|~ A rat confirming Flaggatis' command, which translates as "Argh! Tomorrow!"|
The Rats are a major recurring antagonist in the Welkin Weasels trilogy, alongside the stoats. In fact the Rats are such a great evil the weasels have to ally with their enemies the stoats and ferrets, because of the Rats' brutal, feral methods which include cannibalism of their enemies. The Rats seek to conquer the entire island of Welkin, along with other islands outside, and kill anyone who resists them.
Stoat lord Flaggatis, enemy of Prince Poynt, found the feral Rats, and in his words they are "a species which has eaten nothing but garbage since the beginning of Time." The Rats are gifted with sentience by Flaggatis, because, for some reason, the supressed magic which came to life when the humans left did not affect the Rats, leaving them bereft of speech and intelligence. Flaggatis was able to barely teach them the rudiments of language, leaving them with little to no intelligence, and a pathetic ability to learn.
Flaggatis often got frustrated with the Rats' stupidity, and took it out on them, through his dark magic or his brute strength.
Sometime in his education of the Rats, Flaggatis came up with a plan: he could use the Rats as a gigantic army in which to conquer Welkin and kill Prince Poynt. The warmongering Rats consented, liking this plan.
Role in the trilogy
The Rats crop up from time to time as major antagonists, with different schemes, but all with the same goal: Kill their enemies and conquer Welkin. They know nothing or do not care about the imminent flooding danger, which the weasels are trying to prevent by finding the humans. The Rats in fact pursue the weasels far out to sea, to stop them bringing order back to Welkin.
The Rats are first introduced here, as an evil species ruled by the dark wizard Flaggatis, who is feared by all of Welkin, and although the Rats barely appear in the book, they are still enemies, because of how the weasels fear going in their marshes. Earlier in the book, Sheriff Falshed fears the Rats when he is strapped to a raft going downriver, and ends up in their marshes, but the stupid Rat he meets just ignores him after menacingly staring at him, then jumps in the water and swims off. The weasels end up in the marshes later in the book, but although they are spotted by the Rats they survive by outwitting the stupid beasts.
The Rats are the main antagonists in the second book, as Flaggatis orders a vicious attack on Castle Rayn, home of Prince Poynt, in the West of Welkin, and Flaggatis wants vengeance for being banished by killing all the stoats. The Rats swarm in by the thousands, and they bring their stench and pests with them, endangering the stoats, who send a ferret messenger before the attack. The weasels agree to assist the stoats, and they join the fight, saving a few embattled villages from Rat attacks along the way. The weasel wizard Wodehed tries to use his light magic to kill the Rat attackers, but fails humorously. At Castle Rayn, the weasels get a clue to Castle Storm, which is home to quarrelling squirrel colonies. The weasels learn their hope to fending off the invasive Rats is in the castle, so they journey to Castle Storm, which is as hostile as it sounds.
Back at Castle Rayn, Prince Poynt is being accused of being a traitorous murderer by the Rats, and he opposes it. The stench of the invading Rats is driving even the prince insane, and to make matters worse, the Lord Ragnar is killed by the vicious Rats.
In a twist, the mannequin the Rats have (which looks like a gigantic white Rat) is actually Prince Poynt himself, and the Rats see him as a deity, which they will roast and eat and let his spirit ascend to the Heavens, but Prince Poynt is disgusted by this. Finally, the invasion is crushed by sea water pouring through the walls, and drowning hundreds of Rats in their tracks. Flaggatis tries to escape, and does so, but many of his Rats do not. Thousands perish in the attack and the very few survivors regroup to their marshes with a humiliated and enraged Flaggatis.
The Rats are back as the tertiary antagonists of the final book in the trilogy, Windjammer Run. The Rats have overcome their humiliation at their attack on Castle Rayn, and they manage to regroup into a military fashion and get a ship for their use. They have heard Sylver the weasel is going after the humans on their island, but they think he is actually after a pirate's hidden treasure. Sheriff Falshed is hot on Sylver's trail too, and behind him the Rats come. After many bumbling attempts on shore to get a ship (the Rats do nothing but drink ale all day) the brutes manage to get a ship, and sail it right to the weasel boat.
Two brief battles occur, the first of which neither side wins, and a treacherous vole tries to surrender to the Rats by pretending he is sick, but the Rats finally attack the weasels right in sight of the famous Dorma island, where the humans are entombed. An epic battle happens, where the Rats do their best to kill all the weasels, but are finally dragged into the sea by sheer numbers, because the weight of thousands of Rats weighs their ship down. All the Rats fall in the ocean and drown. Flaggatis himself is killed by a spar and his corpse falls in the ocean.
Dimwitted yet clever, the Rats couldn't form a basic conversation but had the minds of a soldier. They would do anything to finish their operations and were adept at surviving, because there were so many of them, one could always be sure they'd return. However this proves their eventual downfall - the weight of hundreds of thousands of Rats caused their ship to keel over and sink, drowning them all.