Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Day Two Hundred-Seven: The Battle of Splattergoo

It occurs to me, diary, that I didn't talk much about the rat hunt yesterday. That 'chat' with the jester demanded the attention of the entry. He's still the centre of attention, but I think I should speak up on the subject of ratstermination before I get back to that black-and-white blighter.

King Jeffrey has made rat-killing a kind of sport, probably to cheer himself up after the strike last week. He's offering a tiny bounty to any peasants who wanna join in on the fun: ten copper per rat. Fifteen if it's of exceptional size. And, if you can catch at least seven rats, you get a gold piece. There's a big scoreboard set up near the queen's parking spot in the castle thoroughfare for particularly ambitious rat hunters. The top hunter will get a prize at the end of the week.

That does NOT, of course, include us guards. We don't get extra for killin' rats, and we're exempted from the scoreboard. It's just our duty, 'n we damn well better do it. Pfft. Not that I expect to catch many rats, of course, but it'd be nice to be recognized as something MORE than the scum of the ramparts.

As you well know, rats can get everywhere. That's probably why they seem to know so much: they're so small that they're able to fit into every bloody nook and cranny they can find. They're also tiny, quiet and fast, so it can be difficult to corner even a single rat. And we're talking an entire castle full of rats. This will not be an easy week.

That's not all, though. As you ALSO know, rats are smart. They seem to be as smart as any human. They also seem to have some kinda connection with one another, so if one's in trouble, I bet at least a couple of the others will know. That's one hell of an early-warning system they've got going.

Also, they may be magical. That's a possibility. A grim one, too, if it means wiping these little creeps out. What if they don't WANT to be moved? What if they fight back in ways we can't counter? We'd be buggered, we would. Tiny, magical wizards numbering in the thousands can probably take on a bunch of lumbering, oafish humans. ('specially since some of the guards think they can bullseye rats with their bows. Don't think they've managed to bag a single one that way.)

But they aren't fighting back. Not in any special way. The rats are just acting like any other animal: if you confront 'em, they run away. If you lunge at 'em, they weave between your legs. If you corner 'em, they hiss, and… well, die, usually. How sporting. Not a hint of magic to be found.

And still no word. The rats are very quiet. I'm kinda surprised they haven't said anything to me yet. Hell, they haven't written in you in weeks, diary. Seemed like they wouldn't leave me alone for a while, there… what's up now? Do they resent me for joining in the great rat purge?

Am I, maybe, off the hook of destiny? That would be sweet. I don't wanna be destined for nuthin'. Destiny's for those bigwig chumps who build castles and conquer nations and invent subtle food pastes that go good on fries. THAT'S destiny.

There wouldn't be much point in resenting me 'til now, of course. Up 'til this point, I didn't have any method for chasing rats. All I did was wander around and, if I saw one, I'd run at it kinda half-assed and roar. It'd flee, and I'd go back to business as usual.

Kierkegaard changed all that when he planted himself on my team today. He makes me sprint whenever we see a rat, and while I'm doing all the legwork he lets out a war-whoop, riding on my back. Once we get close enough to the rat, which is surprisingly often (one has ample motivation to move when there are tiny spurs digging into one's neck), the penguin leaps off my shoulders…

… and impales his target with a freaking trident.

Okay. It's penguin-sized, so it's more like a long dinner fork. But still! That's ridiculous!

Considering he's got stubby arms and legs, Kierkegaard's aim is surprisingly good. He hasn't missed a single jump yet. Even when I'm slowed up from fatigue he seems more than capable of jumping the extra distance to snag the rat. Whenever I DO force him to jump further, though, he stabs me in the butt with his spear. I guess that's good motivation to keep up the pace.

His accuracy doesn't worry me. It's his enthusiasm. I'd wondered why the jester wanted to work with me on exterminating rats, and now I think I know: Kierkegaard hates them. That's the only motivation he seems to need. He cackles every time he nails one, and on a disturbing number of occasions he actually stomped his victim into a bloody pulp. The swear words that come outta his beak are so obscene that I'm not even gonna create a list for 'em.

It was a long day of all THAT today, and after he jabbed my butt with his spear and went back to the throne room I went home to be comforted by my wife. She was busy working on a new pair of goggles, so she didn't have time to comfort me much. And she didn't wanna anyway. You're having to serve as a replacement, diary. I'm glad you have a soft cover. You're great for hugging.

Seriously. Rat hunting has me disturbed. I KNOW we're killing intelligent creatures here. Or at least the KIN of one intelligent creature, the rat that came with me on my long journey to Goblinoster. Is that right? Or should we, y'know, not be doing this? Considering how fearful they seem to be of the hole in the east wing of the castle, I'm really worried 'bout what's gonna happen when they're all gone…

Man. This stuff is harshing my homeowner buzz. I damn well better not lose my house!


Dragomir the Rat-Hunter

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