Chapter 71: Rat
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Well, that happened. At least I got to die to white-magic again which was nice. But on the other hand I failed to learn anything. So… the same as always? The more things change the more they stay the same I guess.

 

  So, guy, can we talk? I feel like we need to talk. It’s not you, it’s me, okay? Okay. So, I can’t help but feel like some force, some cosmic being is pulling my strings here. Just a little, you know? Some cruel overlord closing the curtain before my eyes every time, just as I am about to peer behind it. Hiding the secrets of the dungeon from me as if they weren’t meant to be uncovered by my eyes to begin with. Every time I get into a position where I can see something, watch something that will give me answers. Give me some hint or some clue as what this whole existence of mine is about; every time that happens the floor gets ripped out from beneath my feet and I have to start all over again, clawing my way back up that cliff-side only to be cast down again as soon as my fingers grip the edge.

 

As if I shouldn’t know. As if I’m not meant to know.

 

  The only thing I seem to be ‘allowed’ to do is ascend. I’m only allowed to climb, to live and die and find the secret stairs so that I can escape. I’m only allowed to follow that single red string that seems to lead up higher and higher.

 

Why?

 

I float.

 

  Are you religious, friend? I am. A little. I’m a trash-mob. That means I fall under the domain of my god the dark-lord. If you believe in that kind of stuff that is. So that means my life, my death happens under his watchful red-glowing demon eyes, hallowed be his name. Humans and elves all have their own gods and all of that, I’m sure some of them are pretty alright honestly. But the dark-lord is mine and I do my best to make him happy. I do it for him after all.

 

So I wonder and, hear me out here guy, do gods respawn too?

 

  If I die, everyone resets back into place. Good as new, remember? Everyone except me, the fairies and the thief and maybe the dungeon-master too. So that makes uh… me, the rat-queen, the fairy-mother, the fairy of the fountain, the thief and the bossman. Six people if I still remember how to count.

 

But what about the gods?

 

What about the outside world? The place outside of this dungeon?

 

  If I die and time goes back again, what does that mean for literally everything else? Anyone else? All of everything that is outside of this dungeon? Does it all go back? Every single time? That’s some cosmic level magic, guy. Only the kind of stuff the gods can do.

 

So why?

 

  Why has some god decided that I’m their chosen one? Or is it a punishment? The fact that I’m the guy who has to die over and over, never getting to learn anything. The guy whose sole purpose in life is to climb some dinky old stairs. Treating me like I’m just some piece on a board game, some pawn, some… trash-mob.

 

Oh.

 

Well, I don’t want to be the respawn guy anymore.

 

So why am I?

 

Can’t I just be like.. A crab or something? Forever? Please?

 

  I guess not. I’m still floating, so if some dietetic presence was listening to my ramblings before they’ve apparently decided they had enough of me for the year. That’s fine. They’re jerks anyways.

 

Anywho. This has been my philosophical rant of the week. Thanks for listening and remember to come back next time for -

 

  I squeak and look around the metal-pipe which I hunker down alone in. Green-water rushes past my feet, pressing down and around my lower body as I am in waist deep in this thin pipe. Sniff-sniffing the air I try to smell my brothers, my queen. But none of them are distinguishable to me from here. I’m a rat again? That’s oddly lucky.

 

  But I know it’s not luck. It can’t just be luck. Maybe my plea for mercy was heard? Maybe someone is listening after all? Maybe the dark-lord has noticed my plight and has bestowed his blessings upon me? Maybe.

 

  The pipe I’m in is odd. It’s not like the other pipes in the sewer. Not like the main ones that are used to travel through generally by us rats. No, this pipe is small. Thin. Just barely big enough for a rat-rat to squeeze through alone. The water runs up to my breast now but thankfully leaves plenty of space for my head to peer out over above. I wonder. Can it be?

 

Could I be so blessed after all?

 

  Trudging forward in silence for a time, listening only to the splashing of the befouled water beneath me sloshing around the thin pipe that I barely squeeze through, I peer out into the darkness ahead; waiting for the sign of something good to come. But as I progress further onward and still see nothing I begin to fear-fear as my mind dwells on my last few reincarnations.

 

What if this is a trap? What if this is more punishment?

 

  What if I’m walking down this pipe and it’s just going to get tighter and tighter. What if I just get stuck and sit here for days, waiting to die. Unable to move. Unable to wiggle-wiggle. Just sitting trapped in this tube until I rot and decay. In this hole made for me. No, I assure myself. That can’t happen. Even if I did get stuck I would just have to wait for the hero-party to clear the dungeon so I can respawn again. Yeah. Yeah. It’ll be fine I think to myself as I begin to wonder, is the water getting higher? Wasn’t it just up to my chest before?

 

  The ambient sound around me begins to change. To grow louder. To roar. The pipe begins to shake and vibrate, the sensation of the trembling metal resonating through my littles bones, green water bubbling and splashing up into my face. The sound is strong, overpowering. My entire sense of hearing is overtaken by the roar of the unseen dragon behind me. Feeling fear I scamper forward as fast as I can, sloshing through the goo and then I-IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIE-!

 

  Water surges around me, pressing into my back and then overwhelming me. Coating me and drowning me beneath the goo as I am propelled forward. Launched, coated in green slime, as if blown out from the nose of a giant, out of the end of the pipe. As I fly through the air in that brief second I look around me and see the small, doorless room. Only the openings of dozens of pipes on the walls grant access to the hidden chamber from this end.

 

I land against something hard, metal, feet first as the stream of goo washes over me and then slowly begins to drain away.

 

  As the flow slows and ebbs I see there’s a rough metal grate I stand upon through which it all trickles down into the waiting darkness below, splashing somewhere down out of sight.

 

  There, just before me, I see them. The most beautiful thing I can imagine after this little trek of mine. The single, goo-splattered, rat-sized stone staircase that leads up into the darkness above. Scampering as fast as I can I begin rise up the many thousands of steps in a burst. My heart is light and jubilant, not even caring about the green poison and fecal matter smeared over my body, it means little when my soul is so light. When I can scamper-scamper with such energy and conviction. So what if the only thing I am allowed to do is try to escape the dungeon? If so, then maybe that’s okay. Maybe…

 

Maybe the dark-lord has mercy for me yet.


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

Henry Morgan,  Shadowsmage, The Grey Mage, Spencer Seidel

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