The Thief and the Swordsfrog Chapter 3

By Silent Elegy

A shadow moved silently through the darkened house, staying just outside of the moonlight coming through a window. It stopped next to a shelf of knick-knacks, picking some up but setting them back. It moved on quickly, stopping at a desk. It picked up an interesting looking letter-opener and spirited it away to some hidden pouch.

It came to a half-closed door and, after a moment of hesitation, slipped inside. The room itself was uninteresting. A bed in one corner contained two sleeping forms. Near that was a bookshelf, and next to that a dresser. Sitting on the dresser was the thief’s goal: a jewelry box. It quietly picked up a few necklaces and earrings before leaving again.

Outside the house, the form pulled back its hood to reveal a young boy, no older than 8 years. He took one last look at the house and ran for a certain nearby bar.

Rat was on bar duty when the boy came rushing in. She lashed her tail. “Ya ain’t s’pposed to be in here, Lyle,” she said chidingly.

“Look! Look!” Lyle said excitedly, producing his small bag for his hero’s inspection.

Rat sorted through the contents for a moment, pulling things out momentarily and dropping them for some other interesting item. Finally, she handed it back to him. “Ya get these from Mr. Mayor?” Lyle nodded excitedly. “Ya didn’t get caught?”

“Nope! I snuck right into their room where they were sleeping, and they didn’t catch me!”

“Well then!” Rat ducked under the bar and came back up with a small pouch of money. “Let’s see what’cha got.”

They spent the next several minutes in happy haggling for the stolen items. Finally, Rat pronounced the deal completed. “Ya take the rest of that stuff over to Old Man Willy. He’ll take it offa yer hands.”

“Thanks, Rat,” Lyle said as he shook hands with her. “It’s been a pleasure doing business with you.”

Rat laughed, although it more sounded like a squeak to the untrained listener, and ruffled his hair. “You sounds like an old merchantman or somethin’. G’on! Get outta here.” Lyle laughed and ran out of the bar.

Rat laughed again, silently, and dropped her new treasures into her moneybag. It wasn’t much, just a necklace and two rings, but it was Lyle’s first real, unsupervised expedition into someone’s house. Rat was honored that he had come to her first with his goods. Especially considering she wasn’t in the thieves’ guild, although many guild thieves thought she should be. Her response to their badgering was always, “I just hate rule and regulations.”

She ducked under the bar again to put her bag away, and heard the door open and shut. She peeked over the top of the bar and saw a familiar form. “Well, well, well,” she said, standing. “Lookit what we got here.” She grinned.

“Hello, Rat,” said Frog, sitting.

“Didn’t think I’d see a nob like you in here. What’ll ya have?”

“Actually, I’m here to find thee. I’ve been looking for thee since yesterday, and I finally found out from some people in town that thou worked here.”

“Yah. Considering the people ya most likely talked to, I’m a thieving, conniving, evil beast, right?”

“Aye, they had said that. They believed me to be coming to arrest thee.”

“Izzat a fact…” Rat narrowed her eyes. “Why would they be thinking that, now?”

“Mayhap because I am from the castle?”

“Hold on!” Rat cocked her head. “The castle? You ne’er tole me that.”

“Thou never asked. And most people know who I am on sight.” Frog shrugged. “I found it rather refreshing not to be addressed with reverence and awe.”

Rat scoffed. “What are ya? The king?”

Frog was saved from having to answer by one of the other patrons. “He’s Sir Frog, the King’s Champion and the one what defeated Magus!”

Rat’s head snapped around to glare at Frog. She studied him intently for some moments before saying, “You? Defeated Magus?” She blinked, then collapsed behind the bar in helpless laughter.

Frog stood indignantly. “What’s so funny?”

“You!” Rat choked out. “Defeated Magus! Oh, that’s a riot!”

“Hey, Rat,” said Gerald, coming out of the back to see what the commotion was all about. “He’s serious.”

“Say what?!”

“Oh yeah. I’m surprised you don’t know, what with all your connections.”

“You’s joking…” Rat stood up and studied Frog again, who looked gratifyingly toward Gerald. “So. You here to take me to the castle?”

“I would be grateful if thou wouldst come, aye. But of thy own will. I need thee to bare witness to what happened last week.”

Rat backed up to lean against the counter behind her. “Wha’s in it fer me?”

“Doth thou do everything for a reward?” Frog asked scathingly.

Rat shrugged. “I gots to make a living somehow.”

Gerald sighed. “Rat, come here.” He pulled her aside and said quietly, “Rat, for once in your life, why don’t you do something just to do it?”


“No. Rat, listen. All your life, you’ve done things only if there was something in it for you. Why don’t do this one thing just because someone needs you?”

Rat looked at the floor. “A’right.”

“Thanks, Rat.”

They walked back to where Frog was contriving to look as though he hadn’t heard a word they’d said. “A’right,” said Rat. “I’ll help ya.”

“Thank you, Miss Rat,” Frog said, bowing his head.

“One condition, though. Cut with the ‘miss’ and the ‘madame’ and the ‘lady’ stuff, a’right? M’name’s Rat. Just Rat. Ain’t got no fancy titles ‘cept ‘Stop, thief’, a’right?”

Frog smiled. “Very well.”

“Ye can stay here if ya wants, but I s’ppose a nob like you’d rather stay in some fancy inn. We c’n leave in the morning.” Frog agreed and left.

Rat turned to Gerald. “If ya don’t mind, I think I’ll take the rest of the night off.”

“Go right ahead,” he replied. “And Rat? I’m proud of you.”

Rat smiled and, retrieving her bag, walked into the back room.

There was a pretty young girl behind the bar when Frog entered the next morning. Her pointed ears gave away her Mystic heritage, but the few patrons of the bar didn’t seem to care. “Hello, miss,” Frog said. The girl giggled. “I’m looking for Rat.”

“Oh, don’cha wanna talk to me?” she said teasingly. “I’ll go get her for ya.” She walked over to the door to the back room and knocked. “Hey Rat? There’s a nice little frog here to see you.”

A few seconds went by and the door opened. Rat rubbed her eyes. “Already?”

“Thou said we wouldst leave in the morning,” Frog said. “Tis morning now.”

“Say what? It ain’t morning. S’the middle of the night.” Rat yawned. “T’ain’t morning ‘til at least one o’clock. Good night.” Rat ducked back into the room. Frog was about to walk over and wake her himself when there was shout followed by a crash. The door slammed open and Rat stumbled out on all fours. “Le’s go!” She grabbed Frog and hauled him outside, and didn’t stop moving until they were well away.

“What happened?” Frog asked worriedly.

“Gerald’s pissed.” Rat yawned. “Dang, I’s tired. So, what’s this all about, anyway?”

“The captain of the King’s Knights took a small contingent of soldiers to search that island castle,” Frog began.

“They find more’n me?”

“They found nothing save ruins. The castle looketh as though it hath been fallen for centuries.”

“Say what?! But it looked brand spankin’ new when we was there!”

“Aye, I know. Tis as I told them. I need thee to tell thy story of what happened, that mine may be more believable.”

“They don’t believe ya?” Frog shook his head. “But you’s the King’s Champion. You’s the Great Defeater of Magus.”

Frog smiled sadly. “I’m also naught but a frog. There are some in the castle who do not like me for that.”

Rat scoffed. “Humanists. Gotta hate’em. That’s why I like the Broken Knife. Ain’t nobody there cares what’cha look like long as they get their beer. Little Ally, back there. You met her. Mystic girl. She couldna get a job to save her soul. But Gerald’s a great guy. He let’s her work there most days. Outta curiosity, you a Mystic?”

“Nay. I am a frog.”

“Didna think so. I ain’t either, ‘cept most people think I am.”

The conversation trailed off here, and the two walked in silence for a while. Frog was lost in his thoughts, wondering if Rat had been human once. He didn’t want to ask, though. He couldn’t imagine what she was if she wasn’t Mystic and she hadn’t been human, but he was afraid to find out.

Finally, he said, “Art thou…happy?”

Rat blinked. “‘Course I am. Why ya ask?”

“Twas nothing.” Frog refused to say anymore about the matter.

“I ain’t seen so much stuff in my life,” Rat breathed. She looked around her in excited curiosity. “I never seen so many nobs. Dang, you people know how to live.” Frog, troubled, didn’t answer. Rat chattered happily about the amount of money that must have gone into building the castle and made guesses about how much this necklace or that broach most likely cost until she and Frog arrived at the throne room. Inside were the King and Queen, as well as the knight captain.

“Highness,” Frog said, kneeling. “This is Rat, the one who helped me.” Rat bowed awkwardly.

“A pleasure, Miss Rat,” said the King. “I understand you saved Frog from fair certain death. Why don’t you tell us what happened?”

“A’right. Uh, yes, your Highness.” Rat grinned. “Sorry, I ain’t nev-…haven’t ever talked to royalty before." The queen smiled encouragingly. Rat took a breath and began.

“Okay.  There’s a rumor goin’ ‘round that someone put up a castle overnight on an island. They said the castle’s absolutely full of loot…er, treasure.” Rat blushed in much the same way she smiled. “Anywho…way, I seen this boat was getting ready to go across to it, so I hitched a ride.”

“Wait,” the knight captain interrupted. “How could anyone have put up a castle overnight?”

Rat shrugged. “Magic, I guess. Anywho, so I hitched a ride on this boat what was goin’ across, and I seen the castle. It was huge! And it was nice, too. It was really new. Musta cost thousands to build; prolly cost more than Guardia…”

Frog croaked inconspicuously.

“Sorry,” Rat said, blushing again. “So I’s lookin’ around, and there ain’t noth…wasn’t anything there. But I seen some big guys carrying a sack, so I’s thinkin’ maybe they’s taking some treasure to where ever ‘tis they keep it. So I’s followin’ them, and they come to this room where they put a sword. Was Ma…sa…what is it?”

“Masamune,” Frog said.

“Yah, dat. So I go’s in, but the sword’s to big, so I leave it for now. I keep following the big guys, and they come to this other room. Then they open the sack and dump Frogger here inside and lock the door. You know what happens after that.”

“Yes, we do,” the King said. “Thank you, Miss Rat. You’ve been most helpful. Now, how do you think a new castle could suddenly look so old?”

“Magic. Does more’n ya think. I seen a guy cut a lady in half. And not that sleight of hand box trick neither. She was standing up in full view and he cut her half and her top fell to the ground. And she didn’t feel nothin’ ‘cept when she hit. And then he put her back together.

“In fact, now’at I think of it, I seen a guy take a rock and make it look real ancient and pre…pre…his…prehistoic?”

“Prehistoric,” Frog again corrected her.

“Yah, dat,” Rat agreed, nodding.

“So you think someone could use that trick to make a new castle seem ancient?” the Queen asked.

“I’d bet mah whiskers on it.”

“Thank you,” said the King. “You’ve been quite a help. You may go now.”

Rat bowed and left rather nervously.

“Highness,” said Frog. “Doth thou believe her?”

“Yes, I do. I would like to speak with the knight captain. Why don’t you escort Rat off the premises?”

“Very well, highness.” Frog kneeled and followed after Rat. He found her critically eyeing a tapestry.

One ear swiveled toward him and her whiskers twitched. “Hey, Frogman,” she said without turning. “How much ya think this costs?”

“I wouldn’t know,” he answered. “Come, I shall show thee out.”

“Thanks, ‘cause I’m completely lost in here.” She grinned and followed him.

They spoke quite a bit on the way back. At the door, Rat said, “Frog, listen. Something’s wrong. I didn’t like the smell back there.”

“What art thou talking about?”

“Couldn’t ya feel it? Something’s goin’ on. I wouldn’t sleep if I was you.” Rat left Frog wondering what she could possibly have been talking about.


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