It’s the day of the Swallowtail festival and many visitors are crowding into the local inns. The townsfolk are all excited, with so many newcomers and things to see and do. In addition, the splendid new stone Cathedral is finally completed, after five years of construction, making this festival stand out as important.
Most of the townsfolk and many of the visitors to Sandpoint gather in front of the recently completed Sandpoint Cathedral for the opening ceremonies. Mayor Kendra Deverin welcomes everyone to Sandpoint with a friendly speech, and thanks everyone in town for turning out, including workaholic Larz Rovanky, the tanner. She only makes passing mention of the “Late Unpleasantness”, but proudly recalls how the founding families, merchants, and many faiths of the Sandpoint community came together to replace the humble chapel with this magnificent new Cathedral, sacred to many gods, and a monument to the cohesion of the community.
After the mayor’s speech, Sheriff Belor Hemlock makes a brief speech. He begins with a moment of silence remembering those who perished in the Sandpoint Fire five years ago, including both Father Tobyn and his adopted daughter Nualia. He urges everyone to celebrate in moderation and avoid public drunkeness and disorderly conduct. Hemlock reminds parents to keep their eyes on their children, particularly around the bluffs and the Turandarok River, and cautions everyone to be careful around the bonfire planned for this evening on the beach below town.
Cyrdak Drokkus steps spryly onto the stage, to the surprise of many in the crowd. He explains lightly that Lonjiku Kaijitsu, owner of the Sandpoint Glassworks, was supposed to make a speech today, but is feeling poorly. Many in the crowd, recalling Lonjiku’s serious demeanor and dislike of frivolity, suspect otherwise. Cyrdak delivers his own, eccentric, rambling ‘history’ of the construction of the new cathedral, taking quite a few liberties with the facts, but spinning quite an entertaining tale. After his ‘history’, Cyrdak reminds the crowd that the Sandpoint Theatre will be putting on a performance of “The Harpy’s Lament”, and the famed Magnimarian diva Alishandra will be performing in the lead role.
After Cydrak leaves the stage, Father Abstalar Zantus, the senior priest of the new Cathedral, steps onto the podium. He delivers a brief, but heartfelt homily, and urges everyone to return to the Cathedral before lunch, when he will deliver a sermon before the Sandpoint eateries provide free food for all.
At this point, most visitors shop with the area merchants, who have stalls lining the main streets, or join the residents of Sandpoint in playing various games or engaging in other diversions. Hikage runs to the Rusty Dragon to get Ameiko to come to the festival, but she and her staff are sweating over the preparations for their noontime meal, and she insists she cannot spare the time.
Gellius competes in a sack race with several people, including littleAeren Barrett and Vorvashali Voon. Gellius soundly defeats his opposition, including the little boy. Gellius, seeing a blonde Ulfen brute purchasing a huge axe from a booth manned by a tall, intense-looking woman, who turns out to be Savah Bevaniky, looks over her selection and purchases a scimitar, which he imagines will be ideal for his envisioned adventures.
Hikage enters a tug-of-war, siding with Maever Kesk and “Cracktooth” Jesk Berinnni against Das Korvut, Banny Harker, and Volioker Briskalberd. To the surprise of Das Korvut, his strength is insufficient and his side loses the war. The winners receive tokens for the Pixie’s Kitten kissing booth.
Ragnar has been looking towards the festival for most of the week. He has carefully husbanded his wages from his shipboard duties, and his labors here in the Sandpoint docks, and goes to Savah’s booth to purchase the bearded greataxe which he has been admiring. Despite his comparative youth, he also flirts with the statuesque armorer, to no avail, though she suffers his attentions with good humor to complete the sale. He then competes in a test of strength, but smashes down the hammer missing the target entirely, to his chagrin.
Zendo goes to speak to his old acquaintance, Jubrayl Vhiski, at the Fatman’s Feedbag. After a little uneasy verbal sparring, Jubrayl asks Zendo if he needs any work, and suggests that he should avoid the Hagfish tonight. Zendo then goes to shop at Ven Vinder‘s shop, remembering that the outspoken merchant’s wife makes quite delicious pies. As he samples one of her pies, Zendo also admires Ven’s daughter Shayliss Vinder, who has developed quite an impressive figure since he was last in town. Ven seems not to notice, but complains about his daughter Katrine Vinder and her no-good-boyfriend, Banny Harker, who is leading her to temptation.
Corvus walks around the town, browsing the wares for sale at the Curious Goblin and chatting with the owner, Chask Haladan and Brodert Quink. Feeling peckish, he tries to follow his nose to a place offering breakfast, but runs into Gressel Tenniwar, who steers him, none too politely, into the Feedbag, for a heaping platter of fried potatoes and pork. A bit queasy, he walks off his meal with a brisk stroll around the edge of the bay, noting that the Sandpoint Glassworks are inactive today, for the festival presumably.
At noon, many people gather in front of the new cathedral. Father Zantus recites the legend of the Swallowtail, where Desna, hurled from the heavens by her enemies, is nursed back to health by the care of a blind orphan, who she transforms into an immortal butterfly, allowing the caring child to experience an eternity of wonder and delight as she roams the world. The canvas is drawn back from a nearby wagon, releasing the ‘children of Desna’, thousands of Swallowtail butterflies which spring into the air. Children chase them throughout the town, and many of the more devout townsfolk stand stock still, in the hopes that one of Desna’s children will alight on them and bless them with good fortune over the coming year.
After the butterflies are released, the inns and taverns serve a free meal for everyone. Zendo samples the peppercorn venison from the White Deer Inn, as does Corvus. Ragnar, as is his custom, devours the seafood chowder from the Hagfish, pronouncing it acceptable. Hikage and Gellius dine on the salmon from the Rusty Dragon, which appears to be the crowd favorite. The Fatman’s Feedbag, begrudging of the necessity of providing free food, offers up masses of fried potatoes and greasy pork, which compare favorably only in quantity.
After lunch, Hikage enters a balance beam walking contest with Olmur Davankus, a little girl named Lilenda, and Mayor Kendra Deverin, who agrees to hop onto the beam to the delight of the crowds. The little girl and Olmur walk carefully down the beam, but Hikage strides down it easily. Mayor Deverin tumbles off quite quickly, but takes her defeat in stride. The crowd demands that Olmur and Hikage make a return trip with a sloshing pitcher of water, to even the odds for Lilenda. Olmur is over-balanced by the large pitcher, and barely makes it across, but Hikage completes his task with ease. Finally, the patrons demand that Hikage and Olmur must make another pass blindfolded. Olmur finally loses his balance, as does Lilenda, but Hikage, even blindfolded, is able to navigate the narrow beam. He confers his prize, a treat of his choice from Sandpoint Savories, to the beaming little girl.
One appetite sated, Ragnar goes ‘downtown’ to the Pixie’s Kitten kissing booth. Though kisses are only a silver apiece, Ragnar parts with another of his hoarded gold and samples all of the girls, or at least their lips.
Gellius is flush with the success of his endeavors, and enters another footrace, though evidently a little unclear of the objective. He trounces the rather ample Hayliss Korvaski and Aneka Alvertin and succeeds in catching the bewildered chicken who leads the race. He is unsure what to do with the bird when he realizes it is, in fact, the prize.
After a pleasant day of activities, people are starting to head up High Street and Festival Street for the Prayer of First Dreaming, a traditional blessing delivered by a priest of Desna on this day. Father Zantus has taken his position on the wooden platform in front of the cathedral, and uses a magical thunderstone to create a dull rumble of thunder audible throughout Sandpoint, to signal everyone that the time for the benediction is approaching.
The abrupt noise startles a sleeping dog, who was lying under a nearby cart, out of the heat. Suddenly, something scampers out from a wagon, darts across the street, and there is a strangled yelp as the dog collapses to the ground, its throat cut. There is a high-pitched scream from Amele Barrett, and a tittering giggle as goblins tumble out of the covered wagon!
A scratchy, screeching goblin song is heard from singers throughout the town, and the sounds of shrieks and breaking glass begin to drift through the air:
Goblins chew and goblins bite.
Goblins cut and goblins fight.
Stab the dog and cut the horse,
Goblins eat and take by force!
Goblins race and goblins jump.
Goblins slash and goblins bump.
Burn the skin and mash the head,
Goblins here and you be dead!
Chase the baby, catch the pup.
Bonk the head to shut it up.
Bones be cracked, flesh be stewed,
We be goblins! You be food!
The knot of goblins in the church square disperses to wreak havoc. One bull-rushes poor Vesnutt Parooh
to the ground, as others chase chickens around in the dirt or menace the villagers with their crude dogcutters. Ragnar and Hikage rush to engage the goblins, who prove to be difficult targets, due to their small size and speed. Gellius calls upon the power of nature, and summons an eagle, who swoops down and rends one goblin limb from limb. Corvus calls upon the arcane forces at his command and immolates a goblin in a jet of flame, though not before summoning a magical field to protect himself. Zendo moves to protect Madame Mvashti from harm, and uses his magic to daze and disorient one of the goblins menacing the others. The villagers flee from the little green menaces in their midst, seeking the shelter of nearby homes and businesses, as the panicked chickens scramble madly around the square.
As the goblins continue to caper around the square, evidently too excited to realize the loss of some of their band, Ragnar and Hikage continue to spar with them, though Ragnar takes a painful cut from one who ducks under his guard. Zendo startles one of them with a magical trick, making the foolish creature believe that a pack of dogs is behind him. However, the trick backfires as the goblin runs away from the ‘dogs’, to slap a basket out of the hands of a surprised Arika Alvertin. When she shrieks and runs from the midget monster, he viciously slashes at her heels. The beast is soon struck down by one of the brave heroes, and one of the local farmers impales it on his pitchfork for good measure. Moved to action by the suffering of his flock, Father Zantus crosses the square and calls upon his divine patron, healing both Arika and Ragnar of their wounds.
As the initial shock settles, the group realizes that there must be goblins all over Sandpoint, as they can hear the sounds of off-key goblin singing, shouting, and commotion from almost all directions. As they ponder what to do, more goblins emerge from around the corner of the cathedral, carrying torches! The goblins are accompanied by a goblin war-chanter, whose catchy, if cruel and mean-spirited song appears to be driving them into a frenzy. The goblins scatter and set fire to one of the carts with fuel for the bonfire, and Gellius’s chicken! The farmer, having lost his bravery, retreats to the safety behind a cart.
The individual heroes converge on the goblins, smashing them with fist, axe, stone, and flame. The goblins prove as squirmy as ever though, and one of their crude blades cuts open a gash on Ragnar’s arm. Gellius again calls upon Gozreh, and produces an alarmingly huge centipede, which fastens upon one goblin and spells its doom. Emboldened, or perhaps unable to use his spells for fear of igniting the wagon, or an innocent, Corvus bludgeons one down with his staff. The goblins go down quickly under the combined assault, though the war-chanter is made of sterner stuff. After a lucky strike injures her, she maneuvers out of the fight and uses her magicks to heal herself! She even tries to cast an enchantment on Zendo, who keeps his head, and returns the favor, bespelling her with her own spell. As she tumbles to the ground, seized by an involuntary fit of laughter, Corvus smashes her melon-like head himself!