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.