|This article is about the gang from south of the Yaruga. For the animal, see Rat. For the quest in The Witcher, see The Rat.|
| || They were united by their love of gaudy, colorful, fanciful outfits, of stolen trinkets, beautiful horses, and of swords ... They stood out because of their arrogance and conceit, overconfidence, mocking truculence and impetuousness.|
And their contempt.
|- pg. 327, Time of Contempt|
The Rats (Polish: Szczury) was a young gang of criminals in Geso that was known for stealing from the rich to satisfy their own material wants, which included having the best horses, clothing, and accessories.
However, their lust for murder soon caught up with them and their overconfidence caused them to take on a legendary bounty hunter, resulting in their deaths.
Each member came from a different troubled background. Kayleigh's village had been ransacked by Nilfgaardian forces. One such soldier was Reef, whose comrades had left behind due to his injuries. Despite this, both 16 year olds joined forces and killed and robbed a tax collector. Giselher had deserted from an unknown army and joined a gang in the area, but they were unlucky enough to stumble into a free elf territory and most were killed by their arrows. Giselher was pinned to a tree by one but was then rescued by the elf Aenyeweddien, better known as Iskra, who'd been banished by her people, meaning almost certain death for herself if she traveled alone. Mistle came from a wealthy, noble family but their town was forced to flee from approaching "pacifiers". Having been pampered since childhood, she couldn't keep up with fugitives and wandered alone until manhunters found her, intending to sell her and the other young girls off. However, they were attacked by a gang who then raped all the women, including Mistle. After being left for dead, she was found by Asse, who'd been following that gang for revenge on what they did to his own family.
All 3 groups ended up meeting during the Festival of the Harvest in Geso, being drawn to each other due to their shared interests in fancy outfits and horses but also what they had all recently been through thanks to the rebellions. They then took on the official name of Rats after someone referred to them as such, and which they all liked.
The group was likely formed around 1266 but originally the law ignored the Rats, believing the group would soon fall victim to the usual methods that wiped out other gangs: be killed by a mob of peasants or fight each other over loot. However, the Rats were different in that they didn't kill for the goods, they killed for entertainment and thus handed out the goods to the poor citizens in the area, which also made it harder for troops to track them, as the citizens would give false information on the Rats' whereabouts and even shelter them on occasion. The Nilfgaardian prefects then tried to offer generous rewards on the Rats, but any informers had their cottage set on fire and were summarily killed by the Rats when they tried to escape the burning building. Trying another route, the prefects tried to plant moles, but the group despised outsiders and refused to accept anyone else. However, this changed one day in 1267.
Ciri, who'd just survived her own ordeal crossing the Korath desert, was summarily captured on the edges of it by a group of slavers, called Trappers, looking to turn her in for a large reward (not realizing she was the lost princess of Cintra). Meanwhile one of the Rats, Kayleigh, had been captured by another gang, the Nissir, to be turned in for a reward and which would undoubtedly lead to his execution. When both groups met in Glyswen, Ciri was placed next to the tied up Rat, who asked for help. However, afraid, Ciri refused until she overheard the Nissir gang threatening to rape her and thus, using a knife from the food given to her, secretly sawed at Kayleigh's binds just as the other Rats attacked the inn and both gangs inside. Impressed with Ciri's sword skills and as she helped Kayleigh, the Rats let her escape with them back to one of their hideouts and let her stay for the night.
After a lot of back and forth amongst the members, where Mistle stood up for Ciri while others, like Iskra, only saw Ciri as a mere child, the group decided to welcome Ciri into their fold and lavished her with gifts and asked for her name, who hadn't revealed it yet. Ciri decided on the elder word "Gvalcha'ca", meaning "falcon" and thus the group called her "Falka" (another variation of the word).
Now with a seventh member, the group continued to attack rich caravans in the area while also taking part in festivals and dances. While most of the peasants viewed them favorably, with the children and youth going so far as to treat the Rats like fashion icons and tried to dress like the gang, they were still viewed with trepidation until they made their intentions clear if they planned to ransack the place or just enjoy themselves by partaking in drinking and dancing.
Beginning of the end
However, on one such ambush, they attacked the Baron of Casadei's carriage in which his daughter was riding and Falka took the girl's brooch. His daughter, traumatized by these events, caused the baron to hire Leo Bonhart, a well known bounty hunter, to hunt down the Rats and to bring Falka back alive if he could so the baron could flay her alive.
The Rats, having taken over a small postal station out of recklessness, were busy getting tattooed when an acquaintance, Hotspurn, approached them. After learning they failed a mission he'd given to them because the Rats had preferred to go get drunk, he then stated word was going around that, due to politics, Emperor Emhyr var Emreis was planning to marry Cirilla of Cintra and with it he'd allow a nationwide amnesty to those who came forth and admitted to their crimes. However, it became clear the main reason for it was to then draft all those who came forward into the army as they'd likely have to deal with more rebellions until it all settled down. Despite saying they'd think about it, Hotspurn knew the Rats were going to refuse. He then informed them they may not have much time to think it over: Bonhart was on their trail and currently in the small village of Jealousy and would likely kill them before word of amnesty could reach the bounty hunter.
However, the Rats, overconfident in their abilities despite knowing Bonhart had taken out well known gangs, including the legendary gang leader Valdez, decided instead to deal with Bonhart directly, believing they were superior to all the other gangs. Falka though, on hearing the news about the fake Ciri, was suddenly overcome with extreme desire to get back to Cintra and re-claim her throne and so, before dawn, left the Rats to catch up with Hotspurn to learn how to get to Cintra. Unperturbed by Falka leaving, the rest of the gang raced off to Jealousy to confront Bonhart. They quickly learned though they'd vastly overestimated themselves and Bonhart easily killed them all before chopping their heads off and preserving them to turn in for the bounty. The one exception was Falka, who learned of the trap and raced to Jealousy to help but was too late and was caught by the bounty hunter. However, he let her live as he had a separate, special contract on her. The decapitated bodies of the rest of the Rats were buried in Jealousy.