After some time, the characters arrive at a small grubby trading port of Puanteur in Mousillon, the Barony of the Damned. There they await the arrival of Lord Byron Bismark and his men to assist in the rescue of the Emperor from a Jaberwocky. The port town is a shambles and the inhabitants less than friendly.
They are housed in the “stables”, i.e. the place where the snails and frogs (“the livestock”) are kept. The livestock is the property of the local Baron, a sadistic brute who happens to be the last living heir of Duke Merovich, a past Duke of Mousillon that started a war with the rest of Brettonia by killing the king during a duel at a victory “feast.” (The feast involved cannibalism, to which the King and good Brettonians strongly objected. Merovich took insult, issued the challenge, killed the King and started a war…one of many very bad decisions made over the ages by the cursed duchy.)
Josef Krunk has snail-phobia, of course, and when he sees the snails he freaks out and stamps on a bunch of them. This doesn’t go over well at all with the townies, and they demand that the heroes must pay restitution and the “skivvy tax”, which seems to involve cutting off a finger joint or other small part of the body.
The characters have great objection to this, and they march on the local Baron’s estate, where they kill him, but not easily. He seems to have been “ghoulish”, and it is only the silver stake possessed by Dellin that seems to do any permanent harm.
I’m skipping many details, including two important NPC’s: Jacques (Jack) Thrifty, and the odd little girl with the webbed feat. I’m also leaving out information about what was found at the Baron’s keep, and the loot obtained, and the cellar doors decidedly not opened. And finally, I’m leaving out the part about the follower who ate something he shouldn’t have, and a day or so later exploded into a puddle of pus.
After returning from slaying the Baron, the characters learn from Jack Thrifty that Lord Bismark must have accidentally landed in the town of Cracheux, which Jack indicates is a very bad thing. In fact, they should just assume their friends are all dead because the town is populated with shape-stealers. The shape-stealers look like people but are not…they are monsters that can take the form of any living thing…in the most violent way imaginable. They tend to keep to themselves, but if you go into their town, they will assimilate you and you will be done for. End of story. Jack tries to further convince them by recounting the story of a shape stealer that was once grabbed and pinned down by someone. In response, the center of the shape stealer ruptured into an alligator’s maw and ripped the guy’s arms off…no, you don’t screw with a town full of shape stealers.
Of course, the heroes will have none of that, and they row downstream to the rescue. They arrive just in time to find Lord Bismark and another knight, Karl Roenker, fighting a desperate battle trying to escape from the clutches of the townsfolk who are swarming them. With a valiant effort and a bit of tactical know-how, Bismark and Roenker are rescued and they escape back to Puanteur. Unfortunately all the other reinforcements are dead and the river boat with all the supplies is harbored on the dock at Cracheux.
Dellin makes a deal with the strange girl with the webbed feat, who claims that she and her friend(s) can bring the boat upstream. In response, Dellin gives the girl the “magic sword” they took off the local Baron, which was inscribed “Peasant Killer” in Brettonian.