1231, Spring – The Rat King

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After a few week’s break, we are back to our Ars Magica campaign. In our previous session, we had traced the potentially intelligent rats to the sewers beneath Dumbarton, and found the body of a local who had gone looking for stolen goods. This session we had the rest of the sewers to investigate, and a final decision to make.

Jack – Spring, 1231

We head back down into the sewers, initially searching out the passages that we missed last time. Following the first passage, we reach a dead end which is filled with boxes and barrels – not something that I’d expect to find in a sewer.

The boxes mostly contain good quality textiles and household goods, including dinner sets. The barrels contain food and wine. Aodhan notices that there’s a trap door in the ceiling above our heads. It possibly leads into a building. We think there could be smuggling going on. I think it’s beneath the Winkle Picker, an establishment that I’ve dealt with before that is known to be less than above board. We leave it alone for now, but it’s good information we can maybe abuse in the future.

We continue up the tunnel, to where the sewers flatten out a bit. We head right, along another sewer tunnel. It ends at an open area with several drains in the ceiling. There is probably a market square of some type above us. The brickwork at the entrance to here looks odd. Almost as if there is a secret door there.

Pushing open the door, there is a tunnel behind it cut into the soil. Wandering in, there is a store room which probably belongs to an inn. As I look around, I am suddenly swarmed by rats. The first rat lunges at me, and I sweep at it with the torch. It must have been soaked in alcohol, because it bursts into flame.

I step forward and smote a second, then a third. Greysen and Aodhan stand behind me providing moral support as I do all the work.

There is a gold coin here, though the markings are unfamiliar. It has Latin inscribed on it, but the Latin looks a bit odd. Neither Greysen nor Aodhan recognise it either, but Aodhan thinks it might be connected to the weird latin that the magi found beneath the covenant.

There is a hatch leading up, and just beneath it is a dead body. The hatch seems to be locked, or at least something heavy is placed on top of it.  Greysen manages to smash it open. There’s a cry from up above, and someone saying “I think they’ve got through!”

Greysen climbs up, and shouts out a greeting. Eventually, the people realise that Greysen isn’t a rat, and unblock their door and come out to see who we are. The woman turns out to be the husband of the dead guy beneath the hatch. One of the others seems to be a guest, who has been bitten by the rats previously. Aodhan takes a look at his wounds, which aren’t too serious. However, the man does seem to be suffering from a fever.

The woman tries to offer us some money in thanks for our help, but I refuse. I explain that I run The Library, an establishment which she has heard of. I’d rather make contacts and get a reputation than get some short term cash at the moment.

Whilst Aodhan is seeing to the dead, Greysen and myself head back to the flattened area and the last passage we haven’t yet explored. It goes north, and opens out into a large circular room. The floor is higher up around the edges, making it bowl shaped with a channel heading south towards the sea. This is probably beneath a larger town square.

Some of the drains in the ceiling seem to be blocked in one side of the room, leaving the floor in that area somewhat clean. Reflected in our torchlight are maybe a dozen pairs of eyes. In the clean area it looks like a sort of platform has been crudely constructed from bits of wood. Two hunched people dressed in rags are standing either side of the platform. Sitting on the platform is a large rat – about the size of a sheep, with a misshapen head.

The two people start shambling towards us, and we see a rat clinging to each person’s back, poking its head above the men’s shoulders. The rats seem to guiding the men.

I quickly try some Latin, greeting the rat king and welcoming him to his new abode. I ask how his journey from his old city was. My Latin is probably dreadful, but there is squeaking and they stop.

There is an attempt at conversation, as I try to explain that we work for magi who live above their burning city.  The rats don’t seem happy that we are here, so we leave, but I say that magi might come back to talk.

We head back to Aohdan, and fill him in on what happened. Then we head back to the covenant.

Pisciculus ex Criamon – Spring, 1231

After the return of Greyson and the others with news of what they found in the sewers, we need to decide what to do about the rats. Maedbh talked about breeding them because they might be a vis source. I think she was joking.

The rats are taking over people and killing them, so we can’t just leave them alone. However, simply killing them seems wrong. We could offer them a place somewhere, but from what they said they don’t seem to want anything to do with magi.

We speak with the head of our covenant, Alexandra, who is in favour of treating them as an infestation that needs to be dealt with rapidly.

Allistor can potentially block their room with stone, then someone else can flood it and drown them. This wasn’t a conversation that I felt happy being part of. I can’t think of a better alternative though that won’t end up causing more pain and suffering in the future.

Samuel Penn

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