Part 2: Local Heroes


Gozzik Redknife

Gozzik listened politely, but his eyes were drawn to the map. He admired the craftsmanship, and mused again on these humans' habit of making so many permanent structures, but he mostly looked at the locations of the attacks. "Veritas could be right, that they were distracting from something in the North, but I don't know. The people who planned this had to know most people would be at the Temple at that time, and all the attacks seem simply to surround the temple. If they wanted something from the graveyard, it would have made sense to attack earlier in the day, when everyone was spread out; or on another day, when there weren't so many people around."

He looked around more at the map. "What is Chopper's Isle?" And he looked down at the harbor. "Did any big boats arrive or leave around the attack?"

Yes, Tom, as a matter of fact we did. What we found there was very disturbing, and I am certain that it explains the cause for diversion." Sheriff Hemlock spoke matter-of-factly, but there was a slight hint of emotion as he delivered this next point. "With the authorities distracted and the town in chaos, graverobbers made there way into the cemetary and escaped with the remains of Ezakian Tobyn, a sickening act that defies explanation or any sense of moral decency!"

Belor paused for a moment to regain his composure, giving the news a chance to set in, then he addressed the halfling's question. "Chopper's Isle is not what you think it is, Gozzik; there are no ships docked there," he calmly explained. "It's a bit off topic, but Chopper was yet another blight on this town; a mass murderer who struck during the Late Unpleasantness, and who made his base of operations just north of town. No one has visited that island in years."

"Then it sounds like a good place for someone who was up to no good to set up shop while they went about their dastardly business."

At the revelation of the graverobbing, Aegon's breath caught and he took a step forward. "How many men did you have searching the graveyard? Gravesoil is soft and clings easily to the boot or pant leg. It would be impossible for someone to dig up a grave and not leave a trail like a line of fire. The trail will have cooled off to embers since a day has passed, but if you keep anyone else from going into the graveyard and there haven't been townsfolk stampeding through the graveyard like a herd of elephants, I may be able to find our graverobber with some luck."

"Make that a LOT of luck, Aegon. The casualties during the raid." Veritas noted with a light hint of frustration. The memorial service was conducted at the church, but there would probably have been a burial ceremony.

"Graverobbing implies a very sinister possibility. Were it something buried along with the priest, they'd have defiled the grave, grabbed it and gone. But taking the body means necromantic intent may be afoot." The half-elf spoke grimly. "There is a spell available to those with a certain degree of skill in the magical arts that enable one to question the deceased. Failing that, a sufficiently powerful necromancer could raise the remains in such way as to create an undead capable of remembering his past life. Whatever the case, unless the morale of Sandpoint's people actually presents an obstacle to anyone's plans, this is the most likely scenario I see."

Saitylvaness Sylvari The Knight of Stars

“That explains the excitement about the dedication of the temple. Do they know who started the fire five years ago? What were these other events that coincided with this ‘Late Unpleasantness’?” Sai began to ponder the possibility that the same person was behind this assault as the events that transpired previously in the town. But five years was a great deal of time to sit idle and wait for revenge. She knew of Elves who held such grudges for decades, but five years was quite a bit of time for a human…

“It’s a shame about the Goblins though. Do you know how Elves hunt Drow in Celwynvain? They tend to do a very good job of hiding their raiding outposts. Sending out scouting parties to investigate is out of the question, the forest is too large and a small group could easily be attacked or cut off with no way to escape. Generally we would use ambush tactics on smaller scouting groups. The trick is to let one live, let them think they have escaped. Secretly, a second group is waiting just to follow them. We let them lead us right back to their lair. It may take hours, sometimes even days of shadowing them, but eventually they always lead us right to their hiding spot…If you had a decent tracker at your disposal, you might still be able to find out where they came from though. But I think perhaps you have a bigger issue to worry about. If these Goblins are from different tribes, it is possible there are many more out there, perhaps even waiting to attack the town again. Are you prepared for another such attack?” If Saitylvaness was going to be stuck in Sandpoint waiting from someone anyway, there was no reason not to make herself useful in the interim.

Tom's question seemed rather strange. She wanted to ask why he would inquire about such a strange question, and also why the Sheriff had left that out of what he had decided to tell them initially. It was obvious something sinister was going on, but Sai didn't have enough information yet to figure out what. The bladedancer turned to Aegon and for the first time that anyone there could remember, her voice didn't carry the slightest hint of disdain or mockery. "Do you really think you could track the grave robber without much trouble? If this was part of the plan that brought the Goblins into Sandpoint, then it is likely the trail will lead to some resistance. I'd like to go with you." The fire in her golden eyes burned more fiercely than the color of her hair, Aegon was pretty sure she would be going weather he agreed to it or not.

Originally Posted by Veritas
"Make that a LOT of luck, Aegon. The casualties during the raid."
"That is correct. Because of this morning's memorial services, we were forced to act quickly. I'll be damned if I was going to add to those people's grief by making them relive the events of five year's past, when this town saw a funeral nearly every day for a month," Belor announced with a stern look of resolve. "Initially, we did follow the tracks as best we could, and they seemed to lead right to the north gate and out of town. We then covered the Fatherms grave as best we could and removed all evidence of the robbery before five seperate services took place in the cemetary later this morning."

The strong-willed sheriff's overwhelming sense of calm remained as he addressed the elven ranger personally. "Aegon, if you would like to try and pick up those tracks outside of town, that is your decision, but I must warn you; if the Hinterland goblins are uniting, as the evidence seems to show, it could be fairly dangerous to travel outside of town until we know where and when they are gathering."

"I must also make it clear to you all that despite my disgust at the hideous possibilities that may become of Ezakian Tobyn's remains, my number one priority is the protection of this town, and right now that translates into me doing whatever I can to keep you all close by until we know what we're up against. Given the enemies' methodology so far, it would be foolish to assume that another attack is not possible. There's even a chance that this entire raid, including the grave robbery, was itself I diversion, no?

Originally Posted by Sai
“That explains the excitement about the dedication of the temple. Do they know who started the fire five years ago? What were these other events that coincided with this ‘Late Unpleasantness’?”
"The fire was a tragic accident that claimed the life of our beloved, spiritual leader and his lovely daughter," Belor explained. "The fire would have likely been dismissed as simply an accident, had it occurred on its own time, but coming, as it did, on the heels of the Chopper killings, people began to suspect that the town was under some sort of curse of negative energy, though I'm not sure I believe in such things myself."

"Chopper was the name given to an eccentric artist and nature lover named Jervis Stoot, after he lost his mind and went on a murderous rampage,"
the Sheriff recounted, respectfully responding to Sai's inquiry into those dark days. "He held the town in absolute terror for a month and claimed over twenty lives before he was finally found out. After he was killed, it was discovered that he was collecting morbid trophies of his victims at his home on what is now known as Chopper's Isle. The place is said to be haunted, and has been abandoned ever since, but you know, superstitious rumors are the most impressive to share, and thus travel quickly."

"Of course..." he muttered underneath his breath, as he realized that the entire area would be spoiled by the funeral services that morning. He looked over to Sai and nodded solemnly. "I've no doubt I could; the hardest part would be tracking them over the cobblestones of the road (or figuring out what set of tracks to follow in the cemetary). If the sheriff's men could show me the tracks outside of town, I can easily follow them in the softer ground outside the walls."

He folded his arms and tapped his index finger against his bicep impatiently as he thought while the sheriff continued his speech. "True, though it's also likely that these tracks would lead us straight to their gathering location. You sound fairly adamant that you would not help in that search, however, so..." he sighed. "Chasing two hares will net you neither. If I cannot persuade you to help track down whomever dug up the old Father's grave, then I will help as I can in the city."

He glanced at Sai and shrugged. "I appreciate the offer of assistance, but I doubt that out blades alone would keep us safe if we encountered a whole goblin tribe."

"It's almost odd how similar the methodology for hunting drow resembles what I had in mind for the goblins if they were alive. But what's done is done." Veritas noted as he folded his arms. "We have two basic, possible courses of action. We could try and find the goblin's trail, or we could focus on finding who the insider is. We have few leads on either, but if we choose to seek the goblins, it would be best we do it soon, lest the trail grow cold. And Aegon -" the half-elf turned to the ranger "- you shouldn't mock a man's earnest efforts. It is clear the sheriff is beating himself up enough about the people who have already perished, including one of his men, and staying behind is a sound decision, tactics-wise, in the event of a repeat assait. A bigger group would just give us away from a greater distance at any rate."

Gozzik Redknife

The halfling listened, a serious expression on his face. "If it came to it, of course I could help track the goblins as well," the tiny barbarian claimed, his childlike voice as earnest as possible. "But it sounds like the sheriff has a different plan. What would you have us do?" he asked, looking up at Belor.

"So, recap." Jan raised her voice, "Hinterland goblin tribes are united, under some sway or promise or whatever by some 'longshanks' to raid our beloved town." The Cheliax woman touched the marked map of the town unrolled in front of all them.

"The goblins launched three separate waves. Were the attacks by different tribes or are they mixed together on each wave? That bears a bit of looking, just to see how well-meshed are the goblins and if what looked like well-planned tactics weren't just tribes acting separately. But at the same time, the goblins were all a diversion. Supposedly. I'm not going to rule out a bloodbath as one of the goals yet, without proper proof of otherwise. Call me paranoid." She shrugged as she pointed the option out to the others.

"But, the grave of the Father Tobyn was desecrated... Which according to the good Sheriff there was the priest who had died in the fire five years ago, in the same temple that the goblins were going to burn down. Coincidence? Or was it ordered by those 'longshanks'? I'm not going to rule out the temple as a goal either, just because of the grave-robbing seems too suspicious to be much of a coincidence."

"Three avenues of investigation seem to open itself: the wagon and the guards at the gate, they are close at hand if we want to take a look; the grave-robbing and the fire five years ago, a bit harder to look for, since the fire happened in the past, AND" Jan made a pointed look at Aegon, "we aren't even sure the body had been taken outside of town, just that there are tracks leading out; and then there is the goblins themselves, which is a dangerous option, but an option nonetheless. At least, that's the way I see it. Any constructive criticism to add?" She glanced around the room.

"I, for one, would rather look into the matter of the wagon insertion and the gate guards first. They are in town. And those are holes that needed to be plug first. If some goblins actually ended up attacking again while we are out there, and there are still 'longshanks' collaborators inside the town walls, can you imagine the damage? Besides," She added another reasoning, "It has been a day and a night since the grave has been robbed. We had funerals, ruining the tracks inside the cemetery. We had goblins running out of the gates every which way, ruining the tracks leading out. Are you that sure of your tracking skills?"

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