After returning from Thistletop, our heroes each have their own matters to attend to. Kaielea and Helia head off to Magnimar for some questionable errands. Squall heads back up the river, seemingly intent on a newfound realization while Dharma begins setting up a shrine to her God.
Some weeks pass and Squall returns to town in her canoe, all her belongings and animals in tow, and immediately sets out to convince a disgruntled boat captain to sell his dilapidated, yet buoyant vessel tied up at the docks. Olga Söldrif now out of a job, discovers Squall painting the name “Forlorn Magik” on a sign hanging off the side of the boat and they arrange a business partnership (sealed by a spit handshake as requested by Squall.)
Helia and Kaielea return to town some weeks later, and quickly learn about their “Rusty Coven” noteriety and the newly christened “Broken Condition.” There they are joined by Dharma (with uncharacteristically messy hair) for a pot of Rat Goat Stew. Little time is given for reunion, however, as soon thereafter Sherriff Hemlock arrives to warn of a new set of ghastly murders in the area.
Investigating the gruesome crime scene does not provide anything conclusive, although the smell of rotten flesh is a possible lead. The hero “coven” go to the sanitarium outside of town to question the survivor of the second set of murders. He is unable to answer any questions, but by his appearance Olga suspects he is infected with the ghoul fever. Luckily, Father Zantus is able to get to him in time and the man is expected to make a full recovery.
The heroes now realize that there is a ghoul menace emerging and likely a more sapient and devious intent behind the monsters. Even worse, a certain “Lordship” seems intent on using these attacks to lure Dharma into a nefarious plan. The ramblings of the insane survivor connect the “Lordship” with the note stuck in one of the victims, on which an invitation to Dharma to “join the pack” was written in blood.
The heroes return to town and plan to wait and see what happens. Kaielea and Helia sneak off back to the goblin fort in an attempt to make some money on the side. They get past the gold pile/secret door, and find more doors. One door is locked and clearly magical. Behind another door the discover a ghostly figure on a throne, stuck in an endless loop of inspiring speech. Not knowing what to make of any of this, the “rusties” return to Sandpoint.
The next afternoon news arrives of more ghouls marauding the nearby countryside. So our heroes grab a few batches of holy water and race off to prevent the spread of further ghoul-ification with some good ol’ beheading.