Returning to the Adventurer's Guild, the party spoke a bit more to Kaneza. They learned that she was an ex-adventurer who had retired after slaying an adult Blue Dragon, the very same whose skull sits in the guildhouse's display room. "Vammu the Regarded" had run a slaving empire to the south of Kaneza's hometown of Majula, raising an enormous bejeweled pillar upon which he could perch. Kaneza's party slew the creature, but she was the only one left alive.
After a rest, the party received a response from Illokas, the demonologist and expert on portal magic they had queried. They were led up to his lab through the Wizard Citadel's school of conjuration, and for the first time traveled to another plane.
Illokas, who had set up a small, fog-shrouded island in the plane of Limbo, warned the party of entering portals without knowing what they are or how they'll leave. He also demonstrated how objects could be shaped in this realm of pure chaos through acts of will by suggesting the party create their favorite foods. (Uli managed to create a veritable buffet.)
Illokas expressed concern about the rift; he'd visited it a few times, and knows that the Far Realm do not follow any of the rules of the Great Wheel, the alignment of planes across a Good-Evil, Law-Chaos, and Elemental axis. As for a course of action, he suggested that he might transfer the rift to another plane, such as Arborea, the plane of Chaotic-Good and home to heroic figures that are resistant to corruption and eager to strike down evil.
When asked about the 'Great Cat' and told whatever it was had exited a portal to the Nine Hells about a century ago, Illokas suggested it could be a Rakshasa. Illokas himself is terrified of them; they are resistant to all but very powerful magic, deadly in combat, and like all demons and devils, difficult to harm without silvered weapons. Raksha typically chafe with the infernal heierarchy from which they were spawned, and seek to find a way to become the sole authority in a new sphere of power. Even Belial chimed in to Jade that he disliked working with them, and did not trust them. He also let the group know that demons and evils re-coalesce in the lower planes should they ever be killed elsewhere, so that it's possible for the same Rakshasa to return to the mortal realms with a vendetta.
The group departed, but not before mentioning to Illokas that Jade was contracted with Belial. The half-elf seemed very alarmed, and shooed the party out of his lab as quickly as he could. Yuna checked in with the sending stone, informing Natalia Volg of the possibility of a Rakshasa on the loose. She then spoke to Claire, who reported back the first hidden message from Giovanni: Isz had been apply the rift's energy to plants, making them grow at an accelerated rate. Kiri and her dwarves had secured the rift with a large garrison, and Jandar had spent most of his time in study before leaving for a day to visit the Keep again.
The party then took a notice board request to slay extremely dangerous rats in the Untouched, an area of Priem that had been evacuated and sealed off by a plague. The plague had burnt out, but groups sent into the old quarantine zone would end up dead or be forced to flee. The party fought their way through a large number of intelligent rat-men that used the dilapidated city to set up ambushes. They eventually came to a warehouse where they fought a swarm of sick-looking rats that coalesced into a single large entity. Ireni was bitten by the mass of rats and immediately began to look ill.
During the fight, a masked figure slew some of the rat-men aiding the giant Rat-King. After the rats were destroyed, one of the surviving rat-men surrendered. Upon interrogation, the ratman named Swik explained that after the "quiet ones" opened a box in the district, the plague had started, killing those that lived above ground but imbuing normal animal rats with incredible intelligence. These rats began to organize the ratfolk, who had always lived beneath Priem, into making weapons and conducting raids on food stores in the city.
The masked figure returned, but did not respond to the party when told to stand down from killing the cooperative ratman. The assassin turned hostile, hitting the party with paralyzing daggers and attempting to flee, but the party was too fast for them. From the assassin's body, they recovered a single tin coin with strange engravings. The assassin themself was impossible to identify; there was no skin on their face, and their body had been operated on and twisted beyond identification.
Swik explained those like the assassin were constantly trying to eradicate their rat-king. The party suggested they hunt outside the city, which they agreed to in exhange for being left alone. Swik presented the plague-box to the party, which was an unremarkable wood container on the outside but had a complicated glass apparatus inside, now partially broken.
The party had enough evidence to claim they had stopped the rat infestation in the Untouched, and were awarded their 1,200 gold bounty.
Limbo is chaotic, but not utterly incomprehensible. Illokas couldn't say the same for whatever is beyond the rifts…