Aldren Foxglove is ready for the hunt a few hours after sunrise. True to his word, he outfits each of us with a light horse, saddle and tack at his own expense. I estimate the total expense to Foxglove to be 91 gp.
• Light horse (75 gp)
• Riding Saddle (10 gp)
• Bit and Bridle (2 gp)
• Saddlebags (4 gp)
Foxglove offers to provide a boar spear to any who require one. I check and make sure my longspear will be sufficient (not that I plan to get close enough to a wild beast to use it).
Foxglove announces we’re hunting the Tickwood Beast, a giant boar of local legend. He recounts the short tale as we’re making ready. The Tickwood Beast sightings began recently, just in the last year. No one knows how such a large beast (larger than a typical boar) could have went unheard of for so long. Foxglove intends to begin the hunt just past the Ravenroost Mountain Pass, close to the Devil’s Platter, about two miles west of the Tickwood Forrest.
A practiced man-at-arms accompanies Foxglove. I did not catch his name but he seems capable of taking care of himself. The veteran, with Foxglove’s leave, makes ready to depart a few hours after dawn. Foxglove takes the point, leading us through the North Gate to access the Lost Coast Road. Soon we cross the Turandarok River using a well maintained bridge and shortly thereafter reaching our destination. The entire journey is short – we’re approximately two miles from Sandpoint.
The man-at-arms orders to tie off the horses just inside of the wooded area. He gives the assembled brief instructions on the rudimentary fundamentals of how to hunt the beast and how to handle a boar spear before setting out on foot.
Almost immediately after beginning to search for spoor and tracks a body is found. From the injuries it’s sustained the determination of what the creature might have been is difficult. A decision is made it must be a goblin mauled by a large feral predator although I can’t see the resemblance to a goblin any longer. The tracks imply the goblin was from the Mosswood.
Not far from the gruesome discovery a gigantic brute accompanied by four normal sized boars is sighted. The leader is most certainly the Tickwood Beast. I cast Dancing Lights on the opposite side of the sounder, hoping to distract them, and whisper “The Beast, pass it on.” Draethor sets his spear to get ready for the charge. Someone passes along the message to Foxglove who exclaims loudly “Boar! Good!” and rushes into the clearing. The element of surprise is lost…
As the Beast turns towards us I peer into his red eyes and note frothing at the mouth and a covering of lather. I mistake the signs for disease, perhaps rabies, but I’m told later this the look of a boar enraged.
The Beast charges the group followed by its diminutive cousins. Draethor, soon joined by Ro, receives the Beast’s charge amiably and continues to harass the monstrosity throughout the fight. Foxglove cries out “Don’t damage the head – I plan to mount it!” I attack with Burning Hands multiple times, carefully avoiding the Beast’s head. Dion repeatedly calls forth the blessings of Cayden Cailean during the confrontation but does not partake in the hunt. Sanliss crackles crazily, but to some effect. It’s easy to see why the people of Sandpoint think him mad. Kodlak uses his bow from relative safety behind the line. Tōketsu becomes separated from the group and is brought down by a boar’s charge but is quickly healed by the power of Cayden Cailean. Foxglove is disarmed and bloodied by the Beast. He briefly retreats but immediately returns to the fray armed with his sword.
The beast and the rest of the sounding are soon put down. Upon examination, a broken spear is found wedged into the Beast’s shoulder. The spearhead excretes poison continuously (+1d6 per strike). Based on the circumstances we conjecture this was what originally enraged the Beast and began its rampage. May the mighty boar now lie in peace.
Foxglove has his man-at-arms remove the Beast’s head and place it in a box that was brought for such a purpose. The Beast is skinned by Draethor and the hide taken with us, along with a goodly portion of the choicest cuts to be cooked tonight in The Rusty Dragon. The other boars are skinned as well but Sanliss appraises they will not fetch nearly the price the Beast’s pelt will command.
When the skinning was completed we began the journey back to Sandpoint, Foxglove promising a feast of boar meat at The Rusty Dragon at his expense. As we approach the Turandarok River Bridge we hear goblins arguing loudly. It is too far away to make out what they are arguing about. Four are Licktoad tribe mounted on goblin dogs, two are Birdcrunchers on foot with another Birdcruncher dead on the ground. It appears they are preparing an ambush – it is unclear if the ambush is intended for us or simply to control the means of egress over the bridge.
Quickly we dismount and lead the horses away. After a hasty consultation we plan a counter ambush. Tōketsu, Kodlak, Draethor and Ro hide in the trees on either side of the road leading to the bridge. When they are in place I run towards the bridge yelling “Help!” in Taldane. As I round the corner in the road the goblins take full notice. The two Birdcrunchers run in the opposite direction. At first, I thought they went to warn a larger force but afterwards I realized the Birdcrunchers are a cowardly lot.
The Licktoad close the distance and shoot arrows – two find purchase in my back. I continue running past our ambush point. Sanliss yells for me to run by him and he casts a healing spell as I make my way to Dion in the rear. The Licktoad mounts continue to close the distance and Tōketsu and Kodlak spring the trap simultaneously with bomb and arrow. Draethor and Ro spring from hiding, attacking the riders first as the Licktoad are quite skilled with their mounts. The battle does not last long and our injuries are light.
That evening we celebrate at The Rusty Dragon and feast on roast boar. Foxglove makes a fine host and regales the patrons with the tale of the Tickwood Beast and its slaying. I make a point to give him credit in my retellings – nobility are vain and it will do his ego good.
Shalelu Andosana – female elven huntress
Shalelu Andosana is present when we arrive in The Rusty Dragon, quietly taking her meal at a far table in solitude. Although Shalelu is something of a mystery, she’s certainly one of the town’s most admired defenders. She doesn’t live in Sandpoint but sometimes spends the night at The Rusty Dragon to visit her friend Ameiko.
Shalelu is a loner and prefers to spend her time wandering and exploring the wilderness around Sandpoint. She periodically vanishes for weeks or months but she never fails to return. No one understands why she goes or why she keeps coming back.
Her reports of goblin activity have often helped save the townsfolk from ambushes or warned the militia of possible attacks.
I approach Shalelu with a few others and we introduce ourselves. She accepts our introductions with grace and explains she’s already heard of our deeds during the Swallowtail Festival. I state we were told there would be formal introductions on the morrow with Sherriff Hemlock and ask Shalelu if she would like to hear details from us tonight or in the morning. Shalelu smiles and kindly requests we wait until the rendezvous with Sherriff Hemlock.
Later in the festivities Draethor approaches Ameiko. Draethor attempts to engage in some kind of primitive mating ritual – he challenges Ameiko to a martial challenge. The wager is if Draethor wins he gets the right to wed Ameiko; if Ameiko wins he has to sing a human folk song “I’m a Little Teapot”. I approach Draethor and attempt to dissuade him but he gently brushes me aside.
The rules are agreed to be unarmed combat. Draethor towers over the petit Ameiko – it doesn’t appear to be a fair fight. Ameiko is, however, possessed of the grace of a cat and begins the contest with a supreme confidence. Ameiko delivers the first blow; Draethor attempts to block but the strike is too quick. I’m not sure but I determine Draethor isn’t trying to strike Ameiko. If not, his skill was no match and he is not successful in landing even a finger upon her. It was over in a matter of seconds – Ameiko didn’t have a hair out of place or a bead of sweat. I noted, though, that Ameiko never requested Draethor sing the song. Was she demonstrating pity, a sense of honor, or something else?
When the others are going to sleep I leave for The Pixie’s Kitten, the local brothel. I inquire and learn that prices depend on duration but for a standard session they run from 1 to 5 gp. I opt for the 5 gp service and am not disappointed. My hostess honors the discount the citizens have offered “the heroes of Sandpoint” and I save 5 sp.
Afterwards, while I’m dressing and my hostess is freshening up, I begin to engage her in conversation. She explains she was surprised to have a customer this night. I inquire if it’s due to the goblin attack during the Swallowtail Festival. She shares that her concern is more about the Sczarni Gangs. They have been trying to outlaw the brothels for some time, apparently as some part of a protection racket. As yet Sherriff Hemlock has kept them at bay, but her voice betrays her worry over how things may develop.
In further conversation I learn that Sherriff Hemlock visited the Madam, a woman named Kaye Tesarani, almost immediately after the goblin attack. This piques my interest, which I fail to conceal. My hostess explains that it’s a poorly hidden secret that the Sherriff and Madam have a serious relationship. Sherriff Hemlock came to check on the security of Madam Tesarani and her ladies, and also to determine if they had heard any rumors regarding the attack.
I tell my hostess that I’m interested in any additional information that she or her colleagues may hear regarding the attack or goblins in general. I explain I’m staying at The Rusty Dragon and may be contacted there, and will reward handsomely for any additional information. I leave the 5 sp I saved as a tip and wonder if it’s enough to cultivate additional information. I bid adieu and return to my lodgings.