Pure Cheesiness

Moments before the countdown, I was frantically looking around the crime lord’s room to find clues about him that could be exploited. Judging by the furniture and the overall decoration of the room, I could tell that he had a craving for comfort, luxury and displays of status. Well that wasn’t really something I could leverage in the current situation. Also apparent was his fondness of art with various paintings and sculptures in rat style in his chamber, but I never had luck selling acquired art piece, as I didn’t know the ins and outs of the market; and that was in my world, down here I had absolutely no idea what was what, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to exploit that. The last things I noticed before the countdown were certain weird curios in a huge display cabinet. Many of them seemed very old, antique even, but they were obviously cared for and there was not a single spot of rust on them. There were many strange things in there: small statues and totems, weapons of weird ancient design, various clay tablets, and on the highest shelf stood the two strangest items: A yellowish crown of sorts riddled with perfectly round holes and with vaguely orange amber and topaz gems embedded within. The second item however was the weirdest; it looked like a giant magical cheese on a decorative pedestal. But there was some empty space next to these two items, perhaps space that was reserved for something. I couldn’t examine these things more, as it was at this moment that the countdown started and I have already lost at least two seconds. “I wanted to strike some sort of a bargain.” I said. It wasn’t much to begin with, but I might give me some precious time to think. “By lying to my employees and trespassing upon my property? You are not really helping yourself here sweetheart.” Now I would like to say that at this moment I stayed completely and naturally calm and wasn’t overcome with panic at all, I just wanted to add that. Regardless of whether I was shaking with fear or not, I was running out of ideas, so I tried to use my final weapons: lies, trickery and deception: “I can get you the third one. You are looking at the best thief you have ever seen and I promise, I can get you the full set.” And I began pointing at the two upmost curios in the shelf. The part about being the best thief was obviously true, because every lie needs some grains of truth to be believable. The boss looked me straight in the eyes, and I felt the utmost dread overcome me; he knows. He knows that I’m lying and he will not stop the order to shoot. He kept looking me in the eyes as his bodyguards cocked their guns and aimed them at me. But then he slowly raised his hand and the bodyguards lowered their weapons once more. “How could you, one simple girl, hope to acquire such a historical artefact for me, do you even know what it is, do you even know where it is kept.” A historical artefact. It is kept by someone somewhere. Good things to know. I tried to dodge his last questions and instead tried to go on a conversationalist counteroffensive: “I am on a job for the Ratxellence, and he promised to give me anything I asked for if I succeed, do you follow what I am saying.” I personally didn’t follow what I was saying, I had no idea what I was trying to indicate, but that didn’t matter, for it was supposed to mean something to the rat, not to me. People will believe you more if you say something that they want to believe… and it would seem he wanted to believe. “That is intriguing I have to admit. I can’t believe that our most holy would part with his last remaining crowning jewel of old, such a vital part of history without a good cause, what kind of job are you supposed to do for him if it is supposed to be so handsomely rewarded.” I had him around my fingers now, but I still needed to tread carefully, one wrong step and I might end up a dead anyway. “Oh, it is quite a common knowledge that the Ratxellence’s health is deteriorating by the minute and he isn’t getting any younger, but we believe that there is something in The Poison’s recipe that might in fact heal him.” The boss gave me a leery look: “He banned The Poison, it’s what had damaged his health in the first place, it doesn’t make sense that he would try to cure himself with it, I’m not buying that. You are lyin….. ” “And that’s why he has a single discreet agent looking for it. He is getting very desperate and he was forced to resort to extreme measures. But can you imagine what the people would say, if they had found out that their sovereign ruler is a giant massive hypocrite and he is hoarding the one thing he forbid all others from using. Can you see why it’s all a giant hush-hush?” Holy hells I was on fire. I would hug Squeakly when I saw him again, because his long convoluted exposition about the city saved my life right now. The boss had fallen back into his chair and said with a smug business-like voice: “Well, what a conspiracy I have stumbled upon to. So what do you say, You scratch my back I scratch yours; I will help you in your search for the cure, and in return you will give me the Fork of Kings, and I will finally have all the ancient Crown Jewels of the Rat Empire: The Fork of Kings, The Crown of Ratdom and the Sceptre of Pure Cheesiness.” Firstly, seeing the length of his claws, I wouldn’t let him scratch my back, secondly I nearly broke into laughter during his speech; The crime lord looked so cute while he was preaching about Forks of Kings and Sceptres of Cheesiness. Anyway, I cut straight to the chase: “So, how can you help me then?” “Well, the Poison is a normal alcohol, but it has one very special ingredient, however it can only be found… in the Garden.” He said the last part in a very dramatic tone, and he obviously expected a reaction from me, so I gasped in shock: “Not…the Garden.” “Indeed…the Garden, no one is living near there anymore. Everyone is too scared to go there, because of that…creature that calls that place its home. The men of mine who went there for the ingredient were almost mad with horror when they returned, and even I couldn’t motivate them to go there again.” Cowardly rats, at least one stereotype that rang true in here, however I still needed more information: “And exactly where can I find this ingredient?” I asked, and I could see fear swirling in the boss’s eyes. With a terrified whisper, he only said: “Seek…The Gardener.”

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