Problems, at least those who came to the attention of the dean of Liberal Theology, had been rare in Newton Howard. Some said it was not really Bellhamshire, being on the edge of the Wensel Valley and only included in the county in the last century. The faculty of Liberal Theology, that would later become the Faculty of Liberal Science, was though known to most as the school of magic.
The problem, that had come to the attention of Dean Edmund Ible, was that talented young artists and artisans were dying. Each artist or artisan having produced their finest work then dying having spent several months driven and working themselves into a grave. That Edmund was sending investigators to look into the problem demonstrated that the Faculty, University and Minster had returned to its ancient role and heritage, having been rid of the influence of Dean Bishop, who had died in the Bellham Inferno that had destroyed the minster.
Those who were to investigate, for the Dean, were Briony Ansell, Gwyn Forester, and Jacob Ackar. Jacob being the youngest son of the Ackar family of country gentry. Gwyn’s heritage being that of illustrious Forester family whose seat had for aeons been the Elves Castle. Briony Ansell being the daughter of a spiritualist family from Oxford. As a young child, Briony proved to be a talent medium and her family elected to fund her attending of Bellham University.
Those who were to investigate rode to Newton Howard and established themselves in Railway Hotel, on Northampton Road. There they discussed how to carry out the investigation. At Briony suggestion, they decided that the best course of action was to each take one of those who had died and find out all they could about them and their last few months. Briony took Alexander Corder, whilst Gwyn took Colin Tranter and Jacob took William Shores.