The Thief and the Swordsfrog Chapter 13

By Silent Elegy

Garret stopped at the door to the inn and looked around at the men he had brought with him. There were three of them, and they were battle-hardened warriors. They had been enlisted as soldiers in the Great War. When the battle ended, they were released without so much as a shilling and turned to a life of crime.

The three men nodded their readiness, so Garret took hold of the door handle. He was about to open it when it opened rather forcefully from the other side, and a drunken man in a heavy, dark blue cloak nearly stumbled into him.

“Hey, watch it!” exclaimed one of the men, shoving the drunk and nearly sending him sprawling.

“Sorry,” he croaked, recovering his balance. Garret motioned his men before him; as he followed them, he could almost have sworn that he heard a high-pitched voice say, “Watch it! Can’t you walk straight?” He ignored it, deciding it was his imagination, and entered the inn. Had he stayed, he might have heard that croaking voice reply, “Not with thee standing on mine head. Now, quiet, before we are heard.”

Rat continued to mutter incoherently as they made their way out of Truce, causing several people to stare and grumble about drunks in general. A policeman standing on a corner as they staggered past started after them with the intent of arresting them.

What are you doing?

The policeman shook his head, wondering what he was doing.

You’re not doing anything. You saw nothing.

After all, he hadn’t seen anything. There was nothing to see except the usual crowd going about their business. He blinked, trying to clear away the hazy fog in front of his eyes. If he heard a woman laugh faintly, then it must only have been someone in the building behind him.

Miraculously, or perhaps magically, Frog and Rat were well out of town by the time Frog finally lost his balance and fell, sending Rat tumbling into a tree. “Oh, I think I broke my head…” Rat groaned, standing shakily and pulling off Mariel’s cloak.

“Forgive me,” Frog said, rubbing his arm where he fell on it. “I lost my balance.”

Rat touched her head gingerly. “Sah’right.”

“Rat, my money.”

“What about it?” she asked, dripping with innocence.

“Return it.”

Laughter high above their heads caused them to look up, but it was only Mariel, who had materialized sitting in the tree seconds earlier. “Aw, let her keep it,” she said. “You do owe her for sending her into this tree.”

Rat lashed her tail and nodded. “Yah, dat’s right. You owes me.”

Frog rolled his eyes. “Very well.”

Mariel disappeared in a flash of light to reappear standing between them. “I believe it’s time we hit the road, lady and gentlefrog,” she said. “We shouldn’t need to disguise you once we get there, Glenn. If nothing has changed, and knowing the people there, nothing has, then no one knows what you look like. They’ll probably mistake you both for Mystics, so you might get a very cool reception and maybe a few rocks thrown. But they’re pretty much too afraid to do anything directly to any of us.”

“Humanists,” Rat muttered. “Thinking they’s at the top of the food chain.”

“Humans are at the top of the food chain.”

“That don’t mean they gots to rub it in.”

Frog just laughed at them as the debate continued.


Garret and his three men exited the inn empty-handed. He couldn’t imagine how Frog had known they were coming, but the room he and Rat had occupied was completely devoid of anything proving they had even been there.

Garret was very nervous now. He was quickly proving his uselessness to His Highness, and it wouldn’t be much longer before the King decided not to tolerate it any longer. He toyed with the notion of not going back, but he knew that would only make things worse.


A shadowy figure pulled back into the alley it occupied to converse with its comrade. The two freelancers darted through the alley and out of town to report to their superior, the giant minotaur, General Archimhan.

Archimhan was waiting for them at the spot Frog, Rat, and Mariel had stood not fifteen minutes earlier. “General, sir,” said one of the freelancers. “The thieves appear to have given up on the search, at least temporarily. We saw them headed back to that tavern the King of Thieves occupies.”

“Very good,” he answered. “Send one of the bats to spy on them, just in case they did find something in there.” The tracker nodded and went to find a bat who wasn’t doing anything important. The other freelancer watched Archimhan kneel to study the three sets of tracks.

“Those are kind of big for rat tracks, aren’t they?” she remarked.

“Indeed,” the General answered. “But that’s exactly what they are. It appears this rat walks on two legs, as well.”

“Someone else got on Magus’ bad side, do you think?”

“I’m not certain. But I’ll tell you this.” He stood and dusted off his legs. “If Milady is in any danger from either this creature or whomever these other tracks belong to, I will personally rip their spines out through their throats.” He walked back to where the rest of the tracking party stood waiting and ordered them to move out. The freelancer, though a bit embarrassed by the General’s sudden display of passion, nodded agreement to herself. She knew that any of them would have followed Mariel into the jaws of Death itself, the General most of all.


The word “tiny” could have been used to describe the town and still been an overstatement. The town had a general store that doubled as a small tavern right at the city limits. A dirt road ran straight until it was forced to go around a building that sat in the middle of town, then continued going straight. The small building turned out to be a school, which boasted the town courthouse on the second floor. Houses that could more properly be called huts lined both sides of the road.

“Yeesh, no wonder you was runnin’ fer yer life to get away from here,” Rat muttered incredulously. “When ya said it was small, I didn’t realize you meant mic…micro…”

“Microscopic?” Frog ventured.

“Yah, dat.” Rat nodded.

Mariel clicked her tongue. “Now, you know why I can’t stand this place. That,” she pointed to a surprisingly large, yet dilapidated, house on the other side of town, “is the only place I have ever considered worth my time. That’s where mother and father lived with me. Father used to be the richest man in town. We lived in luxury there.” She sighed. “I wish I could remember it better, but I was only five when he left.”

Two old men sitting on a porch in front of the general store stared at them as the went past. “You know what’s wrong with the world today?” one asked loudly.

“What’s that?” the other said.

“Too many damn Mystics wanderin’ ‘round where they please.”

Both Rat and Mariel stiffened, and Rat lashed her tail. “Calm thyselves,” Frog muttered.

“Humanists,” Rat responded quietly. Mariel stopped dead and fought down urge to incinerate both the men and the store behind them by reminding herself that she was older and more mature now. It wasn’t helping much.

“Is there an inn hither?” Frog asked, hoping to distract her.

She took a deep breath before answering. “Yes, at the other end of town,” she finally answered, her voice tight with remembered anger. “Remind me again whose idea it was to come here.”


“Oh, yes. That’s right.” She clenched her hands into fists so tightly that her nails drew blood from her palms.

“Ye gots a bit of an anger control problem, don’t ya?” Rat asked.

A few seconds later, Mariel chuckled slightly and unclenched her fists. “Just a little bit,” she responded. “Well, m’dears, welcome to the village of George.”

“George?” Frog asked skeptically.

“Yes, the man who founded this sorry excuse for a hamlet was named George. No one ever knew his last name because his mother was a prostitute, and he wasn’t about to go by her name. So, the place got called George.”

“That is the single most pathetic thing I’s ever hearded,” Rat laughed.

“‘Hearded’?” Mariel asked.

“Yah, what about it?” Rat demanded.

“You need to work on your grammar.”

“My grammar is fine, thank you very much.” Rat sniffed arrogantly. “And what about Frogger? He talks weird.”

Frog groaned. “Oh, do not pull me into this.”

Mariel ignored him. “Yes, but he speaks in a dialect that is accepted as a form of speech, albeit an outdated one. You, on the other hand, simply use street slang.”

Rat opened her mouth to reply, but Frog interrupted her. “Both of thee still thy tongues! Thou art making a scene.” Rat and Mariel looked around, finally noticing that several people were staring.

“We’s gonna finish this later,” Rat said, glaring at Mariel.

“Fine by me.” She smiled, glad that her hood kept anyone from noticing. She wouldn't want anyone to think she actually enjoyed arguing with Rat after all.


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