Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Day Two Hundred-Eight: The Ratscovery

Another day, another slaughterfest. More penguin riding on my back for way too many hours. Not much more to say than that…

… oh, wait, yes there is. Did I mention that I DISCOVERED THE HIDDEN CITY OF THE RATS?!


Okay. So maybe I, specifically and technically, did not discover the hidden city of the rats. I MAY have been led to it by a certain serpentine buddy 'o mine. Still counts as a discovery for humankind, says I.

The first seven hours of my day? Horrible. All Kierkegaard wanted to do was murder rats. He wouldn't let me take a break. Slowing down was forbidden. He actually drew blood with that stupid spear of his! My butt blood! I hate tridents, and I hate jesters! What the hell kind of jester isn't funny at all?! I should get him fired!

(Though to be fair he DID tell jokes every now and then. About killing rats. Most were off-the-cuff gross, but there was this one… about three rats, a garbage can, and a pack of quillberry juice… ah, yeah, that one was pretty good. Better not tell it here, though, there're kids watching. Hi Logan!)

Eventually Kierkegaard tired of the chase, and bidding me a most painful farewell with the tip of his beak he wandered away. I, stuck in the depths of the keep, somewhere to the east of the treasury, began to wander home…

… when I spotted a magnificent mane of hair, disappearing around a corner. I knew that hair!

Staggering to catch up, I peeked down the adjoining corridor, and voila! Barrel. Hovering in midair and obviously waiting for me. He looked quite anxious about being a dragon, and as soon as we locked eyes he transformed into a dragonfly. (Clever.) Then he set off down the corridor, hovering at the end. He wanted me to follow.

I did. I wanted to rest up and get a hot meal after all the running, but I followed. Barrel's saved my ass so many times that I owe him some trust. He led me down another corridor…

And another…

And three or four more…

And probably a dozen more, all looking progressively more worn and old…

Until, surprise surprise, we were in the rat farms! I hadn't been in the farms for a while, but they looked more or less the same. I figured the castle's workers might retool the place to suit it for guinea pigs; no dice. I guess they don't live much differently than rats.

(Gonna be weird calling them the guinea pig farms. It doesn't have the same ring. Guinea farms is a bit better, but… well, what the hell is a guinea, anyway? And why do they call 'em pigs? They don't look anything LIKE pigs.)

I figured a rat was gonna be waiting for me in the farms, 'cause them 'n my dragon pal seem to have a connection, but no. Barrel didn't stop there. He led me around the fences, into the dark corners of the rat farms, where I found more rooms. More tunnels. More twists and turns, leading into cramped quarters that should have been pitch black, but which, for some reason, weren't. The experience reminded me way too much of the ruins outside Goblinoster.

(No traps, though. Thank the gods for no traps. I wasn't in a fit condition to dodge arrows or figure out puzzles.)

Time passed. I have no idea how long Barrel flitted and I followed. I barely even noticed that he'd turned back into dragon until we hit a patch of light, at the end of a narrow passageway, and beyond the light we found more light… and a massive clearing, larger than any room in the castle…

And buildings.

Small, crude buildings, like the domes of the tribal people of the desert. Dozens of them. Built into the floors, and the walls, and even the ceilings. All of 'em were teeming with rats, and every last pair of beady black eyes was quietly watching me, investigating me, judging me for what I'd done to their kind.

I hate audiences, I truly do.

Barrel landed near the entrance and nudged me into the midst of the buildings. I carefully walked down a tiny, central avenue, stopping in what looked like a city square. Sat. Waited. Watched. I felt like I was in some weird peep show.

The rats followed. They gathered around me, hanging out of their buildings and scurrying up around my feet, surrounding me on all sides but one: a patch of dirt right in front of me. As has always happened, one emerged from the group, standing on this patch and wriggling his whiskers.

It made a motion with its paws. I figured it wanted me to clap, so I did. It waved a negative. It tried the same motion again, its paws coming together and then parting slowly, in tiny arcs.

I clapped harder, just in case. That earned me an exasperated look, which is pretty insulting from a rat.

Five more rats entered the clearing, a stick perched on their backs. Standing on their hind legs they dragged the stick in the dirt, slowly etching a message for me:

"go get your diary"

Ohhhhh. That made sense. I've never spoken to a rat WITHOUT the diary. It's not like they can have a normal chat. I was damned tired by then, though, and I made that very clear when I said I would come back tomorrow, diary in hand. They frantically waved for me to return that night, underlining what they'd written, but, hell no. I ain't going back tonight.

I'm sorry, rats. I'm tired. Drained. I'm not hunting through the dark a second time to find your city. You wanna talk, you come to ME, not the other way around. That's the way we always did it before. Otherwise? Wait 'til tomorrow.

Though maybe I should… I mean, Barrel's still waiting just outside my house… peering through a gap in the wall… watching me write…

Blah. No. Good night, tiny dragon. Show me the way again tomorrow.


Dragomir the Rat-Hunter


  1. Oh man...this is alot like the time I discovered the small Gnome city under my bed. They said that if I ever told anyo..WAAAAAAGGGHHHH!

    1. Were they underpants gnomes or run-of-the-mill everyday gnomes?