Gracie Buttertreacle sat silently in the street’s filth. She watched the strangers scoot past her and eyed them expectantly. She was on the look out for trouble and the possibility of food or a coin. Or information. After all Fourfingers had promised the Ratboys a tidy sum for the right kinds of knowledge! Suddenly her heart quickened – there he was – the Furriner they called him, the Bringer of Death. This was her chance. She lifted her hand and croaked “Hey mister, spare us a $merduk can yer?”. The furriner just sailed past oblivious. His gnome companion, whom they said thought he was a dwarf looked at her piteously, and chucked her a coin. She blinked a couple of times and then ran as quickly as she could. There were more $merduks waiting for her from Fourfingers for keeping him up to date with the Death Bringer’s movements. She glanced back long enough to see Liam tumble from his hiding place and stalk the pair as she darted off to the Spiced Apple tavern. That’s where Jimmy’s second in command would be waiting for her news, and where she could spend the $merduk on some decent tucker and a place by the fire.
Liam winked at Gracie as she pelted off. He crouched on the rooftop and watched the pair stroll up the street to the College-Temple. He let them get a comfortable distance before he shinned down the pipe and darted in pursuit. Like most of the Ratboys he was almost preternaturally stealthy and agile and he reveled in following people without their knowledge. This was easy money – yessiree! He bit into the crab-apple and sucked in its sour goodness. He watched them enter the temple and then settled himself into the rooftop of the fairly run down house over the road. It was probably going to rain, but that wasn’t going to stop him from earning his keep, and avoiding a beating into the bargain for not getting the job done. Boy that Fourfingers was a hard-ass when he wanted to be. What drove him to want these two goons he’d never figure.
Liam woke with a start. It was pelting down but that wasn’t all that drew his attention. The College-Temple was turning into a fungus ridden puff-ball nightmare. Huge tendrils of fungus were everywhere! He’d never seen anything like it at all in the whole miserable 13 years or so of his life. What on Nehwon was this? The bakers cart was stopped in the street and Higgins the bun-seller was gawping open mouthed at the scene. Then he seemed to have a sudden, desperately worried thought, or some kind of odd reaction. Next thing he was back in his cart and whipping his pony for all it was worth. He was off in a hurry. Liam looked after him, and then back to the Temple. Then he saw the filamental spores drifting, catching the early light. Now he could see why Higgins had left it. This place was, umm, infectshious. Yes that was it – it was some kind of putrid death trap! He hopped off the backwall and onto the next roof. Time to report in. No sign of his quarry – maybe they’d carked it or were still on duty. This was news – if he could get to the Bell Mews before Higgins he could break the story and still tell Fourfingers what was up before it hit the press. Double down! He sped up his pace as he jumped from one roof to another. Down below in the streets the pony whinnied as Higgins applied some whip-based encouragement. Shortly thereafter he was knocked sideways as 8 stone of smelly Ratboy ruffian slammed into him from above, skittering him onto the cobbles. Liam whooped as he took the reins and the pony bolted off.
Ulris the White contemplated the fate of Lankhmar. This seething canker – this putrescence of a boil on the Temple. Clearly it was Putrexia returned. Angered by the betrayal of her High-Priest, now incarcerated, she’d seen fit to visit this abomination of disease upon her own and blight the foul quarters. If Huw, Varek and Hooknose don’t get the components for the Spell of Asepsis from the good Doctor, as laid out in the Tome of Advanced Precautions, then there was practically nothing he could do to prevent this catastrophe. Already the sick and dying were starting to impact on the City. So the questions now tugging at the mind of the Wizard Ulris were: would Dr Carom be up to this task? Furthermore would the trio he’d steered into undoing this great wrong follow it through? Ulris fervently hoped that the answers to these questions were – yes and yes. Much hinged on this and unless this was successful he didn’t rate the chances of the population doing anything much more than adding to the legions of the dead over the next few days. The Undead and Life disadvantaged league were bound to have a great deal to say about all this! Was this the Year of the Putrexian Fungal Death?