The Late Unpleasantness, as the locals in Sandpoint refer to it, were a series of violent and tragic events which shook the normally peaceful coastal town in the year 4702 AR. Though no one really knows what brought the events about, all of them were tied to a single occurrence which would have the potential to affect the town more than anything involved in the Late Unpleasantness itself.
Sandpoint was no stranger to crime, or even to murder. Once or twice a year, passions flared, robberies went bad, jealousy grew too much to bear, or one too many drinks were drunk, and someone would end up dead. But when the body count suddenly began to mount, the town had no idea how to react. Sandpoint's sheriff at the time was a no-nonsense man named Casp Avertin, a retired city watch officer from Magnimar, yet even he was ill-prepared for the murderer who came to be known as Chopper. Over the course of one long winter month, every few days brought a new victim to light. Each was found in the same terrible state, bodies bearing deep cutting wounds to the neck and torso, with both hands and feet severed and stacked nearby and the eyes and tongue missing entirely, plucked crudely from the head.
Over the course of that terrible month, Chopper claimed 25 victims. His uncanny knack at eluding traps and pursuit quickly wore on the town guard, taking particular toll on Sheriff Avertin, who increasingly took to drinking. Many believe that he even took to beating his wife and daughter, and that, in its own way, may have been the genesis of the Sandpoint Fire. In any event, Sheriff Avertin himself became Chopper's last victim, slain when he finally caught the killer mutilating his latest victim in the side street that would come to be known as Chopper's Alley. Yet in the battle that followed, Avertin managed a telling blow against the murderer. When the town guard found the sheriff dead with another victim several minutes later, they were able to follow the bloody trail left by the killer.
A trail that led straight to the stairs of Stoot's Rock, the prominent stone outcropping just north of the Old Light.
At first, the town guard refused to believe the implications, and feared that Chopper had come to claim poor Jervis Stoot as his 26th victim. Yet what the guards found in the modest home atop the isle, and in the larger complex of rooms that had been carved into the bedrock below, left no room for doubt. Jervis Stoot and Chopper were the same, and the eyes and tongues of all 25 victims were found in a horrific altar to a birdlike demon whose name none dared speak aloud. Stoot himself was found dead at the base of the altar, having plucked his own eyes and tongue loose for a final offering. The guards collapsed the entrance to the chambers, burned Stoot's house, tore down the stairs, and tried to forget. Stoot himself was burned on the beach in a pyre, his ashes then blessed and then scattered in an attempt to stave off an unholy return of his evil spirit from beyond the grave. In the months to follow, Sandpoint did its best to forget the terror, although even today, children who remember the dark times only six years ago sometimes wake with nightmare visions of Chopper hiding under their beds.1
The Sandpoint Fire
Only a few months after the horrific murders finally came to their tragic end, another travesty struck the town, this time not in the form of bloodied and mutilated citizens but a conflagration that claimed both several lives and much of the northern part of town in the process. The most notable loss was the Sandpoint Chapel and its beloved priest, Ezakien Tobyn, though most of the surrounding buildings had to be rebuilt, at least in part.
What the townspeople of Sandpoint don't know is that the fire was started by Tobyn's own adopted daughter, Nualia, who escaped the blaze, but was thought by the town to have perished with her father. The empyrean girl, recently a convert to the worship of Lamashtu after she miscarried a monstrous baby, desired to get back at her father for his treatment of her when she became illegitimately pregnant.2
The catalyst which caused the Late Unpleasantness was much more powerful, sinister, and threatening than anyone could have imagined, and there were no overt signs of the cause of these events to even the most learned or observant of Sandpoint's citizens. In a distant part of Varisia, a stone giant wizard named Mokmurian reawakened the sleeping runelord Karzoug when he reactived a runewell of greed. Unbeknownst to him, this action also reactivated runewells throughout ancient Thassilon, including one in the Catacombs of Wrath beneath Sandpoint. With this ancient arcane focus of wrathful energy working beneath the town, normally vengeful or violent thoughts became harder for citizens to control, and acted as an amplifier for their hatred. It was this powerful force which drove both Stoot and Nualia to commit their attrocities, as well as other actions by others in and around the town, such as Lonjiku Kaijitsu's murder of his cheating wife. While the runewell's effect was strongest in the winter of 4702, it remained a constant force in the bowels of the settlement until it was deactivated in 4707 AR.3