Saturday, 10 April 2010

The Wretched Earth Part 3 : Rat Race

The Hyena Death Clan
Artwork by Emma Yam (mlynnz)

Having made a name for themselves in Winder for cleansing Backdrag Keep of the Ratfolk incursion, celebration and a room upgrade were the order of the day back at The White Tiger. Things quietened down for a few weeks as the characters recuperated and carried out a few minor quests.The most noticeable event was that the Bear Killers had taken up residence in the Adventurer's barracks across town. They had also levelled-up and were pretty pleased with themselves generally. A great deal of excitement amongst the Bear Killers seemed to hide a secret. Casual talk with a couple of them revealed only that Toot was on to a "big score" which would guarantee the fame and fortune of "that" side of the Dog Leg graduates. The Bear Killers ran around town buying supplies and practicing spells and battle tactics in the empty fields behind the market.

The White Tiger was a different proposition. Well known for the highest-paid adventurers, it attracted the highest-paying patrons. One morning, with some fanfare, a high ranking Paladin entered the bar seeking the Dog Leg Style (as they had come to be known). Presenting himself as the herald/personal guard of Mother Bedana, the Regional Director of Healing for the Cult of Pel (aka Pelor on other continents) - he invited the DLS to an audience as she had travelled to Winder in person to meet them.

Mother Bedana turned out to be a formidable old crone of some importance. She indicated that she had sought out the party after hearing of their battle with the Ratfolk. Ratfolk were a scurvy and foul menace never encountered in this part of the world. The DLS had become the most expert (and most expendable) means to deal with them. Spreading a terrible disease known as Ratfolk Wasting Fever (or Rat Flu), these sewer denizens were much feared by common folk. In a town known as Hobart, some 20 miles north of Winder - the local Rangers had reported finding corpses that had been killed by Rat Flu. Part of the remit of the Cult of Pel was the fight against disease - and this fell within their sphere of operations. Mother Bedana was assigned the task - her sources indicated that the Ratfolk had moved into the area, and sent one of their Oracles "Mould Maker", and she in turn sought out the party. With promise of money and holy treasures, the party set out to investigate the Rat Flu and dispose of Mould Maker.

Arriving in Hobart, the party meet Simon Ironleaf, of the Ranger service. Drum was actually a classmate of his at Ranger School although he went by his real name of Simon Thornton, and changed it to fit in better with the Rangers. Simon explains the background - several Wretchling corpses were discovered in a clearing a few miles from Hobart, dislaying clear symptoms of RatFlu. Simon takes the party to site, where Drum quickly picks up a trail - the corpses had been dragged from a nearby Wretchling community. Following the tracks is not a problem, and the party soon encounter the Wretchlings, all of whom are infected with RatFlu and even more pathetic than normal. Using a combination of sign language and threats, the party communicate with the Wretchlings, and are able to bribe the village elder with wine in order to learn what has happened. Apparently, the Ratfolk had arrived and taken a few dozen Wretchlings as slaves. The Ratfolk took the slaves to a nearby river where they forced them to work on a Ratfolk Poison Farm, mainly carrying heavy barrels of various concoctions. A few Wretchlings escaped back to their village, but brought the RatFlu with them, which over the next week spread to the population and started to kill them off. Knowing no better, the Wretchlings simply dragged the corpses away from the village - to the clearing.

The party conviced a Wretchling to lead them to the Poison Farm, carried out a quick reconaissance, and duly attacked. Gaining complete surprise, the Dog Leg clan quickly wiped out the Ratfolk, using terrain to their best advantage, and having trouble with only one or two archers. Looking over the wreckage of the battlefiled suggested that there was no poison being stored at the farm - and it was being transported to another location. Following the tracks made by the Wretchling slaves, the party came upon a defended bridge location swarming with Ratfolk, including a leader-type - presumably Mould Maker. Using stealth again, the party attacked from cover, and with some good fortune, trapped Mould Maker amongst some tents and killed him. Following that, the rest were a close run thing, but ultimately killed or routed.

Returning victorious to Winder, the Dog Leg clan were widely hailed as experts in fighting the Ratfolk.

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