Part 2: Local Heroes

With Aldern Foxglove thoroughly distracted and left in the capable hands of Ameiko Kaijitsu, the get together began to wind down. One by one, the guests made their exit, and spent the rest of the afternoon tending to personal business or sleeping off the midday load.

* * * * * * *

As evening came, all interested parties made their way to the Sandpoint Garrison to meet with the town's sheriff and discuss his findings in regard to the goblin raid. The garrison was a large, stone structure on the north side of town that housed the small contingent of full time guards and their staff, as well as Sheriff Hemlock's offices and the town jail. As you arrived, you were welcomed inside to find a pair of guards who had just finished with their dinner, and a kitchen attendant who was busy cleaning up. You were escorted into the back of the building and directed into a small meeting room just off of the sheriff's office where Belor Hemlock awaited your arrival.

"Please, come in and sit down," the sheriff welcomed, inviting you all to take a seat around the long, wooden table. "I'm glad to see that you all could make it. I trust that the townspeople have made your stay as comfortable as possible."

After exchanging some pleasantries, Sheriff Hemlock turned to the business at hand. "So, as I told you last night, I feel you all deserve to know all that we've found regarding last night's raid, but I must stress to you the importance that what we discuss here is not to leave this room." He paused momentarily and looked around the room, awaiting a sign of affirmation from each of you before continuing.

"As you may know, we have a very small number of town guards here, and even with extra hands on duty for the festival, there were only eight on patrol yesterday, so a lot of what we have found either came from civilian eye witnesses, or our investigation after the incident." The sheriffs deep barritone voice was delivered with a slow and deliberate pace, devoid of emotion and simply focused on the factual evidence surrounding the invasion. "Eyewitness accounts of the beginning of the raid place groups of goblins in two places. There was a small group who came through the north gate and moved toward the square. These were most likely the first that you faced there. There was also a slightly larger group who crossed the bridge into town at Undercliff Way and spread out through the southern part of town, the result of which was having many of our guards attention, including my own, being drawn in that direction, thus opening the door for the second wave."

"Behind the Cathedral, to the south, overlooking the cliff, there was an impromptu storage area for many of the festival vendors. There we found a covered wagon filled with humanoid waste. This seemed to indicate that a small cell had been smuggled into town sometime overnight or early in the morning, and only struck once the chaos of the opening wave had ensued. These were most likely the goblins who attempted to burn the cathedral."
Belor paused again, taking a long breath and making sure he had everyone's attention as he explained further. "With our guards distracted, there is no doubt in my mind that the temple would have been relatively undefended were it not for your presence there."

"And finally, there was the third wave, which appeared to be some sort of special strike force. This group also came through the north gate, and was defeated outside of the White Deer. It is unclear what their exact purpose was, but aside from sweeping through the town with a wave of bloody violence, we also have reason to believe they were there to cause yet another diversion."

"Now it goes without saying that the organization of the attack was unprecedented. In fact, I expect to have more information on that aspect in the coming days. But what has been bothering me deeply is the evidence that shows, sadly, I might add, that this attack could not have been mounted without the help of someone within Sandpoint, or at least someone with an intimate knowledge of the town and its practices."

"I think it's fairly obvious whoever orchestrated this did not expect the goblins to succeed in doing much of anything besides keeping your guards busy, sheriff. Had the other strike team succeeded in setting the church on fire, putting it out would have become the priority next. Whatever the true purpose of this assault was, there was obvious need for a significant amount of time to be spent elsewhere. Assuming the third wave was meant to be another distraction, it was likely set in motion as a contingency plan once the fire failed." Veritas considered aloud.

"I believe it's safe to assume whoever helped put this plan in motion is still within Sandpoint at this time, or at the very least was observing the attack's progress. Given that we ended up cutting much of their time short, there's a chance another attack will happen. Sheriff, do you have a map of Sandpoint handy?"

Gozzik Redknife

The halfling nodded. "The wagon that brought the goblins in; has it been examined? Do you know who brought it into town?"

As he entered the guardhouse, Aegon's eyes were quite active, taking in potential entrances and exits in the event that he was ambushed or attacked while within the building.

Having sat for the better part of the afternoon, Aegon chose to stand while the Sheriff shared what he had learned during the day's investigation. He nodded silently as the sheriff sought agreement that his findings would be confined to the room they were in, and listened far more intently as the sheriff spoke than he had at lunch earlier in the day. He still made a pointed effort of not engaging Saitylvaness in conversation, enjoying the relative silence which his decision had introduced into his life.

"Indeed. There was certainly a more sophisticated intelligence behind the timing of the initial attack; once the goblins began their assault, I'd argue they were almost as disorganized as ever, but they had clearly been positioned very carefully and intelligently beforehand. The question then becomes, what were these goblins supposed to distract from? Is there anything of value that you can think of within the town that someone would want the town guard distracted to get? It seems as though the temple's dedication would have been enough on its own to give someone a window to accomplish something small..."

"If you count the scale of the diversion, the evidence of someone within Sandpoint proper involved and the method of attack, the conclusion is relatively simple - they wanted to move or search for something, possibly big, with no eyewitnesses." Veritas continued his train of thought.

"Recapping the enemy's movements: the first wave came in from the south, with the second coming north to south, and the third likewise moving in that direction. The enemy clearly did NOT want anyone heading north, and by setting off a simultaneous assault, they caught the guard in a pincer to boot. The church is big and isolated from the other buildings; if a fire broke out, it wouldn't spread. Whatever they were after was in the northern part of town, and even the fire was calculated well enough that it wouldn't get in the way. This level of tactical sophistication means that whoever set this operation into motion has a military background. Maybe not our mole, but definitely whoever had him or her cooperate."

Glancing back and forth between the two males offering their respective opinions and ideas regarding the goblins' intent and motivation, and also of a supposedly third party who would be skulking around to finish their own private objective while a group of goblins were rampaging around the Sandpoint...

She shrugged.

"Eh, not to say you two are wrong or anything, but isn't it possible that the goal was the temple? Just a thought, and you newcomers wouldn't know much, but the place took a lot in order to be rebuilt, and it was pretty much a, uh, this is going to sound rather corny, but I know the renovation of the temple was a good, um, beacon of hope for the people living here." The woman looked up to the sheriff and added as an afterthought, "Especially since the last few 'unpleasantness' and all, if I remember the old timers' mutterings right."

"Anyway, Mister Redknife's words are right as well. Who brought in the wagon with the goblins? That could be a lead for your investigation, Sheriff." She commented, leaning back into her seat.

Saitylvaness Sylvari The Knight of Stars

Saitylvaness sat with her hands resting delicately in her lap. She listened to the others go back and forth asking questions about the events of yesterday, trying to decide what made the most sense in her own head. Closing her eyes, Sai drew a map of the city’s layout in her mind, placing all the points in which they had encountered Goblin resistance. The locations seemed too precise, and yet there seemed to be no logical explanation that made sense. If someone could control and entire Goblin tribe, and convince them to throw their lives away to attack a small town, what were they after? What did the town have that would be of such value? Why all the theatrics? With so few guards and everyone so distracted, theft almost seemed out of the question. It would be easy enough to sneak in without having to go through all the trouble of rallying Goblin allies.

“Sheriff, you had mentioned yesterday that you managed to capture a few of the Goblins. Would it be possible for us to ask them a few questions? It seems reasonable that they might know more about the motives of their leader. If someone in the town was involved, they might also be able to tell us who they are. Perhaps this wasn’t an inside job, just a few clever Goblins who wanted to raid the town when they would be vulnerable.”

Saitylvaness knew it was a stretch to give Goblins so much credit, but there was no point in suspecting that someone in the town was behind this unless there was more concrete evidence. From what she knew of Goblins, it was more likely that it was just dumb luck than clever planning, but the bladedancer wasn’t willing to throw out any possibilities just yet.

Sai turned to Jan. “If the temple was the goal, it would stand to reason that if someone is behind this, they want nothing more than to demoralize the people of Sandpoint. Does such a young town have so many enemies? Though I’m not sure what you mean by “unpleasantness” has something happened here recently? I must admit, the only information I have of Sandpoint was overheard in a tavern in Riddleport. I don’t even think the Tower has Sandpoint on any of our maps.”

"I think there are two basic reasons why the temple itself wasn't the target. First is the third wave of assailants. The only ones seemingly equipped to start a fire were the goblins we faced in the temple itself. And even the first few we faced had no such means. Besides, the third wave of assault started too far from the church - given how they seemed to have relative ease infiltrating the town there's no real reason for them to attack the White Deer if the temple was the target.

Secondly, there's the issue of the wagon. Obviously the goblins didn't smuggle themselves in, and I don't think anyone would willingly cooperate with the goblins without an ulterior motive. If the goal was to destroy the church, it'd have been easier to mix in with the people seeking shelter during the attack and do it from the inside. That, however, would risk witnesses. No, someone wanted this to fall squarely on goblin shoulders and keep us guessing."

Originally Posted by Veritas
"I think it's fairly obvious whoever orchestrated this did not expect the goblins to succeed in doing much of anything besides keeping your guards busy, sheriff.
The sheriff was the kind of man who it was hard to get a read on. His chiseled face was devoid of expression as he observed the conversation, and he would rarely, if ever, interrupt, but on this point, he felt compelled to do so. "Don't be so sure that the goblins posed no serious threat, Veritas. With our guards small in number and scattered throughout the town, the second and third waves of invaders could have done plenty of damage, both to the town, and more importantly to its people. The antics that the goblins display make it easy to dismiss them as harmless, but make no mistake, these are violent and vicious creatures who would like nothing more than to murder and destroy. Were it not for you stepping up to aid us, we would have had an absolute blood bath on our hands before they were finally turned away.

This is not to say that there wasn't a diversion in play, in fact, we already know the reason, but more on that later."

* * * * * * *

Belor Hemlock listened patiently as the group shared their thoughts, nodding in agreement as they discussed various theories concerning the raid and the motives behind it. When everyone had had their say, he again spoke. "Much of what you say is true, my friends, but there is yet more to be revealed. Perhaps I can answer some of your questions."

"You see, there are several reasons why we strongly suspect someone within Sandpoint was involved, and if not, then someone closely related. First, there is the wagon. Yes, it is quite an embarassing oversight, but you have to understand that the preparation for the festival was in essence a surge of controlled chaos on the night before, and the morning of the event. Security was not a huge priority, as we had no way of knowing that this raid was coming. And no, Gozzik, there was nothing in paticular to distinguish this wagon from others, and of course no one has come forth to claim its ownership. Inside the wagon there were simple items that could have belonged to any number of Varisian caravans. It is most likely that the wagon was stolen in a smaller raid on one of these caravans somwhere in the Hinterlands. But there is no doubt that they would have needed someone to actually sneak the wagon in without being noticed. Obviously this means a non-goblin conspirator must have been involved there."

"Secondly, there is the use of the north gate to gain entrance,"
the sheriff continued as he turned and opened a drawer in his desk. "As a reference on the layout of the attack, you can take a look at this map," he said, as he unrolled a finely detailed map of the town of Sandpoint and laid it out on the table before you. "Now the night of the raid, the north gate should have been closed, and there were two guards posted there, Culkin and Munch; however, the gate was found wide open, Culkin was found slain at the guard house and Munch's body was never recovered. We first believed that the guard was attacked and killed by the goblins, but upon closer inspection, he had a single slash across his throat, and the wound was made cleanly; not possible with the crude weapons carried by the raiders."

"Then there was the attack on the Cathedral. Miss Saitylvaness, if you are unaware, the temple that previously stood on that site was destroyed five years ago in a terrible fire. The townsfolk refer to that period as the 'Late Unpleasantness,' partly because of the fire, but also because of some other horrible occurrences that happened to coincide with the blaze. That fire claimed not only the temple, but also the life of the former head priest, Father Ezakian Tobyn, and his adopted daughter, Nualia. The loss of the temple and the Father, along with the other horrors that had beset the town at that time, were devastating to the citizens of Sandpoint, and this years festival, with the dedication of the new temple, was meant to finally wash away that ugly memory and start a new era of hope in this town. These goblins would care very little about such things, and would most likely be completely unaware of the purpose of the ceremony they interrupted. This, again, points to someone with an intimate knowledge of the town."

"And finally, there were the few goblins we were able to take captive. It seems that the raiders were told very little about the larger conspiracy that they were involved in. The most we could get out of them was that there was some unnamed figure at the center of this, 'some longshanks,' as they put it, which normally implies a human, or similar race. Of course, it's very possible that they could have made this up, since goblins get a fair amount of amusement from such dishonesty, but combined with the other evidence we have, there is a very good chance that they were telling the truth. Another interesting fact we were able to get from them was that they were representative of more than one tribe. We captured goblins from Mosswood and from the Birdcruncher clan, which is very odd, given their race's tendencies toward infighting. When the questioning was over, the captives were hanged for their crimes. I'm sorry. But I did not intend to turn these creatures loose, or to house goblins in our local jail. Trust me, we got everything out of them that they knew, which wasn't much."

Tom o' the Six Strings

Tom was silent for a long time examining all the pieces of information laid out before him, and all the stories he had ever heard, he listened intently and looked at the map. He pointed to the wall and then to the cathedral before speaking "They seemed to focus their attention on the north side of town yes?. We encountered them here...and here" he said pointing to the White Deer and the Cathedral "They came in through the north gate...And then there's the matter of the attempted arson" he said pausing. That was too much of a coincidence to be ignored entirely, he knew enough strange tales to think he might be in one at this very moment. The parallel events and Hemlock's mention of the deceased made his mind begin to move... he wondered precisely what would be gained if the thought he had was right

"No one's reported anything stolen yes? At least nothing that would justify an attack.... Has..."
he paused looking up. It was the one place the goblins hadn't been mentioned being, yet it was right in the middle of where they had been spotted, he hesitated it was an odd question "Has anyone searched the cemetery?"

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