The Devil's Burden

Rats in the Woodwork

23rd January 1610

Though Brother Laguna and Jacob Silversmith would have dearly loved to have helped Sir Robert Lewisham in his quest for his missing daughter, the two decided the pursuit of the shadowy figure behind Brother Helyetic was the more urgent concern for them. Having made this decision they parted with Sir Robert and left for Plymouth to seek passage on a ship bound for France.

In Plymouth they discovered there had recently been a spate if murders in the Docks area and they swore to do what they could to catch the killer. The murders had started not long after a local witch had been hung. Each night after that another body had been found floating in the harbour waters. The two wanderers volunteered their services to the town watch and decided to help with their patrols through the night. In the course of their patrol they came across a mugger fleeing the scene of his crime. They confronted and battled the thug in a back alley and then cut him down when he tried to escape. The injured man was turned over to the watch to be dealt with.

In the final hour of their watch screams were heard and following these the Wanderers discovered a house had been broken into and in the front room of this house were the remains of two bodies horribly torn apart. They then discovered there had been a child in the back room but there was no sign of her body – she had been taken by someone or something.

The Wanderers followed a trail of blood that led to an open grate to the sewers. They lit a torch and then bravely descended into the murk to pursue the villain. In the sewers they survived a swarm of rats and discovered some kind of lair where the ‘monster’ had obviously eaten many of its victims. Bodies and skeletons of dog, cat and man were to be found here. Not too much further in the Wanderers discovered the source of the killings: a monstrous vile rat the size of a small horse. The child was curled up in its lair behind it.
Brother Laguna let fire with his pistol straight at the thing but the shot did nothing to stop its attack. A ferocious battle ensued with both Brother Laguna and Jacob Silversmith having to call on their sense of righteous rage to slay the beast. The two were sorely tested but amazingly escaped without serious injury. The child was rescued and the Wanderers emerged from the sewers as local heroes. And the mystery of the monstrous rat was solved: the witch’s gibbet hung above the grate the rat was found under. As she had died she had cursed the people of Plymouth and cut her wrists – the blood had been lapped up by a rat and it was this that had created the terrible monster that had plagued the town.

Now the Wanderers have found passage on a ship they will set sail in only a few days for France and further adventure . . .


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