I'm giving up on reposting the music. It's too much effort. Just trust me when I say the music was awesome, alright?
The next day, Ajeta and Mortis dug a mass grave for the slain Kobolds. Surprisingly, a large number of guards turned out to help...Including Nethmaethor. When Ajeta questioned Nethmaethor on whether he knew about the women and children in the camp beforehand, Nethmaethor sighed and told them that in a war of mutual genocide he only had so many options to consider.
The party was disgusted, but not too disgusted to take the reward before leaving. They asked Vek if he knew of a Kobold named Ven. "Uncle Ven?" Vek asked.
I positively loved my players' reactions to that line. I hope I can trick them into doing something awful again sometime, so I can have it come back to haunt them for a while.
Vek knows the location of Ven's tribe, the Rektil Clan, and will take them there, more than happy to be headed to a Kobold tribe instead of off to some foreign land. A nagging worry stings at the back of his mind, however. He gave the location of his own clan away. What if there was an attack? And by giving the location of Ven's clan away as well, wouldn't he invite an attack on them?
But Ajeta and Mortis seemed to be...Concerned for him, somehow. He felt he could trust them, and besides, they were leaving alone, not with an army. They'd be hard-pressed to take on the entire Rektil Clan by themselves. The Rektil Clan had already proven themselves adept combatants when they seized the mine from the Morgar Dwarves, the faction of Dwarves who sought to join the Tenebrous Imperium. Evidently, there was a lot of tension between Alek's Tribe, the Rektis, over whether to join the Western Alliance in order to get in the good graces of the colonists, or whether to stay out of the war entirely. Alek was an idealist who believed in peace. Ven was a warrior who believed peace impossible in times of war. The two decided to peacefully divide the clan before tensions could come to a head.
About a day's travel to the north was the mine shaft where the Rektil Clan was camped. Upon arrival, Ajeta and Mortis found it to be under attack from Morgar Dwarves. Several Kobolds fought with Dwarves outside, and Ajeta and Mortis leaped into the fray, quickly dispatching the Dwarves. The Kobolds rushed inside into a guardroom, which was also in the midst of a fight, and the two mercenaries rapidly dispatched their enemies.
After mopping up a few more Dwarves in a barracks to the side of the guardroom, the Kobolds discovered the two sentries they'd left in the guardroom had gotten into a fight with a single Dwarf on the stairs. Ajeta slipped past the two Kobolds and behind the Dwarf, hurling him off the staircase and into the abyss below. A half-second later they heard a thunk as he hit the ground.
At this point, Ajeta turned to the rest of the Kobolds and told them he was looking for Ven, at which point one of them said that he was Ven. Ajeta said he was here to help save Ven's people, and the small army ventured deeper into the cavern, finding a larger battle between Kobolds and Dwarves in a large room that at one time had existed solely to connect other, smaller rooms, but which had become a feasting hall for the Kobolds.
Ajeta and Mortis plowed through the Dwarves and headed deeper down, confronting a pair of Dwarves on the second staircase down and quickly disposing of them. Finally, they reached the bottom, where they found four Kobolds desperately defending a large door from four Dwarves. These all were across an underground river with a natural rock bridge leading over it, with three Dwarves standing in front. By the time Ajeta and Mortis had carved through those three Dwarves, the four Kobolds defending the gate were dead. The four Dwarves, led by Captain Hrolgar, engaged the players, and with the inclusion of Hrolgar proved more difficult to defeat, but they fell in the end. Mortis fell as well, and began bleeding out, but they managed to stabilize him.
Ven pulled a key out and unlocked the door. Inside were huddled upwards of a hundred Kobold non-combatants. Ven conversed with the leader of the non-combatants while Ajeta attempted to stabilize the still-bleeding Kobolds who'd been defending the door. He managed to get two stable, but the other two were lost. After a moment, Ven concluded his conversation and ran back towards the stairs. Ajeta and Mortis stood there awkwardly for a moment before shouting "Praise Canis!" The Kobolds muttered amongst themselves and continued giving him strange looks. Eventually, the two of them rushed back up the stairs.
They found the battle was now over. The Kobold wounded were being tended to by a Kobold cleric and Ven was looking at a map of the region, planning a journey to the Kobold Council, hoping to dodge more Morgar surface troops. Before long, however, a messenger burst in, saying that Morgar reinforcements were on their way, at least fifty Dwarves. There were only minutes to spare before the Dwarves were upon them.
Ajeta quickly drew up a plan. He and Mortis would hold the main entrance, with archers firing through arrow slits to help thin Dwarven ranks. Ven would take his men and prepare a flanking assault and ambush just outside the mine. Being favorable to the plan and given no time to think of something better, Ven took his men and left immediately.
The plan worked well initially, with a dozen-odd Dwarven bodies piling up as the intimidating form of the two warriors and the lethally accurate Kobold archers both found their marks. The Dwarves, employing crossbows to attack from the back ranks, at one point accidentally shot one of their own.
Then the Dwarves began tunneling into the barracks, and Mortis left to deal with the new opening created by the mining explosives, and Ven and his troops began their attack in an attempt to thin Dwarven numbers. Mortis was able to hold the new opening with the help of the cleric, and it quickly became a question of whether the Dwarves would be able to overwhelm the heroes ability to heal themselves with raw numbers.
The answer to this one is anyone's guess, really. Regardless, I got bored, so I called in the cavalry charge I'd been planning to save until the players were desperate.
Suddenly, a rumbling came from overhead, and mounted humans came bearing down on the Morgar Dwarves, leaping on top of them from above the path above the entrance to the mines. The Templar quickly put the Dwarves to rout, and Ven and his surviving warriors began to prepare the dead Kobolds for burial whilst piling the Dwarven corpses far away from the mine for burning.
At the feast that night, a messenger arrived, carrying news of the fate of Alek's clan. Ven prepared to take Vek aside to explain things to him, but Ajeta told Ven of his own hand in things and asked to be the one to explain things to Vek. Ven agreed that it was best Vek hear it from his travel companions, but when they turned around, Vek was gone.
Ajeta sprinted after him and caught him about fifty feet outside the mine, accusing him of cowardice. Vek accused him of murder in return. After arguing back and forth for a moment, Ajeta dropped his weapon and put up his fists, challenging Vek to kill him if Vek hated him so much. Vek's hands went weak. He knew the truth. He knew his clan was gone, and that he'd been instrumental in their destruction, doubly so, having both invited retribution and facilitated it. He threw down his weapon and refused to fight Ajeta.
Ajeta told Vek that in order to be strong, he had to go to the Kobold Council and argue for peace. Ajeta and Vek both determined to prevent the Kobolds from entering the war, knowing that acting as the meatshield for the Imperium would decimate the Kobold population.
Yeesh. I probably shouldn't write these things when I'm suffering sleep deprivation. This was not terribly high quality writing. Oh, well, I got it out of the way and I'll be sure to write episode 3 a little earlier tomorrow.