I had to argue long. And hard. And with a mind to tact, and persuasion, and monetary reward. Logan took a while to sway; the lesbian required almost a night's worth of pestering. But, ultimately, it paid off.
We have infiltrated the palace.
Also, I am writing this on a piece of toilet paper. I will insert it into the diary at a later date. I believe the continued chronicles of my genius are important.
"MAKE WAY!" the seargent bellowed, still as uncouth as ever. "MAKE WAY! CRIMINALS COMING THROUGH! JUSTICE IS OURS!"
He pushed Logan through the barricade first. My brother's hands were bound in irons and tucked under his cape. The lesbian came next; the authorities had given her hands the same treatment, though they were also connected to an extra shackle binding her tail. Apparently snake people can use them as deadly whips, if they so wish.
I came last. Tall. Dignified. Unbowed, despite the hand shoving me along. I heard several murmurs of "But she's so young!" from the accumulated crowd, eager to lap up the details of our capture. What brave deeds had the Imperium's forces committed to capture the notorious LNC Gang?
(I made that name up myself. It is awesome.)
In truth, our imprisonment was mere dumb luck on the part of the guards. The lesbian and I got into a heated screaming match this morning over who would eat the rest of our cereal. Our bellows eventually floated past the moans from the patrons of the brothel under our feet, and once we were discovered and reported... well. Let us just say that there are enough Wanted posters of Mr. L and Ms. N in Rodentia to draw swift conclusions.
I am Ms. C. Despite my love of justice, it is exciting to have a gang name. When I become a judge-actor, I will maintain it as my court-stage name.
The front entrance of Rodentia's palace consists of five double doors set into a slab of statuesque stone. The stairs we climbed to enter the palace are flanked on both sides by enormous, intricate carvings of bold warriors, stately politicians, and, for some reason, a large number of rats. The vermin clustered on the shoulders of Rodentia's grey sentinels, forever whispering mute secrets into their ears. I wonder what rats have to say?
I'm sure the inside of the palace, the upper wings of the great imperial ziggurat, is just as grand and picturesque. No doubt the spherical council chamber atop it all is a study in grandeur. But, ah, the dungeons... the dungeons are not that interesting. I daresy they remind me of home.
Under normal circumstances I'm sure we all would have been interrogated on the spot. Indeed, torture would almost have been a certainty. But the authorities are still distracted by the lurking presence of the sloth in the farmlands, and I suspect they used our capture only as a means of boosting morale. Once we were out of the public's eye, they stripped us of anything of potential value, gave us prison greys, and shoved each of us into a tiny cell. I write this account by dim torchlight, using grime I scraped from the wall.
I have lived under more comfortable circumstances. That is my point.
We had a guard watching over us for a while, shouting commands for quiet at the louder, longer-lived patrons of this fine establishment. After an hour of bellowing he left us to go on a break. He was not replaced, and after two hours of waiting I saw no signs of passing guards. I suspect they are too busy watching Rodentia's walls to bother with convicts.
I risked a word. "Lesbian?"
Her irritated snort floated back to me from an adjacent cell. "Don't call me that."
"But it is your name."
"My name is Nagi, you little bi-"
"Cut it out!" Logan was two cells away from me, though close enough for his voice to carry. "I think we're clear. Your turn, Ms. N. Got your gear?"
"I'd better. Else this was a really shitty idea."
She went silent, though I heard the rather distinct pop of scales sliding free over the tortured moans of faraway prisoners. Something jangled... the lesbian slithered to the door of her cell, to the small, barred window... more tinny jangling...
"Are you almost done?" I asked. "I wish to use a proper rest room."
"Shut it and let me concentrate," the lesbian hissed back. "If I drop my... pick... we're all... fucked... dammit, where's that key hole... mmmph, there, that... grrrr, c'mon..."
She worked. Logan held his breath. I drew a picture in the dust at my feet. It was a picture of the lesbian, struggling to keep her tail elevated through a tiny hole in a door. I daresay it was a work of sublime artistic skill.
"Mgh... almost... almost..." Click. Success! "There. THERE. Awesome."
A door swung open. Another little pop sounded as the lesbian replaced her thieving tools in her egg pouch. Straining to peer out the window of my cell door, I caught the swish of a purple ponytail as it headed to Logan's cell.
"Howdy, Mr. L." I could hear the lesbian's grin. "Pretty slick, eh? Great plan all along."
"Yep, great," Logan agreed. "C'mon. Pop this sumbitch open. We have some friends to rescue."
This is roughly the point where the plan hit a slight snag.
Logan remained silent a moment before commenting. "Nah?"
"Nah. Think you'll stay in there."
The shuffle of my brother's enraged, confused feet tapdanced up and down the dimly-lit corridor. "What? What? This isn't funny, Nagi. Let me out."
"Nope. Not happening." The lesbian laughed a little, though sadly. "Think I might pop into the world's most fabulous treasury, grab some gold, and hightail it outta here. Figure that'll let me retire. Got a big 'ol world to lose myself in, and the sooner I get down to it, the better. It was fun, Logan. Say bye to Bora for me, if you ever see her again. Maybe I should look for her cell..."
Logan cursed loudly. The lesbian slid the wooden panel on his door shut. She began to retreat -
She stopped. Her slither headed my direction instead. "Don't make me pen you up, too, kiddo. Better you have at least a bit of a view."
"I will not struggle," I assured her, still straining to catch a glimpse of the lesbian's face outside my cell. "I simply wish to know why."
Stopping by my door, the lesbian took a breath. She plugged her right ear, as if to block out Logan's muffled shouts. "You lot are too much trouble. You get in deep shit everywhere you go. A smart working girl's gotta keep away from people like you. Hence..."
"... you leave us here," I concluded. "Very wise."
She cocked her head. "You don't seem angry."
I shrugged. "Should I be?"
"I..." Her cheeks flushed in the torchlight. "I would be. I'd be pissed."
"That's life." I stepped away and seated myself on a thin, hard cot. "Please don't close the slot in my door; I wish to write on this scrap of toilet paper I found. I need the light from the corridor."
She said nothing. Slowly, the lesbian began to move away.
"Oh!" A thought percolated. "One other thing."
"If you see my ninjas, best you not tell them what you've done." I chuckled. "They will probably cut your throat. As will I, when I see you next."
And then she was gone.
Well. My brilliant plan half worked. We are, indeed, inside the palace. Now I just need to work on getting us out again. Escape is imminent; the means of doing so simply remain a slight mystery. I enjoy slight mysteries.
Sincerely, and with a twinge of dislike for serpentine vixens,
Celine the Magnificent