šŸ – Haldagaz, 1

Some days he pontificated on the futility of it all. Yes, his kindred, the Children of the Grain sack, as they knew themselves, had been flawed.

Did they deserve annihilation? Well, they had been rodents. Vermin. A scourge, a plague upon decent, civilized folk.

That was him taking their opinion, not an endorsement or even an excuse. Haldagaz was intelligent. Intelligent enough to know this was the rationale.

Intelligent enough to regret it. Calruzā€™s Skill, [Best Quality, Refined], might have well been a lucky draw. Or perhaps it was in keeping with the nature of the House of Minos. Perhapsā€¦Haldagaz was no cosmopolitan, though he wished to be.

Anyways, his existential dread. Intelligence unto pets was a useless trait. He envied his simple sister. Her brute strength was soā€¦simplistic. Like her ability to bend the bars of the cage Selys had put them in, despite the Drake winsomely replacing them with iron, steel, and then giving up and installing a little door.

Charmingly sensible, that one. She did not assume, as a fool might, that a Fortress Beaver had endeavored to free her kin. However, in the fullness of her practicalities, she did not order an enchanted cage or trap the two, but gave them free reign.

Now, if Calruz had known about each ratā€™s talentsā€”and he did, in Rhata, at leastā€”he might have used their abilities, but he did not have that mindset. Alas, a [Pet Owner] was not a [Beast Tamer]. It spoke to a Minotaurā€™s mentality that he treated them as suchā€¦and the loneliness of a prisoner hitherto the Watch Captainā€™s idea to let him free that it was a way of life, prisoner or not.

Haldagaz had, up to this point, been unable to do more than listen to Calruz and think, and cheese was not a very good instructor, so he was aware he was unlearned. Not unintelligent, but rather like a [Sculptor] who only had poor mud rather than fine clay to make a mental world thereof.

Calruz was his teacher, so Haldagaz knew stories, combat to some extent, the Minotaurā€™s regrets and sinsā€¦and honor.

Honor. As Rhata joined the Fortress Beavers raiding Selysā€™ pantry, Haldagaz climbed around the [Heiress]ā€™ apartment. He was sure any mess would be blamed on her other pets, so the book he tugged out of the shelf with great effort and opened would not be seen as odd if found later.

Anyways, Haldagaz would have risked it. It seemed to him his master, Calruz, was in trouble. His worst enemy was himself. He had sympathetic allies, friendsā€¦but Haldagaz liked Calruz. He loved the Minotaur who had saved him from ignominious death.

What could a rat do, though? Even one who ranked among Liscorā€™s most intelligent? Wellā€¦Haldagaz stared down at the words on the page and began to work out the way they went together, meaning, from Calruzā€™s own stories. It was very simple, if he found a copy of the book Calruz had read and matched spoken word to written.

Teaching himself to write and read seemed like a good first step.