Part One

By: Adam Janus

***Chapter one***

The stomp of booted feet and raised voices were soon followed by the clang of steel on steel, grunts of exertion, cries of pain and feet shuffling. Telltale sounds of street fighting could be heard as the night watch engaged a knot of loitering, drunken sailors in their usual heavy handed, tyrannical method.

As quickly as it began, the fight was over. Outnumbered and inebriated, the sailors were overcome and disarmed, (some literally). They were dragged off to the local jail despite the fact that many needed immediate medical attention and some would not make it through the night. There was no need to tell any onlookers to disperse; anyone with half their wits about them fled at the first sign of Isegoth's city guard, who enforced the law with an iron fist and cold steel. Everyone familiar with the law enforcement on this side of the city knew the sailors would never be seen again, but no one would speak of it above a hushed whisper. The guard ruled these streets through fear and paranoia; the walls had ears.


Hidden in the deep shadows of a narrow alley between the Dragon's Den tavern and the Sea and Sand pawn shop, two sets of beady red eyes watched the fight with interest. As big as large dogs, the short haired, jet black creatures were decidedly rat-like in appearance. Instead of a ratís typical, elongated front teeth, these giant rats had opposing, saber-like tusks protruding from their top and bottom jaws. They rubbed grindingly together when opening and closing their large mouths, naturally sharpening them to razor sharp points. Pointed, bat-like ears poked out around horns that jutted out and back from their foreheads. Each of the three toes on their four feet ended in cruelly curved claws; uncanny intelligence gleamed in their hell spawned eyes.

One of the creatures, the smaller of the two, licked the saliva from its muzzle and took a step forward toward a tasty morsel left behind by the night watch, a bloody arm, severed at the elbow. The larger beast snapped at its smaller pack mate, grinding its tusks menacingly while issuing a low rumbling growl. Lowering its head submissively, the smaller hell rat slunk back into the shadows.

Cautiously the dominant rat poked its twitching, whiskered nose from the shadows scanning up and down Dock street with its heat seeking night vision. Besides windswept garbage, the only thing moving on the street was a large, feral dog loping its way toward the severed arm from the rat's left. Sniffing and pawing at the limb, oblivious to the danger lurking only a couple of yards away, the starving dog lowered its head to take a bite, only to be disturbed by the gnashing of teeth and the clicking of talons on the cobblestone sidewalk.

Responding on instinct the dog lowered its head and flattened its ears, showing yellow teeth as its jowls curled up on its scarred muzzle in a fierce snarl: a snarl which had won the mongrel many meager scraps of food without even actually fighting. But this new challenge did not back off as the rat slowly turned its body sideways. Contrasting its slow, deliberate movements its hairless tail flicked out with blinding speed. Flesh ripped and ribs cracked puncturing lungs and tearing internal organs as the lightening fast tail impacted with the dog's right side, sending it skidding across the street and coming to rest on the stone curb.

Whimpering the dog urinated blood and lost control of its bowels as the hell rat scuttled over to the prone animal. Sinking its teeth into the fatally injured dogís neck and skull, the mutated rodent dragged the now dead canine back to the alley as the smaller rat ran from the shadows to snatch the almost forgotten human limb, leaving streaks of blood and pulp in the street and on the sidewalk, not an unusual sight in this part of town these days. Mouths full the two demon tainted rats dragged their prizes down the broken grate at the back of the alley into the sewers where they proceeded to eat. Sounds of slurping and gulping, bones cracking and flesh tearing floated up to street level. These sounds would have sickened even the most hardened warrior if any had been around to hear it.

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About the Author

Adam Janus lives in the Pocono Mountains of northeast P.A., with his wife and three kids. He has been writing for several years, but only recently began to submit his work for publication. His work has appeared in a number of small press and semipro venues, and he has been a staff writer for "The Silven Trumpeter" gaming magazine for almost three years. When not writing, Adam can frequently be found carving walking sticks, reading, watching Yankee baseball...or changing diapers.

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