Everyone slips out of Widenhoft’s house, approaching the alley as the fiery rays of dusk cast the docks of Tallagad in cruel awe, adding to the smoke and flames from riots that seem to have taken the town while you searched the apothecary’s manse. A group of berserk zealots step out of the havok and charge right for you.
“Perish them! Perish them all!”
The stalwart members of the Six-Bladed-Doom-Cult take down the advancing zealots with little difficulty: X splits one at the pelvis, and two more at the skull, Roland severs a zealot in half, decapitates another, Crellion beheads a zealot with a swing of the White Wolf hammer and breaks the neck of another mortally wounded by Elu’s hefty halberd and Alette takes down the last, thought she is severely wounded.
The streets at night are a mess — rioters, refuges, zealots, the scattered Talabheim watch, and the first sightings of more walking dead. You stray out of sight and keep to your mission — to return to the temple a Shallya.
At the temple, a cadre of priests have assembled a makeshift barricade near the docks and you see a group of them set three zombies on flame with torches and flasks of oil. They see you approach, uncertain, until Elu shouts out a Watchman’s call. Gladdened, they escort you inside.
It seems death has made a visit to the rudimentary hospital, and a few priests of Moor hold vigil over several bodies thrown upon a hulking pyre. The priestess in charge offers to heal Alette after checking her for the plague and agrees to have a look at the items you brought from Widenhoft’s residence.
She studies them for several minutes then reports:
“Seems to be notations of a alchemical sort… The bowl is labeled Talabec – 1 Bell after Dawn. The silvery powder is labeled: River Extract. The blue fluid – Not an inoculant – an antidote. Well, if it is, there isn’t much here to do anything. But it does tell us there could be a cure. This leads me to inquire, where is Mr. Widenhoft?”
Crellion, addresses the priestess at the temple of Shallya: “If the blue fluid is an antidote, how do we use it? We’ve evidence that the plague itself does not cause one to become a walking dead. What causes it, we do not yet know, but if this be an antidote, is it drank? Placed on a wound? Injected? Please review these other texts and notes. So many need help, me not the least of them.” Crellion coughs. “I have not cause any of my group to become ill. And I am of more use to you alive than dead.”
Elu adds, “And if it is indeed an antidote we should attempt to produce more as soon as possible.”
The priestess responds: “I am afraid there is not enough here to manufacture anything, nor do we know the full ingredients. The surrounding townships of Talabheim are no place to pursue this knowledge. You’ll need to get beyond the wall. Take these instruments with you as they’ll be no use here. You are likely to be refused but let it be known we are caring for the daughter of the commander of the watch. She is safer here than out in the streets. If you were to take her and if she were to be killed you’ll never get in.”
“Knight of the White Wolf you are infected. What we know is that some can withstand the infection period and live, others die. Some that die become undead. You need to be cured. Soon you will be so ill that you won’t be able to move. You will have to pull your resources to get your White Wolf friend beyond the wall. Daughter or not, I’m certain no one will risk allowing an infected body into the city.”
Roland: “One thing that you priests should add to your theories, we’ve seen a decapitated head animate into a writhing zombie belonging to someone who wasn’t infected. This plague may be Chaos after all. I motion we go into the city and seek out a cure. At least we can save the Eye of the Forest, if nothing else.”
Crellion: “Then let’s try to get into the city. The guard seem to know me by name. If nothing else, we can ask for Nierhaus to meet us by the entrance at Wizard’s Way. We can tell the guard we need to reach Nierhaus and that we have news from Widenhoft. Priestess, would you be willing to write us a letter? This is dire work. I know you believe my sickness is not a part of the undead curse. If a letter were penned from your hand, it may give us leverage to enter.”
Priestess: “Tell them you might have a cure and our blessing.” She hands Crellion a token with the image of Shallya on it.
Roland: “Crellion, I’ve a plan. Follow me, gents.”
Alette: “My wolf, with your leave I’ll stay and protect the child.”
Crellion: “Do so Alette. Roland, lead on.”
X: “I agree with going to the city. Lets find a cure, so I don’t have to deal with an undead fence. They never know how to haggle.”
Roland, laughs. “Rightly so. Hold the heroics also as I’d have to have an undead X even more.”
The four of you move quickly out into the darkened streets and head straight for the Wizard’s Way. You don’t trek too far when the roar of a great crowd echoes up ahead. Four-hundred Hochlanders charge into the city, headed for the Wizard’s way, demanding entrance to Talabheim. At no closer than one-hundred paces, Talabheim opens fire on the lot of them. Dozens of cannons roar into the night sending cannon balls exploding into the disoriented mass, ripping them and the streets behind them into pieces.
Everything thing within fifty yards of you is leveled or reduced to a pulp. Cannons boom on the far side of the walls as the city defends itself from who knows what. The path between you and the Wizard’s Way is clear.
You run for it, and seven half-mutilated zombies leap at you, very hungry…
After dispensing the zombies you make a dash for the garrison blocking the wizard’s way and are met at sword and crossbow point by thirty city watchmen. Through a series of blather, charm, (lies), disguise, intimidations (X), displaying the outdated documents from Hohenlohe, and Elu’s own membership in the watch, they grant you passage to the high watch tower halfway up the wizard’s way. There, the commander, Nierhaus, will decide what is to be done with you. Four members of the watch accompany the long walk.
Passing through the garrison you can see the nearly two-hundred foot high wall of the Taalbaston outlined in torches. The road becomes a series of switchbacks just wide enough for two wagons crawling upwards until you reach the very top — the high watch. The stone structure encases a two-hundred foot tunnel that leads to the other side of the Taalbaston, blocked by four portcullises and numerous murder holes where enemies can be shot with crossbows or covered in boiling oil, or worse. The tunnel is lined with torches on the walls and candelabras dangling from the ceiling. Each gate raises one at a time as the watch escorts you into a chamber midway through the tunnel, where two huge guards stand outside a door made of heavily reinforced and iron-banded oak.
The guards give you menacing looks, then one pounds the door with a series of varied beats. Shortly after, the sounds of sliding bolts precede the door opening and you step in. The room is made with slabs of dark slate and resembles a jail cell or dungeon – places you’ve all been in before in your adventuring careers. One lone occupant emerges from an alcove off to the side of the door, a pair of finely engraved pistols aimed at two of you.
Presumably Nierhaus, he’s an average sized-man with a penetrating blue-gaze that even X can’t deny is a stronger will than he’s ever faced. His blonde hair is close-cropped, thinning on top, but little else betrays his age. The captain is also decked in full mail armor, sword and sword-breaker at his side and shield slung over his shoulder. He jesters the pistols to the other side of the room waiting for all of you to enter…