This is part of the ongoing narrative of our D&D campaign, which is graciously being run by Proud Lion, a fantastic comic shop in Cheltenham. Their RPG Encounters nights are a lot of fun, and give me some entertaining material to work with.
[Before reading, please be aware that there may be spoilers ahead for the D&D campaign books. Equally, our stories are fluid, so things may not follow the books too directly]
Lead onwards by their kobold guide, the group of adventurers travelled down a series of passageways, deeper into the citadel. Meepo occasionally called out a screeching word, but none of the group could understand the strange language he was shouting in, but the regular timings of the shouts led some of them to believe it was a form of warning.
Meepo took the group to a room much deeper in, with a cracked, vaulted ceiling held aloft by two rows of columns. This hall stretched back into darkness, with two smoky torches illuminating a group of kobolds clustered about a large misshapen object. They didn’t seem to react when the group filed into the far end of the room, but Meepo soon called out his strange warning regardless.
Kobold heads turned at the sound of his voice, and soon a chorus of scratchy voices discussed between Meepo and his tribesmen, as he led them up the hallway. The dwarves looked over the stonework as they approached, noting relief-carved dragons twisting around each other as they wander up the halls. Burian took more quick sketches against his shield as they walked, noting the ancient designs for later, while Kalashnikov scoffed and walked on.
When they at last reached the end of the hall, the kobolds separated, and a large, improvised throne was revealed to the party. It seemed to have been constructed of fallen masonry, stacked against a much older altar, littered with small items, and on a large, rearing stone dragon connected the altar and throne, clutching a key in its mouth. This formed the back of the throne, fallen stone built up around it, but their attention was drawn to the kobold draped across the improvised throne, clearly the leader of this kobold tribe.
“This is Yusgril, and Yusgril knows all, if you ask the right questions. Yusgril, these people have promised to retrieve Calcryx for us, raiding the goblins and freeing our precious wyrmling.” Meepo explained, pointing at the kobold adorned in previously-splendid but now-mostly-dirty white robes. While he did this, he threw out his arms and put his all into an overly-ostentatious bow, almost pressing his snout into the floor.
“What? Is that what we agreed to?!” Kalashnikov spoke up in outrage, having not paid much attention beforehand.
“Yes, and that is what we intend to do,” said Enna sternly, looking down on the cruel dwarf, “where must we head Yusgril? We hope you’ll be able to help us find some others we are looking for in exchange.”
“But a little bit more importantly,” interrupted Burian, “we’re also looking for some fancy magic apples? You got any idea where we might find ‘em?”
Pondering for a moment, perhaps trying to find the right words in Common, Yusgril played with a large golden ring on its finger, over-sized for the kobold’s digits. Kalashnikov’s eyes squinted as he gazed at the ring, and he could immediately see that the gaudy object was a clear fake, made poorly in some foreign land.
<And tell everyone that your ring is a…> the warlock started speaking directly into the minds of everyone there, before Drenk clapped him around the head, interrupting his focus. The kobolds looked around in fear, then narrowed their eyes further at the intruders in their land. Jester and Trystan sidled closer by Drenk, reasoning that if there was any trouble, he would provide the best shield.
“That was…unpleasant. Do not shout in minds anymore, short fat human,” Yusgril said in annoyance, continuing over the bluster the dwarves spouted at being called human, “We make a deal. You agree to bring back our dragon Calcryx, Yusgril will answer your questions, as Yusgril knows all, if you ask the right questions. Do we have deal?”
Drenk looked around at the clustered faces, some a little too close for comfort, and received a series of nods.
“Yes, we’ll help you, but what will you give us in return? Apart from answers, of course. We need those anyway.”
“Yusgril will give you safe passage out of the citadel, as well as this key and some things from our altar. The dragon is everything for us! The filthy goblins stole Calcryx, so I will grant you this reward if you return our dragon! Meepo can show you the way into the goblin territories, if you want him.” The animated kobold, fired up now, impassioned even Meepo with anger as it spoke on.
From his safe spot, behind Drenk, Jester asked about the groups’ real targets, the Hucrele siblings and their minders, only hearing that “They went to fight the goblins in their homes, and never returned. I think they wanted to see Belak.”
“Hmmm, and who is this Belak, chief kobold? Does he have something to do with these apples I’ve heard about?” Burian asked, pulling the conversation back to his real objective.
“He’s the outcast, he lives below us. He tends the Twilight Grove, and grows magical fruits. The goblins are servants, but those thieving bastard goblins steal everything! They must steal apples as much as they steal our dragon!”
At this, the party were a little shocked that such a magical grove could be hidden underneath all this tumbled stonework, but Trystan refocused first and inquired about the stone carving headpiece for the throne.
“It is previous dragon. We never had this dragon. It was called Ashardalon, and much, much bigger than our little Calcryx. We didn’t meet this dragon, but kobolds are heirs to dragonkind. As the bestest among my people, I led us to the holy place here. We give dragons respect they need. Unlike disgusting, vile goblins!” Yusgril was out of its chair now, and shooed the adventurers off, “Meepo will show you to our sleeping home, or to one of the prison rooms. You sleep for a while, then go hunt for our dragon!”
“Before we go,” Kalashnikov stopped in his tracks, “Can I sit in your chair?”
And with this, Meepo led the group to a large, rounded room at the end of the corridor, where small fires were scattered around the area, each with a few kobolds cooking around it. Spits and tanning racks showed a little kobold industry, but the kobolds stayed well away from the group of over-grounders.
Drenk stood guard around the strange reptilians, darning his net while the rest of the group took a much-needed rest. The dwarven warlock snuck off at one point, but returned once he established that the kobolds would only answer “Yusgril knows all” to his questions. After a short rest and a bit of deserved food, the group set off into goblin territory, feeling a little stronger and more determined than ever to find their quarries and get out of this area.