Taenaran and I arrived in Southport two weeks ago. We sailed in on the trading vessel, The Battered Ram. To be frank, I am not terribly fond of boat travel. I prefer the grounded nature of getting around on horseback. But, such as it is, getting here would have been difficult any other way. Now, winter has decided to take hold and the waterways leading here have frozen over. We won't be able to book passage out for several months. That should leave plenty of time to gather information from the locals and investigate the surrounding area.
We found "accommodations" at the Axe Barracks for… an appropriately low rate. I am unsure of the prospect of financial gain in Southport, so best to conserve what funds we have. The porridge at the Axe is passable. I've certainly had worse. The day manager, Minye, has been tending well to our needs. Though, there was an incident due to sanitary conditions that I shall detail a bit further below.
We've been holed up in a room at the Axe with three other interesting characters who have now become new traveling companions.
Oritan, a magic user, appears to have a touch of the divine in him. We've not spoken much, though I feel he may have some insights into the gods that I am not privilege to.
A bard, Ajairu, seems a nice enough sort. I've heard her spinning tales at the Minstrel's Shield. I must say, they're entertaining. I am perplexed, however, for she seems to be a local. Yet, she stays in this run down barracks? Odd. I would think she'd have some other residence within Southport. She has connections that may prove useful in securing uncommon wares, though. Best to keep on good terms, I believe.
Bort, a rock man - short, stout, and powerful. He is an adept warrior, though seemingly lacks a strong intellect. That, or his command of common is simply weak. He doesn't look comfortable here. It pains him to stay confined within our room, much less the walls of the town. I sense his business here is urgent enough to endure the discomfort. Though, the nature of that business remains mysterious to me.
And now to the "incident". Earlier today, there was a commotion in the Axe. One of the staff, Teddy Schwarz, was assailed by a disgusting beast of some kind. Bort identified it as a "filth licker". This is the first time I've encountered such a beast. Or, perhaps better to describe it as some small, man-like creature. It had a ghastly tongue that could strip surfaces clean (and flesh along with it, as I found out quite quickly). They seem to feed on filth, which would explain their proclivity to the privy in the Axe. We dispatched the creature. And when I say "we", I mean Bort. The licker was hewn in two with his polearm.
It was a fortunate event (for us, anyhow) which presented a financial opportunity. Afterwards Minye offered us coin to clear out these lickers. At 10 gold a head, I am inclined to wipe out the lot of them.
Given the lickers' affinity for the unclean, the sewers in town presented a logical starting point for the hunt. After asking around, Ajairu located a convenient sewer grate near the docks. I couldn't quite decide which stench was worse – the salty, fishy, bird dung-laden air or the raw sewage spewing from this outlet. I was rather glad we had decided to purchase second hand boots before venturing forth.
The sewer tunnels were a labyrinth beneath Southport. I had heard some rumors that flows were backing up yet again. Perhaps the lickers had assembled a nest of some kind that was responsible for this obstruction. Regardless, without a map of the underground maze, the path of lowest flow seemed to be the best bet to guide us. We traveled in that waste for at least half an hour, I'd say. Far too long.
At last we came to a juncture. A widened chamber presented us with three options to continue. Above, a sealed maintenance port led to the street level, but we lacked a ladder to ascend. Truthfully, we lacked a great number of supplies that would have been wise to pack.
As I was inspecting this exit to the surface, we were attacked by large rats. The largest I've ever seen. Despite their size, we quickly killed them… only to have a swarm of smaller rats overtake us. It was clear they were too great in number to slay individually. I was readying a torch to hopefully disperse the vile rodents when Bort pulled a flask from his pack. After he hurled it towards them (and me, coincidentally), I discovered that the flask was filled with acid - since it began eating through my skin. I was able to quickly forget that feeling, though, as the pain of dozens of rat bites was the last thing I remember before losing consciousness.
Taenaran's healing magics roused me back, and I awoke to find Bort carrying me through the tunnels. We were retreating back to the Axe. It was a sound decision. Clearly, we were not prepared for the ordeal. However, before turning in for the night, Ajairu and I tracked down the maintenance access to the sewer from the street level. At the very least, if we enter from there, we'll have one more ready exit through which to flee should things go awry again.
Tomorrow, after securing some additional supplies, we will set out once more into the filth. I shall see if this stay of the Lady's judgment is to last for long.