I was woken up a few hours later for my turn at standing watch. The previous watch team reported hearing “bad sounds” that may have been monsters, dogs, ghosts, or the wind. They couldn’t really tell. I tried not to worry about it and started reading the kobold book I had picked up.
About an hour or so later we noticed a kobold stumbling towards our crude camp. Xavier wanted to talk to it but he doesn’t speak draconic and the kobold didn’t speak common so I had to translate. It was confusing at first since all my previous experience with the language was with the written form and the kobold had a really odd accent, but we stumbled through.
The kobold wanted to know why we were here. Xavier said we were looking for Shards and trying to cure the strange disease afflicting the local kobold and human populations. I edited out the bit about looking for Shards when I translated since I know that kobolds can be a bit funny about them. The kobold got really excited and offered to take us to its lair to meet their leader. We agreed and broke camp.
The leader of the kobolds (I’ll call him Bert) was clearly suffering from the same disease we encountered before. Xavier offered to help cure him and was welcomed as a guest and offered him safe passage from the kobold warrens in return. What passed for alchemists among the kobolds had put together a crude lab and were using the medical supplies stolen from the temple back in Briarsby. Xavier worked with them for a while and cam up with a cure.
Everyone sort of broke off and did their own thing at this point. One of the kobolds (I’ll call him Edward), much better equipped than the others, showed off a bandaged wound and kept giving Tim meaningful looks. I’m guessing that’s the one he shot during the Battle of the Sheep. I guess he spoke common because he and Ajaisa went off together to talk about whatever it is warriors talk about. Some of the others tried to get some more rest, but I think I saw Tim trying to teach a couple of kobolds how to play cards despite the language barrier. I helped Xavier by translating between him and his new lab assistants.
Eventually Xavier came up with a cure, gave it to Bert and went off to one corner to get some rest. I also took a nap and woke up to find Ajaisa poking me with her boot.
From what Ajaisa told me later I gather that Edward told her about a suspicious group of humans the kobolds had encountered lurking in the local woods and the kobolds ended up killing them. Or maybe they just found the bodies. I’m not really clear on what happened, as Ajaisa seems to get excited easily and her explanation wasn’t really coherent. Anyway, there were these dead humans and Ajaisa wanted to know if I could read a scroll she found on one of the bodies. As it turned out, I could. It was in elven.
It was one of those complicated legal contracts and it took me a while to decipher it. I missed what must have been one hell of a conversation between the Boss, Xavier, and the leader of the kobolds; but I’ll get to that later.
The scroll, as best I can remember, describe a contract between the Duke of Chesterwood and the lord of and elven house. I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I don’t include his name; elven scrying has a way of focusing in on such things. I am neither lawyer nor accountant, but as best as I could translate the scroll said that the Duke was given money and an unspecified favor from the elves in exchange for giving them “resources” which were not exactly spelled out but clearly included the population of Loch Tavish. My mind went to a very dark place when I read that.
There were elves nearby. They were enslaving others. They were likely responsible for the disappearances being investigated by Ajaisa, Londell, and Xavier. If the Boss kept helping them there was a good chance I was going to run into elves again. I was terrified of being recaptured. I was excited at the chance for revenge, and frustrated because I knew there was nothing I could do to hurt an elf. I don’t know how long I sat there with my mind running in circles when the Boss walked up to me, put her hand on my shoulder, and whispered, in Orcish, “The leader of the kobolds wears three shards around his neck. I need you to steal them.”
She and Xavier quickly filled me in. The kobold leader was feeling much better and had revealed that he could now resume his mission, which was apparently to take three shards his tribe had unearthed back to his homeland. All of the abomination attacks in the area were probably caused by these shards and we had to get them away from him for the good of everyone in the area.
Did we violate the sacred bonds between guest and host? Maybe. I could argue that it was for a good cause, or that I personally hadn’t agreed to his safe passage, but I have resolved to be honest in this journal. The truth is that I didn’t care.
I was too angry and frightened from what I read in that scroll to care about kobolds, or shards, or hospitality. I guess deep down I still have a bit of the slave mindset of not being responsible for what someone tells me to do. But I’m not a slave now. I obey the Boss because I choose to, because I owe her clan a debt and it is my honor to repay it.
The plan was simple. Xavier and I would walk over to Bert, Xavier would distract him by acting the part of the concerned physician, and I would steal his shards. Easy.
I must admit I was a bit off my game. It’s possible that my hand was shaking so hard as I reached for his necklace that I slapped him on the way down. Either way, his hand grabbed mine before I even touched the necklace. So I panicked and swung my knife at him. Was I trying to kill him? I don’t really know. I didn’t even come close to hitting him. I was still thinking about elves. There was a gasp and I heard one of his guards coming up behind me. I didn’t think about anything at all as I turned around and threw my knife.
That’s probably why my aim was better this time. I saw the guard behind me collapse with my knife in his throat and I knew that I had killed another sentient being for the first time in my life. Everything after that is sort of a blur. I remember stumbling around and trying to help the Boss during the fight, but I’m not sure how well I did. My knives were scattered around the room afterwords but the one I pulled from that first guard was the only one with blood on it so I don’t think I killed anyone else.
I remember Bert’s guards pulling him into a corner to protect him as he threw magical bolts of dark energy at my allies.
I remember Ajaisa looking shocked that this was happening. She was off in the corner talking to Edward when the fighting started and had no idea what was going on. She was badly outnumbered and overwhelmed, but she made it through alive.
I remember Hulg screaming “WAAAGH!” and charging through the kobolds guarding Bert. Hulg hit them so hard I got their blood on me from across the room, but Bert knocked him out with some kind of spell before he could follow through.
I started making my way towards their leader again but the next thing I knew I was waking up and the fight was over. I was right next to the now dead leader of the kobolds, and remembering the last thing the Boss had told me I stole his necklace when no one was looking and pocketed the shards.
Hulg was awake now but still stumbling around blind from whatever spell he got hit with, and Xavier was discussing terms of surrender with Edward. Edward agreed to lead us out of the warren after we rested and Xavier started healing those of us who were most badly wounded, mostly Ajaisa.
Tim and Londell immediately started ransacking the place looking for treasure. Tim found an axe, Londell found a bow, and between them they found a small pile of gems, coins, and trinkets. They also found a small Dragon statue that Edward insisted on keeping for reasons of family and honor, so they let him have it.
I didn’t tell them that I took the shards. I don’t know if I can trust them. They found out Bert had the shards and now Bert‘s dead. They said they would send a team of clerics back here later to collect the shards. I’ll tell the Boss later and let her decide. I’m tired now. I should sleep and worry about this later…