A largely different group of players returned to the Grey District the next session, following up on the previous session's lead, flasks of oil and a sack of cats in tow. As they entered the building, cinnamon-scented miasma began filling the street, burning exposed skin. They quickly filed in and beelined it to the chamber from where the drums had sounded last session, bursting in to find swarms of rats and several circles of white mice already formed. The poor cats were released and simply cowered before the massive quantities of huge rats, their exit barred by the party. As they considered their next step, a voice from deeper within commanded them to halt their futile struggle. Surprisingly the party complied, and as mishapped humanoid figures lit the candle sconces in the room, a voice from the silhouette of a throne began to speak. Thusly they met Rat King Murod, lord over secrets, darkness, and that which crawls, and also a rather small mouse atop a rather tall stack of books. The party immediately offered assistance to the Rat King, who considered, and then requested they raze the neighboring building infested with fungus, in exchange for a safe place on the second floor of his building and passage through his territory. They agreed and set forth into an underground tunnel in order to avoid the cinnamon gas. With them went Nimblet, a small white mouse with a telepathic link to the Rat King, who could respond to simple questions by an agreed-upon system of taps. Nimblet rode atop the head of Chuck Chuckleston the militiaman as they proceeded into the dark tunnel.
|Chosen servants of the Rat King (Mirliton miniatures)|
In the fungus building they fought fungal hounds, spore-spraying rubbery beasts vaguely in the shape of canines, and were forced to retreat when two party members were injured and one began hallucinating. Unfortunately the burlap masks they had fashioned themselves were not quite sufficient to prevent all the effects of spore inhalation from the many bizarre growths. When they tried to return to the Rat King's abode from the tunnels they were barred entry, for fear of infection...
Worried now, the party struck deeper into the abandoned borough looking for a clear passage to the surface, which led to a Scooby Doo like chase scene as they sprinted from one threat to the next in increasing desperation, fending off grease dogs just long enough to bar a cellar door, walking through a trap with rusty knives, and running from several other strange creatures. Chuck Chuckleston was seriously wounded at this point, but still up and moving. Nimblet had fallen unconscious from spores earlier. Belina the printer was feeling the effects of spores as well, and worried about the rusty knives that had fallen on her head, slicing up her shoulders. They finally ran into a room that had light coming from the cracks in the door, but was also inhabited by a figure in archaic dust-covered armor, who rose from a slumped position and bared its blade. The party ran over to the door while Leonora the trader nervously placated the being, offering it a gift of terrified cats since that's what was at hand. Not sure what to think, the figure stood still long enough for them to frenetically rip the boards off the door and sprint out into daylight and freedom.
Avoiding a seeming trap in the street and vaulting a mouldering barricade, the party nearly made it back to the docks before giant wasps descended upon them from above. They made a good show of it and drove them off, but not before Chuck Chuckleston was struck down by a barb through his upper arm. After several inexpert attempts the bleeding was stopped as he was at death's door, and the party loaded him into the boat to take to Mad Marge, a dockside healer whose services they could actually afford. Unfortunately, several failed rolls later, Chuck Chuckleston expired upon the bloodstained bench in her shack. Mad Marge came out and shook her head sadly. Nimblet soon followed. With heavy hearts the remaining party members carried the body back up to the Roost (the Blackbirds' hangout), for future burial.
This is when the party learned about Strigastadt burial laws! By ancient law, any who die within Strigastadt's limits are to be interred in the walls of their dwelling, after certain rites are performed, and optionally after they've been exposed at a tower of silence. Those that live in Strigastadt are compelled to defend it in death, their bodies or spirits animated when invasions threaten. The party was like "Oh, that's why Strigastadt is haunted as shit!" and discussed plans to instead dump his corpse in the river. They were afraid the fungus that had infected him earlier would bloom from the walls if they buried in the Roost. Which 100% would have happened. But instead he was thrown in a back room until a consensus could be achieved. Meanwhile Belina was suffering fevers and her forehead began to swell with something underneath...
Art by the awesome Sam Bosma!