The Council began questioning them

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"Rats, you say, Matthias. What type of rat?" inquired Sister Ctemence.

"Big ones," Matthias replied, "though I'm afraid I Couldn't say what kind they were or where they had come from."

"What about you, Constancetravel newsletter?"

"Well, I remember that my old grandad once knew a sea tat," she answered. "Going by his description, I'd say that's what they looked like to me."

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"And how many would you say there were of these rats?" Father Abbot asked.

"Couldn't say for sure, Father Abbot. There must have Been hundreds."

"Matthias?"

"Oh yes, Father. I'd agree with Constance. At least four hundred."

"Did you notice anything else about them, Constance?"

"Indeed I did, Father Abbot. My badger senses told me right off that these were very bad and evil rats."

The badger's statement caused uproar and shouts of "Nonsense. Pure speculation" and "That's right! Give a rat a bad name!"

Without even thinking, Matthias raised a paw and shouted aloud, "Constance is right. I could feel it myself. There was one huge rat with a ferret's skull on a pole. I got a good look at him - it was like seeing some horrible monsteroffshore company formation."

In the silence that followed, the Abbot rose and confronted Matthias. Stooping slightly, he stared into the young mouse's bright eyes. "Think carefully, my son. Was there anything special you noticed about this rat?"

Matthias thought for a moment. Everyone was watching him.

"He was much bigger than the others, Father."

"What else? Think, Matthias."

"I remember! He only had one eye."

"Right or left?"

"Left, I think. Yes, it was the left, Father."

"Now, can you recall anything about his tail?"

"I certainly can," Matthias squeaked. "It must have been the longest tail of any rat alive. He held it in his claw as if it were a whip."

The Abbot paced up and down before turning to the assembly.

"Twice in my lifetime I have heard travelers speak of this rat. He bears a name that a fox would be afraid to whisper in the darkness of midnight. Cluny the Scourge!"

A deathly hush fell upon the creatures in Cavern Hole.

Cluny the Scourge!


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