of Quentaris - Gary Crew
|| The Story Behind The Story - I got the
idea for The Plague of Quentaris after reading a book on the
Black Death which was caused by fleas on rats. This got me thinking
about the poem, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, and how the rats
were run into the mountain (like the rift caves) then the kids
of Hamelin disappeared. So, those ideas were utilised for The
Plague of Quentaris. I am going back to explore how the children
were stolen in my next Quentaris title.
But on the last night of the Three-Day Dark, some said they saw
a shape in the starry sky, a black void, where no star shone, a void
in the shape of a rat…
Is this a warning of fantastical events to befall Quentaris? What
part do the rat children, Anton and Vega, play in this horror? Is
this the final calamity that will destroy the mighty city?
So the battlements were breached.
The city entered.
The scene in the marketplace was terrible. Ignoring the warnings of
the Watch — ‘Over-zealous,’ some said. ‘Exaggerated
others scoffed. ‘Who hasn’t seen a few rats?’ they
laughed — the merchants had gone to their stalls.
This was Quentaris, after all.
This was just another day.
This was routine.
But this was the beginning of the plague.
The plague of Quentaris.
And what a vile, ignoble, merciless plague it was.
Scenting the delicacies of the market, the rats ignored the timbers
of the city and headed pell-mell for the fresh fruits and meats, the
cakes and savouries, the hot bread and sticky buns, the honeys and
nectars that the merchants prided themselves upon. In a swarm they
launched themselves on the tables, overturning the stalls, scattering
the money, the shells, the beads, the discs and tokens of turquoise
and lapis, anything and everything that represented the commerce of
the city. Only then did the merchants believe. Only then did they
see the size of the brutes. Never had they seen rats this big before.
The size of dogs, they were, their matted coats long and mangy, their
claws huge, their teeth enormous. Their eyes were huge, yellow, reddening
like the glare of sullen coals as they ate. And they ate everything.
Not just the foodstuffs — whether fresh or rotten — but
the oilskin mats that protected the tables, the vendors’ leather
aprons, the very tables themselves. Anything and everything that food
And they would have eaten more — even the children, even the
babes in arms, their gummy faces smeared with cheese and yoghurt —
had not the Watch descended.