I’ve arrived in the city of Sandpoint, auspiciously on the first day of the Swallowtail festival – a holy day to Desna. Upon my arrival by coach a few hours after sunrise I inquire where the nearest tavern is and am directed to the Rusty Dragon. I break my fast with hard bread and salted pork, not having sufficient time to eat as the coach left before sunrise to make it here well before the start of the festival. As I’m eating I take note of one individual that seems given to hanging about in the tavern and telling stories. He is a large human, very gregarious, wearing chain armor and a morningstar slung on his belt. He also wears proudly a necklace with a stout silver mug dangling from it (a holy symbol of Cayden Cailean, I think).
The gregarious gentleman is sitting with a very scruffy but hard looking man in chainmail with furs tied to his belt. They are loudly talking, with others gathered around, with frequent bursts of laughter echoing through the room. Although the scruffy looking teenager drinks heartily and laughs loudly, his eyes are constantly darting back and forth, scanning his surroundings, as if he expects to be attacked at any moment. That alerts me – perhaps there are dangers in Sandpoint I do not realize?
I begin to look about the room as well. I notice a scrawny (6’2" 130 lbs) unkempt elf with brown hair and skin sitting in the Rusty Dragon, in a corner by himself, watching everything going on. I’m intrigued enough to inquire of the barkeep if he knows the gentleman.
Sanliss – male elf crazy harmless wizard (Witch (Rogue))
The barkeep chuckles. “Oh that is Sanliss. He is a crazy harmless wizard that has been at Sandpoint for a while. He doesn’t harm anyone, but he does scavenge stuff around the town. If you really need to find him go to Junk Beach as he goes there often.”
On follow up it is found that Sanliss will take stuff that is “lost” (dropping counts), but has never been caught stealing anything. The “crazy wizard” part is in relation to the fact that he has been seen throwing spells (like light) and talks to a scorpion. Mental note: Talking to a scorpion may brand me as crazy or a wizard in Sandpoint…
Argentus – male elf
The barkeep continues his duties and I resume scanning the taproom. Suddenly, I notice the outline of someone filling the doorway of the Rusty Dragon. This individual stands there for a few moments looking around the tavern. Once he steps out of the doorway I realize he’s a very tall (6’8”) and well built (280lbs) elf with strawberry blonde hair with a very handsome (in a heterosexual kind of way) rugged look. He’s unusually large and well-built for an elf but I still recognize him as such (definitely has the telltale pointy ears). I can see the hilt of a very long curved sword sticking up over each shoulder and hear the sound of metal armor from underneath his worn traveling cloak as he walks towards the bar. Is this the man the scruffy looking man has been waiting for? Should I flee before any trouble starts?
The elf sits down a few stools away from where I’m seated. He signals for the barkeep, sitting patiently and casually looking around the room. The barkeep comes over and takes his order and returns shortly with a bottle of wine and a glass. He pays the barkeep, and then gets up and approaches the gregarious and scruffy looking men on the far wall. As I’m about to make a decision to stay or flee I hear the elf introduce himself as “Argentus” and offer the gregarious man a drink. He sits down and they continue the conversation but I cannot make out anything further.
The gregarious man notices me noticing him. He stands up and approaches my place at the bar, followed by the scruffy looking man. Have I already violated some unwritten rule of human etiquette?
Dion Stout – male human Oracle of Cayden Cailean
“Friend, I am Dion Stout, an Oracle of Cayden Cailean. This is my friend Draethor."
Draethor – male human (Barbarian)
Draethor does not speak but does raise his tankard in a sort of friendly acknowledgement. He is still in his teens based on the fullness, or lack thereof, of his mustache. Six-feet tall and athletically built, lean, but well-muscled, and with no soft body fat. His hair is dark brown, almost black, and braided into a pony-tail in back. His eyes too are dark and narrow, as if he spent his life squinting into a setting sun. His skin too is dark, well-tanned from a merciless sun. But what is most striking about his features, are the three very prominent scars on his left cheek, as if made by a large animal, perhaps a wolf or some stranger creature. The three 4-inch parallel scars start near the lower nose, mouth and chin, and rise slightly up towards the left ear, and look as if they have not yet fully healed. His chain shirt appears to be of the local style but his helmet is of a strange design; white fur-rimmed with a pointy spike on top. He wears a greatsword on his back and a strange, long-bent knife on the back of his belt.
“Come, let us have a drink together!” Dion says in a voice louder and deeper than I would have judged him for. Apparently my visage changes as I ponder drinking so early in the day. I suspect Dion drinks a good bit, but just to maintain the convivial atmosphere and not to excess or to the point he is impaired. I, however, seldom drink and find that I can easily become impaired. Whether Dion correctly sensed my concern or not he counters with an offer. “I’ll buy the first drink. Who could refuse hospitality?”
Not wanting to insult what could lead to my first friend and ally in my endeavor I feel compelled not to refuse. “Absinthe” I ask of the barkeep. At this, Dion Stout’s visage changes. Trying to sense the meaning I realize I likely chose the most expensive item in the tavern and my host may have not been prepared for his offer of hospitality to be so greatly engaged. Quickly I react to remedy the situation. “Oh, forgive me, I did not mean to take advantage of your offer. I will pay…”
“What?” Dion interjects. “It’s good to see a man – er, elf – drink hardily this early in the morning. My hospitality still stands. Drink up my little friend.”
I become aware Dion, Argentus and Draethor have been followed to the bar by the others. Whether they be stalwart comrades or fresh acquaintances like myself I can’t be sure. I sense they could be likeminded individuals, also seeking knowledge in Sandpoint.
“So, friend, what is your story?”
Siȝecraft “Alf” Ælfsiȝe Ælfwine – male elven Tattooed Crossblooded Black Draconic/Wildblooded Primal Earth Elemental Sorcerer
Awkwardly, I proffer my introduction. I imagine they take in my appearance as I begin – a 6’2” young adult (around 130 years) elven male with blond hair, blue eyes, approximately 130# and holding a longspear (with a long sword slung across my back). “Hello – my name is Siȝecraft Ælfsiȝe Ælfwine. Humans call me Alf. I’m an apprentice wizard.”
Someone among the crowd remarks “Apprentice?”
With a visage of shame, I explain. “Well, actually, I’m a classically trained Tattooed Crossblooded Black Draconic/Wildblooded Primal Earth Elemental Sorcerer. But, I’m not really good at it. A disgrace, in fact, to my birthright and my family. I’ve been in training for the last several years to become a wizard, of which I’m certain I’ll be much better qualified. You see, magic is a complex system, of which two primary fields of study exist. Someone – a user of magic – able to command the source of magic is either…”
“So, what’s a Tattooed Sorcerer?” someone asks.
“I’m glad you asked. I have become an initiate of the Varisian school and received two tattoos. The first (raising my right sleeve, revealing a stylized tattoo of a Greensting Scorpion) is my familiar, Sting. The second (raising my left sleeve, revealing a mystic rune) is of the Varisian symbol for evocation. Also known as a Mage’s Tattoo, the symbol increases the power of my evocation spells while also allowing me to cast Dancing Lights a few times each day. The Varisian magical tradition is influenced, somewhat, by ancient Thassilon. The Thassilonian people were quite advanced in their understanding of magic – really a shame their empire was extinguished. I often think about how it would have been to be a Thassilonian wizard, able to command…”
Another of the assembled interrupts “What’s crossblooded mean?”
“I’m glad you asked. Normally, a sorcerer is of a specific bloodline. For example, Fey. This bloodline influences the nature of a sorcerer, allowing him to command magic by shear willpower. Unlike a wizard, who must learn and recite formula in order to command mystic forces, a sorcerer can but…”
“But what does crossblooded mean?” asks another, apparently annoyed, of the group.
“Oh, yes, glad you asked. A crossblooded sorcerer possesses two bloodlines, whereas a typical sorcerer has only one. In my case, I possesses the Black Draconic bloodline from my father’s linage, and the Wildblooded Primal Earth Elemental bloodline from my mother’s side. Both are interesting stories. You see, back in the ancient times, there was a dragon…”
“But, you’re an apprentice wizard?!?”
“I’m glad you asked. Yes, well, as fate would have it, I’m not very good at sorcery. It’s my shame. With my crossblooded heritage I was to be the greatest sorcerer’s my village had ever seen. In fact, my brother and sister are very capable sorcerers. Alas, I’m not. I’ve taken up the study of wizardry as, to one such as myself, it seems easier. As I was explaining, there are two primary means to the use of magic. The first, often considered the most pure, is sorcery. Sorcery has a long history which is often…”
“NEXT!” yells Draethor. I’m taken aback – could he possibly already understand the difference between true magik and the Pure Art? No, it’s more likely he’s still worried about whoever he was looking for earlier.
Ro – male human peasant
A big, burly human male – apparently afflicted with “dumb-face” – stands apart from the main group, shuffling around impatiently while taking in the surroundings. He looks like a peasant, with very strong arms and chest. His hands are dirty. He seems startled when he hears “NEXT!” yelled and speaks up.
“Yo. My name is Ro.”
There is a pause as the group expects him to say something further. Ro returns to shuffling around impatiently and begins looking off into the distance. After several awkward moments it appears Ro has said everything he has to say.
Tōketsu Kaijitsu – male apothecary and chemist (Alchemist (Grenadier)) and longtime resident of Sandpoint
Upon further observation, it appears Ro has noticed a strange-looking weather-beaten man, sitting deep in the shadows of the darkest corner of the Rusty Dragon’s taproom, listening intently to the conversation. He is smoking a long-stemmed pipe and sipping some kind of liquor from a small wooden box which he occasionally refills from a ceramic jug which sits on the table in front of him. He is wearing a large straw hat of peculiar design which is pulled down low to conceal his features yet I can see the red gleam of his eyes each time he draws on his pipe.
He quietly watches us watching him for a minute before rising gracefully to his feet and crossing the room to greet the assembled. Up close I can see that he’s a giant of a man (6’10"), though lithe (286 lbs.), but more surprising is his pale blue skin, long arms that end in four-fingered claws, and a mouth full of wickedly sharp teeth with a pair of tusks jutting upward from his lower jaw. His silvery-white hair is pulled back into a topknot and two long horns protrude from his brow.
As the blue creature approaches the group, I notice Argentus’ brow furrow and a scowl appears and then disappears in the blink of an eye. After that, his face returns to a friendly smile but his eyes never leave his subject. I also notice Draethor’s right hand goes behind his back and grips the hilt of his strange, long-bent knife. He slightly pivots his stance so as to better hide his actions from the blue creature. He stops drinking as well. Goddess of travelers! I begin frantically looking around with my eyes to see if I can catch a glimpse of a swallowtail butterfly. I’ve made up my mind if I see one it is a sign to leave immediately.
The blue creature bows deeply and says;
“Greetings Stout-sama, it is good to see you again. How is your health?”
Dion nods casually in return and replies, “It is good, thank you for asking Tōketsu.”
An awkward silence follows as the group sizes up the new arrival.
Breaking the silence, the newcomer says;
“Hello. My name is Tōketsu Kaijitsu.”
“I am pleased to meet you Argentus-san.” Argentus doesn’t respond in any way to the greeting. He appears to be ready to depart immediately after, leaving his bottle of wine unfinished on the table.
“How do you do Draethor-san?”
“It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance Alf-san.”
“It is nice to meet you Ro-san.”
He punctuates each greeting by bowing slightly to the individual in question as he addresses them.
“I am an apothecary and chemist and a longtime resident of Sandpoint. If it is not too presumptuous to inquire, are you visitors here to enjoy our most excellent Swallowtail Festival, or are you citizens of Sandpoint as well? If the latter, please forgive my ignorance if I do not recognize your faces. I have not spent much time in the town itself in recent years.”
Before responses can be given to Tōketsu, Dion stands straighter, adjusting the weight of his morningstar and belt. “Friends, it’s time we adjourned to the central market square. The festival is nigh. Little elf, you can buy me a drink after the festival’s opening ceremony.”
Argentus politely says that he forgot about another obligation and excuses himself, saying that he’ll catch up with Dion and the others at the festival and hurries out of the Rusty Dragon, walking surprisingly quickly in his armor.
And, with that, the assembled make their way to the central market square. Draethor is sure to let Tōketsu go first. I don’t know if anyone else sensed what I did but if so they are not showing it. I notice Sanliss also leaves for the festival but is discretely following a bit back from the crowd.