Rat & Will Chapter 7: Locked Keeps & Lost Causes

Rat and Will’s next stop was to get a look at the “castle.” Though it was in better shape then the rest of Morgans Reach, it wasn’t so much of a castle as an old fortification built as part of the walls of the city and had been added to several times since. Despite the additions, it still looked pretty solid. Which made it a pretty good place to live if you were worried about an attack from either outside or inside your city. Whatever else Lord Tremant was, he wasn’t a complete idiot. 

Will seemed to disagree. “Look at the way these people are scraping by. Who drives down the economy of a town to this extent? I wonder how many tax-paying citizens this place has lost in the last year?”

Rat gave an irritable shrug. “I don’t think he really cares. He knows that these people mostly can’t afford to leave now, plus, he’s perched right along the main road. He’ll use this as a base to prey on travelers and traders till the King finally figures out he should give a shit and comes along to stop him.” 

Will sighed. “Then they’ll just come along and starve him out, probably. These people are screwed either way.”

“They’d be better off leaving now, even if all they have are the clothes on their backs.” Rat murmured. “No reason to stay here and starve or get killed by some stupid petty lord.”

“He’s got them too scared to do anything.” Will’s soft heart was fully engaged. 

“That much fear gets people dead.” Rat wasn’t interested in feeling bad for people who didn’t have the sense to leave. “Up to them, I guess.”

She nodded up at the fortified building. “That’s going to be a pain in the ass to get in and out of.”

Will couldn’t disagree. The old structure was relatively well taken care of, and guards were posted inside and out of the main doors. There were sentries on the wall to either side of the building as well, and they didn’t appear to be nearly as stupid as the guards they’d met coming in to the city. “He’s kept the most competent of his men here. If an invasion happens, the city is on it’s own.” 

“The city is just another way to fill his coffers and get supplied. I’ll bet he’s got an escape plan ready for the day the King’s men really do come knocking.” Rat narrowed her eyes. “I’m not actually sure how we’re going to get in there. Any ideas?”

Will leaned against the wall of a nearby building and considered. “We could take out the guards outside the door quietly enough, but there’s no way we wouldn’t be seen by the guards up on the walls if we tried it in daylight. Not sure they wouldn’t see us at night, either.”

Rat agreed with his assessment. “I wonder how well lit this area is. Probably better than the rest of the city.”

“That seems to be the pattern.” Will scratched his chin. “Wonder if we could get access from the walls themselves. The building is built right into the wall structure. There has to be a connection point.”

“How do we get on the walls?” Rat was thinking that through. “I guess they probably aren’t paying as much attention in other parts of the city, but that leaves us with a long walk before we hope to find an entrance.”

“There’s an entrance.” Will pointed subtly with his chin at a guard walking past the guards on standing duty. “He didn’t come from nowhere.”

“Right, but how many guards are we going to need sneak by in the night to get there?” Rat made a face at Will. “We aren’t sneaky. And by ‘we’ I mean ‘you.’”

He grinned down at her. “That’s a point.”

“I mean, we could plan to kill or knock them all out, but that’s a lot of fights before we even get in. A lot to go wrong.” Rat scratched at a scab on her finger, glaring at the puzzle. 

“I’d think you’d like the idea of all those extra pockets to go through.” Will teased. “But you aren’t wrong about the risk.”

She grimaced. “So, what’s left? I suppose there are sewers. There’s got to be a sewer entrance right under that building.”

“But you hate sewers.” Will raised a brow. 

“Eh.” She shrugged. “At least I don’t hit my head as often as some people.”

“True.” Will grinned. “But I’m up for it if you are.” He pushed up from the wall and they began to walk back towards Morgan’s Keg.

“Great.” The tone said she didn’t think it was great at all. Despite her nickname, Rat really did hate sewers. “But hold on, what if there was a disturbance across the city?”

“A disturbance? Like an attack?” Will frowned. “Wouldn’t they just hunker down, wait for it to blow over?”

“Hell.” Rat grinned as a new idea occurred to her. “Unless it wasn’t an attack from outside. If they were pretty sure it was from inside the city instead outside, wouldn’t they try to go and deal with it?”

“You think you can rile up a revolt?” Will didn’t look convinced, which was fair enough. Rat wasn’t known to have those kinds of persuasive skills.

“Nope. These people are whipped.” Rat sneered. “But we might be able to cause enough confusion to make it look like there’s a revolt happening. For a short time at least.”

“Any unrest is going to make them lock down the fort.” Will didn’t look convinced. 

She sighed. “Fine, fine. If you’d rather try the sewers…”

“Hey, I’m completely open to hearing your plan.” Will didn’t complain as much as Rat, but they both knew he hated sewers nearly as much as she did.

“Well, I need to see a few more things around town. Then we can head back to the tavern and write up the contract.” Rat picked up speed. Will, with his longer legs matched her easily.

“How about we find lunch while we’re walking? Breakfast was hours ago.”

“Only three or four of them.” Rat shook her head as they walked away from Lord Tremant’s fortified castle.

After stopping for an early lunch at a stall selling meat pies and being treated like royalty for paying with actual coin, the two headed back to Morgan’s Keg. They were mostly quiet, till Will eyed Rat and asked, “We’re going to help them, right? I mean, look around. No one else is going to.”

Rat didn’t answer for most of the next block. Then she sighed. “We’ll try. Probably fail gloriously and die spectacularly, but sure, why not?”

Will grinned. “Just think of all the pockets you’ll get to pick along the way.”

She smirked. “There is that. Do you know these people aren’t pretending? Nothing but lint in most of their purses, unless it’s the coppers we gave them. I was surprised by the sheer amount of copper in the purses of the guards we killed outside the walls, but it’s no wonder. That’s all these people had left to steal.”

“You’ve been sticking your hands in their pockets even though you knew they didn’t have anything to steal?” Will raised his brows, genuinely surprised. “Seriously? I mean, why?”

She looked up at her confused husband with an evil grin. “Got to stay in practice, don’t I? Besides, its not like it counts if I don’t actually take anything.”

Will just shook his head and smiled fondly. “Like I told Milla, Lost Cause.”

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