Secrets of the Cult of the Rat
 

Donovan, Reporter

UP: Great Lakes

    Several days ago, I was approached by a man who claims to be a member of the organization known as the Cult of the Rat. This group of rogue mages has caused much trouble of late, most notably at the Demonic Temple on Fire Isle, and when the city of Wind was besieged for a short time. Here, I present an interview with this man, whose identity shall be kept secret to protect him.

Donovan: Letís start from the beginning. Just what is the Cult of the Rat? What is its purpose?

Cultist: From what I know, the Cult was formed after a small group of close friends was banished from Moonglow, for pursuing ďforbidden studiesĒ Ė whatever that is. The name was chosen on a whim, by the first leader of the group. Iím not sure of its significance. The purpose, then, was simply to continue the study of summoning magics, without the aid of Moonglow.

Donovan: This changed?

Cultist: Yes, the original cult ran out of resources, to continue research. The avenues of study had also broadened, as several other exiled mages, especially from Wind, had joined the group for mutual protection. I was one of those that joined around this time. That was when we met Marcus.

Donovan: Marcus?

Cultist: Yes. Marcus was a mage who is said to have had powerful connections within Moonglow. He offered to pull some strings there, to see if he could get the group sanctioned again by the Lyceum. For a price, of course.

Donovan: What was that price?

Cultist: To kill a messenger bound for Yew from Minoc. A certain group in Moonglow was preparing for war with another group within Nujelím at the time, and the message was important to Nujelím, apparently. Most of the elder members of the group attacked, but the messenger hid in an Orcish fort. For some reason the Orcs decided to side with him, and most of the Cult was slain in the attack. All of the original members were killed, though we did finally get the messenger as well. So far as we can tell, Marcus didnít follow up on his end of the bargain.

Donovan: The next thing we know of the Cult was the incident on the Isle of Fire. What happened?

Cultist: We were desperate. One of the few remaining members revealed another course of action. She had been studying Demonology, and, several days before, had made contact with a powerful demon which identified itself as Zeznes. We accepted the Balronís patronage, knowing that it was a matter of survival. The Cult flourished under the guidance of Zeznes, and we started to attract dozens of new members, some even leaving Wind and Moonglow to side with us. Eventually, Zeznes gave us a tome which contained instructions on how to summon a Balron to Britannia.

We agreed to summon Zeznes when he instructed, and made preparations. When he said it was time, we took a day for preparations and most of the cult went to the Isle of Fire to perform the ritual. Before we began, we summoned a small army to defend us while we worked. Once we started, somebody must have noticed, as the temple was invaded. We thought we succeeded in the summoning, but it had failed. I lost a lot of good friends there. Only a few of us managed to escape.

We tried contacting Zeznes, but he had stopped speaking to us. So, we set about trying to summon him again. Unfortunately, we had lost the book that contained the ritual. A contact within Wind told us that a similar tome could be found there, but it was well guarded. We staged a distraction outside the city, but we didnít manage to get the book in time.

Donovan: Rumor has it that you were the ones that attacked Marcusí escort, as he was being taken to Nujelím for trial.

Cultist: He was being taken to Nujelím for execution, actually. We thought that perhaps Zeznes had stopped speaking with us, because we had fallen out of favor with him. We knew that Marcus was wrapped up in this business with a Liche in Moonglow, who reputedly had a demonic master. We gambled that Zeznes hadnít told us everything, and that he was behind the Liche all along. We thought that rescuing Marcus would get Zeznesí attention, and get him to start helping us again.

Donovan: Did it work?

Cultist: No, but weíve a few more things that we can try.

Donovan: Such as?

Cultist: I suppose it doesnít matter any more, does it? Well, I donít know why, but our current leader, Diestria, has ordered us to track down the members of some Pirateís crew. Thatís underway now.

Donovan: Where is Marcus, currently?

Cultist: He has joined us.

Donovan: Arenít you bitter about him betraying you?

Cultist: I am. Thatís why I left the cult, and am telling you this. However, Iím in the minority. Other than me, Diestriaís the only member left alive that remembers what Marcus did. I donít pretend to guess what sheís thinking any more.

Donovan: Thank you for coming forward with this.

A note to the reader: As this article goes to press, several attacks by the Cult have been reported. In each case, they have kidnapped a suspected Pirate. Those missing are identified as:

Wick the First-Mate, who has been out of work for some time, and was taken from the den along with five others, during a large attack.

Captain Darian, who was kidnapped, after he went ashore west of Minoc, to meet a buyer for an old map. Darian, until recently, was the Quartermaster on the ship ďThe KrakenĒ, before he found service in the Nujelím fleet. Wick also served aboard.

Rick and Wilbur, brothers, where both sailors native to Buccaneerís den. Theyíve served on many ships, usually together.

Yethrop is known to have served under Captain Diego. An Alchemist, he specialized in the creation of exploding potions for use in boarding action. He also served Diego by testing the potency of reagents for resale on the black market, in Buccaneerís Den.