We’ve made it to Briarsby. I don’t think much of this city. It’s even dirtier than Gapswitch and many of the inhabitants are sick with some mysterious disease. I remember what that elven book said about malicious humors so I’m wearing my handkerchief over my face and not touching anyone. It looks like a lot more people used to live here but there was some kind of invasion by abominations and then a big fire and now a lot of the inhabitants have either fled back to Gapswitch or decided to try their luck at the new colony down at Loch Tavish.
The gates we passed were barely guarded, though the guards did say that there where more guards to the south in case of attack from abominations or kobolds.
Briarsby is the city where the Boss’s human relatives live but they don’t seem to be home right now. They left the city under the control of a pair of mini-bosses named John and Steve.
The group split up when we got to the city: Xavier and the Boss went to the local chapel so Xavier could check in with the local Church-Boss and Ajaisa took Londell to report to Steve at the manor. Hulg wandered off somewhere with Tim, probably to get drunk.
There were a lot of sick people at the chapel, and John the mini-boss was one of them. Their symptoms were extremely generic; it could have been anything from poison to malicious humors to bad fish to Shard corruption. No way to tell, but I kept my handkerchief on just to be safe.
John wanted to talk to Xavier in private so they left the chapel’s infirmary and went to a local tavern. I trailed along so I could report their discussion to the Boss.
John said that the colony at Loch Tavish was a combined effort of several local settlements, most notably Briarsby and some place called Chesterwood. The idea was apparently to create a settlement between Chesterwood and the northern cities to make travel between the two areas a little safer. Once the first settlers arrived they had to locate and dispose of the local Shard(s). This makes sense; I sure wouldn’t want to live near one of those things!
Briarsby sent some clerics to do whatever it is clerics do to Shards to make them not dangerous and Chesterwood was supposed to send soldiers to protect them from abominations while they did it but I guess the soldiers from Chesterwood never showed up because Briarsby had to send its own soldiers and now no one knows what’s going on down there and Briarsby doesn’t have enough men to defend itself from abomination attacks.
At about the same time people started getting sick and kobolds started attacking the city. John told Xavier that if he finds the captain of the Briarsby soldiers in Loch Tavish he should tell him to bring his men back to Briarsby because they are needed.
About this time I heard a commotion outside. I went out to check and discovered Hulg passed out drunk in a gutter and a group of peasants chanting Tim’s name and hoisting him up on their shoulders. I’m not going to speculate; I just hope they kept their clothes on. I am now convinced that Tim is, in fact, a dwarf.
The Boss told me that I was responsible for Hulg so I did my best to wake him and tidy him up. About this time there was another loud commotion: the kobolds were attacking!
I suppose I should describe a kobold for those readers who might not know what one is, since I have no idea who the Boss intends to have read this. Kobolds are a race of reptilian humanoids about the same size as my people or perhaps slightly smaller. They live mostly underground in isolated communities and believe that they are better than everyone else because they claim to be descended from dragons. Kobolds are justly famous for the degree of skill with which they construct all manner of traps with which they defend their lairs, probably explaining why they were never conquered and brutally enslaved by elves. But I digress.
There was smoke and fire and chaos in the streets and, of course, my Boss running right towards the middle of it so of course I had to go along. We shortly got to where the action was and it was… weird.
Most immediately noticeable was a ranch-house in flames. There was also what looked like it used to be and animal pen before someone tore down a large section of the fence, and there were sheep everywhere. By this time it was dark, and that combined with the smoke and the sheep made it really hard to tell what was going on.
It looked like several kobolds were riding around on the backs of large dogs and trying to herd the sheep away. There were also several kobolds running interference between the dog-riders and the humans. The humans were mostly trying to put out the fire, but I saw Ajaisa and Londell on horseback running down kobolds. I’m afraid I threw up in a bush after I saw one of their horses stomp a kobold into bloody paste.
I convinced the Boss that she should stay out of the fight so instead she joined in the effort to put out the fire and nobly save as many lives as possible. I hid and observed.
Hulg and the dwarf arrived with the Boss and me but seemed much more interested in joining the fight. Hulg seemed a bit out of it at first but one of the kobolds threw something at him that caused him to burst into flames. So now I get to add “a burning half-orc tearing a kobold into little pieces,” to the list of things that I wish I could forget seeing.
Tim the dwarf fired his crossbow into the darkness and took off running after whatever he was shooting at, but he came back empty-handed so I guess he didn’t catch whatever it was.
Xavier arrived at the battle at about the same time we did. He ran up to one of the kobolds and said something I couldn’t hear from where I was standing but I guess the kobold liked it because he dropped his weapon and gave Xavier a big hug. After that he followed Xavier around like a friendly puppy.
About this time Ajaisa ran down the last of the kobolds that were on foot (except the on hugging Xavier) and took off on her horse after the dog-riders. Londell got a sort of dazed look on his face and just stared off into space for the rest of the night. The Boss and the humans got the fire under control and I started gathering up the kobold dead for proper disposal.
As I examined the first of the kobold bodies I noticed that it showed the same signs of disease as the sick humans at the chapel infirmary. Checking the other kobold bodies revealed similar taint. I was careful not to touch them as I gathered them into a pile with a hooked staff, doused them in oil, and set fire to them. I also burned the staff for good measure.
I went to find the Boss and report what I had learned. She and Xavier had taken his new friend to the chapel-infirmary to treat him for the same disease that the townsfolk seem to be suffering from. When he reached the infirmary he got excited and said “It’s here!” Ominous.
Upon being questioned regarding the disease, all he would say were two words in his native language that none of us understand. Xavier said the phrase reminded him of his studies and had something to do with a kobold coming of age ceremony or trial. One of the words did seem familiar to me; I think it was related to the draconic word for crypt. Could this mean the kobold coming of age ceremony involves their dead in some way? Dead bodies are a well-known source of malicious humors.
Xavier’s new friend refused to tell us where his people live, and I can’t blame him. If a free enclave of my people existed, I sure wouldn’t tell anyone about it! I guess we’ll have to try to track them down in the morning if we want to trace this disease to it’s source. I would be just as willing to walk away from this whole thing but the Boss seems determined to help these people and I admire her for that.