When you’re alone and life is making you lonely
You can always go – to Plaguetown
The buboes are bursting and the ichor is dripping
When you go on down – to Plaguetown
You’re coughing like a madman and your phlegm is pretty icky
Your lungs are on the way out and your eyes are red and sticky…
Still in Stromdorf, Yuri visits the herbalist Hildette Krass, bearing a bunch of herbs and flowers, in an attempt to charm the spinster. Unfortunately he meets with little success or enthusiasm on her part. He does manage to broker a business deal of sorts, buying a selection of herbs and ingredients along with a written description of their uses, and the name of a herbalist in Ubersreik to whom he can sell these items—hopefully at a profit. He also buys writing materials, and on the trip to Ubersreik and at other times of leisure, he takes to sketching these herbs, and with Immolatus’s help, studying the notes, thus learning as much as he can of the herbalist and apothecary ways.
Torus has a drink with a noticeably more relaxed Arno Kessler, and enquires if he has ever heard any stories about one Lucidius Lavarar (Torus’s itinerant father). Kessler has heard rumours of the exploits of this character, and tells Torus that a relative in Marienburg once mentioned him as being in that area.
Visiting Klaus von Rothstein, they discover that since being informed of Lord Ascheffenberg’s desire to re-employ the adventurers, he has decided to travel to Ubersreik the next day to ingratiate himself further with the Aschaffenberg family. The adventurers learn that there is a rumour that Ubersreik is going to have its friestadt (free town) status revoked, and that there are a number of noble families currently jockeying for what could be the available position of new liege lord of the town.
Accordingly, the adventurers are engaged for the sum of 50 shillings (Torus haggles von Rothstein up from 40, requiring some slight intimidation by Grudge to make his point) to protect von Rothstein on the carriage journey to Ubersreik. The next morning—a bright and sunny day with a clear sky, as it happens—they leave Stromdorf with a small crowd cheering them as they leave the gates. The journey to Ubersreik is uneventful, and early the next morning the adventurers are dropped at the Red Moon Inn on the riverfront in Ubersreik.
As they walk in they are immediately hailed by the innkeeper, who informs them that have a message. It is from Lord Rickard Aschaffenberg’s manservant, one Leonhard Zauberlich, who informs them that he will be visiting the Red Moon over several nights in expectation of their arrival.
The spend the rest of the day buying arrows, flasks of oil and other such items. Yuri unsuccessfully tries to find the herbalist he was told about, and Torus fails to find any black powder.
That night Leonhard arrives at the inn and they all take their drinks into a booth, hidden from casual observation by a tattered curtain. Leonhard is a somewhat prim and proper character who nonetheless seems to be a regular of the Red Moon. He tells them, in slow and precise tones, that their services are required to pursue some extremely delicate enquiries in the mining town of Hugeldal, ten miles to the south. Aschaffenberg’s sister-in law (younger sister of his wife Ludmilla, a von Bruner) is the noblewoman of the town, and recently rumours have begun to trickle into Ubersreik that she has committed the unimaginable blasphemy of banning the priests of Shallya from her town. Aschaffenberg naturally wants this looked into with as much circumspection as possible, lest his good name be besmirched even further and his chances of possibly becoming liege lord of Ubersreik are ruined. Grudge suggests that perhaps his political rivals could be held responsible if such an accounting was necessary, but Zauberlich reiterates von Rothstein’s comments that Aschaffenberg is known for his geniality, sense of justice and nobility, and would not wish to besmirch the names of his rivals. Those names happen to be von Saponatheim and von Holzenauer, as Zauberlich reveals after some prompting by Grudge.
The adventurers are offered a gold piece each for this service, which they accept, receiving half upfront on the spot. The next morning they hire a wagon and driver, and head south out of Ubersreik towards Hugeldal.
About a mile from the gates of Hugeldal the wagon rounds a steep hill, cries are heard from up ahead, and suddenly they come upon a distressing scene of carnage and confusion. Five bandits have waylaid a wagon, and several Shallyan priests already lie in the dirt. An armoured warrior has been wounded and a bandit is stepping forward to finish him off; another bandit moves towards a gesticulating priest. On a wagon, a woman abuses another man for his cowardice. Three bandits stand in the treeline with crossbows ready.
Grudge and Yuri immediately charge towards the two bandits on the road, but are not fast enough to stop one of them from delivering the coup de grace to the wounded mercenary, and the other—a bald and psychotic-looking fellow dressed in black leathers—from grabbing the Shallyan priest and using him as a human shield.
Torus gets off the first shot, planting two arrows in one of the bandits at the tree line, but fumbling and dropping his short bow in his haste. One of the bandits fires and hits Grudge; another wounds Yuri. Immolatus fires off a magic dart and hits one of the bandits at the treeline.
Grudge chooses to ignore completely the fact that his opponent is holding a struggling priest in front of him, and aims a reckless cleave at the bandit with all his strength behind it, and miraculously manages virtually to shear the bandit in two without harming the priest.
Torus kills his first target with a third shot and the two surviving bandits at the treeline turn and flee into the forest. One surviving bandit remains, and he is quickly disarmed, tied up and—to add insult to injury—his trousers removed (according to Torus: “remove a man’s pants and you remove his dignity, rendering him impotent and highly visible”). He seems to know very little—even after being repeatedly prodded in the buttocks by Torus—only that he was hired by Tarwin Fleischer (the bandit killed by Grudge) and his twin brother Max (nowhere to be seen) to kill the Shallyans and make it look like a goblin ambush. He leads the adventurers to a nearby ditch where they find two goblin bodies, their ears cut off, wrapped in a tarpaulin. He then leads them down a trail (pointing out a tripwire-and-caltrop trap on the way) and to the bandit camp, now deserted. It appears that Max has taken their only horse and ridden back to Hugeldal.
Father Bram, the Shallyan priest, tends to the wounds of Grudge and Yuri and tells the adventurers that they were on their way to Ubersreik to complain to the authorities about their treatment. Grudge convinces him that he should let their group try to deal with the matter first.
The couple on the wagon are Strigany folk (Immolatus recognises their accent) accompanying the Shallyans to Ubersreik.
After loading the bodies (including the goblins) on their wagon, the adventurers continue to Hugeldal.
Hugeldal is a small mining town built against the rocky hills of the Grey Mountains, defended by a tall wooden palisade. To the left of the entrance gate is a small stone-walled Garden of Morr; to the right, a motley collection of brightly painted wagons arranged around several firepits, where Strigany folk are gathered.
At the gate are two guards, one of which—in between coughing, snorting, sniffing and spitting—points out a proclamation against the Shallyans posted by Lady Agnetha on the town gate:
By order of Lady Agnetha von Jungfreud, the Dowager Lady of the Manor of Hugeldal
Within the town of Hugeldal and its immediate environs the performance of Shallyan miracles is proscribed on pain of a fine up to 10 gold crowns, the threat of gentler tortures, and banishment.
Should you require medical attention whilst in Hugeldal please visit the former Shallyan temple hospice on Stossenstrasse where members of the most worshipful Guild of Physicks will minister to any and all afflictions for a competitive fee and to high professional standards.
The guard suggests the adventurers drop the bodies of the priests off at the Garden of Morr, which they do (keeping the goblin corpses with them, bundled up in the tarpaulin). As Strigany children gather around the adventurers pestering them for coin, the guard abuses them—and a passing Strigany woman—as ‘scum’, in no uncertain language.
The adventurers enter the town and their driver drops them off at the impressive half-timbered Bucket of Blood inn, on the town’s main square. Leaving the goblin bodies around the back for the moment, they go inside and are greeted by the innkeeper, one Gudrun Ensslin, who offers them a good room at a cut price.
Leaving the inn (and dragging the goblin bodies), they hear someone declaiming by the nearby town well. A young fellow is standing on a box and stridently abusing the Strigany folk, blaming them for the town’s woes and offering the public his inflammatory pamphlet for “only three pence”. Grudge stands in front of him, leaning on his axe, and makes a disparaging comment, and Torus demands one of his pamphlets and hands it to Immolatus, who makes it burst into flame in his palm. The agitator is somewhat intimidated and brings his harangue to an end, rapidly heading for the Bucket of Blood taproom.
Walking further into the town the adventurers come upon the Temple of Sigmar which is closed and has several groups of refugees camped on its front steps. A farmer grabs Yuri’s sleeve and offers to tell him a tale for a few brass. Yuri obliges, and the farmer tells him of pulling down some standing stones that were part of a stone circle on his land; of encountering a daemon, and of the pestilence spreading across the land and claiming his family.
The adventurers continue to the so-called Dwarf quarter—a street of stone houses—at the end of which is a man standing by a monument hawking his wares. It turns out he is a bounty hunter selling goblin ears as souvenirs and a cure for the Blacklegge. The adventurers confront him with the goblin corpses and then threaten him to reveal to whom he sold the bodies. He admits it was to Doktor Verfullen, for the purposes of dissection.
Continuing to the Docktor’s office, they find several people waiting for treatment. When the pretty young receptionist goes into the Docktor’s surgery, Yuri looks into his office and finds a dissected goblin. Yuri then goes into the surgery and his wounds are tended by Docktor Verfullen. When he is finished, the other adventurers barge in and confront the Dokctor with the goblin corpses (and their matching ears), and their knowledge of the Shallyan massacre. He tries to deny all, but the jig is up, and Torus can tell that he is obviously lying. At that moment he suddenly reaches for a glass jar on a nearby shelf and sweeps it into the room, where it shatters; a cloud of billowing green vapour fills the room and there is the sound of the window shutters opening and the Docktor escaping.
The cloud is a pestilential vapour which affects all four of the adventurers—they have all contracted the dreaded Green Pox!