With Shadowmist and a giant’s helmet in tow, we make our way back to Sandpoint to discover a contingent of Magnamarian soldiers reinforcing the watch. We head straight for the council chambers where Sheriff Hemlock, Mayor Deveron and F*ather Zantus* are apparently making plans with Captain Argentine of the detachment now stationed here, to ride out and aid us.
Along with Shae we sit and recount the full story; the ruins below Sandpoint and the Wrathpool still there; our journey North and the assault on Thisteltop, including the origins of those ruins; the full roster of villains we encountered and the entire fateful tale of Nualia and our defeat of Malfenshnakor. The tale not surprisingly draws many questions but the thoroughness of our account and the confirmations of Shae give weight to the truth.
The assembled are impressed by our actions, so impressed in fact that when Mahd makes a rather unseemly request for further rewards, they indeed provide us with a purse of 500 gold. They are equally dismayed however by many of the revelations, particularly Father Zantus who would have found such information about Nulaia unbelievable only days earlier.
After much discussion, we agree to keep the details of our role and discoveries a secret for now, so as not to excite the public. Instead, Argentine will lead a clean up mission through the countryside dealing with any remaining greenskin raiders and hopefully explain the sudden suppression of the Goblin menace. Athene seems rather insulted that they might take credit for our work and a week ago I may have agreed. Much has changed for me now and the only praise I require is that of Iomedae.
That night we return to the Red Dragon Inn. Though I planned to take responsibility for Tsuto’s death, Shae, a friend of hers, wisely offers to break the news to Ameiko. Obviously experiencing mixed emotions, we later break the ice, dragging the shucked Hermit crab into the kitchens. She seems relieved for the distraction and mounts the claws against the wall.
Athene, still agitated, finally relaxes when a few of Sandpoint’s notable citizens, including the Fortune teller Niska, approach us and thanks us for our service. Though the general populace may be ignorant to our deeds, it appears that Sandpoint royalty knows who brought them justice.
The following day, bathed, healed and mended we take to the city to offload our spoils, order new arms and check on our mounts. With a generous loan from Mahd I order a glorious suit of enchanted platemail and a similarly magical greatsword, which I name Repentance.
That night I awake to a high, full moon and Athene knocking at my door. Her face, in which I cannot help but see a hint of the angelic now, is difficult to read. Part disconcerted, part resignation, she is undoubtedly struggling with her emotions. She asks me to attend her and saying nothing merely don armour and Eartbreaker. Collecting Mahd and Shae we marching towards the broken silhouette of the Lighthouse.
When I arrived in Sandpoint, I was told answers to my quest would be found there… Is it coincidence? Athene is strangely quiet amidst Mahd’s questions, revealing only that she will ‘be judged’.
Is this the moment when Athene will go the way of her sister?
Will we be called on to judge her?
Will I have the strength to deal with her as we did Nualia?
We stand in the ruined foundation of an enormous brick tower.
Something shifts, my blood chills, senses heighten.
We all turn to see a giant owl perched on the broken wall.
The beast speaks to us in even halting tones.
It is here to judge Athene, for the judgement she brought to Nualia.
Then we are surrounded by hooded, veiled figures…
I unhook my Earthbreaker and face them.
Athene barks at me to back down, but I don’t trust her.
The leader steps forward and asks me politely to lay my weapons low.
I reach out to the assembly and sense no evil and reluctantly I submit.
Then the trial…
Athene it appears was tasked with bringing Justice to Nualia and they question her.
It is not an inquisition; they are tempered, fair-handed if thorough.
They call on us as witnesses and I tell the truth as I saw it.
I cannot speak for Justice but we acted with honour, for the greater good and offered her a chance to repent before we slew her. My purpose was simple, to secure the safety of Sandpoint and vanquish the evil responsible, quickly and decisively.
But was that Justice?
The truth about Nualia now stands like a beacon of light in the dark. A truth that in retrospect seems so obvious. Nualia was once good, pure, innocent. Her fall I can see now was so rapid, so whole, that it was not a fall at all. She was the victim of malevolent influence, she did not become bad, she turned bad, and we did not have time to consider that subtlety. Worse, perhaps Nualia is not alone in this time of recent ‘unpleasantness’.
And so, Nulaia did not receive Justice.
Athene has failed and I fear for her now, not knowing the penalty might be.
But no punishment awaits her. Instead repentance. To right the wrongs done against Nualia, she must find the source of evil at work here in Standpoint and destroy it and she will not be alone.
As we leave, Athene is presented with a boon. A small owl. A symbol of wisdom. More wisdom I think, we all could use.