Rat Catcher Lore
I know, I wear the stench of the sewers on me, and my face and form are harsh to look at. I see how the folk stare at me, and I hear what they whisper in my wake. There's only one tavern in all this city that will take me and my esteemed brethren as patrons - we're thrown out of the rest. There's filth beneath my fingernails, but I assure you, my heart is clean and pure. I can handle the derision of others, for mine is a high and noble calling: I am a Rat Catcher, and I and my brothers stand as the guardians of this great city. Our noble deeds are never seen, and our work is never done.
Every day we don our candle helms and heavy gloves, and we descend into the dark below, crawling through sewer, drain, and basement in pursuit of our prey. Every day we risk our health and our lives for the good of all, that the people of the cities may live without fear of disease and hunger. The simple folk may mock us, but they do not understand. The names they call us don't bear repeating here in public. And yet our work must be done, so we do it gladly. Indeed, our commission was handed down by the High King Cambruin himself! You scoff, but go and read you the Chronicles - you'll find it there writ plain.
In the days after his coronation, the High King marshaled his mighty army, making ready to carry the great fight to the treacherous Elves. Bardulph of Brellamere was one of his champions, great was his glory, and many reckoned him the strongest and bravest in all the Shining Company. Mighty as he was, Bardulph was also surpassingly modest. He lived for service, not glory - thus his name has been forgotten by so many of the common folk. Bardulph yearned for the coming war, yet battles were not to be his fate. On the eve of his departure, Cambruin took Bardulph aside. "You shall not go with us to war," Cambruin said, "but do not despair, my loyal Champion, for you shall have an even higher calling. You must remain here, and see that nothing evil lurks within my blessed city. Be ever vigilant: let no spy or beast creep into our out of my city until I return. You must stop even the lowliest rat in the sewers below! For if disease or treachery should take this city in my absence, then all my victories on the field of battle will be for nothing." Cambruin asked Bardulph if he would accept this mission, and Bardulph readily assented.
So loyal was the Knight of Brellamere that he adhered to the very letter of his High King's command. Bardulph fixed a lantern to his helm and went down into the sewers, driving out the rats and other beasts that dwell below. Others joined him in his mighty crusade, and soon brave men in other cities followed his example. As Bardulph sacrificed his place in song and story to serve the King, so we sacrifice our dignity for the good of all. We are mocked and reviled by the people we serve, but we have never forgotten our high calling. Without us, the vermin would eat all stores of food and the people would starve in the winter. It was our order who first discovered that rats carry disease, and thanks to our efforts the great plagues of old are almost unknown in the age. There are rats in the depths of the sewers who can strip the flesh from a man's arm in ten heartbeats, great rats the size of dogs who would steal children from their cradles. They would eat all of us out of house and home if not for our efforts. But we hunt far more than rats. Skrell, lurk in the sewers, cunning and evil, their numbers steadily growing. There are things worse than Skrell, but I will not speak their names, even by daylight. Ours is a calling that takes strength, skill, and courage - I'd like to see a Knight crawl through half a mile of filth and plunge into a Skrell den! Once you've walked in the dark long enough, the lesser vermin of the sewers will come to know you, and will fear and respect you. Folks what live in the sun don't understand us, they never will, and they'll never thank us neither. It's no matter.
Time to bid the Sun goodbye, for my traps are waiting. Vermin, make ready! The Brothers of Bardulph come for you!