Chapter 54: Rat
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My spirit leaves the mortal coil once again, being thrust into that empty space. Into the void, limbo, nothing. I float and I think, finally having a chance to catch my proverbial breath. A chance to just… float. It’s hard, you know? Never stopping. Going after it every single minute of every single life. I guess it was nice being pampered for a little bit as a drake, but guy, I do not want to be Nichodemus again. He was such a jerk. Not that we talked much, but uf. Real conflict of interests there. I wish he had let me see more of his memories though, he seemed to know a lot about heroes and adventurers. A lot more than I do for sure.


I guess I got the stairs though, just in time. I bet if she didn’t get me with that last arrow I would have faded anyways. They must have been like, literally stabbing the dungeon-master at that moment. Poor guy has it rough too I bet. Hmm. Still. Another little victory for me. Another rung on the ladder ascended. The forest was nice too I suppose, very roomy, very soft, very green. I like green, I think it’s a nice color. I wish I could see it more. Then again… I think of the thief-girl’s green outfit. She’s honestly stressing me a little, guy.


Being beaten and battered and killed by the hero-party was always one thing. But this is different. She’s different. They’ve never actively chased me, hunted me. Being hunted is very stressful, okay? I wouldn’t recommend it, that’s for sure. So I suppose me having done her a favor last time as a spider-kin didn’t change her opinion much of me. Well, I guess I saved her more for my sake than for hers to be honest, you know? It’s what the hero would do after all. But I think I can say for sure that she has it out for me. That she knows me when she sees me. How?


Is it because she’s an elf? Do they have some kind of weird elf magic? Hmm. No. I don’t think so. I suppose… I suppose maybe she does remember? Like me. Like the dungeon-master. She remembers the respawns. The last lives. Is she another uh… respawner? Like us? Why? How? It would explain why she’s so mad at me, sort of. I mean, I did break her arm that one time, but… you know? I feel like she earned that one honestly. Some people just can’t take what they dish out; I’d shake my head if I had one. But then again, if that was true then… uh… no, no. I got nothing. Stuff’s weird in the dungeon, what a development. I’m shocked.


I suppose it’s nice that I’ve managed to stay alive longer these last few lives, it feels like it at least. Well, no. Maybe not. I think maybe just more stuff is happening faster? Hard to say, time flies when you’re racing against it. But I got my second level now and an actual ability, so cool beans there. A marginally useful ability at best, but hey, it’s mine and I’m proud of it, okay? I suppose it came in useful in the end though. But man, what a plan that was. I’m surprised it worked really. But I’m also not. You know? Life in the dungeon can be a little wacky sometimes, it’s just part of the authentic dungeon experience down here. I bet those spiders were pretty confused though, haha. Too bad they didn’t give any experience though.


Just as I begin to wonder what my next life will be, what the next floor will be, I feel the sensation I have come to both dread and look forward to in a strange way. The lurch, the cold. I fall.


Nibble-nibble-nibble. I sniff my nose and look around. Mine. Mine. I nibble-nibble away. A brother comes, I bare my teeth and hiss at him, my fur rising on end, spittle dribbling out from my clenched jaws releasing the stink of rotting flesh stuck between my incisors. He backs away. I nibble-nibble at the carcass I stand over. The dead piece of rotting, old meat I gnaw on with my sharp pointed face. Strings of red between my teeth and bits of bone scattered over the floor being kicked around by scampering little feet. Little feet walking over the meat, little feet walking over my tail. Squeaks ring out around me, hundreds, thousands of squeaks. I nibble-nibble and watch them with a paranoid eye. They want to steal my meat. Mine. Mine.


As I gorge on the dead one, I look at the others, the rats surrounding me on all sides. They are small, only a few others are close to my giant size. All of their eyes are yellow and shine out to me in the darkness as I nibble-nibble. I bare my teeth at another small brother coming closer, threatening to eat him next, establishing my dominance in the mischief of rats. He stays away and others learn his lesson as well. Mine. Mine! I eat, my nose and teeth digging into the flesh. Greedy, gluttonous squeaks escaping me as I consume and gorge the rotting meat sitting in the green water.


Mine. My nibble.


A loud screech rings out of the darkness and I look, raising my red-stained face to see the yellow eyes coming my way. A brother, bigger than me. I screech. He screeches. He is bigger than me. I run, water splashing at my feet. He nibbles on my meat.


Mine. Mine.


Scampering into the darkness, looking for more I listen to the thousand squeaks. To the thousand little pitter-patters of tiny rat feet crawling through the wet filth in all directions. Through the sludge. Through the rusting, bronze pipes that shine out only from the illumination of the poison water and the moon-glow of our beady little eyes. My eyes, my eyes. I sniff, smelling for more meat. I smell the green water. It smells bad.

Bad. Bad.


Many pipes. Many, many pipes I run. I scamper and look for the way. I know many ways, I live here. In these tunnels, in these pipes. I am brother, they are brother, we are all brother. No sisters. Only one. Matriarch. Rat queen. Love sister. Love queen. Love queen-sister as much as slime-sister. I have many sisters. Many fathers. Many mothers. Mine. Mine. I stop and look around. The pipe is long and branches off in many different ways. Dozens of ancient, filth-coated pipes filled with sludge and goo and waste and rats. All interwoven into a network of tunnels and passages filled with brothers. With mine.

Rat. Rat. I am rat.


I shake my head, trying to snap out of it a little. I kind of went wild there for a second guy, sorry. But you know, I’m standing inside of a sewage pipe and am literally a rat so… excuse me for not being emotionally present right now. But I know I have to do better for the sake of our relationship, guy. So I’ll try harder, okay? I’ll do it for you.


I look down to the flowing sewage I’m standing in. Literal green water filled with waste. Whose? Dunno. But I’m standing in it and let me tell you that it is not awakening any new fetishes in me. Now my spider-girl life? That one, maybe did something for me. But this? No. No. Not mine. Not mine.


Why is there a sewer-floor in the dungeon? Whose waste are we collecting, channeling and to where? For what purpose? Why? Is sanitation a big thing in the dungeon? I don’t remember it ever being one at all but… well, here we are. I guess every dungeon needs a sewer floor.




Sniffing again, I instantly regret doing so. Ugh. It reminds me of that time I ate a bladder. Uh… when was that…? Hmm, I think my… uh… I wanna say my Minotaur life? Maybe? Well, whatever. It’s not important. I raise my back leg and scratch my ear, spraying wet sewer goo everywhere as I do so.


If you are watching me this time, dungeon-master. Could I get some boots maybe? I run along the tunnels, filth squishing between my toes. I go to the nest. To home. To queen. Rat-queen. Mine. Mine.

Fun fact, this chapter was written while listening to the Skaven music from Warhammer. I've never even played Warhammer haha

*~+---SPECIAL THANKS---+~*

Henry Morgan,  Shadowsmage, The Grey Mage, Spencer Seidel