The Tannery Rats - people
The Tanneries of Akorros are an unwelcoming, dispiriting place, everywhere off the main thoroughfares calf-deep in mud mixed with blood and urine from the vats, with a foul, malodorous miasma combining the smoke from the heating fires and skin-smoking huts with the acrid tang of the urea and faeces in the vats always curling round, clinging to clothes and skin. The Tanners themselves spend as little time there as they can, trudging in at first light, tending to the vats and the skins, and leaving as soon as their working day is done. In the back alleys behind and between the sheds, however, you can find families of unfortunates, unable to afford the prices of living in the city, huddling in lean-to shacks and beneath grubby canvas. They live off stolen scraps scraped off the skins, off the marrow of bones, off the plentiful rats running around the tanneries. They dress in sacking stolen from the yards or in skins stolen from the vats and floor their ramshackle dwellings with more stolen skins to keep down the omnipresent mud. Always on the brink of starvation, they are stunted, with stick-like limbs and skin and hair bleached a pallid white from all the noxious overflow they have to wade through, stained yellow in patches. Because of their colouring and the way they are only visible briefly as a pale form crossing an alley or ducking behind a shed, the tannery workers refer to them as "the ghosts", generally viewing them as benevolent spirits and doing their best to protect and look out for them (particularly since workers and sheds who have maltreated such individuals have found themselves targetted with the effluent as they walk about, or have found vats tipped up and the skins lying rotting on the ground). Everyone else names them after the rats which also infest the tanneries, so they are more widely known as The Tannery Rats.