The Thief and the Swordsfrog Chapter 2

By Silent Elegy

The captain of the King’s knights was bored. He was fine with peace; peace was good. His brother was certainly happy. But to be sent on a mission to an abandoned castle that may or may not even be there… The captain felt that the king was no longer allowing him to use his full potential. He also felt that it was Sir Frog’s fault.

Frog was a good enough soldier, a fine fighter. But he was a frog. The King’s Champion should not be a frog. The wielder of Masamune should not be a frog. The Hero of legend should not be a frog. Not that the captain was bitter; oh no. He just felt cheated. He felt that were entirely too many Mystics taking the jobs of hard working people.  Frog said he wasn’t a Mystic, but the captain didn’t quite believe that.

Thus it was that he sat at the bar in the Broken Knife in Porre, waiting for the ship that would take him to the abandoned castle to finally be ready. He sat, drowning his troubles in a tankard of beer. An empty tankard beer.

“Bartender,” he began, then stopped when he saw a rat’s tail disappear behind the bar. “Bartender, don’t you keep this place clean? I just saw a rat!”

“Ye got something against rats?” said a giant rat as it poked its head above the counter.

The knight captain jumped back and reached for his sword.

“Well, apparently so,” Rat went on. “Humanist,” she muttered, dropping back down behind bar.

The knight captain recovered his aplomb. “Forgive me. I hadn’t expected to see, well…” he trailed off.

“G’on and say it,” said Rat. “A giant rat. S’what I is. And I’s proud of it, too.” Rat set a rag on the counter behind the bar. “You wants another drink or not?”

“Will you be poring it?” The captain barely kept the acid out of his voice. It wasn’t that he had anything against non-humans. It was just that this was a rat!

“Yah, you gots a problem? Gerald’s in back while you was drinking you’self stupid.”

“I beg your pardon!” the knight captain exclaimed.

“You hearded me! I ain’t gots no respect for a soldier what drinks when he’s on duty.”

The knight captain stood up, ready with a sharp retort. However, one of the soldiers under his command interrupted him. He sighed. “What is it?”

“Sir, the ship is ready,” the young man said importantly.

“Very well.” He started to leave, but turned back to Rat. “We’ll settle this another time.”

“I’ll be waitin’ fer ya’s,” Rat called after him. “Dang, I tell ya’s…” Rat continued to mutter unintelligibly about humans who thought they were the top of the food chain, much to the amusement of the other patrons of the bar.

“Didja get his wallet, Rat?” someone called out.

“What do I look like? A common thief?” Rat yelled back with mock-indignation as she displayed the knight captain’s belt pouch. An eruption of laughter ensued, followed by bets on how long it took the captain to notice.

“Rat, how many times have I told you? If-” Gerald began, coming out the back room.

“If I’m gonna steal, do it outside,” Rat finished. “And several. If I’m not mistaken, you telled me just yesterday when I filched that one guy’s family heirloom.”

Gerald sighed. He loved Rat, but he wished she wasn’t such a kleptomaniac. It wasn’t even something he had taught her to do. In fact, he had done his best to keep her from stealing from other people, but to no avail. He finally decided that the best he could do was to discourage her from stealing within the walls of the Broken Knife. It seemed that to him that it was just a rat’s way, to steal.

“Well, are you ever going to listen to me?” he asked.

“I only does it when they deserves it,” she muttered, picking up her rag and continuing to dry the glasses.

The knights stood on the deck of ship gazing at a fairly dismal sight. There had been a castle all right, just as Frog had said. It was so old, it couldn’t have been built recently, but the knight captain knew it hadn’t been there a few weeks ago and no one had been seen building anything over here.

The castle was in a state of ruin. It had completely collapsed into itself. The soldiers made a thorough search of it, but as expected, they found nothing. Disgruntled, they returned to the castle.

“There’s nothing there save ruins, your highness,” the knight captain was saying to the King. Frog shook his head, slightly. The castle had still been mostly intact when he’d left it, despite the collapse of the basement ceiling. Something very strange was going on.

“Do you have any idea what’s going on?” the king asked everyone in general. “Maybe the castle just took a while to collapse completely.”

“No, highness. The ruin wasn’t the least bit recent. It even had quite a bit moss growing over it.” He leaned close and said quietly, “If you don’t mind, highness, I’d like to speak with you privately.”

The king nodded and they walk out of earshot. Or rather, they walked out of earshot of any normal humans. But Frog, like all frogs, had incredibly keen hearing.

“Highness, no disrespect intended, but I think Frog made it up,” said the knight captain.

“What? Why would he do that?”

“Well, highness, what with the war being over, there’s not much reason for him to be here anymore. He could be doing this just to feel needed.”

The king raised his hands. “No, I won’t hear of it. Sir Frog wouldn’t do anything like this. I’ve known him for over 10 years now.”

“Yes, sir. But still, I’ve known no few people who’ve manufactured enemies just to feel that they were doing something. Some of them didn’t even realize it was their imagination.”

Frog was hard-pressed not to argue with the knight captain. He knew what he’d seen, and he had a witness to prove it. But no one here knew how good his hearing and eyesight were, and he wanted to keep it that way. He was glad when the king called an end to the conversation and dismissed the captain.

The king sighed. “Frog, are you absolutely certain of what you experienced?”

“Aye, highness,” Frog answered emphatically. “I cannot have faked such an injury to mine leg. And there was Rat as well.”

“This is very strange. I want to know this Rat’s story. Do you think you can find her?”

“I shall try, highness.” Frog kneeled, glad that his leg had healed so he could again, and left.


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