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27 December 2018 @ 04:01 pm
The Rats of Research World 24396  

The Rats of Research World 24396

The Keeper of History

"In the beginning, life was easy, but cruel.

"We lived in cages of ice, warm ice that never melted. Through that ice we could see other beasts, also in their cages.

“And we could see the gods. They came with the light, sudden brightness in the utter dark, and when they left, the dark returned. No Stars, no Moon.

"The gods brought us food and filled our water bottles, and there was no starvation. But . . ." The wise old rat look out at his audience, and the little ratlings stilled in anticipation. "The Gods took rats whenever they wished, and the few that returned told of unspeakable horrors done to them."

The audience shivered.

"And then the God of Death came. Placing something in every cage, blocking the ventilation, and the other beasts died.

"We formed up to fight him, but we were helpless. Naked and without weapons.

"When he reached our cage, he gazed upon us. Then he opened the cage, and reached in . . . And darkness fell upon us."

“We crouched in terror . . . we know not for how long . . .”

The ratlings all grinned in anticipation.

“Then light flashed and we dropped to rough stone, and stared in amazement. No more walls of ice, and the light, the beautiful light so different than any we’d seen before.”

He dropped his voice theatrically. “And in front of us . . . one of the gods.

“Like all the others, so ugly and naked, with hair only on its head, wrapped in odd substances to cover its bare skin. But this god was smaller, and the hair was as red as a sunset . . . not that we’d seen a sunset, yet . . . and he glowed more than any god we’d ever seen. We backed away in terror, and Alpha actually stuttered as he sent scouts to check for danger behind us. Or a refuge to save us from this red god.

“And so we found our new home, in Stone Fort. Well ventilated, safe from the larger of the wild animals that roam the New Place. A spring of fresh water, and store rooms filled with food. Tools, weapons, and bedding. Although we knew nothing of tools or weapons.

“The red god did not pursue us. But he returned frequently and would sit and talk, and we came to understand his words, and we attuned ourselves to his thoughts, so that he could hear our inner speech. And he explained many things about the New Place, things we needed to do. How to use tools, how to use weapons against the legless that killed and ate us. And how to fend off the other creatures that saw Stone Fort and coveted it.

“The red god taught us how to hunt and gather, how to use fire for heat, how to cook food.

“And life was good.”

“And life was good.” All the ratlings chanted together.

“And then he taught us new things. He showed us how our inner talk could be twisted a bit and become a weapon, or a shield.

“And we came to fear nothing.

“But there were so many of us . . . the fort was crowded, and we had to travel further to get food.

“And the red god saw this and walked away, with his huge strides. We were curious, for he had never done this before. We ran after him, all though the day, traveling away from shadows, and to the left.” He dropped his voice and the ratlings leaned in to listen. “At sunset, he stopped on the crest of a hill. He sat, his long hind legs all twisted up oddly. And he held his forelegs out . . . and the rock moved.”

A happy sigh, all around the crowd.

“And he showed us how it was done. And we helped him create another fort. He reached into the fort, a tight squeeze . . . And where he tapped his fingers, the rock opened up, a deep, deep hole and water came forth, and ran through New Fort.”

The old storyteller nodded. “He curled up in some fluffy bedding he pulled from nowhere, and slept out on the rocks, for what animal would dare attack him? We slept in the new fort, safe from all but the legless.

“In the morning, he pulled food from nowhere, and we all ate the odd stuff he called ‘bread.’ Then he walked away, turning away from the dawn, and he walked until the sun was halfway down the sky, and he stopped on a ledge, halfway up a tall hill. He lay flat on his belly, and stretched out his hand.

“We crept closer, afraid, but he tapped the ground and a small hole opened. We saw that he was again shapeing the rock, and we tried to help, making a deep, deep hole. And when we could smell the water down in the bottom of the hole, he showed us he spell to call the water upwards.”

A dramatic pause. “And WE made the water flow.”

The ratlings eyes all gleamed.

“And then WE built Ledge Fort ourselves.”

A sigh of satisfaction.

“The next day, the Red God walked to the shadows, and late in the day we found ourselves walking up to Sone Fort.”

The storyteller sighed. “And the Red God disappeared, as always. And the tribe split into three, and the leaders of each part drew lots.

“Blacky led his third to New Fort, and the Hood took his to Ledge Fort. Alpha remained here. And as our populations grew, we split again and again, and our forts spread wide.

“And we tell all the old stories, so that we always remember. Because someday, the Red God will return.”

Epilogue

Exzy rubbed his nose. Settled back down to sleep.

Something thumped his nose. He opened his eyes. A black and white hooded rat. In a red cape. With a sharp spear.

The rat twirled the spear and whacked Exzy’s nose with the butt of it. And in nearly ultra-sonic tones, “Wake up, Red God! We need you! More Gods have come, and they have brought . . . CATS!”

 
 
 
(Anonymous) on December 27th, 2018 10:52 pm (UTC)
FYI
I want this. I miss stories with medieval anthropomorphic mice.
ekuah on December 28th, 2018 09:03 am (UTC)
Re: FYI
I second this.

But maybe you could make Exzy's epilogue like Rustle's epilogue in 'The Dark Lady'. Well since he is god of rats now...

Edited at 2018-12-28 09:04 am (UTC)
(Anonymous) on December 28th, 2018 09:46 am (UTC)
Re: FYI
IIRC he's going for God of Adventure, but I think he may get "Freedom" or (taking inspiration from a fiction on RoyalRoad) "Challenge(s)".
ekuah on December 28th, 2018 11:13 am (UTC)
Re: FYI
Well why not both???
God of Adventure and Rats.

I mean Eldon is the God of Heroes and Bestiality.
Those two topics are even less related than adventure and rats.
(Anonymous) on December 28th, 2018 11:49 am (UTC)
Re: FYI
Wouldn't "both" more readily parse as "Adventurous Rats"?

From which comes the thought, if the Rats get dimensional abilities (or even if they don't, since they're Telepaths) they'd make great agents for the Disco Inspectorate General (or whatever they name the department responsible for monitoring the gate-capable polities & their usage of their gates), 'cos they'd be able to sneak everywhere (not to mention how little lift they'd need from their shields to fly).

That being spies for Disco would mean they were associated with all 3 of "Death", "Spies", & "Adventure" would just be icing on the cake.
ekuah on December 28th, 2018 03:24 pm (UTC)
Re: FYI
'Wouldn't "both" more readily parse as "Adventurous Rats"?'

I don't think so.
I wouldn't parse Eldon as be bestiality hero.

It's just what the Collective Subconscious thinks him as 'the god of bestiality' on one world (something he is not so proud of)
And as 'the god of heroes' on another (which he likes more).

The same could happen with Exzy too. He would like to be the 'god of adventure'. But annoyingly he once helped some intelligent, magical rats which made him their god.

Same
matapampamuphoff on December 28th, 2018 04:35 pm (UTC)
Re: FYI
Actually Eldon was on the same world as his "Demon of Jones Creek" offenses, just across the country. And when a bunch of people needed a hero for a cross-dimensional rescue, well, there he was.

Tarnished, but already on his way to retrieve "his" kids.
ekuah on December 28th, 2018 05:12 pm (UTC)
Re: FYI
Well there is no reason to try to discuss this with you (since you will have the last word anyhow ;-).

But just imagine the scene:
Exzy is trying to impress a girl by mentioning being the 'god of adventure' and the girl asking him:
"Why is there a bunch rats with capes and red wigs bowing behind you?"


Edited at 2018-12-28 05:18 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous) on December 28th, 2018 07:15 pm (UTC)
Re: FYI
You are, of course, the Author, but I have noticed that Eldon's heroics are always called forth by children in danger (I know, college students, but Eldon thinks of them as kids). I tend to think of him as the God of Children rather than the God of Heroes.
(Anonymous) on December 29th, 2018 03:09 am (UTC)
Re: FYI
Considering that, IIRC, one of the reasons the Stranger's Earth Feds couldn't charge Eldon with his "Devil" offences was that at least one of his "victims" was grateful for a pregnancy she thought she'd never be capable of having...

Yeah, I think "children" is definitely a major function of Eldon's portfolio(s).
James ResoldierJames Resoldier on December 28th, 2018 10:03 am (UTC)
How adorable!
(Anonymous) on December 28th, 2018 10:45 pm (UTC)
The epilogue is purrfect!

--TheOtherSean