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Chapter 8: Rats Aplenty

Chapter 8: Rats Aplenty

In the General Forum, Arancaytar and Riibu finally stopped shivering to the point where they could speak.

"Drakefyre! Drake... achoo!" Arancaytar began.

"What is it?" Drakefyre asked.

"Arancaytar's statistics say that Zephyr Tempest is dead," Riibu said.

"Oh no! That's what I was afraid of when I couldn't find him!" Archmagus Micael said.

"All right everyone, when was the last time you saw Zephyr Tempest, and what was he doing?" Drakefyre asked.

There was silence as everyone tried to remember the last time they saw him.

"I saw him talking to Dintiradan a couple of hours ago." Randomizer stood on tiptoe and looked around the forum. "But I don't see him either."

"I saw him not too long ago. He was with the Lurker and Wanderer, collecting spam," MagmaDragoon said.

"Did you see Zephyr Tempest?" Archmagus Micael asked.

MagmaDragoon shook his head. "No."

"Then it sounds like I'm going to have to investigate," Drakefyre said.

"Smoo went out to look for Zephyr Tempest. Do we wait for him to come back or start our own search?" Archmagus Micael asked.

"Start our own. You and Randomizer will come with me. The rest of you stay here. The mods are here if anything comes up. Now, does anyone remember anything else?"

There was silence, broken only by a sneeze from Arancaytar.

"Okay, then. Archmagus Micael, Randomizer, follow me."

Drakefyre and the two mages left.


In the Blades of Avernum Forum, Smoo discovered the summoning machine. "Zephyr Tempest? Zephyr Tempest! Hey, what's this?" Smoo was intrigued. What did this machine do? He examined it closely.

Insert game, the display read. Smoo happened to have his BoA scenarios with him, so he dropped one in.

Choose creature to summon, the display read. Smoo hesitated for a moment, then typed in rats. Select number of creatures to summon. Smoo typed in aplenty. You have asked for rats aplenty. Is that correct? Smoo typed in yes. Processing... please wait. Processing... please wait.

Smoo was puzzled. Surely, it couldn't actually summon rats aplenty?

A small red rat slid out of the machine and launched itself at Smoo in a blur of speed. It began gnawing on his boot. Smoo simply shook his foot, and the red rat went sailing through the air. Then he began to look for a cancel or off button. He couldn't find one. While he searched, a few giant rats popped out of the machine. They scampered off. Smoo typed cancel. Unknown command, the display read.

"What do you mean, 'unknown command'? How am I supposed to turn this thing off?" Smoo said. He reached into the slot where he had dropped the scenario and tried to pull the scenario out.

The machine created a giant white rat. The rat raised its paws into casting position and was about to send a massive firebolt in Smoo's direction when it caught sight of Dintiradan, the Lurker, and Wanderer running towards the summoning machine. The rat chose to scamper into the shadows instead.

No matter how hard Smoo pulled, the scenario wouldn't budge. Suddenly, Dintiradan grabbed him and pulled him away.

"What do you think you're doing?" Dintiradan yelled.

"I'm trying to turn this thing off!"

The summoning machine created a blue rat the size of a large dog. It lumbered towards them, fangs bared and naked tail twitching.

"You didn't!" Dintiradan gasped, "And after all my planning and preparing to create a plague of snakes, too! You fool!"

Smoo drew his sword and turned to face the rat. "I'll take care of the rat, and you turn that machine off."

The machine created another red rat, which sprang at the Lurker. The Lurker kicked it away.

"But I can't just cancel the order or turn it off! I designed this machine so that it couldn't be disabled by any heroes! No off button, no cancel option, no plugs that can be pulled, and it's impervious to damage from weapons, magic, and hacking!" Dintiradan said.

"So what are we going to do?" Smoo asked.

"Well, the summoning machine will stop eventually, either because it has created rats aplenty or because it finally runs out of energy to create more. Unfortunately, I don't know when one of those things will happen. It could be days and millions of rats later. So, I'm going to do what any good evil overlord does when things go wrong. Run!" Dintiradan fled.

"Hey, wait up!" Wanderer said. He and the Lurker followed.

"Come back here!" Smoo yelled. He easily dodged the blue rat's attack and stabbed it. The rat snarled and attempted to bite Smoo again. Smoo dodged and stabbed at the rat again.

The machine spit out another red rat. As Smoo attempted to evade the blue rat's next attack, the red rat ran under his feet and tripped him. Smoo crushed the red rat beneath him when he fell. He was halfway up before the blue rat managed to sink its fangs into his leg. Smoo stabbed the rat for a third time, and it finally died.

Smoo freed his leg and got up to stumble away, only to discover that the white rat, flanked by several giant rats, was blocking the path. The white rat seemed to be smiling. "I don't think so!" it squeaked.

Behind them, the summoning machine created an exceptionally gigantic and ugly rat. Smoo gulped.