After receiving news that the Burrows Rats were trying to overrun the city proper, the party decided – reluctantly – to dive into the belly of the beast. Hurmanus seemed the most reluctant, wondering aloud what the group had to gain by taking such a dangerous diversion, when they already had so much to do. Leif seemed more interested, at least in the promise of a reward, and Brek was quietly curious about the origin of the undead menace. Catsparrow, new to the group, seemed to think that Leif had the right idea.
They made a brief stop at the Smelter’s guild, speaking with Wallace, a leader of some sort. Wallace curtly informed that for the good of the city, he would “detonate the Hare-Lip” at the end of the cycle, unless the Butcher were defeated.
And so it was in a conflicted state, and with a halting gait, that the party made their way downward, to the barricades on the Hare-Lip, into the Burrows.
Not only did they negotiate their way through a dangerous barricade between nervous guards and desperate Burrows residents, but thanks to some judicious use of the mind-weakening Goldenroot salve, they also acquired the services of two city guards, Biggs and Porkins.
The Burrows themselves were labyrinthine and disorienting, difficult to traverse. The party encountered hunched figures in ones and twos, scurrying by.
Eventually, the party found themselves out in the open, and set upon by a group known as the Jagged Smiles, led by a poxy, scarred youth by the name of Smiley. Surprisingly, the party avoided violence, and intimidated their way past the street gang. They even managed to acquire some directions toward the supposed source of the undead scourge.
A rough slide down a tunnel, a tumble, and a dangerous skirmish later, the party found themselves on the literal precipice of a horrific sight.
Bodies, partial and whole, delivered to a giant pit by undead servants, and tossed in like so much fodder. Down below, an illuminated rope bridge suggested that the party reached their destination, for good or ill.
Like seasoned veterans, the group made their way down the side of the pit, toward the bridge. Leif took a moment to destroy an undead servant that had spotted them, thus preventing an alarm. Catsparrow spotted and disarmed (somewhat – with Leif’s help) a trapped, ironwork door.
And then, suddenly, even awkwardly, they stood face to face with the Butcher from Below, a short, older, unimpressive-looking man whose marred face betrayed his vocation.
A tremendous battle ensued. Even as the group charged the Butcher, monstrosities swarmed from all corners. The Butcher himself, pierced by magic, spear, sword, and arrow, fell into the maw of his own creation – a strange, unliving mouth rooted in the floor of the room. It enfolded the Butcher like an anemone, drawing him downward, and leaving the party to face the frenzied undead that remained.
The party made a hasty search of the lair as they fled the growing menace, looting a chest that glowed with gold. They fled across the rope bridge, locking a door behind them, and bursting out through a shed: into – suddenly – the open air of the cliffside.
Their packs were heavy with looted coin, their weapons bloodied, their bodies sore. They were alive, the undead menace crashed against a locked door behind them, and they had perhaps half a cycle to end the Butcher’s reign before Wallace detonated the Hare-Lip, killing thousands in an attempt to save thousands more. The Latreus guards, high above, barricaded the Upper Crust.
Hurmanus wondered again whether this was their fight, their problem. And this time, the rest of the party was quicker to hear his side.