The adventurers set off the next morning, and soon found a dead horse and rider along a wooded stretch of road. Judging by the arrows in both bodies, they were killed by the same orcs that the party had battled the day before. On the body was a crumpled letter, dated a week old.
Our heroes arrived at Dunross to find that the town was under quarantine due to a rat infestation and accompanying sickness. Alewine presented the guards with some persuasive words (and a persuasive handful of coin), and the party was given access to the town.
The party found the town crawling with rats. Luckily, not all of their patron’s flour was lost. While Attis set about loading the sacks into the cart, the rest of the group did some investigating around town.
In with speaking Mayor Umbuld ap-Rutger, they discovered that the dead rider’s message was intended for Baroness Hausman, the governess of the city of Aslov. From the local priestess of Eostre, the learned that the rat plague was supernatural in origin – someone (or something) was summoning or controlling the rats somehow, and the priestess’s power to influence animals was having no effect on the vermin. The village healer warned them of the potentially deadly disease carried by the rats, and one of the local rat-catchers told them that the rat problem had arisen approximately a week prior.
Back at the granary, the Master of the Granaries informed the party of another wagon that had come from Dalsetter just over a week ago, and entirely cleared out its patron’s granary. The wagon team was led by a man named Otto Edmundsunu. The group decided that this man needed to be investigated upon their return to Dalsetter – from the timeline, it appeared that his patron may have been involved in the instigation of the rat plague.
However, just as our heroes were finalizing their plans and Attis was loading the last sack of flour, the village erupted in screams as hundreds, thousands, millions of rats began to pour over the western wall, covering the village in a greasy, writhing mass of fangs and fur. Amongst the horde were dozens of dire rats, vicious creatures the size of wolves. Alewine urged the horses into a run, and the group made a break for the gate as fast as they could. Naga hacked away at the dire rats clamoring up the side of the cart, and Jarnefelt pulled as many villagers to safety as he could, while Attis did his best to keep the cargo from bouncing clear out of the cart.
They reached the gate in time to see the guards tipping barrels of oil into the streets. Alewine snatched a torch and tossed it into the oil, setting the rats ablaze. They escaped Dunross as the flames caught the wooden structures of the village, and on the hill just outside town they watched as the village exploded into flame, the inferno fueled by the oil and flour dust that had saturated the village.
The air was thick with black smoke and the scent of burning fur.