Order of the Red Band
“See that row of gravestones? ‘They belong to the wives, children, brothers, and sisters of the last bunch of fools to go chasing the devil. They sharpened their steel and readied their spells and prayed to their gods and went to Devil’s Platter. Had some clever plan to reach the bottom of the Pit and kill the beast. Well three days after they left Sandpoint, all their family members-rest their souls – dropped where they stood, all at the same instant. father Zantus said they died of fright, though be couldn’t say what exactly caused their hairs to stand up so. The heroes never returned, neither. That was the last time anyone went to the devil’s lair, but I reckon there’ll be yet another crop of heroes trying their luck in just a matter of time.”
-Naffer Vosk to a new gravedigger in the Sandpoint Boneyard
When residents of the small town of Sandpoint on the southwestern coast of Varisia speak in low voices about “the devil,” they mean the dreadful creature that has menaced the community and its hinterlands for over a decade. Then again, most people don’t speak of the Sandpoint Devil if they can help it. They say the monster knows when someone is talking about it, and a poor soul who can’t hold his tongue is likely to glimpse the creature’s grotesque silhouette in the sky on the next moonless night-an ill omen indeed. According to legend, sightings of the Sandpoint Devil presage times of great woe, whether for a single person or the entire town. Sometimes, those who see the creature or speak of it too freely vanish in the night, never to be seen again.
Precise descriptions of the Sandpoint Devil vary depending on whom you ask, but most people agree that it resembles a large horse standing upright on its hind legs with leathery, ragged wings; a reptilian tail; red eyes that burn through the gloom; and a fanged puzzle that gives the creature a perpetual evil grin. Some say the devil commands fog and wind, others say it breathes gouts of flame or can literally frighten you to death, and still others say it can do all this and more.
Whenever livestock are slaughtered in their pens or children disappear from their beds, townsfolk are quick to blame the Sandpoint Devil. The beast is also denounced (quietly) when a building burns to the ground or a farmer’s crops wither. In short, the locals hang nearly all their ills on the devil. But not all residents consider it to be evil. Some believe that the creature is an ancient guardian of the Lost Coast, and its actions in service of that goal, however terrible they might seem, are not for mortals to understand.
Travelers caught outside on a misty, moonless night might hear the sound of large, leathery wings f lapping or glimpse the creature’s shadow as it f lies overhead. Nearly everyone in the hinterlands claims to have heard the Sandpoint Devil’s terrifying screech, which sounds almost human. Livestock go missing or are found slaughtered and half burned. And, of course, whenever someone disappears while traveling a road at night, people know where to point the finger.
In f light, the Sandpoint Devil moves like a typical winged horse-if such a thing can be said to be typical though its bulk and its ragged wings do not allow for precise maneuvers. When it lands, the creature walks upright on its powerful hind legs, standing about 8 feet tall at the head and 10 feet tall at the crest of its wings. The pose looks awkward and disturbing, but the surefooted beast moves with surprising speed, only crashing down on all fours to kick or trample foes.