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The Book of Ataniel

The Rat King Archives
Skeins of Fate, Part II

Character(s):: Khyrisse, Val, Vas, and Skitch
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: Anyone Remember the Cyclops From "Krull"?

Khyrisse glanced down at the recorder, then back to Norn with an absent-minded nod of thanks. The time and cause of my true death. Khyrisse stared into the distance, something Wyvern had told her echoing through her head. She shook her head slowly. "I don't think I want to know the time and cause of my death," Khyrisse said. She hesitated, and then continued with a reluctant, pained sort of look. "Except perhaps in a single respect, and I'm not sure you'd know. I'm not familiar with all the powers of the Valkyrie." She waved this aside. "It doesn't matter. You could give Flicker his freedom if you're of a mind to trade fairly..."
Khyrisse ordered her thoughts, and started explaining. "To my knowledge, Flicker had nothing to do with the cause of the deaths of the Gods. I met him when my avatar appeared in Lianth, at the beginning of the Madness. We were spared the effects of the Madness because we were inside the Mithril Dagger when it happened. Over the next four days, our group of friends and allies determined that Shadow and one of the Weird Sisters had formed an alliance bent on the destruction of Ataniel, and eventually we stopped them. Flicker and I witnessed the deaths of two of the gods, but that's all. All that remain of the old gods are Rip Hunter and myself, and both of us," she added wryly, lifting her bare right hand, "are mortal."
Vas blinked at Khyrisse suddenly, with a look that was equal parts surprise, fascination, and amusement. Valende turned to look at Khyrisse as well, but her expression was far more serious than her brother's. Skitch, under the table, grinned in satisfaction at the elves. Didn't know that, did you? I know all about it. *mneah!*

Character(s):: Norna
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Skeins of Fate
Title of Post:: Gods and men

It had succeeded in catching Starshadow's attention. Norn leaned forward intently as the sorceress spoke, her eye very bright. "Yes, yes," she said, impatiently, "you're mortal now. I am aware of your skein, Merchant Queen. What about Ragnarokkr? It has been prophesied. He saved the mortal realms; he must have destroyed the gods. He must have done something to lead to that. What was it?" Norn breathed. "Listen, when I knew him four years ago, he was this scrawny git of a thief who spent most of his time hiding behind Sigrid. Things have changed. And I know he has done something. I just need to know what it is."

Character(s):: Ariath
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title of Post:: Please Phrase It In The Form Of A Question, Norn

It came to Ariath with a flash of insight. Norn didn't know that Flicker was the Sunfighter. Ariath closed the origin of that knowledge off quickly with the training she had gotten from the Diari psionic... The Sunfighter curse was known to few, but Ariath was one of those few. Still, how to tell Norn without revealing too much...
"Damned if I know. I never met the man before today," Tor offered. "He seemed to recognize me, but that's happened a lot in this paranoid town."
Ariath brought one hand up to her eye, pretending to brush away a strand of hair. With her other hand, she caught the daylight on her spoon and flashed it quickly at Norn. Silver. Eyes. Get it, you Nordic bitch, she thought. "The sun's brighter today than usual," she said.
Norn looked at her curiously, and Ariath watched realization dawn.
About fucking time, Ariath thought, and redoubled her mental defenses until even she almost wasn't sure how she knew what she knew.


Character(s):: Khyrisse
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: Take Your Foot Off the Accelerator, Ariath...

Khyrisse saw the flash of light cross Norn's face, the flare of silver at the edge of her vision. She saw realization dawn on Norn's face. Khyrisse turned and caught Ariath lowering her hand from her eye with some inane comment about the weather.
Khyrisse's pupils widened in fury until her eyes seemed all black. Beautiful, Ariath. And here I've been dancing around the topic for five minutes now. If Flicker dies, you'll wish I killed you on sight.
Turning back to Norn, she sighed and said, "Some things have changed... and some things," she added, glaring briefly at Ariath, "remain the same. Flicker did NOT destroy the gods. He became the Sunfighter. There's a BIG difference."

Character(s):: Ariath
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title of Post:: Who, Little Innocent Moi?

Ariath gaped in shock. "The Sunfighter? Like Janther Moria? Wow... he's one of my heroes!"
If Khyrisse had been a goddess, Ariath's eyes would have had hilts coming out of them.
"Well, then, I think I know all I need," Norn said. "I'll get your Sunfighter back to you when I'm done with him."
Norn picked up a piece of strange alien technology that looked uncannily similar to a piece of the Death Scar, and transformed into light, then was gone.
"I hope she already paid for this," Ebreth Tor said, tearing off another rib.
Then the noise of the mob outside got really loud.
"Oh, come on," Ebreth Tor cried. "This is where I came in!"

Character(s):: Robinson Paris, special surprise Heroes
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: The Unbearable Swankness of Being
Title of Post:: Why they call him the >Mad< Doctor Swank

Robinson Paris hung by his feet from a strange metal clamp. He could feel the blood rushing to his head, and he hoped that his old heart could handle the strain of pumping it back uphill. The wizened little man was dancing around his laboratory, singing something about "I can have it all, I can dance all through the night." Weird. Robinson had recognized several of the thugs working for the Mad Doctor from the old Trade Newses. They were one-time members of a hero group called the Sewer Tour. One was a tall, bald man with a strange drawl. Another was a midget with an antic disposition. The third was a strange, pale, black-and-white woman. The three had easily taken Robinson, and now he was at Swank's mercy. "What a feeling!" Swank sang, twirling a glass lab beaker around like a dancing partner. "Dancing like I've never danced before..."
The trick floor to the building upstairs roared into life, lowering a fourth figure. "Moria, my good little minion," Swank said to the black haired man, "have you procured the genetic material I need?"
"I have, Master Swank," came a beautiful baritone voice. Robinson recognized the new person as Janther Moria, another Sewer Tourist. He had heard a tale once from Shalini Kyber about Moria, but he had thought the orator to be dead.
"Excellent. I'm so glad I was able to salvage you four from the destruction of my old lab. Too bad I lost the Luthien and the Silverhammer samples. Destroyed in that blasted fire." The mad scientist seemed to exposit a lot, Robinson noticed.
"What is it you want of me, damn it?" Robinson croaked.
Mad Doctor Swank turned towards his prisoner. "Why, I'm developing the perfect being!" he cried. "A transdimensional demideific clone of constantly expanding myriad powers!"
"I'm a mathematician... you need a geneticist," Robinson argued.
"I am a geneticist, you pedantic fool!"
"You're never going to get to the point, are you?"
"I need someone with a clear understanding of fractal series to allow for the infinite power in infinite combination factor."
"Oh, fractals are so last year," Robinson Paris chuckled.
"WHO ASKED YOU YOUR OPINION?!?" the Mad Doctor ranted. "I WILL HAVE MY BABY!"
Robinson sighed. Someone had better get him the hell out of here. Someone. Anyone.

***
In the Mithril Dagger, Kevin watched the door swing open without resistance.
"Howdy, Candi. Bambi. What're you doing in Lianth?"
"Lianth?" Candi asked.
Bambi pouted. "I knew we should've taken that left turn at Neporris."

Character(s):: Khyrisse, Vas, Valende and Skitch
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: Psychoamazon Warbitch from Hell with an Attitude

Khyrisse stood up, staring at Norn's empty chair. She didn't dare look at Ariath. If I look at her, I'll kill her. "Son of a BITCH!!!" Khyrisse shouted in Elven, slamming both small fists onto the tabletop. Plates and glasses jumped wildly, their clatter drowned out by the swelling noise of the mob outside. An eager gleam lit in Khyrisse's eyes at the sound. She spun on her heel and whisked out the door, looking for a reasonable excuse to beat the hell out of someone.
Vas glanced up at his sister on the stairs. "Looks like it's time to earn our keep," he said. Ebreth, translator of body language, noticed a definite withdrawal from Ariath's person in Vas' movements as he gathered his weapon and sped after Khyrisse. NOT getting laid, Ebreth decided with a muted grin, looking at Ariath's suddenly annoyed face.
"I'll be there in a moment," Valende called over her shoulder, running up the stairs again. "I want to warn Jack."
Jack, looking out the window at what seemed to be another mob, was surprised when Valende burst into the room. "Jack, I am sorry, but we have no time for rest," she said, glancing at the bathtub, and then the bed, with a sigh. "There is more trouble outside. The Lady Khyrisse has gone to stop it, I think; she is very angry. My brother and I must protect her." With that, Valende turned around and ran back downstairs again.
Skitch sat hidden under his table and waited, watching the people left behind.

Character(s):: Ebreth Tor, Norna
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Skeins of Fate
Title of Post:: Forgotten Histories

"Sunfighter?" said Pieret. "Who is that? That sounds vaguely familiar."
"What are you looking at me for?" said Ariath.
"What a nice lady," said Ebreth. "Don't you wish all villains would buy you dinner?" He looked out the window. "I wonder who that poor S.O.B. looks like." He headed out after Khyrisse, who seemed improbably upset for someone who had just learned that a missing friend was probably alive. He did still owe her one. And Ebreth Tor had to admit, she was a fine looking woman when she got angry.

***
She had been hoping for a simpler answer. Some little thing in his past she had neglected, overlooked. The Valkyrie were far from omniscient. Now she had Frigg only knew how many pathways to search and she was running out of time. Sunfighter. She looked at the cube of stasis on the shelf. It could have been any of them who had set the wheels to turning. Prophecies had hinged on thinner continuities. It could have been anything. And it was looking more and more like Eren Messala was the only one who could tell her.
Norna rested her face in her hands and closed her eyes. The skeins of fate. Are never straight. The skeins of fate.

Character(s):: Jack Paris, Ariath
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title of Post:: By Hook Or By Crook

"Don't think you'll be getting away that easy, handsome," Ariath said under her breath with an unusual tone of menace. Fortunately, Ebreth Tor was the only one who caught it, and he decided very quickly that he was not going to get involved. Outside, the crowd had gathered around a Diarian. Stranger yet, a Diarian priest by the look of him.
"Get the outlander!" cried one townsperson.
"Burn him!" shouted another.
"Damn Diarians!"
"Something ought to be done."
Jack Paris stepped out from the door of the inn, immaculate. "Boy, friendly town the rat took us to."
The rat, he thought. I forgot all about the rat!
He looked in his bag, and the rat was gone. "Oh, crap in a bucket," he breathed. "Stuck in Rumi without my rat."
The townspeople had slung a noose over a nearby tree, and were quickly surrounding the Diarian. Jack did the math. "Hey!" he shouted to his comrades. "I think they're going to hang that guy!"
Vas raised his eyebrow at Valende. She shrugged. "I like 'em smart and clueless," she smiled.

***
Beliath took a face out of the Cabinet of Lives.
"This one should do," he said. "Grayson Mer, freelance planeblazer."
The leader of the Dead College's form shifted into that of a tall, lithe woman with long brown hair.
In minutes, he was in Rumi.

***
Lilith rechecked the entrails of the sacrifice. The stupid worshippers had sacrificed a dying man, so the entrails were almost useless. Still, one thing was clear.
"Geryon," she shouted. "I've found one. I don't know which one, mind you, stupid cultists, but I've got a location."
"I'm packed," Geryon muttered. "You shout, I jump how high. Something like that."
"Rumi," Lilith said. "Get thee to Rumi."

Character(s):: Ebreth Tor
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: There are mobs and then there are mobs

Ebreth Tor frowned and his eyes grew narrow. He might not have noticed it if he hadn't been acquainted with a spontaneous mob just that morning, but a spontaneous mob this was not. The crowd was milling about but not driving forward. The two men holding the Diarian and the one with the rope had staged it. Ebreth guessed that the guy weaving through the crowd and ranting was a plant. That was when he noticed the hoof. "HEY!" he shouted. "That one's a devil! Look at his feet! These guys are priests of Lucifer!"
"Pieret?" said Ariath, sweetly.
"Why are you looking at me?"


Character(s):: Tarrin and a cast of thousands
Author:: Jeff Hersh
Storyline:: Mind Games
Title of Post:: Nice day for a lynching

The mob surprised Tarrin. Before he could react they had knocked him unconscious. When he awoke he was a bit surprised to find himself surrounded by a crowd of screaming barbarians, with a rope around his neck, sitting on a horse.
"Oh, this is great," he thought. "Well, I guess I have to do something."
Tarrin quickly ran through a list of things he could do to escape from this predicament. The crowd was too large for him to affect psionically, and he was sure if he weakened the rope that would just enrage the crowd. That left him only one option. He would levitate himself just enough to make it look like they hung him when in fact he would be safe. Tarrin drew power from himself and willed himself to float just as the horse bolted from under him.
The crowd cheered with murderous rage as Tarrin hung from the tree. Just then a rank mist materialized around the hanging body of Tarrin. The crowd grew suddenly silent as the mist flowed from around Tarrin and through the crowd. As it passed, people either started retching or fled screaming in terror.
"I don't like this," said Ariath.
The mist moved one way then another. It looked as if it was hunting for something. Then it rushed forward with blinding speed and surrounded Ebreth Tor and Val. Tor screamed from within the mist as sounds of ripping flesh echoed down the street. Then, just as suddenly as the mist appeared, it was gone. Tor, while looking unharmed, was lying unconscious on the ground, and Val, white as a sheet was beside him.
Val looked up at Khyrisse. "It was that thing from the sewers. It... it said I was next."
The mob had all but disappeared by the time the mist vanished. Tarrin, sensing he was safe, tried to will the rope to weaken. However, it wouldn't obey. "That is strange," he thought. "A psionically resistant rope." Tarrin then heard the sound of chewing from above him. He opened his eyes and looked up. A rat without a tail was gnawing through the rope. From the look of it the rodent was doing a quick job, as well. Soon the rope broke free and Tarrin lowered himself to the ground.
"Thank you," he said to the rat.
Tarrin then walked over to where the unconscious human was. He could tell he was hurt and needed some help. "Excuse me," he said to the people around him in Diari. He then placed his hand on Ebreth's head and concentrated. After a moment, Ebreth opened his eyes and began to scream.

Character(s):: Jack Paris
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title of Post:: The Beartrap Mind of Jack Paris

"You know, every time I think I know what's going on, things get really weird," Jack murmured. Val seemed somehow affected by the mist, so he knelt by her and put a calming hand on her shoulder. "Okay, I know that was bad, but how many fingers am I holding up?" Val looked at him like he had a cat on his head. "Um, better yet, are you okay? I've got some mints in my satchel, unless the rat ate them."
Pieret, muttering something about priests of Lucifer having hooved feet being a stupid urban legend, had grabbed the ranting man. "What do you mean to do, inciting this crowd?"
"Law for the people!" the man yelled.
"Damn, I can't argue with that," Pieret sighed.
"I can," said Ariath, and she conked the guy on the head.
The rope holding the Diarian broke. "There's my rat!" Jack shouted.
Ebreth Tor had gathered enough of his senses to whisper, "Ah, yes, and we'd have been lost otherwise."

***
Geryon watched from the window of a nearby inn. Idiots, he thought. Priests of Lucifer don't have hooved feet. Stupidest thing I ever heard... it's the small horn-like phrenology bumps that gives them away.


Character(s):: Khyrisse, Vas and Valende
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: It's a Damned Poor Culture That Can Only Think of One Way to Pronounce a Word

Khyrisse pushed her way through the scattering crowd to where the Diari was standing over Ebreth. There was no way they were going to catch the instigators in THIS chaos. Devils, Priests of Lucifer, your common or garden Raving Lunatic-- didn't matter. She tossed an emotion spell at those people who looked like they'd rather stick around and murder themselves a ferriner. With the added impetus of fear, the square emptied rapidly. Khyrisse then dropped down next to the badly shaken Ebreth. Picking up his dark hand in her alabaster one, she held it and sent him an encouraging smile. She glanced at the stranger and asked, in Elven-accented High Diari, "Pardon me, sir, but this gentleman is my colleague. What has happened here?" She then sighed internally, expecting the customary snotty insult about her atrocious pronunciation.
Valende blinked at Jack; then down at her sword, as if she suddenly didn't know what it was anymore. "I never touched it," she whispered, meeting Jack's eyes again. Her own eyes grew bright with tears, but none fell. "I never touched it. It flew right through my attack and..." Helplessly, she gestured to the prone figure of Ebreth, behind her. Vas came over and put a gentle hand on his sister's arm. "Are you all right, Valende?" he asked quietly. She nodded and flashed him a wavering smile. Valende sheathed her glowing sword with trembling hands and wrapped her arms around herself. "The creature said I was next," she said to Jack, trying for a calm tone. "I am next for what? And what does that... thing... have to do with your rat?"

Character(s):: Ebreth Tor, Geryon the Hunter, Beliath
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Cat and mouse
Title of Post:: Reaping what is sown

Ebreth Tor had to hand it to himself. His attempt to divert the crowd's attention had not gone exactly according to plan, but damn, had it worked. He would have to remember "fall prey to a hideous undead creature" as a sure-fire way to clear out future crowds. Ebreth smiled weakly up at Khyrisse. He couldn't believe this didn't even qualify as one of the worst days of his life.

***
Geryon finished his coffee and sprinkled his tip on the table.

***
"Unless I miss my mark," said Ebreth, "that wasn't a lynch mob. Those guys were assassins deliberately after him."
"You're the resident expert on assassins," said Jack, happily reunited with his rat.

***
Beliath watched from across the street. The appearance of the Collector had given him pause, but he could see now it had only wanted to mark him. Surely the King of Kings would have no objection; Ebreth Tor could mean nothing to him, and very much indeed to Beliath. The dean of the Dead College started purposefully across the cobbles. Just then, a heavy hand fell on his shoulder. When he turned two golden eyes, vertically slit like a cat's, looked down at him. "Grayson Mer," said Geryon. "We've missed you."
There was a burst of flame and a certain smell of sulfur.

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