In a dark and creepy basement, three people were sitting at a table. Even if outside, the sun should have risen, here nothing indicates this information. They should have been four, but the last member of their group didn't answer their letters or their convocations. And while the three humans were quite angry with the missing dwarf, they really need him at that moment. He was the only one that has real experience fighting ratmen. But the seat was desperately staying empty. At this sight, the Mayor Graeme Sorrel Tyne lightly sigh.
"I guess the Guild Master will not come. Did any of you have any news about his whereabouts since the beginning of this crisis?"
"No, not a thing, when I failed to save his daughter, every time I try to contact him or even visit him, he doesn't answer. I am not even sure if he is still inside the city."
"But that would have been impossible for him to escape, my magicians never saw him leave, and they were very vigilant for the past months."
"I trust your words, Archbishop and Great Magus. But I am not certain of the abilities of those under your supervision. They have let at least one plague master of the clan Decar enter Ronta and even an assassin. The last information was not verified, but if in the worst case it is one of those Green Claws, we probably will need to change the location of where we rest quickly. No, even if it is not those dangerous ratmen, we need to move tonight."
The words of the Mayor make both of his interlocutors frown. They were not enjoyed to stay underground in the first place, and they both have important meetings outside. Mathews needs to be with the priests to improve the efficiency of the blessing of Aria. Aesseryn needs to check on the cure research. But Graeme didn't even let them go outside since the first patrol had gone missing. For him, if any of the three humans die, the city will be in total chaos. Lansco has lost a lot of prestige and trust from the populace, so his death won't be as impactful. But for the three reunited here, if even Lansco dies from the ratmen, they are in a huge problem. He was once part of the Iron Beards, the strongest army of the dwarf kingdom. His death will be the confirmation of a Green Claw roaming inside Ronta.
While they were all thinking, the door opened. A messenger brought some news to the Mayor and shortly after left the room. Both the priest and the magician were waiting for the content of the report. But Graeme was visibly agitated. Mathews, not wanting to stay here doing nothing finally asked the important question.
"What is the number of missing peoples?"
"They are currently checking and not sure but, apparently, at least more than fifty guards never emerge from the sewers. And after some confirmation, some were killed after pouring the bloody blessing inside the sewers. That had absolutely no effect on them apparently."
The bloody blessing was the common name for the mixture concocted by the alchemists. Since the liquid had a red color and was created mixing a highly vaporous liquid with some holy water from the Church. The huge problem was the low quantity of holy water that could be created each year. Of course, every city has a huge reserve of those, stocked since the Portal War and after it. But even if the reserve is huge, it is not infinite and they have to only use it against servants of other gods. Because the moment they don't have it anymore, they lost their greatest weapon in the incoming war. Unfortunately, right now, it doesn't have the effect that everyone hoped for.
"We said it before and I will say it again, the bloody blessing is not useful against a small group of enemy agents like in this situation. Even if they breathe the gas produced by it, at best it will have weakened the ratmen. But they are still able to move undetected inside the sewers and kill the guards that don't have the support or a priest or a magician. Mayor, no magician or priest was killed, right?"
"No, you are right, Great Magus. They only targeted small groups that were patrolling. Some groups have managed to spot them, but after a quick battle where the human side lose some people, the ratman escape and no one can follow him. They are too quick. The attacks are apparently in the entire sewers. So either it is one ratman roaming everywhere or at least two to three of them. Quite frankly, I don't know what do to, I ask everyone to just stay outside of that trap today. We can't let them slowly kill us, one group at the time."
"Concerning the plague Aesseryn, did your alchemist manage to produce a cure working? Because my priests saved a lot of people yesterday, but they can't be everywhere and they don't are superhuman, they need to rest and sometimes, we couldn't save some children because they were too tired. We need that cure in the future."
"I know, I know. The moment someone finally manages to create the cure; you will see a happy magician walk past this door. But it is nothing like the precedent attack. Back then, only the weak children were affected by it while the sisters of the orphanage resist it easily. Here and right now, even some healthy young men have died. That's why I think previously it was only an apprentice of the plague master. And now, the master has come to end the job."
Following those dark words, everyone stops talking for a moment. That's everything they can do, plan something to try to protect the population and kill the ratmen. And wait for the reinforcements. An hour after dawn, a panicked butler arrived.
"Mayor, Mayor, the Guild Master is coming inside!"
"The Guild Master? You mean Lansco? Make him come quickly, he will reveal our position. Damn, we need to leave this place right now, let's see what he has to tell and leave."
"But he is right…"
The poor butler was ejected out of the way, and where he was standing, a proud and armed dwarf can be seen. Wearing an armor made of the steel forged inside the Mountain Heart. Infused with mitrhil by the runesmiths of the Everlasting Peak. Equipped with a sharp axe, a stable and solid shield. Armed for a war. A war where only the strongest will survive. Some dust can be seen on it, proof of its old age. But that vision shocked all the humans surrounding him. Wearing a helmet protecting his entire face and even his beard, Lansco begins to talk.
"Mayor, Great Magus, Archbishop. I have seen from my window the assault that you made yesterday. Even if I am optimistic, I am afraid that you already lost some guards, right?"
At those words, the Mayor quickly nod.
"As expected, you humans have forgotten what is the strength of the ratmen. Shadows, assassinations, poisons, plagues, avoiding direct contact at all cost. You dare enter a world filled with darkness and hope that you will catch one of those monsters. Bah. Stupid and foolish idea. If those knights of yours Mathews were here, it would have been successful. But only local guards? That's sending them to their graves. By now you are out of options, except wait?"
The two men and the woman lower their head because the dwarf question was right on the spot. They were really waiting for the reinforcements.
"You are hiding underground, while your men are dying outside. I get the idea, if one of you three dies, the city will be doomed. But that's not the case for me. I have a revenge to take. So keep doing what you want, I will personally put an end to this madness."
"Lansco, Lansco, stop! You can't face them, there is an assassin, you didn't hear his speech?"
"Graeme, don't worry, I heard it. But for you to believe a ratman is a mistake. Even if he said the truth, which I doubt, you have to consider that they are triple the amount. Only in that way, you will have a chance. As for that assassin, well if he is really here, we are all dead. Let me take a few of them with me."
And without even wasting time, he quickly left the Mayor, the Great Magus, and the Archbishop. And the poor butler that didn't wake up. They were all very worried about the dwarf. While he is very strong and no one will say the contrary, they are all scared of what will happen when he really meets the ratmen. In the end, only Mathews speaks.
"We have to get out of here. We have to survive; we need to find another hiding place. Graeme, where are we going?"
"East, under the brothel, there is everything waiting for us. And don't look me like that, a brothel is a respectable establishment and they have happily proposed their services to us. And I accepted, I mean who will expect us three to hide in the basement of it?"
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