I rode into Sandpoint just a few days ago, and just as my father said, the Goblin Squash Stables were in the southeast part of town, just inside the gate, actually.
Nothing terribly eventful happened on the way. Pips and I were just exhausted as we rode up to the Stables. One of the stable boys greeted us, and I told him I needed to speak to Daviren Hosk. He motioned toward the door and I went inside. The letter my father gave me was handed over and read. There were a few grunts here and there as he read, and a lot of nodding.
"Farrier's boy, eh? You're a bit taller than I remember, but it's been a while since I was in Magnimar." He looked me up and down, then glanced back at the letter. "Your pa says you can help around the Stables with some farrier work?"
"Aye, sir. I've got my own tools in my saddlebags."
He told me to unload my things in a back room, and offered some of the dinner that was already prepared. I was to start working tomorrow, and we worked out details on how I would earn my keep. Surprisingly, he said he would pay me for the work, usual wages for farriering, but minus a little for room and board.
The next couple days seemed to go by fast. I did my work, not nearly as good as my father, but still good work. It wasn't a large town, but enough people own their own horses, and travelers passing through sometimes want to make sure their horse's hooves and shoes are in good condition before continuing on to their next destination, so I kept busy.
What little spare time I had, Hosk had me help him with building a booth of sorts. Apparently, the Swallowtail festival was coming up, and he was running a game he called Goblin Toss, where players try to throw "goblins" into a "fire". I helped him build the stand, and a board that was made to look like a fire pit, with three holes in it. The "goblins" were horseshoes painted green, with made up goblin names painted in red on them, and the goal of the game is to get the horseshoes into the holes in the "fire pit".
The game was rather fun, and I tried a few times to make sure it wouldn't be impossible for little kids to win, but we didn't want it to be too easy, either. Hosk had gotten hold of a LOT of venison jerky to give out as a prize, but when talking about the prize, he will only call it "goblin meat", and I think he finds it way funnier than anyone else does.
The otherwise friendly man is kind of obsessed with goblins. After a couple of days helping him with the festival project, I asked him about it, and he told me his wife and kid were killed by goblins. When my father and uncle helped him clear out the goblins near Sandpoint, they were helping him avenge his family. Why this practical stranger would take me in the way he did suddenly made a little more sense. He's been offering a one gold piece bounty per pair of goblin ears ever since.
I still don't think the goblin meat thing is that funny.
After the first few days of doing farrier work and helping prepare for the festival, Hosk gave me a day off. He said if I wanted a little extra pocket money, I could check out the request board at The Rusty Dragon, the tavern next door to the Goblin Squash Stables. I'd spent all my time at the Stables since I arrived in town, and figured if I was going to be sticking around for a while, I should probably meet some people, so I decided to take a look at that request board.
As I entered The Rusty Dragon and removed my hat (as a gentleman should), I noticed a few daggers and swords hanging on the walls in various places. I ordered a simple water as I was never much of a drinker. The bartender was a rather cute young lady with light brown skin and slightly almond-shaped eyes. Tian, maybe half Tian? That would match the long, thin, curved blade on the wall behind the bar. I didn't want to ask right away, though. That would have been rude. I'd be sure to talk to her about it later.
As I was waiting for my drink, I noticed an old lady, draped in a long, colorful shawl, with bright-colored cloths wrapped around her head as well, posting something on the board. Definitely Varisian. More than a few of them had come into The Bartered Coin over the years, so I was familiar with their typical clothing. I went to look at the board while I sipped at my water shortly after she left.
One request was for help renovating a house. Not the job for me.
Another was written in what appeared to be a frantic scrawl. Something about the Old Light, and the truth being hidden or covered up about it. I needed to ask someone what the Old Light was before I could do anything with that one.
Another was asking to clear out some goblins to the east of town. That would probably be better to do with a group of people rather than solo.
The next I looked at nearly made me laugh aloud. Some local innkeeper wanted help killing rats in his basement. I don't know why, but it seemed really funny to me.
The final one that caught my eye had to be the one the old lady had just posted. It was asking for someone to investigate Chopper's Isle. It was signed Madame Mvashti. Silent 'm' on that one. I was suddenly glad I knew Varisian or I would have looked a bit the fool when I showed up asking for Madame "Emvashti" or "Mavashti" like many people probably would have. This was another job I'd need to ask about because she wanted to meet near the base of the Old Light in the afternoon, and it's the one I decided to pursue for today.
I went back over to the bar after perusing the board and introduced myself while ordering some milk. I found out her name is Ameiko Kaijitsu, and she smiled and suppressed a giggle at my order. Definitely a Tian name. It was a language high on my list to learn, but I hadn't put in the time yet.
"I'm sorry, but meade just doesn't have a taste I like, Ameiko," I told her with a grin.
She couldn't stop herself from laughing at that one.
I asked her about some of the jobs that were posted and found out Chopper's Isle is in the northwest part of town, and the Old Light is a broken lighthouse just south of it. Now I knew where to meet the old lady.
"So you're investigating the ghost of Chopper's Isle, eh?"
I asked her about it, and she explained some of the "legends" of Sandpoint. One reason this year's festival was going to be bigger than in previous years is that the chapel in the northeast part of town had finally finished being rebuilt after a seemingly random fire burned it down about 5 years ago, and the "late unpleasantness" is how most people in town refer to that and a serial killer who was stopped by the town guard around the same time. He used to live on what is now, because of him, called Chopper's Isle.
I let her know I was living with and working for Hosk right now, and she asked how the game for the festival was coming along. I guess he always makes some sort of game, and the goblin toss has been the one he's done most often over the years.
"Is it just me, or is he the only one who finds the 'goblin meat' thing to be absolutely hilarious?" I asked.
"Most of us find it a little amusing, at least, but yeah, he's the only one who finds it that funny. Most of the adults really get their kick from trying to convince the kids it's really goblin meat after they've already had a bite." We both shared a laugh.
"So, tell me if I'm wrong, but that accent, are you from Tian?" I asked Ameiko after we had been talking for a little while longer.
She shrugged. "You have a good ear, but I'm only half Tian, and I was born and raised here in Sandpoint. My father is terribly traditional, though, so I didn't speak anything but Tian until I was ten."
"Wow. That must have been some childhood." She nodded and laughed. I glanced over at the large clock standing against one of the walls. "Oh! I've got to get going now if I want to meet up with Madame Mvashti in time, but it was nice talking with you, Ameiko Kaijitsu."
"You as well, Mat...?"
"Farrier. Mat Farrier." I stood up from the bar and extended my hand. She took it in hers with a warm smile. "Say, I've got a bit of a thing for languages, and I'm sure I've got a book on the Tian language in with the things I brought with me... would you mind helping me out with it? You've... piqued my interest in learning it sooner than I had planned before." I smiled.
"I'll say you have a thing for languages. Most people get Madame Mvashti's name wrong on their first try. haha I'd be happy to help you with Tian, Mat. Come by anytime, and I can get Bethana to cover for me if we aren't too busy."
"That sounds great. I'll come back by after I take care of whatever it is Madame Mvashti needs doing. Until then." I put on my hat and tipped it to her before leaving, stopping by the Stables to grab my gear in case things got dangerous.
I was glad just a short while later that I decided to do that, because they did.