View Full Version : King of Rats

2010-11-01, 10:41 PM
I was going through some of my old setting details and found a couple of short legends I wrote to flesh out a campaign setting of mine. This one is about the Zaedian people, whose King is known as the King of Shadows.

The King of Rats

Once upon a time, the King's castle in Aracab was overrun with rats. They got into the store of grain, the dates, and even stole pies as they were left to cool.

Now the King grew weary of this, and sent out word to his people that he would pay good money for a cat or poison that would rid his castle of these little monsters.

People from all over the land came trying to sell great cats or magnificent poisons to the King. At first, many of these were charlatans, selling ally cats they had captured along the way, and river stones. These were flayed by the King, and after that few tried to trick him.

Then one day a Countess came and for a great sum gave her King the greatest mouser to ever live. Within a month there were only a few dozen rats living in the King's castle, and the cat became a favorite pet of the King.

Now the remaining rats gathered took council with one another.

“We should run away,” one said. “We must all attack the cat at once, for if we act together we can kill it” said another. “Maybe the cat can be reasoned with,” said a third.

The King of Rats listened to all these councils and told his people, “I have a plan. The King of Zaedians has bought much poison to try and kill us and the other thieves that would try to steal from him. We shall have one among us who is large eat many of these poisons and then run where the cat can see him. When the cat eats him, he will also eat the poison and die.”

There was a great uproar among the rats at this plan. “Too many of us have already died,” said one of the rats. “I will not sacrifice myself for you!” cried the fatest of the rats. “It will not work because the cat will smell the poison,” said a third.

“Must I be the one to make this sacrafice?” the King of Rats asked, and stilled all the other rats' tongues.

“Your majesty, this is not right,” said the oldest of the rats, “At least allow me try first, for I am old and a widow without children. No one will miss me as your bride will miss you.”

“It will not work, old one,” the King or Rats replied, “you are old and slow and already sick. The poisons will kill you before the cat does, and the killer would not eat your body.”

“He is our King,” said the fattest of the rats, “He is the one who must ensure that the people go on at all costs.”

And so the rats bowed their heads and agreed that the King was the one who must give his life to save them all. This saddened them, for their King was wise and kind, and they had prospered under him.

The King of Rats kissed his Queen goodbye, and then went to the kitchens to eat the poisons. Most of the rats did not follow for fear that the cat would find them after it ate their King. But the fattest of the rats and the oldest of the rats went with him and hid on a high shelf to see if the cat died.

The King of Rats gathered the poisoned food that the humans had put out for his people, and took a bunch of them down to one of the stoves, and began to eat it.

While he ate, the fattest rat found a several pieces of moldy cheese that had been hidden up on the high shelf, and quickly ate them, finishing even as his King did.

As the two rats on the shelf watched their King finish his poisonous food, there arose a clatter from the floor under the highest shelf, as a bottle of wine crashed to the ground far below. The two rats on the shelf turned to see the Queen of rats scurrying into the hole that they had used to get there.

The oldest rat quickly followed her, but stopped in the entryway, blocking it. With a sudden wave of nausia, the fattest rat turned to look back over the kitchen to see that his King had already gone into hiding, and that the mouser was already there.

He turned and tried to push the oldest rat out of his way, but as he did a paw came on him knocking him from the high shelf.

The next morning, the King of Shadows arose and was greeted with the news that his beloved pet had died in the night.