The Birdcruncher tribe
Griz led Pips up through a narrow, rocky pass, up into the Devil’s Platter. The lush farmland changed as he headed up onto a dry and rocky area, with plateaus leading to cliffs leading to higher plateaus like a stair case for titans. Large boulders littered the area, allowing neither a straight path nor a clear view ahead.
At least up here the smoke from the burning farm cleared. It wasn’t hard to track the goblins who had burned the farm and kidnapped the family members who hadn’t been killed. Even though the rocky area didn’t allow for many tracks, the goblins left a trail of debris and carnage as they went. Griz wanted to go back to gather his friends for help, but didn’t dare risk the family members’ survival. He knew they would probably be eaten in the time it would take to get to town and come back.
Griz came upon an area that he knew from previous explorations contained caves which the Birdcruncher tribe used as shelter. He left Pips a ways from this area, and proceeded quietly and cautiously, until he came upon what he was looking for … two goblins standing outside of a cave. He waited patiently and watched from behind a boulder for thirty minutes, but, while the goblins did many things including pacing, singing, throwing, wrestling, eating, snarling, snapping, and yapping, they didn’t leave their posts. Griz listened to their singing … “One day goblins came to town, looked around and then they found, yummy doggies on the ground, goblins ate those doggies!”
Griz, rolling his eyes while his stomach turned in disgust, crept away from the cave entrance and made his best attempt to bark, yap, and whine like a dog. Almost immediately he heard the commotion of the goblin guards yapping and squabbling as they ran after their imagined prey. As they ran past him, Griz quickly slipped back towards the cave entrance. He peered in, and unsurprisingly, it was pitch black not twenty feet in: goblins have perfect darkvision. Griz listened and heard the sound of a single goblin muttering and snarling to itself. He lit a torch, threw it toward the sounds, and as soon as he saw the goblin drew an arrow and shot the goblin directly between the eyes. The goblin died before it could even make a sound. Griz quickly went in and heard from beyond the torch light the sound of children crying and a tentative voice saying “Hello, who’s there, please help us!” As he entered, he noted from another cave tunnel a light and voices… goblins and the voice of a human. He didn’t have the time to investigate or listen.
Griz silently went to the voices. The surviving family members — Merripen Perry and her two young children — as well as a man he didn’t recognize, were tied up in a cave. “I’m here to save you”, he said. The man looked at him and shook his head “They sent a kid? Oh… a halfling, not much better.”
Griz cut their bonds and cautioned them to silence as they left the cave. Upon leaving, the snarling guards returned, and the children began crying. “Flee, I will hold them off.” He tossed a shortsword to the man, but his aim was off and the sword went sliding off a boulder. The man scrambled after it but the goblins were quickly on top of Griz, and although he was able to slay one of the goblins, he was quickly overwhelmed by the flurry of blows of the goblins — stumbling backwards, he struck his head and all went black.
Griz awoke, and by the position of the sun, he could see that an hour had passed. “Mommy, mommy, Griz woke up!” Griz looked over, and was pleased to see the two children standing with the man. Their mother came around a boulder, and Griz stared open mouthed at the woman, as she was covered in blood and gore. “Are… are you ok? I can provide some healing…” The man laughed “Ah, little halfling… the goblin should have known better than to mess with a mother protecting her young. She killed him with her bare hands!” The man introduced himself as Jack Burton, a merchant who had been ambushed by the goblins. He was thankful to Griz for rescuing them, and was upset about losing his cargo, but his larger concern was “Did you see any sign of my horse? She’s a black stallion, Shadowmist…”
They went back to the remains of the farm, where Merriepen and her children prayed to Desna for the safe journey of her husband and elder son. They gathered what belongings they could and headed to town. As they walked, Merriepen again thanked Griz for rescuing them from a terrible fate. “They had another prisoner, and elvish woman, and they took her away for what sounded like a fate worse than death, from the sounds of her screams. Her name was Shalelu.” Griz knew that he must return to the caves.
Franklin Sharpe’s funeral
Father Abstalar Zantus wore white robes and a silk hat. “Franklin journeyed with us. When Sarenrae, Iomadae, and the other gods and godesses busied themselves creating the earth, Desna was dreaming the heavens. This she still does and now Franklin creates that dream with her.” Franklin’s widow and his children stood, weeping. The heroes were gathered in the Sandpoint boneyard. The sun shone brightly.
Mordecai stood with them, antsy. As he looked around, he noticed some young ladies he had not seen before.
Griz stood with Mayor Deverin and Sheriff Belor. Near them stood Titus Scarnetti and Ethram Valdemar. He had been unsuccessful in his attempts to convince the sheriff to order the town militia to raid the Birdcruncher caves. He stood, listening, tears silently flowing down his cheeks.
Naeric stood, seething, stoking the redeeming fires of Sarenrae. He gazed towards the town wall, and saw the hunchback, Naffer Vosk, keeper of the Sandpoint Boneyard. Near the temple, he saw the guard he had spoken a few days before. He made a mental note to speak with them. They were both faithful, and in their hearts Sarenrae would shine her light.
Rhoggar sat in silent meditation with Sabyl.
After the funeral, James Bacca approached Shayliss Vinder, who stood with Jargie Quinn and another young man that he didn’t recognize. They were towards the south edge of the boneyard, where the temple gardens grew lush. “Shayliss, what was it you were trying to tell me at the store the other day?”
“James Bacca, how kind of you to come look after me. There’s some big ratshhh in the basement of the store, and daddy won’t get rid of them. I need a hero to help me. Haha ha!” Jargie and the young man laughed with her. She leaned on the young man then lurched towards James Bacca. He could smell her perfume, mixed with … “Shayliss… have you been drinking?” He supposed it wasn’t unusual, she had just lost what amounted to her uncle. “Bur seriously Shayliss, rats?”
“Sheriously. They’re really big ratshh!”
“Yessh!” The other men laughed. “Ok Shayliss, I will see what I can do?”
Naeric spoke with Naffer Vosk. “Sir, sir, I know you are a hand of the Dawnflower. I need to show you something.” Naffer Vosk led Naeric to the Northeast edge of the boneyard, to the wall that separated the boneyard — and the town — from the woods leading to the east. “This!” Naffer Vosk picked up a ladder laying on the ground next to the wall. “The day after the Festival, I found this laying on the ground near the wall — on the inside of the wall! I daren’t tell anyone but you, since you are a hand of the Dawnflower, and I dare not trust anyone. I fear that it was Aesrick Battlehorn or one of the Carpenter’s helped the goblins get in to town!” It was a well made ladder, certainly not something to be left laying around.
“This is not something that belongs to the temple, I presume?”, to which Naffer Vosk replied in the negative. Naeric gathered his friends. It was clear that this was a well made ladder and it was suspicious that it was found the day after the Festival — the goblin attack — especially considering that Father ___’s remains had been stolen during the attack. Griz observed obvious trampling of the ground, as if many people — or goblins — had recently come and gone. At the base of the wall he saw the obvious marks of the ladder being set into the ground. He climbed the wall. The other side contained the same marks of a ladder set into the ground. He followed the trail of a set of footprints leading away east from the spot, around the bluffs and wrapping back around south and west to the East Gate. And, it appeared that the same tracks had come this way once before, but apparently dragging a ladder. It was as if someone had carried a ladder from town and leaned it against the wall for the goblins to use.
Griz returned, and spoke with the Sheriff Hemlock. “Most disturbing. We have also found evidence that the north gate was left unlocked, and that goblins were hiding in a wagon belonging to one of the business’s in town.”
While Griz and Naeric investigated this disturbing turn of events, Mordecai did his duty assuring the town citizens that the heroes were protecting them, especially the beautiful young ladies he had spotted earlier. “Mrs. Avertin, it’s a pleasure! I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting your … daughters?” The two ladies, Arika and Aneka, nearly duplicates of each other, blushed. “Aye … Mordecai … they are my daughters.” Alma Avertin could barely speak, as she was on the verge of sobbing. “They took Franklin, just as they took my Casp!” Arika and Aneka smiled and blushed at Mordecai, at the same time looking concerned about their mother and pleased with the attention of the charming tiefling. “Sir, we made these savories for you and your friends. We’re so sorry sir, but we have to take mother back home now!”
Rhogar was been speaking with Father Zantus. They discussed the mutable nature of people, and the possibilities of setting people on the path of righteousness once they had strayed to far into wickedness. “Take the goblins, for example,” said the priest of Desna. “They grow up like animals, they keep their young in cages, like beasts. But, if they were to be raised in a civilized manner, perhaps they could be civilized.”
Mordecai wandered to the a raven haired, tall beauty, who introduced herself as Jasmine. “You must be from Cheliax,” she noted. “It’s obvious, as where else would a tiefling be from. I’ve just moved here from there, it’s good to see a familiar face.” She asked Mordecai for a quick hand with something in her home, and he gladly obliged. Mordecai called to Rhogar — “Hey, I’ll be back soon, eh?” Rhogar watched him walk off with a beuatiful raven haired woman and nodded assent.
Mordecai and Jasmine chatted easily as they walked around the side of the temple, and Mordecai asked why she moved to Sandpoint. “Well, I wanted a fresh start, with my children. It was so hard in Cheliax when my husband died, you see. But, to be honest, the real reason I came today was because I caught a glimpse of you.” Her voice trailed off behind and Mordecai turned around, a moment to late catching on that all was not as it seemed, as Jasmine’s features changed. Her long straight raven hair changed into dreadlocks. Her conservative purple dress faded into a low cut croptop and silky pants. She wore a hood. It was Lyrie Ajenka, the wizard who, with the warrior Orik, attacked and killed Franklin at the Rusty Dragon earlier that week.
With a word he was paralyzed, bound by magical energy. “I came with my friend for a drink and a foolish tiefling decided to interfere with something that didn’t concern him!” She dug a dagger into Mordecai’s thigh. In his mind, he screamed in agony, but no words came out. She twisted the knife, pulled it out, and sliced open a gash in his chest…
Father Zantus concluded “What I’ve learned about people is that everyone dreams. Some forget them, some remember them, and some move in them.” Rhogar wanted to share that with Mordecai, so he jogged after him. “Aye, Mordecai,” he called out “You should hear what Father Zantus shared with me…” Lyrie drew the dagger across Mordecai’s cheek, near his eye. "Rhogar stepped in, and quick as sight struck her hand away. She let loose a piercing shriek, sending vibrations in Rhogar’s sword, threatening to shatter it. He loosened his arm and allowed the vibrations to disappate, and slced at Lyrie. She spoke a word and he was plunged in darkness. When the darkness dissapated, he was alone with Mordecai.