Locals showing signs of the madness have been disappearing so our heroes have been going to extra effort to suppress their symptoms. That’s probably a good call.
Our heroes respond to a disturbance in the sewers in a more affluent neighborhood of Port Eary only to discover that some local and familiar vagrants, otherwise peaceful beggars, have undergone a disturbing change. One has large pythons growing from his shoulders in place of arms. Another has small venomous vipers for fingers. Another vagrant is being strangled by the one with pythons for arms until our heroes usurp his attention. They also discover a body with bulging sores, presumably from viper bites. The perverted creatures are quickly dispatched by our heroes and brought to a local temple of Pelorus/Fharlanghn (Pelorus has a disturbingly growing presence) where they are examined. One priest has the temerity to slice open the bulge in the man’s left arm/snake to discover a small, partially digested animal; probably a cat or small dog. Inquisitor Harris was called to advise, an unfamiliar name.
Many miles out to see, cleric Rhys is on a mission from his temple in the Westerlands to travel to the Mainland and gather information. Are the clerics there similarly cut off from the gods? Might they have information to get to the bottom of this?
During stormy seas, his ship is invaded by merfolk. A lovely feminine face peers over the railing of the ship, waiting patiently. He resists magical charms at first and attacks one of the invading mermen only to see the wound he inflicts heal before his eyes. The merman ignores him and the brief wound. The mermaid is relentless and this time he falls victim to her charms and approaches her. “This vessel is a doomed sacrifice to the awakening, but you are not to share its fate, blood of my blood.” With that, tentacles encircle him and he is dragged deep beneath the waves. The last thing he recalls is his lungs filling with the salty brine and then darkness.
Mykahl, Cregga, William, and Bey depart the temple of Pelorus/Fharlanghn in Port Eary and cross paths with a foreign troop of soldiers led by a man of noble bearing whom they later discover to be the infamous Inquisitor himself. He wears the finest studded leather armor and carries an ornate rod topped by the symbol of the sun god Pelorus. His troop accompanies a horse-drawn cage that holds several locals captive.
One overtly mad woman in the cage meets the gaze of Bey and tells her “Its name is a killing word!” before snarling something unintelligible and yet oddly familiar-sounding and the lock to the cage shatters. She and one other were shot down by the guards attempting to escape. One young man initially evades but guards give chase. His fate remains unknown.
Mykahl noticed a great look of relief in the woman’s face right after speaking the bizarre word. Could it be a brief respite from the madness? He also ponders for a moment if he might be able to say it just as she did… He stares for a moment at the scattered pieces of the heavy metal lock on the cobblestones at his feet.
Rhys wakes up on the shore just South of Port Eary and soon discovers that he has fallen short of his goal of reaching the Mainland but is glad to be alive. He doesn’t understand why he didn’t drown. He goes into town and tries to get his bearings. He quickly discovers that this island is also plagued with silence of the gods.
Bey does some intelligence gathering around town and hears rumors that this madness extends at least as far as the mainland and there are further rumors that clerics everywhere appear to be out of touch with their gods. Panic spreads amongst the clergy and amongst their flocks as well despite all attempts to keep this handicap under wraps. In this process, Bey discovers she can channel the madness throughout her body and achieve an incredible level of confidence in her social interactions. This unfortunately appears to come with a rather strange physical… side effect. It does, however, also dampen the effects of the madness she’s been experiencing for weeks and she suspects she might actually get a decent night’s sleep finally.
About this time, Cregga craves to be alone with her thoughts and takes a walk into the woods where she discovers a small wild boar. Surprising it, she charges and inadvertently discovers she can channel the chaotic energies in her mind through her weapon. Thick black smoke erupts from the blade which appears to make her already powerful great axe even more brutal. She fells the beast with one blow and has a nice dinner and some leftovers. She too feels great relief from the madness after having channeled this energy.
William is doing some intelligence gathering of his own when he bumps noggins with Rhys about these strange events around the world. William discovers that the Westerlands are plagued by the madness as well and their clerics are similarly out of touch with their gods. They are in mid conversation when they hear a loud pop like a firecracker right in the middle of the tavern and turn to see Inquisitor Harris eyeing them suspiciously. “Witches!” he cries and orders them arrested. No one else in the tavern seems to have heard the firecracker sound.
At various places throughout the city, our other heroes are startled by a loud noise that no one else seems able to hear. When they reflexively turn to discover the source of this noise, they see only the Inquisitor who takes the fact that they hear it as some sort of omen. He has them arrested, again accusing them of being witches.
This chapter of our story ends with our heroes stripped and shoved into a cage cart on their way to who knows where. Inquisitor Harris placates the citizens of Port Eary, assuring them that their friends are merely being taken where they can be properly treated for their insanity. The reactions of the residents of Port Eary are mixed. Many seem to fear that this madness could be terribly contagious and welcome the purge. As the cart hobbles along the cobblestone roads of the city, the prisoners are pelted with rotten fruits and vegetables by some while others look on with a combination of sadness and dread.