“It has been a hundred years since my ancestors settled this place. The great sir Lhoras the Bold, my great-grandfather, came with his retinue after a long battle against the forces of evil. He had rescued the woman who would become my great-grand mother from the evil warlock Armanthas, who, at the time, was building an impressive horde of…”
The warrior raised his hand for the farmer to stop. His other hand was rubbing at his temples.
“Could you get to the point?”
“Oh,” said the farmer, slightly irritated that his rehearsed speech was once again cut short. “I need you to kill some rats.”
“Rats? You want me to kill rats?”
The warrior pursed his lips.
“Are they giant rats?”
“Uh, there are some large ones,” said the farmer, spacing the palm of his hands about 8 inches to show the vermin’s size. “But I wouldn’t call them giant.”
A sigh and droopy shoulders were the warrior’s immediate answer. Eventually he managed to ask.
“Do they breathe fire? Fly? Anything?”
“No, not really…” The farmer looked mildly annoyed. “I’m paying six coppers for the job.”
“Six? That’s not a lot.”
It was the farmer’s time to sigh. He crossed his arms.
“An exterminator would cost me less and wouldn’t do the mess you will with that sword of yours.”
A glance at the flaming two-handed sword hanging from his back explained what he meant.
“I can be cleaner.”
The warrior leaned his head sideways.
“Ok…” answered the adventurer, shrugging.
“I’ll be standing right here. The basement is that way.”
“Of course you will,” muttered the warrior, walking towards the stairway as if headed to his grave.
It was a rather mundane basement like so many others he had helped clean up in the village. Few lanterns illuminated the place and soon the shadows of rats scurried pass behind boxes and crates. The warrior had a shred of hope that the ominous shadows would mean fiendish rats, until the first one appeared over a box. With a quick swing of his flaming two-handed sword of destruction, he vanquished the rat.
He didn’t feel any better about it. Neither did he after killing two more.
The warrior was about to behead another rat when an arrow pieced the vermin, impaling it against the wall.
On the stairway up, an elf with a bow prepared a second arrow, examining the basement from afar.
“Hey. Who are you?”
The elf fired another arrow and another rat screeched, pinned to the wall. He glanced at the warrior for a second, before drawing a third arrow.
“I got hired to kill some rats.”
“No you didn’t! I did!”
The elf lowered his bow. There was an odious smirk on his face.
“Well, then maybe the owner has no trust in your ability to do the job.”
“Killing rats? How could it go wrong?”
A glance from the elf towards the scorched crates and miniature pyres around the basement seemed to answer the warrior’s question. He stepped on a few and patted others to prevent the place from burning up.
When he looked back at the elf, the pointed-ears freak was already aiming for another rat. He spoke up without looking back at the warrior.
“Listen, rats breed like freaks. I’m sure as soon as you kill a few others will come out of the woodwork as if they had always been there, so why don’t we kill ten or so rats and get out of here with our money?”
The warrior sheathed his flaming sword and let himself drop on a crate. The massive armor he used suddenly felt too heavy.
“What’s the use? They’ll come back later anyway.”
“That means they will pay us again,” said the elf, shrugging.
There was truth in that statement. Too much truth.
“It’s a wonder they don’t quit hiring adventurers if the problem is never solved.”
The elf lowered his bow, replacing his unfired arrow on his quiver. He drew a bottle from his bag and drank it. “It could be worse,” he said between sips.
Ignoring the resurgence of rats as if out of thin air, the elf seated cross-legged on the floor.
“You know that village just north of here? I heard they were under attack.”
The warrior remembered it well. He had been there several times in the last week. He smiled, shaking his head.
“They are always under attack!” Still, the population didn’t seem to care so much. There are always a dozen of them outside their houses offering unrelated jobs and wares for sale as if goblins were not running around the place. They were either very stupid or had no life at all.
“Oh, but that’s different,” said the elf, getting up and picking up the arrow again. “I heard there were ogres.”
“Ogres?” That caught the warrior’s attention. Ogres always mingled around the woods west of there. “Now that’s an unexpected event.”
“Yeah. And I heard that merchant that buys junk has gone missing.”
“What!?” The warrior’s heart had skipped a beat. He got up, seriously worried. “I still got a bunch of paws and burlap sacks in stock to sell him!”
The elf fired another arrow, killing yet another rat.
With a shrug, the warrior drew his sword that had been already flaming for good measure. He swung a couple of times, incinerating one of the rodents.
“Killing rats. When did we sink so low?”
“I need money to buy a horse,” said the elf, scoring another kill.
“We’re heroes!” yelled the warrior, turning back to the elf. “Adventurers!”
The elf smirked again, shaking his head. “Have you noticed the number of adventurers running around this place? Everyone is getting jobs. There is little left other than killing rats.”
“And they always come back,” said the warrior, killing one more with a half-hearted attack. “It sounds so futile!”
“I guess you got yourself the wrong job, pal. Why don’t you buy a shop and open up a store?”
“And have to stand up on the street all day and night begging people to come over sell me their junk? No way. I’d rather kill rats.”
|Rafael Cobra Teske|