In the port-town of Sandpoint, the residents were abuzz. It was the night before the Swallowtail Festival, most sacred of holy days to their patron goddess Desna. Not only that, but the Festival would also consecrate Sandpoint’s new cathedral.
For five years, in the wake of the Late Unpleasantness, the citizens of Sandpoint had toiled to raise a new place of worship. The memories of fire and murder were still fresh in the minds of some of the port-town’s denizens, but an indomitable spirit had helped them leave their past behind. Tomorrow was a new day, a special day.
Into this excitement arrived two travellers. Both arrived by separate means. The first was the Magus Numor, hailing from the Elven lands of Kyonin, lured to Varisia with rumours of ancient magics, which might yield him answers to questions about his true nature. The other was the Gunslinger Severia, Varisian born, fleeing from tragedy with only her father’s pistol. Visions of fire and destruction brought her here. To what end, only the gods know.
In the midst of the preparations, the travellers secured lodgings. Staying at the Rusty Dragon, Numor soon found himself in a conversation with the young proprietress, Ameiko Kaijitsu over her curry-spiced salmon. Amazed at his ability to accurately analyze the 11 secret herbs and spices used in her recipe, he explained that he had earned his passage across the Inner Sea by working in a ship’s galley. In exchange for free room and board for the evening, Numor moved to the back, to help prepare for the lunch rush the next day.
Severia, on the other hand, secured lodgings at the White Deer. A girl of upper-middle class, she was accustomed to the occasional luxury. After settling in her room, she headed towards the cathedral to consult with the priest on her strange dreams. There she met Father Zantus, a kindly young priest. He listened with concern to Severia’s tale, promising to consult with Sheriff Hemlock about keeping an even more vigilant eye on the proceedings, then explained that Desna was not known for sending visions of any sort to her adherents. Severia returned to her room, feeling a little disappointed at the resolution of her journey.
The population of Sandpoint swelled the next day, as travellers from near and far flocked to partake in Densa’s most sacred of days. 10 o’clock marked the start of the festival, starting with a speech given by Mayor Kendra Deverin. Warnings were made, stories were told, and soon Father Zantus declared the festival begun. At noon, the highlight of the day, and some say the marking of the true beginning of the festivities, ten thousand Swallowtail butterflies were released to pay homage to the town’s patron goddess.
Lunch saw Numor once again drafted by Ameiko, working the stall giving away her increasingly popular fish dish. Severia wandered the town, watching the merriment around her. By late afternoon most of the visitors had returned to their homes. For the townspeople themselves, one last duty remained: the consecrating of the cathedral. Gathering before the cathedral, Father Zantus called their attention with the bang of a thunderstone.
Suddenly a woman’s shriek pierced the late evening, followed by another and another. By a wagon lay a dog, gasping it’s last ragged breaths from a slit throat. Above it, gnawing on a torn dog ear, was a goblin. From out of wagons and crates leapt more goblins, and chaos and pandemonium broke out.
Singing at terrible song, the goblins wreaked havoc, not only chasing after townsfolk, but burning the stalls and filching the food. At least three people lay dead or dying, and the town militia was swamped by cries for help.
Into this fray, two strangers began fighting back. Numor, trained in the arts of sword and sorcery, loosed a bolt of magic at one of the runty terrors, while slashing at another. Severia ducked away, at first seeming to retreat, before pulling out her father’s pistol and blasting away at a third goblin. Yet the knee-biters were fiercely resilient, fighting back with zeal and confidence. Finally dispatching the three goblins, the pair turned to see four more brandishing torches. These were the culprits setting fire to the stalls. With little thought to their own safety, both strangers charged the little pyros.
In a blast of gunfire, Severia cut down one goblin. Numor engaged the second pair, but his weariness and frustration were showing as his swings missed wildly. Suddenly, Severia fell to the ground, slashed by her foe’s dogslicer. With the tides of the battle turning, Numor marshaled his strength, dispatching first the two in front of him, before running through the third with a charge.
Father Zantus and his assistant, having finally dispatched their own goblins, rushed to the fallen gunslinger. Curing her wounds, he helped her up, a look of sorrow and pain in his eyes.
“It looks like I should have paid your warning more attention,” he said, before another scream of terror turned everyone’s attention north.