The Curious Matter of the Rat King Papers
Recovered and assembled from the Magist Imperial University Archives
To Head Archivist Ternus Wrenwell, Magist Imperial University Archives, October 3, 842:
This box and its contents were found this morning with the Treym-Bright collection. However, it seems to have been a later addition. Accession records list eight boxes, but now there are nine. The content is related and appears authentic but is of a somewhat unsettling nature.
Assistant Archivist Dara Boyle
Transcript of an interview with uncontaminated Rattus Amaluricus specimen by Dr. Eudosia Bright, Resident Binder and Associate Junior Fellow of the Magist Imperial University, Amalcross. As dictated to Undermage Walther Treym. Recorded this day, March 16, 782, Amal Era.
Eudosia Bright: We’ll start with the simplest questions to determine if the binding is working properly. What is your na—
no, I suppose that won’t do at all. It probably doesn’t have a name. Scratch that part, Walther, please. Well then, what are you?
EB: Hmm, the words are understandable as words. However, its comprehension seems to be lacking.
Rat: You can call me Scuttleswift. We do not speak our names as you do. It is close enough.
EB: Oh. Well, maybe it did work after all. Did you get that, Walther?
Rat: Let me out.
EB: Absolutely not.
Rat: Let me out.
EB: No. I’m not losing the only uninfected rat in the city because it asked to be let out.
[The rat stared at us for a few seconds, unblinking.]
Rat: Let me out. I will not run.
EB: You won’t run? [She laughed.]
EB: And why wouldn’t you run, when it’s in your nature to?
Rat: I came here because I wanted to. Smelled the other one here. It has helped before. Might help again.
EB: Other one?
Rat: Yes. The big one there.
[Here it looked at me.]
EB: Hmm, I always did think you were a bleeding heart, but helping vermin is strange even for you.
[I said something to the effect that I hadn’t done much — only gotten it unstuck from behind a cabinet and taken it outside.]
Rat: You will help?
EB: What do you want him to do?
Rat: Not sure what has to be done. You big ones can maybe understand it. It has my children. It has all of us except me.
EB: What does?
Rat: I don’t know what it is. It’s big. Bigger than the big one over there. It smells like our people but not. Some other smell too. A bad one. Smells like sickness.
EB: Tell me, what does this sickness smell like? Does it smell differently from other diseases?
Rat: Like sickness. Bad.
Excerpt from Dr. Bright’s research diary, dated March 16:
There is valuable information locked in that rat’s minuscule skull. If only I knew how to reliably extract and transcribe it. So far, the creature proves maddeningly vague, but I am reluctant to attempt any more extreme methods to probe its mind. It is unique, from what I can tell. The other rats move as synchronously as a well-trained regiment, but this one walks alone. Why?
Second interview with uncontaminated Rattus Amaluricus specimen “Scuttleswift,” conducted by Dr. Eudosia Bright. Walther Treym transcribing. Dated March 17, 782:
Eudosia Bright: We’ll begin where we left off. Hang on — are you really calling it that?
[I explained that it was the name the specimen had asked to be called by. Thus, it seemed sensible to call it that.]
EB: Fine, fine. Well, don’t get too attached.
Scuttleswift: Let me out.
EB: We’ve been through this. I’m not letting you out.
[I reminded EB that the rat is bound to both of us by the same spell that allows us to understand it, and that it won’t get far if it runs.]
EB: That doesn’t mean we should just let it out. People are dying, Walther, in case you’ve forgotten. The city is under siege. They won’t even let us leave our houses! We can’t waste time chasing a single rat.
[I grudgingly agreed.]
S: I won’t run. I told you that. Did you forget?
EB: Yes, yes, because you’re such a noble, selfless creature and doing all this for the sake of your children.
S: Not sure what “noble” or “selfless” are, but yes. For my children.
EB: Alright, then let’s make a bargain. You answer all my questions, and then I’ll let you go. That seems more than fair, doesn’t it?
S: Yes, seems fair, as long as you feed me too.
EB: Easy enough. Well, then why don’t you start at the beginning.
Narrative of Rattus Amaluricus specimen “Scuttleswift”, condensed and clarified by Walther Treym from a series of interviews conducted from March 17-22, 782.
By Dr. Eudosia Bright. Prepared for inclusion in an official report on the origins of the Rat War and its associated diseases. Humbly addressed to the Senior Council of Binders of The Magist Imperial University.
I am doing this for my children, even if you don’t believe me. There were once many of them. I don’t know how many remain. They smell just the same as all the others now. Even I could not tell them apart once they joined the swarm.
The smell was the first strange thing. It was a smell I didn’t know yet. There was rot there, but also something else. Something bad. I don’t know how the others couldn’t smell it. To me, it was so strong that even your kind would notice.
We should have all left as soon as I noticed it, but I had just given birth again. My pups didn't even have their eyes open yet, so they couldn’t be moved. I decided to try to find out where it was coming from. I did not like to leave my young ones, even with my daughters there to feed them with milk, but I had to make sure our colony was safe.
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