GWJ Fortnightly Writer Throwdown #1

Kill 10 Rats

“Greetings, noble warrior! My cellar has been overrun by rats, and they threaten to consume all of our food stores. If you kill ten of them, I will happily reward you with a loaf of bread.”

The armored hero reined in his warhorse and raised the visor on his gleaming steel helm. He stared down at the scruffy villager who had just addressed him from the side of the road. “You want me to kill what?”

“Rats.”

“Rats?”

“Yes, ten of them. They’re in my cellar.” The villager grinned up at him hopefully.

The hero sighed. “You know who I am, right? The Reborn Champion? From the prophecy? On a quest to save the Nine Kingdoms? I’m a little busy at the moment.”

“They’re eating everything! If someone doesn’t stop them soon, we won’t have enough food to survive the winter!”

“That’s awful, but if I don’t fulfil this prophecy by defeating the Shadow Lords and re-sealing the Black Gate of Eternal Sorrow, you won’t even survive to next Tuesday. I don’t have time for–ugh, fine, tell me about these rats.”

“They’re very big rats!”

The hero narrowed his eyes. “How big, exactly? The last time I agreed to help with some ‘big rats’, they turned out to be the biggest damn rats anyone has ever seen. I’m pretty sure one of them was actually a horse in a rat costume. Are we talking about slightly-larger-than-normal rats, or horrible giant monster rats?”

“Er, the second one.”

“And what was the reward again?”

“This delicious bread!” The villager produced a loaf from inside his grubby tunic and held it up proudly.

“I kill ten giant rats, and you give me a loaf of bread. You do know there’s a baker down the road who sells bread for five copper pieces, right?”

“It’s very nice bread! My wife made it!”

The hero lost his composure. “I don’t care if it’s the best damn bread in all of Gladebrookshire! I don’t need bread, I need money and equipment! I know saving the world isn’t supposed to be all fun and games, but nobody told me it was going to be so bloody expensive! Do you know how much it costs to repair an enchanted sword forged within the molten heart of a giant magma wurm? Do you know how much I spend on magical scrolls and potions? If I stopped to help every damn charity case between here and the Obsidian Fortress of Woe, I’d be broke! If I run out of money for repairs I’ll probably wind up fighting the Infinite Undying Legions in the nude, wielding a rusty machete! Do you want that? Do you want me to fail, and see the world plunged into a thousand years of darkness and torment?”

The villager grinned sheepishly and looked down at his feet. “Well, er… no, but what am I going to do about these rats?”

The hero sighed once more and dismounted. “Fine” he said, unsheathing his glowing sword, “I’ll kill the damn rats.” He began walking towards the cellar, then stopped and turned to face the villager once more. “But that bread” he growled, “had better be REALLY good.”

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