It is not a large township, but a prosperous one, surrounded by fields of wheat, and orchards of apple, and pear. The wheat is tall in the field, but weeds push their green heads up through the sea of gold. The orchards are heavy with fruit, the branches bending under the weight. Why has none yet been harvested?
Animals loe in their pens, water all but gone, feed gone. Most have turned to eating what they can reach from their pens and stalls. Grass is mowed to the ground, and trees nearby are stripped of leaves and bark. Some animals have succumbed to hunger, or thirst. Some less scrupuluous have taken to eating their dead. Still, the bell tolls…
The outermost houses are empty, some doors stand open, curtains blowing in the wind. Windows are broken by the stones of vandals, and some of the houses have been tossed, valuables taken, breakables broken. No vandals are seen, and the tracks, if any seek them are at least two days old. Each house is the same, but all are looted of food stuffs, especially meats and cheeses. There is an unpleasant smell in the houses, a bitter coppery smell.
Along the way, there is a well, with a dipping bowl. Perhaps the heros will stop and drink from the bowl, and refill their water skins and canteens.
The walls are unmarred, no bolt or ballista has scored their surface. The gates stand open, there is a hand painted sign on the lefthand gate.
Father Preserve Us
The city inside is much the same, windows broken, and shops looted of valuables. Some valuables lie not far away, discarded for some unknown reason. There are no people, no bodies, no sign of battle or conflict, only petty vandalism. Still, the bell tolls on…
There is a large stone church, with a bell tower. The heros can see the bell, a shining brass piece rocking back and forth as the bell sings its clear note. The doors of the church are open, but there is a stinging smell coming from it, one that assaults the eyes, and upsets the nose, makes the stomach clench in nausea and the bowels liquid and weak. For it is the unmistakable scent of death.
They can hear a single voice, between the strikes of the bell, the voice is singing hymns, but which ones cannot be discerned unless the heros decide to investigate. If they do not, the singer comes forth from the church.
“They live my father…” the old man says, adorned with the vestments of a priest, cassock threaded with gold, and a mitre with humble jewels on it. The hem is stained with gore and mud, his hands wringing, more of the dark black crud under his nails. “Preserve them, they live.”
“This is good, there is little room left in the catacomb. So many dead, yes, so many dead.”
- Dont Drink the Water - in a tale of unforseen consequences, the well is infested with the disease that destroyed the town. It is cholera, and as the town gathered more water to care for the ill, they spread the disease rapidly among them. If the PCs took water from the well, they have become infected/carriers of the disease. Can the characters find a cure, or do they spread the disease to the next town, or find the next town closed to them as suspected carriers of death?
- Poisoning the Well - The priest of the township is a hearty, and spiritual man who became dangerously upset when the town stopped accrediting its success to the blessing of the gods, and to the works of their own hands. The townsfolk became, in his eyes, decadent and corrupt, teasing about with sorcery, and indulging in gluttony and debauchery. He poured a cursed potion into the well and has punished the infidels for their evils. AS above, if the PCs have taken water, they have been poisoned, and have a limited amount of time to prove their ‘worthyness’ to the old priest, or find a suitable cure. A fairly normal investigation of the priest will ensure he confesses his deeds to the PCs, for the work of his god is not done in great secrecy.
- Song of the Dead - The township sits upon a confluence of necromantic essence, a congregation point for hungry ghosts, shades, and spectres. An alignment of the heavenloy bodies, coinciding with a lunar eclipse allowed the dead to rise, and they slew the living with their negative essence, stealing life with a touch. (ala The Phantoms from the Final Fantasy movie) The priest survives their nightly rising as the sound of the blessed bell keeps the ghosts at bay, but only so long as the bell rings. The ghosts are not very active during the day, but are drawn to the living at night. The old man is desperate, and half mad with sleep deprevation, and malnutrutition. The Heros have to find a way to eliminate the confluence of dark essence. This could be as easy as having the entire town purified and blessed, or as difficult as destroying the overabundance of essence by removing graveyards, and building monuments to the essence of life, and beauty.