Ratovid, king of the Undercity, sat upon his bone throne and surveyed his subjects arrayed before him. The rat horde stood in ranks upon their hind legs, tail tips pointing straight up behind them. Nary a whisker quivered.
The heady scent of fear filling his warehouse palace gave King Ratovid a thrill of pleasure. All knew the price of defying him. All would do as he required. All were his, to the rat. He allowed himself a few moments to savor the fragrance of subjugation before rising to address the sea of faces before him.
“Rats of the Undercity, my loyal rodents, I address you this night as your true and rightful king. Each of you has pledged fealty to me, and each of you has served me well.” Those who had disappointed him were all dead or starving in the dungeons.
“Tonight, a new era begins. All of your sacrifice and training has led to this moment. We will afflict the humans of this city until they forsake the Usurper ‘king’ they serve and bend their knee to me.
“Sea Rats, are you ready to board the harbor vessels and sabotage the weapons of war and commerce?”
“We serve!” came the reply of a thousand voices.
“Plague Rats, are you ready to spread disease among the human weaklings?”
“Brood Mothers, are you ready to swell our ranks with new recruits?”
“Spy Rats, are you ready to sniff out every plan of our enemies?”
This time the reply was given in whispers emanating from every dark corner of the warehouse. “We serve.”
“Supply Rats, are you ready to steal or defile every morsel of food in the city?”
“Service Rats, are you ready to do any job your king requires of you?”
The remaining thousands gave their hearty reply, “We serve!”
“Rats of the Undercity, tonight we emerge from the shadows. Our days of slinking in darkness are at an end. We will claim what is rightfully ours. The Overlord of the Overcity has returned!”
The rodents broke out in wild cheers, stomping their feet and grinning hideously as they shrieked their approval. King Ratovid allowed the display of fervor to persist for a few moments and then raised a paw.
The warehouse instantly fell silent. His hard gaze swept the crowd. If any rats still harbored thoughts of desertion, they abandoned them when faced with Ratovid’s probing stare.
“Rats, to war!” cried the king, breaking the silence.
The rat horde dispersed, marching out in orderly companies to do their monarch's bidding. King Ratovid returned to his throne, sat, and steepled his claws in in front of his face. He permitted himself a small, cruel smile. It had begun.