As a paladin of the Dawnflower, your employment varies considerably in Sandpoint. For the most, however, you are attached to a regular militia patrol of the hinterlands, acting as a liason between the concerns of the city and those of the few scattered farmers without that provide support to the citizens. In this capacity you, perhaps more than the others, have come upon Shalelu with greater frequency, as your concerns are similar. For the past few weeks, however, you have not seen her at all. This is no new phenomenon, however, you are well aware that the elf travels as she wants, and holds a special regard for the security of Sandpoint and its natives.
Back at the garrison, you wash thoroughly and whisper a prayer to the goddess of the dawn at sunset before joining your companions at the galley for your evening meal. The faire is simple, but hearty, and the conversation about you runs high to adventure. The good natured lads of your company dream of meeting dragons, rescuing maidens and falling in love. Few here possess scars, however, and from their method of speech, it is painfully apparent that they have seen little outside of Sandpoint. You doubt that these young men have even seen a goblin, much less faced one in battle, for all their tales of encounters. Listening with a critical ear for truth, it sounds as though the goblins they have encountered are much more likely to be inebriated humans stumbling from the Hagfish in the early hours, picking fights with each other, and upsetting garbage bins in the process. Sure, there may have been a little blood spilt by the combatants, but relatively little threat to your brothers in arms. They are, after all, trained professionals.
In the evening, you are relaxing in the bed in your cell, not quite tired, but eagerly awaiting being awake to celebrate another dawn with devotion when a curious display makes the entire room light up from without. You rise and look out your window to see something very much like flowers, or… in the worst light, a cheap mockery of your goddess’s sunlight exploding on the southwestern horizon, filling the sky with false light for a few brilliant moments, and then fading from view. Several more times these lights appear, and then all is still again…
As every day, you are in the forge after you have broken your fast, industriously crafting in devotion to your god, the Father of Creation. The set of mail beneath your hammer belongs to an elder man, passing his legacy down to his son. The youth is considerably larger than his father was, you recognized when you took his proportions, though in their mannerisms it is clear where the father’s talents lay. You do not doubt that the young lad is quite suited to taking orders, and if he can follow them, is likely to do extremely well. Whether or not he will succeed however, only the gods can answer.
Hours pass as you are invested in your work. You scarcely notice the entrance of customers. Your apprentice seems to squeak more these days, or perhaps it is simply that his sometimes shrill, sometimes base voice is interrupting the rhythm of your blows. You gradually become aware that he is not alone, this time. Behind him is an infrequent customer you recognize on sight, the wilding blooded Sheriff Belor. Sweat beads on his bald pate, and his expression is not at all friendly, perhaps somewhat annoyed. In one large hand he carries a battered breastplate, in the other a helm into which he has placed his gloves and gauntlet. He lifts his chin when he recognizes that you have acknowledged his presence, his weight shifting less aggressively than you would expect, considering…
The cool sake glides down your throat and rests uneasily in your stomach, almost as great a weight as the crossbow at your side. The greater number of patrons in the tavern – or is that the few at this hour? – murmur quietly. Ameiko whispers to her partner, and leaves the bar to attend her guests. Her voice is sweet as she takes orders, and speaks with one traveler and another. A few who you puzzle are likely local ask her to sing. The lady accepts, and as her lovely voice begins enumerating a few lines in the clumsy trader’s tongue, you recognize from her pitch and intonation and the structure of the sounds that she has adapted a Tian song into Taldane, and likely purposefully mistranslated several words to suit the native’s sensibilities. It is a song of loss of love and of difficulties that appeals on a somewhat more visceral level than your unconscious translation finds… tasteful. Ameiko’s partner, a cheerful halfling woman pours you another cup of sake.
”Courtesy the Lady,” she says brightly, and leans forward on her slighter but shapely arms and whispers in Tian. ”Folks is dour enough with the talk of goblins, friend. They say Sheriff Belor’s reininstatin’ the bounty.”
Thought I would just expand on the scene that you had started for your intro… more to follow!
Travel with a Varisian caravan is far better than one might expect, if significantly slower. Shreiking children chase livestock and a pack of dogs of a highly variable size around the tracks, amusing themselves with simple games like seeing how many times they can touch the old gray wolfhound’s tail before he turns and snaps at them. Of course, several children have been bitten already, but never severely. The caravan’s matron, and mother of your captain Sandru, Koya Mvashti has treated worse scrapes from your brethren falling down after too many rounds of brandy with their employer, but she has yet to say a word about teasing the old cur. Perhaps she wishes for the children to learn on their own, however, it does not seem as though they are inclined.
Varisian tradition states that any who ask hospitality are welcomed with feast and performances. As guards, you find this practice frustrating, if your charges will not think of their own safety, how are you to maintain the ruse? But the natural performances of the dark and slight people are quite good, and with Joyabraund performing as well, sometimes, even better. The caravan takes on the atmosphere of a large, traveling home, warm and inviting.
It is with incredible trepidation that your captain realizes as you approach the oft mentioned destination, Sandpoint, that you have seen increasingly less travelers on the road. The road, which once seemed almost alive with possibilities seems stark and lonely in comparison, your captain increasingly withdrawn and frequently conversing with his mother in her small wagon. About three days out, you discover the remains of another caravan beside the road, broken and charred. Broderus, upon examining the wreckage you see that whatever incident occurred could not have happened more than a few days back. You report your findings to your captain, whose typically friendly face seems dour and conflicted. Even the children seem less likely to play as of late, sensing the tension playing among the adults…
It was a typical early spring day in the northern coastal community of Sandpoint. The very last of the deposits of snow on the ground were tucked into corners that rarely saw light, a dull gray color and almost completely without moisture, simply waiting for the temperature to rise just a few degrees more to melt completely. Heavy clouds obscured and filtered the sunlight in patches. The air carried the threat of rain that caused sweat to stand out on the skin with the slightest exertion, so slight as simply breathing, but none had fallen. The breeze rising from the sea was scarcely a comfort this afternoon.
Few citizens walk the streets at this time, though in the afternoons previous many would be walking and visiting the shops and its market. It has been several days since any traveling merchants with groups larger than a few individuals has landed, and business and interest are wanning. The few individuals found on the street have a rather haunted look, keeping their hands close to their packs, their eyes quick and their postures betraying a certain amount of caution… or is it fear?
Several Sandpoint deputies patrol the streets, here and there stopping to converse with a young lady, or an elder with her children, a young child walking a shaggy dog. Their increased presence is disquieting, and it is reflected in their exchanges even if you cannot hear them. A small group of concerned businessmen have gathered outside the town’s jail when the door slams open, admitting Sheriff Belor, clad in freshly polished plate that does little to conceal that it is well worn, with several scars and pits from battle evident to the naked eye. He scowls at the gathering, and they part to allow him the freedom to walk to the side of the building, where he produces a printed page and two large nails. Unfurling the document, he slams the nails into the wall to pin it with his mailed fists. Apparently a man of few words, he turns and regards the crowd with an irritated expression, then returns to his office, slamming the door behind himself.
The crowd surges forward to read the Sheriff's notice, and gradually falls away, shaking their heads and muttering in disbelief.
GOBLINS RESPONSIBLE FOR ATTACK ON TRADE CARAVANS.
FOR EACH RELATIVELY FRESH EAR, EACH MAN MAY CLAIM 10 GOLD PIECES FROM THE ABADAR'S VAULT AT THE SANDPOINT CATHEDRAL.
AN ADDITIONAL 300 GOLD PIECES WILL BE AWARDED FOR THE HEAD OF LICKTOAD GOBLIN CHIEF GUTWAD.
You read the words and puzzle at the meaning. It seems as though there is a world of information the block letters printed on the expanse of paper do not mention. Several citizens remain, whispering amongst themselves and darting nervous glances at those who read the poster. It is not difficult to imagine that their livelihoods are directly impacted by the Sheriff’s announcement, but then, all of Sandpoint has a reason to fear goblins.
This does not bode well for the town. And with Shalelu not having been in the area for some time. I wonder if this has to do with those lights? Something must be done!
Treygan will proceed to the most obvious source of information, Sheriff Belor.
Valcrim of Clan Flinthammer, perpetually clad in armor and wearing weapons on his side, might have been a more disturbing sight if he had not been here for longer than most people have lived. While not a part of the guard formally, he has been ever vigilant, watching the town in the spirit of his god Torag, father of creation and protection, when not working his forge to craft armors, or enjoying a few ales at the Rusty Dragon tavern.
The wanted poster gives him pause, as he stops his route to read the note. His nostrils seems to flare at the mention of the most hated enemy of dwarvenkind, as the leather in his gauntlets creaks as he balls his hands into fists before his spits on the ground "Goblin scum."
Wrapping up his business with the caravan Joyabraund shakes the hands of everyone, bows to Koya and winks at the kids and does some tumbling for amusement. Catching out the corner of his eye the grouping of people near the jail Joyabraund throws a soft punch at Broderus' thigh, Something's going on. Lets see whats up!
Not noting whether the ranger is following him or not Joyabraund hustles to the gathered people and elbows his way past them to get a view of the poster, Pardon me, excuse me, sorry madam, my apologies sir.
Working his way up besides the dwarf Joyabraund smiles eagerly at the poster. OOoooooh Goblins! The halfling scratches the back of head talking to no one in particular, Do you think they will actualyl let us go into the vault to claim our gold? I've never been inside a vault... Seeing the dwarf ball his fist and spit Joyabraund nods in enthusiasm, Yes Yes I like that! "'Goblin Scum' the dwarf spat reading the posted missive. The noted blacksmith and cleric was steely in his gaze. He would.."
Joyabraund stops his narrative efforts and puts his finger on his chin. Pushing his way past the crowd off the side towards the door Joyabraund's eyes light up in recognition and he snaps his fingers. "They would face the goblin threat as Sandpoint's own son Treygan was on the hunt for justice as well..." Joyabraund motions to the paladin as he heads towards the jail door. "And good fortune that they would be aided by the ranger Broder"...hey BRODERUS! They want people to kill goblins! Lets go KILL GOBLINS! The halfling stands in the road waving at the ranger.
Valcrim cracks a smile despite himself, infected with the spirited enthusiasm of the halfling, looking over to notice Treygan, who had grown up so inexplicably fast, as humans tend to do, recalling him running around in armor ever since he was a boy, his mind set on greatness. And now he seemed as strong, if not stronger, than Valcrim himself, and eager to make a difference.
"Torag's beard, it's 'bout time I helped more directly..." he grumbles and looks to the halfling. "Yer enthusiasm is somethin' else, lad." he compliments "If ye be serious 'bout going out ta kill tha thrice damned vermin, I say we gather at the Dragon ta plan this."
Joyabraund tugs on his vest, Well serious is a word that doesn't get thrown at a halfling often but yes, I am intending to do something...that is...uh...if others are too. Don't get me wrong! I'm not a coward, like my dah and mom I say fear is for pill bugs and chickens but I probably need some... Joyabraund makes a flexing motion with his arm indicating strength. ...to come with me if you know what I mean.
Seiji glances up at the halfling waitress with some surprise. He has never known the small folk to speak his language.
A commotion outside breaks his solitude. He listens. A caravan arrived? Did somebody shout that they were going to 'kill goblins'? Goblins. Shame wells up inside Seiji once again. He pours the last of the sake down his throat, then stands and nods at Ameiko before heading out the door.
Once outside, Seiji closes his eyes and breathes deeply, savoring the smell of the spring air and the chatter of the gathered crowd. Life continues, in spite of failure. he assures himself. He turns and walks towards the gathered crowd. He has some guess about the subject of their murmuring, but is resolved to investigate nevertheless.
Treygan gives Valcrim and Joyabraund an approving nod. "Glad to see I'm not the only one willing to do something about this goblin problem. The militia itself doesn't have the manpower for a task like this. Let's see what information Belor can give us before that planning you spoke of. And don't worry about the muscle." Treygan returns Joyabraund's flex.
Seeing that the crowd might be uneasy at the news and wanting to spread some cheer Joyabruand laughs at the paladin and uses his stage voiceHo Ho! Such bravery! A mighty paladin.Wheeling his arms with a flourish to Valcrim Joyabraund continues, The noble servant of Torag. With two thumbs Joyabraund points at himself The intrepid bard as witness. Looking out at Broderus The slow to come over here ranger, Broderus! Who else? Who else will charge into the pitch of darkness and fight off our goblin threat?!?
Perform (Oratory)1d20 + 7 ⇒ (15) + 7 = 22 Yay!
That last caravan broken and smoldering in the road... That fate could have befallen us as well if we're weren't as careful as we were. Goblins, those wretched little buggers, so they're the enemy at hand!
Broderus snaps back to attention suddenly as if awakening from a fog. I'm sorry, Joyabraund... Didn't mean to ignore you back there, but I was lost in my thoughts for a moment. Just thinking about something... He smiles at the halfling's antics and turns to the wanted poster. YES! We must act against this threat before any more caravans are waylaid. Come let us talk to the sheriff and find out where the trail leads. I'm eager to begin tracking our enemies...
"Ye certainly 'ave tha fire ta craft a mighty blade here, lads." Valcrim muses with a stroke of his beard "But ta do so, first, we should 'ave a sit-down ta plan: We need ta prepare fer traversin' tha wilds, an' more importantly, we need ta learn each others strengths an' weaknesses, lest tha fire in our bellies burn us. So far, I dinnae even know all yer names, much less what ye all can do." he admits as a smile grows on his face "An' it be only proper ta celebrate a brotherhood dedicated ta such a noble goal with a few foamin' mugs o' tha best brew tha tavern 'ave ta offer!"
Seiji almost says something, but he cannot bring himself to speak. A bounty? Curious, but such is not my trade. He closes his eyes, conjuring up images of the chaos the little monsters caused...of the sparks and the flames.
Seiji breathes deeply, oblivious to those around him.
Sheriff Belor of Sandpoint
The double doors to the jail and the warlike Sheriff's office, while rarely open are never barred. Still, you hesitate a moment at the handle, considering his demeanor. You shake your head and then pull the door open to reveal what likely passes for an office in a frontier town, several desks of various quality and state of repair standing unmanned, and littered with various conscripts, logistical observations, invoices and few discarded mugs with dubious smelling contents. Only one desk seems to be free of this vile clutter, an extremely small one in the back near a large metal door above which hangs an effigy of a golden key.
You recognize the key of Abadar
Sheriff Belor himself sits at a rather impressive desk, his arms stretched against its surface, relying upon his mailed hands to support his weight. A mug of what might have been coffee several hours ago sits at one side, obviously forgotten. Beside it is a vial of ink that stands open still. Between the Sheriff's arms on the surface of the desk is a crude map of Sandpoint and its hinterlands. He looks up when you enter, but it takes some time for his eyes to focus, as though lost in thought it takes him some time to register your entrance.
"Master Valgrim, Brother Treygan," he identifies those of you he recognizes with a sketchy salute. "Did I forget something? The girl doesn't come in today," he says and glances towards the little desk near the door.
Looking at the office, the dwarf shakes his head, mutters "Disgraceful..." and starts doing some repairs on the state of the desks, tightening bolts, hammering in loose nails, and for actual damage, he touches his holy symbol and says a few words in dwarven to invoke a orange light around his hand as damages seem to mend themselves by every chant.
Valcrim points his thumb over his shoulder towards the others as he works "Seems like tha people o' Sandpoint be ready fer takin' up arms, sheriff. We be needin' information on tha cursed knee-biters. And also register as a lawfully ordained adventurin' group, so all tha legal work be right." he sums up, in a rather irreverent tone, before putting a couple of nails between his lips and start working on a wobbly chair.
Broderus bows to Sheriff Belor and nods to Valcrim as well. "You don't know me Sheriff, but I agree with my dwarven associate here. I'm Broderus of Eleder, and I've just arrived in town on Sandru's caravan. My time with the caravan is done, and I offer my services to Sandpoint. I have some experience with tracking humanoid quarry and need to act while the trail is still fresh." He steps back a pace and looks over the other people in the small office.
Was I a little too upfront there? He wasn't even addressing me when I spoke up. He obviously knows some of the others but not myself or Joyabraund for that matter. Remember, I'm not in Eleder anymore with a direct channel to the Grand Custodian...
Are you going inside with the others, or hanging out waiting for something else to happen, maybe?
Sheriff Belor's Office
At Valcrim's words, the Sheriff groans and looks to one of the sloppier desks. "Might be able to find a petition somewhere in that nest," he almost growls in frustration, then sighs.
"Merchants," he hisses, "yammer like they know how to police. The guild hired a trio of mercenaries. Fishermen's sons, like as not, and green as the spring grass."
Sheriff Belor rises to his full and quite impressive height, assuming the rigid pose of authority. "The Licktoad tribe has been using some manner of in-sin-dee-airy dee-vices on caravans on the Lost Coast road. Most just spooked the horses, til a week ago, done burned one to the ground," he frowns. "Three nights back there were lights that lit up the night sky. And wouldn't you know, it's been three days since the trio reported back to the guild."
Valcrim sighs and starts sifting through the papers "Perhaps tha fools should hire a few people ta keep tha law runnin' like it should, an' everyone'd be better prepared. Need us some more dwarves here, ta run things proper. Varisians make a mess o' everythin', an' be more likely ta SING 'bout it than fix it. I be tellin' ye, lads, if I made armor like some people make bureaucracy-" he rants for a while until he drags a document from the pile that seems to satisfy.
He looks to the others as the sheriff mentions burning wagons "What was this 'bout incendiary devices? The durned greenskins got some manner o' BOMBS tha' burns wagons?!" he grumbles and shakes his head "Any o' ye know 'bout this kind o' sorcery? I'd like ta be prepared. Torag frowns upon poor plannin', and fer good reason!"
"I myself know not about such matters. Perhaps we can ask about town for some information.
As for these mercenaries, had they found any clues to where the Licktoads are based out of, or where they acquired these incendiaries, before they disappeared? I find it hard to believe a bunch of goblins able to produce anything like those lights we saw. They had an artistic charm to them, and I wouldn't describe anything they could produce as such. Any information you could provide, no matter how miniscule, may be of some use to us."
Broderus grimaces when he hears the sheriff's mention of the burned out caravan on Lost Coast Road. His emotions begin to swirl again, and he feels the familiar feeling of white hot rage building up...
He steadies himself on the side of a desk and feels the strong wooden surface beneath his fingertips. Strong and steady like the wood; Strong and steady like the wood...
His expression calming down, Broderus now speaks in measured tones, "Was there much loss of life in the downed caravan? And incendiary devices, what matter of sorcery are we dealing with!?"
"Fireworks." Seiji says quietly, unsure of why he followed the group into the Sheriff's office. Perhaps it was to escape the fearful muttering outside, surely spreading quickly throughout the small town. Yes. Quieter in here. These men are steady and deliberate, and do not waste time with gossip.
With his eyes turned to the ground, he continues. "I know something of such devices, but not of how goblins came to have them. I was with the caravan. It was a surprise to us all."
Treygan pats Seiji on the back. "It's good to know there were survivors at least. Anything you can tell us could be beneficial to dealing with this threat. Were the goblin tactics organized? Was there much looting? How these 'fire works' work?"
"I confess I know little of tactics, but it was clear that they attacked to destroy, not to raid our supplies. If they took anything, I do not remember seeing it." Seiji answers, his head slightly bowed. "Fireworks are little more than encased powder, designed to explode or spray sparks, but they are intended to delight. They are not weapons."
To reflect Seiji's knowledge of fireworks, since they are less common in Golarion.
Knowledge (Geography) - 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (6) + 8 = 14
Burned a wagon, one of the transport wagons loaded with a fair amount of merchandise, but not one of the living wagons. Women and children were frightened, but none really hurt by flames or anything, mostly scrapes and sprains in terms of injuries. Biggest casualty was a horse that had to be put down after it broke its leg trying to get away from the burning wagon.
"Minor injuries only, this time," Belor answers, and grips his mailed fists. "Those... administrators in Magnimar wouldn't spend the coin to defend us four years ago, they won't be ar- convinced to until the little monsters start threatening their livelihoods and kin.
"I am afraid I can't offer much," he continues and seems to sag into his sturdy desk chair, which makes not a sound considering his large mass and the added weight of his armor. "Way I have it from Shalelu, Licktoads are holed up in the Brinestump Marsh," he taps a mailed finger on the map in front of him indicating an area. He acknowledges Seiji finally, his eyes narrowing. "May like your quiet friend can speak more on her, or you Treygan. I haven't seen her in some weeks."
Joyabraund wanders the room as the group enters, careful to navigate the various desks with a light footed step and a sideways glance. Watching the dwarf work on suddenly fixing the desks in the office Joyabraund shakes his head slightly, I think I'll skip the part where the mighty dwarf reviews the furniture...
A though had disturbed Joybraund. HE knew Valcrim but Valcrim didn't know him. Him A bard! A teller of tales! But dwarves were sometimes a grumpy lot. Well we'll get him righted soon enough won't we Joyabraund stares up at the key of Abadar a moment and listens on to the men as they talk of ambushes and survivors, fireworks and...
Fireworks? How exciting! I saw some once in a merchant fair in Korvosa there was this little box and they brought out a trained monkey with a little cap that carried the...
Joyabraund rubs his chin for a moment. That would be most unfortunate to experience were you the sky in that scenario. What a horrible weapon to use on people! Joyabraund nods at Treygan's words. I'm glad at least this fine fellow managed to escape to tell the tale. The halfling leans closer to the Tian stranger. You have a tale to tell....right?
Treygan gives Seiji another pat on the back. "Well then, a friend of Shalelu is a friend of mine. And I'm afraid I have not heard from her in awhile either. That is just her way though. In any case something needs to be done about this. Weapons or not the Licktoads have them and have proven to be dangerous with them. Can't say I really enjoy the idea of roaming around that Marsh, but what can we do. Life isn't always easy, otherwise where would be the fun!" Treygan gives out a good laugh.
Why does this man touch my back? Varisian customs are so strange. Seiji gives a polite bow in return.
"There was a time, not long ago, when I was at Shalelu's side day in and day out, but she has since left me to my own life. I do not know her whereabouts."
"As for the attack, there is no tale to tell. We saw them coming, and a well-placed quarrel would have likely scared them off, but my aim faltered. I did not hit a one."
"I confess I know little of tactics, but it was clear that they attacked to destroy, not to raid our supplies. If they took anything, I do not remember seeing it." Seiji answers, his head slightly bowed. "Fireworks are little more than encased powder, designed to explode or spray sparks, but they are intended to delight. They are not weapons."
Valcrim measures up the tien fellow, then shifting his look throughout the room, before returning to Seiji again "Strategy and tactics be tha domains of Torag, an' as a shield-brother, I know a fair bit. And tha primary rule o' strategy as far as it be concernin' me; listenin' ta experts. So yer already part of the strategy WE will be employin' ta hunt these vermin, if ye be so inclined." he offers and looks to Treygan and Broderus.
"Aside from what ye said 'bout trackin'," he nods to Broderus "lest me eyes an' mind be gettin' dull, I figure ye two as warrior sorts, with yer strides and tha way ye carry yer weapons, easily available rather than in any formal fashion, and wear yer armor like it be a layer o' metal skin. he nods with approval, and offers the halfling a glance "Apart from yer motivational speeches, I be guessin' ye either be good at sneakin' about, or ye know magic... maybe both?"
He taps his holy symbol "I channel Torag's wards and blessin', an' I swing me hammer well 'nuff. With the five o' us, I reckon we should be able ta find a way ta win over goblin scum with no loss, an' end tha threat once an' fer all." he estimates as he slaps his hands together, seemingly eager to hunt down the hated ancestral foe.
"As for experts," the Sheriff interjects after Valcrim's speech, "There's one to be found within, well... to hear him tell it," he says and... rumbles, his eyes favoring Joyabraund for a moment. "Lives in a filthy shack off one of the trails. Can't say as I know better. None but the fisherman have any clue of the ways there."
Joyabraund bobs his head at the dwarf, Mhmm I dabble in quite a bit. I like to think I am sneaky. Know a thing or too about whips. I got a couple of spells. An my speeches are motivational. The halfling grins at that last statement.
Following the sheriff's thought Joyabraund rubs his hands together again. An expert? In a filthy shack!? OOooooo A hermit right? Lone wolf type? Knows things no one else knows? I wonder if he has magic to hand out or a quest? I mean we have our own work to do but ya know, for afterward.
Valcrim's eyes narrow as he regards the sheriff "What manner o' hermit? Far as I reckon, thar be three sorts; tha criminal in hidin', tha overly awkward sort tha do nae like people, an' tha one dabblin' in crafts civilized folk rarely have understandin' fer." he looks at Joyabraund, raising an eyebrow at the enthusiasm "Hopin' fer a kindly sort o' tha third variety?"
Joyabraund pushes his hand in the air at Valcrim in a sort of "pshaww" motion. Nonsense Valcrim, it is readily accepted via Angstrom Coravell's treatise on story origins that there are, in fact, six types of hermits. Surely yes the three you indicate but also... Joyabraun puts up one finger Kindly dragon in disguise and/or positive god like force seeking heroes... He raises a second finger Evil dragon or fell influence meant to harm heroes or tempt them to less than decent means... Joyabraund raises his third finger Annnnd my personal favorite the masquerading noble or ex bandit king who is looking for a plucky band of adventurers upon which to shower his riches in hopes that his actions through proxy will redeem a life spent in selfish pursuit. Much better than just a regular villain in hiding! Personally I am hoping for the kindly sort of THAT third variety!
"We shouldn't jump to any conclusions about this hermit. While I also have my concerns about such a lifestyle, every person deserves to be treated based on their actions. Of course it will be a pity if your concerns are just. His knowledge of the area would probably be invaluable in tracking down those Licktoads. Sherrif Belor, if you can give us an idea where the trail this hermit lives off of is, and possibly a name or description, it would be most beneficial to our quest. A map would be a tremendous aid, if one exists."
Treygan turns to Broderus. "We'll probably be relying on you to guide us. If there's anything that you might need, let us know so that we might acquire it first. Valcrim's idea of planning is a good one, and a trek through the marsh sounds like it may have a few dangers those who haven't been through one, such as myself, are not aware of."
Sheriff Belor stares at Joyabraund with an air of shock for a full minute before speaking. "I assure you that Walthus Proudstump is not a hidden prince waiting to dole out riches upon wandering strangers," he says, his voice almost completely bereft of affect, and certainly joy. "He is known for keeping several varieties of venomous snakes, and values 'his privacy.'"
When Treygan asks after the route, he turns the map on his desk around so that you can see. "The Lost Coast road meets the Soggy River there," he points to the intersection. "If you've a boat, you can follow it," he shakes his head. "Merchants had the right of it, hiring the fishing folk, they're the only that know the ways there, save Shalelu and its Warden."
"Yer as versed in hermit lore as ye are optimistic, I'll give ye that, lad." Valcrim chuckles gravelly before turning his attention to the sheriff "We cannae be waitin' fer an elf ta come 'round. She be a right good sort, fer an elf..." Valcrim rolls his tongue around a bit "Bah! Tha elf be a better sort than most! Anyone with such hatred fer them darn goblinoids, an' vigilance fer their home, be a friend o' Torag an' as good as kin ta me." he admits, seeming a bit flustered at his own admission of thinking well of an elf. What would the ancestors think?
"Anyway! Snake-wranglin' hermit. Marshland. Goblins with fire devices. Anythin' else?" he directs the question as much to the group as the sheriff.
Seiji is content to stand quietly and listen to the others converse. They are all ready to set out this minute. Should I be? Am I a coward? No. I must do something. Shalelu would will it so.
"I will assist in this." Seiji says, finally. "Let us speak with the fishermen as soon as we can, while they still think of the lay of the marsh and not of rumors."
Yes, I agree with Seiji. Let us seek out these fisherman and orientate ourselves to these foul marshlands. That map will be most helpful, but I like to get a feel for where I'm guidin' from the locals with boots on the ground...
Broderus regarded his future companions for a moment. Full of bluster and overloaded on confidence. Hadn't I been the same way just two years ago? Fate's cruel hand will certainly put you back in your place if you step too far out of line. Seiji seemed different though. His quiet answers, downcast glances, tentative actions... Maybe great loss had mauled him too, and I've found a kindred soul. Bah, push it out of your mind, Broderus, focus on the task at hand. You know what happens when distractions clutter your mind...
Broderus cocks his head in Treygan's direction. Thanks for your concern, but I'm a traveler to Varisia so I travel with all my gear. I still haven't gotten used to the cold nights here though, so an extra woolen blanket would be much appreciated, friend.
"Ye nae be needin' a shield, lad?" Valcrim asks Broderus when he says he has all his gear. "If we had a week, I'd make ye a good one, balanced an' sturdy. But I should have a decent 'nuff one in stock. Keep a few around fer tha customers who cannae afford spendin' well over hundred gold on a shield."
The Fishermann's Wharf
Between Sandpoint being a peninsula, several of you being local, the distinctive odor of fresh fish and the screeching of gulls, the group manages to locate the fishermann's wharf. What little business is being done in the town seems to be reflected here as well, as there are far more larger, and you may reason, more commercial boats moored here, their crew finding any excuse to remain so slight as darning their least used nets and traps to not go home empty handed tonight. The fisherman regard you with a curious mixture of caution and desperation, but Joyabraund's broad smile proves to draw some positive attention.
A large ship in mostly good repair seems to have its full crew busy with preparations to cast off. An elder man gives commands in a authoritative tone, but the motions of his crew indicate that this is none less than they expect. The plate tacked to the side of the boat reads "Gull's Gullet" and it flies a standard that may, perhaps decades ago, have been Chelaxian.
Valcrim, you recognize a "lad" who claims your armor saved his arm, and thus his life and the lives of his family is the mate of this boat. He was once a militia man, who retired shortly thereafter to provide for them in a less risky job.
Valcrim shudders at the notion of sea-travel, after 30 years still not comfortable with the notion of standing on a flimsy wooden construction floating on the sea. How could any sane person trust their fate to WOOD on WATER? He shakes his head and huffs, before spotting a certain crewmember.
"Halfling," Valcrim addresses Joyabraund, not knowing his name yet "see tha man with tha crew cut, in tha white shirt and tan breeches? He was very grateful when he said that me armor saved his hide. I reckon he be happy ta give us some information."
Seiji loses himself in memory as he feels the planks of the wharf beneath his boots. It has been too long since I was near the sea. And what a fool am I, wallowing in my shame within the tavern. It is good that I am doing this. My duty to the caravan has not ended simply because the attackers fled.
Broderus inhales deeply and lets the brimy air fill his lungs. He recalls his own ocean voyage to Avistan: the hustle and bustle of ship life, the salty language of the sailors, the crisp sound of the wind cutting through the sails. Yes, it was a good trip, necessary to clear my mind and start anew. It will be refreshing to be seabound again if even for a short time...
His spirits lifted, he smiles and turns to the dwarf at his side. "Master dwarf, thank you for your kind offer of the shield. I can tell by the arms on your person you are an expert craftsman and do excellent work. I dabble a bit in woodworking myself... I must decline your generous offer though. I have trained in dual weapon styles since being yay high, and a shield feels like a heavy iron weighing me down."
I wonder what Joyabraund will find out for us from that sailor?
Joyabraund shakes his head at the dwarf, a look of almost pity on his face. Joyabraund. Or Joya for short. Waving off the feeling the smile returns to Joyabraund's face as he makes his way to the sailor.
Good morning sir! My associate Mr. Valcrim there says that, in our perilous aid to rid Sandpoint of its impending doom, only you might grant us the aid we sorely need to find our way! What an epic role to play. An opportunity of a lifetime I'd say! Would you be able to tell us much about the marsh or how to get to enigmatic hermit Proudstump?
Diplomacy 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (2) + 3 = 5 Weirdo Halfling alert!
Valcrim raises an eyebrow at the ranger "I can see yer angle, I use both me hands fer me weapon at times, fer more heft, but if we be ambushed by tha wee bastards, me shield be wardin' off a few o' their nasty little attacks. Then I can drop it when I be fightin' with both me hands. Ye should think 'bout it 'fore we be leavin'. Might save yer hide." the dwarf advises in a tone a father would tell a child; somewhat condescending, yet caring.
Perception 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (5) + 7 = 12
Hearing the bard talk to the sailor in a somewhat confusing manner, he sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose "By the stone, Joyabraund, I am bettin' tha poor man dinnae know half o' those words. I know they be strange ta me, an' I be pushin' 70. he mutters and steps over
Diplomacy 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (19) - 1 = 18
"G'afternoon Inigo, glad ta see yer injuries healed right up. Ye look strong an' fit as an ox again, which I am sure be pleasin' yer kin." he says, somewhat obviously playing on the fact that varisians care more for family than most anything else "Could ye tell us anythin' 'bout tha durned marsh? We be hearin' thats where tha gobbos an' a snake-wranglin' hermit be livin', an' we be needin' directions.
Huh, I was sure I was gonna just make things worse with my -1. Seems the gods of the dice are fickle today.
The mate goggles at the halfling, and because his eyes are drawn so low, he recognizes Valcrim when he speaks. The features of his face seem to be stitched in leather more than skin, an appearance he shares with more tan a few of his company, save a few young men that are hauling the more difficult traps.
"Some," he answers laconically. "Not as much as others," he deigns after a few moments, and nods to the other boats. "Ain't like to get much outta 'em, hungry and sour as they is. Folk laid up in the Hagfish can tell ye more, expect," a rash on the deck diverts his attention and he begins shouting obscenities at the crew who scramble to adjust. "Ifin' you'll excuse me, Masters, turn me back and the deck goes to the gulls."
"This'll be takin' us all day." Valcrim sighs "I suggest we split up an' meet at tha Rusty Dragon fer supper. Joyabraund, how 'bout you an' yer friend Broderus be takin' tha Hagfish. I can talk ta tha men here, give 'em a few silvers fer their time so they can feed themselves, an' I be bettin' they be speakin'." he looks to the men with a look of almost parental worry, before gesturing to Treygan "Then our homegrown paladin Treygan could speak to tha merchants while procurin' what we be needin' along with-"
Valcrim turns to Seiji with a somewhat embarrassed look on his face, considering he just learned Joyabraund's name, and forgot about the alchemist "I should be gettin' in tha habit o' askin' names. Me name be Valcrim o' clan Flinthammer, son o' Torcrim tha grim, son o' Delcrim tha stern, son o' Balegar tha just. Shield-brother o' Torag an' armorer o' Sandpoint." Valcrim states as he holds his arm across his chest, hand balled to a fist over his heart, displaying the holy symbol on his gauntlet.
Broderus pats Valcrim on the shoulder and shakes his head in agreement. "I have the patience to follow the obscurest path in the entire Mwangi Expanse, yet these tightlipped men are starting to draw my ire." Bringing himself down to the dwarf's height, he continues in a whisper, "Joyabraund has the tendency to prattle on a bit, and his sense of humor is not exactly for the uninitiated... I'm certainly no diplomat, but I've come across my fair share of people in my time as a guide, some haughty and condescending, some uncout and foul. I'll come along and try to translate if those deckhands miss our good bard's point again..."
"Come Joyabraund, let's use your silver tongue on those men aboard the Hagfish. If you really get the information we need out of them, I'll buy you your favorite ale tonight at the Rusty Dragon!"