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The Fireside Tales - Chapter One
Chapter One: The Swallowtail Festival

"For five years, the faithful of Sandpoint have attended church in temporary structures erected after a fire destroyed the previous temple. The Late Unpleasantness took from the people of Sandpoint friends, family, and possibly, their hope. However, they have stayed, despite the physical and emotional anguish, and they have kept their faith as a new temple was built. Five years after The Late Unpleasantness and the citizens of Sandpoint's faith was rewarded as the new temple, built to worship many gods, was completed. And now a festival was organized to consecrate the new temple."

Valtyra ran these thoughts through her mind as she sat on the bench near a food vendor. She watched as more and more people arrived to the small town of Sandpoint, joyous and excited for the festival. The half-elf looked up at the building across the square from her.

The new temple looked beautiful.

Bright white stone formed the base shape of the spires and the foundation while grey stone composed the fine decoration and the frames for the multicolored stained glass windows which depicted well known and uncommon tales of the gods. It was designed so that multiple services could be held at the same time and each "wing" held the theme of a different god or goddess. The temple was mostly for the worshippers of Desna, the goddess of the traveler and luck, but Iomedae, the goddess of valor and justice, Sarenrae, the goddess of healing and redemption, and Torag, the god of forging and strategy were represented here among other faiths.

Valtyra pulled her blonde hair back from her face for the hundredth time and sighed in pleasure. She had always been one for history and architecture and the temple did not let her down.

"Missus... please tell them to stop staring at me," came a roughened, inhuman voice from beside her.

Valtyra looked at her companion. Bubnug was a goblin, a race not loved in Sandpoint. A goblin raid was a huge part of The Late Unpleasantness and the people of Sandpoint had not forgotten it. The only reason that the goblin pirate was still living was because Valtyra had vouched for him, which was not easy. He had been Valtyra's companion for three years now, and she had come to like the green-skinned midget. He believed that he was Valtyra's boss and that everyone should be bowing down to him instead of staring in hate. For he believed that he was chosen by the goblin "god" Badoom to kill his enemies and burn anything that got in his way.

Badoom did not exist, of course, yet there was something to Bubnug's claim. When he fought, he was able to catch his blade on fire and he showed a mastery with fighting with a lit torch that amazed Valtyra. But when she asked him to cast a fire spell, he looked confused and said that he had no idea how to do that.

She left her rambling line of thought and smiled at the wide-headed goblin, "Don't worry Bubnug. Remember, you are Firelord!"

The goblin gave the half-elf a wicked smile and said, "Missus right. I Firelord!"

Valtyra chuckled and looked up at the platform where a brown haired, average looking woman stood. The woman looked at the crowd that was now forming in front of the platform and smiled a contagious smile.

"Welcome, friends, family and travelers," she yelled in excitement, "To the Swallowtail Festival! It is good to see so many people here with us today to celebrate the consecration of our new temple. It looks like even Larz Rovanky was able to tear himself away from his tannery to join us!"

The crowd chuckled at this and the woman's smile widened in response, "I am Mayor Deverin, mayor of our great town of Sandpoint, and I am glad to say: Welcome to Sandpoint and the Swallowtail Festival!"

The crowd clapped enthusiastically as Mayor Deverin left the platform and a heavily armored man walked up. He took off his helmet and it was easy to see that he had seen his fair share of fighting. Scars lined his face and he held a serious expression that calmed the crowd down.

"I am Sheriff Belor Hemlock, and I would like to remind everyone to please watch themselves around the evening's bonfire. I also would like to request a few moments of silence as we remember those who lost their lives to the fire that claimed our previous church."

Sandpoint went completely silent as its citizens bowed their heads and pray. Valtyra did not bow her head, or pray, but she did stay respectful for the rest of the people. Bubnug was about to say something, but the look Valtyra gave him shut his mouth instantly. A full minute passed before the sheriff raised his head and said, "Thank you."

He then left the stage and no-one came up. The crowd started muttering in confusion, but stopped as the Mayor walked back on stage.

"The next speaker was scheduled to be Lonjiku Kaijitsu, a nobleman here in the city," the Mayor explained, "However, he is not able to make it today due to a sudden illness."

Valtyra heard a woman behind her mutter, "I highly doubt that."

Valtyra turned to see a foreign looking woman wearing a red sleeveless top shaking her head in annoyance.

"What do you mean," Valtyra asked.

The woman looked at the half-elf and said, "I just doubt that illness took my father. He never wishes to speak to the people."

Apparently, that is all the woman wanted to say, because she turned her attention back to the platform where a new man was now standing. He was able to bring the crowd's mood back up with his rousing anecdotes. He then spoke of the long process the town went through to finance and construct the new cathedral and throws in a bit of self-promotion at the end, inviting everyone to stop by the Sandpoint Theater the next evening to view his production of "The Harpy's Curse" starring the famous diva Allishanda!

Valtyra had heard of the diva, but she had never seen the woman in a play. She may have to go to the show just to see if the diva kept to her reputation. The man left the stage and another man, this time in religious robes and other decorations, took the stage and yelled, "Thank you all for attending, and now I, Father Zantus, am glad to call this festival open!"

The crowd clapped and cheered enthusiastically as they started to part for the various attractions surrounding the square. Valtyra rose from her seat and called to Bubnug.

"Come on, Bubnug! Let's see about having some fun!"

The goblin jumped to his feet and followed the half-elf as she walked to the nearest game. For about three hours, the duo moved from game to game, which they started with Bobbing for Apples (which Bubnug amazed everyone by getting two apples in his mouth at once), headed towards the Archery range (Valtyra and Bubnug both were beaten badly by a human archer from the River Kingdoms named Alicia) and ended at the Sparring Circle (Valtyra and Bubnug ended up fighting each other and Valtyra barely won).

At noon, the party-goers were called back to the platform where cages of butterflies were placed and the man with clerical robes stood.

"A long time ago, Desna fell to earth for the first time. She was found by a blind child and was nursed back to health. For her kindness and service, Desna transformed the child into an immortal butterfly."

The man then unlocked the cages and a storm of swallowtail butterflies rose into the air in a spiraling riot of color to the cheer of the crowd. The children started chasing the butterflies, trying to capture the fluttering critters in their tiny hands, but the butterflies were always quicker. Everyone watched the spectacle for a second or two before the Zantus says, "Please, we invite you to head to the food booths where lunch is provided free by the taverns of our fine city."

With that, the crowd dispersed again. Most went straight to one booth, where Valtyra and Bubnug were sitting hours before. The woman with the red top was smiling as she served fish and drinks to her patrons. Valtyra nodded her head towards the booth and started walking over to it. Bubnug followed very close behind as Sandpoint's citizens continued to stare at him with mixed wonder, confusion and hate.

They arrived at the booth, and actually had to wait in line for a few minutes. Valtyra overheard a patron in front of her in line say that Ameiko's curry-spiced salmon could beat even the White Deer's peppercorn venison. When Valtyra got her plate, she could not dispute the statement as the salmon was out of this world! Valtyra looked over at Bubnug, who was poking at the salmon with his fork.

"You don't like it," Valtyra asked.

"Bubnug hate cooked meat."

"I'll find you something later then."

"No. Bubnug go now."

Before Valtyra could dispute the goblin, he got up and walked out of the city gate with his sword cane in hand and tricorne hat on head. Everyone seemed to relax slightly as they saw the goblin leave. The half-elf frowned after the departed goblin and sighed. Bubnug has never had an easy life, but Valtyra wished that the goblin could get a little more sense than he currently had. She guessed that he couldn't really help it though. Goblins were raised from day one to fend for themselves, which did not really give much time for sense to grow. They thought that they were invincible, which was bad in a combat situation. At least it would be for a normal human. Bubnug seemed to make his illusions into a shield and sword.

She was brought out of her thoughts as the Father returned to the stage. She looked at the sky and saw that the sun was nearing the horizon. She was surprised at how long she was lost in thought. It was just noon about five minutes ago in her mind.

The Father held a stone in his hand. He stared at the sky until the sun was half-way down the horizon, then he threw the stone to the ground. The stone broke apart and let loose a large boom that could probably have been heard from across Sandpoint, if not beyond. A stray dog that had crawled under a nearby wagon to sleep was startled awake, and the buzz of two dozen conversations quickly hushes as all heads turn toward the central stage, where a beaming Father Zantus stood. He cleared his throat and took a breath to speak. But before he could, a woman's scream sliced through the air. A few moments later, another scream rose, then another.

"What is going on," Valtyra muttered.

Then, new voices could be heard- high pitched, tittering shrieks that sound not quite human. However, Valtyra and most of the citizens of Sandpoint knew what creatures made those sounds.

Goblins.

Goblins were attacking Sandpoint.


Do you have any comments, questions or concerns? Please leave a comment or email me at sean.francis@rivalcastmedia.com!

Also, you can follow me on Twitter for updates on The Fireside Tales, or just random statements I may make: @Miggnor23.

Time to Move On!
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