Oh, rats
Wherein it is discovered that the party's true strength lies in critting vs. exposition, traps are (finally) detected, and Bree demonstrates a surprising penchant for interior design.

Game Time: Sunday night

The party dusted themselves off and surveyed the twice-dead corpses all around them. Staffling Bree suspected that there was more to be learned from the bodies.  A chalk circle, some funny-smelling oils, and stones placed against Terciel SĂ»lkano's mouth and ears… and suddenly he recalled what the blazing skeleton had been screaming to the risen dead in the tomb:

"RISE! RISE!  For the Exarch, for the Undying Eye – he commands us to rise up, to fight, and to break the chains!"

At Terciel's mention of The Undying Eye, Dargrik Burnstone wished Bree hadn't bothered with the chalks and oils: Darg remembered (natural 20!?) that the Undying Eye is a heretical orcish cult dedicated to freeing the Exarch of Gruumsh.  Their membership roster reads like a Who's Who of traitors, infidels, murderers, and things that go "I'm going to eat your spleen" in the night.  A brief discussion of the Undying Eye's Glee Club and Tabernacle Choir ensued, along with a discussion of whether kobolds can sing in harmony.  Bree recalled (ANOTHER natural 20?!) that the Undying Eye are generally casters of dark religious magic, but (not terribly surprisingly!) they also have an interest in necromancy and destructive arcane magic.  Terciel's Meloran faith was offended at seeing the innocent dead so ill-used, and the rest of the party helped clean up the bodies as they discussed whether Sister Marina or Lord Wossname ought to know what they had discovered about the Undying Eye and the undead.  After a brief discussion of what it could mean, and whether Sister Marina ought to be in on the secret, and whether perhaps Tarin the Stoat was tied up in any of this, the party opted to explore a little bit more before returning to the surface – especially since they had not gotten explicit permission to be down there, and there was no telling how much administrative hassle getting back might be.

With darkness falling in the city, the party continued to explore the Upper Ocean Catacombs.  Working their way around the top floor, they stumbled upon a crypt whose cobblestones had been selectively replaced with cleverly counterweighted blocks and stiff wire loops—very large rat traps.  A few more paces brought everyone to a room with two closet-sized nooks that were packed with rats: baseball-sized rats, softball-sized rats, corgi-sized rats… hundreds and thousands of them, like a surging furry carpet.  Bree set off a fireball to get a look at them, and someone ran out of the room screaming "By the Gods' Blood!"  The rats, on the other hand, ran towards the party.  Fighting so many rats at once is a nuisance – no matter where you go, three or four still squeeze in under your armor and continue to nip at you, like a furry cloud of teeth and claws.  Bree's magical pillars of flame were the most effective at clearing them out.  Some interesting side effects of Rache's and Bree's magic resulted in a fireball that hit everyone in the party, missed all of the nearby rats, and caused one swarm halfway across the room to burst into flames.

Just as the swarms were starting to look manageable, three rabid Labrador-retriever-sized rats skulked into view: Curly, Lampshade, and Dickie.  Curly and Dickie were eager to get into the thick of things. Lampshade failed (DEEPLY failed) to perceive the gravity of the situation and went after the glowing ball of light that Bree had cast to illuminate the room. He critted, swallowed the orb of light whole… and… well, it was a very very dumb rat.  The party dealt
with Curly and Dickie while Bree moved the light around the room like teasing a cat with a laser pointer, except you don't usually make a cat run through Giant Rat Traps.  With the other rats out of the way, Lampshade at least got to make an honorable last stand, doing what he loved: slavering angrily at anything that moved while the bright light shone in his dim dumb eyes.

(A moment of silence for the rat known as "Lampshade," please.)

The party was scratched up pretty badly, and there was a close call where we all thought Thea had come down with some kind of festering sewer disease from being bitten, but in the end they decided to press on and see if the fleeing man – Tarin “the Stoat”? – was still close at hand. They found no trace of Tarin, but did find their way back to the stairwell.  On their way up the stairs to the temple, a halfling urged the party to follow him down to the second floor of the catacombs.  He introduced himself as Zoran , and took the party to a hidden room overlooking the stairwell where his partner Stamat was on watch.  The two offered the party drinks (ale!) and a place to sleep, and said that they'd try to take the party to see Ilian Kirov in the morning.

The Story So Far
A summary of the characters' first week together

Trouble at McGuffin Creek

Darg, Thea, and Lenora headed southeast from Baerstun towards McGuffin Creek to find out why Lord Wossname's iron shipments have been disappearing. There they discovered orc smugglers, Tarin “the Stoat”, and an eladrin archer wandering through the woods. Terciel joined up with the party and they headed back to Baerstun with their prisoner Tarin. Other than being ambushed by orcish infiltrators at the Avandran shrine overnight, the journey was uneventful.

The Execution of Tarin the Stoat

The party arrived in Baerstun at dawn, handed Tarin over to Lord Wossname's guards, and settled in for a quick shower and breakfast. They stood as witnesses at Tarin's trial, but before he could be executed, a shepherdess in the crowd revealed herself to be a warlock. She transformed her sheep into wolves and attacked the executioner and the guards. The party killed her and the wolves, but couldn't stop Tarin from escaping.

Wounded Veterans and Fowl Play

The party ran into Bree and Rache in a pub down in the Ocean Quarter while trying to track down Tarin. The two agreed to join the party, and just as the party was starting to follow up their leads, they found themselves surrounded by a procession of wounded veterans. Sister Marina asked them to head to Aladar's workshop to buy more healing potions, but all they found there were some angry ducks, a cockatrice, and a thunder-chicken.

Into the Catacombs

Around sundown the party headed to the Temple of Melora, hoping that their connections with Sister Marina could earn them access to the Upper Ocean Catacombs. The novitiate on duty, Jevrem, was absolutely taken in by Rache's assertion that the party was helping Marina to fight the undead in the catacombs. This was the best bluff ever, because it turns out there actually were…

Undead in the Catacombs

...and they were not happy to see the party. After a few tough fights against the undead, including the infamous Bacon Zombies, the party started looking for a safe place to rest.

Oh, Rats


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