After the defeat of the Plague Demon but the infection of Clara and Harry, they decided to split up. Ezekiel returned to Tycho and the Dr and would join them in Leipzig in a few days.
[GM:Ezekiel’s player couldn’t play this week]
Meanwhile the others headed direct for Leipzig, buying horses from a local gentleman farmer on the way. Clara was too pushed for time to haggle a decent price.
They had a few hours of light left and made good time at a steady trot. For the boys this was a painful experience, bringing them fatigue. Clara however has the Riding skill and was fine. They pushed on through the night and the infection swelled at sunset but they managed to resist getting worse (this time).
The road was full of sick pilgrims at makeshift campsites. all heading to to see the Healer.
they came across a troop of seven lepers. Harry might have ridden through them but Clara gave them a few silver coins, actually handing them the money, not just throwing it on the ground, so they gratefully stepped aside.
Masa and Harry were pretty fatigued by riding by the time they reached the city gate, a couple of hours before dawn. The poorer pilgrims were camped in a tent city. They rode to the head of the line, Harry glaring at anyone who got in the way.
At the city gate the guards were openly taking bribes to let people in. Clara paid up and the small gate was opened to let them through. A woman in the crowd tried to give Clara her sick baby to take with her but she pushed it back and went in.
All the inns full with petitioners. While Masa and Harry stood stretching their aches and pains, Clara went to fetch a hot breakfast from a bakery and mulled wine. By the time the sun rose they were feeling better and had reached the University grounds, In the dawn light Masa could see how sickly the others were and regretted accepting the bread from Clara’s hand. [GM: he made his Vigour roll and they became a bit more aware of the seriousness of their condition
The University had guards of its own, also wanting a “consideration” for waking the Dean and telling him they wanted an interview. One was given some money on the quiet and told them that the Healer was nearly done for and probably wouldn’t be good for more than a couple more healings.
Inside the university at last, they spoke with Dean Koenig he knew of Tycho as the old Astronomer had studied there once. They eventually convinced him to let them see Brunner partly due to their new reputation as the heroes of Prague.
Father Brunner was in a very bad way. They were initially suspicious that he was some kind of fake, or even a Plague Demon himself, but he seemed very, very devout. Clara heard him praying, admitting he didn’t feel worthy of the great honour and that he was sorry he wasn’t stronger.
They swapped stories about meeting the “hermit”. They let him see their distended bellies, all pulsing in unison. Once he believed they had really defeated a Plague Demon, Clara decided to tell him all about the “Rise of the Serpent” and the link to Revelations. This convinced him to try to heal Clara, Harry and then Tycho.
Clara was healed and Brunner became further weakened but began to pray. Clara prayed with him for two whole hours and he seemed to regain some strength.
While they were praying, Masa used his Magick skill and a dose of his magical components to investigate the priest. It seems the Plague Demon infected Brunner with the power to steal away the symptoms of any sickness in order to “bake” a really bad plague which he would then pass on by touch (and finally by exploding)! The people he healed were only supposed to be relived of their visible symptoms and should still have died a few days later as well as becoming carriers of the new Plague. Somehow, Brunner’s faith had transmuted the power to provide actual healing. It was probably Brunner’s extreme faith, and the recent surge in Magick, (particularly Plague-related Magick, as they would later learn) that loosened the bonds on the Plague Demon, allowing it to briefly manifest to the priest.
Brunner and the Dean also arranged to summon senior churchmen from the city to perform an exorcism to drive out the Demon from Brunner (if he survived the healing attempts). They agreed to try the Exorcism after Brunner healed Tycho who should arrive the next day.
That evening, Father Brunner managed to heal Harry too and was again weakened. They all prayed together for a couple of hours then slept a few hours.
Tycho and Ezekiel arrived the next day. Brunner managed to heal Tycho, although the effort nearly killed them both. The Exorcism was a great success and the demonic influence poured out of Brunner’s eyes, nose and mouth to form into a sphere of bubbling ichor about the size of a man’s head. It came to rest on the Altar Cloth and rapidly cooled and hardened.
They wrapped it gently in the cloth then packed it into a straw-filled box. They decided to return it to the Fallen Cross and try to re-seal the magick to contain it. It would take religious faith to re-activate the magick and the priests agreed to accompany them, sneaking out of the University grounds leaving the Dean to deal with the disappointed pilgrims. Tycho’s carriage driver had to make a very careful turn journey as the “Plague Bomb” seemed to become egg-shell thin and light. After a couple of days, they reached the place. With shaking hands, Brunner started to carry it to the hollow under the cross but Clara had to take it from him as he had spasms of nerves. She managed to gently place it into the coffin-sized space and then Harry carefully packed the hole with earth. Finally the priests prayed over the cross and a shaft of sunlight struck it, illuminating the runic writing for a few moments and everyone felt a warm tingle. Masa was able to confirm that the Magick was back in place.
Our heroes returned to Prague Observatory with Tycho and waited a few more weeks for him to finish his calculations. The first Harbinger would take about 18 months to arrive in London (from the time when its star vanished from the constellation almost a year ago). It was now early December 1601 and the stars would align again in August 1602. The Harbingers are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the first one approaching is “Plague”. The next star is expected to vanish a few months before or after the arrival, while the constellation is pointing somewhere else on earth. Tycho Brae and Johanes Kepler agree to keep monitoring it and send them a message when they know for certain.
Meanwhile the heroes return to England, arriving in mid-january.
[GM: I decided to give them some “downtime” to let time skip forward a few months.
There are some simple house rules for this mainly to do with gaining edges or reducing hinderances. The basics are to choose three skills and narrate how you use them to pass the time. Then make rolls against 3 target numbers (4,6 &8) and see how many successes you get.
Clara spent an advancement to gain an Arcane Background (Sorcery). Normally this is only available as a starting option but, due to the resurgence of Magick caused by the “Serpent” and our heroes’ frequent exposure to magick, it is allowable. She will have to spend future advances to gain and improve her Magick skill and Knowledge (Occult).
Harry spent his time getting rid of his “Wanted” hindrance, he used Intimidate, Notice and Fighting skills and so Sir Thomas Percy is now no longer around to pursue him.