Runelight

Zuri's Journal, Entry 1

Swallowtail Festival and Goblins

Today was the day the people of Sandpoint decided to finish dedicating the new cathedral today – the idiots still think that building the stupid temple bigger and better will draw down the blessing of the gods. Fat lot of good it did back when Chopper was on a rampage and the old temple burned down. Captain James is on the loose and in the festival’s booze stockpiles, and already in the middle of a drinking contest. The other local drunks are complaining that he has an unfair advantage since he’s spent the entire last year intoxicated. My brother-in-law, Ezra is over by a mud pit, playing tug of war with some kids and declaring what good, clean fun that kind of thing is. Azaya is of in a corner of the square, teaching the local kids to play nice with her flying squirrel. The giant bird she has – Ghalvor, according to her, and supposedly a baby roc – is perched over on one of the buildings framing the town square and giving everyone irritable looks.

There’s a lot of talking – the Mayor’s chatted the crowd up, Sheriff Belor brought the festival mood down with his lecturing about safety (I noticed Ezra nodding at every point), and the theater manager tried to drum up business. I swear that nothing ever changes around here unless a catastrophe hits. The taverns are feeding everyone – Ameiko’s ruling the show like usual, but the peppercorn venison’s pretty good. James covered in mud and muck, and he’s wound up laying on the stage after he and Ezra somehow lost tug-of-war to a pack of kids. Ezra’s suffering the attentions of some delicate flower of the town; I don’t think she’s a season past her sixteenth birthday, but she’s just about glued herself to him. The kids and some of the adults are enjoying the alchemical trinkets I’m whipping up – the sparklers and colored smokesticks filling the square makes me feel a bit better about this mess of a dedication festival.

Father Zanthus let a huge flock of swallowtail butterflies loose around noon, and then more games of chance kept everyone occupied; Ezra eventually pried the girl off his arm at some point. They eventually levered James off the stage when Father Zanthus decided to do a ceremony; he set off a thunderstone to attract everyone’s attention. My professional opinion is that whoever made that thunderstone was too cautious – the Captain barely stirred when it went off.

I think that the thunderstone was a mistake; the next thing I knew, there were goblin voices singing one of their fucking creepy songs about killing, eating, and burning things, then a dog collapsed, dead, right next to me. That was when three of the ugly little freaks popped out of hiding right next to me. Thankfully, I keep my supplies on hand – the mutagen tastes horrible, but it’s worth that and the cost in focus to be able to dodge those rusty blades the freaks carry. The ones that got close glanced off the force-imbued carapace my shield extract formed over my skin, thankfully.

It turns out that Ezra’s taken to carrying a giant meat tenderizer since I last saw him; good thing, too, since he and the Captain smashed goblins into jelly. Disgusting, but I prefer that to getting sliced open. No sooner did we have them put down than we spotted a few more setting fire to a wagon – we managed to beat them all bloody and tip the burning wagon away from the nearby building. I managed to light the singing freak up with a flask of liquid fire, but then it hit me with something weird that made the roc chewing on the freak seem hilarious. Ezra wasn’t amused by my hysterics and kicked me in the ribs to get me ‘sorted out’. Ghalvor wasn’t amused, either – I recognize the head-shaking he was doing from when Azaya had to give him some bitter medicine when we were sailing. Apparently goblins taste revolting, to the surprise of none.

Once that was cleared up, which amounted to tipping the wagon over and the Captain chugging a pair of my healing elixirs to patch up his wounds, we heard an effeminate scream – I recognized it at once. Aldern Foxglove, one of the local nobles and a generally useful fop of a man. This was followed up by the sound of a dog furiously barking, a goblin screaming, and a painful-sounding yelp. I was moving before I realized it, even though the shield carapace had dried up and fallen away from my skin; the mutagen’s effect was still strong in my blood.

Azaya was moving as soon as I was, at the sound of the dog in pain. The Captain came running after us, and Ezra came lumbering after him with his hammer stained by gore. It turned out that there was some kind of elite goblin warrior menacing Aldern – the freak was smart enough to know what armor is and packed a larger version of their rusty weapons – and a mangy thing I think was a goblin dog – these horrible beasts the goblins raise as riding animals. They’ll give you a nasty rash if you aren’t careful. We took them down, along with the other three goblins – they all kept coming after me, but the flexibility my mutagen grants me let me keep getting out of the way. A few careful shots with the others to distract the menaces, plus the Captain’s fists and Ezra’s hammer, and we got them all put down pretty quickly.

I managed to stabilize the dog, but Aldern just dismissed it as a corpse and immediately started flirting with Azaya. I wonder how he’d feel if he knew she was old enough to be his grandmother? It took Ezra glowering at him, making angry hammer gestures, and me telling him to get lost to make him leave her be. He wants to see us again – I guess Ameiko’s not working the main counter at the Rusty Dragon, because he’s staying there. He’s invited us to come see him and be rewarded; I’m willing to take whatever he offers, but he’s not getting his dog back – after he left, Azaya healed it with some druidic magic and the little thing took to furiously barking at the Captain. Ezra actually cracked a slight smile at that.

I’ll be busy brewing the next couple days – I need to replenish what I’ve used, and I’m going to pack some acid for the next time I see trouble. Fire just encourages those screaming freaks, and I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of them. I’m also going to get the Captain to help me drag Ezra out to get fitted with better armor – I don’t think the scale mail either of them are wearing has seen any proper care in years, and I’d prefer that I not be the only one to avoid harm.

I knew trouble would happen when they tried to dedicate that grandiose monument to the uncaring gods. Nothing good comes of trying to get divine attention. At least Azaya’s got the sense to worship nature – I can see the logic in that, since my medicine and my extracts are drawn from natural sources. The Captain’s god at least openly admits to not really caring about things; my brother-in-law, though, he worships one of the Ascended – the mortals turned gods via the Starstone in Absalom. Iomedae the Inheritor.

I’ll just keep my faith limited to my studies and discoveries. I know they work, after all.

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Kassil

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