Rat & Will Chapter 22: Fire Above, Dogs Below, & Rat on the Walls

Rat had delivered an extra helping of sleeping powder to the dogs before they’d transported them into the city, but she couldn’t be sure exactly how long they had to move them about without trouble. Moving carefully through the now sleepy city, she and Will carefully left one of each of the cages, door unlocked, in the alley behind the three most centrally located barracks. 

This was the step that worried Rat the most. The stupidest guard was likely to become suspicious if he caught them traipsing through town with a cage of sleeping (and stinking) dogs trailing behind them. “Even you can’t act dumb enough to get away with this.” She’d muttered warningly at Will. He’d nodded and they’d taken extra care to slip unnoticed into and out of each area. 

The ale seemed to have worked. There were fewer guards on the walls (visible from a distance by the lanterns they carried) than usual. Rat smirked and imagined that even those who’d managed to show up for duty probably weren’t doing all that well. 

They’d approached a set of stairs that would take them up to the walls and Will, hidden in the shadows, had removed his cloak so that his stolen guard uniform could be seen. They’d argued when he’d tried it on, Rat noting worriedly that his armor wouldn’t fit beneath it and Will suggesting he leave the extra bits at home. Eventually they’d compromised; Will had carefully opened enough seams to allow the coat to fit over the armor. It looked ridiculous up close, but they were hoping it would pass a quick inspection in the dark.

If it didn’t…well, Rat wasn’t about to risk an injury to Will just to avoid killing a guard who probably deserved it anyway, no matter what her husband’s kind-hearted preferences were. 

Once he was ready, they’d climbed the stairs and approached the first guard. Will, out in the open and carrying his own lantern, had hailed the man from a distance. Rat, hidden in shadows, waited till he approached Will with a questioning look on his face, and slung a little bag of small stones at his head. He’d dropped with a clang of the lantern, but after a worried wait, they’d not seen any sign of alarm from elsewhere on the wall or down below. 

Rat had quickly rolled him, ignoring Will’s comments about the time, before tying the unconscious man’s hands and feet with his own belt and scarf. Will set the lantern further along the wall in case anyone was counting, and they’d moved on to the location they’d marked out for her first fire arrow. 

While Will kept watch, she’d pulled a long pouch from where she’d tied it behind her and quickly put together a rather large and complicated looking bow. She’d tested the tension and string placement, then nocked the arrow and waited for Will to light the end. Then she’d loosed it quickly at the barracks roof below. The arrow embedded in the straw near the chimney. They waited till they saw sparks and small flames, then Rat slung the bow behind her and they continued on. 

They repeated the earlier scene twice more before reaching the next section of wall near a guard barracks. Rat set that roof aflame as well, pointing out to Will that the first barracks was now sporting a large enough fire that it could be seen from their new location. “Wonder if anyone below has noticed yet?” They shrugged and made their careful way towards the next section of wall. 

There was only one guard to subdue before Rat could set the next roof ablaze. This barracks was one with a cage full of dogs, and Rat grinned evilly when this time, the first sign of fire was met with disoriented sounding howling. “Dogs are waking.”

“Sounds like.” Will watched interestedly as two men below exited the barracks in search of the strange noise, only to find their roof on fire. When even that shock didn’t get them moving much quicker, he added, “Looks like your powder works, too.”

“Good.” Rat slung the bow back on and nodded him onward.

They quickly dispatched two more guards and managed to set another roof ablaze before a group of three guardsmen nearly ran them over. They’d stopped short at the sight of Will, and Rat, realizing that they were quickly going to figure out that he didn’t belong, jumped into action. She managed to knock out the first man with her little bag of rocks, but the second had figured out the con and drawn his sword before she could retrieve it. Will followed suit and they were soon fighting in the narrow space. 

Rat turned to the third man, knife drawn, to find him cowering. “Please don’t kill me!”

She blinked at the unexpected response. “What?”

He held out empty hands. “You’re the ones they sent six men after a few days ago. They never came back. Now it’s fires. I don’t want any part of you!” 

Rat smirked. This was apparently one of the smart ones. She pointed to a spot on the ground next to the already unconscious guard. “Fine. But you try anything and I’ll gut you.”

He gave a relieved nod and hunkered down. She checked on Will’s progress with the fighter and saw him finish the man off. Satisfied that he didn’t need her help, she gestured for the nervous man before her to stick his hands out behind his back. When he did so, she moved behind him and rapped him smartly with the hilt of a knife. 

Wiping blood off his sword, Will spoke behind her. “Was that really necessary?”

“If we die, you think he wants to explain giving up?” Rat checked his pockets and pulled out a small purse. “Besides, I didn’t kill him, but I’m not taking the chance that he was trying to con us.”

“Fair enough.” Will looked down at the man he’d just killed regretfully. “Wish this guy’d been that smart.”

Rat shrugged. “Urden told us the stupid ones would attack.”

“I guess so.” Will looked over the walls. “Looks like your chaos is starting.”

Grinning, Rat watched as a group of sick guards fought to throw water on a fire while harried by angry feral dogs. They’d already killed two of the dogs, but the roof was nearly gone and the fire wasn’t stopping. Satisfied that they’d not be showing up on the walls any time soon, she finished tying up the sleeping men.

Rat and Will didn’t see any more guards before she shot the last roof with fire arrows. By now, they could see that one of the fires in the distance was nearly out, but all the others were fully engaged. And the howling of the remaining dogs echoed through the city. Hoping the mess they’d started would keep everyone outside busy for a good long while, they turned towards the castle where Tremant waited. 

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