Children of Netherhearth
Confronting the ratkin leader
The three of you gathered near one of the sluice gates along with Stanley and the two soldiers, Cole and Lareth, who had agreed to accompany you. Caitlin and Magda performed rituals on the group that would help protect against the freezing water. Then with a last poignant moment being watched by most of Netherhearth’s population, the six of you plunged into the river.
The current carried you past Deepknoll and along to the cavern wall, but not before Grindle’s poor swimming caused her to be spotted by some slingers near the river bank who injured her with their stones. Under the cover of the rain that falls at the same time each night, your group then made their way around the cavern wall. Your passage was interrupted by a couple of skirmishes, one in which you took down a pair of ratkin simultaneously riding and feeding on Bessie the cow, and another in which you used a surprise attack to defeat a wretch that was despoiling a cabbage crop with its controlled rat swarm.
Eventually you reached the river that passes by Calcott, now a slow-moving trickle of green sludge. You made your way beside it back towards the razed village. Reaching its outskirts, Grindle carelessly triggered the collapse of a roof drawing the attention of the nearby rats and ratkin. These specimens seemed to be somehow corrupted by the green glow themselves, as their eyes were now iridescent and green, and they moved sluggishly. Nevertheless, they attacked viciously and their sheer numbers soon had you trapped in a crossroads between the dwellings.
Realising you couldn’t escape, Leo shot a lightning blast in the air to signal the viceroy, and shortly afterwards Quill managed to trigger the Skystone briefly flooding the cavern with its bright dayglow. All around the cavern, the ratkin ran screeching for the shelter of the caves. The green-eyed rats and ratkin nearby were stunned into inaction by the light, allowing the group to race towards the village centre. Waiting for them there was the ratkin leader, a seven foot tall brute with two heads and four arms, and wearing a swarm of rats like a cloak that seemed to act as an extension of the leader itself.
Combat was joined, and despite the leader’s preternatural toughness, it was soon battered and bleeding. Perhaps thinking to take advantage of the leader’s wounded state and to overwhelm it with her necrotic cloak, Grindle approached. Unfortunately, the leader took the opportunity to impale her with its spears, leaving her gasping and dying on the ground at its feet. It then covered itself entirely with its attendant rat swarm, now in a state that would limit its mobility but undoubtedly give it improved defences and new offensive options. Around you, the rain continued to patter into the green sludge polluting the village square, as the temporary dayglow from the Skystone flickered uncertainly.