It was the eve of the Day of the Holy Kiss and a group of new travellers had arrived in Clairemont. Some of the travellers came from far-away countries, like Moskari or Chi’lena, and they seemed unfamiliar with the local tradition of attending mass twice a day. Charles, Henri, Angelique and Louis Joyeux stood in the back of the church among the other commoners and sang along as always.
After church, Angelique was called to the hospital with a rush. Two of the travellers from Moskari had run into victims of the black plague on their way here. They had to be decontaminated thoroughly. Angelique and the doctor’s slave Nula cleaned everything to make sure the plague wouldn’t spread into Clairemont. But the royal inquisitor de Farel judged that one of them had contracted the plague and had him shot, after which de Farel took a long bath to make sure the blood spatter hadn’t contaminated him.
The locals went for drinks at the Lonely Ogre Inn, just outside town. The famous bard Guillaume was playing that night. Charles seemed worried and his brothers and sister cornered him to tell them what was wrong so they could help. Charles had come across information that a man called Bisette would come to town tomorrow for the Feast of the Holy Kiss, and he had reason to believe that Bisette had murdered his bastard son but had escaped punishment by bribing the authorities. Charles was compelled to make sure the man was brought to justice, and Henri agreed.
They went over to talk with the captain of the guard, who confessed to them in private that she was in dire need of money because her brother was being held hostage by bandits. Together they made a plan to carefully inform inquisitor de Farel about both Bisette and the hostage situation. De Farel was known to settle matters of justice swiftly and sometimes brutally, so it was a delicate situation.
The next morning, more reports of the black plague came into town. Angelique and Nula rushed around the hospital sussing the rumours and cleaning everything. But the doctor panicked and left town. Nula was a slave, and Charles took her to the Baron of Clairemont to sort out who was to be Nula’s owner. Because the hospital needed all the help it could get right now, the Baron took the formal ownership upon himself, but left Charles the task of coordinating her work, and Charles delegated this task back to his sister Angelique.
Lord Bisette arrived in Clairemont just in time for the Feast of the Holy Kiss, but he was called to the inquisitor’s office promptly after the mass. He was not seen after that. And the captain of the guard made a business arrangement with the local reprentative of the Trade (NToT) so she could pay her brother’s ransom. But the plague was still spreading, and the captain fell victim to it.
Angelique lost hope when she found the telltale signs of the plague on the captain; she knew of decontamination and prevention but there was no known cure. Nula however knew of a way to cure people, but since it wasn’t conventional medicine she was afraid her methods would be regarded as heresy. The captain didn’t care, if it could cure her it couldn’t be evil, and so Nula got to work.
A major from the army had come into town with the travellers and assumed control of the local guard. With the captain ill, this seemed welcome but the guards soon found out that the major was less interested in keeping the peace and more in her own career. After a drill, at which the captain was present despite her condition, the major had managed to insult the guards so much that they quit their jobs on the spot. Henri was watching and found it worrying, especially at this time. He stepped forward to offer the captain and her soldiers a salary to protect the town in these difficult times, and the guards accepted gracefully.
The town was bustling with activity. Some of the travellers wanted to buy alcohol, and there was opium passing hands, even though both were illegal. The innkeeper of the Lonely Ogre was caught with a large pouch of opium was executed on the spot. A local beggar made a scene in the church while clearly under the influence of opium. Henri and Louis saw their sales of beer go up, but they were also busy brewing more wine vinegar for the hospital.
The Vazal of the local church could not condone this. He and the inquisitor of the church set out to find the heretics responsible for all this. They followed the rumours around town, and arrested both Nula and the Baron himself. A visiting Duke temporarily took control of Clairemont, which made the nobles explode in worried accusations. Not to mention the unrest among the commoners when they heard about the arrests.
A riot broke out. The Duke was shot in the midst of all the chaos and it was unclear who was the murderer. The Baron’s nephew got into a fight and knifed down an alchemist and Lord Vasari. The locals were shocked by the violence. The Lonely Ogre Inn was flooded by people who just wanted to get away from it all. There was drinking and song in the inn until the wee hours of the morning.
The next morning was difficult for everyone. Two travellers volunteered to help Angelique out in the hospital now that Nula was to stand trial: a doctor from Scandorn and a medic from the big city. All the commoners were checked for signs of the plague, but the nobles were too busy to have themselves checked over. Meanwhile the potions of the deceased alchemist had gone missing, and inquisitor De Farel needed special supplies for the interrogation of the suspect of the murder of the Duke. And Lord Vasari was recovering slowly from his terrible knife wounds. Things were busy in the hospital.
The town made itself up to hold trials for the charges of heresy and for the murders of the night before. Charles sat at the table with the judge to write records of the proceedings, while Henri and his guards watched. The suspect of the murder on the Duke was too badly wounded by the interrogation to stand trial. The Baron’s nephew proclaimed that he stabbed the two men as ordered by the Duke and was promptly cleared of all charges. The Vazal presented his case of heresy against the Baron and Nula, backed by shady testimonies of a prostitute and hearsay. Angelique stood up to vouch for Nula’s excellent medical skills and the captain testified how she had been cured. Both were cleared of all charges, and Nula was proclaimed a free woman.
The commoners were relieved that all seemed to be settled and went to church to get back to their daily routine. But this mass was anything but normal. In the middle of the sermon, some of the people seemed to go into a trance and started to shout. The Vazal climbed up on the altar screaming and everyone fled the church in a panic.