Slad scares me. What kind of lust makes a man so gleeful, as he hacks arms and heads from torsos? The dwarf was concerned about vengeful corpses. Origg dismembered the orcs as a practical matter, but Slad took great delight in this chore. I wonder what’s under that kilt.
After dispatching the orcs, we continued on the road to Dunross. The sun was low in the sky when we saw a tower ahead. We looked forward to the shelter it would provide. Until we got closer. It was all wrong. No lights came from the tower, no smoke from the chimney, two wagons parked outside, with their canvas torn to shreds.
The dark mystery unraveled as we examined the scene. From the tracks under the snow, we could see the foul events had occurred days earlier. The horses from the wagons tore their tethers and fled in terror. The ripped canvas bore the symbol of barley and the letter, “D.” Dunross? Dalsetter? Ember found traces of flour amongst the wagons’ broken cargo.
Inside the tower we found traces of blood and the tracks of some small creature. Whatever disruption that had occurred was days ago. The hearth was cold. Then we ventured upstairs.
It was a scene of unnatural horror. Four skeletons sprawled across a floor covered in frozen blood. On closer inspection, we found marks on their bones. Hundreds of bite marks from rats gnawing the flesh from the men. How could there be so many rats out here, in the wilderness? They ate four men, but there is no vermin scat to be found. So what do we do?
Eat and rest, of course. Slad fed us roasted wolf. Ember preferred to eat oats with the horses. Night passed without further incident. In the morning, we donated five gold and continued on our way.
We were not on the road for long before we came upon the bodies of a hapless rider and his horse. Killed and robbed and eye-piercer orcs. Argius found a letter which he read to us with great flair. It was addressed to “My Lady,” and signed by the mayor of Dunross. He describes losing the village grains to a ceaseless tide of rats. He beseeches for her to send soldiers, healers and rat catchers. Knowing that there may be no flour for us, we pressed on to Dunross nonetheless.
As we approached Dunross, we saw columns of smoke rising, but not from chimneys. A large fence protected the village. As we approached the gate, a seasoned guard calls us to halt. He commands us to leave, and Argius tells him that we have healers and can help. The guard tells us that previous travelers had promised the same, only to attempt to take their flour. Lord Clueless tries to bribe him with two silver. Surprisingly, Argius does somehow manage to gain us entry.
Inside we find a pandemonium of humans and dogs chasing countless rats. Mounds of rats burned in the streets. Origg runs immediately to the infirmary to heal the injured and make the diseased more comfortable. We met the mayor, a priestess, a rat catcher, and the master of the granary. None of them knew why their village had been overcome by an unnatural tide of rodents.
There were a few curious clues at the granary. There were markings of Eostre on the walls throughout the building. All were scratched off, except for the marking on Granary 1. The manager said that just prior to the rat outbreak, a man named Otto arrived and managed to remove the flour from Granary 1. Otto had mentioned something about Dalsetter. Granary 1 is marked with an apple over a sheaf of wheat. Inside, there were no signs of rats. Then we looked into Rodgar’s granary. The rats had eaten some, but not all of Rodgar’s flour. Ember, Slad and I start loading the 30 sacks of salvagable flour on the wagon, while Argius went and recruited some simple-minded oaf to work for him.
We left the granary, intending to pick Origg up from the healer’s and then leave town. Before we could gather Origg, we heard high pitched screams. Citizens were pointing to the western wall, where a mass of rats flowed into the village like a tsunami. At the gates, the guard toppled over barrels, spilling oil on the village grounds.
Perhaps we could have escaped before the rats were on us. But we were not going to leave Origg behind. We fought, and Argius suffered some rat bites, but we were able to reach the gates of the city with Origg. We also managed to save the mayor, the priestess, the rat catcher, and adorable little Snapper.
We pass through the gates, with giant rats on the wagon and swarms all around us. Then the guard does the unimaginable. He sets the oil alight, setting himself and the village on fire.
We stop a short ways outside the village and finish those demon rats. Origg heals us, horses included. Before us is the road to Dalsetter. Behind us Dunross burns.