Rat & Will Chapter 30: The Bigger They Are...

Back out in the hall, they shared a tired, disgruntled look, then walked to the next doorway. “Hope this is about it.” Will whispered. “It’s been hours since we ate anything.”

“You had to say it. You know we’re totally going to regret you saying that, right?” Rat sent him an amused look. 

“Hey, a man’s got to eat.” Will shrugged. 

“Yeah, but now we’re gonna be at this the rest of the damn night.” Rat rolled her eyes and opened the door. Inside the largest room they’d yet seen, a huge man stood with his back to them, brandishing an odd sort of sharp edged club at a terrified looking man chained to an…open closet?

Rat snorted quietly. The night kept getting weirder. They approached cautiously, but the huge man wasn’t paying any attention to anything outside of the frightened man. 

“What should I break first I wonder?” He rumbled, his voice as low and large as he was. “I was thinking about your foot or knee, but that just seems boring. Maybe I should scratch at you a bit with the sharp side? Just rub that pretty skin right off of you?”

“P…, please.” The man strung to the closet wasn’t small, though he looked it in comparison to the giant. His eyes were enormous, fear driving the pupils wide and dark. “I just want to go home.”

“Now, now.” The giant swished back and forth a bit, the ugly orange robes he wore making a strange swishing noise. “You agreed to work for Lord Tremant, did you not? Well, this is the job he needs you to do.”

“Somehow, I doubt that was in the description.” Rat spoke loudly, causing the mage to spin about. “‘Man needed to bleed and pee himself in fear so ugly giant feels good.’ Yeah, I doubt he actually signed up for that particular job description.”

“Who are you?” The mage, for now that they’d got close enough to the closet, it was easy enough to see the ritual in progress, spat at them in surprise.

“We’re the poor bastards tasked with shutting you down.” Rat smirked at him. 

“Not likely.” The mage boomed at them. He whipped back around and cleaved in the man’s head one handed. Will and Rat watched helplessly as a red plume of smoke rose from the victim’s body and flowed into the mage’s.

“Damn it.” Will snarled. “We should have just snuck up and killed him without talking to him first.” 

“Well hell,” Rat narrowed her eyes at him. “Usually, you’re all ‘more talk, less kill.’ Maybe let a girl know when you want to switch it up.”

The giant gave a grin that showed off missing teeth and poor dental care and hefted his odd weapon. “Maybe we discuss it after killing the mage.” Suggested Will.

“Sounds good.” Said Rat.

“Not likely.” The giant took slow pondering steps in Rat’s direction. “I’m not very easy to kill.”

“Great. Another one.” Rat spat on the floor, just in case doing so bothered the giant as much as it had Tremant. She looked him up and down, lip curled in disgust. “What’s your story then?”

Seemingly unbothered by her spitting, he advanced on her single-mindedly. “I’m very good at what I do, little dwarf. And I’ve got protection of a kind you couldn’t possibly believe.”

“Try me.” Even as slow as he was, the man’s gait was enormous. Rat was running out of bedroom. She flung a knife at him, stumbling a bit on a footstool. The mage saw it coming and managed to get an arm up in a vain attempt to bat the blade away. Instead, the knife lodged there and set the giant to howling. 

“No! You can’t hurt me!” He stumbled quicker at Rat, who scrambled up on the bed in near panic. Behind them, Will sliced at the giant’s thick legs. The huge mage stumbled and fell, but ponderously righted himself and kept after Rat. She tossed a packet of powder, catching him straight between two very surprised eyes. He slowed further and began to blink and shake his head. “Impossible!” He slurred. But he kept moving. 

Rat stared at him in surprise. The powder had never failed her before, at least not at such a close range. But the giant was still moving. With Rat currently out of easy range, he’d turned and swung his bladed club at Will, who tried to block with his sword, but was forced to roll away after the giant’s heavy blow knocked the blade from his hand. It skittered across carpet and stone to lie in the far corner of the room, while Will rolled and barely avoided death blows from the enraged giant mage.

Pulling out her small crossbow, Rat buried four arrows in his fleshy neck. He roared and reached up to scratch at them like one might a stinging bug. He managed to pull two out, but a third broke under questing fingers. Unfortunately, the small bloody wounds didn’t appear to do much to slow him down. In fact, the damn giant seemed to be shaking off the effects of the powder and pain altogether. 

He refocused on Will, nearly taking the warrior’s head with a faster than normal sweep of his huge weapon. Starting to panic, Rat gave up on the crossbow and pulled two long daggers from her coat. Ignoring the warnings at the back of her head, she took a running leap at the giant. 

Rat landed high on his back and stabbed with both daggers. The giant swung about, but she gritted her teeth and held on to the daggers, causing them to embed further between his shoulder blades. Screaming, he continued to turn and swing, nearly catching her a handful of times, as the daggers began to slide downwards through the mage’s flesh. “Will! Hurry up!” She screamed as his meaty hand caught hold of her right leg.

For an instant, he was pulling and she felt as though all her limbs were about to be pulled from her sockets. Then his hand clinched painfully tight before releasing her. The mage fell to his knees. 

“No! The slardur promised!” Hacking blood, the huge man grabbed at Will who was clutching his bloodied sword with grim concentration and shook him. 

Rat yanked her daggers out of the giant’s back and jumping up once more, shoved them into the base of his neck. For long seconds, she hung there, aching arms barely holding on, as he trembled and bled and shook. Finally, he fell with a noise not unlike the crashing of a dead tree, leaving both mercs to scramble out of the way. When all was again quiet, Rat and Will eyed each other over the mountainous corpse in wide-eyed disbelief. 

“Good thing we started at that other side of the hall, I guess.” Rat managed to croak out after a full minute of catching her breath. 

Will laughed. “Yeah. That luck god of yours was working overtime.”

“Maybe. But for a mage without demon protection, he was bloody hard to put down.” Rat muscled her daggers out of the giant’s thick flesh one at a time and cleaned them on his garish robe. 

On the other side of the corpse, Will was doing the same with his sword. He looked over. “You alright? I thought he caught hold of you there for a moment.”

Rat grimaced. “He did, just before you gutted him. Leg’ll be sore tomorrow, but no permanent damage done.”

“Good.” Will’d finished his work with the sword, and was looking at the mage’s weapon, though he hadn’t touched it. “Take a look at this thing. Looks like bad magic.”

Rat didn’t need to get too close. She could practically smell the blood magic on it. “Use a bed sheet to grab it and toss it over with that closet altar. We’re gonna have to cleanse it.”

Will sighed and did as she suggested while she rolled the mage for his valuables. She found little worth keeping, but several amulets and a bag stained in blood were quickly tossed on the altar. 

They had better luck with the room itself. Will discovered an assortment of jewelry in the desk and Rat collected a small pile of quality weaponry into a pillow case. Unfortunately, they also found another box of odds and ends that probably belonged to victims of the giant mage. Tossing it on the altar, they repeated the steps they’d used on the altar in the office below. This closet took several of Rat’s red powder packets and she didn’t feel comfortable simply using acid. Instead, she lit it with the oil from a lamp on the desk. The evil thing burned merrily, but the fire didn’t didn’t spread much thanks to the blood soaked carpets surrounding it. 

All in all, they were glad to get out of the that particular room. Back out in the hall, predawn light was starting to filter in through windows at either end of the hall. Will and Rat looked at each other. Finally, Will sighed. “Tremant?”

Rat nodded and they turned back to the room of the little Lordling who’d somehow started the whole mess. 

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