A/N: This was written for the OKT Rarefics Challenge. The idea was to increase the variety of fics in the fandom, and maybe write something outside of your comfort zone. Well, this fic is REALLY outside of my comfort zone! I've never written anything with Nix's main characters, such as Nick or Sam or Ellimere or Lirael. And I've never written a chatroom fic before for anything. And I've never written something completely AU that couldn't ever possibly happen within the canon. Recipe for disaster, right? So brace yourselves; this could be a bumpy ride.

Old Kingdom Chatroom

"Okay!" said Nick, rubbing his hands together with glee. "Let's see if this works."

Sam nodded and closed his eyes for better concentration. When Nick got excited about one of his "projects," it was best to bite back any sarcastic remarks and just go along with him – never mind that his last little project nearly resulted in the destruction of the world as they knew it. Sam was quite certain that this current experiment of Nick's wouldn't result in the resurrection of Orannis, so he had agreed to help.

He sank into the golden warmth of the Charter, drawing up marks for contact, linking, and communication. He and Nick had been secretly working on this project for months in Sam's workshop, and it had taken ages to get the Charter spells just right. He hoped that this time they would succeed. He did not fancy explaining once more to the guards the muffled explosions and plumes of acrid smoke that had been emitting from his workshop. Thankfully it seemed that the guards were convinced that Sam's strange Ancelstierran friend was just as batty as the prince himself, and left the two of them well alone.

The young Wallmaker deftly wove the marks together, testing the strength of the connections before he finally relaxed and opened his eyes. Floating in front of them was a large white square. He wiped sweat from his brow, and glanced at his friend. "Did it work?"

Nick pushed his glasses up his nose, and rolled up his sleeves in a business-like manner. One would think he was getting ready to perform surgery. "I think so, Sam. Let's give it a try. Cast the spells for linking."

Normally Sam did not like his friend giving him orders – especially since this friend had developed an interest in Sam's aunt, of all people. But once again, Nick was fixated on his current project and it was best to simply do what he said. Compared to the first spell, these next ones were child's play. Soon a ring of Charter marks was wrapped around their temples. Sam felt a bit silly, and Nick certainly looked ridiculous wearing that crown of golden marks. "All right," said Sam dubiously. "Er – now what?" This was more Nick's project than his; he had just helped with designing the spells.

"Now we choose a name," said Nick, his eyes glinting. He had the same expression he wore when about to tackle a deliciously complicated math problem. "An alias. A pseudonym. Anything you like. And then you think a message, and it will show up on the square."

"An alias?" repeated the Prince dubiously. It all sounded rather daft to him, but he would play along for now. He sighed and looked up at the gently-glowing square. "All right, then."

wallmaker has entered the chatroom

"Hey, look at that!" Sam exclaimed excitedly. "Did you see that? It's working!"

"I saw," Nick answered with a smirk. Sam looked back at the glowing square. Below the first line of text, another had appeared:

MagickNick has entered the chatroom

"MagickNick?" Sam repeated, raising a dark eyebrow.

"Shut up and think a message."

wallmaker: MagickNick?

"Ha ha, very funny," Nick deadpanned. Sam just managed to duck as his friend threw a tennis ball at him.

MagickNick: At least my name is somewhat original.

"This is amazing," said Sam, unable to hide his excitement. "But..." he paused. "Well, now you can send a message to me, and I can send a message to you. But what's so great about that? We're already in the same room."

Nick held up a slender finger. "Ah, but here's where things get interesting. We send out an open invitation for other people to join us." He beamed at Sam, who blinked rapidly.

"An open – a what?" asked Sam, wondering what dangerous idea his friend had come up with now. "Other people? Like who?"

"Oh, anyone." Nick waved his hand airily. "Those strong enough magically will be able to link themselves in without any trouble at all. Your family, the Clayr..."

"And Lirael?" asked Sam with a roguish twinkle in his eye.

Nick glared at him. "Just send out the invitation."

Sam would have argued, but he was too curious about how this was all going to turn out. Again he closed his eyes, sank into the Charter, and wove together a spell, sending out waves of power to anyone sensitive enough to feel them.

"Think anyone will answer?" he asked when he opened his eyes.

Nick sighed, took off his glasses, and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Stop talking to me, Sam."

"What? Why, I –"

"Look, we've got this enormous white screen in front of us, and there's no use having it if we don't bloody well use it. Right? So just think what you want to say to me."

Sam rolled his eyes, but obediently looked back up at the floating screen.

wallmaker: Who do you think will answer?

MagickNick: How the hell do I know? It could be anyone, really.

wallmaker: Oh Charter, it had better not be my mother.

MagicNick: She's off killing the dead or whatever it is she does. I'm certain she has more important things on her mind.

wallmaker: Or my father.

MagickNick: Again, he has more important things on his mind. Trust me.

wallmaker: Or... oh no. I just thought of something...

~*~sparklyprincess~*~ has entered the chatroom

wallmaker: NOOOOOOOOOOO!

MagickNick: ?

~*~sparklyprincess~*~: Hello! I received the invitation. Naturally I was curious about who could be doing such unusual magic, and so I decided to join you straightaway. Who's there? Nick? And "wallmaker"? Is that you, Sam?

wallmaker: ...

~*~sparklyprincess~*~: SAM!

wallmaker: ...yes. It's me.

~*~sparklyprincess~*~: Sam, I'm surprised at you. Experimenting with spells when you do not know just how dangerous they could be! I thought you were more responsible than that. Well actually, I didn't, but you SHOULD be more responsible than that.

MagickNick: Um, hello Ellimere.

~*~sparklyprincess~*~: Hello Nick. Sam, are you listening to me?

~*~sparklyprincess~*~: Sam?

~*~sparklyprincess~*~: SAM?

wallmaker: It's kind of difficult not to.

DarkChilde has entered the chatroom

~*~sparklyprincess~*~: Oh, now do you see what I mean? "DarkChilde"? What kind of a name is that? What if something really dangerous has just joined us? What if this person is a necromancer or a sorcerer or a witch? What if they're going to enslave our minds with an evil spell? We should all leave right now!

wallmaker: Yes, YOU should.

DarkChilde: Last I checked, I was not going to enslave the minds of my niece and nephew with an evil spell.

MagickNick: Lirael! It's really you? I'm so glad you could join us!

wallmaker: See, Ellimere? It wasn't an evil Free Magic creature!

DarkChilde: Thank you, Nick. Did you and Sam do all of this? I'm quite impressed

~*~sparklyprincess~*~: Well, you can't be too careful, Sam.

MagickNick: It was really all my idea. Sam only helped with the spells.

wallmaker: All right, everyone just STOP TALKING! Or... um... thinking. These simultaneous conversations are starting to confuse me.

~*~sparklyprincess~*~: That's not very shocking, Sam. Petty court confuses you.

wallmaker: I hate you.

DarkChilde: Er – maybe we should all talk about the same thing?

MagickNick: Like what?

8thShiner has entered the chatroom

8thShiner: Whose utterly foolish and downright reckless idea was it to perform this spell and send out an open invitation?

MagickNick: Sam's.

wallmaker: Nick's.

8thShiner: Ah, of course. Why am I not surprised? The spoiled princeling and his sidekick.

MagickNick: "Sidekick"?

wallmaker: Watch who you're talking to, Mogget. I built you a fishing hut.

MagickNick: "SIDEKICK"?

DarkChilde: Why? What's wrong, Mogget?

8thShiner: The open invitation, that's what's wrong. It was stupid and dangerous. Do you realize who could get in here? Do you realize what sort of dangerous magic can spread through something like this when all of our minds are linked together?

~*~sparklyprincess~*~: See? SEE? Didn't I just tell you that, Sam?

wallmaker: Well whoever else gets on here, they can't possibly be worse than Ellimere.

~*~sparklyprincess~*~: Really? Well! I can stay and be insulted by my little brother all day long. But I've got more important things to do. Nick, Lirael, it was nice speaking with you. Mogget, try to talk some sense into them. Sam, mother and father are going to hear about this when they get back. You can be certain of that.

~*~sparklyprincess~*~ has left the chatroom

wallmaker: Whew! Good riddance.

DarkChilde: You said other things could join us, Mogget. What other things?

8thShiner: Anything that is sensitive enough to sense that invitation you sent out.

DaBitch! has entered the chatroom

DaBitch!: Hello everyone! How are things in the world of the living?

8thShiner: Guh. Like that.

DarkChilde: It cannot be...

MagickNick: Nice name!

DaBitch!: Thanks! I'd lick your face, but I'm in Death right now, so...

DarkChilde: Oh, Dog! Is it really you?

DaBitch!: Lirael! My tail's wagging so hard it's going to fall off – I wish you could see it! Look at it go! Wag wag wag wag wag...

8thShiner: Urgh.

wallmaker: Wait, I just thought of something...

DarkChilde: It has been so long! I've missed you so much, Dog!

MagickNick: What is it, Sam?

DaBitch!: I've missed you too, Lirael. How's your hand? Do you have a mate and pups yet?

wallmaker: If Mogget answered, and he's a Bright Shiner, and Kibeth answered, and she's a Bright Shiner, then it stands to reason that another Bright Shiner could answer as well. Right?

DarkChilde: "Mate and pups"? You're impossible, Dog. But the hand works fine.

8thShiner: I hate to say it, Sameth, but I think that for once you're right. And if SHE comes...

DaBitch!: And how's everything else? Are you happy, Lirael?

MagickNick: What? If WHO comes, Mogget? Why doesn't anyone ever explain anything to me? Who are you and Sam talking about?

DarkChilde: Yes, Dog. I'm very happy.

8thShiner: Astarael.

DaBitch!: Good girl. That's all I wanted to hear.

rOseMAryanDamARaNtH has entered the chatroom

MagickNick: And who precisely is Astarael? I still haven't figured out all of this Shiners business.

rOseMAryanDamARaNtH: %^*&^$&^ wHo hAS dIstURbEd My SLumBeR!%&^%^$#!

8thShiner: IT'S HER!

MagickNick: What the – ? How can someone THINK in punctuation?

rOseMAryanDamARaNtH: *&^%$#$^ FoR wHAt PurPOsE hAve i BeEn CallED hERe!*&%$&^%^!

DaBitch!: Lirael! Everyone! Get out! Get out before she –

rOseMAryanDamARaNtH: &^%#^ I Am gOInG To sInG!*^#%*^&$!

8thShiner has left the chatroom

wallmaker has left the chatroom

MagickNick has left the chatroom

DarkChilde has left the chatroom

DaBitch! has left the chatroom

"What the hell was that?" Nick shouted, ripping off the circlet of Charter marks.

Sam placed his own circlet on the workbench. "Er... it's a little difficult to explain." But Nick was glaring at him and tapping his foot impatiently, so Sam gave it his best shot: "Astarael is one of the Bright Shiners, but she did not put all of her power into the Bloodlines or the Stones or the Wall, so she is still living in the Kingdom – actually, she's underneath the Abhorsen's House, but that's beside the point – so anyway, Lirael and I encountered her with Mogget and the Dog – I mean, Kibeth – and they told us that when she sings she sends everyone who hears her song into Death, and that same power is imitated by the bell Astarael that my mother uses – oh, and Lirael too. And the necromancers."

Nick was staring at him with his mouth hanging open. "You call that an explanation?"

"What?" demanded Sam, spreading his arms. "What do you want, a written report? Let's just say that Astarael is very old, and very dangerous, and leave it at that."

"All right," Nick sighed. They turned back to the floating white screen, where the remains of the conversation still flickered.

"I don't see her singing," said Sam nervously. "Do you think she left?" He was starting to think that Mogget had been right. This "chatroom" of Nick's really could be dangerous.

"Only one way to find out," said Nick, picking up the ring of Charter marks. "Ready?"

Sam picked up his own circlet. "I suppose so. Let's go."

They stood in the workshop, each clutching a wreath of glittering golden marks. "Er – we're not going," Sam observed with a nervous smile.

"All right, all right," said Nick, lifting his circlet a couple inches. "Ready? Here we go."

They remained standing in the workshop, not moving.

"Um – you go first."

"Me?" Nick yelped. "Why me?"

"This "chatroom" was your brilliant idea, genius!"

"But you are stronger with Charter magic, and thus better-equipped to deal with anything that could be in there."

"All right, fine, let's just settle this the usual way," Sam grumbled. He and Nick put down their rings of Charter marks, and held out their fists. "Ready?" said Sam. "Knife, paper, stone... Damn it."

One minute later:

wallmaker has entered the chatroom

wallmaker: Hello?

wallmaker: Anyone there?

wallmaker: Crazy singing Shiner lady?

wallmaker: Nobody?

MagickNick has entered the chatroom

MagickNick: I think she's gone.

wallmaker: So nice of you to join me after you made me come in here alone like BAIT!

MagickNick: Hey, I won fair and square.

wallmaker: Fine... Well, Astarael's gone. That was still pretty close, though.

MagickNick: Maybe that Mogget fellow really knew what he was talking about.

DarkChilde has entered the chatroom

DarkChilde: Hello? Is everyone all right?

MagickNick: Yes, Lirael. We made it out okay.

DarkChilde: Thank goodness.

wallmaker: We were just saying that perhaps Mogget was right. This "chatroom" thing could be dangerous.

DarkChilde: I think I have to agree with you. But speaking to Kibeth again after so long...

le_chat_noir has entered the chatroom

wallmaker: Huh?

MagickNick: Okay, now who's this? Is anyone ever going to explain anything to the poor confused Ancelstierran boy?

DarkChilde: I – I am not entirely sure who it is, Nick.

le_chat_noir: Where am I? What is this place?

wallmaker: Um... Well...

MagickNick: It's a little hard to explain. It's not really a "place".

8thShiner has entered the chatroom

8thShiner: You three are STILL here? After what happened last time? Lirael and Sam, I've dealt with your idiotic ancestors for millennia, so it does not entirely surprise me. But the Ancelstierran sidekick?

MagickNick: All right; will you please stop calling me that? I mean, really!

le_chat_noir: Who are you people?

8thShiner: Kerrigor!

le_chat_noir: Funny. That's my name too.

wallmaker: Wow, it's Kerrigor? Really?

MagickNick: Who's Kerrigor?

DarkChilde: An old enemy of the Abhorsens who looks like a black cat. He's also the King's half-brother.

MagickNick: ...

DarkChilde: It's a long story.

wallmaker: Hey Kerrigor, I thought you were asleep under the Abhorsen's House!

le_chat_noir: I am. Or maybe it's the other Kerrigor who is asleep. I'm a little confused. And tired...

8thShiner: I am not another Kerrigor, you idiot. My name is Yrael.

le_chat_noir: Oh, I remember you.

8thShiner: You should. You tried to eat me.

ranar_and_syelle has entered the chatroom

ranar_and_syelle: Is anyone here?

DarkChilde: Sanar and Ryelle! Yes, Lirael's here. I'm with Nick and Sam.

8thShiner: ...

DarkChilde: Oh, and Yrael. And Kerrigor.

le_chat_noir: Hello.

wallmaker: You received our invitation too?

ranar_and_syelle: Yes. But we did not answer it until now. We Saw that we would come here to warn you.

MagickNick: Warn us about what?

ranar_and_syelle: About what is coming.

ranar_and_syelle has left the chatroom

wallmaker: THAT was their warning? Typical.

DarkChilde: Yes, they can be rather... cryptic.

8thShiner: I think you children should stop with your light-hearted chitchat and worry about what could be coming.

wallmaker: "Children"? Good grief.

MagickNick: Wait, Sam, he's right.

le_chat_noir: zzzzzzzzz...

DarkChilde: I wonder what they meant? Who's coming?

MaskofBronze has entered the chatroom

8thShiner: Oh no.

MagickNick: All right, who is it now?

MaskofBronze: Kin of the Abhorsen! Where are you?

wallmaker: Is that...

MaskofBronze: You cannot hide forever! I received the call, it had the reek of powerful Charter Magic all over it! Faugh!

MagickNick: WHAT – IS – GOING – ON?

MaskofBronze: I will call upon my most powerful allies! We will sweep through and destroy you!

DarkChilde: Mogget! What do we do?

8thShiner: My apologies, Lirael. Don't you remember? I no longer serve your family.

8thShiner has left the chatroom

wallmaker: That traitor.

MaskofBronze: Come to me, my minions!

hish_the_dish has entered the chatroom

MagickNick: "hish_the_dish"? Really? THAT is your minion? Somehow I'm unimpressed.

FreeMagicker has entered the chatroom

DarkChilde: I cannot believe it. Where are they coming from? How is Chlorr summoning them here?

deddd_hand has entered the chatroom

wallmaker: More importantly, what can they do? Mogget said it was dangerous. Could they attack our minds perhaps?

RumpelStilken has entered the chatroom

MagickNick: It's like a bloody snowball! Lirael, you're the Abhorsen-in-Waiting. Can't you stop it?

RandomNecromancer59 has entered the chatroom

DarkChilde: I don't think I can, Nick. I'm not that powerful yet.

Hrulez_Rulz has entered the chatroom

wallmaker: All right, this is just getting ridiculous.

le_chat_noir: zzzzzz... Oh, hello! What did I miss?

schmordicant has entered the chatroom

DarkChilde: I wish Sabriel were here. Maybe if we all called out for her really loud?

MagickNick: It's worth a shot.

wallmaker: MOTHE– um, I mean – SABRIEL!

MagickNick: SABRIEL!

DarkChilde: SABRIEL!

MaskofBronze: And now that I have my minions, I will destroy you!

Sabrinator has entered the chatroom

Sabrinator: All of you Free Magic beings who trespass in this domain, I hereby BANISH you!

MaskofBronze has left the chatroom

hish_the_dish has left the chatroom

FreeMagicker has left the chatroom

deddd_hand has left the chatroom

RumpelStilken has left the chatroom

RandomNecromancer59 has left the chatroom

Hrulez_Rulz has left the chatroom

schmordicant has left the chatroom

le_chat_noir has left the chatroom

wallmaker: ...wow. You know, sometimes my mother scares me.

DarkChilde: Sabriel! You came!

Sabrinator: Hello, Lirael. Nick and Sam, I understand you've been experimenting with Charter Magic?

MagickNick: Yes, ma'am.

wallmaker: Yes, mother.

Sabrinator: I hope you both know better now. As soon as we leave this... er... "chatroom", I suggest you destroy it.

DarkChilde: But Sabriel, I... well, I spoke to Dog – I mean Kibeth, and –

Sabrinator: Lirael. You saw what could happen on something like this.

DarkChilde: Yes. You're right.

Sabrinator: Just enough time for goodbyes, then. Sam and Nick, I am impressed by your ingenuity of course, but please let others know when you plan on building something like this.

wallmaker: Yes, mother.

MagickNick: Of course.

Sabrinator: Goodbye, then.

Sabrinator has left the chatroom

MagickNick: She certainly arrived at the right time.

DarkChilde: Yes. Well, I'll see you two when I visit the palace next month?

MagickNick: Of course.

DarkChilde: Try not to get into any more trouble, Sam.

wallmaker: Oh, don't worry about me! I've got a wonderful older sister to keep me in line. Ugh...

DarkChilde: Goodbye, Nick.

MagickNick: Goodbye.

DarkChilde has left the chatroom

wallmaker: Shall we?

MagickNick: We shall.

wallmaker has left the chatroom

MagickNick has left the chatroom

Sam and Nick stared up at the white square floating in the middle of Sam's workshop. "Charter," Sam breathed. "What did we just do?"

"I don't know," Nick admitted nervously. He pushed his glasses further up his nose. "Guess we'd better destroy it, then."

Luckily, breaking things is always easier than making them. Soon the spells had been unravelled, the marks had faded, and it was as if the dratted invention had never existed. The two friends were silent for a moment, reflecting upon the seriousness of what they had done. Then Sam burst out, "It was pretty good, though, wasn't it?"

"I didn't think it would work that well," Nick admitted, grinning. "Well done, us! Those months of work really paid off." A shadow passed over his face. "It's too bad, though, because that sort of thing could be useful. This type of communication, I mean. Perhaps with just a bit of tweaking –"

"Forget it," Sam interrupted. "You know how much trouble your little chatroom almost caused. And anyway, the Old Kingdom isn't ready for that yet."

Nick sighed. "I think you're right."


A/N: And that, my friends, is why there is no internet in the Old Kingdom! All I can say is, Garth Nix? If you're out there, I deeply and truly apologize for this. I am still somewhat horrified by what I've done. Excuse it as a temporary bout of insanity. And if you want to review and tell me what an utter crackpot I am – well, I can't blame you. Cheers!