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Chapter 17: Smoo Talks

Chapter 17: Smoo Talks

Attorosi was in a foul mood. It paced back and forth, thinking. The attack party it had sent out to the Avernum Trilogy Forum had failed to kill the humans. Somehow, they had used magic to escape. Worse, when it went to see the results of the ambush for itself, Attorosi discovered that not one of the humans had been killed. So far, its plan to eliminate the humans was failing.

But the situation was still looking good. There were no humans remaining in the forums below the Blades of Avernum one, so they'd conquered that much already. It had scouts in the rest of the game forums, and so far initial reports indicated that they were clear. Plus, more rats were being summoned every minute.

The one thing that was frustrating Attorosi was the lack of information. It didn't want to have its rats blindly rush the humans in an attempt to kill as many as possible. Rather, it wanted to target the most dangerous humans--the leaders, the magic-users, the inexperienced adventurers who could miraculously defeat much stronger enemies--first. Once they were dead, the rest could be killed much easier. Sending in rat scouts was slow and inefficient. Attorosi wanted the human it had captured to talk.

Attorosi wrinkled its nose at a sudden stench. What was that from?

A white rat popped its head into the cavern. "The mung rats from the Avernum 4 Forum are back. They're, um, ready to report to you."

"Then send them in," Attorosi said.

"Right." The white rat disappeared. A moment later, several mung rats scurried in. Attorosi shook his head to clear it. Every single one of the mung rats smelled unbearably nasty, even to a fellow rat. They were covered in grime, filth, and some sort of green ooze.

"What did you find?" Attorosi asked.

"Oh, it's clear. I think. It's really dark in there, so it's hard to tell," one of the mung rats said.

"But you must have found something. You're covered in it," Attorosi said.

"Yeah, we found a wonderful pile of trash and other filth. There was a really big cockroach and some smaller ones in it," another mung rat said.

"And how did you respond to the cockroaches?"

"They weren't rats, so they must have been allied with the humans, plus they were preventing us from rolling in the trash heap, so we chased them down and killed them."

"You killed them all?"

"I think so. A few of the small ones might have gotten away, but we got the rest. The big one's exoskeleton made it too tough to eat, but the little ones were really tasty."

Attorosi thought for a moment.

"Blight of Humans?" one of the mung rats asked.


"Some of the other mung rats wanted to go and roll in the trash heap as well. Can we show them it?"

"One of you can. The rest will come with me. Step out of the room while you decide, so I can have a moment to clear my mind."

When the mung rats were gone, Attorosi resumed pacing. The mung rats were certainly a good deal more unpleasant now, but they were also much more useful. Now they could spread disease and terror among the humans. And he had a more immediate use for them, too.

All but one of the mung rats re-entered. "We've decided," one of them said.

"Good. Follow me." Attorosi led them out of the cave and towards the spot where Smoo was kept.


A Giant Intelligent Friendly Talking Roach named Filth Finder scurried through the lowest level of the Avernum 4 Forum with as much trash as he could carry. As he approached the nest, he called out in a high-pitched voice, "Garbage Gatherer! I'm back with..." He stopped short and dropped the trash with shock. The nest had been completely destroyed. A few nymph legs were scattered around it. "No, no, it can't be. Where are the others? Where's Garbage Gatherer?"

A live nymph edged into his view.

"Sewage Spotter! Thank goodness! What happened? Where are the others?"

"There were big furry things! They came and tore the nest apart and rolled in it! I hid. Mom and most of the others ran that way." Sewage Spotter pointed down a tunnel.

Filth Finder scooped Sewage Spotter onto his back and scurried down the passage. "Garbage Gatherer? Children? Answer me!"

Occasionally, Filth Finder passed another nymph leg. Finally, two live nymphs scurried to meet him.

"Dad! Dad! What's going on? There were these big hairy things with beady eyes and fangs and claws and scaly tails! They attacked us! I saw them get Carrion Chewer and Muck Muncher! It was... they were..."

Filth Finder sighed heavily. "I know. But you're safe now." Filth Finder set them onto his back as well and continued down the passage. He found another two nymphs, and then three more in a similar manner. Finally, Filth Finder stumbled onto Garbage Gatherer's body. A nymph pulled on one of her antennae.

"Wake up, Mom. Please, wake up," he pleaded.

Filth Finder carefully put the nymph on his back. "She's not going to wake up, Grime Grubber." Filth Finder's whole body quivered with grief. "Those beasts! They've killed my mate and most of my children. How could they? How could...? Enough of this. The Spiderwebbers have to know about this. And maybe, just maybe, they can clean up this whole mess. Hang on, children."

Filth Finder sprinted towards the Announcements Forum as fast as he could.


Back in the Blades of Avernum Forum, Smoo was not coming any closer to escaping. He had twisted and rubbed the ropes, trying to fray them or get a knot to come undone, but the only result was severe ropeburn. He had tried reasoning and pleading with the guards, but they ignored him. His wounded leg was really starting to bother him. He suspected it might be getting infected.

"Look, I know you aren't supposed to talk to me, but you've got to do something about my leg. It needs to be treated. If I die, Attorosi won't be happy," Smoo said. He gagged as a foul scent reached him.

"I can heal you, but only if you give me information." Attorosi appeared, backed by a wererat and several mung rats.

Smoo watched (and smelled) the mung rats apprehensively. Still, he worked up enough nerve to say, "Never!"

"Very well. As much as I'd love to see your face chewed off, I still want you to talk. So chew off whatever else you want, mung rats."

The mung rats sprang towards Smoo. There was nothing Smoo could do. He closed his eyes and waited. Just before the first one bit into him, he changed his mind. "No, wait. I'll talk!"

"Stop!" Attorosi said.

The mung rats halted instantly. Smoo opened his eyes cautiously.

"Thank you, mung rats. Please leave us," Attorosi said, "But stay within calling distance." When the mung rats were gone, Attorosi turned to Smoo. "Now, tell me, do the humans have any way to cure disease?"

Smoo hesitated.

"Don't make me call the mung rats back," Attorosi warned.

"Y... yes, there's... there's..."

"I'm waiting."

"There's a cabinet with curing potions," Smoo said reluctantly.

"And who made those potions?"

Smoo hesitated again.

"Leave anything out or lie to me, and I'll have the mung rats on you the moment I find out."


"I see. Is that all?"

"Ephesos and Nioca can cast curing spells."

"Anything else?"


"Good. Now, is there any way you humans can be brought back to life?"

"Any of the mages can summon elements, and Zorro can combine them with Galactic Core to revive people."

"I see. Who are the mages?" Attorosi asked.

"Randomizer. Zephyr Tempest. Zeviz. Archmagus Micael. And Drakefyre," Smoo said.

"Is that everything?"


"Tell me about yourself."

"What?" Smoo asked.

"You heard me. Start talking." Attorosi poked the wererat beside it. "And you, pay attention."