AD&D - New World

65.3: Mildred the Rat

mildred searches for forbidden knowledge...

In the dead of night, Mildred skulks off as a rat into the druid’s quarters at the inn. She peers into the room turning back into her mongrel self, scanning the sleeping imbeciles. How her new companions had managed to drag along this dead weight halfway across the Underdark in one piece, she’ll never know. In the darkness she spots Maeve, and she removes the druid’s cloak as she sleeps. (Mongrelmen have 70% pickpocketing for some reason, rolled a 37!)

She quickly wraps the cloak around her and turns back into a rat, scurrying out of the room and out of the inn into the streets of the city.

After roaming the gutters for an hour two, skittering and twittering at her fellow rats, she is pointed in the direction of a rat named Mimbo, who the other rats say runs the streets. Who the other rats say knows magics.

Before long, she winds her way through allies until she sees him: a large, girthy, grey rat with a gold tooth, sitting on a pile of wet trash. His posse sniff at the air in all directions, and they notice Mildred before she can enter fully into view. The big grey rat looks at Mildred incredulously.

“Be you, Mimbo?” Mildred says in ratspeak.

“I be Mimbo,” says Mimbo, and he belches loudly. “I run the streets. I know magics! I am mighty, smart, and I smell bad! I am — MIMBO!”

Mimbo’s possee cackles gleefully and crowds around Mildred.

“Show yourself! You smell — different.”

Mildred shuffles forward, with a reserved confidence. “I am different. As you are, so I’m told. This is why I seek your knowledge.”

“Tell me, where do the drow priests dwell? Or better yet, the ones they call druids. Have you heard of such folk?”

“Dru-ids?” says Mimbo, leaning forward taking the measure of this new creature. “I have heard of them, from the other-rats. The ones who serve the squid-heads. They dwell far away from this place, in the fields and forests of mushrooms. The drow priests are everywhere. Follow the spiders — but not too closely.”

Mimbo sniffs at Mildred more intently.

“You have heard of Mimbo, but Mimbo has never heard of you. What are you called? Where do you come from? What do you bring me, as tribute?”

“Mildred thanks you, Mimbo. But Mildred bears no tribute. I have traveled long and far, you see…I have no mound of trash to call my own. And so I venture on, should you and your rats allow it.”

The rats around you gasp and mutter — No tribute! No tribute? No tribute!?

Mimbo goes apoplectic. “N-N-NOOO TRIBburrrrpUTE!? Bring it’s fore-teeth — to Mimbo!

The rats descend upon Mildred. She is bitten, clawed, and kicked with hind legs.

In the chaos, a white tail is thrust out to you and you hear a chittering voice say, “If you want to live — grab my tail!”

Just as Mildred is ready to turn into a menacing bobcat, and gobble up these nasty rats, she hears the voice and sees the tail. She juts out her little rat paws and flails, kicking back at a frenzied rat face for leverage. She is free! But who is she holding on to?

The white rat leads Mildred out of the fracas — they do not seem to notice she’s gone. They continue to fight, bite, and tear, with Mimbo egging them on.

“Those idiots,” says the white rat, leading Mildred down icky, stinky tunnels. “And Mimbo is the worst. They say he was a drow once, but was transformed into a rat by some old vampire. Been an animal so long he’s gone mad!”

A slimy tentacle reaches out for them from out of the goop.

“Whoops — look out for the otyugh!” says the white rat, bouncing and leaping out of the monster’s reach.

After several minutes, the white rat stops in a cozy, dry cubby.

“I know you’re not one of them,” it says. "But I also know you’re not one of me. I’m a were-rat in service to the illithid. But you — what, you’re a wizard, maybe? Someone powerful and beautiful? Asking about drow priests — so you must know that this city is about to erupt in violence and blood as the nobles turn on each other.

“So tell me: which priests are you looking for? The spider’s, or the wolf’s?”

“Oh, I do love spiders,” Mildred says, surprised that she said it. For a moment she remembers a beloved friend from a far away life.

“I would not say that I am beautiful, no. Hee hee. And not as powerful as I need to be.” Mildred struggles to keep up both physically and in conversation. Nobles turning on each other? What does old Mildred care?

“Yes, yes. The city is in chaos. So I must speak to the priests of the spider. Can you take me to them? Are the others like you in service of these priests?”

“Me? Work for the drow? Nonono,” says the white rat. “My masters lie in wait, building their power. The elves who live above are so very proud of this mud ball — won’t they be surprised when we take it from below!”

There is a gurgle from a nearby stream.

“Ah! Our lucky break.”

The white rat hops onto a lumpy, floating body that is floating past.

“This way! I can take you to the spider-priests. I’m assuming you have some kind of information to trade, of course. Anything really — something that will interest my masters.”

“Thank you! You are too kind!” Mildred hops onto the body and hesitates before jumping across.

“I do have some information, that might be interesting to you, specifically. You see, there is way out of your predicament, working for those illithids. All you have to do is join me and companions. And we will take you out of the Underdark forever. No more slavery, no more mind games and manipulation. You could lead a new life, away from this rat race. Hee hee.”

Mildred does not wait for a yes or no. “Think about it! Now what was your name, deary?”

“Why would I want to leave the Underdark? Or the service of my masters? It is my sole purpose in life! I am Ingressio, shadow-captain of the third guard!

“Though your … companions sound most powerful, indeed. Who are you, and where are you from?”

“I am called Mildred. I come from the Chaos Storm in the land above. My companions, who knows where they come from originally? I’ve only just met them, really. But I think perhaps I knew them in another life? That is what seems to be the case, anyhow! Hee hee. It’s all very confusing.”

“Well, if you are happy, Ingressio, then forget I said a thing. I would say that I owe you my life, but that would be untrue. Mimbo’s rats owe you their lives. I was just about to turn into a cat when you showed up! How serendipitous! Thank you for offering my your tail in a time of need.”

“Can I find my way to the priests from here? Are there any rats that work for the priests? Or will I be dealing with spiders?”

“Spiders and snakes,” says Ingressio, “but yes, you can probably find your way from here. Be careful — Mildred, of the Chaos Storm.”

Ingressio leaves you near a pipe that leads upward into a temple. You emerge in what seems to be a funerary room — there is a body on a stone slab, fresh from the smell of it, of a female drow. She is being attended to in what appears to be a ritualistic fashion by three other females. They are dressed in black robes and they work silently — anointing the body with oils and cleaning the corpse’s hair.

On the walls there is visible spider icongraphy carved into stone. Some of the spiders have the face of a female drow.

There are no other rats you can see or sense.

Mildred turns into a snake. She then watches the ritual to see what happens. She really has no idea how she’ll communicate with the priests from this point on. But if a moment presents itself, she will attempt to speak to one of the priests in the language of snakes.

“Holy one. I come from lands afar ssssseeking the lore and power of the sssspider priests. Thisss of courssse is not my true form, but I cannot sssspeak the Drow tongue. Can you teach me your waysssss?”

One of the priestesses moves to cut Mildred’s snake-form in half — but one of the others stops her.

“Hold your blade, sister. This could be a boon.”

“It could be a trick,” says the violent one.

“Even so! We can learn more through patience.”

She kneels down and speaks the language of snakes back to Mildred: “If you would learn our ways, sssslithery one, you musst first earn our trussst. The Ssssisters of Lolth have many enemiesssss. Would one of your power prove your worth to ussss?”

“Yesss, of courssse. What would you have me do?”

The priestess regards Mildred for a moment — starts to speak, catches herself, then resumes.

“The mistresss of House Tormtor would move against usss. She profanes our city by worshipping a falsssse god. Desssstroy her.”

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