Table of Contents
The Rat King Archives
Skeins of Fate, Part I
Rat Kings and Dead Villains
of Post:: Watching those Fingers...
"I don't trust her, Vas," Ariath
whispered. "Only villains expect people.
She's going to sit back and put her fingers together any minute
"I'm in your debt, milady,"
Ebreth bowed. He winked at Khyrisse as he rose.
"Why don't you join me at my table?" the woman asked.
"I've ordered us some food."
"Don't eat it," Ariath
"Why are you so paranoid?" Vas
"The question I always wonder is...
why isn't everyone else?"
"You live in the happy world, don't
The woman glided across the floor and sat
down at a back table. There was a plate of fruit and a rack of boar ribs
waiting for them. She sat down, leaned back, and put her fingers together in a
"I told you she was a villain!"
"You seem to know us, lady,"
Ebreth said. "But that leaves us at a disadvantage. Perhaps you'd care to
tell us your name?"
Khyrisse, Vas, Valende, Skitch
Kristin L.K. Andersen
The Rats of R.U.M.I.
of Post:: Varying Values of Allright
Valende paused on the stairs, looking back
at Khyrisse's face. She moved quietly back down the stairs, regretfully
abandoning her immediate plans for Jack.
Khyrisse looked at the broken pieces of
flute, and reminded herself that flipping out was probably not the most
effective thing she could do at the moment.
Merde. "I've always been
that paranoid," Khyrisse muttered, unclenching her fists by force of will.
Vas moved into the room behind her, glancing quickly at his sister. Valende
nodded slightly. Skitch, no dummy,
ducked quickly through the door to hide behind a table.
Oboy. Clear the detonation area.
of Post:: Interlude and Introductions
Irla was a mess. Large sections of the
Diarian holy city were buried under huge fragments of rock from the spires.
Tarrin, one of the new healing priests of Pysiri, was wandering the rubble
tending wounds both physical and mental under the Emperor's directive. Since
the Shattering, the surviving clerics of Pysiri had been acting as medics and
shrinks to the Diari populace. There was even talk of the Emperor sending out
small groups of healers into the barbarian lands. But Tarrin didn't care about
any of that.
Tarrin had spent the last three months
trying to heal the people of Irla. Normally he helped about thirty a day. Today
things where shaping up to be a busy day. So far he had healed three broken
arms, a smashed hip, performed six psychic surgeries and counseled ten people,
and it was just about noon. His next appointment was with a child in the ruined
section of the city. From what he was told, the girl saw her entire family kill
each other during the Shattering. She survived by hiding in a closet. Tarrin
knew this was going to be a difficult case.
It was slow going through the rubble. When
the largest spires fell across the city they blocked off most of the major
roads, as well as smashing large tracts of buildings. Tarrin was climbing over
one such area of rubble when he heard the high pitched screaming. Tarrin looked
around trying to find where it was coming from. What ever it was, it was in
pain and he had to help.
It only took him a few minutes to find the
screamer, or actually screamers. Tarrin was revolted by what he saw. Ten rats
were clustered together, their tails all joined in a fleshy stump. The rats
Regaining his composure, Tarrin moved to
help the rodents. No creature, even lowly rodents, deserved to die in such a
manner. Tarrin placed his hand on the quivering knot of flesh which joined the
rats and using the gift of psionics attempted to free them.
Slowly the rats started to become
untangled. It was taking a lot of work, however. Tarrin wondered who did this.
Suddenly, just as he thought he was about the free the rats, a blue flash
exploded from the rats. Tarrin was thrown back and the rats, who were free, ran
to hiding places within the rubble. Tarrin, groggy with the explosion, shook
his head to clear it.
"That was bizarre," he thought.
"Definitely one for the library."
Tarrin slowly stood up and looked around.
Then, he looked around again. He couldn't believe it. He was no longer in Irla.
He was in some dirty mud covered alley.
"Great!" he said in High Diari
as he walked out the alley, "Where in the name of Diar am I?"
He was not surprised when upon exiting the
alley he saw he was not even in Diaria any more. The street was overflowing
"This is just perfect," he
thought to himself. "I stop to help and I end up in the barbarian
"Well," he said to himself in
Low Diari, "I might as well find out where I am."
With that Tarrin walked across the street
to a fancy looking inn called "The Pudownier Arms."
Rat Kings and Dead Villains
of Post:: More About Jack Paris
Jack stood, brown and crumbly, on the
stairway. Val had suddenly turned and run after the rest of them. The smell
must have gotten to her. "I'll,
uh, just go get that bath, then," he said to no one in particular.
It was too much to figure that it was
actually a pass. It must have been that adventuring camaraderie that Gorbal
always talked about.
The room that Val had rented was small,
but comfortable. There was a cot, a bench, and a wooden vat recently filled
with warm water. Another kettle sat warming on the fireplace. Jack peeled off
his shitstained clothing and tossed them into the fire. He climbed into the
tub, closed his eyes, and
meditating. "One. One. Two. Three. Five. Eight..."
By the time he reached six hundred and
ten, he was asleep.
Robinson Paris looked at his pocket slate.
According to the note that Jack had couriered to Fasti Paris, he was accepting
a job in Lianth. Such-and-Such
Recorporations, it said. Fortunately, Lianth was one of the three cities where
Robinson's grandfather Theodorus had bothered to put a True Point.
Unfortunately, Theodorus had taken the secret of the True Point to the grave,
but Robinson had reconstructed enough to be able to use them.
He stepped onto the circular marble base
beneath the Great Pendulum, and moved through the True Point into Lianth.
He wouldn't tell Jack. He knew Jack was
still bitter that he couldn't use True Points.
Robinson strolled down the lane, through
rubble-choked streets. Jack was here in Lianth somewhere. It was just a matter
of finding him before it was too late.
Jack woke up. He was standing in the
middle of the room in the inn, dressed in his usual outfit, groomed and feeling
fresh. The water in the tub was cold. Jack looked out the window and calculated
internally that only twenty-two minutes had passed. He wondered what had
happened, as there seemed to be a great deal of chaos outside.
Cat and mouse
of Post:: Meanwhile, back in the dining room...
Ebreth had seen that look before.
"Khyrisse!" He grabbed her upper arm, and said in her ear
"You're not going to attack that woman, are you? She just asked us in and
bought us dinner!"
"She's not going to attack me,"
said the woman, with a slight smile. "I have information she wants. She
has information I want. Please. Sit down. Let's talk."
Twenty One Minutes Left Until Jack
of Post:: Ariath Eats Food
Ariath reached over and took a bite out of
a peach. She made certain that Vas noticed the juice ever so gently rolling
down her chin. She licked her lips.
Khyrisse was too distracted to scoff at her.
"How would we know if you have information you want, you
haven't even told us who you are or why you're expecting us."
"You're a mage," the woman said.
"Can't you identify me?"
Ariath shut up.
The Dead College
of Post:: The Secret Life Of Iellan Tach
Endicott didn't break his facade at all.
"I'm the only Iellan Tach there is, strumpet. My face isn't familiar? Of
course not. Do you take me for a fool? Wandering around in public as a dead
man? I'm not so idiotic as all that."
Silverlace strolled forward, step by
choreographed step, until her left leg was extended almost parallel to
Endicott's right. "Then remind me
why you were my favorite naughty priest, Iellan."
Endicott hadn't been this close to a woman
since Diana, all those years ago. The smell of Silverlace's perfume was
cloyingly feminine. No wonder straight men love her, he thought. She exudes
female sex. Still, Endicott had to keep the pretense of Iellan Tach up. "I
don't have time for this, Silver."
"You always had time before,"
"I wasn't dead before. Nor was I
trying to make a new role for myself in a society like the Dead College!"
Endicott gripped her wrist tightly. "Now away with you, woman!"
"I knew you couldn't be Tach,"
the doxy smiled. "Iellan would've been on his knees begging for my
punishment by now."
Damn, thought Endicott. I was so sure Tach
was gay. Instead, I pick an in the closet submissive.
"Who are you?" Silverlace
continued. "Tell me, and I may just keep it our little secret. I know a
lot of secrets, darling. One more won't do any bit of harm."
Kristin L.K. Andersen
The Rats of R.U.M.I.
of Post:: No, I'm Always Like This... Why Do You Ask?
Khyrisse took a deep breath and released
it as a sigh. I hate keeping my temper.
"No, I'm not going to attack
her," she finally reassured Ebreth. She walked over to the table and sat
down. Instead of choosing something to eat, however, she reached over and
picked up the broken pieces of flute lying on the table.
"Thank you for your hospitality, of
course," Khyrisse said, with a slightly angry smile, "but I find I'm
not very hungry. Trudging pointlessly through sewers seems to ruin my
appetite." Khyrisse played with
the shards of wood, briefly holding the pieces together. It certainly looks
like Flicker's flute. She took another deep breath and looked up to meet the
woman's eyes. "Mabye the first piece of information you'd like to share is
if you still answer to 'Norn'."
Cat and mouse
of Post:: Tea and oranges
"Sure," she said. She smiled a
little and poured herself some tea. "You know, you play with broken pieces
of wood much less ominously than I do."
"What's your game here, Norn,"
said Ariath, in a low and dramatic voice.
She looked at her. "What," she
said, "you think just because I sit with my fingers together, I'm going to
tell you my secrets?" Ariath looked a little disappointed. "All you
really need to know about me right now is that I'm the Fallen Valkyrie and
trying to kill me is not the best idea. So since I'm the one with the advantage
here, why don't we start with you telling me what you're doing in Rumi."
"Maybe we don't want to tell
you," huffed Ariath. "You're not going to let her talk to us this
way, are you, Vas?"
She leaned back, smiling languidly.
"Up to you," she said, and peeled her orange with her thumbnail.
"I can always ask our boy Ragnarokkr."
"Ariath", Robinson Paris
Rat Kings and Dead Villains, The Greatest Plan Ever
of Post:: Viking Women Don't Care
"Who?" Ariath asked.
"She means Flicker," Khyrisse
"I mean Eren Messala, Ragnarokkr, the
man who destroyed the forces of darkness. The man who will be the key to
restoring the Valkyrie."
"I didn't know they were
broken," Ariath said. Vas' hair was drooping, so she poofed it up.
"Now, if you care to tell me why
you've come to Rumi, perhaps we can help each other."
"Jack Paris had to follow his
rat," Ebreth Tor said. "And we seem to have followed him."
"Who is Jack Paris?" Norn
demanded. "Is he among you?"
"He's unimportant, Lady of the Chosen
Dead," Tor smiled.
"And you are, Ebreth Tor? I have
heard of you from old. Davda Stonegrey sends his regards."
"WILL SOMEONE PLEASE GET TO THE
POINT?" Ariath screamed.
Everyone looked at the small blonde mage
with the uncannily loud screech.
"I need to know what brought
Ragnarokkr to Rumi. His coming was foretold in the skeins of fate, and that
which brought him is important to me."
Ebreth Tor broke the silence. "Then I
guess you're looking for the rat."
Robinson Paris looked at the sign.
"Swank Recorporations." This was the place. The storefront was
smashed, and there seemed to be a half-eaten skeleton hanging from the ceiling.
"Jack Corfa Paris," Robinson sighed, "what in Descartes' name
have you gotten yourself into?" Robinson steeled himself, and climbed in
the window, his old bones creaking, or so he perceived. Inside, Swank
Recorporations was as messy as the rest of Lianth. Glass was shattered
everywhere, shelves torn down, books shredded... and then there were the body
parts. "What the hell kind of place is this?" Robinson asked.
"And why would they need a mathematician?"
The floor suddenly plummeted down beneath
Robinson's feet. It fell at an incredible speed for hundreds of feet. Robinson
lost his footing, and held tight to the floor. Finally it slowed, and came to a
stop in a large cavern. Strange lights dotted the walls, and the shelves were
covered with arcane machinery and books. Robinson's fear was only equaled by
his amazement. This was a laboratory of science.
"To answer your question, strange
intruder," came a strange voice from a floating chair that was turned away
from Robinson, "it is my kind of place, and I need a mathematician to
fulfill my greatest plan EVER!"
"Who... who are you?" Robinson
asked, his old heart pounding.
The being in the chair turned to face
Robinson. It was a small, wizened old man in a white coat. The figure's eyes
burned with insane fervor. "I am the Mad Doctor Swank!" he cried, and
the insane laughter echoed.
None as of yet...
of Post:: Foreshadowing: Three Old Friends
in the/a future:
Timrin Dalliar was dying.
Rip had known for a long time when it
would happen. One of the perks of being "Master of Time", he
supposed. Timrin lay in his bed, his
breathing a raspy scratching. As much time as the old wizard had spent by
himself, Rip knew that in his heart of hearts, Timrin didn't want to die alone.
"I'm here, old friend," Rip
said, kneeling next to the bed.
"Rip? I'm so glad you were one of
those who were to come."
Rip smiled. "Come on, old man. Leave
the mysterious pronouncements to me.
It's my job."
Timrin took Rip's hand. "Eren knew.
He learned it before he died."
Rip's brow furrowed. Timrin wasn't making
sense. He had expected a peaceful moment with an old friend on the verge of his
greatest life. Instead he was getting prophecy. "Be straight with me,
Timrin. Who is to come?"
"Three... old... friends..."
Timrin rasped. "And everything... will change."
"Three old friends?" Rip asked.
"Who? What will change? How come you never told me this before, damn
Timrin's eyes closed. "I'm sorry,
Rip. I... couldn't."
"But who are the other two? What does
There was the sound of a window
disintegrating and a harsh cold breeze from behind told Rip that another old
friend had appeared.
"Sssunfighter," came a chilling
voice. Rip knew that voice. It was the voice of the Fourth Lich Lord, somehow
awakened from his destruction at the hand of the demigoddess Rhynwa.
"Luthien," Timrin croaked.
"I'd like to say... it's good to see you... but it's not."
Rip was pressing the panic button.
"C.J.," he shouted, "we've got a code three!"
"Sssilence, mortal!" Luthien the
Lich Lord whispered, and all sound dissipated from the room. The control box
flew out of Rip's hand. That damn ring, Rip thought. I never should have given
it back to him.
"I knew that you would come here when
he died," the Lich Lord said over the silence. "Your friendship is
your undoing. Now I have what I need!"
The Lich Lord pressed a sequence of buttons that Rip would have thought
known only to members of his team. A portal to the Time Sphere opened, and
Luthien the Dead stepped through. The last thing Rip saw was an evil smile of
Rip was stranded.
"I didn't know," Timrin said,
his life draining before Rip's eyes. The curse was particularly harsh on this
incarnation. "I'm sorry, Rip."
"Not your fault, old friend,"
Rip said. "I didn't see it coming either."
"That's because it's not a true
future," came a voice from the hole where the window once was. "But
if the Lich Lord succeeds, it will be."
"Three old friends," sighed
Timrin, and then he died.
The fireball was small, and Rip felt
"Well," he said to the familiar
figure, "it's just you and me, then. Any ideas?"
in the present:
The Fourth Lich Lord appeared. It was
years before his own creation. Months before the integral sequence of events
that would lead to his eventual destruction. Plenty of time. Time to plot. Time
to plan. Time to kill. Luthien the Dead was patient. He would wait. And months
from now, when things reached the crisis point, he would be there. Ready.
continued, but not right now...
Kristin L.K. Andersen
The Rats of R.U.M.I.
of Post:: Oh For Crying Out Loud
A faint look of disgust and contempt
flitted across Khyrisse's face. Smoothing it away, she murmured something in
Elven, and placed the broken pieces together. Suspended between her alabaster
right hand and her black-gloved left, the shards fused. She shoved the mended
flute through her belt in an absent-minded way.
"Why haven't you asked Flicker?"
Khyrisse asked, watching Norn's face. "Not that I'm refusing to talk, you
understand," she added, with a mocking smile, "but I would think he'd
have more information than I do. Unless you need a simple answer about
something specific-- in which case we'd save time if you just asked me about
of Post:: Why did the Diari cross the road
Everyone was looking at Tarrin as soon as
he emerged from the alley. Tarrin expect some looks, after all how common were
Diari in these parts, but he didn't expect this sort of welcome. He could feel
the mistrust and fear from the crowd. A dangerous combination. Still,
undaunted, Tarrin continued on. After all it was only a few yards.
"Demon!" someone from the crowd
yelled. "It is an eastern demon here to enslave us!"
Tarrin mentally searched the crowd for the
yeller. Strange, whoever he was he seemed to have some sort of mind shield. It
was then the rock hit Tarrin's arm and soon after the crowd was upon him.
Cat and Mouse
of Post:: Norna Asks Twice
"I intend to," she said, coolly.
"I am trying to determine the truth. If your story fits with his, I have a
much better chance of finding what I need.
If it doesn't, or if you won't tell me, I will have much more to pry
from his skein. And that will be much
less pleasant for everyone." She poured tea for Ebreth, who drank it. For
the first time Ariath thought maybe it wasn't the same Ebreth Tor. "This
is the second time I have asked," she said. "Don't try to be too
clever. What has happened here?" She gestured at the recorder in
Khyrisse's belt with her chin. "You can keep that. A sign, maybe, of my
goodwill. I didn't need it anymore. Otherwise, you would never have seen it
Rat Kings and Dead Villains
of Post:: A Memoir of Deaths Foretold
"He's a Mithril Dagger Hero, I
hear," Ariath said. Tor glared at
her. "What? Everyone knows that. And he's got nice hair, but if you've
captured him, you know that already."
Vas looked hurt. "Not as
nice as yours, hunky," Ariath added, poofing Vas' bangs.
Norn was getting visibly frustrated. Her
plan to assuage Khyrisse's distrust with a forthright presentation of her
position didn't seem to be working. Still, the sorceress' knowledge of what
happened to Messala during Ragnarok was vital to her plans for the Valkyrie.
She wished Lotus was here. The slutty psionic would have ripped it from the
mage's head without a second thought. Still, she had one card yet to play.
"Tell me what you know about Messala's
role in the death of the gods," she said, smiling a thin, menacing smile,
"and in return, I will tell you the time and cause of your true death."
Tor's smile faded. Ariath gasped. Val and
Vas looked at each other nervously. All knew that this was a true power of a
Valkyrie, but that such knowledge was expressly forbidden to pass on to
mortalkind. Whatever Norn was up to, it was worth breaking her most solemn
oath. "So, Starshadow, you're the merchant. Is this a fair barter?"
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