Rat & Will Chapter 29: If At First You Don’t Succeed...
The next doorway was grander than any of the others they’d tried so far. Intricate carvings decorated the door frame and the door even bore signs of precious inlay. Rat raised her brow at Will, who nodded back. She tried the door handle and was surprised when it opened easily. After all the locked doors downstairs, it was odd that the richest part of the castle was the easiest to access. Though given the number of guards they’d killed or knocked out to get into this part of the building in the first place, “easiest” might have been slightly overstating it.
Again Rat entered the room first, with Will on her heels. They found a pale, thin man sitting at a desk in the corner, looking expectantly at them as they walked in. His eyes were nearly entirely black, his hair stringy and thin on a pallid scalp. In his bony, ink-stained fingers, he clutched a pen. When he made no move to do anything about their entrance into his room, they stopped and frowned at him.
Finally, Rat spoke. “Who would you be, then?”
The man smiled. It was a good smile if by “good” you happened to mean “empty, yet full of evil intent.” They both felt the impact of it, recoiling slightly. Eventually, he spoke. “I’m Lord Tremant. Certainly you’ve heard of me?”
“Possibly.” Quick as a blink, Rat sent two small knives flying at the seated man. He didn’t bother to make a sound as they hit their targets, one in the shoulder and the chest. For a moment, all three were silent, waiting.
Then Tremant began to laugh.
“Well, shit.” Rat loosed another knife. It sank in the man’s stomach, but didn’t stop his laughter.
Will muttered something under his breath that could have been a curse or prayer and Rat dug into her coat for something stronger than a dagger.
Tremant stopped laughing and pulled out the dagger in his stomach, dropping it with a bit of disgust on the desk. “You’re ruining the coat. You know what this cost?” He pulled out the knife in his chest, letting it clank onto the desk as well. It wasn’t even bloodied.
He was working on the knife still lodged in his shoulder when Rat spoke again. “You another demon?”
“Another?” For a moment, he looked confused. Then his face cleared and the grinned. “Ah, you must have met the Slardur. I did hear some commotion.” Tremant managed to pry loose the final dagger and let it drop to join the others. “Not even close.”
Rat spat. “You human? Because most humans are bothered a bit more by knives.”
The man chuckled. “Most humans aren’t protected as well as I. And yes, I’m human. Mostly.”
He leaned back in his chair, still insultingly at ease with two mercenaries of obvious ill intent staring down at him. “I’m impressed. With all the reports of fire and violence coming in, I’d have thought there were more than the two of you. You’re good.”
“Not so good.” Rat glared at him, irritated by his calm demeanor. “Or you’d be dead.”
“Well, I’m not exactly what most people expect, I suppose.” Tremant looked over at Will. “Does he talk?”
“If he wants.” Said Rat.
“Ah.” Said Tremant.
The three of them stared at each other long enough that it began to get uncomfortable, even for the jocular Tremant. “So. Are you going to try to run away, or…”
“Not yet.” Rat was still glaring hard at the Lord, thinking fast. “Only tried knives.”
“Oh. Right. Of course.” That was obviously not been the reply Tremant expected. “Most people get the picture rather quicker than you two.”
“Most people didn’t just kill a damn demon next door.” Rat spat again. She’d noticed that the Lordling hadn’t liked it when she’d done so the first time. Again, he looked a bit put out, though he hid it quickly behind a patronizing smile. “Trying to figure out what to try next.”
At that, Tremant actually looked a bit impressed. “Well, that is interesting. Feel free. Though I promise you it will be a waste of time. I’m not currently killable.”
“Currently?” Will spoke again. “What does that mean?”
“He speaks!” Tremant was back to grinning wildly. “It means whatever you try, I’m not planning to die today. Won’t happen.”
“Wanna bet?” Rat was really starting to hate this Tremant guy. He was annoying and worse, rude. Rude was usually her thing.
“No. I don’t wager.” The Lord leaned back in his chair. Looked at his fingernails.
“Figures.” Rat spat again, just to watch his eyes narrow. “Kinda boring, you know that?”
He leaned forward, no longer smiling. “Fine. You can leave now.”
Rat cocked a hip. Stared as rudely as she could at the man who’d never bothered to get up from the desk. “You able to do anything except for not dying?”
Tremant’s face took on a ruddy hue. He glared at Rat. “I can call on my people to end you.”
Rat pretended to think about it. “That could work. Or maybe we’ll just kill them like we did all the rest.”
The man sneered. Rat stepped closer to the desk. Testing him. He picked up one of her knives. He held it like a man who knew how to cut things, but not like a knife fighter. Rat grinned her own bad smile. He noticed, but only paused a moment before throwing the knife back at her.
It wasn’t a good throw. She knocked it away with a wave of a gauntleted wrist. Took another step forward. “You like knives, using them on people, probably. But you don’t know a single thing about fighting with ‘em.”
Tremant shrugged, a pouty puff in his lips. “Why should I? Can’t kill me anyway.”
“You sure?” Rat stepped aside quickly, giving Will the room he needed to sweep his large sword through the body of Tremant. It slid through like a heated knife through butter, but left no sign of any wound behind it. The Lord threw back his head and laughed. Rat and Will exchanged wide glances.
“Welp, this is weird.” Rat murmured. Will nodded.
“I told you.” Said Tremant.
“Any ideas?” Asked Rat. Will shook his head slowly, eyes narrowed.
“Run away.” Said Tremant.
“Wasn’t asking you, arse.” Rat spat again, just to push the issue.
She took a step closer to the desk. Tremant was still grinning, but he’d made no move to pick up another dagger. They were missing something. Rat walked around the desk.
Tremant began squawking immediately. “What are you doing?”
“Trying something.” Rat muttered dismissively. “Shut up and let me think.”
“You should be scared.” Tremant’s voice had risen an octave or so higher as she moved closer.
“Why?” Rat approached him from the side, grinning. “Because you’ve made a lot of noise and refused to die?” She reached for him, but he fell backwards from the chair and scuttled away from her.
“You can’t hurt me!” Tremant rushed to the corner of the room and pulled out a sword from a cupboard there.
“Then why are you worried?” Rat felt like the answer was right there, but it wasn’t quite jelling. She advanced on the Lording, but Will stepped in front of her. He swept his sword at the man, who blocked clumsily with his own sword. Rat stepped back to wait with a shrug. In a few minutes, Will had the man on the ground, his boot on his chest.
Will looked over at her. “He isn’t very strong. And he shouldn’t try to fight with swords.”
Rat stood over the wriggling Lordling. “Something I’m sure he’ll remember for the future if we don’t figure out how to kill him.”
“If a blade won’t do it…” Will slid his sword back into it’s scabbard.
“Don’t really have time for experiments right now.” Rat grumbled. She looked into Tremant’s face. “You aren’t the summoner of the demon, right?” When he refused to answer, she sighed. “Fine. Pout or whatever.”
Trusting Will to keep an eye on the “currently” un-killable man, she turned back to survey the large, too fancy bedroom and grinned when she caught sight of the overly decorative drapes. Stomping over, she grabbed hold of an handful of cords and sliced through them with a small knife. Then she stormed back over to Will and his struggling captive.
“Let’s tie the maggot up. We can figure out how to kill him later.” Together, they tied him to his chair, Rat grinning when he complained about the tightness of the ropes. Then she gathered her knives, checking for signs of damage before putting them away.
As they closed the door behind them, Rat tossed in a couple different packets of powder. At Will’s raised brow, she shrugged. “Worth a try.”