Rise of the Runelords

The Sandpoint Jubilee

A simple celebration turns disastrous, but brings four strangers together

After Sandpoint’s original temple and its priest, Ezakien Tobyn, were consumed in the Great Fire eight years ago, the town faithful made due gathering in smaller wooden structures. Three years past before the Haeralm assigned a new pastor, but Father Abstalar Zantus proved helpful, kind, and wise. He immediately initiated the construction of a new temple. After five years of sacrifice and hard work, the new church had been completed as part of Concordance Hall, a grand building to honor losses of the past and inspire a vibrant future. All that remained was for the renewal of the site’s blessings from Ogard, The Stern Father, during the Sandpoint Jubilee, and it would be as if the Great Fire had never occurred.

Arrivals

Craiuk Runeheart hailed from the dwarven kingdom of Thranadar in the Snowcrown Mountains. Ancient secrets and lore fascinated him from an early age, and he apprenticed himself to an archaeologist guild where he specialized in infiltrating and exploring ancient sites. His interest in rune magic, particularly that mastered by the long dead Thassilonian empire, came to dominate his studies. He left the Snowcrown Mountains and travelled to the frontier town of Sandpoint, home to a reputed expert on Thassilonian lore, arriving just a few days prior to the Jubilee.

Merrik Kinderley was born to a family of Varisian entertainers and tinkers that roamed the Harealm central kingdom. A lover of stories, Merrik immersed himself in the legends of the days prior to the Age of Demons, and he apprenticed as a bookbinder in large part to gain access to more knowledge. He strove to keep his prohibited sorcerous abilities hidden when they first manifested themselves, but his secret was eventually discovered, forcing Merrik on the run and his family into hiding. Assuming the alias, Merrik Kinderley, he traveled first to Magnimar and its Great Library. After only a brief stay, however, he continued deeper into the frontier lands both to elude Haeralm Justicars and seek answers about his heritage. Merrik arrived in Sandpoint about a week prior to the Jubilee and has been staying with Chask Haladan, a trusted relation of the Magnimar librarian.

Shar’el Wrensong was born and raised outside of Sandpoint in the Tickwood forest. While her parents taught her woodslore, hunting, tracking and how to take care of herself, they also sent her to Sandpoint for schooling at the Turandarok Academy. There she became best friends with Ameiko Kaijitsu. Excited to attend the Jubilee, Shar’el arrived the day before the event, staying at Aledae’s inn, the Rusty Dragon.

Tenauc was orphaned at birth at the secluded Gryphonsridge Abbey. Through meditations she achieved communion with an avatar of Gorum, a long forgotten diety. After several years of observance to the tenets and practices taught by the avatar, she was granted divine abilities and tasked with a mission to serve Gorum. A vision of swallowtail butterflies guided her first to the town where the butterflies were being collected for delivery to the Sandpoint Jubilee. Signing on as a guard, she traveled with the caravan to Sandpoint, watchful for the next sign.

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Jubilee

The Sandpoint Jubilee began promptly, as scheduled, on the first day of autumn in the square before the newly completed Concordance Hall. Numerous merchant tents featuring food, clothes, local crafts, and souvenirs were prepared to meet the crowd of arriving locals and travelers. The Haeralm contingent from Magnimar confined themselves to the hall, a choice preferred by the locals, although none dared be openly critical. As no weapons policy was in strict effect for the festival, Ameiko secured Shar’el’s weapons at the Rusty Dragon Inn, while Craiuk and Tenauc surrendered their weapons to the town guard, who promptly locked them in a secure wagon. Merrik was allowed, however, to keep his quarterstaff.

The turnout for the opening speeches was quite respectable, and the four keynote speakers each delivered short but well-received welcomes to the festival. Mayor Deverin’s friendly attitude and excitement enlivened the crowd as she welcomed visitors to town and joked about how even Larz Rovanky, the local tanner (and notorious workaholic) managed to tear himself away from the tannery to attend, much to everyone’s but Larz’s amusement. The spirit became much more subdued as the dour Sheriff Hemlock took the stage to request for a moment of silence to remember those who lost their lives in the fire that claimed the town’s previous church eight years ago and remind everyone to be safe around the evening’s bonfire. Fortunately, Cyrdak Drokkus proved more than up to the challenge of bringing the crowd’s mood back up with his rousing anecdotes as he delivered a not-completely-irreverent recap of the long process the town went through to finance and construct the new hall. He ended with a bit of self-promotion, inviting everyone to stop by the Sandpoint Theater the following evening to check out his new production of “The Harpy’s Curse,” revealing that the lead role of Avisera, the harpy queen, would be played by none other than the famous Magnimarian diva Allishanda! Finally, Father Zantus gave a short speech thanking everyone for coming before declaring the Sandpoint Jubilee underway.

Swallowtails

At noon, Father Zantus and his acolytes wheeled a large covered wagon into the square. After a traditional supplication to Ogard, he recounted a short parable of a child becoming lost in a forest, but a magical butterfly answering it’s pleas and guiding it home. At his cue, the acolytes pulled aside the wagon’s cover, releasing a furious storm of a thousand swallowtail butterflies that swarmed into the air in a spiraling riot of color to a great cheer from the crowd. Throughout the rest of the day, children futilely chased butterflies, never quite quick enough to catch them. Lunch was provided free, at the expense of Sandpoint’s taverns. Each brought its best dishes, but it soon became apparent that the darling of the lunch was, once again, Ameiko Kaijitsu, whose remarkable curry-spiced salmon and early winterdrop mead easily overshadowed the other offerings, such as the Hagfish’s lobster chowder and the White Deer’s peppercorn venison.

Finally, as the sun began to set, the Haeralm priest approached the central podium with Father Zantus and used a thunderstone to attract everyone’s attention. When the sharp retort resounded through the excited crowd, the buzz of two dozen conversations quickly hushed and all heads turned toward the central podium, at the scowling Haeralm priest. He cleared his throat, taking a breath to speak, but suddenly a dozen arrows pierced the two clergymen. A woman’s scream sliced through the air. A few moments later, another scream rose, then another. Beyond them, a sudden surge of strange new voices swelled—high-pitched, tittering shrieks that sounded not quite human…

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Goblins in the Streets

Goblin Song

The crowd parted as something low to the ground raced by, giggling with disturbing glee. A stray dog that had been napping beneath a merchant’s cart gave a pained yelp and then collapsed with a gurgle, its throat cut open from ear to ear by a goblin. As blood pooled around its head, the raucous sound of a strange song began, chanted from over a dozen shrill, scratchy voices.

The goblin that killed the stray dog turned excitedly to the crowd, seeking out a new target, and it’s eyes locked onto a nearby child. Cursing a lack of weapons, Shar’el Wrensong cast around for anything useful and spied a stool and rolling pin on the ground nearby. In one swift motion she grabbed both and hurled the stool at the goblin. Although it missed, the goblin shifted its attention from the child to her, grinning wickedly. Shar’el’s brash attack caught the attention of Crauik. Thinking to himself, “That’s girl’s got gumption,” he slid the hidden dagger from his boot and maneuvered through the panicked crowd toward her. Merrik spotted two additional goblins over a lunch table and brandishing his quarterstaff, interjected himself between them and the baker, Alma Avertin.

Tenauc, having forced her way closer to the stage in order to get a better look at the man who told the unorthodox parable, leapt upon the stage and rushed to Father Zantus’ side. He was unconscious and gravely wounded from the arrows. Confident that the chaos of the assault would provide sufficient distraction, she whispered a prayer of healing to Gorum. Almost immediately the worst of the bleeding stopped, and Father Zantus gasped back into consciousness. With a weak grin he told the the half-orc, “I will be fine, help the citizens!”

Grabbing a mace lying beside a dead Haeralm centurion, Tenauc charged to assist Merrik, who had his hands full fending off the two goblins. Shar’el wasn’t having much success with her rolling pin either, but her attacks occupied the goblin, allowing Craiuk to sneak behind it and thrust his dagger between two ribs, killing it. He kicked the dead goblin’s dogslicer to the half-elf, adding with a grunt, “Yer might have more luck with that.”

Joining forces, the four made quick work of the remaining two goblins. Looking about, it was clear that chaos had engulfed Sandpoint. Goblins raced everywhere, running amok and singing and slashing indiscriminately. Craiuk spotted the weapons locker unguarded on a nearby wagon. Tenauc kept a wary eye on the scene while Craiuk picked the lock and retrieved both his battleaxe and Tenauc’s greatsword.

No sooner had they had retrieved their weapons, than a sudden bloom of fire grabbed their attention. A group of goblins had discovered the cart full of fuel for the bonfire just south of the festival grounds and successfully lit it on fire. The four new comrades raced to the scene to be welcomed by a band of cackling and shrieking goblins armed with dogslicers and torches. Initially, the goblins sought to burn the heroes with their torches, but after Shar’el dispatched one of them with a vicious slash across the throat, they dropped the torches and drew their dogslicers. Spotting the warchanter, Shar’el shouted to her comrades, “The one singing, we must strike her down!”

Goblin pyros

Tenauc pushed through the goblin warriors and shrugged of a spell cast by the warchanter as she closed to engage. Merrik surreptitiously used a mage hand spell to pull a discarded bottle and trip a goblin approaching Craiuk. Chuckling at his good fortune, the dwarf split the goblin’s skull open with his battleaxe. The party made short work dispatching the warchanter and her remaining warriors, but not without being bloodied themselves.

Once the battle was over, the heroes looked around. Here and there, the sounds of battle continued, clanging swords, calls of support by the town guard, and shrieking and singing goblins echo through the streets, but at the festival itself, most of the citizens have fled. Many goblins lie dead, along with a few unfortunate citizens. Comfortable that no one was paying close attention, Tenauc pulled out her holy symbol and channeled a healing surge. Shar’el voiced the other’s wonderment as their wounds healed in an instant, “You don’t look like any priest of the Haeralm that I’ve ever seen.”

“That is because I am no priest of the Haeralm.” replied the half-orc matter-of-factly.

A scream and frantic barking from the north prevented further discussion of the revelation. Shar’el grabbed the warchanter’s shortbow and arrows before following the others to investigate. In front of the White Deer Inn, a frightened well-dressed young man cowered behind a rain barrel calling for help, while his hunting dog fought against a goblin commando mounted on a goblin dog. The four heroes arrived just in time to see the goblin commando slay the dog with his horsechopper. As it crashed dying to the ground, several of the commando’s goblin kin emerged from nearby tables where they had been cowering while the dog was handled and began dancing and cheering the kill.

Goblin commando mounted

Shar’el’s arrow into the commando’s shoulder ended the celebrations. Barking orders to the warriors, the commando spurred his mount towards cover. Shar’el continued her ranged assault on the leader as the others closed and engaged the goblin warriors. Her second shot hit true, and as the commando fell from his mount, dead, the warriors’ courage failed. The goblin dog, however, charged the young half-elf. Before she could draw her sword, it was on top of her, tearing at her. With a shout of concern, Merrik unleashed a magic missile into its hide. While not enough to slay the beast, the magic bolt was enough the draw the foul creature’s attention. “This day is just full o’ surprises, a half-orc cleric who ain’t Haeralm, and if that boy ain’t a sorcerer I’ll shave my beard.” muttered the dwarf as he and the half-orc hurried to the half-elf’s aid.

Moments later the goblin dog lay dead. The young nobleman, shaken but unhurt, introduced himself as Aldern Foxglove. He thanked the heroes effusively, gushing about Shar’el’s prowess with the bow in particular. By this time, Sheriff Belor Hemlock and his garrison had the situation fully under control. Aldern insisted that the party join him at The Rusty Dragon for a well earned drink.

“I don’t know about the rest of ye,” answered the dwarf with a grin, “but I’ve worked up a powerful thirst!”

As the new friends headed to the Rusty Dragon, the town garrison, led by Sheriff Hemlock, finished securing the town. Surviving goblins fled north in droves, in some cases preferring to leap to their certain deaths off the cliff at Junker’s Edge rather than be captured. The joys of the festival overshadowed, the townsfolk retreated to their homes to recover from the day’s horrors. Yet many took the time to thank the Shar’el and her comrades for aiding them.

Ameiko Kaijitsu hailed Shar’el and her new friends as they arrived at the Rusty Dragon and offered them all a free week of room and board as thanks for helping to defeat the goblins. Aldern Foxglove insisted on paying for all drinks that night, leading to a raucous night of celebrating.

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