Chapter I

An Unexpected Spelunk

Jonn ushers the trio into his home and explains Riverroar’s problems:

While normally holding an uneasy peace with the kobolds that dwell in caves and caverns in the surrounding hills, they’ve grown unexpectedly bold under new leadership Jonn calls the Red Tooth. An unusually ferocious and cunning kobold, he follows in the steps of Sinruth, who once lead the kobold’s first and only above-ground empire, generations ago. While the Red Tooth is not nearly as clever or powerful as Sinruth, his delusions of grandeur have become a problem, and with the Empire draining the regions resources to fight its battles, there’s no way to stem the flow.

Then Jonn reveals what he suspected: the trio are deserters, fleeing from Imperial ranks, like so many hundreds passing through Riverroar have done before. He’s a former soldier, fighting in Prince Adam’s wars fifty years ago, and decides on a soldier’s honour to give them one chance: solve the Red Tooth problem for Riverroar, or face being turned in, which is certain execution. Not to blackmail them into battle with no aid, Jonn lends them the use of several of his personal magical artifacts, ones he picked up in his younger days.

The trio trek out into the wild and discover the cave entrance that Jonn believes leads into the kobold enclave. Being a cave, they end up disturbing a perfectly peaceful cave bear, which they murder, and Thunce proceeded to decapitate, taking its head as a grisly trophy. They find a stairwell leading down, and stumble into a kobold-infested underground keep, one of the untold thousands that comprise the Underdark. Murdering their way from room to room, the trio come across a mysterious ooze-like portal, which Thunce and Baldor test first with the severed bear head, and then with the quite-intact Pip, who is sucked deep into its maw. Shrugging and continuing, the duo murder their way through more halls and chambers, before coming across an old man imprisoned, chained, beaten and nearly dead.

Choosing to ignore the magic traps around his wrists, Baldor half-botches the rescue, leaving the man free but without his hands. Thunce inexplicably keeps the hands as trophies. Unable to revive the old man presently, they peer over the edge of a nearby slope, and see that deep within the bowels of this keep, a vast cavern stretching far into the dim is lit with the campfires of ten thousand or more kobolds entrenched within.



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