Echoes of Glory
Journal Entry - Two
Journal Entry – 2nd Marketdaeg of Snaermonan, 499 IR
Our night in the Travel Tower turned charnel house passed quietly without incident, waking early we broke fast, had the horses hitched and moving before the sun had barely passed the horizon. The first few hours of our journey to Dunross went as smoothly as the night before until a form was spotted on the road ahead. A few minutes later we could clearly make out the arrow filled form of a riding horse.
Upon closer expectation it was clear the animal had been slaughtered for food, the arrows which had brought it down also identified its killers as being from the same Eye Piercer tribe of Orcs we had encountered the day before. At first we assumed the rider had been taken captive however Feurn’s keen eye spotted his corpse lying in the bushes off the road.
A quick search uncovered a letter and determined the rider to be a courier on a mission of some importance from the village of Dunross itself. Unfortunately for us, the news could have been better. According to the letter Dunross has been placed under quarantine due to an immense plague of rats. Food was in short supply, the harvested wheat stocks were being runined and it was only a matter of days before they were forced to set fire to the town and burn it to the ground. The letter was sent by the mayor of Dunross and was addressed to someone referred to only as My Lady and requested aid in the form of food, healing supplies, soldiers and ratcatchers.
Common sense would suggest that since our pay was dependant upon the flour shipment, the flour was compromised by vermin, and so it would appear was our pay. A brief discussion was had, and it soon became clear that the majority believed continuing onto Dunross was the appropriate action to take. I relented to the will of the group and so we proceeded on as before.
Arriving at Dunross we were stopped at the edge of their so called quarantine zone by a few grubby human guards. Their idea of guarding is some what pathetic however, I should think an elven child of no more than 6 years could breach that security with out trouble. In any case, as intent on keeping us out as they were, it took only a few words from Feurn and a simple healing demonstration with Bastet’s magic and we were conducted through to the village.
If I had thought Aslov a filthy rat infested city, Dunross hellish cesspit belonging to Vali himself. The stench was unbelievable, disease ridden rats were everyone, their filth covered everything, dead rodents were being burned by the pile, the fires tended by a bunch of haggard peasants wielding little more than rakes and mattocks, defending themselves from more of the rabid beasts even as they burned the dead.
I stayed with the wagon and horses whilst the others went to speak with the Mayor. From the brief accounting I was given, it appears he was aghast at the failure of his courier to get through, fearing that the town was going to be lost. In my mind it already was, they should have fled long since, their feeble efforts at pest control would be laughable, if not for the horrid situation.
Bastet made her way to the towns small temple shrine to assist the local priestess of Eostre, Agnes Leafdown, with treating the wounds of the villages who were suffering from numerous rat bites and infections, practically the entire town was in suffering.
It turns out the rats had been swarming into the little hamlet in unrelenting numbers for almost a week and they had little success at dealing with them through either natural or spiritual means. An agreement was reached with the mayor to find the cause of this current plague and get rid of the rats, in return he would allow us to break the quarantine zone with the wagon load of flour we had been sent to retrieve. Apparently some of the flour stocks were still uncontaminated.
Pulling the wagon around to the flour storage sheds we met with the local caretaker. We questioned him about the various merchants who stored their goods in the village. One merchant inparticular came to our attention, as his men had arrived on the day the rat swarm began, and had emptied their storage facility. There were several other flour sheds belonging to different merchants, one also belonged to the same merchant whose wagons and dead men we had found at the Travel Tower.
We examined the different sheds and found that the shed which had been emptied of flour was entirely free of any vermin at all. Further examination revealed it contained runes of warding. When compared with those same runes placed on every other building to protect, them they were the only ones which had not been marred with scratches or cuts of some kind.
I left to get Bastet and the priestess, hoping they might be able to shed light upon the subject of the wards desecration. The priestess new nothing of who would have done it, but volunteered to restore the runes on the other buildings, as it appeared they were working. This would take much time however and so we loaded our wagon with what flour we could recover from our storage shed.
It was almost dark when we finished sorted and loading, just as we shut the door to the shed screams rent the air. Looking up, a more horrible sight I have not witnessed, an immense wave of rats swarming over the towns walls in every direction. Thousands upon thousands of them, I was so shocked at the sight I did not at first notice the dozens of giant rats mixed in the swarm.
With in moments they were upon us. Chillfist was the first to react, as soon as the humans screams started he rushed forward to their aid, as the swarm descended upon helpless women and children. The rest of us climbed aboard the wagon and flicked the horses into action driving forward, over and through the carpet of rats which now formed the ground.
Anyone at ground level was immediately swarmed by rodents; people were screaming, fighting and dying on all sides. There was little we could do but defend the only safety available to anyone, which was the back of our wagon. Giant rats launched them selves up from the ground at us but were quickly dispatched with magic, claw or sword.
Somehow, Chillfist battled his way along the ground using his magic to summon a guard of some kind and saved a woman and her child. Slinging them on the wagon he soon climbed up to join us as we fled the doomed town. When possible we pulled peasants out of the melee and to safety with us but many were swept away by the swarm, one man out of my very hands as I tried in vain to pull him aboard.
We had almost made it out of village when a horse faltered, finally falling to the wounds inflicted by the rats all around them. Bastet risked her own life jumping down into the swarm to heal the animal before fleeing through the gates on foot. Moments later Feurn drove the wagon clear of the gates; a wave of rats all around us flooding out of the village.
The towns guard had tried to fight their way into the town but had been forced back and as a last resort had broken open multiple barrels of oil and rolled them into the village. I snatched up a burning brand just as the last guards were overcome by the rats and looking back searched in vain for any humans who might make it out of that death trap. I could still hear the screams, but no one emerged, may their spirits forgive me, I threw the torch and set the village on fire.