Fireday, 02 Rova, 4707, Absalom Reckoning (AR)
Our story begins in the town of Sandpoint, in the land of Varisia, on the day of the annual Swallowtail Festival. The festival is held the first Fireday of the month of Rova, and it honors the goddess Desna, goddess of dreams and travelers, who is perhaps the most popular deity in the region.
The festival got off to a great start about two hours before noon. Kendra Deverin gave a rousing speech about the progress made in town. Belor Hemlock gave some gruff advice to have fun but stay out of trouble. Cydrak Drokkus, owner of the Sandpoint Theatre and a skilled showman, gave a light-hearted and joke-filled speech during which he shamelessly plugged the opening of a new production of “The Harpy’s Curse.” And Brother Zantus, curate of Sandpoint, thanked everyone in town for their support in construction of the new cathedral building, and invited everyone back at sunset for the consecration ceremony.
Church Square was filled with temporary vendors’ stalls, selling many different things, like pastries and fruit, live animals, herbs, weapons and armor, magical items of dubious quality, and exotic curios from as far away as Tian Xia and Quadira. There were musicians, jugglers, and fortune-tellers. There were games of chance and skill. And the weather was a little on the warm side for September, but otherwise perfect: sunny with a light breeze.
At noon was the Swallowtail Ceremony: a wagon bearing a large covered bell-shaped object was wheeled before the cathedral. Most of the town’s children gathered around it. Father Zantus retold the story of how Desna once fell to earth and was aided by a blind orphaned child, whom she transformed into an immortal butterfly as a reward. At the story’s conclusion. Zantus removed the cover to reveal a huge birdcage filled with hundreds of Blue Swallowtail butterflies, the sacred creature of Desna. With a flourish, he threw open the top of the cage, releasing them, and a spectacular iridescent fluttering cloud spread over the festival, to the delight of young and old.
After the Swallowtail Ceremony, all of the taverns in town provided a free lunch in an unofficial contest. Garridan Vislanki, owner of the White Deer Inn, served up roast venison with onions. One-legged Jargle Quinn of the Hagfish served up seafood chowder and brown bread. Venerable sorceress Risa Magravi held court at her tavern Risa’s Place, as her son Besk and his wife served up her famous spiced potatoes. Cracktooth the half-orc was giving away free rounds of ale at his eponymous tavern. Even Gressel Tenniwar, the shifty half-Sczarni operator of the Fatman’s Feedbag (the roughest bar in town) got into the act with a vat of chicken soup. But the crowd favorite for three years running was Ameiko Kaijitsu, owner of the Rusty Dragon, for her Tian-style curried salmon.
At sunset, acolytes set off three thunderstones to gather the crowd back at Church Square for the dedication ceremony. A hush fell over the crows as Brother Zantus began his speech. However, just as he spoke the opening lines, a woman’s scream of terror cut through the crowd, followed by another, farther off. A dog growled and barked, then yelped in pain, staggered into the square and collapsed with a gurgle, blood gushing from its neck. Small dark shapes darted about, giggling with inhuman glee, and started to sing a strange song in shrill, scratchy voices.
A shout of “Goblins!” went up, and the crowd panicked. Most of the people in Church Square ran for the safety of the cathedral or other nearby buildings. There were few town guardsmen in the square, but six out-of-town strangers stood their ground and attacked. The paladin Charrone Genteur of Kintargo drew her sword, and the Ulfen warrior Halfred Egilson swung his greataxe at the little menaces, separating more than one goblin’s head from its shoulders. Declan Fintane, priest of Sarenrae joined the action, as did the archer Larissa the Swift, up from Magnimar. McGreggor the wizard hurled his enchanted returning quarterstaff at one, and the transmuter Ted Waters cast a spell causing Halfred to grow to nine feet tall. The six heroes made short work of the goblins in the square.
Before they could catch their breath, the heroes saw another group of goblins set two wagons of firewood alight. They ran over to attack them too. This group of goblins included two spellcasters, one of which managed to briefly incapacitate Halfred with a bout of uncontrollable laughter. Still, the goblins were no match. Ted organized townsfolk to put out the fire before any buildings caught.
As they fought the fire, there was chaos in the streets. Goblins ran amok, snatching food and valuables, breaking windows, setting fires, and terrorizing the townsfolk. The sounds of a fight and a barking dog caught the heroes’ attention, and after the fire was under control, they investigated.
Two goblins riding large mangy rat-like dogs were fighting a guard dog, as its owner sought refuge under an oak table. Five other goblins watched, as one of the riders slew the dog. In a nearby alleyway, a young woman struggled with a goblin as well. The heroes managed to dispatch the goblins and rescued both of the villagers.
By then, the tide of battle had turned, and the goblins were streaming back north in an unorganized retreat. The man under the table thanked the party, and introduced himself as Aldern Foxglove.