Mounds of refuse by the side of the alley are live with maggots, squirming through the putrefying flesh, and flies are everywhere. A mound shifts and a pair of beady eyes look at you, unafraid, then the rat scurries off, blood damply streaking its sides.
The Tanneries of Akorros
are unpleasant places for the human and humanoid workers and visitors, but one animal which is right at home is the rat. The process involves a lot of waste - scraps of flesh which still adhere to the skins and need cutting off, the fat and hair follicles which have been scraped off after the urine bath which loosens them, discarded bones, horns and hooves, trimmed edges of skin, discarded udders and other parts unsuitable for turning into leather.
Most of these end up in the vast refuse pits to the south of the tanneries, bubbling and suppurating with clouds of flies and crawling with maggots, and this is a great hunting ground for the rats as well. They scurry back and forth, picking over the scraps and scurrying back to their nests with mouths full of choice scraps for their young.
They always don't have to go as far as the refuse pits. Even in the best-kept tannery yards scraps end up in corners, and not all the tannery yards are so well-kept. For the lazy worker, it can be very tempting to just sweep them out into the street or a nearby alley, providing the rats with forage nearer to their nests. The ground beneath the yards, softened by all the run-off from the different vats, offers good digging for excavating nests and extensive networks of tunnels. These allow the rats to come up in almost any of the yards or buildings they choose, to disappear beneath the ground and come up again tens of yards away.