Rat & Will - The Mystery of Morgans Reach Chapter 1: Dawn of the Dogs
The morning started extra early for a bad-tempered Rat when she woke from the usual nightmare to an actual fight raging right outside their tent walls. A quick peek through the flap had her cursing and tossing an enormous boot at her husband. Against the backdrop of pre-dawn light, an enormous pack of howling dogs ripped their small camp to pieces. Rat kicked at a still-sleeping Will, then took hold of the two sharpest daggers resting near her pillow. “Hurry, before the damn dogs leave us nothing!”
Will (once she got him moving) cut wide swaths through the curs with his ax before the whole pack fell back, growling and howling their anger and disappointment at a meal cut short. She finished off the injured animals as quickly as possible, and together they threw several bodies out beyond the firelight to be ravaged noisily by their remaining pack mates.
Even Will hadn’t wanted to go back to sleep after that, so they quickly packed up what remained of their gear, grateful the horses had managed to fight and kick enough to escape all but a few minor injuries. Though Will stood, ax ready, while Rat smeared healing paste on the worst bites, it took only a few minutes and the remaining dogs stayed away, seemingly satisfied with a meal of dead dog instead of horses and people.
Then she built up last night’s fire and boiled water for coffee while they waited for the sun to share enough light for them to be on their way. They sat together in the pale pre dawn, drinking coffee and listening to the mangy dogs fight and tear each other apart in the trees across the path. Characteristically, Will was in a decent mood. Also characteristically, Rat wasn’t.
“Goram bedeviled curs.” She held up an arm. “Tore my new shirt sleeve.”
Will took hold of her hand, pulled the arm closer to look down at the sleeve. “It’s at the seam. I’ll be able to repair it with no trouble.” He kept her hand, tucking it into his arm. Only grumbling a little, she let him.
“Sure, fine. But how’d we get attacked by dogs?” She leaned on his arm, just a bit, her cheek rubbing at the edges of his own newly ripped sleeve.
He smiled down at her. “Maybe we’re closer to that town than we thought? Looked like feral trash dogs to me.”
She frowned. “That map cost too much as it was. I’ll have Dorfan’s other eye if he sold me a bad copy.”
“I’m sure it’s only a minor difference.” Will nearly shrugged, but didn’t want to jostle Rat. “Or perhaps the dogs in this area are worse for some reason?”
“Well that’s just great. What kind of town did your friend Seggritt send us to?” Rat muttered in a scathing tone. Will snorted. They both knew Seggritt wasn’t anyone’s friend.
“I’ll admit that the welcome committee isn’t all that friendly…” A howl had them both tensing and looking out into the thinning dark. “But I’m sure we’ll win them over. We’re friendly, winning people, right?”
“No.” She uttered the word with finality. “And I hate dogs.”
“Right.” He leaned down and kissed her head. “After our friendly wake up this morning, I can’t imagine why. Thanks for the coffee by the way. Sort of wish we could have started with that instead of all that fighting and killing, but this isn’t so bad, either.”
“Better alive than dead, I guess.” She pulled out the map and squinted at it in the meager light of the fire. “Morgans Reach. Sure sounds like a fun place. Who did Seggritt say we should talk to again?”
“Bar owner. Named…” Will scratched his chin. “Milla. Milla…something. Said she owned Morgan’s Keg.”
“Shouldn’t be too hard to find, at least.” Rat downed the rest of her coffee, took her arm and hand back from Will, and began to sharpen a small knife she’d pulled from her other sleeve. “You think she’d be interested in some fresh dog meat?”
“Never know.” Answered Will amiably.
Rat looked at the mess left of their small camp. “Time to get to work.”