As dawn approached the Wolf finished his inspection of the house, and took a few much needed mouthfuls of Smirnoff water from the fountain. He mentally made a list of all the rooms
Floor 1 east: entrance, west: library, north: weapons museum, south: training room and gym (filled with exotic equipment that the Wolf longed to try out)
Floor 2 east: dormitory with twenty beds, west: music hall and museum, north: board room, south: dispensary full of vials with strange liquids, pills and herbs
Floor 3 east: master bedroom, west: mad scientist laboratory (best not to mess around with), north: walk in wardrobe with enough bling to buy a city, south: meditation room and study
Terrace east: gazebo, west: store room filled with carpets, chairs, etc.
The Wolf had been able to inspect the compound from the terrace but the outer walls were too high to gaze beyond. There was a courtyard out east, a herb garden in the north, an oversized shed to the west along with some tinier outhouses, a tiny pond in the south. There was still no sign of a bathroom or kitchen. Come to think of it he hadn’t felt hungry since arriving, just thirsty.
He heaved his glaive onto his shoulder, ready now to brave the outside. He really wanted to know what the neighbours were like. In fact, there looked to be a delegation waiting for him by the front entrance, besides a coconut leaf palanquin. They were really short… pygmies? The Wolf made sure they saw his big glaive as he approached them… they had tails. Everything in this place was a da…rn mess…they were rats, upright walking rats with clothes. He made double sure they say his gigantic glaive. He would have to approach them sooner or later, better off dealing with them while there was still sunlight for everyone to appreciate his humongous glaive.
The rats ran around frantic when they saw him approach, the fattest one jumping head-first into the palanquin. The others were marshalled into a line by a stern looking rat wearing a folded balaclava.
“Ahem, ahem,” it said, when the Wolf stopped a few feet away, “presenting his royal highness of Ratland, slayer of the Gorgonzola, Duke of the Anthill below the Lone Cypress…”
“Make some more of them up,” the Wolf heard a voice whisper from within the palanquin, “I can’t find my sceptre.”
The stern faced rat acted it he hadn’t heard a thing. “Marquis of the Cheese hole, Long Starer of the Waxy Moons, Eater of Scaly Fish, Watcher of Ratatouille, Floater of Oceans,” the rat wiped some sweat off its cheek with a sigh when it finally got a cue from within, “his royal ratiness, his macheesy parcheesi Ratatat the Third.”
One of the rats bent down on all fours by the palanquin, so that the king could step out with suitable regal flair. He wore a crown made out of seaweed, and grasped a sceptre consisting of acorns strung to a metal rod.
“Greetings to the Master of the Island,” the rat king bowed.
The Wolf bowed as well, too bemused by the entire scene to correct the rat king’s mistaken impression of him.
The rat king said, “We were shipwrecked and cast onto this island two seasons ago, and have been eagerly awaiting your arrival ever since. We have heard much about the great and benevolent master from the other inhabitants of this glorious land.”
The Wolf slowly nodded.
“We have prepared gifts as befit your magnificence,” the rat king gestured impatiently to one of his subordinates, who presented the Wolf a wooden tray covered with a palm leaf mesh. “Our greatest treasures,” the king said proudly when the leaf mesh was removed with great flair. The Wolf even heard a drum roll from within the palanquin. On the tray were a pile of chicken bones.
“Umm… thank you very much,” the Wolf said, his replies now coming automatically. It was best not to think. He knew how to cook chicken on a camp fire. Why couldn’t they have brought him a chicken? The foolish Wolf would now have to hunt, even though he really didn’t need food at all. He might even have to eat these rats because of his stubbornness to adapt to this new world. The Wolf closed his mind from the constant din within, focussing his mind on the Smirnoff water. He could now tell his own thoughts from the lady’s at least. Things were improving slowly. Maybe he’d be able to block her off completely if he was drunk enough.
Just then, the Wolf’s keen sense of danger, which had been on the fritz ever since he entered the Bay Area, noticed that the shadow of the rat king seemed to be growing ever larger. In fact, the shadow was now covering half the entrance way. He looked into the sky and saw a giant dog on a pogo stick hurtling towards him from the wild blue yonder, with one heckuva roar.
The rats followed his gaze and shrieked, “it’s the Black Death. Run for your lives. Every rat for himself.” The pogo stick made landfall seconds later, the giant dog controlling its momentum to perfection when it jumped off and charged at the rats. Once the rats had fled past the entrance the dog lost interest in them and turned towards the Wolf.
The Wolf gulped as he tried to unsheathe his glaive without success. The fricking thing had a locking mechanism that he hadn’t figured out yet. It hadn’t locked when he’d practised unsheathing earlier! That lady probably had something to do with this, monkeying around with his mind.
The dog was now a few feet away from him. He gave up on the glaive and drew his sabre.
“Woof!” the dog rolled its eyes at the Wolf, snatched the chicken bones away and ran towards the large shed… doghouse out west.
The Wolf finally figured out how to unsheathe the blade and took his first steps past the mansion’s entrance way. As soon as he walked past the arch a cacophony of sounds hit his ear. There must have been some sort of invisible acoustic shield preventing the sounds from entering the mansion’s ground.
In the river delta the Wolf could see giant carp as big as the dog whirling around on their tails like dervishes searching for God, dancing on whirlpools. They stopped for a moment and saluted with their tail fins when a yellow rubber duck with a band-aid covering one eye swam past them towards the open ocean.
The Wolf heard music playing from the seaside cliff. It took him a while to realise that the music was being played on trees. The trees were a motley crew, some with branches sprouting with tympani and cymbals, some with string like aerial roots that fell to the ground, some with hollow woodpeckered tubes. The wind played the trees like a one man orchestra. In the centre was a gigantic tree with aerial roots that reached from the sky to the ocean. The roots must have been hollow. The ocean waves played this part, the pipe-organ soloist. A group of giant beavers shouted ‘Bravo, bravo’ after every movement.
The Wolf decided it would be wiser to head back to the fountain before planning any further exploration. The massive beavers were just too much for him.