Rise of the Runelords

A Brief Respite
The heroes take some time for individual pursuits

Merrik

Merrik started assisting Chask Haladan at his bookshop, The Curious Goblin, the next day. He had approached the elderly bookkeep shortly after arriving at Sandpoint, and although initially disinterested, Chask had hired him on as a part-time assistant upon learning of his bookbinding skills. The reason for the change of heart became apparent to Merrik as soon as he spotted the stack of worn and tattered textbooks that Ilsoari Gandethus, headmaster of the Turandarok Academy, had deposited at the shop.

Although Ilsoari had made arrangements at Vernah’s Fine Clothing for the bookcloth necessary to repair the texts, Merrik needed to procure his own tools for the job. Fortunately, the general store was only a short walk from the bookshop. The owner, Vin Vinder, happened to be out on an errand, but his stunningly attractive daughter, Shayliss, was more than willing to help him navigate the store and find a suitable set of bookbinding tools.

“You’re one of the heroes that fought off the goblins at the Jubilee! You’re quite the rarity Master Kinderley, brave and good with your hands.” she purred as they searched through the merchandise.

“Well, it was really nothing, and please call me Merrik” replied Merrik, pleased to have caught the attention of such a lovely young woman.

Shayliss located the toolkit and with a sly smile and a wink, encouraged him to stop back soon. Merrik headed back to The Curious Goblin, upbeat from the harmless flirting, but was intercepted by Alma Avertin, the baker he protected during the goblin raid. Ignoring his protests of work, she dragged him to her nearby shop, Sandpoint Savories, where she piled several pastries in a bag for him.

Over the next couple of days, Merrik set to work on repairing the textbooks. Various folks wandered into the store, but none to actually purchased anything, but rather to sit, read, and discuss various issues. In particular, Sabyl Sorren, Ilsoari Gandethus, and Brodert Quink spent a fair amount of time at the bookshop either chatting with Chask or sitting in one of the several large chairs reading. Brodert was almost giddy with excitement about meeting Craiuk, who shared his keen interest in Thassilonian lore and relics. Merrik enjoyed the sometimes rowdy debates of the four old friends and was pleased when they welcomed his input on topics. He was also pleasantly surprised when Shayliss Vinder stopped by the shop to ensure the tools met to his satisfaction and see if there was anything else he needs.

As part of working at The Curious Goblin, Merrik had access to all the books publicly on display. While the selections regarding arcana and the various planes were quite limited, due in no small part to Haraelm restrictions, they provided useful material for his evening studies back at the Rusty Dragon.

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Craiuk

Craiuk set out the morning after Shar’el headed back to her home outside Sandpoint to find the best local scholar on ancient empires. His queries led him to the home of Brodert Quink. After making his introductions, he found Brodert quite welcoming. The old scholar seemed quite excited in fact to find someone who shared his fascination with the Thassilonian empire. Over the next few days, The two shared the results of their independent studies. Brodert also introduced Craiuk to some of the other town intellectuals, including Chask Haladan, Ilsoari Gandethus, and Veznutt Parooh.

Craiuk also made the acquaintance of one of Sandpoint’s other dwarven citizens, Volioker Briskalberd. Volioker had heard of Crauik’s exploits and sought him out, eager for company with a fellow dwarf. He insisted that Craiuk join him for a showing of the new pay at the playhouse. The show was enjoyable enough, but the dinner afterward afforded Craiuk the opportunity to learn a lot of the local situation, including

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Tenauc

Tenauc reported to Father Zantus, ostensibly to serve as a designated guard for Concordance Hall. Izukdul Shadowaxe stated that this was completely unnecessary, as his squad has everything well in hand. Father Zantus overruled his objections, however, pointing out that their tenure was not permanent. Vexed by the decision, Izukdul made every attempt to disparage the half-orc, but Tenauc refused to rise to his baiting.

Tenauc rose at dawn for mediations within the Reflection Garden. Her duties around the hall introduced her to several of the townsfolk, including Sabyl Sorn and the armorer, Savah Bevaniky. Sabyl invited Tenauc to join her sometime for meditations at her small monastery, the House of Blue Stones. Savah commended Tenauc for her part in defeating the goblins during the Jubilee and offered her a sizable discount on any single item in stock at her armory. In secret, Father Zantus provided her insights into the forgotten deities, including an ancient tome overviewing their teachings that she kept safely hidden in her room.

A couple days after moving into Concordance Hall, Ilsoari Gandethus brought a group of orphans from the Turandarok Academy to tour Sandpoint’s new cathedral. Although some of the children were a bit intimidated by the half-orc, one child, Jhanric Briarstag, was quite fascinated with Tenauc.

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Shar’el

Shar’el headed back to her home outside of Sandpoint, taking her horse(name?) from the Goblin Squash stables. After greeting her folks, she headed straight to the paddock to begin his training as a combat mount. Much to her surprise, she was joined a short time later by her father, Calaith, who had become withdrawn and reclusive following her brother Thrarar’s death just a few short months prior. He watched from the fence and provided the occasional pointer. They spent the next few days working the horse together, and both Shar’el and her mother, Shararen, could see the restorative impact being enacted on Calaith.

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The Boar Hunt
The party joins Aldern Foxglove in a hunt

A Visit To The Stables

Aldern Foxglove caught up with the party the evening after their investigation of the vault. He had organized the boar hunt within Tickwood to take place in two days. Since none of the heroes owned horses or gear, Aldern insisted that the group meet him at the Goblin Squash Stables the next morning so that he could supply them with horses, saddles, and bits/bridles.

When they arrived at the stables, Daverin Hosk, the stablemaster, greeted them enthusiastically and congratulated them on assisting repel the goblin raid. A retired hunter whose hatred of goblins was near legendary in Sandpoint, Hosk pointed out his collection of goblin ears nailed to the stable’s rafters and informed the party that he would pay a bounty of 5gp for every pair of goblin ears that they brought him. As Shar’el picked out the horses for the group from his stock, she chatted with Daverin, sharing some common facts about goblins.

The Hunt

The day of the hunt arrived, and the foursome saddled their new horses and joined up with Aldern and his three manservants at the White Deer just before noon. The mile-and-a-half ride to Tickwood Forest took just over half an hour. Although Shar’el had deliberately chosen a mild tempered mare for Merrik, his unease at handling a horse required her to frequently come to his assistance. During the journey, Aldern proved a charming conversationalist and relished sharing tales about the high life in Magnimar. His real interest, however, was learning more about his rescuers, most especially Shar’el.

Tickwood Boar

Upon entering Tickwood, Shar’el aided Aldern and his manservants in tracking down signs of a tickwood boar. Although a capable hunter, Aldern’s woodlore proved no match for the young half-elf who grew up in the area, but rather than being resentful, the nobleman praised her skills as she not only found a trail, but was the first to spot the boar. Before the beast could turn and charge, Shar’el pierced it with a pair of arrows. Craiuk and Merrik got off crossbow shots and Tenauc a javelin, none hitting, before dismounting to aid the half-elf. Aldern’s horse reared in the confusion, throwing him from the saddle and causing his manservants to rush to his aid.

Craiuk managed to position himself between Shar’el and the charging boar. The boar gored him badly, but the dwarf managed to score a solid blow with his battleaxe. Merrik infused Tenauc with a touch of destiny as she lept to the dwarf’s aid, striking a near fatal wound to the boar with her greatsword. Dropping her bow, Shar’el closed and dealt the killing blow with her shortsword. While his manservants continued to be distracted with helping Aldern settle his horse, Tenauc cast a healing spell on the seriously injured dwarf, curing most of the damage.

On the journey back to Sandpoint, Aldern was all praise for Shar’el to the point of being dismissive of the others’ contributions. When Aldern suggested using the boar for a feast that evening, Shar’el convinced him the the dinner should be held at the Rusty Dragon. Arriving at the inn, Aldern demonstrated a keen proficiency at skinning and gutting the animal before handing it over to Ameiko to prepare for the dinner.

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Trouble At The Rusty Dragon

Ameiko Kaijitsu had the boar prepared with several side dishes by dinner. As the group dined on the feast, their recount of the day’s hunt became wilder and more outlandish with every round of ale and wine. Suddenly, the inn door slammed open as an elderly man stormed in bellowing out a sharp-tongued command in a strange language. Shar’el and all the locals in the establishment immediately recognized the surly gentleman as Laumord Surand, one of Sandpoint’s most well-known nobles with a reputation for wrathful outbursts. The other patrons grew quiet and very interested in their meals as he stalked into the tavern, eyes scanning the room. Annoyed by the unseemly behavior, Aldern stood and challenged the old man to be civil,

“There is no call for bursting in here in a rage!”

The irate nobleman’s eyes immediately turned and locked onto the young noble.

“You mind your place whelp! You may come into this town putting on airs as a gentleman, but the nobility of your bloodline isn’t worth my hounds’ piss!”

As Aldern sunk back into his seat, speechless at the affront, the old man turned his attention and vitriol to the party.

“And what have we here? The heroes of Sandpoint. Societal menaces I say, endangering the lives of our citizens with your ill-concieved antics. A filthy band of vagrants you all are, good for nothing other than attracting even more trouble to this town!”

The insult brought all four comrades to their feet, Shar’el expressing exactly how much value she placed on the words of “an arrogant old fool.” While Tenauc and Merrik failed to defuse Laumord’s rage through either cool intimidation or soothing diplomacy, Craiuk merely threatened “a boot in his ass” if he didn’t mind his tongue.

By this time the shouting in the tavern had attracted Aledae’s attention, and she came rushing from the kitchen, dripping soup ladle still in hand, demanding to know what the “gods forsaken rukus” was all about. Laumord and his daughter immediately launched into a heated argument in their native tongue that culminated in Aledae ordering him out of her inn (albeit with a string of creative and shocking profanity). Enraged, Laumord reached out to grab Aledae by the hair, but she easily dodged the attempt and brained him with her ladle, splattering fish stock and potatoes all over his hair and clothes.

Outraged by Laumord’s behavior, Shar’el pushed him away from Aledae, causing him to trip over a chair. “That’s it, you’re outta here!” declared Crauik. “You have outstayed your welcome.” added Tenauc in agreement as she helped the dwarf drag the fuming nobleman to the door. Before being tossed out, Laumord hurled one final insult to Aledae,

“You’re as dead to me as your mother!”

The cruel barb almost brought Aledae to tears, but she composed herself as Craiuk made good on his threat with a swift kick to Laumord’s backside. Picking up her ladle, she inspected it and pulled a hair out of the mess before declaring to the tavern,

“Looks like I’ll need a well-cleaned ladle now, since jackass stew is not on the menu.”

The resulting cheers and laughter from the patrons brought a genuine smile back to Aledae’s face. Being a close friends for most of their lives, Shar’el knew the story behind Laumord’s final words and followed Aledae to the kitchens to make sure her friend was alright. As Shar’el approached, Aledae quickly tucked the note that she had been reading into her apron. Grateful for her longtime friend’s concern, Aledae assured Shar’el that she was fine.

“I’m sorry you had to be a part of that. They say blood is thicker than water, but I’ve found that true friends are the most valuable relationships. Still, the requests and demands of your kin pull at your heart no matter severed you may believe the ties. But no worries, and tell your friends that they have my thanks as well, and are welcome to stay here at the Rusty Dragon for another week on the house.”

Upon returning to the group and delivering Aledae’s offer, Shar’el found that the altercation had turned Aldern’s mood sour. He soon bid the party a good evening and explained that it was time for him to return to Foxglove Manor and the restoration work that awaited him and that he would be departing Sandpoint on the morrow. Shar’el also declared that she would be heading back home the next morning to begin training her new horse. And so the four comrades turned their attentions to personal pursuits over the next several days.

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The Desecrated Vault
Sheriff Hemlock requests the party investigate possible vandalism at the Boneyard

The chapel of Concordance Hall was consecrated early the next morning in a much more subdued indoor ceremony. The Haeralm contingent from Magnimar departed soon afterwards, taking the remains of the slain priest and guards with them. Izukdul Shadowaxe, a hobgoblin lieutenant of the Crimson Star, remained behind with a handful of soldiers, tasked with keeping a watchful eye on the town for signs of heresy and sedition.

The Sheriff’s Request

Not long after the Haeralm contingent departed, Sheriff Belor Hemlock entered the Rusty Dragon where the four new friends were nursing their hangovers. He approached the group and asked in a hushed tone if they could assist him with a task. Intrigued, the four agreed and grabbed their gear before joining him. As the sheriff led the group to the Sandpoint Boneyard, he first thanked them for their aid during the goblin assault and then explained the nature of his request – the Boneyard caretaker, Naffer Vosk, had discovered the stone door to a burial vault ajar earlier that morning. Sheriff Hemlock didn’t expect much,

“Worst case, once of those damn goblins got himself trapped inside.”

Still, the vault in question was the one reserved for former caretakers, priests, and acolytes of the Haeralm. This made Father Zantus anxious for the matter be handled without the hobgoblin, Izukdul’s, involvement.

As they walked from the Rusty Dragon to the Boneyard, the sheriff also tried to get to know a bit about Shar’el’s new comrades, asking them from where they hailed, what had brought them to Sandpoint, and what plans, if any, they had for the future. Although small talk was not his strong suite, Belor managed to come across as genuinely interested, rather than interrogating. Upon reaching the Boneyard, the group was immediately met by the caretaker, Naffer Vosk, who expressed his displeasure with the sheriff’s plan.

“That vault should be inspected by the Crimson Star, not some band of mercenaries!”

Sheriff Hemlock cooly informed Vosk that Father Zantus had decided this was a matter for the garrison, not the Crimson Star, but he would be joining the priest and hobgoblin lieutenant shortly. As for the four heroes,

“I have deputized Shar’el and her comrades. In this matter they represent me, and you will not interfere with their task!”

Grumbling, Naffer hobbled away and Sheriff Hemlock took his leave. As the party approached the vault, they could clearly see the surrounding grounds churned from recent activity and its stone door slightly ajar. Shar’el identified signs of goblin tracks, guessing half a dozen, along with a single larger set of boot tracks. Although it was apparent the tracks led both in and out of the stone door, she lost the trail not far from the vault. Walking to the stone door, Craiuk grunted,

“Well no use putting this off. Let me make sure these goblins haven’t left us any nasty surprises.”

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Investigating the Vault

A quick inspection convinced the dwarf that the vault was safe to enter. The main chamber was dark but empty. Merrik cast a light spell on the top of his quarterstaff before the foursome proceeded down the stairs into the main crypt, the dwarf in front keeping a wary eye out for traps. The bottom of the stairs opened into a large burial chamber. As Craiuk stepped into the chamber, a pair of human skeletons wielding ancient scimitars lurched from the shadows and attacked.

Desecrated vault skeleton

At the dwarf’s first shout of alarm, Shar’el leapt past him into the chamber. Stabbing at the nearest skeleton, her short sword unfortunately got caught between its ribs and was wrenched from her grasp as skeleton struck back, badly slicing her now empty sword arm. Merrik blasted the other skeleton that was closing on the dwarf with a magic missile. Undeterred, the skeleton slashed at the dwarf, but Craiuk dodged its swing and countered with a blow from his waraxe. Stepping into the chamber, Tenauc pulled out her holy symbol and called out to Gorum. A wave of divine energy unleashed from her, destroying one skeleton and badly damaging the other. As Shar’el, now on the defensive, dodged the skeleton’s scimitar swings, Merrik charged to her aid and smashed it with a blow from his quarterstaff.

Desecrated vault sarcophagus

Craiuk and Merrik investigated the vault while Tenauc healed Shar’el’s wounded arm. The dwarf found a discarded black robe with some torn stitching, like patches had been pulled off. He tucked the robe away for a more thorough study later. More importantly, Merrik discovered that one of the sarcophagi was open and empty. Shar’el immediately recognized the name on the sarcophagus, Ezakien Tobyn, as Father Zantus’ predecessor who was killed in the Great Fire. Why the priest’s remains were taken remained a mystery, but the party realized that the evidence of the desecration needed to be hidden or Sandpoint would risk a “cleansing” by the Haeralm.

After dumping the destroyed skeletons into the sarcophagus and closing the lid, the four adventurers returned to the Boneyard. Merrik managed to mollify the cantankerous caretaker and allayed his concerns of any mischief in the vault. The group then proceeded into Concordance Hall to give their report to Sheriff Hemlock and Father Zantus, where they encountered Izukdul having just departed his meeting with the sheriff and priest. He pushed passed the party sneering,

“Deputies, bah! Mercenary trash more like it.”

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A Revelation

Ignoring the jibe, the party continued, Father Zantus ushered the party into his office where Sheriff Hemlock was already seated. After listening intently to the group’s report, both were very disturbed at the desecration and impressed upon the group the need to keep it under wraps. Father Zantus concurred with Tenauc’s assessment that the skeletons encountered were placed there and not animated from remains. As to Father Tobyn’s stolen remains, everyone was puzzled, but Father Zantus was especially concerned, stating,

“I now fear the goblin raid was merely a distraction for this theft, but for what sinister purpose I’m afraid that I haven’t a clue.”

Sheriff Hemlock thanked the group for their assistance in the matter, but as everyone prepared to leave, Father Zantus requested that Tenauc remain behind for a private discussion. Alone, he first thanked the half-orc for healing him at the Jubilee, but then questioned what diety she worships because she was obviously no cleric of Ogard. When Tenauc attempted to evade the question, he smiled and asked her to follow him to the Reflection Garden. The garden area was empty, and the priest turned to Tenauc,

“Concordance Hall is far more than what has been shared with the Haeralm, or the townsfolk for that matter. Reach out with your divine energy, and its secrets may be revealed.”

Upon doing so a hidden emblem of Gorum glowed warmly, much to her surprise. Father Zantus then reached out himself revealing that he was not truly devoted to Ogard, but rather the ancient diety travelers and dreams, Desna.

“Although the old gods have been forgotten and abandoned by many of the peoples of these lands, their power endures. I am part of the Iskadurn Disciples, a group committed to restore their teachings and worship. Our numbers are few, but growing. I would be honored to welcome you, a chosen of Gorum, into our brethren if you are willing to help our cause.”

Tenauc accepted the priest’s offer of working together; she posing as a temple guard, while secretly studying the abandoned gods.

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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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Preamble
Introduction to the campaign

The rise of the Haraelm and their Empire of Triumphal Horizons brought the foreign Thaogardshun and their hobgoblin minions to power and ended the Age of Demons over a thousand years ago. The new empire provided relative peace and order to the Inner Seas but at the price of liberty. Ogard, the Stern Father, was established as the official religion, and all worship off ‘false gods’ was forbidden. The racial hatred between hobgoblin and elf simmered from the very start and eventually boiled over into open warfare. Known as the Grand Crusade, the Haraelm declared sorcery as heretical and linked it to the elven race. The elven confederacy not only faced a force superior in both numbers and organization, but arcane magics continued to wane since before the Age of Demons ended. Shortly after the millennial celebration of the Year of Triumph, the Haraelm had eradicated or enslaved all elves within the central kingdom. Following the victorious end of the Grand Crusade, the Empire of Triumphal Horizons turned its attention to expansion into the surrounding frontier territories.

The frontier region formerly known as Varisia had succumbed to demonic forces during the earliest Ravaging. Throughout the Age of Demons and the rise of the Haraelm, it remained a dangerous and thoroughly untamed wild. Only a few elven enclaves and dwarves strongholds endured deep within the forests and mountains, and the barbarian tribes of the Shoanti rose from the ashes of human civilization. The hobgoblins armies of the Haraelm Empire led the initial expansion into the region, driving the warlike Shoanti into the rugged regions of the northeast. The mostly human colonists that followed adopted a tenuous peace with the natives, establishing the first major settlement, Magnimar, in 1168 YT. The Haeralm Empire declared Varisia a subservient nation thirty-five years later.

Since then, Varisia has come to represent a place of new opportunity with relatively limited interference from the Haeralm and a land rich with ancient mystery and the promise of undiscovered wealth. For much of its length, the Lost Coast offered little shelter, with one exception—a perfect cove on the Varisian Bay about 50 miles away from Magnimar overlooked by a curious stone ruin. Four powerful families from Magnimar consolidated their efforts, formed the Sandpoint Mercantile League, and successfully established the coastal town of Sandpoint in 1408 YT. Despite many hardships, fishermen, farmers, and other simple folk made the community prosperous and one of the rare truly peaceful havens in the frontier territory of Varisia.

Twenty years ago, strange foliage rapidly bloomed throughout the continent, coinciding with an unusual aurora in the night sky. The effect, referred to as The Bloom, persisted for almost a month. Many explanations were given and many groups declared it a portent of their cause’s success or legitimacy. One thing is known for certain; magical energies began waxing once again. Rumors are whispered in taverns across the lands of elves dark as night raiding outposts, sorcerers regaining strength and followers, and magical beasts not seen since the Age of Demons roaming the wilds. Armies of the Haraelm are again on the move, but to secure the central kingdom leaving the frontiers more and more to their own defense. Now a new shadow of an ancient power has begun to loom over the unsuspecting town of Sandpoint.

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