You are summoned before your Dark Masters in the Lower Temple of the Horn. Arrayed before you are the Small Scary Sorceror One, with her piercing eyes and an overpowering magical aura radiating from her collection of magical artefacts; the One With The Sword, in her terrifying black armour, with an air of barely leashed violence; the Dark Priest One with his scary scary mace, which you could swear is looking at you; and the Sneaky Talky One with his knives.
You stand now before your masters. Easily the most powerful people you have met, there is only one certainty. Opposing them is folly. You must obey. And through obedience no doubt they will reward you. Or at least, you hope they will. At last one of them speaks. The Small Scary One.
“‘We have a chance for you to prove your worth to us. Within Farholde even now a street preacher, Ezekiel Hawthorn, speaks against us and urges the people to rise and raid the Horn of Abaddon. This must not happen! He must be silenced!’”
The One With The Sword speaks at this point. “‘This Mitra loving weasel is nothing! He must be slain and made an example! When he is dead then we will be troubled by his voice no longer.’”
The Sneaky Talky One: “‘No no no. If he is merely slain he will become a martyr. That will only prove the truth of his words. Instead, he must be discredited.’”
The Priest: “‘Bah! You waste time! Who cares what those worms believe? By the time they summon any courage we will be done with the ritual!’”
“‘Do not speak of the ritual!’”
“‘I mean…we’ll be done with … whatever we’re doing here. Which is nothing really.’”
They all pause from their debate and look suspiciously at you. There is a very long and nervous silence that goes on for entirely too long.
“‘So,’” says the voice of the Sneaky One finally. ““That then is your mission. Silence the street preacher in, what's it called? The town. You know. Berengard? Honorton! No, wait. What's the town? Anyway, do not kill him. Instead, discredit him so that the people will not listen to him.’”
“‘And do not leave him alive! Make an example of him!’ Teach the people of Farholde what it means to fear…” says the One With The Sword
“‘Secrecy is of course paramount.” Says the Sneaky One
“Yes, of course.”
The Small Scary One: “‘You have your orders! We give to you now some gold for equipment, bribes and so forth. Further, to ensure success, we have assigned our servant the ogre Grumblejack to aid you. You will find him at Lord Drownington’s Manor in Farholde. Now go! And, minions? I strongly advise you not to fail”.
“so… we got orders to kill im and not to kill im” says the farmer
“yes, also to do it in secret and in public” the Criminal replies
“how we gonna do that then?”
“will grumblejack lend us his fancy hat that makes people look like other people?”
“Perhaps we can kidnap him then replace him?”
The Farmer is distracted by talk of magic beans, which does suggest that it was a good idea not to let him hold the money.
Making their way to Farhole, luckily untroubled by terrifying killer trees, and to Lord Drownington's manor, the worst pub in the bad part of town, they meet Grumblejack who immediately asks if they have any money. The Criminal utterly fails to persuade him that they don't have any, but does persuade him that they only got 50 gold pieces. Grumblejack takes this “for safekeeping”, leaving them with 100 gold for their own purposes. It is clear to the minions that Grumblejack, having finally had chance to visit the pub that serves ogres, and having found an audience that enjoy his stories and will even buy him the odd drink, is not going to much use on this quest.
They sneakily charge a round to Grumblejack's tab, figuring on being out of there before he notices. Then spend a surprising amount of time working their way around to asking about the preacher they need to find, but eventually get the info they need and leave just ahead of a bar fight.
At the mission the Criminal and the Aristocrat persuade the reverend quite easily that they want to help spread the word of Mitra, and that they have two less fortunate friends who need a bed. The Farmer and the Archer soon come to know the value of hard work and not smiling. And more work.
“You may stay here for as long as you have need. However, to remain here you must obey the rules of the house. First, no drinking, gambling or immortality of any sort. Second, you will attend the daily celebration of the light. At dawn. Every day. No exceptions. And you must remain for Brother Ezekiel’s edifying sermon to follow. Yes, all of it. Third, you must work four hours a day cleaning, cooking and so forth. The volunteers will have specifics. Fourth, Brother Ezekiel’s private quarters and my private quarters are clearly marked. Please respect our privacy. Also, you seem ft enough to work, we will be trying to fnd you honest work for an honest wage using our contacts in the community. Mitra bless, brothers and sisters, and may the days ahead be brighter and more blessed than those behind you.”
“What we trying to do, just wash up for these people”? Asks the farmer.
“We're here to observe the preacher” “I don't understand these big words”
“we're here to keep an eye on the priesty one and see what he does”
The reverend is slightly unnerved when, on a brief visit to the kitchen, the Farmer stops washing up and stands staring intently at him until he leaves again. This will be about as informed about the mission as the Farmer ever gets.
Night falls. The Criminal persuades the Aristocrat to pretend to be a bum and watch the rear of the mission, while he will watch the front. He pats him on the shoulder and gives him a friendly wink, then immediately scarpers to spend some of the party's gold on a nice hotel for the night and a good meal (and maybe some company).
The Archer gets a bed near the hallway and keeps an eye open. He sees the reverend escorted downstairs by Sister Shera, seeming a little agitated. He follows, quite stealthily, seeing them head downstairs into the kitchen. Following them and putting his ear to the door he hears another door open and close, then silence. Then more silence.
Sneaking into the kitchen he puts his ear against each door in turn and hears nothing. Opening the alley door he is hit by a stone flying out of the darkness! He immediately closes it again.
The aristocrat sees that idiot archer poke his head out of the mission, and chucks a stone at him to make him go back inside. Satisfied, he settles down to his lonely vigil again, confident that his associate will have equally diligently watched the front.
Meanwhile the Farmer has a nice sleep.
The following evening the Archer once again sees the reverend escorted downstairs by the Sister. He lets down the rope and shushes the Farmer long enough to get him to hold it while the Criminal climbs up. He then searches the reverend's and the Sister's room. The locked strongbox in the reverend's room ends up even lockeder, but in Shera's room he uncovers a book “Being the Complete and Entire Truth about Lycanthropy”. Though written in a pseudo-scholarly tone, this book is actually a work of sensationalism with little real information. Still, it consistently adopts a stilted formal tone, all the while claiming that “At last and verily, a tome that dareth to telleth thee the truth likest it is.”
Maybe this is why he isn't wearing a silver holy symbol like all the other priests? Maybe he's a werewolf? If we can get him to transform in full view of some respectable church ladies…
In the meantime, despite knowing for a fact that the reverend and the Sister hadn't gone into the alley last night, the Archer has shinned down the rope to go and search it for any trace of them. Surprisingly there isn't any. Remembering why, he sheepishly shins back up the rope.
With the Criminal returning with a bundle of silver arrows, a silver dagger, and a weapon quench for the farmer's spear, our intrepid minions settle in for the sermon and watch the reverend very closely. He doesn't seem any hairier than usual though.
“maybe SHE'S the werewolf and he's wearing the gold thing because he's her lover and he doesn't want to hurt her?”
Perhaps, but looking closely at the Sister doesn't show any obvious signs of wolfishness either.
“We're sure there's a secret door in the pantry but can't find it. Let the archer hide in one of the crates and watch to see where it is?”
Despite the Criminal's urging that the plan should involve more dead prostitutes, the crate plan goes ahead. It is also far from clear why they didn't just ping a silver arrow at the Reverend during the sermon, in front of witnesses, but crates, sure, why not?
Lurking in a crate the Archer sees Ezekiel and the Sister open a trap door in the south east corner.
He lets the Criminal in and wakes his two compatriots. Eventually they locate the hidden door and discover the preacher in a heavy duty cage!
“what evil is this? Explain yourselves!”
“he is afflicted, but he is a great holy man. You must never speak of this”
Let's just clobber the sister and then
“CLOBBER SISTER SHERA?” shouts the reverend (his hearing extra sensitive due to the imminent onset of his 'condition') Overcome with emotion and with the moon nearly full, he transforms into a hideous man-wolf hybrid form.
The Criminal aims a non silver arrow at the sister. The Farmer, seeing this, and having imprinted on him like a baby duck as being the one it is probably best to copy, leaps down to clobber her but misses. The arrow strikes true though and the werewolf is so enraged he bends the bars of the cage! Heavy duty iron coated with silver they may be, but nevertheless they're unlikely to last against his maddened, bestial strength.
The farmer swings a haymaker at the nun and misses.
The Criminal fires an arrow at the werewolf, doing a little damage as the silver burns him.
The sister swings at the Farmer and connects with her sword, hurting him
The Archer lands a solid shot with another silver arrow.
The Farmer lands a solid stab on the sister with his spear, hurting her but wasting his silver weapon quench.
The Criminal thrusts his remaining silver arrows at the Archer and, claiming to have a plan, sprints off into the night
The werewolf lands a vicious bite on the aristocrat
The aristocrat flees, while the werewolf savagely attacks the Farmer and leaves him bleeding out on the floor. The Archer slams the trapdoor and tries to pull crates over it, but they're rather too heavy for him. The aristocrat tries to help but finds the manual labour entirely beyond him. The werewolf slams against the trapdoor and the sole crate on it bounces but holds.
He changes tack and smashes the trapdoor to splinters, but this causes the crate to land on him, giving the remaining minions time to flee into the night as he untangles himself. The maddened werewolf sets off in pursuit!
Left alone with the dying farmer, in the knowledge that the reverend's secret is now out and her dreams of curing him are in ruins, the Sister sighs and heals the Farmer enough to stop him dying, then sits staring blankly into space.
Outside the werewolf careers after the Archer, following his scent, and cuts a bloody swathe through the crowded street the Archer deliberately leads him down. Eventually he is brought down by the watch (surprisingly, the Criminal's plan was to go and get them, rather than simply to flee) and his terrifying werewolf form turns back into brother Ezekiel.
The preacher is discredited, and dead. And the minions technically didn't do it. Despite pretty much achieving all the conflicting goals they were set, however, their masters remain far from satisfied. The reward for a job well done (well, it was done, anyway) is another job…
“Fools! Idiots! Morons! We give you the simplest of tasks and what do I hear back? Werewolves rampaging through the streets of Farholde even as our eﬀorts in the Horn are at their most delicate juncture! No doubt your buﬀoonery will draw yet more adventurers to our doorstep. I should have you ﬂayed for this failure!” Another dark master clears their throat. “Wait…I have a better use for these minions. Our scouts have located a potentially useful creature in the nearby Salt Brack. There is a hydra there of uniquely unpleasant temperament. The local boggards call the beast ‘Ripper’ in their tongue. This creature would make a potent guard for the Horn and would keep adventurers at bay while we complete our … well, it’s of no import to the likes of you!”
“You will go to Ripper’s cave. You will capture the creature alive. Bind it in a wagon we will provide you and bring it back here to the Horn! Do this and we may reward you! FAIL…”
The master’s eyes narrow to slits. You can tell that even now they ruminate upon what horrors they will inﬂict upon you if you disappoint them.
“…Do not fail,” says a voice as poisonous as an adder’s strike