Feel free to jump in at any time if you're inspired. That may make the story less peculiar.
Once upon a time, in a city by the sea, there lived a baker and his wife. They had three children: a charming, hard-working son, and two beautiful daughters.
They were all tidy people, but nonetheless they awoke one morning and discovered that their bakery had been overrun with rats. "How could this happen?" the baker's wife exclaimed.
"You have offended a wicked fairy," the largest of the rats answered.
"Stuff and nonsense." The baker scoffed. "We don't even know any fairies never mind a wicked one."
"Though I've often wanted to meet one," piped up Amaranth the youngest daughter.
"Hush, daughter." The baker scolded. "I'll have no talk of such things in my bakery."
The largest rat squeaked with mirth. "And that is why you have offended the fairy."
The baker's wife, from her perch atop a chair where she hoped the rats couldn't reach, inquired in a quavering voice, "What can we do to make amends to the fairy? We have work to do, and food to make, and cannot do it with our shop overrun with rats."
"One of you will have to seek her out and ask her yourself," the largest rat answered. "But I warn you, it could be strange or dangerous. I am still serving her for what I thought to be a small offense."
"This is nonsense!" The baker exclaimed, as he snatched a broom from the corner and began shooing the rats toward the door. "There are no fairies. And I'll hear no more of this! Now get out! Out I say!"
But for each rat he managed to sweep out the door, another came in, through a window, or a crack in the wall, or down the chimney.
And they were... laughing. A high-pitched squeaking kind of laugh, with an undertone of bells, but laughter nevertheless.
The baker's wife screamed.
Amaranth looked at her brother, and both of them slipped out through the back door. Their disappearance went unnoticed, between their mother's screams, their father's expostulations, and the tumultuous sea of laughing rats.
On the street, the disturbance was muffled, but it seemed likely that it would draw attention from the neighbors before long.
"I'm going to take the High Road east through the forest," Reginald said, "and I think you should go to Mother Agnes and ask if she knows anything about the wicked fairy."