Moonday, 12 Rova 4707, afternoon
[The session picked up immediately following the previous session.]
After their exploration of the Thassilonian catacombs, the group decided to finish following the smuggling tunnel that originated in the Glassworks basement. About 30 yards northeast of the side-passage that led to the catacombs was another side-passage to the east. Painted on the rock wall in white paint was the phrase “Dead End” in Varisian. That passage ran for about 400 feet, and ended in an impassible cave-in. Returning to the main passage, the tunnel ran straight northeast for about another third of a mile. It ended in a small rectangular chamber. Larissa checked for secret doors, and found a sliding stone panel that opened into a short passage. That passage led to another stone door that opened into a large natural cave with a sandy floor. Sunlight streamed into the natural cave opening, and they all heard the sound of surf. The cave opened out to a secluded beach on the Gulf of Varisia, about a half-mile northwest of Sandpoint. It was now late afternoon. Inside the cave were remains of a goblin camp. Outside, Larissa found a switchback trail that led up the 40-foot cliff face to a goblin trail that went into the woods. The group returned to the tunnels and went back to the Glassworks.
Exiting the Glassworks cellar, the guards on duty (now Zandu and Mirian) mentioned that Sheriff Hemlock had returned from Magnimar, and had asked the Heroes to meet him at the Garrison “whenever you can make it over.”
The Sandpoint Heroes went straight to Hemlock’s office and filled him in on what they had discovered in the Glassworks and below, especially Tsuto’s journal which detailed a possible goblin invasion. Hemlock sighed deeply. “Damn. This is even worse than I’d feared. His Corpulence the Lord-Mayor brushed me off entirely for three days, then gave me a ten-minute audience. In the end, he loaned me just six members of the City Watch, the least prestigious, and least trained, of the various military and police forces in Magnimar. I know local farmhands that are better soldiers than these guys! And I can only have them for a month! Why do we even bother paying taxes to those guys?” He sighed deeply again.
“So, I wanted to ask Tsuto a few questions, but it seems that he hanged himself in his cell last night. No, I have no reason to think that anybody did it but himself— none of my people would murder a prisoner. Hell, three of those goblins you captured are still alive and waiting trial!
“From what it looks like, he was working with Nualia to do some very bad things in Sandpoint. Nualia? Before I thought she’d died, I’d always liked her, and actually pitied her a bit. Why? Well, she was a real fish out of water. Twenty three years ago, an elderly villager brought her as a six-week-old baby to Brother Tobyn, the old village priest. The villager said that she’d found the infant in a basket on her doorstep. Tobyn took the child in and raised her as his own. It didn’t take long to realize that Nualia had celestial ancestry: she was strikingly and unearthly beautiful, with perfect skin, violet eyes, and ash-blonde hair that sparkled in bright light as if it were made of spun silver. She was much taller than any of the other children her age, and the other kids were either jealous of her beauty or extremely shy with her, and teased her mercilessly. Tobyn was also pretty strict with her: he felt that since she was a gift from the Heavens, that it was his duty to keep her “pure” so that she could become a priestess of Desna and maybe become one of the Rectors of Windsong Abbey some day. The adults in town weren’t much better: old ladies were always asking her to touch their warts or to give them clippings of her hair to “bless” them. I kept telling them to leave her alone, but they wouldn’t stop! Tobyn told her that they meant well, and to indulge them, which I think she really did not like at all.
“Anyway, when she was sixteen, I heard rumors that she started courting Delek Szarniasian, a real unsavory guy. A few months later, I heard that he was bad-mouthing her pretty publicly at the Feedbag Tavern, saying that she was a real slut. Tobyn started keeping her at the church all the time, and Delek skipped town. There were rumors that she was pregnant. That was about a month before the Chopper started his bad business, and three months before the Fire. But I guess that the charred body we found in the fire wasn’t Nualia after all!
“From what you’ve uncovered, it seems that we don’t have a lot of time before Nualia puts together a real army of goblins and there’s going to be real trouble here. It looks like Thistletop is the center of the action. I’m going to get some miners to collapse the smuggling tunnels shortly, and will also start building better fortifications for the town. But that will take time, and I’m not sure how much we have. I don’t have any men to spare, and I don’t have a way to get in touch with Shalelu to help you out. I can give you a rough map and any supplies you think you’ll need.”
The group said that they already planned to tackle the Thistletop goblin problem, thanked the sheriff for his support, and left to determine the best way to attack. They spent the rest of the night at the Rusty Dragon.
Toilday, 13 Rova 4707
The next day, Declan, Halfred, Charrone, Larissa, Brother Zantus, Brodert Quint (the local scholar), and one town guardsman (Zandu) returned to the Catacombs. Declan, Zantus, and Charrone performed a ritual to break the Demon-Mother’s unholy connection of the shrine to Lamashtu, which they deemed a success. While Zandu assessed the security situation, Quint and Larissa re-examined the Thassilonian runes, particularly those in the underground cathedral. “This is odd,” said Quint, “while the shrine was to Lamashtu, the cathedral seems to be dedicated partly to the Runelord Azlantist herself, and partly to the, ahem, ‘virtue’ of wrath. Y’know, it’s interesting that the runes for ‘wrath’ and ‘righteousness’ are the same rune, but with the ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ aspects respectively. You see, the ‘negative’ aspect of Thassilonian runes are spikier in form. Hmm… for that mater all of these runes seem rather spiky… Interesting…”
Ted and MacGreggor stayed in their rooms studying their magical tomes and working on magical writings.
Wealday 14 Rova 4707
According to the map, Thistletop is located atop a huge boulder island called Skull Rock. Reportedly, the top of Skull Rock is about 80 feet above the surface of the waters of the Gulf of Varisia, and the rock is about 100 feet away from the 80-foot sea cliff. Reports also indicate that the goblins have built a bridge from the top of the cliff on the mainland to Thistletop. MacGreggor suggested that sailors may know a bit about the area from the sea, so he and Halfred decided to head over the Hagfish Tavern, which was most popular with the men and women of the sea.
“Hey— it’s the heroes of Goblin Day!” shouted someone when they entered the Hagfish. Jargit Quinn, the owner, came up to them and shook hands. “You’re finally giving us a visit! Welcome!” Halfred ordered two ales and two bowls of fish chowder, the tavern’s specialty. MacGreggor noticed a large fishtank sitting on the bar, filled with opaque green water. He thought he saw something move in the water, and asked Quinn about it. “Oh, that’s Nora. My pet hagfish. Wanna meet her?” Quinn rolled up his sleeve and stuck is arm in the thick-looking water, swished it about slowly, then said, “Gotcha!” with a wide grin. He pulled from the water an extremely revolting 2-foot-long grayish-brown eyeless eel that wriggled and exuded white milky slime from its skin. “Ain’t she a beauty?” he asked as he pushed the thing closer to MacGreggor’s face. “Um…” Most of the patrons burst out in laughter, Quinn dropped the eel back into the tank. “You can’t call your bar the Hagfish unless you actually have a hagfish, right?”
MacGreggor then noticed that there was a pouch of coins tied to a stake that was hammered into one of the posts holding up the roof next to the fishtank. Looking up, he saw carved into one of the rafters “Nora’s Challenge Winners” and a list of about thirty names with dates. “Um, what’s Nora’s Challenge?” he asked.
“Oh, that’s easy! Costs you one silver. Wanna play?” MacGreggor handed over a coin, which Quinn put into the coin pouch. He then pulled a large tankard from below the bar, dunked it in Nora’s tank to fill it, and handed the mug to MacGreggor. “If you can drink the whole thing, you get all the money in that purse, plus bragging rights!” MacGreggor looked at the thick, slimy, greenish water that smelled equal parts a salt marsh at low tide and the trash pile behind a fishmonger. He rose the glass to his mouth, and just couldn’t bring himself to do it.
Everyone applauded anyway. “That’s the smart move!” shouted one voice. Halfred pulled out a silver and said, “OK, my turn.” Halfred managed to down the whole thing, and, while thoroughly revolting, managed not to lose his lunch. The crowd erupted in applause. Quinn slapped Halfred on the back, and handed him the purse, which contained about a hundred silver pieces. Halfred then bought everyone in the bar a round, and carved his name on the rafter.
Asking about Skull Rock, a one of of the fishermen said that he’d sailed near there occasionally, but the fishing is notoriously bad there. “I hear the Sandpoint Devil sometimes goes there, and he eats up all the fish!”
“I saw ’im there once!” interjected a second sailor. The others rolled their eyes. “It looked like a huge seal with shark teeth and fins!” he continued.
“Roger, all you saw that day was the bottom of a whiskey bottle!” said the first. The others laughed.
“Well, he’s right that the fishing there is terrible, plus the goblins sometimes shoot at ya.” remarked a third.
“Plus, there’’s no good place to go ashore— the currents there are unpredictable. Actually, there’s no good reason to go there at all.” said a fourth.
“Of course, the rock does look like a big skull.” said Roger. At that they all nodded.
Halfred and MacGreggor chatted a bit longer, and returned to the Dragon. After discussion, the party decided to leave the following morning and to approach Thistletop by land: They would take the Lost Coast Road as far as to the Thistle River, then would follow the riverbed to the coast, then would follow the coast back west until they found Thistletop.
Oathday 15 Rova 4707
At sunrise, The Sheriff, the Mayor, and Brother Zantus were waiting in the Rusty Dragon barroom before the party left, to wish them luck. Zantus also had several small bottles to hand out to each member of the party: one vial of holy water, one potion of cure light wounds, and one potion of cure moderate wounds to each of the six Sandpoint Heroes.
The heroes then left for Thistletop to stop Nualia and her army of goblins.