The Players have been making their way south with a group of about 30 other refugees, mostly woman and children. The early spring days have been wet and cold, making the journey a muddy and tiring trek. During the trek the players have met each other and gotten along in a fairly friendly manner, taking turns scouting, hunting for food and guarding the weaker refugees around them.
But now they have come to the banks of the Baskaly River. Here, in the foothills of the Skyclaw Mountains, a massive number of refugees have been forced to halt their southward journey because the river is too wide, deep and rapid to safely cross.
A large camp has arisen with the people living out of makeshift tents and shelters. Everyone is poor and on the edge of starving. With not enough fish in the river to feed everyone and most game scared away by the large number of people in the area things are very rough. People are living on whatever they can scavenge. Mostly rat. There seems to thankfully be a huge number of rats in the area and everywhere the smell of roasting rat hangs in the air.
They arrived just a couple of hours before nightfall and were rushed to set up whatever tents and bedrolls they had to fend off the chilly night air.
The next morning the players were alerted by the sounds of a woman yelling hysterically. It seems her young son had gone missing during the night. Before they could investigate this disappearance other cries went up around the campsite. Two other young children were also gone. Barch The Magnificent began to search for clues or tracks while Kern attempted to calm the refugees.
There were numerous tracks around the campsite, including dozens of rat tracks, but other animal tracks were also discovered. Large animal tracks. The team gathered their gear and suited up, before heading off to follow these tracks and attempt to rescue the missing children.
The tracks led up into the foothills of the Skyclaw Mountains, thickly forested, the going was tough and visibility poor, but Barch was able to keep tracking the unusual animals. The keen ears of Talan and Keats allowed them to get the drop on an massive, bluberous Frog, capable of swallowing a grown man whole, that was stalking the party. The team made quick work of slaying the giant beast and a quick check of it’s stomach contents and tracks made certain that this was not the creature they were looking for.
They pressed on and in short time came into a large clearing on a flat area of the hillside. The ruins of an ancient, long toppled, guard tower were strewn about the clearing. Kern judged that when it was still standing the tower would have offered an impressive view down into the plains below and along the Baskalay River. Unfortunately, Barch lost the tracks of the creatures they were hunting amongst the fallen stones and ruins so the part split up to seek out any clues as to the children’s location.
At the steep hillside that rose up sharply at the back of the clearing Talan made a discovery. It seems that once upon a time a keep had been built here, right at the side of the hill, but a massive landslide years ago must have buried it under tons of mud and rock. He also discovered a narrow gap in the side of the buried keep from which a foul smell emanating. Taking a deep breath, Talan slid into the black gap in search of what hid with in.
After a few feet the gap opened up inside the ancient keep. The inside of the keep was actually in very good condition. It’s strong walls had held during the mudslide, and only a few, partially overgrown, holes in the roof let in the day light. The other team members joined him and a very quick scouting of the keep showed that it was much larger then expected. In fact it seemed to have been built right into the hillside and its long corridors stretched far back into the hill. But the party didn’t spend time searching the keep, for the found the location of the horrid smell near the entrance. A set of steps, leading down into inky darkness below.
The party lit some torches and descended into the darkness. The stairs were covered in rat droppings and filth and the corridor they eventually reached was even worse. As they explored the lower levels of the keep they came across numerous storage rooms, all long since emptied or their contents ruined with age. They also came across a deserted dungeon with holding cells and a torture chamber, but no missing children.
At the end of the long corridor them came to a large room whose back wall had collapsed, leading into a large natural underground chamber. In this chamber small campfire burned but the people or things around them were obscured in the darkness.
Talan went scouting along the edge of the cavern and spotted some very large rat nests and a small group of Ratlings, upright walking, intelligent, tool-using rats. He returned to others and reported in. The group decided to attack the creatures and attempt to located the missing children.
The battle was on. The team faced vicious Giant Rats, The Ratlings and a large Wererat, who was King of all the Rats below the keep. The Wererat was furious at the humans invading his home and he thought it was only just that his Ratlings had taken the young children to eat, since the humans in refugee village at the base of the hill had been eating so many of “his children” over the last few weeks.
It was a dangerous battle, but in the end the party prevailed and slew the Wererat and his minions and recovered the children safely.
The party set out to return the children to the village, but a few questions remained. Who had built this massive Keep originally and why had they abandoned it? Also, Talan saw Two Thrones in the rat kingdom, but they only fought the one Wererat. Who, if anyone, sat upon the other throne? And finally, what were they going to do with all of the refugees at the camp? Was there anyplace where they could find safety?
These questions weighed heavily on their minds as they slowly made their way back to the refugee camp.