Swamped Chapter 15 Page 12

“Right,” you say, once you’ve calmed yourself down and lead Clancy to a secure room. “So the first thing to figure out is where it might be going. Luckily, Dean’s been going on about greatrat habits all day to help pest control work out where any stragglers might be, and I got a bit of it while we were patching up a hole.”

“I’m all ears,” Clancy says.

“There’s two things about greatrats. First, they’re pack animals. They’re not afraid to split up, but sooner or later they’ll go back to the pack with whatever food they’ve scavenged. But – they’re also selfish creatures. They always save a little for themselves, and stash it somewhere.”

“We caught this one outside,” Clancy says. “So it wouldn’t have a stash in here, unless it’s making one.”

“Dean brought that up. Seems that if a greatrat gets lost, it’ll find the nearest pack before doing anything else. They do try to find their home pack, but they’ll settle for any that’s available. They only start stashing once they either have a pack or give up on finding one. If it got loose recently, it’ll be looking for a nest.”

“And we found a nest last night, didn’t we? Think this one might be searching for it?”

“It’s likely, but we patched most of the holes up. The only one we couldn’t get to was the one in the auditorium; it was just too big to handle right now.”

“The auditorium?”

You nod.

“A few memorials are missing. We’ll make new ones, but… it’s still upsetting. Anyhow, it’s going to head there sooner or later, but the room’s under heavy guard. There’s still tunnelers down there, and we don’t want them getting loose. Hopefully it hasn’t gotten there yet…”

“About that,” Clancy says with a groan. “The room we were keeping it in has a narrow passage in it that connects directly to the auditorium. I told Squib this might happen.”

“Well, it can’t be there yet or we’d have heard someone raise an alarm. Last I heard, orders were to have two knights outside the auditorium and six inside at all times. Of course, that’s going to make it hard for us to get in unnoticed, which I assume is what you want.”

Clancy seems worried all of a sudden.

“Do you know who set the guard roster?” he asks.

“Well, it was Tom First when I was there. By now that’s probably been passed on to one of the sergeants, though it wouldn’t surprise me if Sergeant Ash took it on himself. He was pretty thorough about assigning volunteers once he took command. Why on earth are you asking?”

“Never mind, it was just a stupid idea.”

“Well, right now, we don’t have many ideas at all, so you may as well let it out.”

“Um. Was thinking that, depending on who the guards are, we might be able to get them to just let us in. But no, of course they wouldn’t do that.”

“Clancy,” you sigh. “I can tell when you’re hiding something. Something’s got you worried now, even more worried than the greatrat.”

“I really don’t think it’s a good idea to talk about it,” Clancy says. “It’s one thing if I get blamed for the greatrat, but if this gets out, it’s even bigger. I… I just can’t.”

Will you press him for more information, or just move on and start hunting for the greatrat?

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Always get as much information as you possibly can. Perhaps some insight he can offer will prove invaluable.