The Thief and the Swordsfrog Chapter 7
By Silent Elegy
Gerald sat behind the bar, rather bored. Since the majority of his customers were still working, it would be a few more hours before they started coming in to drink. With Rat gone for who knew how long, Gerald had nothing to do.
There was one person in the bar, however. Gerald couldnt tell if it was a man or a woman. The person was hidden in a heavy cloak with the hood pulled low. It sat at the back of the bar, in the corner farthest from the door. Its head darted this way and that, starting at every sound, as though it was a hunted animal.
The door opened, interrupting Geralds bored musings, and Rat walked in followed by Frog. Gerald knew instantly that something was wrong; Rats ears and whiskers were drooping, and her tail dragged the ground. The fur around her eyes was darker than usual, signaling that shed been crying.
Gerald rushed to her. Rat, whats wrong? he asked worriedly.
She sniffed once and threw herself into his arms, her tears starting anew. Gerald looked to Frog for answers.
Frog sighed and said, Leonard has died.
Oh, no, Gerald breathed. Not Lenny. Oh, Rat, Im so sorry.
How did he die? asked a low female voice from the back of the room. Gerald mentally cursed at having forgotten about that person.
Rat sniffed and blinked. He was killed, she answered. I dunno how.
Its very sad to lose a loved one. You have my sympathy. The figure stood and pulled back her hood to reveal a woman of striking beauty. Her skin was a pale cream color, and her face was thin with high cheekbones. She was obviously of Mystic heritage because her long, thick hair was blue. That wasnt a normal color for a human, after all. Her ears were long and pointed, as well, showing through her hair. Her eyes, however, were her most striking feature. Mystics usually had brown or green eyes, but this womans were red. Gerald heard Frog gasp slightly, though Rat was unimpressed by her.
Thanks, said Rat. She walked through the bar to the back room to cry in peace for a while.
Gerald was speechless, awestruck by some force he didnt even realize was holding him. Mariel looked at him. Leave, please.
Gerald, held in the thrall of Mariels charm spell, nodded mutely and walked out the door, leaving Frog alone with Mariel. Frog put a hand on Masamune, ready to draw it if need be, and said, Who art thou?
That depends on you, she answered. I am Mariel, daughter of Magus. I know all about you. I could be your friend, or your enemy. Its all up to you.
Why should thou be mine friend if thou art truly the daughter of mine mortal enemy?
I am hardly my father, Mariel replied lazily. In fact, the last time I saw him was 20 years ago. I was five. I dont remember him.
Why art thou here?
Because I wanted to meet you.
Because just because. Do I need a reason?
Frog shook his head in confusion. If this girl was truly Magus daughter, and the resemblance was too astounding to be coincidence, then wouldnt she want revenge? Or something.
Frog realized that Mariel was standing in front of him now. She kneeled down to be eye level with him and said, I am not my father. I know what he did to you. I feel sorry for you.
Do not feel sorry for me. I am well enough. He gave a short laugh. Indeed, I quite enjoy being a frog.
No, you dont. I can see it in your eyes. I know all about you.
What do you know? Frog whispered, slipping out of his dialect.
You were a coward. You blamed yourself for Cyrus death. You sought revenge. You got it. Magus is dead.
Frog shook his head to clear it, realizing Mariel had been trying to charm him. I thought thou said thou knew everything about me. If Magus were dead, I would be human.
Mariel sighed heavily. I see That I did not know. Oh, how much more is there? I hate being ignorant. She stood and pulled her hood back over her head. One of these days, Ill know it all. What started it all. How it all ended. Everything. Until we meet again, noble kaeru She trailed a few fingers across Frogs face as she walked past, startling him. Then she was gone.
Rat sniffed. She knew that smell, though she couldnt think why. That girl was familiar, though. Not that it mattered.
She didnt know what was going on in the tavern proper; she was too busy remembering the good times shed had with Lenny. She thought about how theyd first met.
She had been a small thing at the time, and always into something. One day, shed wandered into the back alley. Gerald had always told her not to go there. Rat smiled. He still didnt know any better.
Hed always said it was dangerous back there, that mean people whod try to hurt her were back there. Shed gone there anyway, of course. She didnt meet any mean people, though. She met a very mean rat.
Whachu doin back here, ya two-leg vermin? he squeaked at her.
N-n-nothing, she stuttered in response.
Looktcha! he said scornfully. Cant even walk right. Hey, boys! Get out here!
Three more rats walked into the alley. They jeered her, calling her names like two-leggers pet or filthy half-human. She was crying by then; she was still very young. The rats starting biting her, and clawing her. She was large enough to have swatted them away, but too young to realize it.
Suddenly, another rat squeaked, sending the four scurrying away as fast as their legs could take them. She looked up to see the largest rat she had ever seen. He was easily a foot long from nose to tail, and brown in color. Rat gasped and pressed herself against the wall behind her.
Oh, rlax, wouldcha? he squeaked. I aint gonna hurtcha. I dun like to see dem jerkoffs picking on females.
Whats your name? Rat asked, still a little scared.
Thats what people call you, silly. Rat giggled. They call me Rat, cause thats what I am.
Yeah? They call me, Oh crud! Run for your lives! Rat began laughing helplessly. What? Thats what they call me.
At first, Rat thought he joking. Then she realized he was serious. She collapsed, too weak with laughter to move.
The rat huffed. Mebbe I shoulda jus leftcha to them he said, turning to go.
Oh no! Please, Rat said. Its just well, that aint a name.
Den what is?
Rat thought for a moment. Ill call you Lenny, after Leonard the Shadow. Hes my hero.
The newly christened Lenny pushed his ears back and said, All right. I cn live with that.
Rat smiled at the memory. Shortly after that, those four rats whod attacked her became Alan, Fingers, Johnny, and Mikey. The other four had shown up a few weeks later. They had all been friends ever since.
A tear rolled down Rats face as she realized again that shed never be able to go out back and get pounced on by Lenny, or have to intervene in a rat fight between him and Alan. Shed never get to listen to him go on and on about the interesting shinies hed found, or the latest attempts to catch the pack with traps.
But he wouldnt want her to be like this. If he were with her right then, hed tell her to get her tail in gear and find out what was going on. Hed say, Whatchu sittin around here for? Get outta here, and get that thing what got me. She could almost hear him, in fact
Rat clenched her paws into fists. She was going to find out what happened, and she was going to make someone pay. And whoever it was would pay dearly.
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