Join Alex, Helen, Bryn, Lydia and Ben as they find some news from the outside.
The party has noticed something’s gone wrong in the inn, and as Hamid looks through the keyhole, he think he recognises Skraak. A cowled snout pokes out into the hallway, and Zolf asks if it’s the kobolds, telling them to leave because they may be infected. Hamid asks if everyone up there is okay, and the individual looks around, confused, as they can’t tell where the voice is coming from. Hamid calls to them again, saying that they’re down in the cellar, and the kobold makes their way over to the trapdoor, pulling out their thief’s tools as they start to pick the lock holding the trap door shut. Hamid tells them that it needs to stay locked, but the kobold continues to open it. Zolf says that if it gets opened, they’re dragging whoever it is in there with all of them.
The second of the three locks is successfully picked by the kobold, and Cel reminds them all that, if it is Skraak, there’s just as much chance that they were infected as the party was. Zolf starts to spiral, realising that everything is going wrong, and then the final lock is picked. The spear is level with the door when the door gets pulled open, and it reveals Skraak stood there, staring at the party. Hamid asks if they’re okay, and Skraak says that he is, asking if Hamid is okay.
Zolf demands that Skraak joins them in the cellar, and Hamid tries to more gently tell Skraak that he has to stay in there with them. Cel asks what the point is, if Skraak might have infected the kobolds. Zolf says that they don’t know how the infection passes, and that they need to do what they can. Skraak ignores all of this, gesturing for Hamid to get out while Cel and Zolf continue arguing. Hamid tries again to explain why Skraak needs to come in there with them, and Zolf just steps up, grabs him by the horns, and bodily pulls him into the basement. He tells Hamid to close the door; Hamid does, and then quickly turns to Skraak as he tries to keep him calm and explain what’s going on. Skraak looks murderous, and Azu steps between him and Zolf. Skraak tells Zolf not to touch him, and Zolf counters saying that they don’t have the context, and that this isn’t a situation where they can be nice to each other. Skraak ignores this and goes over to Hamid, asking why he’s in here. Hamid explains what’s going on, and Skraak asks why they didn’t tell the kobolds. Zolf says that they forgot, because they were tired and exhausted after dealing with Shoin; Hamid apologises, and Skraak moves to leave. Zolf refuses to let him go, as does Azu - who apologises. Skraak continues trying and starts to get vicious with people as they try to restrain him. Azu helps Zolf bind him, with Zolf taking damage. Hamid suggests that they put Skraak in the cage, with himself inside as well, but Zolf refuses that option, saying that he’s not putting Skraak into a cage again. They do not gag Skraak, but they do bind him, and he’s dead-eyed staring at Hamid. Hamid doesn’t help, distraught (Azu also clearly doesn’t enjoy doing this). He simply keeps apologising, sitting next to Skraak.
Skraak says that this is pointless, because the rest will come to get him. Azu and Hamid try to figure out why Skraak returned, and how many kobolds are with them. He explains that they weren’t going to let the party leave without monitoring; Hamid asks what he means, and Skraak asks if Hamid actually knows anything about how kobolds work. Neither Hamid nor Azu (nor Cel or Zolf) have any true idea, and Skraak goes on to explain that within kobold culture, hierarchy is important. His voice is completely dripping with irritation and disgust as he says that the kobolds thought it would be important to keep track of “the saviours.” Both Azu and Zolf immediately reject the label, telling Skraak not to continue on that line. Zolf tells Skraak that he’s willing to go tell the rest of the kobolds that they’re being stupid, but Skraak doesn’t respond, and Hamid asks Zolf what they should do if there are a bunch of other kobolds around.
Cel suggests that they quarantine the whole inn; the kobolds definitely touched the innkeeper and Wilde, and they can’t fit any more people in the cellar, so it makes sense to keep the inn quarantined as a whole. Skraak says that he’ll need to let them out upstairs, referring to Wilde and the innkeeper. Zolf asks how many of them are there, and Skraak explains that there are six, plus himself; Zolf clarifies that he meant on the island, and Skraak says that there are easily tens of thousands. Zolf asks where else he’s been, because if that many kobolds are potentially infected, Japan is lost, and that will be the end of it. Cel tries to calm him down as Zolf obviously spirals, saying that they need to proceed as though things are still salvageable. Zolf says that they need to keep quarantined because they might truly be the last hope; Cel doesn’t understand what Zolf has against quarantining the inn as opposed to just the cellar, but Zolf is clearly already lost in the worst case scenario, saying that they can’t quarantine the potential thousands of kobolds, and that it’s pointless to try. But, they can still quarantine themselves.
Skraak cuts in, here, and says that none of the kobolds are sick; Azu explains that it takes a while for it to appear, and Hamid further explains that it’s what happened to Shoin. Skraak says that Shoin went mad after he ate the cleric, and Zolf clarifies that half of Shoin’s brain was infected - he explains that the infection has wiped out Europe, and Skraak asks how. Hamid recaps how the infection works (or, how they know it works at the time), and Skraak continues asking questions that they don’t know the answers to. He asks how the kobolds couldn’t have been infected, since the cleric has been there for months, and the party isn’t sure. They don’t know when the cleric was infected, or when it was contagious, and the party explains that they don’t know enough about the infection to have concrete answers. Skraak confirms that they haven’t interacted with anyone else, and Hamid says that they’ll need to quarantine the inn, which is what Cel has been saying.
Zolf tells Skraak that he needs to go back to the island where Shoin was and keep the kobold’s under watch in case they develop blue veins. Azu asks if they can send a message back to the island, but Skraak doesn’t think they can. They ask what Hamid did to the rest of the kobolds, and he explains that he just scared them. Skraak explains that they’ll be back soon. Cel can hear renewed movement upstairs, and alerts everyone that the kobolds are back. Hamid apologises again to Skraak, and they all decide to move the quarantine to the whole inn. Skraak says that this went exactly as badly as he thought, and both Zolf and Azu tell him that they didn’t force him to come. Cel adds that they’re glad he did, though, because now the kobolds potentially know. Hamid says that he’s glad Skraak is okay, and then the party heads upstairs.
Azu opens the trapdoor to the main hallway of the inn that’s awash with silent kobolds. There are multiple kobolds hanging from the ceiling, completely frozen, and they all turn to see Azu. They drop to the ground and form a sort of phalanx, spears pointed at Azu. Zolf tries to walk through them to get to the innkeeper, which they block, but he gets rid of them easily enough. When Hamid comes up the stairs, the kobolds each drop to a knee, which seems to make everyone uneasy. Zolf, clearly irritated, snipes about Hamid being their Messiah.
He finishes healing the innkeeper; he’s fine, just having been bound with a thin cord. Zolf unties his bonds, and Azu goes along with him as they go in search of Wilde. He’s only a few feet away, looking completely bewildered and very over it. Zolf unties him and gives him a very, very brief run down before stomping off to the kitchen to cook angrily. Barnes comes upstairs and starts actually briefing Wilde, and Cel goes over to lock the front door.
Hamid, meanwhile, looks very flustered and embarrassed, and Skraak tells him that he should feel awkward. Skraak explains that this is how kobold culture works, and that they’re following Hamid because he’s the biggest dragon. Hamid stammers a bit, but agrees that in a way he is. He says that they should explain the infection thing first, and Cel interjects, saying that he could also introduce the concept of democracy. Hamid seems to push that idea aside, instead asking what everyone’s name is and introducing himself.
Time skips forward to a large meal; Zolf has completely outdone himself, even cooking while angry. The inn is chock-full of people; everyone has been debriefed and the kobolds are up to date. Zolf and Azu are struggling to pronounce names in Draconic, so Hamid provides them with translations of the names. None of the kobolds really want to talk to them; instead, they’re keeping a guard around Hamid, who seems mostly flustered. They actively try to guide Hamid to the head of the table, and then sit behind him as guards. Azu is quite amused, Zolf is abjectly not. Skraak leans over as dinner is served, saying that it will pass eventually. Zolf, overhearing this, mutters that that’s good, while Azu says that she finds it quite funny. Zolf doesn’t understand why; Azu says that he’s so embarrassed, and Zolf says good again.
The meal is served, and Cel asks Skraak what kobold dishes were like. They struggle to remember, and then talk about a mealworm burger with Cel. Everyone eats; all the kobolds wait for Hamid to start eating before they start. Zolf is eating thunderously.
Wilde eventually pipes up, saying that the inn is lost. Hamid confirms that there hasn’t been any other connection outside of the kobolds and the inn, and Wilde is happy to hear that at least it’s a controlled situation. Skraak asks to be excused, and then heads out with one of the guards. Wilde explains that the island isn’t heavily populated and there haven’t been any cases they’re aware of, so as long as they get through the seven days, they should be alright.
Skraak returns along with the kobold, and says that they think the kobolds might be immune. He explains that Shoin, before ‘going wrong’, was a fan of sending the kobolds into battle against the adventuring parties. Azu apologies, sympathetic, but Skraak doesn’t engage, saying that not all of the kobolds were killed. More than a year ago, numerous kobolds had gone up against the cleric and moved him to where he sat at the table, and there have been zero cases. Zolf says there’s no way Skraak can be certain of it, and that it’s a dangerous assumption to make. Wilde agrees; Hamid, however, thinks that it could be a chance for them to be hopeful about a solution. Wilde, Zolf, and Barnes all share a look (Note: the look is not described, but I assume it to be along the lines of ‘wow, he’s naive’), and Zolf reminds Hamid that he’s a literal cleric of hope and that even he thinks that that idea is stupid. Azu immediately comes to Hamid’s defense, telling Zolf not to call him stupid, but Zolf repeats it, saying that they have to be careful about these things otherwise they’re liable to blow up in their faces. Hamid’s temper raises, and he says that he isn’t trying to suggest that they change their current operation, just that he’s trying to be optimistic. He points out that this is exactly the kind of behaviour that he talked to Zolf about in the cell, with him jumping down Hamid’s throat. Cel jumps in, saying that they know Zolf’s been through a lot, but that it’s also important to keep morale up. Azu says that this might be the first good news they have; Zolf takes himself out of the conversation, saying that he’s going to go to the coast - it’s clear that he’s deep in a depressive spiral, talking about how the inn is completely lost and that nothing matters. Cel tries to bring him back, as does Hamid, both physically trying to stop him from leaving and breaking quarantine. Wilde calls after him as well, and Zolf eventually stops trying to leave. He tells Zolf that they do have the Shoin brain orb, and that they can get as much information from the brain orb as they can.
Zolf says that he needs some time to not think about it, and some time alone, and Cel suggests he goes upstairs; he does, seeming completely defeated and in his own head. Cel admits that it might be nice for everyone to have a break from one another, and Barnes agrees, saying that putting people in a box makes things worse, not better. Azu is upset that Zolf has left, but doesn’t push the situation, and then Cel starts talking about how they wanted some more friends, but that Zolf hasn’t been very friendly. Azu says that she thinks Zolf could be a friend, and then reassures Cel that they’re very friendly. Carter says that Cel is the only friendly one of the bunch, and that Azu isn’t friendly because she keeps stamping on him and drinking the good alcohol. Azu sounds proud as she agrees with the last point.
Barnes speaks up and says that they all should finish eating and try to deal with this tomorrow afternoon, giving everyone some time away from each other. Time accelerates to the end of dinner, and then Skraak pulls Hamid aside as everyone starts to leave. He says that the other kobolds are going to be like this for a while, because it is the default assumption of the kobolds is that they need a leader - and, after Shoin, they almost expect a tyrant. Hamid starts to respond, but Skraak cuts him off, telling him that this is important and that Hamid needs to listen to him. They explain that even though Hamid might not be a tyrant, the kobolds won’t leave because that’s the nature of the kobold. He tells Hamid that he needs to understand that his behaviour will determine a lot going forward, and asks if Hamid understands. Hamid says that he thinks he does, and then goes on to say that if it were up to him, the kobolds would be able to have the island and run it like they wanted. Skraak tells him that he needs to consider his future actions carefully, saying that he needs to act as though tens of thousands of eyes are on him. Skraak finally turns around, saying that Hamid hasn’t screwed it up yet. He leaves, and Hamid sinks down to the floor, staring ahead.
Time skips forward again, to the next day, mid afternoon. They’re at another sit-down meal; Zolf is still up in his room, and is not interacting with anyone else in the party. The kobold guards are still there, slightly farther back. Wilde comes in and asks how everyone is, and Cel asks if he wants them to figure out a way to talk to the brain. Azu asks how Wilde is, and he says that they should assume he’s fine unless he says otherwise. Azu isn’t very happy with it, but doesn’t push much. Wilde turns back to Cel and says that, yes, they should figure out how to talk to Shoin. They pull the brain out of the bag and set the case on the table; all the kobolds growl at it. Cel mentions that they’ll need some material to build an apparatus that will allow them to communicate with Shoin; it should be easy enough for them to find similar materials and rig it up in a way that will work. The plan is to give the brain orb (brorb) a microphone, speaker, and a way for Cel to ‘wobble’ it in order to keep it on track. It will take a few days for Cel to build the apparatus, so they get to work. Hamid and the kobolds assist.
Wilde asks where Zolf is before they head off; everyone thinks that he’s still upstairs, and Wilde turns to Barnes, who immediately shakes his head, unwilling to go. Azu offers to go instead, and heads up to Zolf’s room, knocking gently on the door. Zolf calls for her to come in; as she does, he’s staring out the window, quietly.
Dice rolls & mechanics
- Zolf makes a combat maneuver check against Skraak: 18
- Everyone makes a Perception check: Hamid gets 17, Zolf gets 22, Azu gets 20, Cel gets 26
- Zolf makes a Profession (cook) roll: nat 20
Initiative: Cel (23), Zolf (19), Hamid (15), Azu (11)
- Cel: Stays where they are.
- Kobolds: Attempt to grapple Zolf. All but one fail.
- Zolf: Makes a Strength check to throw them off - he succeeds on a roll of 20.
- Hamid: Has finished getting Skraak out of the ropes, and runs upstairs. Every single one of the kobolds kneels before him.