PLADD

 

Field Trip to the Ancient Dwarven Prison Camp

Part X of the Terrence Saga

Chapter 3: Rattled

Posted by pladd on January 03, 2016

The ordeal with the poison had left NGE drained, weaker than normal. Chad informed the group that NGE was now only capable of fucking up most things in her path. With that said, the foursome took their bearings.

They stood in a modest hallway. Ahead and to the left was a door that led to the entryway - the door right next to the secret passage. Immediately across from that door was another plain iron door, rusted with age. Chomsky studied it for a moment before proclaiming that the Dwarven letters read, “Storage.” This happened to remind him of an amusing anecdote regarding a storage closet, a fetching gnomish student, and a beehive, which he proceeded to relay to the rest of the group. As always, the others paid close attention to Chomsky’s story, making absolutely certain to ignore every word.

NGE, as always, was in front, and Chad asked her to open the “Storage” door. The door was unlocked, and slid open as smoothly as a door with centuries of rust in its hinges. Ears perforated by the horrific screeching, the group peered into the room. Within, they found crates. Crates, and crates, and more crates. And barrels! Most of the containers were rotted or broken; clearly other scavengers had made it into this room before our heroes. A few crates were intact enough to search, but what caught the group’s attention was a scratching sound coming from inside a barrel labeled “crackers” in Dwarven.

NGE opened the barrel, and was mildly surprised to find that it contained an angry rat the size of a small dog. She was even more surprised by the fact that the rat immediately launched itself at her face.

Luckily, the magical armor that Chad had conjured around her earlier still held, and the rat’s claws and teeth clacked uselessly against it. It was a simple matter for NGE to draw her sword and counterattack with a mighty blow that would cleave the rat in two.

It was a simple matter, but she botched it anyway. As her sword sailed uselessly over the rat’s head, the rest of the group piled into the corridor outside to try and take out their fearsome, Pomeranian-sized opponent. Arrows and bolts sang through the air, eagerly burying themselves into crates and debris. Chomsky menacingly whipped the air near the rat, surely striking fear into its tiny rodent heart.

The rat leapt up onto a crate and bared its teeth at NGE as she hefted her sword once more. She raised it above her head and brought it crashing down into the space where a rat had been just moments before. Since that space happened to be an old, rotting crate, NGE also brought her sword crashing through said crate, releasing a veritable army of rats from its confines.

Imagine a man who just saw a carpet of rats boil out of a crate; imagine the manner in which such a man might freak the fuck out. Everyone freaked the fuck out exactly like that. The rats surged forward, clawing and biting at NGE with unbrushed teeth and untrimmed toenails. Her armor was useless against a swarm of foes so tiny. And meanwhile, that fucking dog-rat thing was still chomping at her feet.

The others bravely battled the rat from behind NGE. Gavin made a rat popsicle out of one rat in the swarm. Another two were speared with projectiles, but there were hundreds remaining, and the large one was entirely uninjured. Could this be the end of our heroes?

No, as it turns out. NGE cut that goddamn giant rat in half, like, right then. Unfortunately for her, she was still covered in ordinary-sized rats.

As the others prepared to strike once more, Chomsky held up his hand. “Hold up, guys, I’ve got an idea.”

Chomsky breathed a deep, slow breath, calling upon ancient gnomish magic. His eyes glistened with a gentle love for all animals, great and small. He gracefully bent down towards the rats, and addressed them kindly in their own language.

“SCRERENEERREW! EEERSDDSDRERERIIIIDII? SCREIRIRIARAIEICCEREEHCHHEUEHAKERKKKEIAEC!”

The rats ceased their gnawing. One particularly large rat let go of NGE’s ear and scurried towards Chomsky. He replied in a shrilly, “SCREEERIRIIEREEARCSERRRSSE! SCREIEIIEIRE! EEEEEEEEIRSRECERERECRRESSSEEEE!”

Chomsky looked stricken. “SCRERREEE, RRAREARIEREIASEREAKKEIREE! REAIISRSRIIRESCERERE! RAICIEIEAEIRES? SCREEEEEICIRIRIERERKEKRIE!”

The rat’s reply was immediate. “SCREEE! UERUUERCESRCER! SCEREREESRCERKK!”

Of course, to anyone who spoke Rat, the conversation went like this:

“Hello, rats. What seems to be the problem? Why do you attack us?”

“Scared! Big thing smash home! We kill!”

“Oh, my, we had no idea! We never intended to hurt you. Could you possibly stop biting us? We’ll leave you alone, we promise!”

“You go! We stay! No kill, need food!”

Chomsky smiled and addressed the rest of the party. “SCFRRERE- oh, sorry. He says they were just scared, and hungry. So… yeah! We should be fine!”

Chad looked worried. “We didn’t steal anything from this room yet, though. Can you ask him if there’s anything in here worth taking?”

Chomsky blanched, rattled at the thought that they had almost left a room unlooted. “Sure thing.”

After a moment’s conversation, the rat led Chomsky to a rotted crate in the back. It contained a large number of broken potion bottles, but one of them was still intact: an ordinary healing potion. Chomsky also found two odd helmets or masks in the crate. They had round glass where the eyes were and a small hole where one could breathe through them. The masks seemed to be made to fit very securely on the wearer’s face.

The group shrugged their collective shoulders at the mysterious masks, which radiated no aura of magic. Everyone was about to leave, when Chomsky turned back to the boss rat.

“Hey, man… we’re going further in. I bet we could find you some food, if you come with us.”

The rat’s reply was immediate. “FOOD YES! FOOD! We follow!”

And lo, the swarm of rats rolled out of the storage closet. And they twined around ankles; they eagerly investigated armpits; they swarmed and roiled under, on, over, and around their new master, the One True Bearer of the Mantle of Rats: Chomsky the gnome.

The door at the end of the hallway was marked with a red chalk “X,” but our intrepid heroes were unfazed. With such a powerful being now among them, what dangers could possibly threaten them? They opened the unlocked door and entered the room marked “Questioning.”