The Story of Rat
“Once upon a time, back before the litheia bloomed, back before Jherei-Dûm awakened, back, back before there were wars, or kingdoms, or much of anything at all, people lived in round huts with mud walls and thick thatch on the roof. In summer it was hot, and in winter, it was cold. And always, always, there was an angry wife, slapping at Rat with her broom! But Rat knew this was a good place because there was always food to drop out of the hands of babies and the mouths of dogs, and Rat ate well. The Woman set traps and she did all she could to force Rat to flee, but Rat was a canny creature, and her babies many. She survived as she always has and as she always will.
“One winter, it grew cold and then colder. It became so cold that the flames froze in the hearth, and the milk froze in the teats of the cow. It was so cold that the sun failed to rise, and the moon never grew fat, and even the stars shivered. One by one, they ate the dogs. The Man went out to hunt, and he never returned. So it was that the woman was left alone with her children, and the only Rat to keep her company. “Oh, for some food for my babies… oh, to be able to save my family! I am alone, I am cold, and I am afraid!’ the Woman cried. ‘You are not alone,’ said Rat. ‘I am here with my babies, and we eat well. If I help you in winter, will you help me when summer comes again?’ ‘I will help you, summer or winter, if only you help me to save my family!’
“So, Rat called all her many, many children: we know that Rat has more babies than even Rabbit. The legion of rats fled hither and thither, finding a seed here, a bit of corn there. A tiny shoot beneath the ice here, and a hidden nut there. They ran, ran, ran, burrowing below the snow to find the good things left upon the sleeping land. Woman woke up to see her larder full: potatoes and corn, soft winter apples and wheat, bits and bobs of this and that, many, many good things. And Woman and her children celebrated Rat and her family.
“In even the smallest creatures, one may find the aid of friends, and even when one has been wronged, the greatest gift one can give is forgiveness. And so it is that Rat is one of Siganna’s great gifts to the world, for the lessons She can teach: one grain of wheat is small, but one grain of wheat times one thousand, and a belly is full. Look for the small things, and make them greater things. And always… always leave a little for Rat.”