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Chapter 3 - Looking for Answers, Minding Sons

General Summary

The evening and following morning are spent on visits of various kinds. In the evening, Basil takes a stroll to the Lucky Foot Inn - after months on the road, he feels awkward accepting Franz's family's hospitality, and now that he has some spending money, he'd like to take care of himself. The inn, according to Franz, is owned by a kobold who saved his life from the Plague by cutting off his infected foot and mounting it on the wall at his establishment. Whether this is a tall-tale or not, Basil never learns - when he gets to the inn, it is locked, shuttered, and dark - the proprietor, whoever he was, actually succumbed to the Plague months ago, and it - the only inn in town - has been closed ever since. Having no options, Basil returns to Franz's.   The following morning, as his guests sleep in after their ordeal the night before, Franz takes the opportunity to visit his friend Albrecht before returning home for breakfast with the remains of the supplies brought from the sacristy. The guests are roused, and Franz's mother Adele gently chides the foreigner Basil for sleeping in the raw at an unfamiliar house. As the meal concludes, Franz and his father Reinhardt ask Dietmar to take a look at Manfred - Franz's younger brother. The man lies still in his bed, emaciated, with sunken eyes and shrunken pupils - he has not moved or spoken since his own near-death from the Plague six months ago. Franz volunteered that Manfred had actually stopped breathing for nearly a quarter of an hour, and the friar, an experienced healer, had never heard of a person surviving such a trial. On the other side of a hastily set-up divide, the injured Cilly slowly rises and comes over to look at the stricken Manfred as well, and she is soon joined by a late-rising Reinhard the Scrivener and by Basil. As the healers inspect the pockmarks and discuss whether any sort of surgery or bleeding is in order, Basil studies the lines on Manfred's palm. With a studied expression, he announces that Manfred is cursed, likely out of jealousy. The illness, he continues, is rooted in love, but probably not the romantic kind.   The guests surround the elder Reinhardt, and begin questioning him about his son's past. The host confirms that his son was a normal boy who received attention from various maidens, but no particular name stands out as significant, and he is not aware of any enemies Manfred may have had - everybody liked him. Questioning Franz's youngest brother Rudolf provides no additional information - he mostly confirms what his father has said - Manfred shared no details of anything that may be relevant in light of Basil's diagnosis. Eddi, who arrives soon after a talk with her husband about disposing of some drapes taken from the sacristy, wonders if her family members may know something. The guests also query about Ruprecht, and Reinhardt replies that he did not know the man well outside of their duties - he mostly kept to himself.   As Cilly, Reinhard and Dietmar work to make the afflicted as comfortable as possible, the talk turns to what to do next, since no ready information on Manfred is immediately available. Most of the group wants to proceed back to Westweg to make sure the dead are not still running loose, and also to look in on Ruprecht's house once again. Eddi offers a few objections to confronting the warlock again, but is ultimately swayed by the majority. Reinhard, however, does have other plans. He wants to look in on his old teacher Ulrich, who may have some germane books available on the subject of curses. He departs for his master's old shop, while the rest proceed to the site of yesterday's conflagration.   Reinhardt first proceeds to Ulrich's shop, where the old man also maintained an abode in a small garret. The shop is boarded up, however, and a chain hangs across the entrance. Questioning the neighbors (after inevitably frightening them with his uniform), Reinhard learns that the shop was shut down when Ulrich was imprisoned several months, apparently because of malpractice. He remains in jail at the Rathaus. Hearing this, the learned doctor goes to the Rathaus, where he descends to the Rathskeller. There he finds several council members in attendance, including Irmel the Moneylender and Gereon the Weaponsmith (Wolff is apparently not in attendance). The former confirms that Ulrich is indeed in gaol for the poor services he performed during her daughter's childbirth. When Reinhard removes his mask and reveals his identity, he is able to convince the councillors to allow him to visit the prisoner in the company of Rolf the Warden, but for no more than a quarter of an hour.   Rolf accompanies Reinhard up into the tower, and allows him inside a cell high up in the spire. There Reinhard finds his master, unchained, and apparently free to move about the tiny space. Ulrich greets his protegé warmly, and begins by asking him about his studies, and the cause of his return. Reinhard talks briefly of his work with Arminius of Castronegro, and of his journey back to Wunschau amid earthquakes and plagues, and of his becoming a plague doctor along the way. Ulrich, for his part, talks about his study of the increase in monstrous births, and his prediction that this portended a time of tribulations ahead. He indicates that he warned Irmel that her daughter was likely to give birth to one such being, but the money lender didn't listen to him, and when his prediction came to pass, she naturally blamed him, and used her economic influence with the rest of the Council to have him imprisoned. Ulrich is quite philosophical about his predicament - he thinks the Rat will have no choice but to release him eventually, and in any case, being in gaol is actually a fairly safe place during the Plague's outbreak. So he is not really making waves - his main concern is the survival of the ruling Gerlach dynasty, and the Margrave Konrad - at a time of catastrophe, political stability is key. Reinhard asks whether Ulrich has any materials on hand that may help his companions investigate the doings around Ruprecht's sacristy and Manfred's illness, to which Ulrich says that he will petition the Rat to give his pupil access to his shop if Reinhard manages to get him some writing materials. At this time, Rolf knocks on the door, indicating that time is up, but Ulrich urges Reinhard to return soon, hopefully, to give him some good news.   In the meantime, the rest of the group makes its way to Westweg. About half of the vorburg is burned down, and most of the residents have abandoned it for the main town. After locating the body of the dead man that they felled in the street the day before, they ask around about the other dead man, who, as remaining neighbors indicate, was chased into a cellar, and was never seen to come out from there. That body is soon found, motionless, as was the first walking corpse. Though neither one seems to present any danger at the moment, the decision is made to dismember and burn the corpses, though Dietmar does offer some objections relating to the fate of their everlasting soul. But it's not clear where to bury the bodies, and what the risks are, so burned they are, after Dietmar performs the Holy Unction on them.   Then it's on back to the sacristy. Most of the structure has been burned, and only the front wall is standing. The trap door to the cellar is accessible, however. It is covered with ash, which may have been disturbed in the interim. The group proceeds down the ladder, and then pushes in the secret door to the crypt. Franz and Basil walk in, while Eddi positions herself by the door, and the others hang back in the cellar. Franz speaks up, and says he wants to talk, but Cilly, still in a great bit of discomfort about the previous encounter, sees a hand hanging out of the coffin, and blasts it with acid. As the body rises and the braziers flare up, Franz and Basil pour water on three of them. Dietmar steps up and brandishes his crucifix, and this time, he has better luck, as the two remaining braziers are extinguished, and seize up. Franz draws his sword, and as he bears down, Eddi momentarily distracts the floating corpse, and the Wachtmeister strikes true. Ruprecht's body tumbles back down into the coffin. He then decapitates it, and begins to dismember the corpse, while Eddi inspects the chain, adorned with a skull and two semiprecious stones for eyes that until a few moments ago, it wore around its neck. Thus distracted, no one notices when a flask of burning oil shatters around Basil's feet, and sets his habits on fire. The friar calls out for Cilly to help him, but she has now gone into the crypt with the rest. As Dietmar prays and rolls on the floor, a rat appears behind him, and miraculously, just missed biting him on the foot. Full of righteous zeal, the friar summons down a column of divine fire, and incinerates the creature, which first changes into a small, scaly, and winged humanoid, and then drains away into a puddle of goo. As the others rush in, Dietmar tells them that the creature is an imp - a demon that is sometimes sent to serve warlocks. In the end, and in contradistinction to their previous foray into the crypt, God seems to have smiled down on this group today, except in this one respect: they have vanquished Ruprecht and his minions, but they have learned no new information.   Franz collects the head, and the rest of Ruprecht's body, and carries the latter to the street, to be burned. This time, Dietmar offers no objections. Then, with the head and the necklace in tow, it's back to the main city to meet with the Bishop. They tell him that Ruprecht has been dealt with, and inquire as to the use of his scriptorium to search for volumes which may help explicate the present predicament. They also ask him for aid with their own wounds received in the process of dealing with the warlock. Udo agrees to grant the group access to the scriptorium for two days, but as for healing, he says that he is fully engaged in dealing with the consequences of the fire, flight, and injuries caused by the encounter, and that payment will have to be made to the St. Eugen's Cathedral in order to enlist his aid. He does offer to take the priory's reliquary as partial downpayment. The bishop also suggests that in light of their possible exposure to the Plague, it might be a good idea to quarantine for a while.   Having received at least one boon from the prelate, the main group proceeds to Franz's house, where they meet up with Reinhard. The latter informs them of his meeting with Master Ulrich, and also tells them that some areas of the city seem to be Plague-free (the gaol especially so), that the Rat is corrupt, and suppressed the origins of the Plague, but that they may soon have access to books and materials that will help them investigate those origins (over and above that offered by the bishop).   Taking up the bishop's suggestion, Eddi invites the rest of the group to quarantine in the shed behind her house. As they relocate, they make plans to study the head and its necklace closer.

Rewards Granted

  • Skull necklace on a gilded chain
  • Two-day access to the cathedral scriptorium
  • Possible access to Ulrich's shop

Missions/Quests Completed

  • Ruprecht and his minions apparently vanquished

Character(s) interacted with

Report Date
06 Oct 2020
Primary Location
Wunschau

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