It was the constant munching and twittering that did it. He had tolerated it for as long as he had been able to, he thought. He’d been driven past any humans endurance and felt no remorse, now. Many times he had politely asked her to move her menagerie of bunnies, but she had ignored his requests.
He lifted the heavy lid of the cast iron pot. Waves of savory scented steam rose from the bubbling brew, his stomach rumbled in anticipation. He added herbs, a few more spices, stirred and returned the lid, heat wafting from the big top.
The Masterlaughs as each one of his three chosen is sent back into their individual rooms down in the castle dungeon. Each student is reminded not to touch the door handle until the end of the session. They are instructed not to chatter among themselves.
Each of the three learned comrades is given two glasses of water, a scrap of food and a wooden rod. The moment the sconces are turned down and darkness spreads through the underground prison, a large rat slips into the first students cell. The student is sickened and enraged by the filthy creature and beats it away with his rod.
The fat rat scurries into the second dungeon cell where the student has created an intricate trap using bits of scrap food and cash. He plans to catch that rotund rat and have himself a nice, tasty dinner.
Undeterred and even less fooled, the old fat rat slides into the third and last alcove. The third student looks up from where he sits cross-legged in the center of his cell, meditating. The scrap of food cut in half, divided evenly in front of him.
“Welcome,” said the student to the large rodent, “I’ve been waiting for you. Please sit and join me in repose as I very much would like to hear your stories of old.”
The rat transformed back into the aged Master who smiled broadly at his third and best student.
“You have done well my son. You have passed the ultimate test. You are now the champ, you are the Rat King.”