Antonius and Alicia travel to York to meet with the smith Michael again. Antonius uses his newly invented spell to persuade Michael to confess his crimes against the nuns to the church, which he succeeds at doing.
Back at the covenant, just before Christmas, it is cold and there is a heavy fall of snow. Alicia wakes in the hours before dawn to find a young girl on her bed, eating an apple. After a cryptic conversation, the girl leads Alicia to the window where she sees a large humanoid figure standing outside the Aegis. The girl is gone, and then so is the figure.
The magi investigate to find large bird-like prints in the snow, leading back towards the village. Following them, they discover that the village is awake. There has been a murder - the woman Jessica has been killed by her sister, Anne.
Jessica lives in Ingleton, and had turned up in the village yesterday battered, scared and pregnant, talking of strange happenings. After making a confession to Father Paul the local priest, she stayed they night with her sister. During the night, Anne woke to find Jessica having sex with her husband. In a rage, she brained Jessica with a cooking pot, then fled into the night.
Questioning Jessica's spirit, the magi discover that no children have been born in Ingleton for the last three years, not since the old woman Neena was driven out of the village for spreading vicious rumours. One of the woman, Jocelyn, performed a ritual with the Goddess of Easter about six months ago and managed to get pregnant. Since then, Jocelyn had performed the rituals for others, including Jessica. They all got pregnant very rapidly. Before they gave birth however, the women vanished.
Jessica has been having extremely sexual thoughts and dreams since the ritual, and there has been much sinful activity. She confessed to the priest there, but somehow she and several other women ended up seducing him. The priest left some days later, and Jessica became scared enough that she ran away, seeking her sister for safety.
The magi are disturbed by a creature bursting into the cottage, then fleeing back into the night. Shale chases it, followed closely by the others. There is a short battle in which it is captured in stone, and slain. They determine it to be a demon of some kind.
The magi head back to the covenant to get some rest, deciding to try and find Anne in the morning, and possibly investigate the goings on at Ingleton.
The following morning the magi head down towards High Bentham in order to meet the Priest there who may have some knowledge about what is going on in neighbouring Ingleton. They arrive late at night, and stay at the inn where they are given a cool reception. Some Mentem magic from Antonius ex Jerbiton helps to smooth things over. The family here have heard some rumours about goings on at Ingleton, mostly from travellers who have come there in the last few months, but don't have many details. They also consider their local priest, Father John, to be somewhat strange.
In the morning they go to find Father John, who is somewhat off put by a group of strangers on his doorstep, most of whom have a supernatural feel to them and who immediately begin to talk about demons. Eventually magic is again needed to get him to cooperate.
He seems to have a detailed knowledge of theology, and expects his parishioners to understand his deep and meaningful sermons. He did visit Ingleton a few months ago, but noticed nothing unusual except that the parishioners there seemed to be just as confused as those in High Benthem.
Heading to Ingleton, the area around the village fills the magi with a deep chill, which is more spiritual than the physical cold of winter. The first place they investigate is the church, where they find the body of a priest in the crypt. He appears to have been stoned to death. The church appears to have no Divine aura, but does have an Infernal aura.
Alicia casts Whispers Through the Black Gate, and summons up Father John's spirit. He was killed by the villagers, a death he deserved for his sins of fornication with the villagers. At times, his spirit seems to be taken over by another entity, which Columbanus drives off. Apparently, the original 'infertility curse' was laid upon the village after he fathered a daughter on Gertrude a few years ago, and the old wise woman Neena was driven from here after she called him out on it. His daughter, Elve, died soon after birth. He doesn't know where people have disappeared to, but believes the place to be cursed by god for the sins of the villagers.
Outside, some women from the village come to visit their guests. Alicia tries to talk with them, but her inability to speak only the most basic English hampers her efforts. The women seem attracted to the magi, but Antonius dampens their passions with his magic. There seem to be spirits of some kind around, and Columbanus manages again to drive off a powerful one which gets too close.
With Alicia unable to get anything useful out of the women, the magi are unsure what their next steps should be.
Still at Ingleton, the magi are invited to a cottage by a young woman who tells them that it is dangerous outside. She is Gertrude, the girl whom the old woman Neena had claimed the priest had had a relationship with. Neena had been banished from the village three years ago because of this.
Gertrude's cottage is filled with holy crosses and other protective devices, and she prays regularly to keep the incubi and succubi who infest the village away from her. She knows where Neena is, and is persuaded to take the magi there.
Neena lives in a small cottage in the nearby woods. She has seen the women going up to White Scar cave on Ingleborough mountain. She tells the magi that the fertility rituals were performed on a nearby hill, at an old faerie stone.
Visiting White Scar cave, the magi discover some demons and a pool that leads to an infernal regio. The magi tentatively enter the pool, which has another 'side' on the bottom which is inside a bleak, desolate regio which saps their will, strength and energy. There is a small settlement some distance away through the marshy forest, but they decide that trying to find and defeat the evil behind the place is too dangerous, and they leave the regio and go back to the cave. Shale brings down the cave, blocking access to it and hopefully breaking the regio gateway.
Heading back to the village, they also destroy the corrupted faerie mound. Further questioning of Neena reveals that she cursed the village with infertility originally (not unexpected) by sacrificing Gertrude's baby (highly unexpected). Quaesitor Columbanus slays Neena, and they destroy her spirit.
They dig up the remains of the child, and take it and the body of the priest to Father John at High Bentham for him to bury. He is again very shocked at the magi arriving with two dead bodies, but Antonius again uses magic to force him to do what they want without any questions.
They head back to the covenant to rest. A few days later Alicia returns to Ingleton to see if anything has improved there, but it has not.
The magi talk to Father Paul at Scratching Hill for advice on re-consecrating the church at Ingleton. He doesn't have much experience with such things, but volunteers to try anyway. Alicia ex Criamon goes to Penhill Preceptory to seek the advice of Karl-Erik. He also agrees to provide aid.
On St Stephen's Day, Antonius and Columbanus head down to Ingleton with Drogo, Karl-Erik and Father Paul. Singing psalms, they march into the village and gather the villagers together. At that point, they are attacked by half a dozen demons, who injure Antonius and critically injure Father Paul, before they are dispatched. Both are patched up, and they shepherd everyone into the church.
After rituals are performed, and everyone has been blessed, the church is considered consecrated again. Alicia turns up to help people home, and in the process of trying to send Antonius back to the covenant, briefly enters Twilight where she has a vision of the young girl with an apple, who talks of two worlds, one of which needs to die in order for the other to live.
Father Paul and Karl-Erik stay at Ingleton in order to try and restore order to the place, and the others return to the covenant.
Whilst at Ingleton, Karl-Erik investigates the manor house. All inside have been slain, and the local lord, Baron Malcolm, is dead at the chapel altar. He is dressed as a crusader knight, and seems to have died whilst fasting and praying at the altar. The bodies of the rest of the family, apparently slain by the Baron, have been laid out in the chapel which still has a holy aura about it.
Karl-Erik arranges for the bodies to be buried.