The ritual complete, the kobold straightens to its full height of 4 feet. It’s emerald scales slide against each other as it stretches its muscles after its weeks-long period of incarceration. The kobold’s voice is indistinguishable from random hissing and clicks, but via the shamanistic magic of the ritual your mind gleans meaning from the creature’s speech.
“You have set me free. Lito thanks you. But I fear this is not over so simply. You must know more, then you can decide what must be done.” He focuses his gleaming yellow eyes on the group before continuing, “Our tribe long protected this temple, as the temple protected our village with its walls. We were set here years, and years, and years ago when the waters were clear and blue and the decay and rot were not so easily seen. Our Masters protected us then, and we served them. But we foresaw the coming of a great catastrophe, and so we were prepared. The Five came together and sealed a portion of their great spirits into a totem, and with it we survived where others fell. This we have guarded since, and this we have dedicated our lives to.”
The kobold’s tail swishes back and forth with agitation and his eyes narrow. “Nearly half a season ago (two months, app.) a man came to our village. He asked about our totem, the totem of the Five. He said we musts give it to him for his master. That we did not know what we had.” Lito pulls something out of one of his pouches, something moving, and bites its head off, chewing as it continues to speak, “It was wrong. We sent him way. But he came back with his Tribe and great fires trapped in ice. Many of us were killed, but such was our duty. Those who died were given places of honor among the Five. Many of the men were killed too. Their spirits will be consumed by the swamp. We found this on one.”
Lito pulls out a leather pouch, something clinking inside it. On its surface you see the Mayor’s Family Crest, a <> super-imposed over the image of an Oasis. He hands the pouch to Ianmar and begins speaking softly. “The tribe looked to us, those who were tied to the spirits of the Five and to the land. Much was talked about amongst us, of our duty and our options. Myself and my mate held strong, insisting we find out who was coming after us and why. It could not be the whole of the human city that wanted the Five’s totem. Our voices were heard until the son of one of our spirit-bound was taken. Bara, my mate, and I tried to save him. But we could not. A dark deal was made…”
“For all these years, the totem of the Five has held back the invaders, those who turned our paradise into this decaying land. Our legends speak of a great Hive of insects that burrowed up from beyond our world and began to devour everything they met. The Five created a way to hold them back, their Totem. Our duty. The other spirit-bound chose to contact this Hive and make a deal. A tithe, a sacrifice, of our people in exchange for the death of those who attacked us. The first sacrifice was made… my mate was one of them… to prove that those of us who led our people were willing to join in the loss of life.”
Lito sighs and you see a small puff of green gas escape on his breath, “The others thought the Hive could be trusted. Obviously they could not, and soon there was talk of allying with them. The eldest of those who were spirit-bound began to change. Something had taken him, and soon he had convinced everyone to allow the Hive into our village, into our Temple. I attempted to form a resistance, but was quickly subdued and imprisoned. Now I see outside that a dark cloud has filled our homes, and the stinging children of the Hive fly freely in the air. Something must be done before the ritual is completed.”
“This much I am sure of. The Elder and his two minions dwell here within the village. The lowest has been set to guard our clutch to insure that no one dares rebel against their plans. Our eggs are most precious to us and can be found in a stone building along the southern wall. The Elder surely leads the ritual in the plaza before the Temple to the Five. He must be stopped. The last minion was set to prepare the way for the Hive that they may enter the Temple. You should find him inside. Each of the spirit-bound carries with him a totem dedicated to one of the Five. Together, they may be used to open passages deep within the Temple where, traditionally, only the Eldest of us could pass. Go now, I shall gather those who do not wish to see the Five’s Temple overrun by our enemies. If their children are safe, they will surely join us. I will meet you in front of the Temple once I have found everyone.”