Initial Plot Concept
A bandit attack strikes a small town, but the Sheriff's disbelief in the legitimacy of the attack leaves the Townsfolk unprepared and vulnerable. The town is overwhelmed and all supplies and valuables in the town are either stolen or destroyed.
The Sheriff, under the orders of the furious Townsfolk, is stricken of his badge and exiled to the darker side of town, where crime and corruption are rife, not to mention escalated poverty and minute income. During the town's period of recovery, a Merchant swings by in an elaborate and ornately decorated wagon. The Merchant is offering the Townsfolk a cure-all for any ailments and illness that they may be afflicted with. Conveniently, just days after the attack. The cure-all is sold under the name "Miracle Snake Oil". The attack left the Townsfolk with no medical supplies or any other means of healing their wounds and curing their sick. Believing that the Oil truly is a miracle, they gather up all their remaining funds and queue up day after day, to buy Oil from the Merchant.
After a month of consistent, repeated consumption of the Oil, the Townsfolk notice that, contrary to the claims of the Merchant, many of them are in fact, becoming more and more unwell.
A young Professor of Medicine is staying in a town nearby, where he catches word of the mysterious illness in a town over. Curious, he visits the town in order to see if he can catch a break and make anything of the mystery.
The Professor's investigation begins in the slums of the town, where he happens upon the washed up Sheriff, pining over his former career. The Sheriff has done some investigating of his own during his time in the slums, and brings to the Professor an interesting observation; Why is it that in the more wealthy part of town, sickness is rampant and yet, in the considerably more deprived and typically, disease ridden slums, the inhabitants are, for the first time, at an all time high in regards to their health?
The Sheriff and the Professor realise that there is a distinct correlation between the Oil and the wealthier townsfolk. The wealthier Townsfolk are the ones that are more paranoid about their wellbeing, and more importantly, can afford to buy copious amounts of the Merchant's Oil. The poorer townsfolk, on the other hand, cannot afford it and therefore, their contact with it is significantly reduced.
The Professor takes a sample of the Oil for analysis and discovers that the Oil is not so much a cure-all as a kill-all. The Oil is a deadly poison at takes effect over an extended period of town, as to lower any immediate suspicion towards the vendor.
The Sheriff and the Professor reveal the Merchant's deadly secret to the rest of the Townsfolk, but given the Sheriff's reputation, they are unconvinced. The Merchant continues to sell his wares through the week, until suddenly, his true self begins to show through his facade.
During a demonstration, the Merchant, completely unawares and unintentionally, begins to shed his skin. Quite literally. The Merchant's true identity is revealed to the town.
The Merchant is revealed to be land baron working with the same bandits that attacked the town almost a month prior. He has been gradually poisoning the town in order to clear all inhabitants and poach the land, gaining access to an oil well underneath and consequently, gaining a considerable amount of money.
The Merchant flees town, with the former Sheriff in pursuit close behind. Meanwhile, the Professor attempts to formulate an antidote that can be distributed to the Townsfolk and legitimately cure the town.