The Poison

Being shrunk and kidnapped by a pack of intelligent talking rats was perhaps a bit befuddling, but the rat clerk said he had business in mind, and the word business meant that there was profit to be made from it, and I was prepared to haggle: “So, from everything you have said so far, I gather that you need me for something; something you yourself are not capable of doing. You called me a thief and a liar like it wasn’t a bad thing, it was however still uncalled for as I of course am neither. I expect that you want me to do this thing of yours and in return you would be so generous as to return me back to my normal size and to the ordinary world. How am I doing so far?” The rat’s slightly surprised expression told me that I may be on the right track, so I continued: “However there is nothing waiting for me in the ordinary world, and I expect this City of Rats of yours is as good a place as any, and since you resorted to kidnapping me as a way to solve your problems I also suspect that you are desperate. Perhaps because time is ticking and this task of yours needs to be completed in some short time. Be it as it may, I gather from your expression that that there is some truth to what I am saying, and I want you to know that you need to give something more than a return ticket home to pay for my services.” The main rat managed to again assume a neutral expression during my speech, and remained silent for the duration of it. After I was done he simply said “And it would seem I have chosen wisely, please follow me my fair lady, we shall discuss the conditions and price.” The rat gestured towards the doors leading to the city outside. As I was going to the doors, one of the rats quickly ran to an adjacent room and returned with two long black coats and a strange black woollen bowl with something like a ribbon on it. I was offered one of these coats which I gladly accepted, as it would fetch a nice price if sold, and he main rat took the donned the other coat and put that weird bowl on his head. Weird people these rats are, but who am I to judge. I was lead outside and I got a first look at this City of Rats. It was night-like in there, which makes sense as it was underground. The street I had found myself on was full of rat-like people wearing similar outfits as I my companion was wearing right now. There were long poles with lanterns on top of them everywhere around here and they emanated an orange ominous glow. The streets was made out of cobblestone and all the houses here were tall imposing structures of the same blocky design, each one with windows covered by curtains through which only a small light went through. Even though I wouldn’t say I am an expert on rat emotions, the rat people going through this street either on foot, or on giant rat-drawn carriages, all seemed like they were in a constant mood of depression, like there was nothing to live for. I remained focused on our business dealing, but my curiosity left me unable to not ask my companion about this. “Nice city you got here, very…unique, but why does everyone here look so down?” “Oh, they have been this way since The Poison was banned.” “The Poison?” “It is a drink that used to be popular around here, it cures anyone of their ailments for a short time. Even though it had its drawbacks, it was still a delight. But then our Ratxellence banned it, probably because he used it so much that it stopped being a delight and heavily damaged his health. In fact, this has a lot to do with our business.” I was growing bored of feeling like an ignorant dummy, but this was all kind of overwhelming and I was unable to formulate more complicated sentences: “How so?” I asked dumbfounded. “Well you see, our Ratxellence is growing older and the Poison quite hastened his decaying process…and… well… I am something like a healer of his.” “And you are supposed to find a cure for him otherwise he will have you executed I suppose.” “Something like that, yes, except it should also grant him back his youth .” “But I am no cleric or a healer, and even a couldn’t really help you unless they were capable of miracles, I don’t think you kidnapped the right person” The rat looked at me with desperation in his eyes “But there is hope, I’ve heard that there is something in The Poison’s recipe that gave it its signature qualities, perhaps if I could find this recipe I could find something that could save me. Please, the Ratxellence offered to shower me with gold if I succeed you, the gold is all yours if you help me!” Now I was about ready to leave his rat to his own and lose myself in this foreign city, shrunken forever, but the phrase “showered with gold” was the combination to my lock: “Well of course I will help, who would I be if I didn’t help a desperate rat in need. So my friend and partner where can we get this recipe of yours?” As I was saying this, I could see the hope glimmering in his eyes, but as I finished the question, his expression soured, and he said: “Well that is the problem, and the reason why I needed a thief for this operation. It is kind of in the hands of the most dangerous criminal boss in the city.”

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