Way below the maddening crowd and perpetual light of a magnificent seaside casino row, down the pipes and under the streets, but most importantly, above all suspicion, laid the Playground of the Sewers, safe haven of all rodents, mollusks and insects, the marvelous pinnacle of both mechanical and social engineering: Ratlantic City. At a cozy T-junction in the primary waste pipes, “where the Blessing always flows,” built from ingeniously recycled materials it stood, proud and strong. We could also well argue that it was a flourishing place where all kinds of shunned creatures lived in peace and harmony, for that’s what the advertisements and official Rat-o-Police reports always said, but then, you see, we’d be lying. Badly. Because Ratlantic City was the cradle of filth, rotten to its core. Well, literally.

But let’s not jump to conclusions too early! A rat’s life is a hard one. Hiding, scavenging in the dark, never warm, always wet, always hungry. You can live with the swarm and become nothing but another mouth that feeds, or try your luck alone, only to discover how irrelevant you are under the bootsies of this cruel world. A terrible fate for sure! But then came the City—and changed all that! For a brief moment in the history of the Sewers, the light of hope shone ratiantly. A rat named Artus LeBlanc united a group of daring adventurats and claimed Drain Falls from the clutches of a terrible monster, the Albino Rat-Snatcher.

It’s common lore in the Sewers that monsters tend to know what’s really good for them, and thus kind of cling to it; take something from one, and you can bet it will be good for you, too! They also say LeBlanc could only face this abomination of nature because he was an albino himself. Again, one may occasionally wonder how the lack of pigments in someone’s hide renders him capable of defeating a three-meter long alligator, but the theory definitely stuck and gave a very powerful tool into the hands of LeBlanc’s descendants.

You must be thinking “We’ve deviated from the topic” now, but really, we haven’t. For Ratlantic City was founded on the great waste piles and stone islands beneath the heights of Drain Falls, and as the valiant story of the Rat-Snatcher’s demise spread, it quickly became a hub for all creatures seeking refuge and safety in this harsh underworld. LeBlanc and his comrades organized the constructions and kept the peace. He was as wise as compassionate and powerful: he knew that survival depended on each and everyone’s unique skills and abilities, be them a stranded rat, a mere slug, or just a fellow cockroach. And thus, Ratlantic City rose, and it prevailed day by day, grew and prospered as the years passed, its renown reached far and its influence brought a better life to many a place in the gloaming Sewers. But, alas, as time goes, so must other things. LeBlanc grew old, and one day he simply disappeared, vanished into the darkness whence he once came from. Some of his fellow Adventurats and his two sons, Hector and Algernon carried on his legacy, but eventually the City succumbed to a monster far more terrifying than the old Rat-Snatcher: Greed.

To be continued...

Written by Aliza Wenders

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