The adventurers included:
- Othric. A dwarven pharmacist, nicknamed “Rick” by the humans.
- Thorgrim. A dwarven protagonist, goon enforcer for the dwarven community.
- Sevn. A dwarven slayer, beyond redemption and seeking a good death.
- Kurt Semmler. A human outrider, messenger and courier for the College.
They were socializing at the Sprocket, a building that used to be a supply shed for the stables. Now the stables are a workshop, and the supply shed is where the College provides cheap food, beer, and flirtbait to keep the rougher element of their employees and contractors out of the way of their betters.
That’s where Mackle found them.
Trouble in the Morrsgarden
Mackle was working with a team to clear out a damaged pump system feeding one of the waterfalls and reflecting pools in the world-famous Moorspark of Nuln (a sprawling yet manicured cemetery park temple area dedicated to the God of Dreams and Death.) They joined him on the work site, passing the black roses and fanciful mausoleums and statuary.
The waterfall itself was cunningly worked into stone. Apparently birds and fish had been dying after contact with the reflecting pool the waterfall fed. They climbed into the access hatch and descended to the pump mechanism.
Mackle showed them the mechanism was jammed up with masses of vermin. They were fist sized and malformed; the adventurers realized they were giant mutated lice. They climbed into the pump because it was warm and moving.
Grim, Mackle explained there was a big deal funeral in two days, and this all had to be sorted out by then. If there was a real threat, then it would have to be dealt with. They agreed to help figure out where the vermin were coming from, and find the warpstone that they must have been in contact with to change so unpleasantly. Hefting blankets and sacks, as well as their weapons and armor, they descended into the darkness.
Following the Trail
Kurt was pleasantly surprised by how un-cramped the sewers were here. He had not seen their cathedralesque majesty before, and was not fully aware of how the refugee community had engineered so much of Nuln (including its sewers.) Still, he was their tracker, and he led them along the back trail of the activity patterns of those mutated critters, until they found a grating.
A barrier had been clumsily built across the tunnel. It was sturdy, if crude. It was fifteen feet tall, of the twenty feet of head space in the tunnel. The inside had spikes protruding, too far apart to deter people, and two feet long.
They climbed over the barrier, and were horrified as a swarm of mutated lice jumped them. After a brief and crunchy interval of heavy slashes and splats, they dispatched all the lice except the mass swarming Orthric. They viciously chewed his flesh, but he hurled himself against the walls and floors and finished them off. Afterwards they took a short rest so he could heal his unpleasant injuries.
Continuing, they found stairs leading down to a bigger chamber. There were also cracks in the walls, that the lice could move through; their tracks didn’t go into the bigger chamber. Kurt’s nose told him what he was smelling was bog octopus.
Steeling themselves, they advanced.
The Bog Octopus
The flood control chamber was built like a theater or public bath, with needless beauty and flourishes. Columns around the sides, stairs down into a central pool under a dome with a shaft leading up from the middle.
Sevn wanted to get this fight started; a bog octopus was a pretty good death, all things considered. He kicked the remains of part of a corpse into the pool. Sure enough, the creature latched onto supports with 3 or 4 limbs and heaved its bulk into view, snatching the belligerent slayer and rubbing him against the wall like a stick of sidewalk chalk.
The battle was wet and unpleasant. Kurt hung back shooting, until the mass of tendrils flopped over everything and it was time for bladework. Thorgrim charged in with gusto, but one tentacle got him, then another–before they could rip him in two, Orthric cut one down. Still, as they maimed half the monster’s tendrils, it decided to retreat–and it dragged Thorgrim with it, down to a horrible messy death far under the murk.
Shaken, they mourned their fallen comrade and continued to the chambers on the other side of the room.
The Birthing Pools
They found a shallow pool in a chamber, with an iron stake in the middle of the pool and shackles hanging from it, like something would be restrained to slump in the pool. They cautiously investigated, and heard movement; they found a connecting chamber to a very similar pool, but this one had a dwarf chained to it.
They freed him from his shackles and got his story; he was Thorgrim, a dwarven mercenary who had been jumped outside a tavern after a bar fight by a bunch of skinny guys with some sort of knockout drug. He woke up here, his equipment in the corner. He pulled it all on. He also had a warpstone pebble in his hand.
They dropped it, and it rolled towards the pool; it had a rune etched into it that matched the rune on the stake. Even if the victim threw all the warpstone away, it would roll back into the pool. The pool was a deliberate attempt to mutate its victim! And there was more than one.
An unpleasant sibilant voice echoed from the shadows, telling him to get back in his pool. The mutant charged, indescribably unpleasant, and they fought it; it vomited acid on Orthric, crisping his beard and wrecking his gear, but they hewed away at it and slaughtered the massive squishy thing.
It had warpstone studs in its flesh; they pulled those out, and fished pellets out of the birthing pools, getting a hefty haul of the forbidden mutagen.
Then they heard a clatter of metal on metal, and some skittering speech in a strange language. Using their keen hearing, they oriented on the source of the noise, following a tunnel to find another crude barrier (but this one with a door on it) and two cloaked figures putting a sack of severed body parts into the corridor. This must be how they fed the mutant.
They seemed exasperated that the mutant didn’t show, so one dropped the cloak and entered the tunnel to investigate. It was a hunched rat-thing! Skaven!
Well, they needed proof of this. So, Thorgrim charged the one by the door, almost killing it outright, and Sevn charged the one inside, physically discorporating the rat-thing. They were both sprayed with the musk of fear.
The survivor scrabbled to escape down the tunnel, towards the rest of the adventurers. Kurt failed to lasso it, but Orthric chopped it down handily.
Feeling they had pressed their luck sufficiently, they hefted the bodies and retraced their steps.
Mackle was sobered, but impressed at their efforts. He gave them 50 crowns, and promised 100 more if they’d return tomorrow and sort this out once and for all. They made preparations to do just that, including Orthric procuring a barrel of devilfish repellant…