The trouble with these out-of-the-way, flea-bitten, backward towns is that they’ll let practically anyone run them regardless of breeding, sense or manners. Exhibit A for the prosecution (I dabbled a little in law at university before deciding it looked too much like something I wouldn’t enjoy) is the delightful Lady Agnetha von Jungfreud of the equally appealing Hugeldal. Indeed it pains me to say that, aside from the always obliging followers of Shallya, the most civil people I have met in recent days were a bunch of strigany. And yes, I include Karl, Victor and Boris in that estimation. But how did I come to this recent revelation? Therein lies a tale…
We approached Hugeldal after a coach ride with only two things to recommend it; one; Boris had not yet managed to ruin another coach; two, it hadn’t rained since we left Stromdorf. The merits of the second point are open for debate – Boris had not washed since we left Stromdorf and the warm weather did nothing to minimise his distinctive scent (It is possible he had not washed since before we arrived. Did he even wash after our excursion into the sewers? Must investigate. Correction, must NOT investigate for fear of what I might discover). Not more than a mile from the town we spotted some ne’er-do-wells attacking a group of travellers wearing the distinctive garb of the priesthood of Shallya (upon reflection, it is well that my companions have me to set them upon the road to virtue as without my guiding hand I could well see them treading the path of such brigands). Never one to shirk my duty I ordered the charge, cowing the brigands at the very mention of my name while those about me opened fire from cart. Before we came to a rest I leapt clear, sword in hand, and Karl followed my example, swiftly dispatching one brigand before he could finish off an elderly cleric.
Boris nearly ruined the moment by crushing the skull of a wounded knight with the wheel of his cart, but good fortune brought him to a stop in time and I smoothed the way with the necessary introductions. It transpires that the Shallyans had been evicted from Hugeldal by Frau von Jungfreud herself after her husband died from some illness which passed through the town. As a pious man I agreed to speak to Agnetha on behalf of the Shallyans. As a somewhat obsequious man, Karl offered them the use of our cart to speed them on their way to Ubersreik, and it seemed rather uncouth for me to retract his offer. As a poor excuse for a luggage bearer, Victor failed to retrieve my lightning stone from the back of the cart before the Shallyans set off. I can only hope it will be waiting for us back in Ubersreik. As an impious wretch, Boris spent the entire time looting the corpses of the dead bandits.
Investigating the site of the ambush further, we uncovered the bodies of two goblins and evidence of a trail leading into the trees. Victor took the lead and set about finding any traps in our way. On one occasion his devotion extended to clearing away some caltrops with his face, for which act I have decided to forgive him his failure to ensure that all valuables were removed from the cart before it left. I do rather hope that the wound is not infected, yet the oozing blood and constant wracking cough that Victor has exhibited since give me cause to doubt, and I cannot abide a loud manservant.
We found nothing more than the remains of a bandit camp and a few silvers for our efforts, although a second trail took us directly to the gates of Hugeldal, saving us a long walk back the way we had come. The guard at the gate was a civil and informative as I have come to expect, which is to say about as civil and informative as Boris lecturing his latest conquest on the merits of his manhood (all false bluster and foul language). Thankfully the strigany camped outside the gate did at least keep a civil tongue and indicate that, to their best of their knowledge, the plague was no longer at Hugeldal.
A notice in the square suggested that the new doctor could be found at the old Shallyan temple. It seems, however, that the notice was premature as the temple contained only a skivvy with a broom. A cursory exploration revealed the existence of some padded cells in the basement, and Karl took it upon himself to secrete some lock picks in each cell “just in case”. Whether this is a sign of great foresight or a disturbing degree of paranoia remains to be seen.
My audience with Agnetha was brief and to the point. I conveyed the best wishes and condolences of assorted mutual acquaintances and she, in turn, lectured me on the relative merits of modern medical science against the miracles of the gods. My duty done in that regard, I enquired after a suitable hostelry in town as was directed to the Bucket of Blood, pausing only to obtain some pamphlet or another from a peasant outside. Whatever the merits of his cause (and I doubt there are any) it will at least serve a purpose when I next experience a call of nature.