Four visitors arrived in Sandpoint the day before the Swallowtail Festival, each with their own plans and goals. They scouted the town surveying the various businesses and shops. One was looking to help the poor, another sought work, and the last two scanned for easy marks and quick reward. Each found their way to the Rusty Dragon and met Ameiko Kaijitsu. She quickly won them over with her genuine friendliness and excellent service. Her beauty, skill in the kitchen, and enticing singing voice didn’t hurt either. Several members of the group put on a show at the Rusty Dragon. It didn’t go as well as hoped, but it still turned out to be profitable.
Everyone was present the next day for the Swallowtail Festival. They listened to speeches by Mayor Deverin, Sheriff Belor Hemlock, and the showman Cyrdak Drokkus. Scheduled speaker, town noble, and founding family member Lonjiku Kaijitsu took ill and did not attend the ceremony. Murmurs among the crowd indicate little surprise at his absence based on Lonjiku’s dislike for frivolity and festivals. He is said to be a rigidly traditional man.
That evening, just around sunset when the cathedral christening was supposed to take place, the festival was attacked by goblins. The group banded together amid the chaos and managed to slay 11 of the little buggers, including a warchanter and a commando. One group of goblins beset Aldern Foxglove, a noble visiting from Magnimar. The group saved Aldern earning his gratitude. Aldern treated the group to dinner, awarded each of them 50 gp, and invited everyone to join him on a boar hunt the day after tomorrow.
Everyone in the group has become a local celebrity. The names Twin Feather, Papa Doc Midnight, Salton, and Rick are voiced with respect. Rumors of Salton’s bachelorhood have spread, and he often catches young women glancing away or giggling when he passes. Shayliss Vinder, a particularly brazen young woman, entreated Salton’s help eliminating some giant rats she found in the basement of her father’s store. Shayliss’ beauty was not enough to overcome Salton’s suspicious nature, and he declined to accompany her. Local gossip says Shayliss is the youngest daughter of Ven Vinder, the owner of the Sandpoint General Store. Ven is highly spoken of. Rumors also state that Ven’s older daughter, Katerine, is “shacking up” with a worker at the sawmill.
That night Sheriff Hemlock sought out the group at the Rusty Dragon. Father Zantus found the stone door of a crypt hanging ajar in the graveyard. Investigation showed a group of goblins and a man size creature scaled the wall and raided the crypt. The crypt’s occupant was none other than Ezakien, the former high priest of the chapel who burned to death with his beautiful daughter 5 years ago in the Sandpoint Fire. Ezakien’s bones were missing. All that remained was a magical robe and two animated skeletons. The group speculated the goblin raid may have been a distraction to allow this theft. Sheriff Hemlock asked the group to keep this information to themselves for the time being.
After discovering Father Ezakien’s bones missing, the group talked to Father Zantus at the cathedral. They learned the Sandpoint Cathedral is not dedicated to the worship of a single deity. Rather, it gathers under its eaves the six most commonly worshiped deities in the region: Abadar, Desna, Erastil, Gozreh, Sarenrae, and Shelyn. The building provides chapels for all of these deities in a communal forum-in a way, Sandpoint Cathedral is six different churches under one impressive roof.
The previous chapel wasn’t the first holy site in this location. The core of both the original chapel and the new cathedral is an open-air courtyard surrounding a set of seven standing stones, which themselves surround a circular stone altar. These stones served the Varisians for centuries as a place of worship. Varisian oral tradition maintains that the seven stones represent the seven towers of Desna’s otherworldly palace.
Father Zantus directed the group to Brodert Quink to help them identify the magical robe they had found. Brodert was friendly and quick to help. Brodert claims to have spent 2 decades of his youth studying with dwarven engineers at Janderhoff and 3 decades as a cataloger at the Founder’s Archive in Magnimar. He does not practice magic, but he does have vast knowledge of the arcane, and he considers himself an expert in Thassilonian history. He determined the robe’s magic was spent, but it used to use necromancy to summon undead skeletons and zombies.
The group joined Aldern Foxglove on a boar hunt. Aldern provided horses for those who did not own one. The hunt was uneventful except for the killing of the boar which went smoothly. Aldern talked about his business as a merchant, and he asked about each of the party members backgrounds, but he took particular interest in Papa Doc’s magic. Aldern invited the group to visit him if they are ever in Magnimar.
Back at the Rusty Dragon, the group met Lonjiku Kaijitsu. He seems none to fond of you. You also witnessed a nasty fight between Ameiko and her father. The fight was mostly in the Minkaian language, so the exact nature is unknown. Lonjiku did try to grab Ameiko by the hair, but she rebuffed and humiliated him. He left with the ominous words, “You are as dead to me as your mother.”
Amele Barett found you at the Rusty Dragon and told you she and her husband Alergast are a typical Sandpoint family, with two children (little Aeren and baby Verah) and a loyal family dog named Petal. They were present at the Swallowtail Festival, where Aeren saw a goblin light a cat on fire and then caper around the burning remains-the poor boy really hasn’t been the same since. Every night, his howls of terror send Petal into a barking fit, and when his parents investigate, Aeren claims a goblin came out of his closet. Alergast checked the closet dutifully but found nothing, and ever since, the kid’s complaints about the “closet goblin ”have grown more and more tiresome to his parents. Yesterday, Alergast threatened to make Aeren sleep in the woodshed if he couldn’t learn to “be a man” and sleep through an entire night without crying and telling stories.
Tonight Alergast didn’t go to soothe Aeren when he had his night terrors. But then, a few moments later, they heard poor Petal cry out in pain and Aeren’s screams turn shrill. This time Aeren wasn’t just having nightmares. When Alergast burst into the room, he found a goblin crouched on his son’s chest. Petal was dead, a knife deep in his ear, and the goblin was frantically trying to chew off Aeren’s arm. Alergast attacked the goblin and chased it back into the closet, where it clambered into a hole it had cleverly hidden under an old fur. Alergast flew into a rage, and as he started tearing apart the closet in an attempt to get at the goblin, Amele panicked and fled the house with her children to seek out the Heroes of Sandpoint for aid.
You dispatched the goblin, but it was too late to save Alergast. You found him dead and partially eaten. Amele and her children were taken to the Sandpoint Cathedral.
The next day, Sheriff Hemlock bid you come to the town hall. Mayor Deverin (the Deverin’s are one of the 4 founding families) and an elf woman with a ragged and wild look were there. Hemlock introduced Shalelu to the group as an “unofficial member of Sandpoint’s town guard”(an introduction that causes her to smirk) and the group to Shalelu as “Sandpoint’s newest crop of goblin slayers. ”Hemlock explains that Shalelu has been a thorn in the side of the local goblin tribes for years, and that few in the region know more about them than she does. He goes on to explain that Sandpoint hasn’t been the only place in the region that’s had goblin troubles. In short, there’s been an increase in goblin-related raids along the Lost Coast, particularly in the dale between Nettlewood and Mosswood. Only a day ago, a farm south of Mosswood was burnt to the ground by a group of goblins. Shalelu was thankfully nearby, and while the farm couldn’t be saved, she did rescue the family and drive off the goblins; the family is staying at a nearby farm for now, but the goblin problem is obviously not going away.
“Belor’s told me of your work against the goblin swell 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 and fecund little runts. Like weeds that bite.
“There are five major goblin tribes in the region, and, traditionally, they’re pretty good at keeping each other in line with intertribal squabbles an d 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 number of the Mosswood goblins I dealt with yesterday 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 description s who they were talking about. Seems like you’ve made an impression.
“In any even t, 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 an d organized them. And judging by these recent raids, what they’re organizing seems like bad news for all of us.”
After Shalelu’s speech, Sheriff Hemlock announces that he’s taking a few of his guards south to Magnimar to see about securing additional soldiers to station at Sandpoint for a few weeks, at least until the extent of the goblin threat can be determined. While he’s out of town, he’s asked Shalelu to sniff around Shank’s Wood, Brinestump, Mosswood, Devil’s Platter, and other places where goblins live to see if she can discover anything else about what’s going on. He would also like the group to maintain a public presence in Sandpoint over the next few days, if they don’t mind. “The locals seem to have taken to you, ”he says, “And seeing you around town will do a lot for keeping worries down over the next few days.”
Shalelu joins the group at the Rusty Dragon where she imparts some information on goblins.
Goblin Tribes: As she mentioned earlier, there are five major goblin tribes in the region. The closest to Sandpoint are the Birdcruncher goblins, who live in caves along the western edge of the Devil’s Platter, although traditionally these goblins are the least aggressive of the five. To the south are the Licktoad goblins of the Brinestump Marsh, pests who are excellent swimmers. East are the Seven Tooth goblins of Shank’s Wood, goblins who’ve secured a place for themselves by raiding Sandpoint’s junkyard and rebuilding the stolen refuse into armor and weapons. Farther east are the Mosswood goblins, likely the largest tribe but one traditionally held back by feuding families 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.
Goblin Heroes: Shalelu notes that 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, six goblins in the region enjoy the status of “hero.”
“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.
Koruvus was a champion of the Seven Tooth tribe, 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). 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 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 Brine stump marsh, a “hero” mostly to goblins other than the Licktoad tribe.
Rendwattle Gutwad is the obese chieftain of the Brinestump goblins, a corpulent monster who, it is said, never leaves his throne.
Ripnugget is the leader of the Thistletop goblins and controls what the five tribes agree is the best lair.
And then there’s Bruthazmus, an infamous bugbear ranger who lives in northern Nettlewood and often visits the five tribes to trade things he’s stolen from caravans for alcohol, news, or magic arrows. Shalelu notes that Bruthazmus has a particular hatred of elves, and that they have fought on several occasions. To date, neither of them has managed to get the upper hand on the other, but Shalelu bitterly vows that she won’t be the first to fall in their private war.
The party was woken the next morning by Bethana Corwin, a female Halfling who works as a maid at the Rusty Dragon. Bethana had in tow a gnome woman with pink hair that she introduced as Pinky. She quickly informed the party that Ameiko was missing and that she had found an ominous letter in her room. She asked the party to check up on Ameiko, and Pinky accompanied them.
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 authorities because we both know he’d just manage to weasel his way out of it as usual. I know you’ve got some pull here in town. 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, then three times 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 gets out, you know that 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 here. I still don’t understand how you can stand to live in this stupid little backwater. It’s so much better in Magnimar, or even Riddleport!
Anyway, don’t tell anyone about this. There are other complications as well, and I’d rather talk to you in person about those later tonight. Don’t be late!
The group headed over to the Glassworks and found it closed up. They picked a lock and discovered 8 goblins celebrating a grisly victory. The Glassworks employees were all murdered and their bodies mutilated. They also found Lonjiku Kaijitsu propped up in a chair and encased in thick runny sheets of hardened glass.
After defeating the goblins, the party continued to the Glassworks basement. They found Ameiko beaten and trussed. It took several attempt, but she was eventually revived enough to travel. Ameiko headed back to the Rusty Dragon leaving the party to hunt down Tsuto. They found him in another room. He put up a hard fight but was eventually put down.
The party found Tsuto’s journal, a small leather-bound booklet. It contained two dozen parchment pages, most of which Tsuto filled with maps of Sandpoint or erotic drawings of Nualia (the presumed-dead adopted daughter of Father Tobyn). The maps each depict different attack plans. The first set shows the attack plans for a group of 30 goblins-one of these battle maps is circled, and the party recognized it as the attack the goblins made on Sandpoint the day of the Swallowtail Festival. Of more pressing concern are the next several pages, which illustrate an assault on Sandpoint by a force of what appears to be 200 goblins. None of these are circled, and while many are scratched out as if they’ve been rejected, the implications are ominous nonetheless.
Most of the drawings of Nualia do not depict her with her demonic hand, although one on the last pages of the book does; it portrays her with not only a single demonic hand, but also bat wings, horns, a forked tail, and fangs.
Another room in the basement opens to a tunnel. One of the goblins said it leads outside the town of Sandpoint.
Ameiko is now the head of the Kaijitsu family. The party discreetly delivered the bodies of her brother and father to her manor on hill. She is recovering at the Rusty Dragon, and she thanked them by offering free rooms for as long as they like.
Mayor Deverin was concerned about the secret tunnel under Sandpoint, and she asked the party to check it out. She also told them about a pair of catastrophes that occurred 5 years ago.
When Jervis Stoot made clear his intentions to build a home on the then-nameless tidal island just north of the Old Light, many worried that he’d break his neck climbing up and down the isle’s cliffs. Jervis had already garnered something of a reputation for eccentricity when he began his one-man crusade to carve depictions of birds on every building in town. Stoot never made a carving without securing permission, but his incredible skill at woodcarving made it a given that, if Stoot picked your building as the site of his latest project, you seized the opportunity."
Sporting a Stoot" soon grew to be something of a bragging point, and Jervis eventually extended his gift to include ships and carriages. Those who asked or tried to pay him for his skill were rebuffed-Stoat told them, “There ain’t no birds in that wood for me t’set free,” and went on his way, often wandering the streets for days before noticing a hidden bird in a fence post, lintel, steeple, or doorframe, which he’d then secure permission to “release” with his trusty hatchets and carving knives.
Stoat’s excuse for wanting to move onto the isle seemed innocent enough. The place was a haven for local bird life, and his claim of "wantin’ ta be with th’ birds " seemed to make sense—so much so, in fact, that the guild of carpenters (with whom Stoat had maintained a friendly competition for several years) volunteered to build a staircase, free of charge, along the southern cliff face so that Stoat could come and go from his new home without risking life and limb.
For 15 years, Stoat lived on the island. His trips into town grew less and less frequent, making it something of an event when he chose a building to host a new Stoat. Sandpoint was no stranger to crime, or even to murder. Once or twice in a year, passions flared, robberies went bad, jealousy grew too much to bear, or one too many drinks were drunk, and someone would end up dead. But when bodies began to mount in late 4702 AR, the town initially had no idea how to react.
Sandpoint’s sheriff at the time was a no-nonsense man named Casp Avertin, a retired city watch officer from Magnimar. Yet even he was ill-prepared for the murderer who came to be known as Chopper. Over the course of one long month, it seemed that every day brought a new victim to light. Each was found in the same terrible state: body bearing deep cuts to the neck and torso, hands and feet severed and stacked nearby, and the eyes and tongue missing entirely, having been plucked crudely from each head. Over the course of that terrible month, Chopper claimed 25 victims. His uncanny knack at eluding traps and pursuit quickly wore on the town guard, taking a toll on Sheriff Avertin in particular, who increasingly took to drinking.
In any event, Sheriff Avertin himself became Chopper’s last victim, slain upon catching the murderer in a narrow lane—known now as Chopper’s Alley—as he was mutilating his latest victim. In the battle that followed, Avertin landed a telling blow against the killer.
When Belor Hemlock, then merely a town guard, found both bodies (Avertin’s and the penultimate victim) several minutes later, he rallied the guards and they were able to follow the killer’s bloody trail. The trail led straight to the stairs of Stoat’s Rock. At first, the town guard refused to believe the implications, and feared that Chopper had come to claim poor Jervis Stoat as his 26th victim. Yet what the guards found in the modest home atop the isle and in the larger complex of rooms that had been carved into the bedrock below left no room for doubt. Jervis Stoat and Chopper were one and the same, and the eyes and tongues of all 25 victims were found upon a horrific altar to a vile demon lord of winged creatures and temptation whose name none dared speak aloud.
Stoat himself was found dead at the base of the altar, having plucked his own eyes and tongue loose in a final offering. The guards collapsed the entrance to the lower chambers, burned Stoat’s house, tore down the stairs, and did their best to forget. Stoat himself was burned on the beach in a pyre, his ashes blessed and then scattered in an attempt to stave off an unholy return of his evil spirit. But as fate would have it, the people of Sandpoint would soon have a new tragedy to bear, one that almost eclipsed Chopper’s rampage.
A month after the murderer was slain, a terrible fire struck Sandpoint. The fire started in the Sandpoint Chapel and spread quickly. As the town rallied to save the church, the inferno expanded, consuming the North Coast Stables, the White Deer Inn, and three homes. In the end, the church burnt to the ground, leaving the town’s beloved priest Ezakien Tobyn and (so the town believed) his beautiful adopted daughter Nualia dead.
All that remains today of the once-loved Stoat carvings are ragged scars on buildings and figureheads where owners used hatchets to remove what had become a haunting reminder of the wolf in the fold. The homes and businesses ravaged by the fire have been reconstructed, and the Sandpoint Chapel has finally been rebuilt as well. With the consecration of this new cathedral, Sandpoint hopes to finally put the Dark times of the Late Unpleasantness in the past.
Nualia was an aasimar girl raised by Sandpoint’s previous religious leader, a man named Ezakien Tobyn, and her childhood was lonely and sad. Her unearthly beauty made the other children either jealous or shy, and many of them took to playing cruel jokes on her. The adults in town weren’t much better-many of the superstitious Varisians viewed Nualia as blessed by Desna, a sort of “reverse deformity.” Rumors that her touch or proximity could cure warts and rashes, that locks of her hair brewed into tea could increase fertility, and that her voice could drive out evil spirits led to a succession of awkward and humiliating requests over the years. Poor Nualia felt more like a freak than a young girl. Nualia was presumed to be a victim of the fire that consumed the previous church and killed her father.
The party rested for the night and set out the next morning. The tunnel winds northeast for several hundred feet before a side tunnel branches towards the west. The side tunnel was once bricked off. Twin Feather noted the goblin tracks came from the main tunnel, but the party opted to explore the side tunnel anyway. They came across an old underground structure. They fought several vile abominations and discovered a statue of a strikingly beautiful yet shockingly angry woman. The statue held a masterwork ranseur decorated with ivory inlays. The party took the weapon with them vowing to find out who the woman is and what significance this weapon may hold.
Continued exploration found an old jail patrolled by two more of the abominations. Twin Feather pulped one splattering Mathew, and the other was dispatched with only minor difficulty. Exploring the cells turned up some very old bones. The entire complex radiated slight abjuration magic.
The party found a decrepit torture chamber and some cells containing twisted and deformed bones. They fought a large 3-armed goblin that wielded a weapon in each arm. The battled ended quickly when Twin Feather splattering it all over Mathew too, but there was a sense that, without a bit of luck, things could have been much worse. The room with the goblin contained 12 twenty-foot zombie pits. The party decided the zombies presented no threat in their holes and left them there.
The party next found a small circular room with no gravity and walls plated with a strange red metal. Electricity rippled along the walls, and sometimes it seems to coalesce into abstract runes or writing, but the effect was never substantial enough to be sure. In the room floated a ragged prayer book dedicated to Lamashtu, a scroll of burning hands, and a wand of shocking grasp. The room also contained a bottle of wine of recent vintage easily purchasable at any store or tavern in Sandpoint.
The party found stairs up and stairs down. Both stairways were hopelessly buried, but their presence indicated there was once more to this catacomb.
The final wing of the catacomb held a shrine containing waters of Lamashtu and some sort of cathedral. A 3-foot tall winged creature with tiny horns lurked inside the cathedral. It shrieked in anger before spilling it’s own blood into a bright orange bubbling pool. The pool dimmed, and another of the vile abominations rose immediately from it. The abomination was slain, and so was a summoned devil, but the winged demon proved hard to handle. She turned invisible and flew out of reach. She shrugged off fire and was uninjured by the few blows the party manage to land. At one point when Papa Doc grabbed the little fiend, the tide appeared to turn, but she proved slippier than expected and managed to escape his grasp.
The battle against the quasit dragged on for what seemed like forever. The party could scarcely touch her, and she seemed unable to hurt them. A plan formed to lure her into the outer chamber because it had a lower ceiling. She cast hold person on Salton, but he resisted. She managed to sleep him. In the confusion Salton was left alone and helpless. The vile creature attempted to slit his throat, but the cut was not quite deep enough. Insulting taunts aimed at Lamashtu combined with her failure to slay the helpless priest seemed to drive the creature deeper into a rage.
The wretched little thing, emboldened by her lack of injury, began stabbing with her dagger when she could throw it. She overconfidently followed the party into the outer chamber. Twin Feather remembered the 10 foot ranseur strapped to his back. The party was able to trap the quasit in a corner. It still took them a long time to finish her off, but it was too late when she realized her real danger.
After slaying the quasit, the party dropped more blood into the freezing well. Each time it spawned a creature, they slew it. The well shone less and less brightly until it went dark. Before returning to Sandpoint, the party lassoed the zombies in the pits and destroyed them as well.
The group returned to Sandpoint to sell off treasure and to buy some supplies. They visited Broderick Quint, and he had some answers for them.
Quint recognized the ranseur as a replica of Runelord Alaznist’s weapon of rule, and he surmised the statue of the beautiful and angry woman was Runelord Alaznist. The slight aura of abjuration magic in the catacombs is consistent with that of other Thassilonian ruins. It was standard to imbue Thassilonian structures with preservative magic. The summoning well was probably a runewell, and the abominations it spawned were sinspawn of the wrathspawn variety.
Thassilon was ruled by seven runelords, and each focused in magic aligned with one of the seven sins. Runelord Alaznist’s domain was wrath. Quint also believes the Varisian coast was once close to the border between Runelord Alaznist’s kingdom of Bakrakhan and Runelord Karzoug’s kingdom of Shalast. The runelords and their kingdoms quarreled often. The Thassilonian civilization was destroyed somewhere around 10,000 years ago. How the civilization was destroyed is a mystery, but it is a testament to the strength of their magic that Thassilonian ruins still dot the Varisian countryside.
The party headed north toward Thistletop. They crossed the bridge at Thistle River and headed into the bramble filled Nettlewood forest and made their way toward the coast. They came across a young firepelt cougar—probably a yearling—caught in a goblin snare. The young cat was none too friendly, but Twin Feather was able to soothe it enough to free it from the snare. Salton managed to clean the wound, but the animal spooked and bolted into the brush.
A few hours of searching revealed goblin trails that lead to a “thistle door.” The door was made out of thistles so as to make it difficult to spot, but it could be carefully moved to reveal the opening behind.
Behind the door was what could best be described as a thistle maze. Goblin tunnels wound through the brambles occasionally opening to “rooms.” The party found a group of goblin refugees belonging to the Birdcruncher tribe. It seems they fled to Thistletop after many of their number were lost in the raid on Sandpoint. Pinky danced with glee as goblins were consumed by her alchemical fire. Matthew failed to duck, and was once again covered in gore.
The party continued to explore the thistle maze. They found and dispatched a group of tethered goblin dogs. Then they encountered a goblin druid and his firepelt animal companion. The druid entangled most of the group and stepped into the brambles using his woodland stride ability. Twin Feather and Matthew went down, but Salton managed to revive them with a burst of healing energy. The druid and it’s cat lay slain, but the party was also injured and had used many resources.
The party used the druid’s wand to transmogrify Matthew into a tree and bar off a corner of the thistle maze. They managed to spend the night, heal their wounds, and recoup some resources. They set out early in the morning, crept across the rope bridge spanning the churning sea, snuck past the goblin watch towers, and into the ramshackle stockade.
The goblins were ill prepared for the assault. The goblins in the watch towers were dispatched without giving a call. Those in the barracks were slain in their sleep. A well placed glitterdust aided in taking down Chief Ripnugget, his lizard mount Stickfoot, and his guards. The chief struck a telling blow against Twin Feather, but Twin Feather answered by running the chief through with Runelord Alaznist’s ranseur.
Killing Chief Ripnugget left the goblin stockade mostly clear. A search of the place yielded a silver holy symbol of Lamashtu and a large iron key, but not much else. Some goblin dogs still roamed the courtyard, and some goblin guards were partaking in a game of kill gull on the backside of the island. Rather than face the mangy goblin dogs, the party climbed to the top of one of the guard towers. They could see the dogs in the courtyard and still keep an eye on the distracted guards in the distance. They set upon the dogs, but were surprised by a knock on the tower trap door.
The knock belonged to a gnome bard named Elvi. Elvi was also hunting goblins, and the party was surprised to find his rude and crass humor inspiring during battle. The goblin dogs were half dead by the time the goblin guards looked up from their game of kill gull. The guards and their dogs made for the tower, but they were also cut down by ranged attacks. The last couple of goblin dogs fled across the bridge into the thistle maze.
A storage room in the courtyard turned out to be a makeshift stable holding a magnificent but terrified large white warhorse. The horse had trampled several goblins, but it was trapped and starving. A piece of tack bearing the name Shadowmist gave the only clue as to where the horse had come from. Twin Feather tried to calm the animal, but it bolted and stomped threateningly around the courtyard. The party enticed the horse to run for the front of the stockade and freedom, but disaster struck when it tried to cross the rope bridge.
The horse set off a trap that the party had avoided only by luck and plummeted 60 feet into the churning tide. It fought masterfully for its life and managed to strand itself on the small beach. There is lay, broken and exhausted, lacking the strength to pull itself from the lapping waves.
Twin Feather and Matthew repaired the island side of the bridge, and Matthew managed to climb across to the shore side and repair it also. They then climbed down to the beach where Twin Feather poured a healing potion down the horses mouth. Shadowmist was finally able to rise, and he wandered off down the beach and out of sight.
The party returned to the goblin stockade and entered the underground complex. They found a war room where the attack on Sandpoint was planned, and a hallway containing unlit lanterns. The hallway led to a pair of stone doors carved with images of horrific deformed monsters clawing their way out of pregnant women of all races. This door depicted a scene common to temples of Lamashtu.
The party was considering exploring what lay behind the stone doors, but Twin Feather felt a strange pull. It was nothing more than a strong intuition, but he sensed a friend waiting for him above. He traveled back through the goblin stockade and across the bridge. There he found the firepelt cougar he previously freed from the goblin snare. Now the beast was friendly. Twin Feather realized that he had a strong bond with the animal that allowed him to direct it almost as if he had been training it for months. The rest of the party was leery of the wild animal. It took a little convincing to get it to cross the rope bridge, but Twin Feather was able to coax it to follow them into the dungeon.
Twin Feather opened the stone doors to find a temple of Lamashtu. It contained a black marble stone altar, its surface heaped with ashes and bone fragments squatting before a ten-foot-tall statue. The statue depicted a very pregnant but otherwise shapely naked woman who wielded a kukri in each taloned hand and had a long reptilian tail, birdlike taloned feet, and the snarling head of a three-eyed jackal with a forked tongue. The left kukri flickered with fiery orange light while the right one glowed with a cold blue radiance.
Jovu spotted 2 yeth hounds flying near the ceiling. The yeth hounds howled. The party had been careful and lucky, and this led to great success in the goblin stockade above. As they felt the hound’s supernatural howls pierce their souls, they were overcome with dread combined with the horrible realization that everything in the complex heard the sound.
Everybody was able to shake off the supernatural fear except Twin Feather’s firepelt cougar. The firepelt fled into the hallway but was forced to cower outside the south door because it had nowhere to go. The party had one of the yeth hounds down and the other injured before Bruthazmus, a bugbear wielding a flail and a composite long bow and wearing an elf ear necklace, opened the south door near the cougar. A human wearing banded mail, a shield, and wielding a bastard sword followed him through.
Soon after, a woman with silver hair and violet eyes entered through the north door cutting off the party from the stairs. With the exception of her scarred belly and demonic hand, she was stunningly beautiful. She was accompanied by a female spellcaster and another yeth hound. The situation was definitely dire.
Some of the party was thinking of barricading themselves inside the temple of Lamashtu, but Papa Doc feared the consequences of getting trapped. He convinced the party to flee instead.
Salton was cut down and lay unconscious. Papa Doc lured the silver haired woman and the human fighter into the temple. Twin Feather overran the spellcaster woman and escaped. Mathew dove into the surf and escaped.
Papa Doc was able to abrupt jaunt past his foes and cast invisibilty on himself. He was also able to flee the temple with Nualia and the fighter thinking he was still trapped inside. The spellcasting woman was distracted by a strange creature in the side cave. Papa Doc was able to pour a potion of healing down Salton’s throat, but the woman sat up and raised the alarm. Papa Doc created an illusion of a wraith as a distraction before fleeing himself. He had given Salton all the help he could.
Salton made the most of his headstart. He had nearly reached the front door when he heard Bruthazmus cussing and stomping. He turned toward a guard tower and climbed down the wall. He landed uncerimoniously on the ground, but he was unhurt.
Papa Doc let the firepelt cougar out of the dungeon. The last he saw it climbed over the west wall in the couryard toward where the goblins had been playing kill gull. Papa Doc was able to slip invisibly across the rope bridge where he found Twin Feather hiding.
Salton heard shouts approaching, so he burrowed deep into the thorny briars that surround the stockade. The enemies searched but did not find him. They seemed to think everyone escaped across the rope bridge. Salton held fast breathing lightly and afraid to move. Soon after he heard the fighter and bugbear in the tower above him. He lay trapped only a short distance away. The rest of his friends were gone. Papa Doc should have escaped. He was invisible. What happened to Twin Feather and Mathew? He hadn’t seen them. Where they alive? Did they know where he was? Would they come, or was he on his own?
The hobgoblin and the human took up watch on the tower above where Salton was hiding, and Salton was able to hear their conversation. He heard them speculate as to what happened to Tsuto. He learned that Nualia was possibly days away from freeing the creature beneath Thisletop, and that they believe freeing the creature is her ticket to transforming fully into a demon.
Salton was considering his options when he saw Papa Doc, Twin Feather, and Pinky cross the bridge. A fight ensued ending with the death of the bugbear and the rescue of Salton and Twin Feather’s new firepelt cougar. The human escaped and the party retreated back across the bridge.
Jovu flew out looking for Mathew, and he was lucky to find him on the beach before he entered the wild. Even with Jovu’s help, it took Mathew several hours to make it back to the party. They rested up and entered Thistletop again after midnight.
The party found a hidden door leading to a deeper level of the complex. The lower level radiated a slight aura of transmutation magic. It was obviously older construction, and the entire complex slanted slightly toward the west.
Mathew led the party carefully down a hallway searching for traps along the way. He found a trip plate in the floor designed to trigger two portcullises to trap anyone standing on the plate between them. The plate was positioned between two statures. Papa Doc warned that the statues radiate magic. Matthew disabled the trigger, but when he leapt over it the statues on either side animated and slashed at the air between them. Papa Doc hurried past and also avoided the slashing motion.
The rest of the party was considering how to pass the trap, but the animated statues were quite loud. Mathew heard voices from behind the door. It was obvious whoever was inside knew they were there.
The party defeated Nualia, Lyrie, and Orik. They found Nualia’s journals and notes, but it will take hours to sort through them. There was also a lever to activate and deactivate the statue trap.
Nualia wore a silver medallion bearing the Sihedron rune that hung on a leather cord. Papa Doc identified the medallion’s magical properties. While worn, a Sihedron medallion grants its wearer a +1 resistance bonus on all saving throws. Once per day, as a free action, it may be commanded to bestow the effects of false life on the wearer. Placed on the neck of a dead body, a Sihedron medallion preserves the body indefinitely via a gentle repose effect.
The next room held a stone carving of a pillar of coins enchanted to look like real gold coins. Mathew found some very well disguised slots, and he slipped coins through them. The coin pillar descended into the ground revealing a room that obviously hadn’t been disturbed in decades if not longer. The room had three doors.
Behind the first door was a ghostly figure of a man clutching a book and a glaive. The illusionary man seemed to be giving a speech, and he repeated the same lines over and over. Papa Doc translated the speech from Thassilonian: “. . .is upon us, but I command you remain. Witness my power, how Alaznist’s petty wrath is but a flash compared to my strength. Take my final work to your graves, and let its memory be the last thing you . . .”
The next door revealed a room containing several tables covered with tools. One of the tables held a deformed skeleton that showed signs of experimentation and manipulation. Among the tools was a silver and gold seven-pointed star; one surface was studded with nodules and blades, and the other featured a thin, curved handle. This object turned out to be a key to the final door.
The locked door revealed a room containing a fire pit and a large barghest. The evil plane traveler attacked invisibly mauling Mathew, before the rest of the party was able to destroy it. Behind a hidden panel the party found a ring that creates an invisible shield shaped like a 7 pointed star.
The unexplored door opened on a crypt. The crypt contained a statue of a man holding a glaive and a book with the 7 pointed star symbol on it. There were six sarcophagi with carvings indicating the interred were once architects. Three shadows leapt out of the sarcophagi and drained a great deal of Salton’s strength before they were destroyed by magic and positive energy.
Matthew found a secret door that led to a partially submerged treasure room. A carving on the wall depicted a towering mountain, its peak carved in the shape of a stern face just above a great palace. Below, the side of the mountain’s valley cradled an immense city of spires.
The once great treasure now consisted of shattered urns, crumbled stone chests, rusted bits of once-beautiful armor and weapons, and other long-ruined treasures from an ancient past. Most impressive of them all was a large, coral-encrusted helmet sized for a giant; the helm measured nearly 5 feet across, and its full-face guard bore an expression of twisted rage and fangs. The helm was made of gold and bronze.
A pass through the upper level identified bed chambers of Nualia and her cronies, but nothing else of value. The walk back to Sandpoint felt long, and two floating disks filled with treasure attract attention, but it was uneventful.
Mayor Deverin (farming and brewing family) and Sheriff Hemlock were ecstatic at the return of the party and the news that the Thistletop goblins had been scattered to the wind. They sent for Ameiko Kaijitsu (glass making family), Ethram Valdemar (ship building family), and Titus Scarnetti (logging family), Nualia’s story was shocking. Father Zantus thought it best to not make her story public knowledge. The town nobles and leaders thanked the party for all their hard work.
Ameiko threw a celebration in the party’s honor. The Rusty Dragon was overflowing with guest coming to give thanks. The heroes of Sandpoint are now its saviors.
From Nualia’s journals you learn:
Nualia is a foundling raised by Sandpoint’s previous religious leader, a man named Ezakien Tobyn, Nualia’s childhood was lonely and sad. Her unearthly beauty made the other children either jealous or shy, and many of them took to playing cruel jokes on her. The adults in town weren’t much better—many of the superstitious Varisians viewed Nualia as blessed by Desna, a sort of “reverse deformity.” Rumors that her touch or proximity could cure warts and rashes, that locks of her hair brewed into tea could increase fertility, and that her voice could drive out evil spirits led to endless awkward and humiliating requests over the years. Poor Nualia felt more like a freak than a young girl by the time she came of age, so when Delek Viskanta, a local Varisian youth, began to court her, she practically fell into his arms in gratitude.
Knowing that her father wouldn’t approve of a relationship with a Varisian (he wanted her to remain pure so that she could join one of the prestigious Windsong Abbey convents), they kept the affair secret. They met many times in hidden places, a favorite being an abandoned smuggler’s tunnel under town that Delek had discovered as a child. Before long, Nualia realized she was pregnant. When she told Delek, he revealed his true colors and, after calling her a slut and a harlot, fled Sandpoint rather than face her father’s wrath. Nualia’s shock quickly turned to rage, yet she had nowhere to vent her anger. She bottled it up, and when her father discovered her delicate condition, his reaction to her indiscretions only furthered her shame and anger. He forbade her to leave the church, lectured her nightly, and made her pray to Desna for forgiveness. In so doing, he unknowingly nurtured her growing hate.
Nualia miscarried her child when she was 7 months pregnant, a child whose monstrously deformed shape she only glimpsed before blanching midwives stole it away to burn it in secret. As the child had been conceived in the smuggler’s tunnels below town, in close proximity to a hidden shrine to Lamashtu (the goddess of monstrous births), the child itself was deformed and horrific. The double shock of losing a child and the realization she had been carrying a fiend in her belly for seven months was too much. Nualia fell into a coma.
As Nualia slept, she dreamed unhealthy dreams. Fueled by the wrath from below and the taint of Lamashtu, Nualia became further obsessed with the cruel demon goddess and the conviction that her wretched life was inflicted on her by those around her. She came to see her angelic heritage as a curse, and the demon-sent dreams showed her how to expunge this taint from her body and soul, replacing it with chaos and cruelty. When she finally woke, Nualia was someone new, someone who didn’t flinch at what Lamashtu asked of her. She jammed her father’s door shut as he slept, lit the church on fire, and fled Sandpoint.
The locals assumed Nualia had burned in the fire, a tragedy made all the worse by the death of Father Tobyn as well. Yet Nualia lived. She fled to Magnimar, where she enlisted the aid of a group of killers known as the Skinsaw Men. With their aid, she tracked down Delek and murdered him. Yet his death did not fill her need for revenge. Sandpoint and its hated citizens still lived.
Seeing a kindred spirit in the tortured woman, the mysterious leader of the Skinsaw Men gave Nualia a medallion bearing a carving of a seven-pointed star called a “Sihedron medallion.” Nualia learned that she had a larger role to play, and that her dreams were a map to her destiny. Taking the advice to heart, Nualia returned to Sandpoint, and found herself drawn to the brick wall in the smuggler’s tunnels where she and Delek had conceived her deformed child. Nualia bashed down the wall, and in so doing, discovered the Catacombs of Wrath and the quasit Erylium, also a follower of Lamashtu. For many months, Nualia studied under Erylium’s tutelage. During this time, Nualia received another vision from Lamashtu—a vision of a monstrous goblin wolf imprisoned in a tiny room. In Nualia’s dreams, she learned that this creature, a barghest named Malfeshnekor, was also one of Lamashtu’s chosen. If she could find him and free him, he would not only help her achieve her vengeance against the town of Sandpoint, but he would be the key in cleansing her body of what she had come to see as her “celestial taint.” Nualia wanted to be one of Lamashtu’s children now. She wanted to become a monster herself.
From Lyrie’s notes you learn that Nualia was able to communicate empathically with the trapped beast:
Thistletop is a curiously round island about 6o feet off shore, connected to the mainland by a rope bridge. The island had an unusual genesis-it was once the head of one of Runelord Karzoug’s sentinel statues. The statue has long since crumbled and become overgrown by the Nettlewood, but the head escaped such obscurement by landing in the surf. The magical nature of the statue’s construction drastically slowed the process of erosion on the head’s features, and when the sun hits the western cliff of the isle just right, one can just make out the ancient features of the statue’s face.
The statue once contained a small complex, but today only a few of the original rooms within the head itself remain accessible. One of these rooms contains an imprisoned barghest named Malfeshnekor. An ancient agent of Alaznist, the monster was captured by Karzoug’s minions and imprisoned here for interrogation. Yet the end came too quickly, and when the statue’s head tumbled into the sea, Malfeshnekor found himself one of the few surviving creatures. And yet, the outsider remained trapped.
For the next several thousand years he waited. For a time, a group of Lamashtu cultists settled in the rooms above. Himself a loyal minion of Lamashtu, Malfeshnekor quickly discovered he was able to communicate empathically with any priest who stood before the altar. In so doing, he was able to lead the cultists to discover the small complex in which he waited, but the cultists were slaughtered by a hellcat guardian before they reached him.
Well over a century later, Malfeshnekor sensed new creatures settling nearby-goblins. As with the Lamashtan cultists, the barghest had a crude empathic link with these goblins. Malfeshnekor couldn’t quite communicate with them as he had with the clerics of Lamashtu, but the goblins could still sense him. They felt drawn to Thistletop for reasons they didn’t quite comprehend, and it quickly became the most coveted tribal land among their kind.
Traditionally, the Thistletop goblins were led by clerics who sensed the barghest’s empathic urgings during their rituals. These urgings encouraged the goblins to explore the lower levels of their lair, yet goblins are fragile and stupid creatures. None ever found the secret door that led to Malfeshnekor’s level, and now that the current leader of Thistletop is himself too unwise to receive Malfeshnekor’s empathic sendings, the barghest had begun to despair.
And then, with Nualia’s arrival and the reconsecration of the temple, Malfeshnekor realized his time of freedom was close. Nualia is his salvation, and he her path to becoming a true demon.
Brodert Quink identified the carving of the city of spires as legendary Xin-Shalast, a lost city rumored to be hidden somewhere in the Kodar Mountains. Tales speak of the city as having streets of gold and buildings carved from immense gems, but although countless explorers have sought it (and many have died or vanished), none have ever managed to locate this fabled city. Most scholars agree that it never existed at all, that it was a fictitious location invented by the ancients.