Brigand Five: An Unflankable Story

Chapter 17: Killin' Kobolds, Pt. 1

The atmosphere is that of intense awkwardness as the heroes ride along with Namas Hestral and his tiefling crew. At first, the conversation is limited to introductions; the heroes have already met Calsius, so Namas introduces the brooding, loose-robed tiefling next to him as Brük and the bald, wild-eyed tiefling driving the wagon as Artho. Geandur’s mistrust of Namas inevitably leads to questions about the diplomat’s sister. Looking troubled, Namas tells the heroes of Ja’thorane, the island where he grew up with his sister, whose name is revealed to be Xieth. He tells them of the tragedy that befell them when the island’s aboleth-tainted volcano erupted, spreading diseased ash throughout their village. After leaving the isle, Namas took a leadership role, while Xieth became more and more obsessed with the disease that killed so many of their people. Namas explains that the last time he saw his sister, she was carving the Glyph of Vholpest into her forehead, to better channel her learned disease magic.

Geandur mentions his own island’s tragedy and Xieth’s hand in it. When asked if he’ll get between Xieth and Geandur’s revenge, Namas seems unsure, but says he doesn’t plan to. The conversation moves to their current plans and Namas explains that they will all be fugitives for the time being. Until they can clear the heroes’ names, they will need to find any towns or villages willing to provide them shelter. For now, they are headed to Moroth, the tiefling city by the sea. Namas explains that it will be a hot environment, but that the city’s leader is aware of the current predicament and willing to help. It is then that there is a knock on the front panel of the caravan.

The panel slides open and Artho informs them all that they’re in kobold territory and that they should stay alert. Arradon joins Artho up front and Othfir climbs atop the wagon to keep an eye out. The two heroes immediately wonder where Artho’s mind is at, as it’s clear that they’ve already been in kobold territory for a bit. There are huts perched all around them in the trees above and a couple campfires can be spotted through the trees up ahead. But before the crew can come up with a plan, a shrieking kobold voice echoes through the air to alert the rest of the creatures to the heroes’ presence. The squawking kobold is silenced when Othfir hurls a javelin through its chest. As it topples from the tree, Othfir catches the javelin and the corpse slides down the weapon. Gripping the javelin with both hands, Othfir swings it, launching the kobold carcass down the path into the sight of its camping comrades.

As the lifeless kobold bounces to a stop, the kobolds take one look and spring into action. The heroes and tieflings do the same. Arradon dashes out to where the body of the kobold stopped and fires a burst arrow into another nearby kobold. The tip of the arrow bursts, filling two more foes with fragments of iron filaments. Quinn is the first out of the caravan and ducks behind a tree before firing an arrow through the back of another kobold’s head. Seraphina also approaches one of the campfires and raises her arms, releasing a wave of slumber. Five kobolds drop to the ground, snoring. Geandur pulls out the halberd he swiped from the council prison and runs out to the sleeping kobolds. With a quick sweeping motion, he cleaves two of them in half. Othfir joins his barbarian cohort and pounds the head of another snoozing kobold into oblivion.

It is then that Arradon hears a strange voice in his head. It asks the elf to set it free and that it would help in return. Arradon realizes that the voice is emanating telepathically from a nearby row of cages. In the cages are a large panther with six legs and a long spiny tentacle on each shoulder, a red-skinned frog creature with nasty claws, a massive snoring ogre, and an enormous serpent. The elf pinpoints the voice as issuing from the panther. He ignores the voice and draws another arrow. From a nearby tent, a kobold bursts out with a small blade. A moment later, Morningstar fires a net arrow and the kobold flies back into the tent, wrapped in thick ropes. Othfir and Arradon continue their massacre, while Artho joins the fray and beheads a kobold with his dual blades.

Seeing the cages, Seraphina hurries up to see if there are any prisoners to free. Peering into a cage, she instead finds herself face to face with the red frog creature. There is a quick blur of movement as the creature lashes out with its claws. Seraphina realizes, a moment too late, that the creature before her is a red slaad. The knowledge of past lessons flow back into her memory and, as she clutches the wound on her arm, she remembers that the red slaad carries eggs in its claws to inject into its victims. Stumbling out of reach of the cage, Seraphina releases a storm of frantic curses and profanities. To make matters worse, she hears a voice in her head asking for assistance in getting free of the cage.

Morningstar sends a pair of kobolds flying with a force arrow, while Geandur and Quinn run to Seraphina’s aid to find out what the mild-mannered aasimar could be raving about. Othfir kicks over a water barrel and between him, Arradon, and Artho, a few more kobolds are slain. Out from a tent steps a particularly fat kobold in a large pocket-covered vest. At the same time, a voice shouts out in draconic as another kobold swoops down from the trees, this one with a pair of scaly wings. Quinn fires an arrow at the flying kobold, while Geandur hurls a flame cocktail at the slaad, followed by his javelin. As screeches issue from the burning cage, Morningstar takes a defensive stance as two kobolds advance on him. Suddenly, one of the creatures doubles over in pain. Before the cleric’s eyes and like an omen on Serphina’s head, the kobold’s chest explodes and a huge, blood-coated tadpole slides out onto the ground.

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