Rat Catching



Author's note: This has to do with Ahmo (I already have 3 LA accounts, so posting it under the one most adjacent to the cast of characters) For more of my stuff, visit: https://feederofthewolves.wordpress.com.

 

The red scented candle guttered its final sparks. The tall heavy, balding man with the wirey black beard struck a match to light another with an annoyed sigh. The table he sat at was covered in sheets of papyrus and parchment festooned in a crabbed hand. He shivered with the chill air, glancing to see that the fire was still good for another hour or so, opened a small book and began writing in tidy, crisp runes. An observer looking over his shoulder might be forgiven for guessing the man was an illiterate, copying random characters as part of a lesson in writing. Or a sorcerer composing a spell. For it is not forgotten among the schooled that the kirth were considered semi-sacred when they were devised for the Sindar. Over the centuries, as they were modified by various peoples because of their ease of use, they became more and more used for the banal tasks of record keeping, road signage and simple correspondence. But among folk healers and workers of practical magic, the runes still carried a strong element of primal mystery. Each contained a world of meaning, a multifaceted gem of power which could be scratched into wood or stone to cast spells, bring lovers, ward off thieves or curse enemies to wasting sickness. The man's stubby fingers dipped the quill in the pot and onto the blotter carefully before deliberately drawing a rune. Again a literate person would wonder at this, for he drew it exactly backward. Dipping the pen once again, a creak was heard upon the stair. The man's shining head snapped to face the door as his right hand dropped the quill and seized a sword that lay on a chair near at hand. Seconds passed. Nothing.

As he relaxed his grip on the sword and took up his quill once more, face turned back to the open page, there was another creak.

More annoyed and angered than wary, his hand set the pen quickly down and took up the sword again. His rat-catcher appeared. A big and battle-scarred old black cat that oozed rather than crept round the door frame from the stair.

“Why do you always bother me at this hour?” He asked the cat. There was a final creak upon the stair and instant as an eyelash, the cat flew at a sudden and tremendous velocity into his face on the tip of a soft black leather boot.

Garon had not so much as a second to find his sword again as the angry cat gripped his fleshy face with all its claws. Then a searing pain as the short stabbing sword drove up through his guts, bneath the ribcag and slashed sideways...

Garon coughed a gout of blood as he crashed to his knees, intestines looping round his grasping fingers, blood pouring freely upon the dark and heavy floorboards. There had not been so much as a cry. Just the angry yowl of the aggrieved ratter which had leapt to the top of a cabinet.

Ahmo said something softly to the cat as she grabbed the man's curious little book and thrust it into a pocket. The cat peeked down at her from its perch. As had been agreed aforehand, she set the plump and fresh killed rat upon the desk as its reward as Garon's blood spread close to her booted toes.

She opened the shutter and dropped unheard onto the frozen ground outside the Paymaster's estate and drifted into the starless snowfall like a cat might do, leaving not a trace save two dead rats.