By Logothos’ All-Seeing Hand, I cannot believe I am still alive.
As expected, Scar took me to their holy (or unholy, I would say as more appropriate) chamber located deep beneath their lair. By my reckoning, our trek deep into the tunnels and cave beneath my captors’ hold lasted nearly an hour. We encountered little on the way beyond a few giant spiders and the like. Although lone kobolds are not considered much of a threat by experienced warriors, it seemed to me that together the tribe was strong enough to claim and maintain quite a large subterranean territory.
Much to my regret, I was soon to learn their number alone did not keep the tunnels safe from competing tribes and other predators.
Normally, the excursion would have been undertaken in darkness, as my hosts are somewhat capable of making their way in darkness, but not this day. After considering the attire and trappings our holy procession carried, it was obvious fire played a major role in the kobolds’ religion. As such, every second kobold carried a torch, filling the tunnels with choking smoke.
Flame symbols adorned most everything, including the creatures themselves thanks to a judicious application of body paint. So bedecked in the stuff were they, it seemed I was being escorted by a two dozen or so children who had gotten into their parents’ paints and were now covered in garish motley. Only the tribe’s sole shaman was absent any such paint or symbols. The creature wore the usual furs and bones from when I’d previously seen him, but still led our column through the darkness from the front, his vision unspoiled by the torchlight.
Eventually we arrived at the blessed chamber of Kzdakhain’kzdakhar. One moment I was half-crawling through a suffocating, smoke-filled tunnel carved from the rock (the route obviously hadn’t been created with beings of human stature in mind), and the next we had spilled out into an immense cavern that stretched in all directions beyond the torchlight’s reach.
The kobolds spread out to either side of the tunnel, forming a line with the shaman in the center, near me. Looking about, I still could not make much of the cavern’s dimensions, but the torches’ light was now tickling the nearest edge of a wide crevice ahead of us. It was towards this break in the earth that the kobolds stared and began chanting. Not knowing what else to do, I lifted my treasured pen, opened my journal, and prepared to record what was to come.
At first, there was only the chanting. It started as a low hum almost too low to hear, but slowly grew louder. Next, the kobolds began thumping their spears upon the stone at their feet in time to their mantra. Like the volume that grew to echo throughout the cavern’s unseen depths, the pace continued to grow with time until the entire line of them were speaking as a single, booming voice.
The words rolled out through the chamber faster than my inexperienced ear could interpret fully, but the ultimate meaning was one of calling out to their deity, Kzdakhain’kzdakhar. It was a plea—a welcoming cry to bask in their god’s presence. The chant continued for what I estimated to be a half hour, based on how far the torches had burned. But, ultimately, the call was answered.
A groan rose up from the crevice, like stone tearing upon stone. This, I soon realized, was the noise of something immense clawing its way up from the fissure’s unseen darkness. Minutes passed as the sounds continued, growing louder as Kzdakhain’kzdakhar drew nearer. Finally, as I had dreaded, a massive talon reached over the crack’s edge and took hold upon the cavern’s uneven, stone floor. This claw was immediately followed by the remainder of Kzdakhain’kzdakhar, a massive creature of dark red scale, sword-length fangs, and serpentine muscles. As though stretching out stiff muscles following a long sleep, the beast (which was as large as any ship I saw moored in Meleatan’s dockyards) leaned back upon its haunches in order to spread its mighty wings as it let out a mighty cry that vibrated up through the earth and into my skull.
I guess it made sense that the kobolds worshipped a dragon, but until the moment I actually saw it I had been hoping the whole occasion would be little more than a few hours of meaningless recitation to, at most, an idol, and some hollow prayers to be followed by the long return trek just in time for the day’s unpalatable dinner. As it turns out, I was wrong. Although not a god, Kzdakhain’kzdakhar was certainly far more real than any stone idol.
And it was standing upright, declaring its dominance of all it surveyed, not twenty yards away from me.
Recounting the experience alone has worn me out, so I now find myself having to retire. I shall finish the story of Kzdakhain’kzdakhar when next I pick up my journal to record my travels.
© 2012, The SpirosBlaak Chronicles. Misfit Studios. All rights reserved.