Rat & Will Chapter 21: Drugging Dogs in the Dark
They made their way quietly to the aqueduct entrance. Three men sat there in the late afternoon sunlight. “They aren’t even trying to be sneaky.” Whispered Will.
“Bet they didn’t like waking up to find themselves with empty pockets.” Smirked Rat. She noticed two of them kept hands near daggers. The third looked…less worried. As he’d been missing when they’d put the others to sleep, she bet he’d found them and assumed it was their own fault. It had been, but he wasn’t going to make a big difference. They were all still leaning against the gate in much the same posture she’d surprised them in the day before.
Rat shared a look with Will, then stepped forward. “Well then, how much to get out of this city?”
The man in the center raised a brow. “Just the two of you?”
Rat grinned, made a show of looking behind her. “So far. Though if we don’t make this rather quick, it’ll be us and the city guard.”
“Ah, so that’s how it is, then.” The men grinned at each other. “Well maybe we should let the guard catch up and gain ourselves an award.”
“Right.” Will grinned at them in friendly disbelief. “Like any guardsman I’ve run into in this city would share a copper with such as you or I.”
The man on the right elbowed the man in the center. “E’s right about that, Roy. Damn guard is worst than bandits, nearly.”
The man shrugged. “Alright. Three silver. Each.”
Rat snorted. “Right. Like that’s going to happen.”
“We could just let the guard catch you. Entertaining, even if we don’t make nothing from it.” The man countered.
“Or we could just kill you, take what you got on you, and leave anyway.” Rat smirked as the man considered her words with a frown.
The man on the left leaned in, whispered something. “Yeah, yeah.” The boss turned back to Rat. “Two silver. Final offer.” He pulled a wicked looking dagger, moved it to catch the sun on it’s jaggedly sharp edge.
She sighed, looked beseechingly at Will. The man was an idiot with a terrible weapon. He smiled back at her, but shook his head firmly. There was work to do and she didn’t have time to play. Even if the man was stupid.
“Fine.” She pulled out a pouch and shook it out in her hand, counted it. Poured it back in. “Just to show we’re all friendly like, I’ll throw an extra three coppers in. Each.” She tossed it to the leader who made a show of pouring out the money and counting it. Then he slowly stepped away from the gate and waited while the man from his right pulled the key from the same pocket Rat had found it before and unlocked the gate with a screech.
They watched each other carefully as Rat and Will moved carefully into the tunnel, hands near weapons. When they’d gone through and into the dark, there was a loud screech as the gate was pulled back down and the lock put back in place. “They should oil that.” Murmured Will, rubbing at his ears.
“Unless someone else is listening and counting.” Rat answered. “Which actually, given the stupidity of those three, I don’t doubt.”
“Whatever, let’s get our things and get back.” Will shrugged and picked up the pace. “I don’t want to be drugging dogs in the dark.”
“Drugging Dogs in the Dark sounds like a song I’d pay to hear in a tavern.” Rat remarked.
“Let's get this done and then you can pick the tavern.” Muttered Will. “Though I’ll probably regret that promise.”
“Probably.” Rat bumped him companionably and matched his pace in the dark.
An hour later, they were back with horses and sleeping caged dogs. Dusk had settled about the city of Morgans Reach and Rat was working her way carefully down the tunnel. She smiled to hear the same three men in drowsy conversation at the gate entrance. Still sitting with backs against the gate.
Smiling because this was just too easy, she slowly pulled off her gloves and pocketed them. Then she pulled her kerchief up over her mouth and nose before pulling a packet from a hidden pocket. She opened it to fill with air before closing it again. Setting the “bubble” aside, she did the same with a second packet and walked quietly to the bars. Slowly, she slipped the packets between the bars above the leader’s head, one in each hand. Then she popped them together, quickly pulling the packets apart so that they spread their powder equally above all three men.
It was over quickly. With some coughing and a bit of wheezing, the men were soon deeply asleep. She pulled the key from the same man who’d had it before, and unlocked the gate, taking the time to empty their pockets of anything of value, including her small purse and that wicked looking dagger the leader had threatened her with earlier.
She’d have left it behind if she weren’t bent on making a point. It wasn’t just a stupid weapon (the jagged edges would be hard to sharpen and catch on everything and slow the wielder down), but it was poorly made and had terrible balance. She doubted it could hold much of an edge and hoped the man had paid far too much for it. Would serve him right.
Before she went back to meet Will, she pulled the sleeping men into the shadows near the entrance. Then she took a moment to shake off her cloak and use one of their kerchiefs to wipe off her hands and arms before pulling the gate nearly closed and moving back into the tunnel. She’d not gone far when she met Will leading the horses.
“I thought you were going to wait at the entrance.” Rat raised an eyebrow and sent him an irritated look.
He shrugged, unrepentant. “You took too long. You either were stealing all their stuff, or needed my help. I figured it was probably fine to come either way.” He gestured at the obedient horses. “Besides, these poor nags aren’t causing any trouble at all. Hate to think how they’re used to being treated if dragging a bunch of wild dogs doesn’t phase them.”
Rat sighed. “We can’t take them all with us, Will.”
“I know.” Voice sad, he didn’t look at her. “But hopefully they’ll get a better treatment when all this is finished.”
She bumped against his arm in a gesture of support and moved up to take care of the noisy gate. On the other side, she quickly checked to ensure that all three men were still well and truly out. She kept the key and left the gate unlocked. When Will sent her a sharp look, she shrugged. “Just in case it all goes to shit, it might be helpful to have a quick way out.”
Eyes wide, he asked, “Since when does one of our plans go wrong?”
She snorted. “Right. Should have said ‘When it all goes to shit.’”
“There you go.” He chuckled and took hold of the pony’s bridle.