The Thief and the Swordsfrog Chapter 20
By Silent Elegy
Rat sniffed the air. The smell of beer and sweat was thick, even for a weekend. She was glad for it, though; it took her mind off things. It was a testament to her acting abilities that Gerald didn't even know anything was wrong. All he could tell was that she seemed to have learned her lesson about stealing at long last, and had thrown herself at her work with a fervor that would have shamed an ant.
It had been several days since she had returned, bedraggled and weary, to collapse on the inn floor at Gerald's feet. She never told him the reason she was so tired was because she hadn't stopped running since she left Truce Canyon. Glenn hadn't come to see her, but she hadn't really expected him to. He was human, now, and handsome besides. He had the favor of the Queen and King, and no doubt had plenty of women to choose from. What would he want with one short, ugly, hairy, kleptomaniac rat?
She began to wish she'd taken Mariel up on her offer. It was too late, now. Rat sniffed again and wished she'd gotten to know her own sister better.
Mariel stood by a bookshelf, a volume of magic in one hand, and a piece of cheese in the other. Rat entered the room and stood right behind her for several minutes, growing more and more bored until she finally said, "Hey, Mar."
Mariel jumped and dropped the cheese, but managed to hang on to the book. "Oh, Rat. You startled me."
"Yah, I c'n tell. Listen, I was wonderin'. You gots all that power. Can ya.say, turn somethin' into somethin' else?"
Mariel blinked. "Wh-what do you mean?"
"Well, I know I seem pretty off in space sometimes, but I see more'n ya thinks." The tip of her tail swung back and forth unconsciously. Mariel wondered if Rat knew what she had done all those long years ago. "Well, I c'n tell it about Frogger; he don't much like bein' a frog. I c'n tell it, ya know? He's.resigned to it. Can ya change him back?"
Mariel silently breathed a sigh of relief and answered, "Yes. I think I can. It takes a tremendous amount of power though. It's not something I can cast right now."
"But you'll do it when this is all over?"
"Thanks, sis." Rat started to leave, and Mariel turned back to what she was doing until it dawned on her what Rat had called her. This time, the book did fall to floor. She whirled around.
"What did you call me?"
"Sis," Rat answered, blinking. "You's my sis, ain't ya? Ya think I can't smell it?"
"Since we met after Lenny.after he died." Rat stumbled over her words as thoughts of Lenny brought the pain back anew. She fought it down and continued. "I figure, if you's a Mystic, then I must be, too. And that's why I's a rat and you's a human. Ya really didn't think you was hidin' it, did ya?"
"I.I'm sorry. You're not a rat because you're part Mystic, although you are. You father is Magus, as well. You're a rat because.because when you were born, I didn't understand that babies need more care than five year olds. I thought they loved you more than me, and I hated you for it. You're a rat because.I turned you into one."
"Oh," Rat said simply. She shrugged. "Okay."
Mariel was stunned. "That's it? Just 'okay'? You don't hate me for it?"
"S'in the past. 'Sides, you was jus' a little thing."
"I can turn you back too, if you like."
"Nah, I likes being a rat. I wouldn't know how to be human, anyway. But thanks fer the offer." Rat exited, leaving Mariel in a stunned stupor.
The memory brought a tear to her eyes, and she turned to clean some glasses to cover it up.
She ducked below the bar to find a mug for a newcomer demanding ale and nearly cracked her skull when the door opened and the wind blowing through it brought a mostly familiar scent to mingle with the slew of others. She closed her eyes and brought herself back under control before getting the man's ale. When he left, another man took his place.
"What'll ya have, stranger?" Rat asked without turning. She already knew who it was.
"Hast thou forgotten me already?" Glenn asked.
"Don't believe we ever met." She turned to face him and swallowed the cry that threatened to incapacitate her. "Ya gonna drink or not?"
"Tis I, Rat," he said. "Tis Glenn." He shook his head and corrected himself. "Frog."
"I knew a guy named Frog once," she said, turning again. "He's dead, now."
"Nay, Rat, I am here. I am still who I was. I only look different."
"Ya talk jus' like him. He always talked weird, too."
Glenn swallowed. "I see I was wrong to come hither," he said angrily. "I thought thou cared for me for who I was. I imagine I was wrong." He stalked away. Rat noticed with part of her mind that he moved awkwardly, as though he wasn't used to being human. She managed to stand strong until he disappeared through the door, but she couldn't take it anymore. She jumped over the bar and dashed between people's feet and out below the door to the bar.
"Frogger, wait!" she yelled. He stopped, but didn't turn around. "I's sorry, I really is, and I thought you didn't like me no more since you was human and all and." She fell to the ground and buried her face in her paws, sobbing uncontrollably as four days of pent up emotion made itself known.
Glenn quickly closed the distance between them and pulled her to him. "I should have come to thee sooner. Tis mine own fault, Medina. Forgive me."
Rat sniffed. "What'd ya call me?"
Glenn looked uncomfortable. "Medina."
"Don't call me that. It sounds stupid."
Glenn smiled and laughed softly, although it still sounded like he was croaking. "As thou wish, Lady Rat."
"Don't call me that neither."
"Then what shall I call thee?"
"Just Rat. Ain't got no fancy title 'cept 'Stop, thief.'" She licked him on the cheek in her approximation of a kiss, then blushed.
Glenn smiled and pulled something from the pouch he carried on his waste. "Rat, I would ask thee for thy hand, but thou hath only a paw, so." He took her paw in his hand and slipped a small diamond ring over one of her fingers. "Wilt thou have me?"
Rat blinked, then grinned impishly and studied the ring. "Well, I dunno know. I mean, how ya expectin' to take care of me when ya c'n only afford a two karat diamond? I's a pretty expensive gal, ya know?"
"Rat." he groaned plaintively.
She licked him on the nose and said, "Yah, I does."
Several weeks later brought the biggest event since Glenn was officially made a knight, as well as the biggest snowstorm since Magus began leading the Mystic army. Rat flat out refused to wear white.
"How ya expect to see me when ya can't tell me from the blizzard?" she yelled. "'Sides, I look stupid in white. What're people gonna say? A giant brown and grey rat wearin' white! I don't even wear this that well! Hey! What're ya doin' with those scissors? Hey, you better get those away from me! I ain't kiddin' with ya!"
The maids that Leene had directed to tend to Rat simply ignored her protests and went on about their business.
Glenn, standing outside the door waiting for her, had fared no better. He laughed to hear much the same things he himself had said intermingled with squeaks and street slang.
"Sir Glenn!" called a messenger. "I was sent to retrieve you, and their Majesties wish to know if Lady Medina is ready yet."
Glenn shook his head. "Nay, she is still within." An especially loud squeal caused the boy to jump.
"I telled ya! Didn't I tell ya? Get them scissors away from me paws! I don't care if ya gots to cut that thread! Go away, and I will bite it off! I-" There was a pause here, then, "I don't care if it'll look ratty! I's a rat, ain't I?"
Glenn rolled his eyes and laughed, then followed the boy back to the auditorium of the former Mystic cathedral, which was packed with people. Some of them truly wished to see the great hero Glenn finally settle down with the woman he loved. Others knew that the Lady Medina was a rat, and were only here to watch the spectacle. Still eight others watched from a box that had been set aside just for them because of the role they had played in bringing about the downfall of the King of Thieves. These eight both knew about Lady Medina, and wished her and Glenn the best. Most of the people standing under the box were rather nervous about having eight large rats above their heads.
Several minutes went by during which Scarface fell off the balcony and onto a lady's head. The resulting cacophony was enough of a comedy as the bored patrons could have wanted right then. It was several more minutes before she stopped fluttering her hands uselessly and squealing about the demon on her head. A search for Scarface found his tail disappearing onto the balcony rail from a curtain that hung nearby.
Finally, the wedding train entered, and the processional began to play. And it played. People looked around at each other, wondering if the bride had gotten cold feet. Glenn rolled his eyes and shook his head.
Finally, Rat, running on all fours, skidded to a halt in front of the door and stood. She brushed off her white wedding dress and entered with Gerald. He walked proudly in the suit his father had worn at his wedding. He sniffled as he gave Rat to Glenn and sat down.
The wedding went by without a hitch.
Doreen watched with mingled pride, joy, and jealousy. This was the second time Master had taken a bride, and while Doreen was happy to see him happy, she was jealous of Rat. You have Master's love more than I, now. But you were made for him. I suppose I'll have to share from now on. Ah, well. At least I can mourn my sorrows to ears that can't turn me away.
Ah, come on, Doreen! exclaimed Mune. Give us a break.
Masa added, Yeah! We never did anything to you!
Ha ha ha! Sorry, boys. I'm not that nice.
One last spectator watched with joy and jealously. She watched through the dark mist that surrounded this place called the End of Time. Doreen had brought her here after she had released all her magic and life in one wave of raw power. An old man named Gasper had cared for her.
She smiled as her sister and new brother-in-law sealed their love with a kiss. "You deserve it," she whispered. She wiped away a tear and let the image vanish.
"Ahem, just what are you lollygagging around for."
"I was watching my sister get married, Spekkio," she answered.
Spekkio pretended to gasp with alarm. "And that's more important than studying?"
Mariel groaned. "Come on, Spekkio! I've been studying since I got here. I need a break."
Gasper chose this moment to interject his own two cents worth. "No, you were asleep for most of the time, and eating sometimes. Really, you haven't studied all that much. You're just not used to a little hard work."
"I think things were better under Flea." Mariel muttered.
"Be careful what you wish you for," Spekkio said slyly. He knew she had wanted someone who would teach her true magic like her father had once wielded because he and Gasper had been watching her.
She shook her head. "Fine. It's not like there's anything else to do here." She grudgingly followed Spekkio back to his room, but secretly, she was happier than she had ever been. She recalled something she had told Glenn. "One of these days, I'll know it all. What started it all. How it all ended. Everything."
And I have that from here, she thought. I can see it all.
If Spekkio wondered why she smiled as he drilled her relentlessly, he didn't ask.
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