Among the tradesman and latest arrivals for the next day’s Swallowtail Festival, Sir Victor Chronos and his quire Ki-Ki Kai (traveling in the guise of a man known as Reginald MacArthur) disembarked from their two week voyage to take their first look at the town of Sandpoint. Guildsmaster Quink welcomed them along with much of the chapter in tow. Through quiet city streets, most having retired before the big day tomorrow, the only lights they found were the late-night song and reverie of the Rusty Dragon, not far from the tiny alley that led to an unassuming guildhouse, marked only by a modestly carven plaque with the symbol of the Pathfinders.
Preceding them to the first meeting was the young Vada, entering the city under cover of dark to avoid the awkward encounters with childhood friends and enemies she was not yet ready to face. Expecting a grand guildhall, just as the knight and squire imagined themselves, she found instead a one-room shack, with only a warped long table and several stools, at which sat a pale elf, the wizard Celkirk, pursuing ancient texts. They said mostly in silence and smiled.
With the others arrived, the chapter was nearly all met, save for the dwarven Vekker brothers and their merchant lady Viorian, who soon returned from the Rusty Dragon bringing along tankards of ale and singing of the great riches they were finally poised to uncover within the forgotten vaults of Varisia.
The first meeting of the Pathfinders of Sandpoint was called to order. Brodert Quink gave an eager if bumbling speech about their future explorations, the first an exhibition to the local Old LIght, an everburning flame atop a great stone pillar at the shore near Sandpoint harbor. This would be their first taste of Thassilon history, and the wonders that once existed throughout the country. But first, titles were given, duties assigned, and the many paperwork demands of the guild’s resident barrister, Djen Waalta, was arranged (see attached document). Though names and brief histories were exchanged, these were still strangers, with no adventures yet that bound them. Brodert was still a bumbling bookworm. Shalelu was as stoic as any elf could be. Nanoc could not have cared less about anything but a proper challenge, and these did not seem like the people to provide one. Viorian faded to the background. Alden Bringhurst was that guy who kept dissecting starfish in the corner. Celkirk was distrubingly cheery for a grim-looking, white-skinned recluse. Vada could not have been more uncomfortable and yet this place was her childhood home. Ki-Ki Kai seemed like no more than an eager child. The Vekker brothers were drunk. Djen Waalta obsessed over paperwork. Victor did not yet see any glory to be won. These were the most unlikely heroes.
To dwarves, bonding is drinking, and the Vekker brothers moved to retire the meeting to the Rusty Dragon for the remainder of the night. Here, a pivotal but unrecognized moment occurred that would have long repercussions on the company’s future, as Celkirk the pale elf discovered an interest in ale, a very unelven thing. Meanwhile, Vada encountered Ameiko Kaijitsu, her childhood friend, who now owned the Rusty Dragon, and had enough adventuring stories of her own. For once, home truly felt like home again, and the two talked long into the night of what had happened in Sandpoint since Vada’s departure. The mass murderer known as the Chopper was revealed as the quiet woodcarver Stoot, and brought to justice by the town’s current sherrif Belor Hemlock, but not before several others besides Vada’s parents were killed. Her brother remained lost, and Ameiko had no knowledge of his fate after the murders. Finally, everyone retired for the night, the Pathfinders intend on winning the hearts of Sandpoint’s people through their goodwill and presence in the festival activities. They did not yet know those hearts would be won by risking their lives.
Throughout the morning it was a model festival. At the commencement, the mayor Kendra Deverin welcomed all those from near and far, sheriff Belor killed the mood with a moment of silence for those killed in the Late Unpleasantness, and Cyrdak of the local playhouse brought the energy back again. Finally, the festival began as Father Zanthus told the story of the small blind boy who nursed the fallen goddess Desna back to health and was rewarded with the immortal form of a beautiful butterfly. As the nearby cage was unveiled and thousands of butterflies filled the festival grounds, the town cheered as one.
The Pathfinders took several of the gold and silver painted woodcarvings in archery, wrestling, boxing and more. The annual tug of war competition saw the first defeat of the shipwrights guild in over a decade, thanks to the stubborn rage of the massive barbarian Nanoc, who nearly pulled an arm or two out of their sockets on the other side. The spiced salmon of the Rusty Dragon garnered the most praise at the noonday meal and moods remained joyful, save for an encounter with the Black Arrow rangers. The Black Arrows had long petitioned the mayor of Sandpoint to establish a second garrison there, but the mayor had instead chosen to endorse the Pathfinder Society’s bid, hoping to increase the traffic of explorers and reap the benefits of any discoveries, while also forging new trade connections with Absalom. The leader of the Black Arrows, Lamatar Bayden, denounced the Pathfinder Society as nothing more than tomb robbers and opportunists, oathless scholars and artifact peddlers, certainly not the soldiers and protectors that the borderlands truly need. The Pathfinders respectfully disagreed, but did not rise to the bait to escalate the hostilities.
As the last light of the evening faded, the consecration of the new temple, the main event of the whole festival, was ready to begin. Father Zanthus ushered all toward the center stage near the church, and threw a thunderstone to silence the crowd. As he began the first prayer to Desna, however, a scream from the crowd soon cut him short. More screams joined that one, and then strange cackles of sinister glee. All around the crowd panicked and scattered as our heroes watched the entire square become overrun by a fat-headed, needle-toothed menace of goblins. Carts were set ablaze, horses slaughtered, and home ransacked in a matter of minutes before the battle could be joined. Though many fled to safety, the Pathfinders stood their ground and fought every goblin they saw. Surrounded, several heroes nearly fell, but Victor, the great crusader, had not forgotten his decades of war, nor did the others fail to rise to the challenge. More than once, Djen’s silent, gray hulking otherdimensional protector Ondrew, flattened a goblin with a single blow of his meaty fists. Meanwhile, the alchemist Alden Bringhurst set countless enemies aflame!
South of the church, the party found another group of goblins, these menacing a dog and his owner who had taken shelter behind some barrels. Leaping to the rescue, the heroes made short work of the mad creatures, though not before one of the goblins, completely ignoring the threat the party posed to its life, took it upon itself to smash every pretty stained glass window in the church that it could. What lovely colorful, breaky sounds they were!
The man they saved was the noble Aldern Foxglove, recent inheritor of nearby Foxglove Manor. Eternally grateful to the heroes for their aid, he insisted on returning to his lodgings at the Rusty Dragon to give them a reward. Though both Vada and the green beauty Djen spurred the noble’s obvious advances, the pale elf Celkirk gladly encouraged the noble’s patronage of the chapter. The rest of the party continued to look for those in trouble and dispatch any remaining goblin threats.
The rest of the evening was spent putting out fires, healing the injuried, and burying the dead. The sole goblin prisoner was interrogated, but other than vowing the city would still burn at the hands of the Thistletop tribe and its great leader Ripnugget, the only information the creature could provide was that the raid was led by a “longshanks,” not a goblin at all.
Few got much rest, and it was not until morning that a worrisome discovery was made. In the graveyard behind the temple, the tomb of the old priest Father Tobyn had been desecrated. It was clear that someone had made arrangements to provide an easy ladder over the city wall, and that several goblins and one human-sized figure had entered this way, broken into the tomb and then left. Ki-Ki Kai stepped forward first to inspect the tomb, only to be nearly chopped in half by skeletons who had been left to ambush anyone who returned. The crushing fists of Ondrew once again did their job, and the party found that Tobyn’s bones had been stolen, a curious prize for which to arrange such an expansive raid. For more answers, Shalelu the elven ranger and her companion Nanoc volunteered to follow the tracks into the hinterland and see where they would lead. The rest of the Pathfinder returned to town to continue the long process of rebuilding what had only just been restored, and awaited the next trouble that would surely come…