|Official Name||Vile Rat|
|Common Nicknames||Vampire Rat, Ungruhn’s Rat (Elven)|
|Habitat||The Regalian sewers and parts of the poor district.|
The Vile Rat is a large and aggressive rodent endemic to the sewers and poor districts of Regalia. Standing between 5 and 9 inches at full maturity and boasting two vicious underbite tusks, this disease-ridden cousin of the Regalian Sewer Rat has been known to strike fear into the hearts of even the most accustomed sewer-dwellers.
The rodent was first recorded by an infamous Vampire, who was known to drink her victims to near death and then leave the bodies for her next meal to be lured by the screams. Sometime around 232 AC, the vampire returned to the scene of the crime only to find that instead of humans, a group of rats had begun to nibble away at the decomposing body. In her haste to shoo the creatures, she kicked one, only for it to uncharacteristically retaliate by turning and biting through her boots. Before she had a chance to react to the bite, the rest of the pack swarmed and began to scream whilst simultaneously attacking the woman's lower legs. She managed to escape, but not before suffering a menagerie of severe bite wounds upon her ankles and calves. Word of these large, beastial rodents spread quickly among groups of Vampires who roamed the sewers, who collectively decided to refer to them as “Vampire Rats.”
The term came from the mistaken belief that a strain of the dark disease had infected the creatures, giving them their characteristic lower incisors and tendency to feast upon decomposing corpses. This name was eventually replaced by the “Vile Rat” in 289 AC when scholars who managed to test their blood found no Vampirism strains inherited. The rats are now incredibly abundant throughout the dank sewers of Regalia, having a fast breeding rate and a high resistance towards infection and disease. Most who dwell down there are aware of the rodents’ threat, and will cease from approaching if they see a group of creatures huddled around a dead body. The implementation of the black market has only aided to increase their numbers, as the animals will eat through any unattended food and spices. Very recently, they have also begun to ascend above the surface to the darker and more desolate areas of the poor district. They are found much less commonly there, however, and packs of them are usually driven out by the lack of food and increased sunlight.
At first glance, it would be easy to mistake this creature for an oversized common rat. Standing between 5 and 9 inches at the shoulder, the rat is digitigrade and primarily walks on all fours, though they have been known to rise on to their hind legs to scream or groom. Both males and females are covered in a thick sable brown-to-black fur, with patterns seen only rarely and lighter colours even less. Despite their size comparable to that of a young kitten, their lacklustre colours make them easy to miss under the dim lighting of the sewers in which they inhabit.
Upon closer inspection, these seemingly normal looking rodents don two incredibly large lower tusk-like teeth, which span from the lower jaw to just below the end of the snout in an obtrusive underbite. Their upper teeth sit behind the lower set and are much smaller, though are equally as sharp and used primarily for latching on to their prey or chewing flesh. Aside from teeth, these creatures’ second most notable form of defense are their claws, which can grow to be almost two inches long and provide incredible traction whilst climbing mossy sewer walls and skin. They also produce a signature scratching or scuttling sound, which can be quite loud and is useful for warning others of their presence.
The vile rat is an incredibly hardy animal, being able to survive solely off infected and rotting meat if this is all that is available to them. They are known to carry a host of widespread human diseases, most notably Mind Rot, without suffering the effects of them, making a bite from the rat a very serious injury indeed.
Despite the common theory being that the rat was infected with a strain of the dark disease, the actual origin of the species is not far off. The vile rat mutated from common sewer rats who began to build their nests deep down into the untouched caverns of the sewers, eventually becoming affected by the Void conduit that is the Seraph graveyard below. It is unknown how long it took for the rats to evolve in this manner, but the handful of demonologists who study the creatures theorize it may have taken several years - and that they may be continuing to become more vile in the undiscovered caverns to this day.
While the creature does not require Void energy to sustain itself as the mutations are primarily descended through genes, it thrives in the darkness and wherever it can consistently feed on meat. As a result, the only place it has been known to survive currently is in the Regalian sewers. This, and being a very new species in Aloria, means there is very little variation in both appearance and characteristic of the rodent.
Life Span and Development
The life span of a vile rat is still relatively unknown to the beings of Aloria, with very few scholars willing to venture into the sewers to document the creatures. They have been known, however, to be very resilient, and it is thought that they will live well into their fifth years if provided with suitable quality of meat.
There is no specific breeding season for the sewer rat. They will mate whenever food stocks are high and eligible females are available, mating solely within the confines of their packs and relying on the group to provide protection. They do not form partner bonds or families beyond that of the pack. Vile rat pups are usually born in litters of between five and eight, and are cared for by only the mother until they are deemed old enough to aid in hunting at around 3 months of age. By 10 months, they are considered fully mature.
The vile rat is renowned throughout the sewers for its food aggression and colonial tendency to swarm when threatened. Regardless of size, the animal has been known to defend its meal to the death, going so far as to chase possible threats over half a mile whilst nipping continuously at whatever exposed parts of flesh it can get to. They have been said to share a hivemind connection comparable to that of bees, with each rat following one another instinctively in order to remain together. If one rat feels threatened, the rest will empathize that emotion without the need to communicate outwardly, swarming whatever thing or individual they deem to be a threat and only ceasing once it is well out of their territory. The animals are relatively harmless approached alone, only gaining their confidence and fearsome nature through the packs they form. Despite this, it would not be wise to try and approach one as they rarely stray from the group unless to nurse young.
Territory and Groupings
Vile rats are strong pack animals, with a swarm being comprised of between 30 and 200 individuals in some cases. When separated, a lone rodent will rise onto its hind legs and emit a high pitched “scream,” alerting the misplaced pack of its presence and allowing them to reunite. Nests are often very hard to spot, being tucked away within small cracks and crevices in walls and often spreading much further downwards into untouched caverns. As a result it is hard to tell just how commonplace these vampire-like rodents are. However, unless actively tending to young, vile rats will keep moving in a circular fashion around known territories, scouring for food and only moving on if stocks are very scarce.
- It is a common belief the mental deterioration of a vile rat is caused by the rotting and infected flesh they are commonly seen feasting upon.
- There was once a Kathar said to have assimilated themselves in to a pack of vile rats. Rumor tells that the animals would share a home with him, and attack any individual that dared to enter their territory, making very fearsome guards indeed.