June 11, 2000
The sound of hooves on a hard dirt road echoed through the woods. Unseen eyes focused on the wagon and its master. Unseen hands unsheathed weapons and drew unseen arrows. The unseen minions of the dark had their target, and today they would walk away with their prize. Bloodlust and anticipation exuded through their pores, it was so thick that it seemed to choke them all with it.
A tall man rode on a dark brown, light war-horse, the wooden wheels of the wagon clicked every so often on the hard road. The scent of spices trailed behind the wagon, and the glitter of gold peeked out from the rear of the wooden cart. The man's leather jerkin shone in the sunlight, his short brown hair fluttered in the tranquil breeze. The woods were, uncommonly quiet, but the silence seemed to sooth Reodai. His red eyes, seemingly out of place in the serene woods, burned with an uncanny intensity.
He couldn't help but to think that there was something wrong. A flicker of movement caught his eye, and as he stopped his mount, he thought he heard the trees rustle up ahead. Long moments passed by as he looked out to what now seemed foreboding woods.
The shrill of war cries and the sounds of arrows soaring through the air shattered the silence. Within moments Reodai had pulled out his short sword and dived for the cover of his wagon. All around his arrows plunged into the ground, into the wagon, and into the flesh of his horse. It only took seconds for the beast to plunge to the ground, seconds for Reodai to realize that he was in serious trouble. He focused his mind to send a message to the members of the clan, but he knew that help would not be able to arrive on time. He was alone.
Three kobolds rushed forward with flasks of hot oil, they hurled the vials towards Reodai, or to where he had been. The flasks shattered on the ground, lighting a few nearby twigs and scorching the ground. Befuddled, the Kobolds slowly stepped forwards, minutes passed by, and finally they dropped their weapons and turned towards the dead horse. Their beady little eyes focused on the animal and jumped at it, their sharp claws ripped away chunks of the flesh, and stuffed their mouths. The blood of the horse soaked their small jerkins, motley brown fur, and the ground. Slowly, a dozen more kobolds walked into the open and jumped in at the meal in a crazed frenzy.
Reodai watched in horror from the wagon as the stupid beasts mangled his precious horse. Anger boiled up in him and he darted out the back of the wagon into the woods. Slowly he steadied his arm and began to skulk towards the kobolds. He waited until he was certain that they were captivated by the flesh and blood, waited for them to become totally oblivious of their surroundings.
He dashed out with his blade, instantly an aura of fire surrounded it as he stepped up and plunged in into the back of a kobold. He pulled a second sword, leaving the blade in the dead kobold, and lashed out to sever the arm of another. Quickly he grabbed the blade from the dead kobold and dashed back towards the woods. He raised his hands as two kobolds charged at him and shouted "Firestorm!" A column of fire streamed down from the heavens to char the vermin. Once again, he dashed forward with both blades slashing at any vermin that would be unfortunate enough to have stepped in his way. The kobolds, petrified in fear, fell one by one into a bloody heap by their meal.
Reodai fell to his knees, surrounded by the mangled bodies of fifteen kobolds and a horse. He took labored breaths and sheathed his weapons. Surveying the road, he knew that he had to move on. He stepped into the covered wagon and reached in for a pouch of gold. "Damn vermin! Now I have to cut into my profits by paying a dragon to help me." He shook his head and walked out towards the front of the wagon, staring at the dead bodies, when a glimmer of light ahead of him caught his eye.
He raised his head to see a sword point an inch away from his nose. Before him stood a rather largely built kobold, he realized immediately that this was one of the leaders. He went to move back, only to feel a point press into the small of his back, a warning. Shock and fear echoed trough his head and his mind raced for a way out of the situation.
Another two kobolds appeared from above the wagon, bows drawn. "Hold it there human, or you will soon be short an arm. Give us your weapons and remove all your clothing, then put on those." The kobold motioned towards a protruding bush, a set of baggy garments hung there.
"You enjoy such perverted exercises vermin?"
The kobold in front of him pushed his sword up to Reodai's nose, pricking the flesh and causing a small trickle of blood to flow from the cut. "Watch yourself human, though your death would dissuade some from coming through here, and less food for us. It would also serve as a warning that others not attempt to kill our kin, EVER."
Reodai's body flinched for a moment as the blood trickled down his chin. His body stiffened and a lump formed in throat. Slowly the Kobold pulled back his blade. Three kobolds emerged from the woods with draft horses. The vermin began to attach the horses to the wagon and one of them stepped up on to the seat to take the reins.
Unable to wait any longer he charged forward, toppling the kobold in front of him onto the ground. The kobold behind him lunged forward, stabbing his dagger into Reodai's arm. The pain shot up through Reodai's arm and he stumbled backwards. He crouched down, fingertips touching the ground and began to murmur an incantation. Immediately the ground began to shake as tremors rippled away from Reodai. The kobolds trying to rein the horse fell to the ground, the driver fell off the wagon. A startled shriek came from the wagon, and the kobold with the dagger stumbled backwards. Reodai charged at the three kobolds by the horses, his weapons unsheathed and slashed at the necks of the vermin. The kobolds gurgled their last words, as the blood spilled from their cut necks. Fatigue and pain shot through Reodai's body and his eyes focused at the kobold with the dagger, "You hurt me, rat!"
The kobold gritted its teeth and two daggers flew from its left arm towards Reodai. Reodai's blades swung up, parrying both attacks. The daggers flew harmlessly into the woods. Reodai stepped forward, talking heavy labored breaths, the pain surging through his left arm. He drew a small dagger, holding the flaming short sword in his right arm. He wouldn't be able to maintain this much longer, he also knew that it wouldn't be possible for him to heal himself while the kobold was facing him.
Tric stared at the tall human wielding a dagger and flaming blade. His eyes wandered, surveying the area. He grinned as saw the human's left arm was bleeding profusely from his wound. His eyes glanced at the silhouettes from within the caravan; he saw the arms pull back on bows and smile. The inept human was totally unaware of the danger from within his caravan, the human focusing solely on him. Tric smiled and took a long look at his dagger; some blood remained upon it. He pulled his arm back and threw it at the human.
Reodai then pulled back his flaming blade and swung down, sending the dagger into the ground. It was obvious from Tric's eyes that, Reodai was in pain, he laughed. Tric unsheathed his short sword and faced off with the human. He drew a dagger from his belt pouch; the liquid coated on the dagger glistened in the sunlight. Tric stepped forward, waiting.
The arrows cut through the canvas of the wagon and soared at Reodai. He quickly dodged the first arrow, but the second arrow grazed by his left arm, directly beneath the first wound. The second cut added to the bleeding the first, the human clearly showed the effects of the pain on his face. That was when Tric jumped forward.
Reodai pulled his blade up, and barely parried Tric's sword with the tip of his own blade. The human came down with his dagger, but Tric dodged and thrusted with his own, only to miss. The human then came down with his short sword, Tric parried and lunged forward, the human's dagger came in, and sliced above Tric's right eye, Tric reeled back in pain. Reodai once again faced off with him, another volley of arrows came by, all missing there intended target, but they distracted Reod just long enough for Tric to come in and disarm Reodai's dagger. Startled the human charged with his blade, but Tric was ready and nimbly stepped to the side, as the blade slammed into the ground Tric came down on top of the human's right hand with his dagger. The dagger plunged right through the human's palm. Instinctively the human slashed up, cutting across Tric's chest, the flames searing his fur.
Tric staggered back, as the blade finished his arc and stood above the human's head. Tric, frozen in pain, waited for the blade to come down and finish him. Instinctively he glanced back to see one of his allies reining the horses, and the other drawing his arrow, but the arrow would not be fast enough to stop the blade. Then, the human dropped his sword and fell to the ground, clutching his palm in pain. The human slowly pulled out dagger from his palm. Tric dropped his weapons and staggered towards the wagon in pain. He slowly climbed in, and turned to look at the human, who had once again gotten to his feet.
Reodai, staggered up, the damn vermin had ruined his sword arm. He felt the wound burning, and the pain began to numb his body. He raised his arms and looked at the three. "You die now! Fires..." The arrow from the kobold's bow flew through the air and slammed into Reodai's chest. A wave of searing pain spread through his body, and Reodai fell onto his back. Moments later he heard the crack of a whip and a cloud of dust spun up around him as the wagon rode off. Moments later he heard the sound of leather snap, and as he slowly turned his head he saw that one of the horses had been left behind. He attempted to get up, but the pain sunk in and his body relaxed. Slowly the world faded into the blackness.
When he managed to open his eyes again, the sun had begun to set and storm clouds had gathered up in the sky. The putrid smell of rotting flesh filled his nostrils, Reodai stood up, the weakness and the stench combined forced him to vomit and fall to his knees. Minutes later he pulled himself up to a tree and began to cast spells of healing.
The healing spells were taxing on him; it had been over a year since he had use magic so much in one day. He glanced over at the forgotten horse, it was eating by the edge of the road, clearly afraid to progress further alone, if it could help it. He staggered forward, his head still spinning and attempted to calm the horse. The world around him began to spin and he fell again to his knees. He stared down at his hands; he stared at the remaining scar from the dagger. Then it hit him. "Poison... why that damn rat."
Reodai attempted to use his magic to remove the effects of poison from his body, but his prayers failed him. The exhaustion coupled with the poison, and the pain proved too much for him, and Reodai fell to the ground once more.
Slowly Reodai managed to open his eyes, but just barely. At first he was barely aware that he was alive, but then the sudden wave of pain proved to him all well that he was indeed alive. Slowly as the feeling returned to his body he realized that he was tied up, and worse he was being dragged on some sort of cart. The furry figures of Kobolds around him were apparent, and he realized the horse he had been trying to calm was now dragging the cart, lead by a kobold.
A kobold near him stared down at his open eyes and glared balefully, "Dum' Human! You no stop kobol'. Kobol' too stron' to b' stop'd." The small vermin raised a club and slammed it into Reodai's stomach. The pain began to swell up once again through his body.
For the remainder of the trip, which seemed to take an eternity, Reodai endured a periodic clubbing from the Kobold. He managed to close his eyes and grit his teeth too endure the pain. Even then, Reodai could not stop from vomiting several times. To his dismay, the Kobolds seemed to take delight in his regurgitation, and threats to rub their heads in it only brought more laughs, and another clubbing.
Eventually Reodai passed out again, just, as he began to see campfires in the distance. When he awoke for the third time, he found himself tied to a wooden post, hanging from the walls of a large cave. His lungs burned with every breath, and he was unable to move at all. Two kobolds wearing dark brown hooded robes, with cowls drawn were facing him. They murmured strange incantations, and within seconds his leather clothing turned into similar robes.
One of the kobolds drew back its cowl, and then shouted something foreign to Reodai's ears. A dozen kobolds came in with carts, loaded with dead kobold bodies. The cowled kobold motioned to the others to place the bodies in the center of the cave. A large amount of timber was placed around the bodies, along with what Reodai concluded to be the as the spices he had been trafficking.
Reodai murmured in disgust at loosing his precious spices. "Having a feast are you? Only you vermin would eat your own kind."
The un-cowled kobold stared into Reodai's red eyes and smiled, "No feast. A Ceremony."
The cowled kobold turned around and seemed to stare at Reodai for sometime. Then it rose its hands and motioned the others to light the fire. "You human, are going to pay for the death of over a dozen of our kin." The kobold drew back his cowl. "We... We are going to teach you a permanent lesson."
With that, the body of a dead lizard man was brought in and thrown into the fire. The robed kobolds turned and looked at him, synchronously they said, " You will spend eternity as we serve justice, our... obedient servant." The kobolds cackled gleefully and began to work on their spell.
Hours later, the fire burned intensely, the body of the lizard man remained unscathed from the flames. The heat was agonizing and the cowled kobolds had just risen from what Reodai guessed had been silent prayer. One the kobolds drew out a sword from within its robes, a beautiful and intricate blade that burned with the same intensity as the fire. Slowly the kobold rose the blade above his head and thrust it into the fire. The flames leapt high, and the fire erupted, surrounding and absorbing the kobold, yet the blade was still visible through the flames. Moments later the flames began to leap inward, into the blade, until the fire and the room were as cold as an arctic tundra.
The kobold turned around as marched up towards Reodai, who attempted to move as he was slowly lowered to the ground. His resistance, however, was futile, the bonds merely cut into his skin further as he tried harder and harder to escape. The pole fell with a thud, and Reodai was filled with fear and desperation, he made one last plea to his clan, but he knew it was too late.
The kobold plunged the blade into Reodai's chest. Thus, Reodai was plunged into an inferno of pain repeatedly. The burning hands of death wrapped around his beating heart, and crushed it in. His mind and soul burned in the flames of torment, and though he sought redemption, he found only a fiery hell as the last moments of life burned away...