Episode 3: a PLAGUE of RATS
This time using a combination of Clues, Mythic, and Prehistoria cube sets.
This episode features the sidekick, Manda.
This episode features the sidekick, Manda.
A Dangerous Dilemma
Meanwhile in a desolate barren dune, Manda (now lost and on her own) comes across an area of a recent skirmish. There, a throng of scavenger uzegs and a young drakk screech and squawk, fighting over the remains of several fallen warriors. Marro, the duplicitous druid suddenly sidles up to Manda in her crouched hidden position, startling her.
“Any sound you make will bring that winged terror to us!” he warns. “This area is full of the dead. Fell scavengers lurk everywhere.”
Cautiously, the two back away unnoticed. Manda finds the man’s company unwelcome. But being alone in the vast untamed tundra is worse. She continues with him, and tries to put him at ease through idle conversation, but he is too clever. “Quiet your loquacious tongue!” he warns. She tells Marro that Asara knows him and demands answers as to what he’s doing out in the wilds. Marro reveals he seeks the identity of one among the dead who is important for a spell that will aid his master. Manda promises not to let that happen if it leads to anything awful.
The Plot Thickens
Little do the two know that the scruffy, inconsequential uzeg vermin are multiplying more than has ever been seen before in the north. Behind them, the multitudes won their duel against the drakk who is forced away by the sheer overwhelming numbers. However, the two come upon thousands of little bolt holes tunneling under the earth. From these, dozens of others scurry every now and again.
Manda screams. She remembers a time as a girl in Satarla, far to the south. She played in the sprawling villa her father owned outside the city. “Manda, stay away from the old barn,” her father Osmond had told her. The old decrepit zannibal outbuilding had been unused for ages. Needless to say, the young Manda was curious and liked to explore. Wandering within, she fell through a rotting grate into an uzeg infested pool. She was terrified, but her screams eventually summoned her father. The horror has never left her mind.
Now, in the barren hills, the vermin continue to come in droves as though they are being directed by some otherworldly force. In one larger such burrow comes a strange light.
An Heroic Undertaking
Into this larger hole Marro and Manda continue after much bolstering of courage. Winding through the earth are various tunnels and vents carved out by primordial forces, through which they labor until they come upon a lake of fire deep under the ground. There, they spy an altar and evidence of sacrifice.
Suddenly, from a side tunnel lunges a bestial inhuman thing. This creature is clearly from beyond the void. Somehow Manda and Marro get separated. The Satarlan minstrel tries to hide from the thing in a craggy dark corner. Lava bubbles and churns about noisily. Eventually, an inhuman hand falls upon Manda’s knee. She screams.
The druid uses the opportunity to flee, sacrificing Manda to the horror from the void. The beast tries to mesmerize Manda, but miraculously, she shakes off the attempt in her madness. Surprised, she thrusts her dagger — her only weapon — at the thing and darts away. However, she is magnitudes slower than the loping inhuman thing over an open stretch.
Desperately, she turns and fights. Miraculously, she scores several slices into it’s rubbery hide while avoiding the lumbering attacks. Her luck runs out and she is dropped with a single heavy blow. She blacks out.
The Truth Revealed
When Manda comes to, she is strung up within the volcanic lake. She sees that the high temperatures and other alchemical experiments under way serves to foster an elaborate breeding program. Thousands of young vermin fill various surrounding bolt holes.
Manda sees that the demon follows a peculiar man carrying vials and odd accoutrements of an alchemist around. The two pay Manda no mind.
The Final Showdown
Manda watches helplessly as the evil looking alchemist and his demonic boon companion load their few belongings onto a wretched but sturdy looking raft able to float upon the fiery surface of the lake. “You almost ruined this plan with your bumbling intrusion,” the man says to Manda. “No matter! Soon, I’ll be gone, ready to unleash this plague of vermin upon the north and you’ll be dead! Their first feast.”
Manda thinks quickly. From the corners, she sees the glowing red eyes of the uzeg multitude, ready to make good on that promise. Secretly, she tries to undo her restraints. It was no good. Her bonds are too strong.
“Do you know who my companion is?” she boasts. “You best know who you’re dealing with before you sail off to your sure to be short-lived victory.” She tries to lure him in by sucking him into a lie. The man stops. I have him! she thinks. She goes through her lore to come up with a name from legend falling upon the songs she learned in Satarla.
“You’ll untie me when you know that Soren Telbrey is my companion!” she lies. She can hardly believe the name that comes from her lips. Soren was a powerful sorcerer that once was a tyrant on the south but is no more. She keeps fast talking hoping the name drop is enough to fool him. To her amazement, the alchemist turns and unbinds her. Nonetheless, the uzeg horde begins closing in around them.
“Are you going to do something about them?” she says, indicating the approaching hungry mob. The man and the demon turn to look. Without hesitation, Manda leaps away and onto the raft laden with alchemical components. She takes them by complete surprise and kicks off from the banks. It’s too late for the man as they are overwhelmed by ravenous mad uzegs.
With a pole, Manda steers to safety to an exit vent. She also finds a number of invaluable relics among the stash including some potions of unknown substance and purpose. She hears the man’s dying screams in the distance. Now she has to find Asara once again.
To Be Continued
Who was the mysterious alchemist and who does he ultimately work for? What further complications will arise due to the horde of uzeg vermin? What secrets will be revealed from the weird alchemical tools and preparations?