I look at the group of humans walking past me, walking down the way; I assume towards the chamber of the rat-queen. Did I just understand them? The priestess and the monk? I float after them, gliding behind them just above the surface of the green water. I’ve never understood them before. Does that mean I’m some kind of human-ghost?
If there are human ghosts, does that mean there are like… slime ghosts? Rat ghosts? What about me? Do I leave a ghost behind every time I die? Me ghosts? Hmm. Nah. I think ghosts are just human, you know? Like skeletons are human. We don’t really have like, goblin skeletons or fairy skeletons here you know? Do they exist? Maybe. But I don’t remember ever seeing them if there are any, tell you what. Interesting though. So I guess ghosts aren’t as, uh… ‘far gone’ as skeletons are if I can still understand human.
Floating after the group I look at them curiously, getting right up in their business, far past any personal space, to examine their movements. Their expressions, gestures, and yes, maybe I even try to smell the hero’s hair while I’m there. It doesn’t work. I can’t smell anything. Ghosts can’t smell, apparently. Not sure how that works logistically since I can see and hear and all of that, but sure, whatever. I just work here, okay?
This could be my big chance. The big opportunity for me to stalk them from start to finish, to watch as they go through the dungeon. Ooooh, I realize they are about to talk to the rat-queen. Maybe I can hear what their conversation is about? This might be it. This might be the cosmic twist of fate that I have been waiting for. My one real shot at finding out how to beat them. Whatever that means today.
They’re mostly silent as we walk. I suppose they don’t want to open their mouths in the sewer which I can understand. Maybe it’s for the best if I can’t smell anything after all, I think to myself.
Hmm. I wonder.
I try to raise my hands, not that I have any, but I go through the motions nonetheless. While there is nothing to see, nothing that moves I still have the phantom sensation of something being there. A part of me that isn’t on this plane anymore. Raising a ‘finger’ I tap the thief-girl on the shoulder. She turns her head to the left and looks to see who tapped her. Somewhat puzzled she looks back forward again probably thinking something like ‘must’ve just been my imagination’ haha.
I do it again. She swings around in a full twist now, hand on her dagger and stares out behind herself, straight at me. Straight through me. Haha! Jerk. The others look at her.
“What’s wrong?” asks the monk, her colorful voice a little scratchy.
They stand there in silence for a moment, their eyes either looking at the thief or towards the way she is looking as well. Relaxing her stance she straightens up and slowly turns back forward; her boots sloshing the disgusting water as she moves.
“Nothing. Must’ve just been my imagination” she says.
I think that was the first time I ever heard her talk. Interesting voice. There’s an accent there. Something the monk and priestess don’t have? Is it because she’s an elf? Hmm.
The wizard places a hand on the thief’s shoulder “You don’t like tight spaces like this right? Don’t worry, we’ll be out of here soon.”
“Yeah.” Says the thief, almost bored. Her tone is stiff. As if this was a question she had answered a million times before already.
The priestess softly pipes in “I’m more concerned about, well everything other than the tight spaces. The rats. The sewage… this can’t be healthy.”
The monk laughs without a care in the world and slaps her on the back. ”It’ll put some hair on that over-inflated chest of yours!” As she laughs she rasps her throat, something stuck in it apparently.
The priestess just laughs awkwardly in response, apparently not sure what to say to that. Meanwhile the hero is just dredging, taking the lead. Not sparing a word for the rest of them. Too bad, well it’s fine. I’ll hear him talk in a second. Already I can see the chamber open up before me at the end of the pipe that we now approach together.
As we stand on the precipice and look down into the chamber below, there I see her. The prideful rat-queen, surrounded by her many children. Thousands of rats standing in a circle. Thousands of rats waiting quietly for her commands. Hundreds squirming below her, vying to be her throne. As we approach, several eyes meet our group and then it happens again as we make our way down. The squeaks I remember being in protest at the uncontested presence of the hero-party here in this most hallowed ground of the dungeon-master. Once again the monk feels a little faint and the priestess begins tending to her.
A minute later as we stand before her, she snaps her fingers and the dissenters are once again torn to pieces in a violent frenzy. The priestess shrieks in disgusted surprise at the bloodshed once again. Once it is done she looks up the hero-party again going over them one by one as if to gauge them. To size them up as they stand before her. Her eyes reach me and she stops.
I see her glare narrow. Does she see me? Can she see me? I duck behind the protecting twig-like stature of the tiny wizard-girl. Hiding behind her cloak and large bag like a child hiding behind its mother in fear of a stranger.
She speaks with a snarling tone.
“You have some nerve coming back here again, purple. RAT. SPY.”
The hero-party stiffens up and backs up awkwardly. I see the thief spark to life and look around the room having heard her trigger word. She follows the gaze of the rat-queen towards the empty spot where I float.
“Not you, idiots! Stay where you are!” commands the rat-queen to the confused adventurers who shrug to each other indifferently. All of them assume she is just talking to a rat I guess. All of them but one who is scanning the room, searching for a rat that stands out from the rest. The queen’s fingers roll as she thinks, out against the skull of a rat who considers himself lucky to be there. To be touched.
“Did that thing send you? Are you one of his?! I can see right through you! Don’t think I don’t recognize you after you disgraced me in my own court!” she shouts out with gnashing razor teeth, snarling with froth flying from her mouth onto a rat below who considers himself blessed by the gods. All of the rats look around in confusion. They know there is somebody they should be tearing up, someone they should be nibble-nibbling. But there is nobody there that they can see.
“YOU!” She points to the priestess. “WHITE MAGIC. NOW!” she commands the girl, snapping her fingers once. Somewhat overwhelmed the priestess looks over to the hero, who looks just as confused. He shrugs once and nods to her in affirmation. Uh oh.
I turn to fly away, to hover off as fast as I can. But already I see the glow of the white-magic leave her palms, flowing over down to the ground and dripping away beneath the cracks of the stone. The pure, beautiful white-magic flowing down into the sewage below.
“I’M PUTTING AN END TO THIS WHOLE THING!” shouts the rat-queen with venom in her voice and slaps the priestess’ hands to the side. It only takes a second. The volatile magic wibbles and wobbles and then as it flies through the air I see it split. I see the single instant the chaotic energies come undone. I see as everything in the entire room goes white as if the sun itself were rising just before us. Brandishing godly fires just before us.
It explodes. Everything is warm. Soft. Everything smells like sewage. Ugh.