The Long and Winding Road
How many other Kobolds share the burden of saving the world?
Alignment: There was a time when I’d say only idiots went for an advantage. It turns out that even heroes need to act underhanded when the world is at stake. However, being civil is absolutely required even in this situation – striking first, like I had been, is not the way of right. Talk, if at all possible. (Lawful Good)
Personality: You know, I think I saw one of those weird personality tests… and I could swear Kyriaki was the writer… I apparently come off as an Executive type (ESTJ-T), but MAN, that last T – Turbulent – was really big with me.
Race: Funny thing about kobolds – with their natural talent and hard work ethic, they could make a serious bid for world domination if they could only get their shoulders out of their rears and stop with the inferiority complex.
Class: I am an investigator, mixing a rogue’s resourcefulness with an alchemist’s penchant for chemicals. I took up some fighter training, too. Lately, I discovered I have dragon blood and intend to unlock its powers further with herbalism.
Height: 2’11". Average by my race’s standards, really.
Weight: 28 lbs. A little on the light side – the better for sneaking around.
Languages: My native Draconic, as well as Common, Undercommon, and Gnome. Dwarven, Goblin, and Celestial as well. Recently I’ve been picking up on the Gnoll tongue used by my most recent traveling companion and I FINALLY got around to learning the Tengu language after being around Xanthus so long.
Proficiencies: Jack of all trades, master of few. Any kobold who doesn’t learn to adapt is dead meat out in the real world. My real skill, however, seems to be one you can’t simply train – the ability to bring out power in others.
Equipment: You name it, I’ve probably got it or at least something close to it. Alchemy supplies, evidence tools, an assortment of masterwork weaponry, potions, fireworks… pretty much the only thing I don’t have that I’m even a little trained in using is armor, because what descendant of the dragons would have a need for it? If I somehow don’t have it, you may be able to ask the tiefling if she’s got it – I never know what kind of strange stuff she packs.
Strength: Well, by my people’s standards I’m actually kind of strong. But we’re all born scrawny, so I wind up a bit below average by human standards. (8)
Dexterity: Our slender frames are for more than show. We’re all at least somewhat agile, but even so, I’m exceptionally swift by my people’s standards. Strangely enough, the burden of this absurd journey and this nice new belt I picked up have made me even nimbler. (16+2+2)
Constitution: Our slender frames don’t lend much to durability, but I wind up approaching the human average. (11)
Intelligence: Do not dismiss my people’s intellect just because many of my peers refuse to speak Common properly. That’s a product of racism, not limited thought capacity. I’m still considered to have greater intellect than usual though, and it’s been improving dramatically by following a bunch of crazies. If I combine this with a magic headband, I can even rival REAL dragons! (15+3+6)
Wisdom: I like to think my eyesight and awareness are above average. Nowhere near real detective skills, but still easily enough to get by. I’ve only just become able to see in the dark the way most of my people can, though – but at least I can see in open daylight! (12)
Charisma: I apparently have a great personality, for someone who insists on following procedure. Gets annoying when you’re called adorable by human children though. (14)
Well, I guess there’s no mincing words about my origins anymore… so here’s the scoop:
I grew up among the Blackshale tribe of kobolds living in the Korokom Hills. Throughout my childhood, I was exposed to small purple flowers called the balor flowers – I was always told that eating the flowers made people insane, but my people were making them into tea and being invigorated by it!…. with me as the lone exception. Those flowers made me sick just by being near them, and I would vomit instantly if I drank the tea. Maybe it is just an allergic reaction as my mentor Fons put it. Honestly, though, there’s the possibility that it was a defense mechanism. I mean, if the flowers are even tangentially tied to the balors, then they are evil incarnate and my whole pack was corrupted by them. So my reaction might be an early manifestation of dragon blood.
Kobolds work a bit differently when someone can’t keep up. Everyone contributes, even if they’re stuck picking mushrooms or tending children or only left to sustain the tribe’s numbers. They seemed adamant on not forcing me to be part of the breeding caste, though, so my caretaker, Kayode, fed me something he called “mutton stew” instead. It gave me the strength to stand with the tribe, even as a warren planner… and I haven’t been able to find an equal dish since then. I guess it’s because that stew isn’t sheep’s meat – it’s human flesh and bone. Regardless of the implications, I associated with my tribe, and Kayode eventually taught me the languages of the surface world – especially the human language. In retrospect, I find it weird that I was given a lot of preferential treatment. Makes me wonder if I’m not actually a Blackshale.
All of this came crashing down roughly three years ago, when the warren was attacked. After about the third spell, I was actually told to save myself… and after what felt like an eternity, but what one Eran Frampt claims might have been only five minutes, I survived the massacre along with a little over a dozen others – but not before I fell victim to a mind control attempt that led to me getting knocked out. Most of the survivors fled for other tribes, but one of them, Jacquaia, wanted to come with me to find out who did this. If we didn’t find the culprit, the genocide enacted upon the Blackshale tribe would happen to others.
This led us to the town of Penkurth, where we were promptly jailed, presumably just for being kobolds in a human town. The guard captain at the time was a blind racist and a complete idiot, though – left his papers on a recent investigation just lying around and wouldn’t believe me when I said the criminal, a half-elf named Shandar, was squatting in his attic. So he made a proposal: if I’m wrong, I get executed immediately, but if I’m right, I’m freed. I shouldn’t need to say that I was completely right, but I will say it led to that captain resigning (what a sore loser) and a new one, Samuel Funar, taking his place.
Jacquaia and I spent two years in that town, not only getting acclimated to the surface world, but helping the town develop quickly – me as head investigator and Jacquaia assisting farmers and miners in the region. I remember one particular case – where I had to be taught that these humans not only wear full sets of clothes, some of the richer ones can afford to throw them away instead of fixing them. Yeah, instead of recalling my time in Penkurth I’ll go over this tidbit about my own people – the kobolds of the Blackshale tribe wear just skirts or loincloths when not immediately working, and the breeders don’t even get that. Beyond that point, clothing depended on your current task – thick gloves for kilns and forges, helmets for mining, armor for guard duty, and so on. I had one unique piece and it was a cheaply-made tail ring, which I wore at all times. Definitely made me wonder how different I really was compared to my tribe.
But enough of that. Two years after we arrived in Penkurth, I discovered Jacquaia and one of her farmer friends murdered – deep cuts to the throat in both cases. The culprit, a gnome named Gauthier (I’m not using all of his names here), was very easy to catch – in fact we caught him so quickly I hadn’t finished mourning yet. Which, in retrospect, might have been a mistake… because I recognized him from the slaughter. Two and a half hours later, I wind up with four other names – Nataliya Pasternack, Mainio Jokela, Veronica Dragovic, and Arax Metharom. I also got most of the Penkurth police force angry at me for the sheer amount of torture I did to the guy. They calmed down once I agreed to leave town – I had what I needed and I had allowed my anger to taint my judgement, violating what the force stood for.
The next year was something of a blur, although I know for a fact I was surviving mainly on Gauthier’s alchemy kit and my own intuition. I wound up in jail a couple of times, but never for long… especially that one case that caused me to lose the police uniform. I got assaulted, my uniform ripped from me… and when I go to the guard to report it, I was arrested for public nudity. Luckily I only spent a day, since they were willing to let me testify (with new clothes, of course) against the man who assaulted me. Beyond that, really that year only taught me to use my kobold instincts towards simple surface survival.
Until I discovered Trixton’s scavenger hunt. Apparently a somewhat regular contest to find something there… and relied on a lot of technicalities. Following the clues, I wound up having a door slammed in my face by a tengu that I’d later learn went by the name of Xanthus. We were joined shortly thereafter by a woman named Catherine and a gnome named Bina…
…and we’ve been on so many adventures that I could spend hours just talking about them. I’ll cover a few highlights:
-We wound up on the trail of crystal spikes in Trixton – pulling one out of an ogre, we eventually gave it to police only for Bina to swipe it and sell it off for money (though I didn’t know that at the time). We also kinda lost the scavenger hunt.
-Following leads of Veronica’s location to Brighton, we spent them there, first ran into Chethrou, and I’m not sure what else went on other than me nearly being killed by a dinosaur in the mayor’s basement. We kinda faffed about in that place.
-We wound up in the abandoned town of Silverton, met the sylph Keidraan on the way, took down the vampire terrorizing the place… and then Chethrou nearly got us all killed trying to investigate the silver mine, thanks to the dragon that lived there. I could only beg for mercy… which wound up saving the rest of our lives.
-Then, there was Albemarle and the hunting competition… there was a hobgoblin who we call “Ise” that joined us on that competition, and our two teams humiliated everyone else. This is about the point when I realized I was indeed strong enough to stand with everyone.
-Keidraan was caught up with both an aboleth that haunted him and a kitsune named Vaunders that got him involved in the killing of a guard. This is when we first came into contact with a contract devil, who calls himself “Quentin”… and probably my biggest moral failing. Luckily we only succumbed to his contracts once, as a certain Ushio (who was going to help us with the aboleth) helped us stop the guy the second time.
-We had one other recruit in Albemarle, as a strix named Eupraxia, or “Praxi” for short, wanted to tag along with us after hearing how we performed in the competition.
-We did go to the hobgoblin’s old home, Bojrock, and ran into a dragon named Jirae. A second visit later on led to the Temple of Reincarnation, where we encountered Veronica and her eidolon Solomon, ran into a sleepy tiger named Amatsu, and saved the leader of the Gin Seng guild’s Albemarle branch.
-The hobgoblin had a new home built, named New Bojrock, and it’s more-or-less become an auxiliary base for us over time. I enacted one of my own dreams here with Vaunders’ help – a hospital.
Things finally clicked in the city of Marigold, where I sought therapy at Vaunders’ suggestion. See, I had been traumatized for the past three years by nightmares stemming from the genocide. Had I not started to figure it out after defeating Veronica, the therapist Kyriaki’s suggestions might have helped, but he was a little too late… though the realization I had only forgiven Nataliya because fate would have it in for her was lambasted as being too extreme. Additionally, this is the point when Vaunders ran away – she learned a bit too much from her session. Our chase led to our real enemy – another contract devil, and a much stronger one, who I shall only refer to as Philly. It also led to a divine connection thanks to a priestess named Reagan and a gnoll named Raklen.
It’s about here that my desire to reform began. I was a wicked being, no doubt about it. I could go on all day recalling my sins, but the biggest one by far is wrath. I am extremely fortunate in that can recall only one instance of targeting a non-evil creature with my violent outbursts at least – and that would be Ushio’s friend, encountered outside Albemarle. The rest? All harmful to us in some capacity. It doesn’t change the fact that most of my outbursts were risky or poorly-timed, which is what led to reform in the first place. I wound up encountering myself in a dream… and my efforts to accept what I am and, most importantly, overcome it, finally shed some light on why I was treated so differently growing up. They must have known I have silver dragon blood all along. Why else would the kobolds make efforts to bring me equal? Why else would I get sick around the flowers? Why else was I told to save myself during the genocide?
What assured me that I was on the right road was the appearance of a solar, assigned to us after I revealed all I could about the contract devils and had Xanthus carry the message via a summoned hound archon. There were some hiccups, of course – doubting my acceptance among kobolds after having to face down a red dragon and kill it, especially because he nearly torched Eran, who had arrived in Catherine’s stead after my awakening. It took finally putting together the entire nightmare, helped by paladin training and my companions when I was teleported with them to Jozusu, to realize where I fall on this and fully accept my dual nature – important when we take on the High Inquisitor, revealed to be involved in the massacre!
….although I may only need to take him on diplomatically. He’s not that much of a threat, is he? Veronica was known to associate with devils, but this guy… Oh, speaking of Veronica, it turns out she was on Jozusu waiting for us! She had a… curious method of defense that kept Xanthus and myself at bay, but we eventually persevered… although I think she tried to kill herself at the end there. I wasn’t going to let that happen! She fell by my hand… and I hope my people are satisfied with that, because so far, she’s the only one that’s actually NEEDED to die.
I’ll end this with a discussion on my dual nature. I am not simply a kobold, on virtue of now having wings and an icy breath weapon. On the other hand, I am not really a dragon, on account of being far too small and scrawny. The best I can explain is that I have a “dark” kobold half and a “light” dragon half. They used to be separate, but they have been weaving together ever since Marigold and I think they’re almost fully intertwined, both existing together at once in my soul. The dragon rage builds all the time, yet I remain with the kobold focus and ingenuity. It’s… mostly managed itself, the rage and ingenuity being the same thing. But there is a curious effect to this. Whenever I tap into the dragon power, I wind up with what I can only describe as a “dragon hangover” for a time – the short temper, the arrogance, the desire to hoard, those last for a while. It took some time for me to realize it, but I found that if I tap into my ingenuity and creativity, design new things to take advantage of the world around me, I can get a “kobold hangover” for a time in the same way. By indulging in insane tricks, disgusting delights, and new designs, I feed my kobold half. By bringing swift death to my enemies, I feed my dragon half. (Complex plans have a knack for sating both, for some reason.)
Therapy is going to be a major thing for me, as giver and recipient both, when this contract devil scenario is over.