Rowen opened the east door, but it was empty this time. At least empty of wererats. It did have some kind of sewage channel, and evidence that filthy creatures had camped there until recently. After a quick search we moved to the south door. This one was also empty of rats, but did have a closet, a staircase leaeding to the surface, and some creepy construction methods that made the moaning noises we had noted previously when the wind blew. The final door to the north led to a larger room, containing a pool of sewer water and a giant snapping turtle. Just one, not four, and no ninja rats. The turtle talked, and in fact had a lot to say.
It was friendly, and called itself Mahra. It had seen wererats and captive children moving around the sewers. It felt trapped in this chamber by the porticullis to the west and its own size (ten feet across at least).
It offered more infrormation and aid if we could free it by lifting the gates blocking the exit, which it claimed were operated by a steam engine or mechanism of some kind. We tried, and failed, to lift the gates by force even when riding on its back (with which young Thomas was especially pleased).
Circling around and heading north where we had previously encountered the wererats, we instead found the place empty. There were two small rooms with nothing of note, and a larger one with a set of two valves that could be adjusted. Both valves began in the up position. We spread out in a line so keep an eye on the large porticullis, while I operated the controls. Experimenting with turning the right valve to point west raised the large porticullis, releasing the turtle, who was appropriately grateful. He told of seeing wererats carrying kidnapped children some time ago, but they did something to lower the water levels and descend to a lower level of the sewers with their captives. The turtle mentioned overhearing talk of a shrine they could not manage to open, perhaps locked behind some manipulation of the controls. He also warned us of a wererat with all white hair, their leader; a woman, perhaps a cleric, wielding a flail of some horrid poison or malign enchantment; and finally of a huge rat, even more giant than a giant. If we can gain entry to the shrine, the turtle said there would be baubles there.
Turning the rightward valve to point east did… something… and unleashed a horde of rats from somewhere to the south. Mahra was an absolute rat-killing terror, u-Heury and Stria held their own on the front lines, and my canoe sailed into range soon enough to contribute a few stones and arrows. We did lose one hired man, and another broke and fled; but with no-where to go the latter may return to use once he realizes he is alone in the dark. If he does, I will convince Stria to let him live, if I can.
With the rats defeated, we will return to our study of the valves, primarily the leftward one. Our dwarf seems convinced these are the work of his people.