The Rat and the Reptiloid

Submitted into Contest #202 in response to: Write about two people striking up an unlikely friendship.... view prompt

8 comments

Fantasy Friendship Adventure

Skreet threw open the door of his ramshackle room above a rarely-visited fruit and vegetable shop on the edge of Vulane. 


The rent for the place was ridiculous, but it gave him more privacy than he had had staying in the inns and taverns, and privacy was a premium: An especially useful feature for a room to have when sneaking in large reptiles. 


“Mind your head, and - uh - horns,” the rat said as he led the reptile in.


Draknor looked around and grunted. “Hurr, you live here?”


Skreet’s tail twitched. “I rent it out currently. I’ve lived in worse places. Plus those that visit the shop downstairs are very discreet.” 


“I have also lived in worse places,” Draknor grunted as he sat on the wood floor crosslegged. Skreet took a seat on a battered stool. 


“Yeah, I bet you have,” Skreet observed. “Escaped gladiator and all that.” 


The rain was pattering against the roof and there was a tiny ringing sound as a pot caught the water from a leak. 


“I’m going to get the fire going,” Skreet said. Draknor grunted his agreement. 


Skreet put a few logs on and struck flint to parchment and soon a warm blaze was crackling within. Draknor moved closer to the flames and shrugged off his cloak - a loincloth, bracers, greaves,and baldric were all he wore beneath. Skreet noted the reptiloids’ scales were scarred, some very recently. 


“So... ‘Draknor’ was it?” Skreet prodded. “How’d you end up in Vulane?” 


“I was captured, obviously,” Draknor replied, somewhat annoyed. 


Skreet twitched his ears. “Well, I know that. But do you remember what transpired? Who was responsible?” 


“I am originally from the Southern Continent,” Draknor began, hissing as he put a cloth to a gash in a bicep scale. A common place to find reptiloids, Skreet thought. Draknor continued.


“I was a mercenary hired by a jackal clan to guard a crop of some kind of beans. One night, three armies of mammals - jackals, hyenas, leopards - converged on the spot simultaneously. ...I could tell they were all surprised to see each other there. It was an absolute slaughter. The crop was completely destroyed.”


Skreet whistled in sad astonishment. Draknor continued.


“While trying to stop the violence, I was overwhelmed. Someone emerged from the dark laughing. In the moonlight I could tell they were a lynx or some such thing: A smaller cat with ear tufts.”


“Definitely not from the Southern Continent,” Skreet noted.


“I was exhausted. They blew some kind of powder in my eyes...” Draknor stared at the floor for a moment. “They have my sword,” Draknor finished. “It’s no ordinary sword, I know not what those mammals will do with it.” Draknor’s tail thumped the wooden floor. “What of you? You said you are a ‘detective’? As in, someone who solves crimes.”


Skreet’s tail twitched. “That’s right.”


Draknor steepled his claws. “Then what exactly are you investigating?”   


Skreet looked distant. “Something from my past. I’m chasing a criminal that eluded me. A crazed murderer.”  


“Hurr,” Draknor grunted. “They outwitted you?” 


Skreet ran a claw along his muzzle, whiskers twitching. “They did. I can blame the incompetent bureaucracy of my superiors, but I can’t place the blame squarely on them.”    


Draknor stared into the flames, “Yes. We all must take responsibility for our past actions. It’s the only way we advance.” 


The rat nodded his head solemnly, then his eyes lit up.


“Oh! You’re probably hungry, aren’t you?”


Draknor tilted his head, “I can go weeks without food.”


The detective shook his head, “Nonsense, here. I’ve got some venison jerky.”


The rat held out the strips of meat. Draknor hesitated before taking the offered food and scarfing it down. Despite his fierce appearance and stony exterior, Skreet thought he saw a glimmer of gratitude in the reptiloid’s eyes.


“My thanks.” Draknor rumbled.


Skreet nodded as he thought on Draknor’s story, “Hmm, you say a lynx captured you and put you into slavery?” 


Draknor nodded. “I think they were a lynx. I do not know mammal species that well.” 


“Well I know you’re not a Sh’ra,” Skreet said. 


“I’m pleased to hear that,” Draknor replied. “We’re not even remotely related.”


“Well, funny enough, the criminal I’m chasing is also a lynx... I think.”


Draknor grunted. 


Skreet continued. “Lynx are uncommon in this hemisphere, but not that uncommon. I doubt yours and mine are the same, but... it is uncanny.”


“And what if they are the same creature?” Draknor asked.


Skreet tapped claws to his muzzle again, “Then I’d say we have a common enemy. Can you tell me more about this lynx of yours?”


Draknor tilted his head, “A female, I think?” 


Skreet nodded, “Yeah, that much is similar.”  


Draknor grunted. “She came to see me before the gladiator fight the other day. Told me to... lose on purpose.”


“We call it ‘throwing the fight,’” Skreet said.


Draknor ignored him. “I’m sure it was her. I was blindfolded at the time though. But the voice was familiar and she claimed she was the one.”


Skreet looked studious. 


“Well, it’s kind of thin, Draknor.” 


“Thin? She was not that thin.”


“Heh, I mean It could be a coincidence. But I don’t have many other leads right now. This city… it has a way of distracting you; Of numbing the senses.” 


“Seems your murderer chose a good place to run to,” Draknor growled. 


“You’re telling me,” Skreet replied.  


The rat stood, stirred the fireplace, and sat back down. Draknor had the sword he’d taken from the arena in hand, wiping the blade down with a cloth he'd found. 


“So, what are you planning on doing next?” Skreet asked.


“I’m not sure,” Draknor replied. “I wish to leave but I am not exactly discrete. Then there’s the matter of my sword.”


Skreet’s whiskers twitched. “What is so significant about this sword of yours? Is it a cultural thing or what?”


“Hurr,” Draknor growled, “It is of cultural importance first and foremost, but... there’s something more about it. The pommel houses a gemstone of great power.” 


Skreet whistled. “We’re talking magic?” 


“Not as you are familiar with. A different kind. I am not comfortable leaving it in the hands of those that captured me.” 


Skreet nodded, “Well I can understand your concern. Maybe I can help you find it. I am a detective after all.”    


Draknor grunted. “But you have yet to find your criminal.”


Skreet sighed, “Yes, I worry about her slipping away. But maybe finding your sword won’t be as difficult, and your lynx might be the same one I’m chasing.” 


Draknor nodded. “I shall keep you from being distracted by the city then.” 


Skreet’s ears twitched, “That will be a difficult task. Vulane is seductive.” 


Far in the distance, the bells of the Temple of Veilwinter began to sing a complex song before ringing the hour. It was a charming tune and the two stopped to listen for a moment.


Draknor hissed. “Perhaps so. But I will do my best to keep you on task.” 


“Alright then,” Skreet said, offering his paw. “Partner.”


The two clasped arms in agreement. 


Skreet sighed. “Hopefully you don’t turn out like my last partner.”


“What of him?” Draknor asked. 


Skreet’s muzzle looked pained, “He’s a terrier, He used to be one of the straightest arrows ever to become a constable. He didn’t just read the book, he wrote it. ...but now he’s but a merchant here in Vulane and he has no interest in helping me find the lynx. He’s a shade of his former self.” 


Suddenly, there was a knock at the door, much to the surprise of both. Draknor held the sword ready as Skreet pulled out one of his fighting sticks. 


“Who is it?” Skreet demanded. 


“The queen of Daedalia,” a snarky female voice replied. 


Skreet scowled. “Get out of here!” 


“No can do boys. I’ve got a proposal. Are you going to keep a lady standing out in the rain?”  


Skreet motioned Draknor back as he cautiously opened the door, keeping one stick in his paw. 


“You?” Skreet exclaimed. 


A female ferret in a cloak stood at the doorstep. 


“Heya.” she greeted.


“You are no lady, Farah,” Skreet snorted.


Farah put a paw to her chest, “Ahh, I am offended sir. But flattered you know me.” 


Skreet scowled. “Your reputation is well earned.”


“That is the ferret thief we saw earlier.” Draknor rumbled.


“Well hello there! I almost didn’t see you there.” Farah greeted Draknor with a wave of her hand.


“How’d you find us?” Skreet growled.


“Followed you after your little scuffle with those idiots.” Skreet glared at the ferret. Farah smirked, “If it's any consolation it was hard to keep up with you. Now then you going to let me in? I have a proposal.”


“Go away,” Skreet growled. “We’ve got enough problems.”


“I want to hear what she has to say,” Draknor rumbled.


Farah beamed as she shoved her way past Skreet, “I knew I liked you, Mr. reptile.” 


Skreet looked from Farah to Draknor before shutting the door. Draknor regarded the rat. “We might need a thief if we’re going to get my sword back.”


Skreet sighed. “Alright I see your logic. But I only trust her as far as I can throw her.”  


Farah giggled, “Don’t be a sour rat. Why I’m sure we’re all going to be best of friends after this is over!” 


“Gods,” Skreet muttered. "What am I getting myself into now?"   


June 15, 2023 13:52

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8 comments

Thank you for writing! I’m very happy that you’ve put up a continuation of this story line, and I hope you’ll write more in this thread. [it gave him more privacy than he had had staying in the inns and taverns and privacy was a premium:] I would add a comma after [taverns] I find myself constantly grinning as I read this. I like Draknor’s little “hurr”. I’m wondering if it means anything particular in his culture or language, or if it’s just a sound reptiloids make, the way we say noncommittal things like “hm”, “huh”, “yeah”, or “right”....

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M B
21:07 Jun 16, 2023

Alright thanks for the feedback! I made some slight edits to the story. Yeah, "Hurr" is pretty much his huh, hmm, etc. Indeed Draknor has a moral code he abides by, and usually ends up fighting for those that are not as capable of defending themselves as he is. I'm not sure if I'll use next weeks prompts for this plot line. But I'll think about it!

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I read through it again. Still grinning! I like reading big guys whose moral code includes protecting others; I have several characters who are like this. I'm tempted to say Draknor is my favorite character here, but Skreet is definitely entertaining, too. And as a duo, they're even better. Sorry, Skreet, but I'm excited to see what you're getting yourself into. I think that because he's a detective, Skreet sees and picks up on a lot—maybe things Draknor won't notice. I also think Skreet doesn't like putting himself in situations where h...

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M B
03:05 Jun 17, 2023

Spot on about Skreet! Check out my friend's story, he did a prequel to this about Skreet: https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/ev9fr3/

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I love seeing Draknor and Skreet together - great stuff

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M B
17:50 Jun 15, 2023

Thank you kindly

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A few more thoughts about this story: When Skreet asked Draknor if he was hungry, Draknor said, “I can go weeks without food.” He didn’t say he wasn’t hungry, and it turned out he was, so he didn’t lie. What he implied was “I’m fine.” Under that, I think he means, “I’m not going to cause problems for you. I won’t be a burden.” From that, I surmise that, at least for now, Draknor desires to stay with Skreet. Why? Maybe it’s just because this rat got him out of a tight spot, and he doesn’t have any other place to go. Maybe Draknor needs to...

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M B
18:50 Jun 24, 2023

That's quite alright! I like character analysis. We shall see what curveballs Farah throws at their developing friendship and if she mentions things or not. There's a lot of ways the story can go from here.

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