One fine Korvosan morning, we were meeting over breakfast (popkins filled with egg, chedder, and sausage) when a somewhat homely woman approached our table. She looked like a Sczarni with her face being dominated by buck teeth and hirsuite upper lip.
“Eries Yelloweyes, masters. My name is Eries. You’re the heroes I have heard so much about.”
Her voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper as she looked from face to face. She saw Odric, the impressively large and massively muscular man, Thorgrym the Tracker, the tall ranger with a faithful dog gnawing on a bone at his feet, Morkeleb the Mighty, sitting quietly in the corner, with his wizard robe wrapped around him. Gaius, the legendary rake sitting toying with his dagger on the scarred oaken table and across from him Ferox, the stern Inquisitor with his golden key hanging around his neck. Her gaze lingered on the scarred face of Sandor Strongbellows, who wore a mask to cover his scars, but still turned his face away out of respect and sensitivity for the way his appearance might affect her.
“I come to you seeking succor masters. The Blood Veil is ravaging our city, and I worry that it is only a matter of time before racial violence brings the blame to my door….. Two days ago a family member of mine was lynched. We are forced to live in squalor, and everyone “knows” that rats carry disease. They dragged him out and chopped of his head with an axe of silver…. Heroes, we are wererats. It is true that most of us are less than reputable, and we’re accustomed to abuse and violence. Normally the murder of a family member wouldn’t send me to your table, but there is one of us, Girrigz Ripperclaws, who has decided to take the fight to the humans. I have lived in Korvosa for 50 years. No one knows my secret, and I wish to keep it that way. I have tried to reason with Girrigz, but it is no use. Please, I know that violence will likely ensue, but do what you can to limit the death. Please stop Girrigz before a civil war erupts. I know you can’t work for free. Please take whatever you find in his camp. Additionally, I may have information to help you get to the true source of the plague.”
Grym looked up, very interested in the woman’s story. “Knowledge of the true source of the blood veil would be very valuable. Why would not rather sell this information to someone with more wealth then us?”
The ranger watched her closely, trying to gauge her reaction.
She looked down sheepishly, “Most with more wealth than you would see this as an opportunity to exploit us or destroy us. I come to you not because of the size of your purse, but because of the depths of your heart. It pains me to wish ill on one of my people, but he is an evil man on a path that will lead us all to ruin.”
Morkeleb thought carefully for a moment, “Hm. Miss Yelloweyes, would you excuse us so we may discuss this?”
He turned away, affording him the privacy to speak plainly to his fellows, “while I’m sure some of us might balk at aiding wererats, I propose that we’d be helping the greater community if we do as Eries suggests—assuming she’s telling the truth. Any objections?”
Grym thought for a bit before answering, “Are all wererats evil? My old mentor Aliah had told me stories of goodly werecreatures though they were not rat folk.” The ranger continued eating and thinking a bit more about it. “Evil or not, if we are given a warning about possible danger to the city I think we should look into it. Besides I have no experience with were creatures. That seems like something a tracker should know about.”
“Aye lads, I’m thinkin we should help.” Sandor weighed in. “Tha last thin this city needs is a war or riots started by some were’s. If’n we do help out I would like some concessions from her up front since we be workin fer free. Yeah I know she said we can keep what we find, but meh she also says how poor they are. The concessions that I would like are her info on tha blood veil up front. I would also like any info n maps she has on the lair, and how many supporters will fight fer Girrigz Ripperclaws. If she has heard of us, then she knows we will honor our words.”
Sandor decided on the spot to help her and asked, “Ok who is gonna do the negotiatin wit her?”
She looked squarely at Sandor, realizing her pleas were about to be answered. “A half century of being on the short end of greed and racism leaves me wary, even with you. I’ll grant you this, you’re looking at just shy of a dozen of my people. Girrigz is the only one that’s truly a threat. If you can confine your lethal violence to him, I’d appreciate it. There are going to undoubtedly be normal rats everywhere. The sewers are rife with otyugh in the city, so I can’t guarantee you won’t find any. I’ll grant you this. If you’re successful, I’ll be able to supply potions that let you breath underwater at a hefty discount. To use my information, you’ll need them.”
At the mention of the Otyugh Sandor had a shiver of the stink that took days to remove, and then looked at flowery and girly-smelling Odric and cracked a sly grin. When Grym mentioned using fire as a weapon Sandor’s eyes hardened and he almost supressed a sharp intake of breath as he unconsciously touched his scarred face.
Speaking to his friends and to Yelloweyes, “Well lads I’ve heard that all the wererats be being bad, but that might just be because well people just don’t be likin rats ta begin with.”
He got a very serious look on his face and stared at Yelloweyes, “What we ‘ave ’ere is one of em standin before us ta do ’er dirty work fer ’er. Now tha way I see it, it doesn’t matter ifn she ‘as any ulterior motive for gettin rid of this Girrigz or not as long as she’s tellin the truth about him startin a war against Korvosa. But if’n she be lyin n just using us to remove some competition or to avenge a wrong done ta her, we Will find out and well… she gets me drift.”
His look softened a bit, “Miss Yelloweyes. Unless my friends have compelling arguments against helping you I accept your request for aid, and I will try to limit my lethal violence to Girrigz. I but have two changes to your terms. First, your information concerning the Blood Veil will be known to us before we break this meeting. Second, the potions for breathing underwater will be free, and that payment can be given after we have dealt with Girrigz.
She spoke up, "Razorclaws is a natural lycanthrope. To hurt him with anything less than a catapult, you’ll need silver weapons. Fire and spell work as they would on any other.”
She looked at Sandor, "I cannot give thee the potions for free. They are not mine to give away, but are owned by my people. Some time ago, after the ship was sunk, debris washed into the sewers near our lairs. Inside were chests of coin. Rats had burrowed their way into the chests, only to die of the Blood Veil before they could make it far. The wreck of the ship is not far from there, and the chests must have come from the ship. The Blood Veil was caused on purpose I believe…. and that is all I know.”
Sandor relented, “Very well, steeply discounted will do. Thank you for the information. If’n ya could direct us to the washed up coin, we would be needin ta take some ta get the proper detection and cure started, and we might not need ta go underwater.”
The meeting concluded, the heroes set about planning their attack. With borrowed silvered weapons from the armory, the party prepared to enter the sewers.
Slowly and stealthily, Grym and Bucho took point. The tunnels were a winding maze, but the ranger lead the group true. Through the disgustingly visible haze of noxious sewer reek, the flow of unmentionable slop through the sewer tunnel’s filth-slick channel unexpectedly forked. Most continued on its expected path, but a small stream of ooze diverted off through a wide cleft in the moldy masonry wall. The man-sized crack cut deep into the rock behind the wall, and wisps of thin white smoke issued forth.
Gaius checked carefully for traps, found none and announced as much. The crafty rogue reminded the group that finding no traps did not necessarily mean the cleft was safe.
The flow of sewer filth oozed into this rough-hewn stone cave, pooling near its center before continuing through a crude channel in the western wall. Fat black mushrooms which Gaius immediately recognized as Shreikers, and other disgusting fungus grew thick around the pool of slime. Several low alcoves were cut into the walls, each filled with moldering hay, filthy furs, and tiny bones. In the room were a trio of wererats keeping an ineffectual eye out for intruders. Among them were a pair of dire rats.
The group decided that skirting around the shreikers would not be possible, and that even if they were to use magical means to put the enemy and his compatriots to sleep, the shreikers would likely wake them. In an effort to prevent a bloodbath, the group decided to look for another way into the cavern where Girrigz was holed up.
Odric found a sewer grate protecting another passage in short order.
The grate was wrenched open with help from Sandor and Grym as well as the use of Odric’s trusty crowbar.
Two thick grates of rusted iron hedged in this section of sewer tunnel. From a man-sized crack in the northern wall seeped a steady flow of sewage, oozing into the greater flow of tainted water. A hulking pile of filth and debris partially blocks the stream of offal, a cart-sized clot in this disgusting artery. The group was suspicious that the clot might be an otyugh, but even with the foreknowledge that danger lurked, the sudden explosion of violence startled all but the fleet footed ranger.
As the otyugh swiped at Odric ineffectually, Grym moved forward blade already extending into a thrust as he pulled his dagger with his off hand to strike.
Grym silently cursed as he was bumped by Odric’s dodge. He was glad his friend avoided the nasty attack but saddened it ruined his good sword thrust. Yet never being one to fret over spilled milk the ranger adapted to the stumble and managed to turn it into a nice cut with his dagger.
First blood went to Grym this day. The otyugh snapped its fetid jaws at the man and gouged the man’s flesh with its foul teeth.
Morkeleb moved to where he could see the action, then whipped out his wand of Daze Monster. A flash of bright sparkles surrounded the Otyug’s eyes.
The beast bellowed, “HUNGRIES!” an instant before Morkeleb’s wand released the spell, but the magic had no effect on the beast. With surprising agility, the beast lashed out at Odric with a pair of barbed tentacles, and hit with one of them. The snaking appendage wrapped around the fighter’s neck and started to choke the man violently.
Odric lashed out with his beautiful new custom made falchion, trying to sever the tentacle around his neck. The thrashing tentacle threw off the man’s aim, and the blade skittered harmlessly off the thing’s tough hide.
A bleeding and frustrated Grym lashed out with two blades and missed, frustrating him further.
Morkeleb discarded the Daze wand, and brought out his wand of Burning Arc. With the muttered incantation, a bright, curved line of fire issued from the end of the wand to connect with the creature’s skull. Morkeleb’s second wand landed a solid hit and burned the beast. The smell of cooked shite monster nearly overwhelmed the melee fighters.
Ferox took aim and let loose an arrow at the creature. Ferox landed an arrow directly in center mass. The beast howled, “Food bite back! Hungries!!!”
The beast almost absentmindedly continued to strangle Odric but failed to maintain the hold.
The second tentacle attacked Sandor. but couldn’t gain purchase over the dwarf’s armor.
Finally the otyugh tried to chomp through Sandor’s armor and teeth succeeded where the noodly appendage failed.
Odric tried and failed to strike at the beast with his sword, while Sandor started to curse and yell at the monster but remembered the group was trying to be somewhat quiet. He buried his axe into the creature with a solid hit.
As the heroes closed in on the bleeding monster, the extent of its wounds became clear. With finality, as the men closed in on it, Grym struck out with a hard thrust of his sword, ending the combat as quickly as it had begun.
The group recovered with healing spells and a quick search of the area. They moved on, intent on their goal.
The passage ahead was narrow, and semi-blocked up with refuse. It looked to be easy enough to tear down. Several pieces of broken furniture, dried hay, and fragments of lumber burned in a small fire at the center of this open, ruggedly carved cavern. Short alcoves filled with filthy, oversized rats’ nests dotted the walls, and the disgusting drip of polluted black condensation echoed through the chamber. A thick flow of sewage spread across the western edge of the chamber, seeping from a crack in the western wall to another in the south. A quartet of hybrid rat-men tormented some large black rats. They were laughing loudly and constantly. Somehow, miraculously, they hadn’t yet heard the party.
Sandor addressed the group in a hushed whisper, “There are four baddies that we’re not supposed ta kill about or 40 feet feet from the openin. They are on the other side of the fire so ya think we can get em ta sleep or otherwise unharmed? Only difficulty is that the passage is somewhat blocked, but I think we can take it apart quietly enough.”
Looking down at his filthy clothes and armor, then at Morkeleb the Dwarf continued, “Think ya can save one of those prestiga…presgig..presdididastations or what eva ya call em for me for when we get outta this sewage?”
Morkeleb looked back to the site of the otyugh fight and said, “Perhaps we can save a more thorough search for after this threat is dealt with.” He redirected his gaze to the grimy Dwarf before him, “Worry not, Sandor: I’ve prepared Prestidigidation and can therefore cast it at will this day; I shall get everyone as clean as I can forthwith! I will gladly use a Sleep spell, but depending on their willpower and strength, there is no guarantee that all—or even any—of them will actually succumb. I have another method or two to try to keep at least one occupied, but violence might be necessary. Let me know when all is ready, and I’ll proceed.”
Morkeleb brings out his wand of Magic Missile, and readies his staff for casting.
The party readied weapons and nodded in turn to the wizard. As the green light emanated from the crystal surmounting his staff, Morkeleb watched carefully as three of the four wererats slumped to the ground in a deep and dreamless slumber. The fourth blinked twice, shrugged off the dweomer and screamed.
Gaius entered the cavern, hand crossbow up and pointed at the standing wererat. The firelight made the silver-tipped bolt twinkle, and Gaius made sure the rat man could see it. He stayed just within range and fired a silver bolt at the screaming wererat.
“The next one goes in your throat, if you don’t stop screaming! Drop your weapon and hit the floor! NOW!”
As the wizard moves to the tunnel mouth to begin his sleep spell, the ranger crept forward with his silvered blade ready at hand. His other hand clutched Bucho’s scruff tightly. He whispered words of attack to the dog. Anyone could plainly see the dog’s nose and then eyes riveted on the group of wererats. The dog was actually shaking he was so keyed up to charge forward after his prey. Grym held the dog tight though he pulled. The ranger was afraid any of the wererats who didn’t fall under the spell might bolt and escape before the heroes could capture them. Bucho would be able to cover the distance quicker then any of them and should be able to harry at least one of the wererats long enough that Grym could get close enough to tackle it. Though they were trying not to use violence, Bucho should do minimal damage and certainly nothing that the were creatures wouldn’t heal from quickly. As the ranger watched Morkeleb’s spell come to fruition, three of the creatures fell in slumber. The fourth jerked in surprise. After the rogue strode into the firelight and fired his quarrel, Grym let slip the dog of war.
The brindle dog shot forward as did the rogues missile from the crossbow, running full speed to leap upon the lone wererat. While his teeth connected, they failed to damage the accursed creature. The wererat nevertheless let out a scream of shock. He looked east with an expression of hope, like something in the next room over could deliver a defense, or perhaps vengeance.
While flashing the gleam of silver off his axe and moving up to cut off a retreat, Sandor said, “shuuuushhhhhhhhhh…. quiet lil one we won’t hurt ya if ya cooperate.”
If he tried to escape the Dwarf was fully prepared to chop off his leg.
Ferox drew his bow and aimed at the wererat.
In a quiet but stern voice, Ferox chastened the wererat. “Stand down and be quiet, lad. You are outnumbered and outclassed. Look at the strength arrayed against you. Even if help arrives, you will be first to fall. We only want your leader. You can live for another day, or you can die like a common rat in the sewer.”
Seeing his companions so competently at the ready to subdue the remaining wererat, and seeing the expectative hopeful look the monster gave the eastern entry, he readied himself for what may come.
Pointing both staff, and Burning Arc wand toward the entrance, he prepared to fire off either enchantment, or evocation, depending on the threat.
Odric ran up to the Wererat cowering in fear. He grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and keeping clear of the thing’s yellowed teeth shook it vigorously. He demanded to know where Girrigz is holed up.
“I won’t kill you, but I can make you VERRRRY uncomfortable for a VERRRRY long time!”
Odric gave him another shake and positioned his borrowed falchion’s silvered point beneath the wererat’s navel with the point digging in slightly.
“Where is he?!?!”
Gaius cleared his throat at Odric, as the man’s question seemed to be answered. From out of the shadows a wererat with a blurry indistinct outline approached. It’s a technique the Callistran had used himself. He tried to get the jump on the group, but they were ready. Morkeleb, never saw it coming however. Girrigz slipped past the wizard somehow.
Still Girrigz was a well-trained swordsman, and a silvered rapier darted towards Gaius. It slid deep into the Calistrian’s ribs.
The wererat shouted as he turned the blade in the wound. “I shall not kill you. Submit to my rule and be remade in my image!”
Gaius smiled, swooned a little and then managed to hold keep his balance. He felt blood in his mouth and he spit a gob in Girrigz’s eyes. Girrigz furiously lunged again, but Gaius expected the sloppy stab and turned to the side avoiding the rapier.
“That’s your offer?”
Gaius took a deep breath and while Girrigz was recovering from his lunge, he sprung back and twisted between Grym and Ferox and puts his back against the wall behind the inquisitor and the ranger. Careful eyes see him slump just a little and he pulled out another silver bolt but doesn’t have the strength to load just yet.
“Grym? Please take this. I’m too nauseated to respond properly just yet.”
The ranger took the rogue’s suggestion as the wounded Calistrian rogue slipped by. Then Grym moved forward to put his borrowed silvered sword to good use. Though wary he viciously attacked the wererat for the brutal stick he gave Gaius.
Sandor moved towards the fray, calling the rat out. “Surrender ’n become a rat??? Now what Dwarf ’n ’is right mind would do a thin like that… Not only are ya a rat, but ya are stupid enough ta try ta rise up against a whole city who would crush ya.. Ya own kind are willin ta hire us ta kill ya so surrender to me or I will be sure ta do just that!!!”
“Come Bucho, attack!” Grym exhorted his companion. The dog ran over to attack from behind and flank. Neither attack landed true, and the wererat lashed out at the dog with his blade as the pooch approached, slashing him in the flank.
Odric swung and missed by a fraction of a handbreadth. The wererat’s whiskers felt the passage of the silver blade and the creature jerked its head back in the blink of an eye.
As Morkeleb resolved the rat’s location and his spell fired off, the rat man was able to ignore its effects, and the wizards eye’s widened in surprise.
Girrigz laughed at Morkeleb’s puny magics. Both Sandor and Odric looked like scary targets, but Girrigz looked towards whence he came and focused his fury on the slightly less metal encased Odric, delivering a fearsome stab to the hip.
Meanwhile the cowering wererat transformed. He shrank into the size of a large sewer rat and prepared to scurry away.
In a moment, the combatants paused, eyeing each other carefully. Gaius healed himself with his clerical magic and hid himself in the shadows, prepared to intervene from afar if the opportunity arose.
Sandor swung wildly with his axe, missing, which opened up an opportunity for Morkeleb to cast Burning Gaze on the wererat. As the flames leaped out of the wizard’s eyes, both Bucho and Grym failed to connect with their attacks.
Ferox drew two silver arrows from his quiver.
“Korvosa cries out for Justice, Girrigz. Abadar will answer her with your death.” Ferox activated Judgement: Justice.
He took quick aim and let loose at the wererat. Ferox sank an arrow into the wererat. The damage was minor but very real, and caused a bit of fear.
Sensing the futility of acting alone, the party began trying to set up the wererat for a massive attack from Sandor. Gaius tried to trip him with his whip, but to no avail. Bucho and Grym provided harrying attacks to the creature. Sandor’s axe hit solidly, but failed to harm the creature significantly.
Morkeleb cast Magic Missile at the enemy after the burning fire from his gaze had run its course. The slivers of light slammed into Girrgz unerringly, but the weakness of the spell meant that he could largely ignore the pain and fight on, his confidence building.
Sandor took advantage of another assisting attack from Odric, and an arrow loosed from the Inquisitor’s massive bow. With Bucho still snapping and worrying the creature at the level of his knees, and Grym swinging with feint after feint with sword and knife, The Dwarf was able to connect solidly.
“Nah Girrigz lad we’ve only been toyin wit ya like ya boys over there were toyin wit tha poor sewer rat” the Dwarf bluffed.
A relentless barrage of feints, nicks and scratches interspersed with the odd damaging blow began to weaken the wererat. Arrow after arrow from Ferox slammed into him and the wererat’s armor of bravado began to crack. Listening to the planning he attempted a desperate move. He took a single stab at Sandor, drilling the Dwarf, and attempted to tumble his way out of the crowd.
With the chaos of the fight, the darkness and the close quarters, the agile foe succeeded.
Blows rained down on the creature, Grym and Bucho scoring hits as Morkeleb came to a decision. He cast a Scorching Ray at the man-rat even as Gaius tried yet again unsuccessfully to trip him. The flames licked at the enemy and the smell of burning fur filled the foul smelling cavern. The wererat’s vitriol was replaced with panic.
Grym’s scimitar slashed down and struck a critical hit to the whiskered face, slashing open its cheek and sinking into the shoulder. As the blood flows freely, Sandor ejaculates, “Scurry lil rat Scurry away. Yah still do have the option of surrender!”
Morkeleb responds to Sandor’s ejaculation with one of his own, “Don’t get your hopes up, Sandor—he is far to superior to we humans to surrender to us. Isn’t that right, Girrigz?”
No witty remark, or stinging rejoinder came. As the rat opened its mouth, in short order two silver-tipped arrows punctured its throat, and Odric slashed open the bristling trachea with the silvered falchion from the keep’s armory. The enemy slumped to the ground, motionless.
Grym took action to tie up the remaining wererats, and Gaius offered healing to all.
As the men searched, they discovered a trove worthy of the risk. Girrigz wielded a magic silvered rapier and a masterwork chain shirt with its own enchantment. Several crates, mismatched boxes, and poorly kept weapons lay stacked and scattered about the dingy stone chamber. Pinned to the side of one stack was a crudely sketched map of Korvosa. A large rat’s nest, strewn with moldy pillows, filled an elevated hollow in the south wall. In the entrance to the room there were two empty vials on the floor. Odric’s highly organized search of the room yielded a large supply of loot; He turned up 22 daggers, 12 short swords, 3 light crossbows, 12 flasks of alchemist’s fire, a masterwork longsword, 1000 Sails, and a masterwork suit of chainmail. In a hidden cache there were 4 blue potions, a masterwork silvered dagger, and a metal urn akin to a genie’s lamp which Morkeleb noticed had a faint tinge of transmutation magic.
An argument about what loot to take ensued, but the group eventually came to an uneasy truce about it, the biggest sticking point was the alchemist’s fire. Sandor’s objections stemmed back to the scarring he received by fire as a younger Dwarf.
“We should sell all of the Alchemist Fire” Sandor stated with just a little too much passion in his voice. He caught the quizzical pause in several of his friends. So he let out a small sigh.. “Ok I guess I’ll come right out n say it. Fer reason’s that should be obvious I’m not to fond of fire being used as a weapon” His gaze lingers on the Wizard for a second “Yes I know I use fire in me forge every day, but those fires are used in creation, not in the indiscriminate way fire maims and destroys in a fight. Now I’m not sayin it is any less painful ta be struck by me axe, sword, or another weapon, but at least they take skill. Those flasks do not, and well I guess the most honest truth is that it pains me to see any living being burnt.”
He said his piece, looked at the others and grabs his share of the load. Nodded to Grym and Gaius. “Well ya lead us in here might as well lead us out.”
The return to the city came without fanfare. In fact the foray into the sewer caused passersby to give the group a wide berth. Eries Yelloweyes returned to the group shortly. Meeting in private, she began, “Thank you for your help. you’ve done a good thing this day, though it may not feel like it to you. I promised you information, and here it is. Fortune has it that several sewer tunnels empty into the Jeggare River below the Wall of Eodred. The night the black-sailed ship was sunk before reaching the harbor, several of my brethren were watching. They saw nothing on the ship except for a yellow light, but once it sank, strange debris drifted from its hull. Tracking down some of the flotsam, the other wererats discovered a few small boxes filled with dead rats and a few pouches of silver coins conveniently bound to floating timbers. Suspecting that something was wrong with the rats, and scenting some foulness upon the coins, they kicked the debris back into the river. I know little more than this, but don’t believe that the ship’s sinking, the strange flotsam, and the advent of the plague are mere coincidence. I can lead you there, and provide potions on the cheap.”
After the history books were written, it was estimated that preventing Girrigz’s war against Korvosa saved the lives of 400 citizens.