2000-08-22: Ratman Scourge Ends!

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Catskills Edition

Ratman Scourge Ends!

Author: Erik Valstrom Published: August 22, 2000

Once again the tale of hordes of ratmen raiding Britain farmlands on Felucca brought me to the scene of a fearsome struggle, and to the farmhouse of Beechel Kire, whose farm, oddly enough, had been the centerpoint of the raids last eve. Farmer Kire was busy in his field this morning as I approached him, but he was kind enough to stop and speak to me about the incident. I asked him to relate the event as best he could, and asked him his thoughts on whether the raids were over after this huge battle.

Wiping sweat from his forehead and leaning heavily upon his well-worn rake, he replied most congenially, "These raids have been coming off and on for weeks now. At first me and the other farmers in the area noticed a few missing livestock, or found them butchered, and our produce was being reaved. Wasn't long until we saw their tracks in the sod and figured out what was back of it. Yet the ratmen quickly lost their initial caution and began swarming all over, stealing everything edible in sight, but doing no real harm to anyone except those who opposed them. That is when we called for help and they were driven off," he said. Then a puzzled expression came across his face. "But last night it seemed they were only interested in my farm's goods. In fact, the other farms in the area have been untouched for quite some time.. but 'tis typical of my luck these days."

I asked him what he meant by that.

"I have had an unrelenting string of misfortune for quite some time. My well ran dry for a long while, then the water I brought in was tainted, killing many of my best livestock. A blight hit my crop and destroyed over half of it, and the ground has turned to stone. The odd thing is that all the other farmers had none of it, or very little, except for the ratman raids. They are beginning to think I am jinxed!"

I brought his attention back to the raids last night.

"The leader of the ratmen was finally brought to heel. The warriors who fought him said he used magic! Imagine that.. a magic-using ratman! He had quite some intelligence it seems, no doubt through someone's training. I would like to find that knave I can tell you! It appears this mage ratman was uniting the ratman tribes in the area and sending them to forage and pilfer in preparation for some larger campaign in all probability. Anyway, with him gone, the ratmen have dispersed and will be easy enough to handle once again."

I thanked the farmer for the information. Perhaps he was right. As I surveyed the carnage in the lane leading to his house and in the woods beyond, I saw only ratman corpses. No live ones were to be seen. Turning to leave, I watched as Beechel resumed his work. I felt a twinge of sorrow for him. He wanted nothing more than to farm his lands, supply Britainnians with food, and enjoy life. Yet his run of luck had been very bad. I wondered if a brighter day would dawn for him, and prayed sincerely that it would.

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