The Swallowtail Festival begins promptly, as scheduled, on the first day of autumn. The square before the church quickly becomes crowded as locals and travelers arrive, and several merchant tents featuring food, clothes, local crafts, and souvenirs are there to meet them.
Welcoming Speeches: The turnout for the opening speeches is quite respectable, and the four keynote speakers each deliver short but well-received welcomes to the festival. Mayor Deverin’s friendly attitude and excitement prove contagious as she welcomes visitors to town and jokes about how even Larz Rovanky, the local tanner (and notorious workaholic) managed to tear himself away from the tannery to attend, much to everyone’s but Larz’s amusement. Sheriff Hemlock brings the crowd down a bit with his dour mood, his reminder to be safe around the evening’s bonfire, and his request for a moment of silence to remember those who lost their lives in the fire that claimed the town’s previous church five years ago. Fortunately, Cyrdak Drokkus is more than up to the challenge of bringing the crowd’s mood back up with his rousing anecdotes as he delivers a not-completely-irreverent recap of the long process the town went through to finance and construct the new cathedral. He throws in a bit of self-promotion at the end, as is his wont, inviting everyone to stop by the Sandpoint Theater the following evening to check out his new production of “The Harpy’s Curse,” revealing that the lead role of Avisera the harpy queen will be played by none other than the famous Magnimarian diva Allishanda! Finally, Father Zantus steps up give a short speech thanking everyone for coming before declaring the Swallowtail Festival underway.
Swallowtail Release: At noon, Father Zantus and his acolytes wheel a large covered wagon into the square, and after recounting the short parable of how Desna first fell to earth and was nursed back to health by a blind child who she transformed into an immortal butterfly as a reward for her aid, they pull aside the wagon’s cover, releasing the thousand children of Desna—a furious storm of a thousand swallowtail butterflies that swarm into the air in a spiraling riot of color to a great cheer from the crowd. Throughout the rest of the day, children futilely chase butterflies, never quite quick enough to catch them.
Lunch: Lunch is provided free, at the expense of Sandpoint’s taverns. Each brings its best dishes—this event is a marketing push by the taverns as much to win new customers as it is to feed a hungry crowd. It soon becomes apparent that the darling of the lunch is, once again, Ameiko Kaijitsu, whose remarkable curry-spiced salmon and early winterdrop mead easily overshadow the other offerings, such as the Hagfish’s lobster chowder or the White Deer’s peppercorn venison.
Consecration: Finally, as the sun begins to set, Father Zantus takes the central podium, uses a thunderstone to attract everyone’s attention, and clears his throat as he prepares to recite the Prayer of First Dreaming.
The Attack: A sharp retort, like the crack of distant thunder, slices through the excited crowd as the sun’s setting rays paint the western sky. A stray dog that has crawled under a nearby wagon to sleep starts awake, and the buzz of dozens of conversations quickly hushes as all heads turn towards the central podium, where a beaming Father Zantus has taken the stage. He clears his throat, then takes a breath to speak, and suddenly a woman’s scream slices through the air. A few moments later, another scream rises, then another. Beyond them, a sudden surge of strange new voices rises – high-pitched, tittering shrieks that sound not quite human. The crowd parts and something low to the ground races by, giggling with disturbing glee as the stray dog gives a pained yelp and then collapses with a gurgle, its throat cut open from ear to ear. As blood pools around its head, the raucous sound of a strange song begins, chanted from shrill, scratchy voices.
The Goblin Song
Goblins chew and goblins bite. Goblins cut and goblins fight. Stab the dog and cut the horse, Goblins eat and take by force!
Goblins race and goblins jump. Goblins slash and goblins bump. Burn the skin and mash the head, goblins here and you be dead!
Chase the baby, catch the pup. Bonk the head to shut it up. Bones be cracked, flesh be stewed. We be goblins! You be food!