One minute she was clear as a bell, and the next she was calling him Simon. Who was Simon? He had no idea.
"Smells what, so good, smells what?"
"I poop! I poop Ge-go!"
Temp and Boots
"Be she princess, Overlander, be she? Be she queen, be she?"
"poop!" she shouted, pointing up at the monstrous donkey above her. "Geez!" thought Gregor. "Doesn't anything scare her?"
The girl shook her head, "You will have to be stronger or smarter than I am." Boots looked up at the girl, registered something, and poked her right in the eye. "Pu-ple!" she said.
If roaches talked and bats played ball games, then probably there was a cow jumping a moon somewhere, too.
"Doors are for those who lack enemies."
"Welcome, Overlander," he said. Then he grabbed Gregor's arm and spoke in his ear in a dramatically hushed voice. "Beware the fish, for Luxa plans to poison you directly!"
"Beware your fish, Henry," returned Luxa. "I gave orders to poison scoundrels, forgetting you would be dining as well."
"I would as soon bond with a stone. At least it could be counted on not to run away in battle." Luxa broke into a grin. "And perhaps you could throw it. I suppose could throw a crawler..."
"But then I would have to touch it!" said Henry.
"Do I have any say in this?" he asked.
To his surprise, Fangor and Shed laughed. "He speaks!" said Shed. "What a treat! Usually we get nothing but shrieks and whimpers!"
"I like him, Shed!" howled Fangor.
"I like him, too," choked Shed. "The humans are commonly most dreary. Say we may keep him, Fangor."
Burning white with fury, she crossed the room and struck him on the face.
"She believes the rats want your father to make them a thumb!"
"That's too bad, I mean — it looks good short, too," Gregor said quickly.
Luxa burst out laughing. "Gregor the Overlander, think you my beauty is of any matter in such times?"
"You will begin a new fashion," Henry said cheerfully. He grabbed one of the small stone torches off the wall and laid it on top of his head. Flames seemed to be shooting out of his forehead. "What think you, Luxa?" he asked, showing her his profile with exaggerated haughtiness.
"Your hair is alight!" she suddenly gasped and pointed. Henry dropped the torch and beat at his hair as Luxa went into hysterics.
The mighty warrior excused himself and changed a diaper.
"Oh, yeah. You guys should open a theme park. You'll have a line stretched from here to the surface," said Gregor.
"Courage only counts when you can count."
"So, isn't it time I had a sword?"
There was a moment of silence, then all the Underlanders burst out laughing.
"Well, I prefer to think of myself as a legend, but I suppose 'guide' will do," said a deep world weary voice from the dark.
"Yes, stay you or I shall be forced to move, and that always puts me in an ill humor," he said languidly.
"Take care, lad, or you shall end up like me, stripped of any respectable rank and warming your shabby old hide at the fire of your enemies."
"Yes, I'm a mouse. Squeak, squeak. Now shoo-shoo back to your little bug friends," said Rirped, picking up a hunk of dried beef. He tore a off a piece with his teeth and noticed Boots hadn't moved. He pulled back his lips to reveal a row of jagged teeth and gave her a sharp hiss.
"Perhaps you do. But having witnessed your last attack, I doubt it," said Ripred, starting on a wedge of cheese.
Fangor and Shed were excellent fighters, on the rare occasions they were sober," said Ripred.
"Yeah, well, I'm the warrior and Boots is a princess. And you two are going to get pretty hungry if you're waiting for me to serve you," said Gregor.
"Most rats read. Our frustration is, we cannot hold a pen to write."
"Mutual need is a strong bond. Stronger than hate, stronger than love."
"Do rats love?" asked Gregor wryly.
"Oh, yes," said Ripred with a smirk. "We love ourselves very much."
"You mean you just took us that way so we'd all smell like rotten eggs?" said Gregor.
Their second of hesitation gave him just enough time to blurt out, "Anybody who wants to kill anybody else has to go through me first!"
Not entirely poetic, but it had the desired effect.
"The rat was merely trying to sleep. Believe me, pup, if I had wanted to kill you we wouldn't be having this conversation," said Ripred.
Everyone nodded numbly, still stunned by his ferocity. "It's all right," he added. "Remember, I'm on your side."
"Together, together," said Ripred in a singsong voice. "What a lot of togetherness you are planning, and what a lot of solitude awaits you. Ah, here are your friends now."
He looked at Ripred, and the rat gave him a slow wink. "Remember, Gregor, the prophecy calls for only four of the twelve to die. Think we can take them, you and I?"
"Perhaps we leave the gnawer dead beside us."
"Perhaps you do, but having witnessed your last attack I doubt it."