or “Say, didn’t you kill my brovver?”
or “101 Uses for a Festering Pustule”
We rejoin our merry band of valiant psychopaths as they cough and splutter through the gaseous contraction of the Green Pox. As they fall victim to the deadly plague, their quarry flees. Immolatus (the only one who can read) remains in the surgery to find any evidence against the doctor and, more importantly, any cure. The rest of the party dash outside to inquire of innocent passers-by of the doctor’s residence, only to be told (with slightly odd looks) that they had just emerged from it.
Fortunately, Immolatus’ eagle eye spots a clue—a piece of paper on which is written:
This preparation is to be mixed with ten parts water. It proved most efficacious in curing an outbreak of Green Pox in the Cursed Marshes near Marienburg some years back. Prescribe this is to the lady and her son and any other afflicted members of the town, but I suggest you administer a placebo to her husband in its place. The bereaved often heed the council of their comforters—and a noted side effect of this potion is a suggestible frame of thought.
You are right to be concerned about the attentions of a prying Sigmarite. Perhaps suggesting that he look to threats near Hugeldal to his god’s great Empire might provide you with the opportunity you require?
Once this happens you must convince the lady to move quickly to ensure the mountebanks are prevented from further retarding the growth of our healing arts. Then I will send a pupil of mine to instruct you on what to do next. Due to our need for secrecy, he shall arrive as the leader of a travelling show once our stage has been set. Consult him for further instructions.
Your good friend, F.
At last, a lead—a pity it seems complete gibberish. Reading between the lines, our heroes (cough, cough) race off to the city gates to see whether the Strigany might be able to give them some information. Passing through the gates they check with the friendly arsehole guards whether the Docktor has left town. There has been no sign of him, so must still be inside the town. Hiding, shaking with fear, the perfect prey…
Wandering through the Strigany caravans it becomes clear the gypsies are in the process of packing up to leave. A saucy (i.e. annoying) wench (i.e. complete bitch) by name Nayda, who had previously spoken to the party when they arrived, leads them to the most decorated caravan. Their leader turns out to be a wizened old crone sitting in a curtained alcove called Lyubitshka, who takes Torus’s money and gives him no useful information whatsoever apart from some vague fortune-telling (little realising how close she somes to being slaughtered and her caravan burnt to the ground). Perhaps our protagonists are learning a degree of subtlety and restraint. As Torus leaves the caravan in disgust however, she does reveal that she sees the name ‘F’ in his future…
Passing back through the gates and into town, at a loss as to how next to progress (short of burning the town to the ground and seeing whether the doctor tried to escape, which seemed a bit extreme even for our noble adventurers), the band is approached by guards from the household of Lady Agnetha von Jungfreud, bidding them to her presence. As that was an option already in their thoughts, they unusually agree to comply with the requests of authority and follow the guards to an audience with the Lady.
At the manor they present Lady Agnetha—somewhat afflicted by a cough herself—with their evidence, which although not convincing her of the doctor’s evil plans and the innocence of the Shallyan priests certainly starts doubts festering in her bosom (appropriately enough, given the pox festering in theirs). They leave her calling for her men to find the doctor.
Recent exertions have stressed their diseased bodies to the extent that Torus begins to break out in festering pustules, most notably on his hands. Fortunately, the suspicions of Lady Agnetha had not been aroused by hacking coughs and croaky throats, and pustules remained well hidden in pockets.
Once again our band is on the streets and at a loss. They decide to break into two; Torus and Yuri head back to The Bucket of Blood inn and Immolatus and Grudge go to find the Imperial Engineer mentioned by the innkeeper. Dividing is, of course, a poor idea. While Torus and Yuri stroll without upset to their destination, Immolatus and Grudge find themselves in a dark alley beset by crossbow wielding brigands whose leader’s physiognomy leaves their intended victims in no doubt that he is the brother of one Tarwin Fleischer—the bandit that the adventurers had killed on their approach to the town—and that he and his ill-visaged companions are not there to make small talk.
A close-fought battle ensures, with long range crossbow attacks doing significant damage to Immolatus and some pretty average axe-work from Grudge leaving him exposed to damaging blows from both his opponents. Ultimately, though, the terrifying effects of supernatural fire attacks (an exploding bandit head is the highlight) and the gruesome effects of a large mass of iron cleaving through heads leave two of the assailants dead, one running and the other on his knees spewing his guts up (repeatedly and forcefully). At which time Torus and Yuri arrive, with classic good timing.
The remaining thug is more than happy to spill his proverbial guts as well, disclosing with little prompting that the mastermind behind the attack was none other than Gudrun Ensslin, the innkeeper at The Bucket of Blood. The next destination of the band should come as no surprise…
At the inn, the vomit-ridden form of the defeated bandit quickly convinces Ensslin to usher the adventurers into a private room. Surprisingly, the group lets the bandit go. Are our adventurers slowly developing a sense of moral values? Or was it just the pox affecting their normal bloodthirsty view of the world? Whatever the reason, it seems that some definite socialisation change is occurring.
Ensslin reveals to them that Doktor Verfullen is hiding in the cellar below the inn, and that, in an attempt to maintain his monopoly of trade in Ubersreik, Ensslin had entered into a conspiracy with the Doktor. The latter provided him with blankets infected with Green Pox which Ensslin then sold to Strigany pedlars. The Strigany seem to have been unafflicted however, and Ensslin found himself vulnerable to blackmail when events escalated to the bandit attack on the Shallyans. Ensslin is happy to do whatever the adventurers want, who seem to be prepared to accept this, and show no immediate intention to disembowel or otherwise eviscerate the poor man.
Of course, subsequent events are to show that there is no such moral rectification and that the adventurers are just as sick as ever…
Downstairs, the Doktor realises that his refuge can just as readily be a prison. In desperation he stands, with the ‘antidote’ for the Pox held high, threatening to smash it to the ground. Calling his bluff, the heroes attack and grab the vial before it can be thrown.
The doctor refuses to respond to questions or to co-operate at all, so in keeping with the bitter doctrine of ‘an eye for an eye’, Torus bursts a pustule into the Doktor’s mouth, forcing his jaws closed and making the terrified man swallow the liquid, poxy death. In the background of this horrific scene, the innkeeper is heard swallowing deeply and no doubt mentally reminding himself not to get any further on the wrong side of these extremely anti-social individuals.
However, such acts are not without their consequences. Somewhere, the Plague Lord stirs and casts a diseased and baleful eye upon the world—each of the adventurers feels his skin crawl … but it is only Torus who suffers the corrupting influence of Nurgle—this time.
Obviously today is the day for gut-spilling, as the doctor quickly discloses that:
- this is the last batche of the ‘antidote’ in his possession, and he has realised to his horror that it isn’t actually an antidote but merely suspends the disease (the adventurers blithely mix and consume all the remaining powder, leaving the good doctor to succumb to the Pox without the aid of medical science);
- the Doktor does not know how to make the ‘antidote’—he was sent the doses from a Dr. F in Ubersreik;
- he does not know who Dr. F is, but has merely been taking instruction from him;
- his rationale for causing and then curing the Pox is to discredit the Cult of Shallya and prove the superior efficacy of medical science.
That night the innkeeper gives the adventurers his best room, where Yuri and Grudge miraculously throw off the effects of the Pox entirely (Yuri quite violently, at the cost of some damage). Doktor Verfullen is left in the cellar, with a number of barrels over the entrance, to cogitate on the errors of his ways and the terrible consequences of malpractice in the Old World.
The next day the group emerge from the inn to find the town in a quite a turmoil—three brightly coloured wagons, from one of which emerges a festival tune, have arrived outside the gates of of Ubersreik, just as the Strigany caravans pull away. Could these be the possible lead that the adventurers have been seeking? Pushing through the crowds, they come to the cavalcade. One of the entertainers gives his spiel and then he and the other entertainers start setting up for their impending performance. However, when our Heroes ask the entertainer who their leader, he tells them they have no leaders. Helpful…
Frustrated once again, the party returns to the inn to plan another method of attack. And to drink a lot.