it, General!"

Character(s): The Brat Pack
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Like a Bat Out of Hell
Title of Post: Taking a Time Out

Khyrisse gritted her teeth and did what was probably the hardest thing she'd ever done in her life.
She made herself calm down.
Shortly after this, an emotion spell went off inside the Carriage, and a rather sheepish silence fell. Khyrisse took a deep breath, and concentrated on staying calm and projecting it. Maybe once everyone got the adrenaline from the day's events out of their systems, they could talk about what they were going to do next rationally.
Because if she talked about it now, she was really--
No. Seethe later.

Character(s): Ebreth in Hell
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Like A Bat Out Of Hell
Title of Post: A Last Burst Of Salience

"Hey, Ebreth," rasped Pieret. "Good to see you again, man. How's Khyrisse?"
"I--I don't know." Ebreth pressed his hand to his heart. "Your ex tried to kill her."
"What a bitch." Pieret tried to smile. "You're in deep shit now, Tor. The good news is you're not in as deep as me. I let five people out, and you only let four. The bad news is, Lilith can't count." Pieret laughed up some blood.
Ebreth closed his eyes. "Pieret," he said, "you were--a priest of Lucifer, weren't you?"
"If I could get us out of here," he said, "no offense, I'd already be gone."
"It's too late for that," said Ebreth. "I just want to know this one thing. Devils--like people to be evil, don't they?"
"Your point?"
"But they torture evil people in Hell. What do they do that for? If they want people to be evil, why don't they buy us all a beer or something?"
"Kickbacks," said Pieret. "The good gods give 'em kickbacks."
"Kickbacks?" said Ebreth.
"Sure. Why do you think the restrooms are so much nicer here than in the Abyss?" Pieret shrugged as best he could. "There's no shortage of evil people anyway."
"Ebreth Tor," said Geryon, closing the door behind him. "Welcome back."
Ebreth felt a singular chill in his heart.

Character(s): Khyrisse and her House
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Like a Bat Out of Hell
Title of Post: Roll Call

Khyrisse got them all out of the Carriage and into the Mansion off at the edge of town. She made sure that the Carriage was collapsed and on her person before entering. Sennett looked a little alarmed when she walked in the door. She briefly wondered what was bugging him, but dismissed it. "Sennett, no visitors. Please see that everyone's comfortable while I have an in-House meeting, would you?" She put a hand on Skitch's shoulder and steered him towards her office on the second floor.
Khyrisse realized that she was avoiding the library. She drove the thought out of her head before it had time to settle in and make her start screaming.
"Val? Vas? I'd like to see you upstairs, please," she said calmly. "Excuse us, everyone, we'll try to make this brief."

***
"Are we a House?" Skitch asked hesitantly.
Khyrisse poured herself a brandy from the bottle on her desk. "You and I are, certainly. Everyone else here can be part of it if they want to."
She poured a brandy for Vas as well and took it to him. "No, thank you," Vas murmured, fingertips to his temples. Khyrisse shoved it at him again. "Vas, take it, you've had a shock. It's a goddamn inch of alcohol." Vas sighed. He took the glass with a shaking hand, and tossed it back without any of his usual graceful gestures.
Khyrisse sat down on her desk and looked at her bodyguards soberly. She ran a nervous hand through her hair, and it came away covered in smears of clotting reddish mud. Khyrisse suddenly understood what Sennett had been staring at, but didn't care enough to do anything about it. "Are you two still willing to stay with me? I'll understand if you aren't."
Valende made an immediate gesture, rejecting the idea of leaving. Vas sighed again and looked at her. His sister looked back, surprised and worried by the expression on his face. "Vas? Please," she whispered.
"It would mean a lot to me if you'd stay, Vas," Khyrisse said, staring down at her muddied hands. "I'm probably going to need all the help I can get. Nearly everyone I trust in the world at the moment is in this room."
"Yes, I'll stay," he promised, and rested his head on the back of his chair. "Val?"
His sister looked at him sadly.
"That promise I made... a while back?" he murmured, eyes closed. "It will stand now."
"All right," she whispered back. Her hand rose of its own volition to touch the headset. Valende laughed shakily a moment later. "Khyrisse... you do remember..."
Khyrisse nodded and smiled at her. The expression was a gentle one, but rather bleak around the eyes. "No, I know Jack is with us. My paranoia is cranked enough for that, believe me. I trust Jack, and I-- I didn't think he'd want to be separated from you. If he doesn't want to go with us, I can hardly blame him. The real trouble right now is, we've got several other people with us, downstairs, that I don't trust. If I don't trust them, I'm not taking them any further. Certainly not to Hell, and that's where Skitch and I are going."


Character(s): Fred, Alph, Janice, and Asinus
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Like A Bat Out Of Hell
Title of Post: The Untrusted

"In-house meeting," said Khyrisse, glaring Fred back down the stairs.
Fred harrumphed. "You know," he said, "I've been to the lower planes, lady. If I was a pit fiend, I might be able to help you."
"We'll discuss it later."
"I'd go to Hell for a night with you, sweetie," consoled Asinus.
"I will talk this serious situation over with the azalea," said Alphred, grimly, and made for the arboretum.
"Like, do you have any weed?" Janice asked the butler.

Character(s): The Rat
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Like A Bat Out Of Hell
Title of Post: Forgotten Member Of The House Of Khyrisse

"Thank you!" shrilled the tailless rat, from the pocket of Val's vest.

Character(s): Ariath, Marhault, Omeria, Hotspur, K'mar, and Bloodscar
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Like Bats Out Of Hell
Title of Post: BFYR

"I thought you were a good mage now," said Hotspur, around a mouthful of Combos.
"I am," said Ariath. "Watch!" She magic missiled Marhault in the butt. He yelped.
"Oh yeah?" said Omeria. "Well, I'M a thief. Look at me!" She crossed her eyes and walked erratically, making dopey noises.
"I'm Trillarillia!" Bloodscar stuck his fingers up his nostrils.
When the group finally stopped weeping with laughter, K'mar said "So what are we going to do now?"
"I don't know. We could save the world."
"Let's get ice cream."
"I like ice cream."
"Liar."
"Bitch."
"Hey, Hotspur. Get us some clean glasses."

Character(s): Jack Paris, Asinus Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Like A Bat Out Of Hell

Jack was just starting to get the hang of this earphone thing, when Val hit some sort of switch. Suddenly the volume went up, and he could hear what people were saying.
"KHYRISSE... YOU DO REMEMBER..." Val boomed suddenly.
"Ow!" Jack cried. "Um, can we adjust that last switch again?"
Khyrisse outlined her plan. Jack listened attentively. There wasn't much else he could do. It occurred to him that he should have asked Warp to take them to Hell.
"I don't quite know what to expect when we get there... there seems to be a bit of... well, disorganization, if all that Goat-boy told us back in Rumi is true," Khyrisse said. "But I'm not going to let Ebreth sit there for me."
"And Cori," Jack murmured to Val. "Don't forget Cori. I mean, I've only wanted to go to Hell for days now..."

"Don't be snippy, Jack," Val whispered.
"Sorry. I'm a little stir crazy in here."
"The problem," Vas said sullenly, "is that we don't know how to get there."
Then Jack remembered.
"Hey, Val... the Rat stole something written in Luciferian out of Pieret's possible bag before he was killed... maybe there's something there that we can use."
"Jack says that there's something of Pieret's in his pack that might help," Valende offered.
"Thank you!" the Rat said.
"Now the question is," Khyrisse continued her thought, "what do we do with the others?"

***
Downstairs, Asinus puffed away at his stogie. "Did I ever tell you about the time I cuckolded the prince of Kyoko-Ra?"
"Man, you're right," Janice said. "This blue fur you've got really does give a buzz!"
"Stolen from a wandering Zerthimaniac back in Javin. Did I ever tell you about the time I saved Tollial Seeford from Edyric the Archer?"

Character(s): Khyrisse
Author: Laura Redish (based on e-mail from Kris)
Storyline: Like A Bat Out Of Hell
Title of Post: Not The Best Week Of Khyrisse's Life

Khyrisse had a problem.
She really wanted to do nothing more than curl up and cry for a good half hour or so. She felt like the shittiest leader on Ataniel: so far she'd let two party members, both of whom had been known risks, betray them; lost four others; and disembodied a seventh. She'd lost five if you counted Skitch, who could easily have been killed or worse, and suffered three betrayals if you counted Lucas, who she was going to give to Wyvern as a present if he taunted her one more time, so help her Grendel. She'd also been backstabbed twice and used as a pawn to send Ebreth to Hell.
And she was ready to choke from keeping the tears in, but Skitch had apparently decided that if he stayed within two feet of her at all times, either nothing would carry him off to Hell or nobody would backstab her, probably both. And Skitch was having enough problems without the only stable thing he'd ever had in his life breaking down in front of him.
Then maybe this is your chance to start over.
Fuck.
Improbably, Khyrisse found herself missing the steady, cranky, maternal competence of Rhynwa.
"Jack?" she said, forcing her voice to be temperate. "What is the story with your uncle? Why is he following us, can he help us, and should I trust him?"

Character(s): Jack Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Hell In A Handbasket: Prologue
Title of Post: Paris Family Values

"Uncle Asinus?" Jack said, with Valende relating his words. "It depends, uh, on what you want to trust him for, I guess..."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Khyrisse sighed.
"Well, he's never going to betray another Paris, or my friends, so he's safe that way. But, uh, I wouldn't leave my daughter in a locked room with him. I mean, if I had a daughter, I guess. Which I don't."
"Jack, dear, you're digressing," Valende reminded him.
"Anyway, as to why he's here... well, he wants me to help the family out with an old problem... but since I was busy at the time, he sort of tagged along. Now I guess I'm not in any state to help him."

"Would he be trustworthy to come along to Hell with us?" Khyrisse asked point blank.
"Of course," Jack said. "He's a Paris."
"Trustworthy family. It must be nice..." Khyrisse sighed.

Character(s): Jack and Valende
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Flash-Forward: After The In-House Meeting
Title of Post: Phone Sex Is About To Be Invented

"So then Warp brought us back in time to help you guys," he finished, "and here I am."
"Jack!" said Valende. "You saved the universe!"
"Uh, really Warp saved the universe."
"But it was your idea!" She made a little sigh. "Jack, I'm so glad you're mathematical. If you were human, that alien would have KILLED you, and then... I don't want to think about that."
"Poor Khyrisse," said Jack.
"Poor Vas." Val paused. "But we're here, Jack, and we're together. That's the important part. Besides. This is making it easier to keep my vow."
"I don't think that vow is good for you, Valende."
"We can discuss that when you get a body," she murmured. "Maybe your father had some notes or something. If you knew what he did, I bet you could do it again. You're so clever."
"My father's notes," repeated Jack. "Val, that's a great idea."
She smiled. "Jack?" She twirled the cord of the headset around her finger. "If you make yourself a body? Can you--make the same one?"

Character(s): Val, Jack, Asinus, Janice, Fred
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: Like A Bat Out Of Hell
Title of Post: Pair Up Or Go To Hell, Epilogue

Valende went downstairs with Jack, looking for his uncle. They didn't have to go far.
The crusty old donkey came clomping into the hallway from the kitchen, grumbling around a fresh cigar. Obviously he'd found Khyrisse's storeroom. "Um... maybe you'd better hand me off to Uncle Asinus, Val..." Jack said. "I don't want you to have to relay all of this..."
"I quite agree with you," she murmured back, then took off the headset and set it on a nearby table. "Jack needs to speak to you, Mr. Paris."
"Uncle Asinus?" came Jack's voice from the little speaker.
Asinus trotted over crankily. "Your little floozy can go and break up the kids in the parlor, if she's lookin' for something to do," he said near the microphone.
"Kids?" Valende said blankly.
"Boy, you don't pick 'em for brains, do you, Jack? Yeah, kids! The stoner girl and the one who wants to be a pit fiend! They're going at it on the parlor rug. Unless you wanna clean up some nasty stains, I'd break 'em up!" Valende turned and bolted for the parlor. Asinus stared after her, admiring the view. "Yeah, well, I suppose brains ain't the important part. Your bimbette jiggles in all the right places, I admit. Got no manners, though. Chickie-baby, now-- if you wanted a pointy-eared piece of--"
"UNCLE ASINUS!" Jack said as loudly as he could from the headset. Asinus snorted. Jack changed the subject. "What-- what happened with Janice and Fred?"
"I gave her some of that blue fur stuff... she gets all worked up, predictably enough... and whose tail does she go after? The pit fiend wanna-be!"
The sound of a uniquely Jack sort of sigh echoed from the little speaker.


***
"Oh, like, that's cool," Janice said, smiling up at Valende. Fred was sulking on the couch, and wouldn't speak to Valende. Considering the point at which Valende had burst into the room, she could hardly blame him. "I'm gonna be helping Fred find his place in the grand scheme of things, you know? Everything just sorta clicked for us. So we'll be taking off in the morning anyway."
"His place in the--"
"I'm supposed to be a pit fiend," groused Fred, arms folded.
"You're going to be sleeping with a pit fiend, then, you know," Valende pointed out to Janice helplessly, unable to stop herself.
"Yeah, well, you know. Can't be worse than some of the boyfriends I've had."
"Do you know how long a pit fiend's tongue is?" Fred demanded belligerently.
Valende covered her eyes. "I really didn't need to know that..."

Character(s): Jack and Valende
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Ditty Bout Jack And Valende
Title of Post: Sweet Nothings

"Jack?" said Valende. "Guess what I'm wearing."
"Uh..." he said. "Are you wearing that green tunic?"
"No."
"Are you wearing your new bathing suit?"
"No."
"Are you wearing... uh... I give up, what are you wearing?"
"An alien headset."

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