Brash Young Fools
Boris was not ready with his pistol, neither was Karl ready with his crossbow and, needless to say, Victor had neglected to be on hand with his longbow either. I was forced to rely on my natural agility and exquisite skill with the blade to defend myself against multiple attackers until help arrived to somewhat even the odds.
The cultists were universally noxious and infected with some form of vile… vile infection, I suppose. During the fight I sustained a small cut to the hand which now appears contaminated with whatever disease they bore. Boris may have received a similar wound, but in all honesty it is hard to tell.
Time was clearly of the essence. A lesser man would have put his own personal comfort above the well being of the town and insisted on resting until such time as a doctor had treated the infection properly. I merely allowed time for basic first aid (it merits the Empire nothing if I forego all treatment and allow the infection to take hold) before setting out the plan of action – to return to the source and eradicate these cultists once and for all.
The cultists had little of interest or value (granted I was not inclined to search them closely) but an empty sack with traces of some filth suggested that this might not have been their first stop. On the basis of past performance, Karl hypothesised that they could once again have sought to infect the well,perhaps with something more sinister now that the Shallyans had been removed from the equation. He set off ahead to investigate while I rounded up the wayward muscle in preparation for our assault on the cultists’ camp.
Passing by the well to collect Karl, he appeared to be having a spot of bother convincing the guard of the need to keep the populace away from the tainted water. For all that he pretends to the nobility, Karl lacks true finesse when it comes to directing the actions of those in evident need of direction. I showed him how it should be done, instructing the man in no uncertain terms that he should prevent any from taking the water until I or the good doctor told him otherwise.
On arrival at the camp, Boris went ahead to investigate the caravan. Barely had he set foot inside than the sounds of conversation turn to sounds of violence. Dark shapes moved within, but rather than rush to engage the enemy in such confined quarters (as Victor foolishly did, and with his bow too – clearly an accident waiting to happen!) I sought the means to flush our foe out. There being no convenient camp fire within reach, I made the supreme sacrifice and offered my own hat as kindling to start a fire beneath the rear of the caravan then settled back with Karl to cover the entrance should any chaos spawn try to escape.
Sadly the rotten wood was slow to burn, and sounds inside changed from bad to worse as something huge seemed to take the place of the strange festering man I had met previously, and Boris’ harsh curses indicated that at least one of Victor’s arrows had found the wrong mark (see how foresighted I was earlier!). By the time the fire took hold, the pair were already making their way to the exit shouting something about a demon within, although the corpse they dragged out with them seemed rather too human to give that claim any more credence than the tales of rat men in the sewers that Boris still enjoys recounting.
Of further note is the fact that Boris showed no great fear of being stuck inside a burning caravan, but took the time once the corpse had been removed to return in search of loot. I must file this insight into his character (whether it be that the financial motive outweighs any concern for his own safety, or merely that Boris is to slow to realise that fire burns, I have not yet decided) for future use.
By the time Boris had returned form his scavenging expedition (mercifully empty handed) a crowd had begun to gather. Boris strung up the corpse of the cultist and began to burn, while I provided the audience with a little background to the situation (the usual stuff concerning my identity, my ongoing efforts to combat the forces of chaos, and so on) and assured them that there was nothing more to fear. They seemed somewhat non-plussed by events, by which I can only in turn conclude that Boris comes from a more extended family than I had previously realised, and many of his kin are residents of Hugeldal.
The grisly work done and the crowds adequately entertained, we returned to the Shallyan temple where we had stowed Doctor Verfullen for safe keeping. We assured him of our intent to remain silent as to his part in recent events, and as a sign of our commitment to his well being agreed to support the long term development of his small medical practice by signing on as silent partners to that business (and accepting five gold as our share of recent profits, with further shares to be collected as and when we pass through this way). The Doctor, for his part, agreed to speak on behalf of the Shallyans on their anticipated return, and to ensure that the well was cleansed with all possible haste.
After careful consideration, I decided against a further visit to Agnetha Von Jungfreud. I found her manner at our last meeting to be rather sour, and something tells me that her stock in society is shortly to take a turn for the worse. My immediate companions aside, one cannot be too careful with whom one is seen to associate if one intends to continue climbing the social ladder.
We commandeered a few mules from what remained of the cavalcade to bear our packs on the trek back to Ubersreik. Along the way we passed the Shallyans returning to Hugeldal with a Von Jungfreud escort, the better to explain to young Agnetha the errors of her actions. Needless to say they were still using Aschaffenberg’s wagon and made to mention of returning it. I fear Boris retains his perfect record for losing any cart in his care.