Rat & Will Chapter 16: Don't Burn the Rashweed

More than a couple of hours of intense effort later, Will had three sturdy looking cages mostly built and a face-covered Rat was stirring a nasty smelling concoction on a small fire. When he dropped down beside her, sweaty and covered in dirt, Rat handed Will a full water skin. “Fresh from that stream down the way.” He took it gratefully, drinking noisily and spilling a large bit down the front of his chest. Rat kept stirring. It never paid to allow anything with rashweed in it to burn. The fumes alone had killed less attentive potion brewers. 

When he’d drunk his fill, Will capped the skin and handed it back to her. Then he gestured to the pot. “That looks awful. Smells worse.”

She grinned. “I found some monksbill. And far more rashweed than I needed for the sleep potions.”

He eyed her suspiciously. “So…what is that, then?”

“We’re going to put this in their ale.” She said it calmly, still stirring. 

“Won’t they notice? It smells really, really bad. I can’t imagine that it will taste better.” Will didn’t normally argue with her plans, but the boiling mess did smell truly bad. “I mean, I know we decided they were stupid…”

“It’s going to be a powder.” She kept stirring. “The powder will mostly be tasteless. Unless we use too much. And since we’re not killing them, we won’t be using that much.”

“Ah.” And Rat knew he’d wondered.

“Since we were told that many of the guards out in the city aren’t true villains, I thought you’d probably protest if I suggested we kill them all. Though it would make things easier. A lot easier.” She sent him a knowing look.

“Right. Rather not resort to wholesale murder if we can avoid it.” Will smiled at her, glad he didn’t have to convince her to avoid more killing and happy she understood him so well. “So what does this do? Because it smells like murder.”

“It’s going to make them need the privy. Desperately. Possibly uncontrollably.” She shrugged. “It might also make them puke. I haven’t used this exact recipe before.”

“Well then. That sounds absolutely lovely. Embarrassment is fine, I suppose.” Will grinned. “And better in case someone steals some of that ale in the aftermath of our trouble causing. Accidental wide-spread poisoning is probably more forgivable than wholesale murder.”

“Right.” Rat grinned at him. “And this means Fro doesn’t need to try to sneak traps and we don’t need to fake barrels or whatever.”

“So we aren’t starting fires, then?” He looked a bit hopeful.

“Pfft. Of course we’re starting fires.” She growled at him. “I still get some fun. But I’m just going to use regular pitch arrows, I think. The roofs of all the barracks are cheap thatch, so it should be way easier than timing a bunch of traps I’m not setting myself. And I didn’t like the idea of climbing up the sides of buildings in daylight when we aren’t supposed to be in the city. Too much to go wrong.”

Will waved his hands at her in surrender. “Fine, fine. So we’ll still have fire. And poop, apparently.” 

“Don’t forget the savage, biting dogs. That was your bit.” She was really proud of that idea of his. 

He sighed. This was going to be chaos. “You’re sure we shouldn’t just…take the castle. Or something?”

Now she looked hurt. “Will, we’re helping people. Lots of people. Can’t I have a little fun?”

He rolled his eyes and poked her. “They’re paying us to help them. We’re gonna take lots of their stuff while we help. Isn’t that fun?”

“Like you aren’t looking forward to seeing the results of my new potion too. Especially after watching those uniformed goons misbehave.” She stuck her tongue out at him, irrationally playful despite the awful smell. “Besides, we’re good, but I don’t know if we’re good enough to take the castle straight on. You might get scarred or something, and then what will I look at?”

He grinned at her playfulness, knowing that he was never going to win anyway. “Well, we certainly wouldn’t want to risk my pretty face. Though I can’t really say I want to see it…”

She considered. “See it from a distance. Not downwind if possible.”

“Right.” He stood. “Guess I’ll go finish those cages now. Got any idea about dinner?”

She smiled. “Put a fish trap in that spring. Already had a couple in there when I checked earlier.”

“Great. We haven’t had fresh fish in a while.” Smiling with resumed good humor, Will went back to work. Rat kept stirring. It was never a good idea to let rashweed burn. 

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