We were met by the mayor's assistant when we arrived. Once we were led into the office, I couldn't help but notice the large stuffed bear behind the mayor's desk.
An elven ranger introduced herself as Shalalu, and the giant half-orc next to her as Cairn. The big, green guy was scarred all over, and carried a big axe that was larger than most of the guards I'd seen in town.
Shalalu was there to talk about the goblin tribes in the area, and pointed out they must be led by someone because they have never been this organized.
Dante whispered to the rest of us, “Look, she has pointy ears like the goblin said. It must be her.”
I just shook my head.
Shalalu said she would like to take our conversation to the Rusty Dragon now that we'd all met. I chuckled and said that's where we came from, so we could have just met there. She said she didn't know that, or would have considered it as an option.
We started to leave the mayor’s office, but her assistant motioned us back inside. In the brief moment the door was open, I caught a glimpse of Sheriff Hemlock talking with three people.
I managed to hear some of what they were saying through the door. Apparently, they were sent by Queen Isola of Korvosa to search for somebody, and described a half-elf with blonde hair, explaining that tracks had led them to Sandpoint.
Hemlock said pretty flatly that he’d seen no one like that. One of the men tried pressing the issue, and I heard a thud along with, “You have no jurisdiction here,” from Hemlock, followed by loud footsteps slowly fading away.
The sheriff had left the building, and the mayor's assistant let us walk out after apologizing. “Sorry, I didn't want you to, uh, disturb the sheriff.”
As we left the mayor's place and headed down the town roads, Shalalu started by sharing what she had heard about us already.
"Belor's told me of your work against the goblins. Well done. I've dedicated the last several years of my life to keeping them from causing too much trouble around these parts, but they're tenacious little runts. Like weeds that bite." She took a deep breath.
"Anyway, there are five major goblin tribes in the region, and, traditionally, they're pretty good at keeping each other in line with intertribal squabbles and the like. Yet from what I've been able to piece together, members of all five tribes were involved in the raid on Sandpoint. A fair amount of the Mosswood tribe goblins I dealt with last night were already pretty beat up, and there was a lot of chatter about the 'longshanks' who killed so many of them. Now that I've met you, it seems obvious from their descriptions who they were talking about. Seems like you've made an impression."
"I only wish I could have left a few more impressions on them with my staff," I chuckled. She nodded solemnly.
"In any event," she continued, "the fact that the five tribes are working together disturbs me. Goblin tribes don't get along unless they've got something big planned, and big plans require big bosses. I'm afraid that someone's moved in on the goblins and organized them. And judging by these recent raids, what they're organizing seems like bad news for all of us."
We were about halfway to the tavern when she shifted to giving us more general information on goblins.
They hate and fear both horses and dogs, make weapons and armor out of garbage (most of us already knew that one), sing creepy songs, are overall sneaky and just plain crazy, eat a lot and like to burn stuff, and they think writing steals the words from your mind.
Shalalu said they also get stuck easily. When I asked what she meant by that, she shared a story where she was being chased by some goblins and one got stuck when it tried to scurry through a hollow log, and another got stuck when it was trying to jump between a tree that had a split trunk and it got wedged between the two halves of the tree.
We made it to the Rusty Dragon about this time, and we ordered breakfast while she told us about the specific tribes in the area.
The Birdcrunchers are the closest to Sandpoint, living in caves along the western edge of the Devil's Platter, and they've traditionally been the least aggressive of the tribes.
To the south are the Licktoad goblins of the Brinestump Marsh, pests that are excellent swimmers.
East are the Seven Tooth goblins of Shank's Wood, securing their place by raiding Sandpoint's junkyard and rebuilding the stolen refuse into armor and weapons.
I shook my head at that. "Why do they let the goblins do that? I noticed it was a problem the first time I saw the junk pile. A goblin was digging through it." She shrugged, saying she's been telling them the same thing for she doesn't even know how long.
The Mosswood goblins are further to the east, and likely the largest tribe, but they're typically held back by the constant family feuding within their own ranks.
"And finally, there are the Thistletop goblins, who live on the Nettlewood coast atop a small island that some say holds a passing resemblance to a decapitated head."
Our food was brought over at this time. Shalalu continued as we ate.
"When questioning the goblins yesterday, you heard the name 'Bruthazmus'. Bruthazmus is what I... grudgingly... call a 'goblin hero'. You see, goblins generally live short, violent lives. It’s unusual for a single goblin to achieve any real measure of notoriety, but when one does, it’s well-earned. Currently, five individuals enjoy the status of 'hero' amongst the goblins."
"Why did you say 'individuals'? That felt like an odd word choice," I said.
"Well, they aren't all goblins, but I'll get to that in a moment. Big Gugmut is an unusually muscular and tall goblin from Mosswood who, it is said, had a hobgoblin for a mother and a wild boar for a father." She scoffed. "Koruvus was a champion of the Seven Tooth tribe, who was as well known for his short temper as he was for his prized possession - a magic longsword sized for a human that the goblin stubbornly kept as his own, despite the fact that it was too large for him to properly wield."
"Was?" Hamlin asked.
Shalalu nodded. "Koruvus vanished several months ago after he supposedly discovered a 'secret hideout' in a cave along the cliffs, but the Seven Tooth goblins remain convinced that he’s out there still, a ghost or worse, waiting to murder any goblin who tries to discover his hideout.
"Vorka is a notorious goblin cannibal who lives in the Brinestump Marsh, a 'hero' mostly to goblins other than the Licktoad tribe. Ripnugget is the current leader of the Thistletop goblins and controls what the five tribes agree is the best lair."
"And the last?" Dante asked after she paused for a moment.
She took a deep breath and let it out as a sigh. She sounded irritated as she continued. "And then there’s Bruthazmus, an infamous bugbear ranger who lives in the northern Nettlewood and often visits the five tribes to trade things he’s stolen from caravans for alcohol, news, or magic arrows. Bruthazmus has a particular hatred of elves, and we've fought on several occasions. To date, neither of us has managed to get the upper hand on the other, but I won’t be the first to fall in their private war."
Shalalu concluded by saying she would be headed to scout the Mosswood after she finished eating here. She suggested Cairn stay in town with us, telling him that where she was going, "I don't want to say they're racist, but, well... they are."
The sheriff arrived a few minutes after the ranger had left, and he pulled the bard aside for a moment. When they finished talking, Hemlock came over to the rest of us and said he was heading to Magnimar to get help. The town guard just wasn’t equipped to handle large scale attacks from organized goblin tribes, and he had a feeling the attacks would keep coming. He asked us to help keep the peace while he was gone, which would be about a week.
Hamlin asked about the town guard, and Hemlock replied there are about ten guards and fifty militia members throughout Sandpoint, but the militiamen are just regular folk, not soldiers like the people he was going to get from Magnimar.
Before he left, I pulled Hemlock aside briefly and asked if he could pass on a brief message to my father that I'm okay. He agreed since going by there wouldn't be much of a detour with the place being just off the road into the city.
Dante bought Cairn a drink and asked, "So, do people hate you, since you're an orc?"
"I'm not your type,” the half-orc replied flatly, downing the offered beer.
A man came into the tavern wearing a blue mask that looked similar to Dante's and carrying a lute. He lifted his mask and it turned out to be Aldren Foxglove. My hand promptly met my face. This guy's adoration of Dante was getting kind of ridiculous.
"Look, Dante! Look!" Aldren tried playing the instrument, and immediately broke a string.
He invited Dante and his “henchmen” to go to Tickwood to hunt boars. As he was talking about going hunting, he showed off some of the equipment he'd purchased. He held up a dagger, which appeared to be normal except for the fact it had been bent in an attempt to make it look like one of Dante's kukris.
It did not look like one of Dante's kukris.
Dante introduced Aldren to his new friend "Cawrn" (he said Cairn's name incorrectly), then left for his room in the Dragon swiftly, using Cairn's bulk to hide from the noble's view as he exited. Aldren, confused at Dante's sudden disappearance, insisted that when we find him we tell him how badly he wants to go hunting.
A man came out of the back of the tavern, wearing a scarf covering his face and sat down next to Hamlin and myself. We realized it was Dante when he spoke, asking if we wanted to go hunting as Aldren suggested. He apparently took off his mask so the nobleman would leave him alone for a few minutes at least.
Just a little while later, Ameiko's father came barging into the Rusty Dragon and started yelling in Tian. I was able to understand most of it, but he switched to Common after he realized most people there couldn't. "Where's my daughter!?" He was livid.
Dante decided to be snarky. "Where did you last leave her?"
"You! You're the reason the goblins come into town!" The old man started marching toward the bard.
Dante waved a hand subtly, similar to when he charmed the pig and the goblin. There was a visible change in Ameiko's father, but it wasn't to the degree it was with the goblin.
"Pfft!” the man sad flippantly as he walked a few steps away.
Ameiko came out of the back, and her father started yelling in Tian again that she's going to come with him, while Ameiko insisted that she wasn't.
I tried to intervene by saying something in Tian. “Calm down. There's no need to get angry. She's your daughter.”
He wheeled on me. “How dare you speak my language and tell me what to do!?”
The elderly halfling lady behind the counter hit him on the head with a ladle, and in broken Tian told him to leave. He fell to the ground in shock at being struck by her.
Thinking the old man was going to attack me, Dante tried to punch him at the same time, but missed when his target suddenly fell to the floor, punching a pillar in the tavern instead. I heard an audible crunch.
Her father got up to go, and said he was leaving town, and she would too if she knew what was good for her.
After he left, Hamlin asked if he was a noble in town. I replied that yes, he is, because their family is one of the original founders of Sandpoint.
The bar patrons suddenly began cheering and offered to buy us drinks.
“I take it your father isn't terribly popular with some of the people,” I said to Ameiko.
She nodded, apologizing for her father's behavior, and I told her that wasn’t necessary.
It was at this point that Dante decided to announce he wanted to go hunting, and insisted we go now. Aldren said we'd have to camp in the Tickwood if we left now because it was a little late, and Dante promptly changed his mind, not wanting to sleep in a forest with the word “tick" in its name.
Time passed, the sun set outside, and Aldren started sounding slightly less awful on his lute as Dante taught him how to at least not break a string every other time he tried to play the thing.
A lady came into the Dragon later in the evening asking for the Heroes of Sandpoint. She seemed almost hysterical, and was holding an infant. A kid, maybe 9 years old, came in after her, looking distraught.
Aaron, the child, said he saw a monster in his closet. His parents thought it was trauma from seeing a cat being burned by goblins the day before. The woman’s husband was currently trying to fight off what turned out to actually be a goblin after they saw it eating the family dog.
We hurried to help. When we got there, we were told where the boy’s room was and headed inside. I moved into the house first, Cairn and Hamlin following right behind me. I could hear the goblin behind the boy's door.
I saw a hole in the closet floor of the room when I pushed the door open. A body was draped in it, the head out of view inside the hole. The goblin was nowhere in sight, but I could hear it.
"Oo! Eyes! Eyes are tasty!"
I moved over the man's body and saw the goblin huddled in the hole. I tried to hit the goblin with my staff, but couldn't get a good angle on it.
"This my food, go away!" the goblin yelled at me.
"There's food on the end of this staff, open wide." It unfortunately didn't fall for my lie. I guess it was too obvious.
Hamlin pulled the man's limp body away. He appeared to still be breathing, but unconscious.
"Hey! I said that my food!"
"Yeah, we aren't exactly planning to eat him..."
The goblin suddenly yelled out. "Ah! Big dog!" It jumped out of the hole and bolted past me. I looked into the hole quickly and didn't see anything, so I swung my staff and smacked the goblin in the back.
"Hit the dog, not me!" it yelped, then stabbed me with its shortsword.
"Oh, come on! Why do I always get stabbed by these things!?" I was feeling somewhat exasperated along with the pain in my side.
Cairn charged in and swung his axe. The goblin said weakly, "I thought you were going to... help... me..." and then he fell in half.
"Where are the woman and her kids?" Hamlin headed back to the door. Dante followed him.
"Don't let Dante talk to them!" I called out.
The husband's eyes had been removed by the goblin and he was missing pieces of flesh from his head. Cairn cast a healing spell on him. It turned out he was a druid. Certainly didn't expect that from a half-orc wielding a big axe. The healing magic seemed to close the wounds, but the man was still blinded.
Hamlin suggested we take the man to the cathedral and see if the priests could do anything more. I offered to help get the man there, partially because Cairn said he didn't have any more curative magic and the priests there would be able to close up my own wounds.
Before we were able to even leave the house, let alone pick the man up to carry him, I saw a white wolf crawling out of the hole and I jumped back, readying my staff, yelling out that a wolf just jumped out of the hole.
Cairn stepped forward and held up a hand. "I know this wolf." I looked at Cairn strangely, but with the wolf not looking aggressive, I lowered my staff.
We made our way to the chapel, and Dante knocked on the door. "Hey priest, we got some healing for you to do!" he called.
Hamlin pushed the door open and said, "Maybe I should do the talking here..."
While the rest of us moved inside, Cairn and the wolf moved around the south side of the building, following the trail of the goblin to see where it came into town from.
We made our way in and explained what happened. The priest nodded and said, "For the Heroes of Sandpoint, we will require no donation."
"You charge for healing?" Dante asked.
The priest explained as he healed my own wound. "For basic healing, no, but in order to restore that man's sight or cure other such afflictions, we must expend some physical components. Depending on the ailment, those components can be costly to acquire."
After the healing was finished, we went with Cairn to follow the trail all the way. It went the opposite direction of the tracks we found right after the big goblin attack, north toward the town wall instead of south toward the Tanner's Bridge. There was a small ladder on the other side of the wall. Cairn was almost as tall as the seven foot tall wall so he reached over, pulling the ladder up and over.
Cairn started to jump over the wall to follow the trail, and the humans of us who couldn't see in the dark suggested waiting until the morning so we wouldn't be needing to use lanterns or torches which could prevent us from sneaking up on a camp, if there was one. He consented.
When we awoke the next morning, Aldren was there at the Goblin Squash Stables, with supplies and horses rented from Hosk. "I'm ready to hunt!"
Since Aldren hadn't been with us after we left the tavern the previous night, we had to explain that we would be hunting goblins instead of boars. The noble nodded, but Dante tried to convince him to not come with us but still let us take the horses. Aldren started to look rather disappointed, and offered to let us use his healing potions he brought with him if he could come with us.
Cairn spoke up. "Let him prove his courage."
Aldren said he would stay back and watch us work our magic in combat, and everyone agreed to let him come with us.
Before leaving town, he gave each of us three healing potions. He wasn't kidding when he said he had a lot of them, and I had to wonder how many more he had if he was handing out a dozen so nonchalantly.
I borrowed a shortbow and some arrows as well.
Not long after we left Sandpoint, we came upon a clearing in the woods filled with thick brush where we heard goblins singing... terribly, as usual. We dismounted a little way back from where the noises were coming from, then moved closer, telling Aldren to stay with the horses.
Hamlin started creeping forward to scout things out, pausing after a few moments and holding up two fingers to indicate he saw two. Cairn crept up and I moved near him, spotting a few more.
Dante started moving toward me then vanished, and the wolf stayed back near Aldren.
We were all moving into position to ambush the goblins when Aldren strummed a chord on his lute and began singing. "Attack them good, attack them good!" He was no Dante with his lute skills or singing.
We all looked over at him, and at least one of us smacked our own face with a hand. The goblins all looked over in his direction, but didn't appear to have spotted any of us who had been creeping up on them.
Hamlin fired his crossbow at one of them, missing, but amazingly managed to duck behind shrubbery again without the goblin noticing him.
One of the goblins moved past where Cairn was hiding, who popped out, cleaving the thing in two pieces. He then moved up to another one, but missed with his next attack.
Another goblin moved up next to Cairn to attack and got in a small cut on him. I moved up behind it, but couldn't land a hit.
My view was blocked, but I heard the wolf growl and break through some of the brush. One of the goblins yelled out, "Aaah! It's a wolf!" Then I heard a thud and goblins cursing. I think he ran into one of the other goblins.
Aldren moved forward, despite us having told him not to, and while singing threw one of his bent daggers at a goblin. "Dagger throw, dagger throw, the mighty noble used a dagger throw!" and to the surprise of us all, managed to graze the goblin's face.
Cairn turned toward the one I had attacked and the goblin somehow exploded. I managed to dodge the greater part of the spray, and did happen to spot the ears as they fell to the ground. I took note of where they landed so I could pick them up later.
I stepped up to attack the other nearby and said, "You're next!" in order to frighten it. I did too well in scaring it, though, because it ran away screaming and my attack missed as it retreated.
I heard Aldren's singing coming from the other side of the tree again. "Another dagger throw, another dagger-ouch!" He cut himself with the dagger on accident because of the makeshift curve he'd put on it.
Cairn mostly exploded another goblin, but the shower of blood and viscera wasn't quite as large this time.
I took a shot with my bow and hit the goblin that had retreated. It picked up a burning branch from the nearby campfire and charged me, smacking me with it.
The wolf charged across the clearing and landed a solid bite on the goblin's stomach, easily chewing through its rough hide armor.
The little band of goblins was no more.
Cairn inspected the goblins and determined they were from different tribes. He then moved to the fire and after pulling a small scrap of parchment from the fire pit and poking around a little, announced they had been camping there for about three weeks.
What was left of the parchment showed a map of the northern portion of Sandpoint, with the parts of town the goblins attacked marked with an "X".
Aldren called over from where he was. "Can we go boar hunting now?"
"Why are you way over there?" I called to him.
"You said to stay back."
"You can come over now. The goblins are all dead."
He came over to the campfire, leading the horses with him. "So, can we do the boar hunt now?"
We talked it over and decided to go ahead with the hunt since it was still early in the day, and we couldn't find any tracks away from the camp that didn't lead to Sandpoint.
Cairn healed himself, and after the wolf walked up to him he poured a potion down its throat, apparently having been injured in the fight as well, and I drank one of my own.
As we were searching for boars, I asked Cairn what his wolf's name was. He said its name is Snowpaw, but it's not his wolf. They just knew each other.
I gathered the goblins' ears up, and the scrap that comprised their weapons to give to Hosk, and we took what little money they had on them before setting out to search for some boars.
We managed to hunt down three boars. Snowpaw ate most of one, but we were able to bring the other two back in pretty good condition.
We got some funny looks when we got into town, what with the half-orc and wolf walking around with us, but we just said they were Heroes of Sandpoint now as well, and most of the people seemed okay with it since the two of them didn't appear threatening.
We went by the tanner's place and sold the hides for a good bit of coin, then decided to take the rest to the Rusty Dragon. We figured Ameiko might be able to make use of the meat.
I took some of the meat over to Hosk as thanks for everything he'd done for me, and Cairn took some as well, saying he was going to feed his cat outside town then meet back up with us. We made it to the Rusty Dragon, where Ameiko was seemingly absent. The old halfling woman from before offered to cook up some of the boar meat for us, and we said to go ahead and cook up a bunch for the rest of the patrons as well and handed her a few coins for her trouble.
Dante found a note on the floor near the bar shortly after we'd all eaten and Aldren had retired for the night. There was something written in Tian on one side, and a translation of it on the other. From working with her on learning Tian, I'd come to recognize her handwriting, so I knew Ameiko was the one who had written the translation into Common.
I hope this letter finds you well, and with some free time on your hands, because we've got something of a problem. It's to do with father. Seems that he might have had something to do with Sandpoint's recent troubles with the goblins, and I didn't want to bring the matter to the authorities because we both know he'd just weasel his way out of it. You've got some pull here in town, though. If you can meet me at the Glassworks at midnight tonight, maybe we can figure out how to make sure he faces the punishment he deserves. Knock twice and then three times more and then once more at the delivery entrance and I'll let you in.
In any case, I don't have to impress upon you the delicate nature of this request. If news got out, you know these local rubes would assume that you and I were in on the whole thing too, don't you? They've got no honor at all around these parts. I still don't understand how you can stand to stay here.
Anyway, don't tell anyone about this. There are other complications as well, ones I'd rather talk to you in person about tonight. Don't be late.
I asked the halfling lady when she last saw Ameiko. She said she was given an envelope to give us, but then she couldn't find it, and had forgotten about it in the rush of us showing up with the boars.
We talked it over, and decided she must have translated the letter so that we would find it, and wanted any of us to be able to read it in case I wasn't the one who found it. She'd been gone since the previous night, so we knew we would need to move fast. A mysterious note and being gone for a whole day surely meant she was in danger.
It had already been a long day, but we quickly gathered up our things and headed over to the Glassworks to find Ameiko.