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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Rat King Archives
Skeins of Fate, Part III

Character(s):: Tarrin, Khyrisse
Author:: Jeff Hersh
Storyline:: Mind Games
Title of Post:: Line of Communication

"Pardon me, sir, but this gentleman is my colleague. What has happened here?"
Tarrin looked with surprise at the elven woman. She spoke High Diari! Strange, if anything he would have expected a barbarian to speak the low tongue and not the high one. True, she spoke with a thick elven accent and much of the subtleties of the language were blurred by her speech, but she did actually do a good job.
"Thank you for your help," he said to Khyrisse in High Diari. "I really do not know what happened. I suddenly appeared in that alley over there and before I knew it the mob was upon me."
Khyrisse nodded.
"Ummm, pardon me for being forward, but how did you learn High Diari? While your accent is hard to understand, it is very good for a foreigner."

Character(s):: The Rat
Author:: Jeff Hersh
Storyline:: What the Rat Saw
Title of Post:: Rat in the tree

The rat didn't remember how he got up into the tree. The last thing he recalled was curling up to sleep in the satchel. The first thing he noticed was the large amount of people all around. They looked very angry for some reason. Then he noticed the man hanging from the rope. Something was strange about the man. For one, he wasn't panicking. In fact he was strangely calm. Also even though he was hanging from a rope the rat could see there was no tension in it. Very strange. This definitely needed some investigation. The rat started to chew on the rope.

***
After he finished with the rope and freed the strange man the rat stopped to groom himself. The man looked up at him and he heard the words "Thank you." in his mind. Very odd, especially since he never knew what words meant before.
The man then walked over a smaller crowd of humans and went to do human things. The rat sniffed. He smelled his satchel near and the human that carried it. The rat climbed down for the tree and ran straight for Jack and his satchel.

Character(s):: Jack Paris, Ariath, Beliath
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title of Post:: The Reason For Being Rumi

Jack closed the satchel loosely, to allow the rat free passage. He wanted to be more comforting to Valende, but he neither knew what to say nor what the creature's dire warning meant. "Um, do you want something to eat?" he finally managed.
"All right, you," Ariath said, her knee on the riot inciter's larynx. "Why were you trying to kill twelve-finger over there?"
"Good shot, kid," Pieret mumbled.
Ariath looked up. "Huh? Oh, lucky shot! But I think I broke my nail... I wish I knew mend..."
Schizophrenic? Ebreth Tor wondered. Nah, she knows what she's doing.
"So, I wonder if this guy is why the rat brought us here," Jack said.
"Maybe I'm why the rat brought you here," Tor added. Jack ignored him. He approached the Diarian. "Hi there. Jack Paris, freelance mathematician. My card." Jack hoped he wasn't running out of business cards. He didn't relish waiting for another mail order.



***
Geryon stoked up the Pain Dolls. Grayson Mer hung before him in a classic Tremble position, held by the silver clamps. "So, Mer, you thought you could get away from us, huh?"
"You foolish idiot, you know not what you have done!"
"Do too," Geryon quipped.
"I call for an audience with your master under the rights of the Teind."
"You don't look faerie to me," Geryon said, squinting his cateyes at the planeblazer.
"Care to chance it?"
"Fuck," Geryon muttered. "Lilith hates it when I interrupt her while feedmating."
The large huntdevil stomped away. The Pain Dolls moved in, towards Grayson Mer, aka Beliath of the Dead College.

Character(s):: Valende and Skitch
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: Sweetness and Light (Fingers)

Valende's face relaxed into the first genuine smile of the last fifteen minutes. "I don't think my stomach would take well to food at the moment," she said, laughing quietly, "but thank you for thinking of it. Dear Jack." She leaned over and kissed his cheek.
Jack wandered off, looking as if her action hadn't quite sunk in yet, and handed a card to the Diari speaking to the Lady. She gathered her shaken wits and joined them. Her brother trailed along behind her, chuckling at some private joke.
"Yow!" Skitch said, watching Ariath take out their suspect. He met Pieret's eyes over her head, and the two exchanged a sort of silent whistle, an expression familiar to all men in the presence of a psychotic woman. "I'm not setting her off by saying so, mind you, but she's seriously mental..."
Skitch then eyed Ariath kneeling on the stranger's throat and went to get Khyrisse.

Character(s):: Khyrisse
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: I Didn't Know It Was Impossible When I Did It

Khyrisse smiled at the stranger with a strange twinkle in her eye. Flicker would have recognized it. "I traded with one of the merchant houses of Driania for many years. I managed to teach myself High Diari over time, that being the language most of your trade agreements and books of learning are written in. This may explain my pronunciation difficulties." She gestured to Ebreth. "My colleague was attacked here earlier today. I think they simply dislike strangers here in Rumi, although we have reason to suspect that something strange is also going on. You say you appeared in an alley?"
At this point, Jack approached and introduced himself to the stranger. Khyrisse translated for him, not sure if the newcomer spoke anything but Diari. "This is another of my colleagues, Jack Paris, a scholar of mathematics. My name is Khyrisse Starshadow."

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

The Diarian tongue had a pleasant mathematical structure, so even though the words were unfamiliar to Jack, he could extrapolate a contextual structure. Khyrisse seemed to be asking something about where the Easterner came from. Jack figured that she had things well in hand, so he wandered over to where the party had gathered around Ariath. "You're crazy!" the man on the ground shouted. "I didn't do anything! Let me go!"
"Those aren't his real feet," Jack mentioned.
"What?"
"They can't be. The angle they impact the ground would put too much stress on the ankles to support the weight of a man. Besides, the impact value of the hooves would make for a highly imbalanced stride. I bet they're illusionary."
"Too bad Shilree isn't here," Ariath muttered.

Character(s):: The usual folks....
Author:: Jeff Hersh
Storyline:: Mind Games
Title of Post:: The Prophecy

"I see," Tarrin said to Khyrisse. "Well, that explains it, then."
Tarrin knew this was going to be bothersome. Only one person seemed to know Diari here and she came close to murdering the language. He reached out and put his palm on Khyrisse's cheek.
"What!" Khyrisse yelled, but then fell silent as a feeling of warmth over came her.
Vas looked up, and was about to move to help the merchant when Tarrin lowered his hand.
"Sorry about that," he said in Dalen with an accent identical to Khyrisse's. "But going through a translator, ummm... loses? Yes, loses meaning."
"You could have warned me," Khyrisse said furiously.
"Sorry," Tarrin said, as he looked over to Ebreth. "Excuse me, let me help," he said as he kneeled next to him. "Don't worry, I'm a... ummm... veterinarian... No, umm... healer!"
Jack gave Khyrisse a confused look. She just shrugged.
Tarrin placed his hand on Ebreth's chest and concentrated. A warm yellow glow emanated from his hand and flowed into Ebreth. Suddenly, a bright blue sigil appeared on Ebreth's face. At the same time, the rat ran out of Jack's satchel and fell to the ground writhing in pain. It had an identical mark on its chest. A moment later Skitch, who had just walked out of the inn, fell to the floor in agony. He tore his shirt near his shoulder. The same blue mark was there.
Tarrin tried to pull his hand away but he couldn't. He felt his mind was on fire.
"Get him off of him!" yelled Vas.
"I am trying! He can't move!" answered Val.
A mental wave erupted from Tarrin throwing everyone to the ground.
He was floating high above Ataniel, and could see the entire world from the islands in the east to the snow fields of the north. Clouds of all shapes and sizes rushed by, but he wasn't falling. Looking up he saw the three moons, two whole, one a permanent crescent. He turned back to face the ground, and the sound of tearing filled the world. To the west, a six-fingered hand made of darkness ripped up through the earth. It reached for the sky and then fell down, digging its claws into the ground, corrupting it. Then, from the north, another hand, this one made of lightning and with only five fingers, did the same thing. As it fell the land beneath it turned to ash. Then, from the south, another six-fingered hand appeared. It was made of brackish water and seaweed. It reared above the waves, and then dove beneath them, turning the ocean to a tar-like slime. From the east, another hand appeared. This one was five-fingered, and was made of blood and viscera. It reached for the sky. The other three hands stopped what they were doing. They all moved towards each other and a titanic struggle ensued. All of Ataniel fell to pieces around them as they fought to a stalemate.
Tarrin awoke with a shock and looked around, confused.
"What was THAT?" Khyrisse asked.
"You saw it too?" he asked in Diari.
Everyone started to stand and give Tarrin suspicious looks.
"I am just as confused as all of you are. I was just trying to heal this man," he said in Dalen.
Jack bend down and picked up the rat. It was shivering with fright. He could feel the scar tissue on its belly. It was the shape of that sigil that just appeared on it.
"Look," Val said pointing to Tor, "whatever that mark was, it is gone."
Khyrisse went over to Skitch to see if he was ok. "The mark is gone from Skitch as well."
Tarrin looked confused and frightened. "Could someone tell me what is going on here?"


Character(s):: Jack Paris
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title of Post:: Too Dull For Visions

"Saw what?" Jack asked. "Did you all see something?"
"The vision," Val said. "You didn't see it?"
"Uh, no, I didn't... but I'm not that visionary, really. It's the mathematician in me, I guess."

Character(s):: Hronmir Silent-Voice
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Skeins of Fate
Title of Post:: Late for Ragnarok

There was a man on the wall of Flicker's cell. He was definitely Riklandic, both in dress and physical demeanor. He was a large man, with a bristling brown beard. His hair was unkempt, and his eyes burned with warrior's fire. "Greetings, Ragnarokkr," the man whispered. His voice was deep and powerful, but he spoke with an airy tone more at home in the fey realms.
"Greetings," Flicker said. "How come you to know me?"
"Tales of the Ragnarokkr have reached even my kind," he said gently.
"Then I am at a disadvantage, as I don't recognize you."
"I am Hronmir Silent-Voice," the man said. "I am the last of the Aesir, late to Ragnarok, foreigner to the Land of Risen Balder."
"You were a chosen of the Valkyrie."
"The last one. Taken seconds before Ragnarok. Then led astray by the very one who chose me."
"Which Valkyrie chose you, Silent-Voice?" Flicker asked, knowing the answer already.
"Norna of the Skein," he whispered.
"Norn," Flicker said.

Character(s):: Khyrisse and Skitch
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: This Isn't Rumi... This is Hell

Khyrisse got to her feet, shaking, hands clenched into fists. Without a word to anyone, she turned around and went back into the inn.
"What did you do to Khyrisse?!" Skitch shouted at the Diari, holding his shoulder. He then ran after her, looking worried and fierce.
Khyrisse slammed a handful of coins onto the counter and continued up the stairs. Skitch caught up with her at the top of the flight. She yanked open the doorway at the end of the hall, and finding the room empty, cast magic left and right in a profligate waste of energy. Moments later she was up to her neck in bubble bath and on her way to being toasted.
Skitch stood in the still-open doorway, gaping. Well, that was interesting. I wish she hadn't gotten in the bathtub so quickly, though.

Character(s):: Tarrin
Author:: Jeff Hersh
Storyline:: Mind Games
Title of Post:: Culture clash

Tarrin watched the elf march back into the inn in a huff. Confused, he turned to Vas. "What did I do?" he asked innocently.


Character(s):: Jack Paris, Ariath
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title of Post:: Inner Demons

"Boy, you really know how to make friends and influence people," Ebreth said to Tarrin.
"But... but..." Tarrin muttered.
Jack didn't even bother to throw Tor's words in his face. Everyone else had seen a vision. Jack hadn't. They all knew, he was sure of it. He should probably get out while the getting was good, before someone decided to gather a mob to go after him. Days like this, Jack wished he really was human. Still, they needed the rat. Jack figured he'd stay at least long enough to let his little friend find someone else to lead on this quest.

***
Ariath knocked on Khyrisse's door. "Hey, Khyrisse, you in there? It's me, Ari."
"Go. Away." came a preternaturally cold, though noticeably sloshed, voice.
"Look, I know how it can be. You feel violated. Raped." In as low a voice as she could and still be heard through the door, Ariath murmured, "I've been there too."
There was silence.
"You want someone to talk to?"

Character(s):: Valende and Vas
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: The Rats of R.U.M.I.
Title of Post:: Fetch Me a Child of Five

Vas looked after his employer and twisted his face in a wry smile. "It seems our Lady has her nose a trifle out of joint. I have a feeling this happens more often than one would normally suppose." Valende waved a shushing hand at her brother, as if he'd said something a little sacrilegious. "In her place, so I suspect would you." She looked Tarrin directly in the face. Sensing no evil intent from him, her expression became less stern. "The Lady Khyrisse has had a trying time of late. You read her mind, did you not?"
"I... borrowed? yes, borrowed-- her command of your language," Tarrin said hesitantly. "It was not invasive. I meant no harm."
"Her mind is easily pained at the moment, I think," Valende explained gently. "She has suffered a greater loss than I can readily imagine. You would do well to ask her for her permission first, should you try such a thing again."

Character(s):: Tarrin
Author:: Jeff Hersh
Storyline:: Mind Games
Title of Post:: Formal introductions

"Oh. I understand. What I did was, umm.. common? Yes, common. Back in Diaria. When a cleric of Pysiri needs to communicate."
"Well, we are not in Diaria; just keep that in mind," said Vas.
"I noticed." Tarrin looked around and then smiled. "I am forgetting my manners," he said. "My name is Tarrin Illiesiri; just call me Tarrin. It is easier that way."


Character(s):: King of Kings
Author:: Jeff Hersh
Storyline:: Of Rat Kings and Vision
Title of Post:: Interlude II

The King of Kings looked up from the flaming pit. He felt a disturbance in the halls. He walked over to a large pile of rat corpses, each of them had a fleshy sigil branded into its chest. As he watched, all the sigils started to glow.
"No!" he screamed. "Not yet."
The King of Kings was thrown back like a child's toy. He quickly got up and the vision flooded through him.
When he regained his senses, the King of Kings was angry. That shouldn't have happened. At least not until he finished distributing the Rat Kings. Someone had triggered the magic he was weaving before its time.
The King of Kings hissed to himself. He would have to speed things up now.

Character(s):: Jack Paris
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title of Post:: Jack's Off?

"Well," said Jack, "now that we seem to have met up with the person the rat wanted, I guess I'd better be going. I still need to find work, and, uh, all."
Val looked sadly and curiously at Jack.
"Are you taking the rat with you?" Ebreth Tor asked.
"Um, no, I think he still has things he needs done. But I, um, don't think you'll need me for that."
"Huh. When the going gets tough..." Ebreth smirked.
"Jack..." Val started.
Don't make this any harder than it already is, Val, Jack thought. It's only a matter of time before you all figure out the truth.
And then the rat changed everything.

Character(s):: The Rat
Author:: Jeff Hersh
Storyline:: What the Rat Saw
Title of Post:: Rat Like Jack

The rat saw Jack was leaving and knew that he must stop him. The question was how. Then the rat understood. Both he and Jack did speak a common language and he would use that to make him stay.
The rat ran across to the alley and searched for a particular item. He soon found what he was looking for. A wet and stained napkin with some mathematical writings on it. The rat examined the calculation. Jack was close to the answer but he needed some help. Sticking his paw into the mud and filth the rat scribbled some formulae where Jack left off. When he was done he grabbed the napkin in his jaw and rushed back to Jack.
It wasn't a moment too soon. Jack was turning to go. The rat ran up his leg, over his shoulder and dropped the napkin in front of Jack's face. Jack peered for moment at the napkin. He couldn't believe it. Maybe he was wrong about the rat.

Character(s):: Jack Paris
Author:: Douglass Barre
Storyline:: Rat Kings and Dead Villains
Title of Post:: A Common Language

"What the--?" Jack blinked at the napkin.
"More messages from the Grand High Rat?" Tor chuckled.
Jack put the napkin down and pointed to a certain scribbled equation. "No, no," he said, pencil appearing in his hand, "you're on the right track... I hadn't thought to look at this like a matrix, but your derivation is off..." Jack started scribbling.
"Is he talking to us?" Vas asked.
"See?" he said to the Rat. "Now you've got a positive value for y-prime."
The rat danced happily on the napkin, wiping letters and numbers with his feet.
"You can't divide by i there," Jack told the rat. "That's only possible on the ethereal plane."
"I wonder who's the better mathematician..." Ebreth grinned.
"Boolean! Boolean!" Jack shouted at the Rat.

Character(s):: Ebreth Tor
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: You Win Some, You Lose Some

Ebreth watched Khyrisse storm into the inn and hit the heel of his hand on the ground. He looked at the Diari priest. He removed the curse of the evil undead thing, but he made Khyrisse stop holding my hand. He removed the curse of the evil undead thing, but he made Khyrisse stop holding my hand. Ebreth's feelings about undead things ultimately won out. "Hi," he said, and leaned across to shake the guy's hand. "My name is Ebreth Tor. I bet you haven't heard of me. That makes me real glad to meet you."

Character(s):: Tarrin
Author:: Jeff Hersh
Storyline:: Mind Games
Title of Post:: Pleased to Meet You

Tarrin, looking confused, shook Ebreth's hand. "Ummm, no, I haven't heard of you. Why does that make you happy?" Tarrin didn't understand these strange customs. He would have to watch himself or he was likely to offend someone else. "Are you feeling better?" Tarrin asked Ebreth.

Character(s):: Silverlace and Endicott
Author:: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline:: Down Amongst the Dead Men
Title of Post:: How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away?

"Iellan's" continued silence made Silverlace sigh gently. "And after the long association we enjoyed, too..." she said, looking playfully up at Endicott. "Shame on you, Iellan." The gleam in her eyes said plainly that she didn't believe his alibi for an instant. Endicott feigned anger and impatiently turned away, trying to get some space between them. "I don't particularly care if you believe the truth or not, Silver," he said, crossing the room towards the desk. Halfway there, he was cut off as she stepped suddenly in front of him. "You will--"
Her hand quickly reached out, fingertips pressing against his mouth, stilling his words. Her fingertips had the feel of sun-warmed silk. She stepped near him again, close enough for him to feel the heat from her lightly-clad body, and looked up at him through long eyelashes. Silverlace smiled as she spoke, but her voice was jarringly unlike her expression. "You may keep your secret, for now," she said in a quiet, serious tone. Her eyes twinkled up at him as if she were teasing him. It was really a terribly eerie effect. "But be aware that you have been standing in my sound bubble since we reached your room. We can be seen, but not heard. Once I leave, I will treat you as if you were Iellan Tach until you decide otherwise. But I will be watching you." She turned away, tossing her head in a feigned gesture of rejection. Waves of silver hair flashed in the dim light. "And I think," she added, a teasing note returning to her voice, "that you will find it increasingly difficult to behave as Iellan would, as time goes by. He never was," Silverlace sighed, smoothing the translucent veils of her gown over her hips, "a very patient man."
"No, I am not. Leave my room this instant, harlot!" "Iellan" shouted.
She leaned around the edge of the door into the room, giving him an unimpeded glance down the front of her gown, laughing in what would have been a SEVERELY distracting way for any other man. "You do that very well! But I don't think you can hide a distaste for my touch as strong as yours for very long... without help."
The door closed sharply behind her-- with an utter lack of sound. Endicott measured the distance to the door with his eyes. It was a little over ten feet-- just out of spell range. If she had been telling him the truth.

Character(s):: Ebreth Tor
Author:: Laura Redish
Storyline:: Rat Kings
Title of Post:: The Rat Talks

"About the same," said Ebreth, "but a little more optimistic about the future, thanks." He stood up and brushed himself off, shook his head, and then, as if he couldn't stand it anymore, drew Jack aside. "Hey, Paris." The mathematician steeled himself. "Give her some encouragement, for Pete's sake!"
"What?" said Jack.
"Valende, you idiot! Are you blind? Just--touch her. Anywhere. I'm telling you, she's yours."
"I am not taking advice about how to treat women from you," said Jack through his teeth.
"Treat her however you want. The girl's in heat, is all I'm saying. You're a good enough looking guy, she's a healthy woman. Don't be a fool here, Paris. You think way, way too much."
"Get... away from me!"
"Hey." Ebreth raised his hands. "Just think about it, man. That's all I'm saying. Don't expect a woman to do all the work."
"Thank you!"
Ebreth was surprised. "Well, you're wel--" He froze. Jack hadn't said that.
"Thank you!" said the rat.
Jack stared at him. "What?"
"Well, I'll be damned," said Ebreth. "He is smarter than you."
"Thank you! Thank you!" The rat ran in circles, becoming more and more agitated. "Thank! You!"
Val, Vas, and Tarrin were there by now. Tarrin looked especially stunned. "Thank you thank you thank you thank!" The rat tore desperately at Jack's pant leg. "Ow!" yelled Jack. "Rat! What's wrong?"
"Thank you!" it cried, and dove into the satchel in terror.
"You see?" Tarrin said to the elves, in effeminate tones. "The rat he learn the human language from me. Normal."
Jack looked at his frayed pant cuff. The curve the rat had torn was exponential. "Increasing," he said. "What is increasing?"

***
In his citadel, the King of Kings felt himself almost dizzy with acceleration, a feeling he had not been subjected to in what felt like a very long time.

***
"You see, Jack?" said Val, plaintively. "You're the only one who can understand the rat. We need you."
Ebreth Tor poked Jack hard in the back. Jack calculated the probability of his THAC0 being low enough to deck the bastard one.

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