Out in the backwoods life is fairly miserable for most. Labouring in the field, or the mines, herding sheep or chopping wood is dull and often dangerous. Spending hours a day in the dark, damp and squalid workshops of the various guilds can dramatically shorten your life span. And being the ones responsible for keeping any potential uprisings down can make a man a pariah amongst his own family. Thus the working and middle classes, along with the baronial militia often turn to drink. Oates Greenlock was an amateur hedge wizard with a social conscience living in the market village of Thurbeck. He thought that if he provided a never-ending source of alcohol then the people's lives would be improved dramatically.

Now he didn't have anything like the necessary skill or power to accomplish this - but he was able to contact a minor demon lord who would provide the service in return for a covenant. The Chalice of Unending Liquor was created - Oates merely needed to drink and sign in blood a profane parchment and the demon would be granted all the souls in the village. Oates had no interest in damning his fellows, so spotting the trick in the fine print he took one sip - that lasted for a good twenty minutes. He stumbled out into the square, chalice in hand and gave his final speech; then fell over drunk out of his mind and stone dead.

So the demon lord and his pack were stuck constantly providing the finest alcohol to the villagers. In the space of a week almost everyone was spending their time drunk or getting drunk. This created problems for three people outside the village:

Baron Redbraid - the local baron is incensed that no taxes are being paid, since no work is being done; as well as the tavern levy now being irrelevant. The complete collapse into drunken disorder not just of one of his villages but a part of the baronial militia has the potential to be incredibly embarrassing if it should get out - and since he is trying to arrange a move up the aristocratic pay-grade he needs the problem dealt with. Get in, destroy the chalice and make sure to give everyone a beating - remind the villagers that taxes don't pay themselves.

Shel Burom - the half orc head of a regional chapter of the Baker's Guild is under increasing pressure from members to explain why there has been a sudden flour shortage. Thurbeck produces a fair amount of flour, but more importantly is a major transhipping hub. The labourers aren't out harvesting, nor are they packaging and shipping on flour from elsewhere. She will pay handsomely for any group which can eliminate the chalice and get the villagers sober as quickly as possible. She would prefer minimal violence and absolutely no damage to the highly flammable warehouses packed with flour - which a drunken villager could set alight at any minute.

Tizwin Berdus - Tizwin doesn't say who he works for, only that they pay very well and don't tolerate mistakes or betrayal. With alcohol freely available in Thurbeck a group of interested parties with a shared interest in provision of alternative chemical experiences face new competition - with a price that cannot be undercut. Their agent in the village hasn't been heard from since the beginning of the week and is assumed either dead or inebriated to the point of failing his duties. Tizwin and his employers want the chalice for themselves and their agent killed for incompetence. Thurbeck is also a shipping hub for their produce - which the villagers seem to be using themselves to add to their festivities. A message must be sent, some blood spilt and some buildings burnt.

  • Thurbeck itself is a village of about 300 people, sited along a river and surrounded by rolling hills covered with fields. The village normally is a sullen, dirty place - but no more so than most other villages of similar size and function. The only major structures are the militia blockhouse, the guild warehouse by the pier and a small temple.
  • Currently the overwhelming majority of the villagers are drunk. When they sober up, they get some food, see the annoyed but powerless demons stalking around the village and quickly get drunk again. The Chalice has been given pride of place in the town square atop a large barrel, guarded by some of the more heavyset villagers lest anyone try to take it for themselves. If someone were to simply try and take the chalice, or destroy it then the all those capable of movement would be roused into a furious - albeit clumsy - mob. Perhaps some sober relatives or friends can be found to talk them down.
  • The baronial militia is revelling in their new found popularity and to a man are drunk or getting drunk. No longer the brutal oppressing hand of a cruel and distant aristocrat they are drinking buddies with the villagers. They have kept their equipment but are not really in any condition to fight, though they swagger and bluff around town - requisitioning food from the few sober villagers left. Some are also taking advantage of the women {or men} of the village in their inebriated state - and their dirty and stained uniforms retain enough power to keep anyone from retaliating.
  • The demons are livid. They thought they were going to get a few hundred souls in return for giving one man a drink - after he signed they were going to kill him and follow through the fine print of the covenant; instead they have to keep providing alcohol to the villagers. The terms of the covenant prevent them from in any way harming the villagers until Oates signs the paper. They won't stop anyone from destroying the chalice but will attack any outsiders who try to take it for themselves.
  • The cartel's agent is a goblin going by the name Luther Parsons. She can be found hiding out in the warehouse trying to come up with a plan to stop the villagers using up all the psychoactive substances which should have been smuggled out of town with the flour shipments. She is very willing to work with anyone who might help her recover from her failure, if her life is spared she has considerable knowledge of the village and its inhabitants. She might come up with a scheme which both recovers the Chalice and makes sure the remaining drugs get shipped on correctly without massive loss of life - perhaps she has some compounds lying around of use.

The final problem - and one known only to Luther - is that the priest of the temple fled the village after the first drunken villager put a stone through one of the windows. As he left he saw some of the demons stalking around the place in annoyance. When he reached a nearby monastery his tale had morphed into one of rampaging heretics summoning infernal devils and threatening to destroy all civilisation. Luther intercepted a carrier pigeon bringing word from the church's central authority that a team of paladins and inquisitors has been dispatched to purge the village, demons and anyone else nearby in a holy pyre. She believes their riverboat will arrive in three days - best get done and gone before then; or perhaps stay to try and stop their purge one way or another.

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