It had been a few hours since Eldon, Orren and Orla had entered the kobolds’ lair. They had made their way through the lair with slow and methodical movements, avoiding the kobolds they could and fighting those they needed to. While Orren and Orla had been able to handle all the challenges presented to them with Eldon’s help, each had taken some damage and looked to need a rest soon.
The lair was a huge sprawling complex of tunnels and caverns. While there were no lights in the entire complex, the darkness hadn’t posed an issue for the gnomes, instead it was a lingering fog that enveloped everything that made navigation difficult. They would have likely had to explore endlessly, however, upon entering the lair, Eldon and Orla had noticed that one path was more well kept than the others; it was a little less dusty, the corners cut a little squarer and seemed to receive regular maintenance. They had followed this path through the complex leading them to the room ahead of them.
Orla had seen it first, but she had gone back to warn Eldon and Orren. At the description Orla gave, Eldon told both of them to stay behind as he went ahead to see for himself. Her description was excellent, but Eldon didn’t believe it until he had seen it with his own eyes. The room was more like a chantry than a room you would expect in an kobold lair. It was furthermore filled with kobolds, likely around 40 of them. While Eldon would expect that; this many kobolds in proximity would lead to crowding, general disrepair and more akin to a hovel, the kobolds were separated into distinct groups, the tents were well maintained and the entire room looked clean.
All of the kobolds were in the first half of the corridor. Past this point, the walls were lined with bookshelves, and the chantry appearance become more evident. There was what appeared to be an altar toward the back of the room, and the rest of the walls were lined with bookshelves. The kobold had indeed been telling the truth when he said they had been taking many books. However, the ‘Master’ he had spoken of didn’t seem to be in the room anywhere.
Taking it all in, Eldon knew Orren and Orla wouldn’t be able to handle such a horde of kobolds. While he was tempted to walk away from the ordeal, he had agreed to search for the lost text, and it was extremely likely not only the text he was looking for, but many others were just ahead. He therefore decided that he would need to do something.
Eldon stepped into the doorway and began to cast a spell. At his appearance a hissing rang out from the kobolds as they alerted each other to his presence. They nearly uniformly began to run towards him. As they did this, he finished his incantation and the fog in the room was joined by an extremely dense miasma appearing to have been conjured out of the ground. The cloud came up and surrounded the nearest group of kobolds, and they fell lifeless to the ground. The cloud spread out from the door rolling over the ground toward the rest of the kobolds.
At the sight of their kin falling to the cloud, there was mixed reaction from the kobolds. Some, filled with rage, ran into the cloud trying to get to Eldon; none of them succeeded. Others, fell back away from the cloud in an attempt to avoid. Many of these attempted to throw rocks or shoot arrows at Eldon, however, the ones that were on mark seemed to bounce off an invisible shield or armor. As the cloud continued to fill the room, more kobolds fell, but then Eldon saw something he didn’t expect. A few kobolds had ignored him and the fog completely. About five of them were making their way to the altar in the back of the room, two had even been encased in the cloud kill Eldon had cast, and yet they seemed unharmed.
At once, Eldon realized he had made a mistake. The kobolds reached the ‘altar’ and lifted the top off of it. While it was difficult to make out, a silhouetted creature began to stand up from the what was now seen to be a sarcophagus. A gust of wind filled the chantry and the fog and cloud kill dissipated as they were blown through a ventilation hole in the walls.
“Dr. Eldon Woschren, to what do I owe the honor of having such a distinguished lecturer in my home?” The few remaining kobolds stopped upon hearing the voice, turned to the speaker and bowed reverently.
I hope you enjoyed the story. If you haven’t read the other entries in the story, you can find them at Woschren Family (D&D) Story.