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Rat Race [Houren]

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on Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:05 am

Houren Vanadis
The Rat of Crocus.

It wasn't a tale so fearsome that it had managed to penetrate the media of other towns and cities, but it seemed to be all the rage among the townspeople in Crocus right now. This wasn't because this mutated rat was so powerful that it was capable of completely changing the dynamic of the city, but because it was something that actually dwelt in the city itself; schoolchildren on their way to their respective institutes were not safe, nor were housewives on their way to the grocer's or delivery men doing their rounds. This rat, an urban legend more than a legend or myth, was something that was close to the hearts of the people because it was physically close to them. It was something that they could relate to, because of its close proximity and as such, fear and rumors were rife.

The dragon of the northern moors? That was too far away to be a threat!

The goblin beneath Hargeon Bridge? I never go there!

Grimoire Heart? This is the heart and soul of the entire nation, the holy capital Crocus herself!

It was this kind of lax attitude that disappointed Houren, and a major reason why Luciel's experiment gone wrong was so feared by the people. It was not the kind of affair that the glory seeking Rune Knights would immediately concern themselves with, and at the same time, it was not a nuisance that the average townsman could fight easily. As such, it was down to mages like Houren, guild mages who did these kind of jobs for a living to eliminate the pest, and to reap all the rewards that came along with the accomplishment of having lessened the burden on the ego of the capital's civilians. Sighing softly to himself, Houren approached a random person on the street and began to inquire as to his knowledge about the experiment that had been tormenting the citizens as of late. His tone was polite, characteristic of him, but in complete contrast to the internal bad mood that he had been in just a few moments prior.

"I've heard stories of a rat that has been attacking people in the city recently. They say it's huge. Would you happen to know anything about that?"

The man cocked his head to one side, making it no secret that he was skeptical of Houren's intentions. He had been smoking a cigarette, but quickly opened his mouth, allowing it to drop to the ground. He crushed the cigarette beneath his work boots and eyed Houren from head to toe; the Fairy Tail mage was slightly taller, but the other man's immense width and ruffled features made him more intimidating, or at least that was the impression that Houren had been under. "I might do, but who's asking?" the man's tone was not at all unfriendly, but his words and voice were coarse, completely different from the image Houren had of the typical Crocus citizen, but then again, there were blue collar workers of modest means no matter where you went in the country.

Houren cleared his throat before speaking, thinking along the lines that perhaps he would be able to gain leeway with the man by imitating him in this way. "I'm an exterminator of sorts. The, uh, council is aware that this rat is causing trouble for many people in the city, and they are finally doing something about it. That's where I come in," he explained in no uncertain terms; his role right now was that of an exterminator, a rodent and pest specialist that had been specifically hired to kill this rat. That wasn't completely untrue, actually, as Houren had been tasked to kill the rat, but he wasn't a specialist in the art of pest extermination, nor was his employer the council. Still, did it matter who did the job, as long as the job ended up done?

"Exterminat'ar, are ye? Blood minge, methinks, that one," Houren knew he was talking about the rat right now, and by the way he spoke, it was possible that this guy had been directly affected by the rat's misdemeanors. The man, who had gone into unnecessary detail about his background, and who happened to be a bricklayer, made flamboyant signs with his hands as he spoke. "Ya know bricks aren't secure until they've been layered with paste, do ye? Should do, methinks, with your schoolin' 'n all," the man continued to ramble, commenting that Houren's parents must have wasted no time in ensuring that their son got the best possible education, since he did enter the prestigious craft of exterminating pests, something that he must have spent many years training for. That was completely wrong, when you considered the fact that Houren's mother had remarried another man and was far more concerned with her children by him, than with Houren. Still, the Fairy Tail mage did not correct the man at all and waited patiently for when he would actually give a helpful hint as to the rat's capabilities, and if possible, its actual whereabouts.

"I fought the damned thing, 'nce, but I couldn't win, no," the man finally said, piquing Houren's interest for the first time that afternoon. "Tis my trade to bricklay, so I knows, I do. One looks, and I knows, yes. Bloody thing's about a meter, and its tail is 'bout twice that! How 'bout that so!" the man was describing the rat's appearance in his own twisted vernacular but fortunately, it was information that would come in handy later on. Houren thanked the man and went on his way, the bricklayer's final instructions echoed in his ears as he walked away.

"Don't get tah near to the minge, ya hear? It'd whip the 'ead off ye!" were the words.

The next person that Houren questioned was another man, but this one was a lot more articulate than the previous, and unfortunately, twice as rude. The more the Fairy Tail mage conversed with the man who introduced himself as Gesyn, the more and more he found himself missing the bricklayer with the interesting accent. "Animal husbandry has gone too far, I think. Natural selection would never give birth to a beast that large! It is because humans have tried to take advantage of their processors that such monsters have been unleashed unto the world!" Gesyn exclaimed loudly, that he attracted the cold stares of some passersby. Compared to the previous man he had questioned, this person wasn't nice at all, so unpleasant actually that Houren, a gentle giant of sorts, actually began to get irritated.

"But do not be deceived, stranger, for I, Gasyn, do not believe this to be divine retribution from the divine! For that would be foolish; yes, truly, this is merely a repeat of history, that the most intelligent beings in this world would accelerate the rate at which their inevitable demise comes. It may take one beast many, many years to fell one civilization, but if such a thing were to be bred? If it were cloned, with magic or something or another? It would be horrible! Unimaginable!"

That was not all that Gasyn had planned to say and would have continued to speak had Houren not grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him, as though to tell him to shut up for a second. "I'll have you know that doesn't matter to me in the slightest. What do you think about the creature? I might be asking too much of you, I understand, but might you know its whereabouts?" Houren asked, forcing himself to be as polite as possible. Gasyn's eyes widened for a second, probably due to the shock of having been wantonly grabbed by the much larger man, but he quickly regained his composure, as though he had studied such a scenario before and was fully prepared for it.

"Good sir, were you under the impression that such a request would be above me? It took me less than a day to seek out the beast. My deductive reasoning ability is beyond doubt; it is courage that I lack. Go to the west side of the city, on the outskirts and you will see a row of abandoned houses. The rat has taken residence in the last house on the left," Gasyn informed him before turning around and strutting off, as though he feared another grab from Houren.

That last house on the left was probably the envy of the entire estate, maybe 70 years ago. It was twice as large as the other houses in terms of width, not because it had been built that way but because the previous owners had so much money that they had bought two adjacent houses and combined them, as to increase the size of the house, and the garden. As Houren walked towards the front door, he noticed that the thing was literally coming off the hinges. By simply pulling the door with the least amount of strength he could muster, the Fairy Tail mage had managed to completely unhinge it. He entered the house and began to look around, trying to envision where he would hide if he were a rat. He came to the conclusion that he would likely be in the basement, but still hidden from view.

If you left a rat to its own devices in a cage or something, it would likely scurry around in the open as though it had not a care in the world, only retreating to some form of shelter when he grew tired. The same could be said if you left a rat in a house, but clearly, this house was too large to be ignored. It was unoccupied, but likely not as empty as the beast would have liked, so he could not be out in the open constantly. Tests of courage, thrillseekers, they all had reason to enter the house, and by extension, disturb the beast.

Houren's hunch turned out to be correct as he was greeted by the beast as soon as he opened the basement door. Fortunately, this meant that the Fairy Tail mage was able to catch the rat by surprise and as such, was able to tackle the monster to the floor before he could react with his large tail or sharp claws. Houren beat the rat mercilessly with his dominant hand while searching the surface of the basement floor for a usable weapon with the other. Eventually, he managed to grab hold of a lamp and began to use it to bash the creature's head in. The rat's tail began to move, grabbing hold of Houren's neck and attempting to strangle him whereas Houren was doing the same to the rat with his hands; it became a battle of who would be suffocated first. When the tail began to recline and drop to the floor limp, Houren knew that he had won, but took measures as he picked up the lamp again, beating the rat until its head was completely mush. This was to make sure. He grabbed the creature by its tail and began to drag it up to the first floor and out into the garden where he had already prepared a grave for the creature. It was large, but not big enough to be human but still, Houren saw it necessary to make the grave at least six foot in depth. He dropped the corpse into the hole without prayer, and began the heavy labor of actually covering it with dirt, taking extra care to smooth it out as to not pique the interest of curious wanderers.

Houren battled with whether he should leave some sort of marker on the grave, but ultimately decided not to due to Luciel's warning; that if the rat, who had chemicals dropped on it, were to be eaten by something else, the chemicals could possibly react and affect the other creature too. Yes, Houren thought to himself, it would be best for everyone if the Rat of Crocus were to be left alone, to decompose in relative peace.


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