Rudi's Story 06 - Where Rudi Acts His Age and Gets More (and Less) Than He Bargained For
Rudi kicked the freshly killed kobold, causing the limp arm to twitch on the ground. It just wasn’t fair, he thought. It’s like I never left New Dawn Valley. All of his new friends were mean to him just like at home, picking on him for one thing or another, accusing him of things like killing Penelope.
“Shouldn’t have crossed that bridge, halfling,” he mimicked under his breath, staring petulantly in their direction. He pushed over the boiling cauldron, sending foul smelling liquid spilling all over the floor. All of them were crammed into a tiny alcove, trying to kill Tartuk with Chief Sootscale. Rudi could empathize with the sorcerer. He knew exactly what it was like for it to be 8 against 1. He was starting to think they weren’t even friends.
Even Barril the wolf didn’t like him, and Ted and Hydrastis were supposed to be helping him tame the pup. Or that’s what he thought the plan was originally. It was starting to feel like his journey with Pankas all over again, except he was at least nice to him before finally screwing him over. He sighed as he sloshed through the muck he’d spilled, wrinkling his nose in disgust as the smell hit his nostrils. Hell, the party might even steal this quest from him too, the only good thing that came from Pankas. Pacify the Sootscales the scroll had read, which was what led him to this point.
He picked up a moldy book from the ground, leafing through it halfheartedly as Ted gave a roar that echoed through the filthy cavern. “Oh congratulations Ted, you’re so great, look at you killing things,” he mimicked in Faedrian’s voice before switching to Cassius’s “Smite that evil kobold, friend. I’ll hang out at the cave entrance keeping my armor clean and shiny, and wishing I was still sitting on my really fantastic.” He felt a little pang of guilt. Ted had been the nicest to him out of all of them. At least he’d talk to him like he was a part of the group.
“Tumblefar, take a look around for anything magical,” Sear called out to him.
Like I wasn’t looking around the room already, he thought. He cast the spell anyways and things started to light up, the group working together to gather up quite a bit of money and equipment. The pile grew, and Rudi started salivating over it. He barely even registered Cassius addressing the kobolds, with Sear interpreting to draconic for him.
“Let us work together in peace, Chief Sootscale. Build an empire within the Greenbelt, work these mines as your own, and strike up trade with your neighbors. For as long as you are friendly towards your neighbors, you are under our protection!”
Wait, huh? He turned away from the slightly illuminated boots to look at the cavalier, who was proffering a dagger to the chieftain as a sign of friendship. This wasn’t what he signed up for. Sure, he wanted people to think of him as the great magus Rudi Tumblefar, slayer of beasts and layer of women. He wanted fame, and fortune. Hell he’d even take subjects. But kobolds? He didn’t know much about them, but a week with Mikmek didn’t leave him impressed.
The chieftain looked between Cassius, Sear, and the dagger, then slapped it out of his hand. Tension filled the air, until the kobold’s face split into a grin and he lifted his bone club above his head and cheered. His people followed.
“Possibly a show of dominance for his people,” Sear said in common.
“Indeed.” Cassius bowed to the chieftain, which garnered more cheers for the chief. As it died down, Chief Sootscale turned back, and the talk in draconic continued.
“They agreed to the terms. They’ll stop their raids, and are open to trade with the surrounding communities. If they show up at least.” Sear told the group, and for the first time in a day he felt himself smiling. His first quest. He did it, he was on his way…
“As a sign of good faith, and as a way for them to begin trade, let us leave them with the copper. . .” Cassius continued his pontificating, and Rudi felt his grin slip. Well, it was only copper, and it would probably help with cementing the Sootscale’s relations with the communities … “and the silver.”
“Noooo!” Rudi shouted, voice panicked and shrill. He felt his party members eyes turn towards him, some angry, some annoyed.
“I’d hate to say it but I’m with the halfling,” the dwarf said.
“They need money to trade,” Cassius said. “Otherwise it’s just an empty treaty. They’re our allies now, we can’t just come in and rob them of all their wealth. We are not brigands.”
“But- but consider it payment! We just solved their evil sorcerer problem! Stopped their civil war! Now they can mine for more silver, I mean they’re living in a silver mine!” The words tumbled from Rudi’s mouth, fast and jumbled.
“We don’t know if the veins are tapped, we don’t know if the mines are operational, and we don’t know if they even have the equipment to do it.”
“But- but-…” They continued to talk over him, ultimately agreeing to leave the silver behind too. Sear relayed the new part of the deal even as Cassius drew up the paperwork. As Chief Sootscale made his unsteady mark on the paper, a crude line, they cheered again.
They packed up everything except the pile of copper and silver and hauled it from the mines, the draconic of the kobolds echoing through the different tunnels and mine shafts, their packs light a few hundred gold. Rudi wasn’t sure if the kobolds were going to follow through, if they were even capable of mining. Hell, apparently they didn’t farm, so why would they mine? What would they trade? Bones and micah? He couldn’t help but feel they got the raw end of the deal, kind of like a one way friendship. Something he was all too familiar with right now.
“Fucking kobolds,” Rudi muttered.
Still, Barril and Lessys always told him one of the most important things they had to do while adventuring was keep an open mind. It’s why the the couple even took him under their wings after all, why he even had an alternative to just keeping his head down and doing his work on a miserable farm like his parents always said.
He wasn’t sure how things would play out with the kobolds, but it was the right thing to do he supposed – sparing lives and not butchering every living thing they came across if they didn’t have to. Having a whole tribe of stupid kobolds under their influence might work out in their favor somehow, and even the biggest, strongest, and most famous of people have to start somewhere with fame.