- We first talk to John Ackerman, the butcher. He seems to have drunk hard the night before and his spirit is still troubled. He cannot say where Sarra might be other than at her farm – though perhaps the smith might know. He did not know the Cartwrights well and could not say that Nathaniel held less to the Old Ways than Pippa did. He was deeply moved by Simon’s sermon and hopes the priest will hear his confession the coming Sunday.
- We talk again to Albright, who is eager for us to leave. He says that many in the town looked up to the Cartwrights, almost as much as they looked up to them. They were probably the main ringleaders of the gatherings at the orchard after Osenna passed. He does not think that Pippa and Nathaniel did much without the other.
- We stopped again by the Holt farm, passing Simon Tinker and Edmund Albright along the way. Alan Holt, who is much improved in body and in spirit since yesterday, has not seen his daughter in two days and her bed has not been slept in. He doesn’t know where she might be.
- We decide to go to the caves. Old mines of limestone and iron. Long abandoned and probably dating back as far as roman times. We find some lanterns near the entrance and are able to deduce which passage has seen the most traffic. It is the one going down deeper into the dark. We light three lanterns and Tristan makes charcoal marks along the wall as we venture further in.
- Eventually we come to a chamber that is large but shaped naturally. There is a stone altar in the center of the room and behind it something carved into the wall. While Jules is on high alert and checks the shadows, Tristan investigates the altar. The slab itself is made of light stone, perhaps from this very quarry. The statues of the two painfully-contorted men supporting it are made from a very different rock. Their aspect is roman – and their skin seems scaled; almost reptilian. There are stains on the altar showing it was used for sex.
Meanwhile Theo and Jules are drawn to the wall. The carving is of a man, handsome and naked, but covered from the neck down by the grime of a thousand handprints. Tristan thinks he hear voices. Arthur cannot stop himself and reaches out to lay a hand on the statue’s chest.
- Instantly we are all transported to Bromwich Manor. We are having dinner with Tristan, the Lord of Bromwich, and his wife Isabel. We have years of memories of adventures and experiences that have brought us to this point. We each have what we have always longed for most. While Jules and Arthur struggle to recall the exact circumstances that have brought them to this point, Tristan and Theo parlay with another guest, recently materialized. His name is Iskcaron. Tristan remembers the name might be linked to royalty. He comes from the Lord and brings documents to sign.
Everything Tristan feels tells him that this is a portent and that the only variable that matters is Iskcaron. He understands that this future; to be wed, Lord of Bromwich, and shepherd of all its citizens could easily, definitely, comes to pass – if he signs the contract. Arthur is (inexplicably) concerned for him and tries to urge him to think on the matter. Tristan decides that although this is a future he desires, he’s only willing to sin for the greater good. This seems too easy, and too selfish.
Meanwhile, in parallel, Theo is making his own decisions. He has in his hands a book full of sorcerous knowledge. The most powerful magics are trivial. He is capable of so much. But every time takes his mind off the book, he feels the knowledge start to slip away. He knows exactly what he must do. If he agrees that his soul belongs to Asmodeus upon his death, he will be mentored in this knowledge and acquire it quickly. He can use this powerful tool to further God’s work before his end. Since he already sees himself as unworthy of the Light, it is an easy choice. Jules tries desperately to stop him, but cannot. She blames herself for his decision and is shattered.
- When we return to the chamber, Jules starts to desperately try to destroy the statue with her sword. Theo, who can hear voices now too, becomes angry and, knowing she will hurt herself, stops her. She runs from the chamber. Arthur, upon being confronted with the loss of Theo’s soul, tearfully follows her. He does not have the knowledge/power to cleanse the Corruption from this place.
- Returning to town, we find John Ackerman slain in the street; Nathaniel Cartwright, Soulridden and dismembered; and Sir Thomas grievously, and infectiously, wounded. He quickly explains that Ackerman, clearly bewitched, removed the cross from Nathaniel’s corpse. Thomas took down the butcher and the Soulridden Nathaniel, but not before being injured by the latter. He knows he must be beheaded and burned. Arthur sits with him while he makes his peace and then uses his father’s blade to do the job.
- Meanwhile, Theo and Tristan stop by the Smiths and speak to Daniel. He also had been deeply affected by Simon’s sermon. It takes little pressing for him to admit that he had been bewitched by, and sinned with, Sarra. She kept his wife from waking and they fornicated. We realize that Sarra was in a position to collect physical tokens from many of the people on the list. Theo and Tristan now collect some of her hairs to help guide us in finding her. And, if she is a witch, by the Grace of God, kill her.