Dec 30, 2022

Burrow of the Ratman, or My Feeble Attempt At Doing A 1E Rat-Themed Adventure (part 3 of 4)

(Part 1, part 2)

So, hopefully this will be last post in this "series", and we'll finally wrap things up. It's five in the morning here and I woke up two hours ago, but anyway!

(UPDATE: the previous paragraph is - yet again - a bloody lie, which you will find out at the end.)

This time we'll continue with our WHYs for questions 4-8, and we'll still use "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens as our main source of random lines, and I don't know why I'm writing "we'll" like this is some sort of educational text, but anyway!

  1. Why the bird statue?
  2. Where is the bird statue located?
  3. Where are the rats?
  4. Is a vampire commanding the rats?
  5. Where is this place located?
  6. Is this place old?
  7. Why hasn't this been plundered years before?
  8. Where have the previous owner(s) gone?

4. Is a vampire commanding the rats?

(637) "You must have been very slow about it, Jacob," Scrooge observed in a business-like manner, though with humility and deference.

The bird statue is, as stated in a previous question. It did it slowly, over a long period of time, convincing one rat at a time, till they finally unearthed the statue. But since the statue can't be killed easily, and only travels in mist form, and was created through shared blood (it contains half its creator's heart), I guess we can assume the statue is some sort of vampire, much like its creator.

4.1. Why is the creator of the bird statue a vampire?

(1617) The house-fronts looked black enough, and the windows blacker, contrasting with the smooth white sheet of snow upon the roofs, and with the dirtier snow upon the ground; which last deposit had been ploughed up in deep furrows by the heavy wheels of carts and waggons; furrows that crossed and recrossed each other hundreds of times where the great streets branched off; and made intricate channels, hard to trace, in the thick yellow mud and icy water.

The creator comes from a long line of vampires, a family history hard to trace, that reaches from the dirtiest city to the coldest coastline.

4.2. Why is the family history hard to trace?

(3011) "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. [...]"

Because all vampires in that blood line are made by three different vampiric spirits; one of the past, one of the present, and one of the future. Three bites during the same night. But the bird statue's creator is the last one to be made this way.

4.3. Why is the bird statue's creator the last one to be made that way?

(1487) He gave the cap a parting squeeze, in which his hand relaxed; and had barely time to reel to bed before he sank into a heavy sleep.

Because with each new vampire to be made, the window of past, present and future vampires shifts further along the time line, and after the bird statue's creator was made, the time window shifted beyond the end of the world; the point in time from which to draw the future vampiric spirit had ceased to exist, so three bites were no longer possible.

5. Where is this place located?

(2429) But there they were in the heart of it; on 'Change, amongst the merchants; who hurried up and down, and chinked the money in their pockets, and conversed in groups, and looked at their watches, and trifled thoughtfully with their great gold seals; and so forth, as Scrooge had seen them often.

Since this "series" is called "Burrow of the Ratman", I assume the place we're looking for is the burrow itself, and it is located underneath a busy stock exchange in a big city. But it's not the place of the creator, but rather the place where he/she/it/they buried the bird statue (as stated in question 2.2.), so I guess this means that the "Ratman" in the title refers to the bird statue?

5.1. Why was the bird statue buried below a stock exchange?

(2315) "Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask," said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit's robe, "but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. [...]"

The stock exchange building was once the home of the vampires of this bloodline, so the bird statue's creator had access to the vaults below (e.g. not belonging to the everyday business of the stock exchange). It could mean that the creator buried the statue a long time ago - before the stock exchange was founded - or that they could somehow walk freely and undisturbed in the building.

5.2. Why are the vaults not part of the everyday business of the stock exchange?

(2030) "A place where Miners live, who labour in the bowels of the earth," returned the Spirit.

It is an archive, where all records of the stock exchange is kept. The few people working there are called Miners. The archive is in fact partially part of the vampire's old archive, so there are multiple tomes kept there that hasn't anything to do with stock exchange, locked away and/or hidden from plain sight - or just not interesting enough to be messed with.

5.3. Why are some of the tomes not interesting enough for the Miners?

(9) I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade.
What little information they might have seen through the years is just regarded as horribly outdated. It even happens that some of the not-so-locked-away tomes have been used as fireplace fuel during really cold days.

6. Is this place old?

(2885) "On which," said Bob, "for he is the pleasantest-spoken gentleman you ever heard, I told him. [...]"

Nobody wants to talk about it, it seems, because whenever the issue comes up, everyone involved will change the subject to something more pleasant.

6.1. Why doesn't anyone want to talk about how old the stock exchange building is?

(3133) "I'll send it to Bob Cratchit's," whispered Scrooge, rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh.

Because there's an old rumour going around, that anyone making such inquiries will be sent far away, to an unnamed place not meant for men. "Bob Cratchit" has become a code word for when you want to warn someone of speaking further of something, lest they suffer some ill fate.

6.2. Why has "Bob Cratchit" become a code word?

(1026) Suddenly a man in foreign garments: wonderfully real and distinct to look at: stood outside the window, with an axe stuck in his belt, and leading by the bridle an ass laden with wood.

Bob Cratchit was a woodworker that lived just outside town some hundred years ago. He lured away people to his cabin in the woods and made short work of them with his axe. After his death, people started using phrases such as "Be nice, or I'll send you to Bob Cratchit!".

6.3. Why did Bob Cratchit lure away people?

(2772) "If he relents," she said, amazed, "there is! Nothing is past hope, if such a miracle has happened."

Bob was making human sacrifices to a wooden idol he had carved himself. It had told him that when enough sacrifices were made, a miracle would happen.

7. Why hasn't this place been plundered years before?

(420) There was plenty of width for that, and room to spare; which is perhaps the reason why Scrooge thought he saw a locomotive hearse going on before him in the gloom.

It was believed to be haunted by strange apparatus, phantom in nature.

7.1. Why was it believed to be haunted by strange apparatus?

(1602) "Touch my robe!"

Robed and hooded folk - like the bird statue creator - had been seen entering and leaving the place for as long as anyone could remember, which led most to believe that a wizard did something to the place, like installing magical traps or steam-powered mechanical beasts.

7.2. Why would a wizard install traps or steam-powered mechanical beasts?

(1536) This idea taking full possession of his mind, he got up softly, and shuffled in his slippers to the door.

Because it is what occupies all wizards' minds: concocting potions, snaring demons, building man-machines - but not being able to dress themselves properly.

7.3. Why can't wizards dress themselves?

(2946) Indeed, the Spirit did not stay for anything, but went straight on, as to the end just now desired, until besought by Scrooge to tarry for a moment.

They are always thinking about the next step, always on the run, always out on an errand - which means they have to take some shortcuts when dealing with mundane things; like clothes.

8. Where have the previous owner(s) gone?

(2447) "God knows," said the first with a yawn.

Nobody knows - but more importantly, nobody cares!

8.1. Why doesn't anyone care about their whereabouts?

(798) "[...] It isn't possible that anything has happened to the sun, and this is twelve at noon!"

People are busy as it is, and they don't care about their whereabouts since they don't fathom that anything could've happened to them - because, why would anything happen to them.

8.2.Why are people busy as it is?

(567) "I do," replied the Ghost.

The townsfolk have much on their minds: haunted stock exchange building, stories of Bob Cratchit (or his ghost!), rat swarms at the church, a strange mist that seems to travel every full hour... Also: the town mayor is rumoured to be a ghost, probably because he is so pale.

8.3. Why is the town mayor so pale?

(14) You will, therefore, permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Because the town mayor is indeed dead, and halfway in transit to becoming a ghost. Nobody knows this, not even himself. His death has nothing to do with the bird statue, the rats, the creator, the stock exchange, or Bob Cratchit though.

"Oh, are you still...writing"

It was all - yet again - a bloody lie

This post was intended as the last in the "series", as stated in the preamble, but yet again we don't really end up with anything useful or finished. We need at least a summary for all the facts, and a summary to summarise the first summary in a more prosaic way, and also a map if we find it possible using the two first summaries, and a retrospective to spell out all our FAULTS using this technique.

I'm sorry, I'll finish it real soon, I promise.

Until then!


  1. I love how atmospheric you've made this, and the details you've generated through random quotes.