The Captain thanked them for their out-of-hours work in the Necropolis – killing the murderer and his imp. However, he was less than pleased to learn they had forgotten to deal with the dire-rat problems down by the river/sewer gate and ordered them to lok into that first thing tomorrow.
The day before a guard dog belonging to one of the barge-folk had been killed but last night a homeless guy sleeping alongside the river had been killed and mostly eaten by the huge rats.
The Barge-folk were pleased to see the Watch (until Sir Ulysses of Adunhowe opened his big mouth!). Referring to the barge-folk’s exemption from City Tax because their boats remain a few feet out in the river, he snarled “Tax-dodging scum” at them (and a lot of racist abuse as many of them were Tieflings – including their matriarchal leader “Fiendish Flora”).
Despite Mulan’s diplomatic efforts the polite applause turned into mutterings of discontent.
Before the unrest grew to throwing rotten fruit, they unlocked the huge iron gate and entered the sewer. Large storm drains run along at this level with the steeper, narrower pipes angling down from the steep city streets above.
Inside, they used Abraham’s light spell (a pink glow cast on Ulysses’ axe) and trudged inside. There hadn’t been any heavy rain, so there was just a trickle of sludge and they mostly managed to stay to the sides.
After a few minutes they heard a disturbance – rustling and squeaking and then a pack of rats (some showing recent wounds) came scrambling out of the darkness. A swarm of normal-sized rats engulfed Ulysses and a couple of dog-sized rats attacked Abraham and Mulan.
The priest managed to sacred flame the rats a few times and he and Mulan finished off the big ones – Mulan fended them off with a Torch. Meanwhile the rat swarm nibbled painfully at Ulysses.
Suddenly they noticed what the rats had been fleeing from as a “bush” of startlingly bright green foliage dragged itself around a corner and crawled slowly towards them.
Mulan fended it off with a torch but then threw it and it guttered and went out when it fell into the slimy, wet mass of tendrils. The thing lashed out and seemed to do serious amounts of damage to the wall – it could have easily killed Mulan if it had hit!
Ulysses eventually finished playing with little rats and charged bravely (if a little foolishly) into the plant creature. It took his best hit and kept on coming, smashing him unconscious in a single blow. It kept a grip on him with its tendrils and began to squeeze the life out of him. Mulan leapt in to save him, dragged him out but then was knocked senseless as she tried to back out herself.
Abraham rescued them both by using a torch to drive it off and then using both his healing spells to bring them round.
They all lit torches and forced the creature back around the corner into a dead-end where one of the narrow pipes came down. There was a pool of bright green slime at the base of the pipe and some clusters of strange mushrooms. They burned the creature and Ulysses charged in to finish it off.
They emerged triumphant and Mulan managed to smooth things over with Flora and her barge-folk (although Ulysses is very unpopular). They tracked the source of the green slime to an Alchemist – the ancient gnome Ebenezer Sprackleroot. The gnome had been trying to improve crop yields, experimenting with potions of plant growth and tipping his failed experiments down the drain.
They eventually decided to let him off with a caution (easier than actually proving it was his fault) and they were given a few gifts of herbal soap and candles. Then things took a darker turn as Ulysses showed him some of the mushrooms. He identified them as massive versions of tiny psychedelic mushrooms. He admitted to sometimes using the tiny psychedelic ones for his own personal use. “Personal Use” is generally accepted in the city – but* selling drugs is strictly illegal.*
Ulysses then sold him one of the mushrooms!