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Dragon Hunt – Chapter 1, Part 3 – Catching a Kobold
July 21, 2012Posted by on
Yeark was two feet, two and one half inches tall, but, if asked, he always claimed to be two foot three. By extending his double jointed legs, he could increase his height by another 11 inches, but it was painful to do so for more than a few seconds. He would help with work in the mine when needed, but his primary function in the tribe was border security.
A kobold’s day starts at sundown. This day started for Yeark the same as any other. His first job was to check all of the traps outside the north entrance to the mine. He was to clear and re-set them if necessary. He would make sure they were all in good order before returning to the mine. Of course if any intruders were caught or killed he was to return right away. Security would be tightened and the mine put on alert until any potential danger had been dealt with.
He weighed 43 lbs. and his scaly skin was light brown, except for a lighter streak across his left jaw and half-way down his neck. The result of an old sword wound. He was wearing a suit of reddish-brown studded leather armor and a utility belt. He carried a longbow (sized for kobolds) hooked for quick release on his back along with a quiver of arrows. He carried a javelin which he used as a walking stick and to clear brush aside.
There was a full moon this night. Yeark preferred moonless nights. Kobolds can see just fine in total darkness. He always thought that a bright night could only favor an intruder. His job was to see to it that intruders were kept away. As he approached one of the pits, he could see that it had been disturbed. The cover had fallen. This usually meant some creature had fallen in. He was hoping that it was another wild pig. He liked eating pig.
He learned long ago that you don’t check a pit trap by looking over the side. There could be an armed enemy inside just waiting for someone to provide them with an easy target. First he quietly approached and just listened for a while to see if he could hear any movement inside. At first he thought he heard some leaves rustle but them he heard nothing at all for several minutes. Perhaps it was just the wind. He then carefully climbed a nearby tree and looked around a limb down into the pit. He was surprised to see a human lying on the debris that had been covering the pit. He was obviously dead, impelled through the heart on one of the spikes in the bottom of the pit.
Yeark quickly scampered down and to the edge of the open pit. He took his bow and fired three arrows into the dead body. He was making sure it was really dead, and besides, it was good target practice. He was eager to search the body for valuables before he reported the intruder. Humans often carried coins or wore jewelry.
He put his bow and quiver down next to his javelin before he got the rope ladder he had hidden near by. Just before reaching the bottom of the pit, he heard movement behind. For an instant he thought that the dead human had jumped up, but before he could turn to see what had made the sound he felt a heavy blow to the back of his head. He must have lost consciousness for a couple of seconds. Before he opened his eyes he felt himself painfully pinned to the ground. He opened his eyes to find an angry human holding him down. Both of Yeark’s legs were under the human’s knees, which was causing him much pain. One of the human’s massive hands was holding both of his arms across his chest, and the other one was holding a large knife. He raised the knife and was about to slash it across Yeark’s throat. Speaking in the common language, Yeark pleaded, “Please don’t kill me!”
This seamed to surprise this giant of a creature (compared to the small kobold) that was holding him down. Yeark was completely unable to move. The young human just froze, still holding the knife in the air, staring into the kobold’s large amber colored eyes.
When Trevan and his brother Kaylan fell into the pit, Kaylan had landed directly on a spike in the bottom and had died instantly. Trevan landed on top of him and suffered only minor injuries. He had been saved by his brother, whose body had cushioned his fall. Trevan tried to revive his brother but soon realized that he was beyond any help he could give him.
The sun was going down and he realized that he didn’t have much time before the kobolds would come and find them here. As he looked around he got mad at himself for falling for such a simple trap. It was just a hole dug into the ground and covered with sticks and leaves. It was about ten feet across and ten feet deep. The bottom, which was now littered with the sticks and leaves that had been covering it, had several large spikes. These were just big sticks which had been pounded into the bottom of the pit and then sharpened. He tried to climb out, but the sides were hard packed earth and had been smoothed somehow to prevent climbing. He couldn’t help thinking how stupid he had been. He realized now that the other trap was just a decoy, meant to be found. This was the real trap, set here for dummies like him to fall into while avoiding the obvious trap. Digging through the debris he could only find one of the crossbows and it was broken. He could only assume the other one had been dropped when they fell and must be outside the pit.
He didn’t have time to grieve for his brother. He laid up against the edge of the pit and covered himself with leaves and sticks. He thought that his only chance would be if only one or two kobolds came to check the trap. Perhaps they would see his brother lying there and not realize he was there too. When they climbed down to check on his brother’s body he would try to surprise them. He could use the broken crossbow handle as a club, and he had his brothers hunting knife.
The sun went down. The stars came out. The moon rose. It was a clear night and the moon shining down through the trees was casting strange and scary looking shadows on the sides and then on the bottom of the pit. Trevan moved to the darkest side of the pit and re-covered himself. The waiting was the hardest part. Several times he thought he heard someone coming, but then nothing would happen. He started to wonder if he was wrong. Maybe nobody was going to check the pit. Maybe he would just be left down here until he died of starvation. He decided that if no one came during the night, he would have to find a way to get out of the pit in the morning. Then he heard a sound he wasn’t expecting. It was the familiar twang of an arrow being fired followed immediately by the thud of it penetrating a target. But no, not a target, Kaylan! Someone shot an arrow into his brother’s body! Trevan had to stop himself from jumping up and screaming. How could anyone do such a thing? Then a second arrow and then another. He was obviously dead. These must be kobolds, he thought, and this just proves that they are far more evil than he had ever thought.
He then saw a kobold. It was the first kobold he had ever seen. It was a small reptilian humanoid. Its short tail struck Trevan as comical, wigging back and forth from under its leather armor as it climbed down into the pit on a small rope ladder. He jumped up and hit the kobold as hard as he could with the handle from the broken crossbow. He jumped on top of it and held it down while he pulled his knife. He quickly glanced around to see if there were any more kobolds. Then, just as he was about to kill this one, it opened its eyes and said, “Please don’t kill me!”
Trevan knew that some kobolds could speak common, but this came as a shock. He had killed animals before, but never one that was looking him in the eyes and talking to him. The kobold saw that he was hesitating and said, “I can be much more valuable to you alive than dead.”
Trevan shook his head in disbelief. “What are you talking about?” he said.
Yeark was thinking fast, “If you don’t kill me, I can be your servant. I am a hard worker and can be of great benefit to you.” He had no idea what use a human would have for a kobold servant, but it was the only thing he could think of. “And I promise not to run away or try to kill you for . . . for a year,” he said.
Trevan thought this crazy idea, even if it was all a lie, might buy him enough time to escape, without having to kill this thing. Then he remembered something his brother said about learning as much as he could about kobolds to help in fighting dragons. He said, “Could you teach me to speak draconian? And, why for just a year? I could keep you forever if I wanted to.” He waved the knife in front of his face.
“If you intend to keep me forever, you may as well kill me now. I’ll be of no use to my tribe either way. If you try to keep me by force, I will be of no use to you as a servant. I will be spending all of my time trying to kill you and escape. I thought a year would be long enough.”
Trevan thought that this kobold was pretty smart. He asked, “What about teaching me draconian?”
Yeark said, “Yes, yes, anything you want. As long as it doesn’t pose a threat to my tribe or our mine, I’ll teach you how to speak draconian. I’ll teach you how to make traps. I’ll teach you . . . anything you want. Just don’t kill me.”
“How do I know I can trust you?” Trevan said.
Yeark got very upset by this and started to thrash about. He said, “Maybe humans don’t honor promises, but kobolds do! If you don’t believe me then go ahead and kill me now!”
“Okay, okay . . . ,” Trevan said. “I’m going to let you up now. Don’t try anything.” He slowly released the kobold, stood up and backed away. Still holding the knife out, he said, “First I need you to help me get my brother out of the pit. We are going to take him home. Father will know what to do with you.”
To Trevan’s surprise, the kobold was very energetic and helpful. He quickly made a harness out of a length of rope from Kaylan’s backpack and helped Trevan haul him up out of the pit. Then he lashed together a couple of branches to make a litter and tied the body to it. It was designed to make it easy to drag the dead body over the forest floor. Yeark wasn’t sure why the human wanted to take his dead brother with them. Right now he was just glad that it wasn’t him left lying dead in the pit.
The moon was high in the sky and shining down through the trees, lighting their path. The earth was soft under foot. Trevan thought that if they went quickly, they may be able to reach the cabin by sunrise. The kobold helped drag the litter and showed no sign of trying to run away or alerting other kobolds. After about half an hour Trevan asked, “Do you have a name?”
“Of course I have a name, it’s Yeark. Do humans have names?”
“My name is Trevan. My brother’s name was Kaylan.” He looked back at the body. It was securely tied to the litter and bounced up and down as they dragged it over the uneven forest floor.
Yeark looked at the body and said, “Why are we taking this body with us? We could travel much faster if we left it here.”
Trevan was horrified at the thought. “I couldn’t possibly just leave him to be eaten by wolves. I have to take him home and give him a proper burial. I guess kobolds don’t bury their dead? What do you do with them then, eat them?”
“No, we don’t bury them,” he said. “But we don’t eat them unless we are very hungry, or they are very young.”
They traveled the rest of the way without talking.