The Rat is a Noble creature
by R. J. Frogvarian
Villidarfel was a tinker rat. A working rat. Toiling away at clockwork and machinery, keeping engines running and clocks ticking (not that they would ever tick in quite the right way).
Antonia was a devout bandit when she married him. Was, and remained so, be it her husband was not partial to her bouts of crime.
“All those bullets and knives flyin’ ‘round. Will get ya killed ‘un day. Not like it pays ‘ell, either,” he would grumble.
“Ah, darling,” Antonia would smile, “Should we compare jobs? Or swap them? I wonder how long I would last inside an engine – how long would the engine last, how great the fire might be? Or should we stick to what we know best?”
The rat is a noble creature. Partial to danger and creativity, the two were no strangers to excitement; and so they lived together happily.
Excitement, however, comes with a price. That price has shown its face when Antonia found a letter on their doorstep.
Come, find your husband, and bring that which was mine, o Faber Bandit.
Signed with a paw, an address attached, the letter taunted her.
She found him, bound and gagged, ferocity in his eyes. Rats with pokers stood on guard. A great grey mouser sat behind, cleaning up its awful hide. It spotted the bandit, and smiled.
“Good of you to join us, dear. Have you brought what to my heart is near?”
“Choke on it, if you will,” with anger she reached behind, in one stern motion unclothed her cart. A brilliant gem, a rat’s head size, sitting atop scrap. The guards wheel it forth, send Villidarfel stumbling by.
“Drat!” he gasps, “Antonia! That thing could of wiped our debts! That scoundrel will just get us back – bastards like ‘at ne’er forget.”
In her arms she took him, a sigh of relief escaped. “Oh, darling, don’t you know me well? Your wife has learned a trick or two from the years of your sweat.”
The mouser coos, purrs, lavishes its prize. The guards pick it up – a tick, tock, tick, tock, tick…
“You devilish woman!” Villidarfel laughs-
-“I knew I married well, all those years ago!”
The gem – smaller, barely tenth the price. The mouser – likewise, and toasted all around.
The lovers – well, perhaps changed as well. He grumbles less, and she takes greater care. The rat is a noble creature, no stranger to excitement; and excitement is, in their lives, abundant.
Art of London
Spiders in the Basement
by Rubbered Ginny
An involuntary shudder went through me every time my feet hit one of the stone steps too loudly, creating a very audible fwap that would stand to alert any potential threat to my presence. My rational mind tried telling my instincts that there was nothing to freak out about, but it didn’t help. When I finally reached the bottom of the stairs – those fourteen steps felt like a lot more than just fourteen – my hand hovered over the matchbox hesitantly. My brain couldn’t decide whether the fear of the unknown monsters lurking in the dark was worse than the fear of the intense shock and panic that would definitely ensue as soon as the dim, ancient lamp flickered to life and illuminated the lurking horrors. After a few long seconds of internal chastising, I forced my hand downwards, the warm yellow flame came to life, revealing… well, nothing. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Just dusty old shelves, slightly less overflowing than they had been a day before, a few broken pieces of furniture, and an old, rusty bike. The only sign of life was a very fat spider sitting in a thick web in the far upper corner of the room. Still, I took the time to check inside the ancient, mouldering cupboard, ignoring the fact that nothing larger than a six year old could possibly fit inside, then peered into the tiny potential hidey-holes behind the other junk. Anything to delay having to check the wash room. Sadly, to my utter lack of surprise, there was nothing to be found no matter how deeply I peered into the dusty corners. The only things staring back were mouse turds and dust. I made a mental note to get some mouse traps later in the week while steeling myself for what I had to do next.
The old door to the wash room wasn’t properly set into the frame like, well, a proper door; there was a gap of almost a centimetre between the edge of the door and the surrounding wall, allowing a weirdly potent stench to seep through unhindered. Also, any sound inside should have been able to reach my ears easily, yet there was nothing to be heard. One half of my brain was trying to tell me that that’s a good sign, while the other was busy thinking about a spider, sitting silently in the centre of its web, ready to strike. My hand was clammy and shaking as I wrapped my fingers around the door handle. The old wood creaked slightly as I threw the door open with one quick, jerking motion.
My whole body deflated and a big sigh of relief escaped my lungs when the light hit the grate, revealing it to be exactly how it was, exactly where it should be. The entire room seemed just as I last left it. I stepped inside, and I felt my legs almost give out under me. It seemed the building panic and anxiety had done a number on them. Since I was already plummeting towards the ground, I caught myself and transitioned into kneeling next to the grate. Despite all my weird fixation on the stupid thing, I hadn’t yet examined it closely. The first thing I noticed was that weird stench again. It was horrible. And not just the usual sewer stink kind of horrible, this smell was like nothing I’d ever smelled before, and it immediately made me wretch so badly, I almost threw up right down the grate. The closest thing I could think of is… Imagine the smell of liquorice, except a hundred times more intense, and the liquorice is rotting. There was a strong, sickly note of sweetness mixed in with the usual sewer stink, and it made it so much worse. I took a few deep, steady breaths to suppress the nausea, but it didn’t help as much as I would have liked. My stomach was still in almost painful turmoil, and my eyes were watering. Very slowly and carefully, with my shirt pulled over my mouth, I leaned over the grate to examine it more closely. At first, it looked normal – just an old, rusty grate, rectangular and with ample gaps to let water flow through. I experimentally rubbed my finger along one of the grates, and little crumbs of rust came off – this thing really wasn’t in the best shape anymore. I felt it creaking and moving under my touch, and that’s when I noticed that the whole grate was moving. It looked like the whole thing broke out of the surrounding floor quite some time ago, and was only loosely sitting on top of the hole. I tried lifting it, and it came off without any resistance. There was now an open, wet hole in my cellar, just barely large enough to be a tripping hazard. It was a good thing I never stepped on this grate before while crossing the room to get to the washing machine, the twisted ankle would have been bad enough even without all the thick rust getting into any scratches and giving me blood poisoning. I put the rusty grate to the side and made a mental note to get this fixed as soon as I could figure out who I’d have to call to fix it. Then, I looked back down at the hole, and my heart froze in my chest.
by The Ranine Illustrator
News of Art, Art of News
Tales Of Gods – Farewell To The Archaic Lord
The second play of the GenQin Troupe’s epic, Tales of Gods.
After the end of The Windborne Lament, the traveller ventures into the City of Commerce. The god of this city rules from their palace in the clouds, yet only descends once a year to give upon the people their divine orders. This year, however, the rite goes awry – in front of the gathered crowd, their god is assassinated by unknown powers. The ruling class searches for the culprit, and the traveller has to clear their name as they get entangled in political intrigue between the ruling merchants, envoys from the north, and the city’s divine guardians.
The second play of this epic comforts itself with an established lore and a captivated audience, playing it’s cards rather well. It is much less filled with action, the stage combat taking a step back in favour of atmosphere and plotful interactions. While there is still exposition to be had, there is much less of it than and it does not overstay its welcome.
As previously mentioned, where The Windborne Lament’s strength lay in its fights, the strength of Farewell To The Archaic Lord lies in its atmosphere. The GenQin have expertly transported their audience into this other world.
We would like to especially bring to mention the second act. As the traveller prepares for an ancient ritual, the atmosphere coupled with comedy makes some of the positively most enjoyable scenes we had seen in theatre. The audience, we do not exaggerate, had rather enjoyed a good, hearty laughter.
For those taken by the wonder of stage combat – do not despair. The climax of this play comes to a head with an exquisite fight. This time, not bogged by the limitations of space in a fight against men rather than a mythical beast, GenQin truly held no punches. Though the play was certainly not overstarving the audience for a fight, such a dutiful cherry on top was more than enough to satiate everyone’s hunger.
All in all, we applaud the work put into, as well as the final product that is, Farewell To The Archaic Lord.
Ask Mother Goose
Dear Mother Goose,
A good one, certainly. Shame for the rest. Perhaps the boost was needed.
There is still time. There shall be work, and it shall be finished. Fret not – but start fretting when the time is nigh. Pray we never get there.