Rat & Will Chapter 12: Of Dogs & Fire

Back in Morgan’s Keg, Fro met them on the stairs. Rat nodded at him and gestured for him to go ahead. The boy sent her a suspicious look, then shrugged and bolted ahead. Rat grinned at Will and climbed much more slowly behind him. No reason to frighten the boy too much before they had their information. Will simply shook his head and followed with a small smile.

Fro waited until Rat entered and looked about, Will filing in after. He stood at the door uncertainty for a long moment before looking at Rat, watching as she lit two candles. “If you have paper, I can draw a map to show where the guard shacks are. Can’t tell you much about the guards’ laundry yet, except for a list of people who don’t do it. Get who does tomorrow.”

Rat nodded and pulled a fresh page from a pack. She handed Fro that and a quill. An hour later, Fro’d filled them in not only on the location of each of the guard barracks outside of the palace, but the size, approximate strength, and patterns of coming and going of each one. Rat gave him a look. “You’ve been eyeing these for a while.”

Fro shrugged. “Only places with any money now. Except for you. And the palace.”

“Leave them be for now. Even the stupid ones are dangerous.” Rat gave him a serious look. 

The boy shrugged again, sullenly. “So’s starving to death.”

“But this is worse, probably.” Rat insisted. “Besides, if you aren’t a total idiot, I’ve got more work for you. So you won’t starve for a while yet.”

The boy looked up. “I’ll find out about the laundry. I promise.”

She gave him a stern look and handed him a small pile of coppers. “I know you will. And I’ll pay you the last five for that job when you do.” She cocked her head, sizing him up. Then she walked to the pile of goods she’d dropped to the bed when they came in and pulled out the coat and scarf. “Here.”

Fro frowned at her. “Where’d this come from?”

“Does it matter? Better stuff than yours and he won’t miss it.” Rat gestured with the bundle. 

Fro stepped up and took the items carefully. He inspected both, still shooting Rat suspicious looks. “Still don’t know why.”

“Because they were there, I wasn’t going to use them, and neither was he.” Rat glared at the boy. “Take them or don’t.”

“How much?” Fro was still suspiciously eying her, though his hands were clutching the warm cloak tightly. 

“Nothing. Probably couldn’t get anything for them in this shit hole town, anyway.” Rat sniffed. “Just don’t freeze to death before you get me my information, right?”

Fro nodded and was quickly gone. 

Will smiled at her warmly. “He’ll do better wearing those.”

“Better him than some rag picker that won’t help me any.” Rat sniffed. 

“Sure.” Will sent her a knowing grin, but didn’t push it. Rat didn’t like it when anyone pointed out that she’d done something nice. As a general rule, she didn’t believe in being nice. At least, that’s what she said. Loudly. And often.

“So.” She said, ignoring the smirk on her husband’s face with easy experience. “There’s four guard barracks. One for each corner of town. But only ten to twelve guards assigned to each. And two are off work and probably not in the area at any given time.”

“Half are on duty.” he mused. “So probably not more than four in the barracks at any one time.”

“Ought to be able to get near enough to the building to cause some trouble then.” Rat grinned. “I haven’t started any fires in a while, you know.”

Will rolled his eyes. “You started fires on the last job.”

“Just a couple of small ones.” Rat put on an innocent look that had Will grinning hugely and shaking his head. “Anyway, we set up each of these buildings for fires. If Fro can figure out where and when the guards uniforms are washed, I can burn that too.” 

“What if we just stole a couple of uniforms?” Will asked.

“Right. Because even the stupidest guard is going to confuse me for another guard…” Her voice sarcastic, Rat sent him a look. “I haven’t seen a single dwarf in a guard uniform since we got here, have you?”

“Ok. But what if I stole a uniform? In the dark, they might get confused enough to let me get close.” Will offered.

“That isn’t too stupid, actually.” She considered. “If you’re distracting them, I could…ok. That might work.”

Will rolled his eyes at her. “Now that I’ve contributed with a not-too-stupid idea, do you have any idea how we’re going to set fires to multiple buildings at once?”

“Yes.” Rat grinned. “We’re going to modify a fire trap to work on a sort of timer.” She poked him. “You have any other not-too-stupid ideas for creating havoc?”

“Well, that’s sort of your job, right?” He grinned, leaned back and scratched his chin. “But I was thinking about how annoying those dogs were. Damn things attacked everything on sight, right? What if we could get a pack of those things into the city?”

Rat stared at him. Then she grinned fiercely and leaned over, grabbed his face and pulled him down so she could kiss him hard on the mouth. “That is beautiful.” Then she poked him again, a bit harder. “Where were the ideas like that at the last job?”

He rubbed at the now sore spot on his chest, smirking. “We didn’t start the last job with a dog attack, did we? Sort of got the creative juices flowing a bit.”

She snorted. “I’ll say. Any idea how we’re to get a pack of dogs into the city?”

“Hey, I came up with the idea. Only fair for you to contribute something too.” He sent her big, innocent eyes and dodged the quill she sent flying his way. 

Rat stood and paced the room. “Ok. I’ve got a list of things I’m going to need for the fire traps. Then we’ve got to get out of the city, catch a bunch of asshole dogs without killing them, bring them back, and set everything up without getting caught. Also preferably without having to pay the entrance fee again.”

“Right, because that would be the worst case scenario.” Will shook his head at her with a fond look on his face. 

She ignored him. “Maybe we’ll get lucky and more guards will chase us down outside the walls. I could use more coppers.”

“You, my love, have a very odd idea of the meaning of the word “lucky.” Will took up another sheet of paper and reached for the quill he’d dodged earlier. “All right, shall I start the list for supplies? What are you going to need that we’ll have to buy or steal?”

She grinned. “Let me get a look at that slice you got earlier. Can you write while I clean it?”

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