Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday's Monster Mash #8 - January Contest Entry

Monday’s Monster Mash is a weekly series where monsters are selected from the three Monster Manuals and put together as an encounter group. A situation is discussed where these monsters would have been together and how their powers or status effects work together against the players.

This particular Monday's Monster Mash, and the next few, will be a little different than normal. Today's was written by Christopher Brind for the January Contest: Monster Mash Mania. He can also be found on twitter under @brindy.

The Story
“Master want this! Master want that!”, mumbled the nameless kobold in under-breath mockery as he trudged with a certain urgency down the gloomy, slime ridden passage toward the burrow exit. “I hates the out-doors!”, he exclaimed angrily.

The kobold breached the burrow exit, a crack in the base of the cliff face as tall as a man but too thin for any but the smallest of creatures, and the sunlight accosted his eyes forcing him to raise a forearm to protect his vision. From a distance it would look like he was sniffing the bottom of the old leather bag in his hand, but there was no one else around on this clear, but crispy afternoon.

Light leather rags dangled from the weak looking frame of the little dragon-kin. With no footwear or other clothing to speak of, apart from a piece of string around his waist with a small dagger tucked into a surprisingly expensive looking leather sheaf swinging from the makeshift belt, the kobold couldn’t have looked much poorer. He actually took comfort in this, at least he wouldn’t get robbed by goblins!

Almost immediately, being outdoors started to cause panic and fear to rise within him. The kobold put his other hand on the bone handle of the stowed blade for comfort and immediately began to calm down. His quest was simple enough, but being outdoors meant there was a distinct possibility of running in to wolves, goblins, orcs, or worse... some of of those gangly man-folk. With a shake of his head the runt finally focused on the task at hand; the collection of a few simple herbs and some leaves from various shrubs. Thankfully most of the ingredients could be found at the base of cliff, but he would have to venture a short way in to the forest for one of the components. With a high pitch grumbling noise signalling his disgust at such an out-doorsy errand he set off to the east hoping to keep the sun out of his eyes as much as possible.

Activity around the cliff faces was restricted to the kobold and the odd bit of wildlife with the only noises from the forest there were were the sounds of a few wild animals; mostly birds and the odd chattering of a few territorial squirrels. As the kobold searched for and picked the herbs his little mind began to wander... “If Master is Master, then what am I?”, he pondered to himself. “I am... I am... me no know what I am... or who I am. Me no even have a name! Even Garbid have name, but not me.”

The kobold winced at the thought of a dumb pet that couldn’t even speak having a name and decided right there that he’d ask the Master for a name when he returned. If the Master was in a good mood, that is.

The sound of a twig breaking behind him startled the kobold gatherer to attention. Instinctively he swung around to see what had made the noise, poised ready to make a break for it, but simply saw a humble fox look over it’s shoulder at him with what appeared to be an amused look on it’s face before it scurried off in to the dense forest. The kobold released the breath he realised he’d been holding and went back to picking herbs, a little more attention on the surroundings instead of daydreams now.

After a couple of hours the small leather herb bag he’d carried with him was nearly full and the autumn sun was now starting to head for the horizon. With a few hours of daylight left all that was left was to gather the witch-hazel from the trees on the edge of a glade just half a mile or so in from the most dense part of the forest edge, directly north of where he was standing. Real trepidation started to over-whelm the small scaly being now, but he soon began to think of the Master and what he’d do to him if he wasn’t to fetch the witch-hazel; being eaten by a wolf, or killed by some wood-elf didn’t seem half as bad and so he set off, pushing his way through low branches, and dense bracken.

The forest began to thin out. Through the trees ahead of him he could see the edge of the glade and, much to his distress, thick white smoke tumbling up towards the sky at a slight angle where the gentle breeze was carrying it away. This was not good for morale, but before he let panic overtake him he pushed the Master’s face to the forefront of this mind focusing on potential punishment to drive him forward towards the clearing as stealthily as he could. Keeping as low as he could he pushed his face through some ferns and looked to see what fiendish beings had decided to make camp.

In front of him were two open-fronted sleeping tents, a couple of backpacks but most interestingly, the smoke was rolling around the remains of a wild-creature being smoke-roasted on a spit. Just as he saw the succulent treat the kobold’s stomach rumbled, reminding him it had been several hours since his last meal. He waited patiently for several minutes to see if the owners of the gear would re-appear, but when nothing stirred he decided they must have left the camp for some reason only to come back later. They were probably off hunting, he thought.

The witch-hazel the kobold needed was on a tree not far away, so he carefully skirted the glade and picked enough of the flowering witch-hazel to complete his task.

“Must get back to Master”, he muttered to himself quietly exactly as his stomach rumbled one more. He looked back in to the centre of the glade, still no sign of the campers. “I’m fast, I’m quick. No one will know.”, he whispered to the forest.

In a feat of daring quite rare for this little creature the kobold sprinted the hundred feet over to the camp fire and knocked the spit with the juicy meat from over the fire and smoke on to the floor. He tenderly extracted the spit from the meat and began to make off with it, tucked under one arm like a barrel of ale. It wasn’t too heavy, but it slowed him down as he ran back to the edge of the clearing in the general direction of the burrow.

As he broke the edge of the clearing he looked back one last time... still no one around. A smile began to edge up the side of his scaly, pointy face, small jagged teeth flashing a cheeky grin, then without any more hesitation off he went again in the direction of the burrow now pushing through the dense undergrowth.

About half way back he found a tall thick tree, the base of which had grown and expanded enough that some of the thick tangled roots were growing above the ground and made a ideal one-kobold sized makeshift hideout. He vaulted over what reminded him of a leg and settled in hidden away from the rest of the forest. He dropping the bag of herbs and other ingredients to one side then devoured the succulent meat, hot animal fat dripping down his face. It was the best meal he’d had for weeks and, finishing the meal, he immediately started to feel drowsy.

“Quick nap, yes, then home to Master”, he nodded to himself and closed his eyes falling in to a deep slumber.

An owl screeched above the head of the sleeping kobold. In the distance the call was echoed by another owl passing the message on to the other wise birds of pray hunting that night. The kobold, tucked up in his makeshift den, opened his eyes with a start. “Oh, noes!”, he whispered at himself angrily. It was the dark of night, hours must have passed. Above the canopy of the forest the full moon shone brightly surrounded by a misty halo, a billion twinkling stars appearing and disappearing as the silhouettes of leaves fluttering in the wind swayed on the stalwart branches of ancient trees.

In waking the kobold flexed his hands, sleep fooling him in to thinking his bag of herbs was tight in his grip, then he realised it wasn’t. He jumped up, little heart beating three times as fast as normal, a began to scurrying around the sleeping pit looking for the bag. He breathed a heavy sigh of relief as he spotted the bag laying just next to where he’d fallen asleep a few hours before.

Still panic stricken, the kobold snatched the bag and set off as fast as his little legs could carry him, fighting through the thicket, brush flying and low branches catching him in the face. Panting heavily the thought of the Master’s impending punishment drove him forward, all caution thrown to the wind.

With a crash the nameless little kobold exploded from the forest, tripping over some rocks just beyond the trees sending him flying forwards. Out of pure instinct and luck he threw his hands forward and dropped in to a roll, somehow managing to keep tight hold of the bag of ingredients. He came out of the roll on to his feet without pausing to fathom how he’d managed it and continued straight for the burrow entrance knowing the Master would be severely annoyed by how long he’d been.

The terrain between the forest edge and the cliff face was relatively light work compared to the substantial overgrowth of the forest; the kobold was able to make it to the burrow entrance in record time. Through the gap and back along the slimy corridor. The Master’s den was someway inside, a bit of a trek in it’s own right. He rounded a corner and stop momentarily to take a breath, bent double and with one hand leaning on a knee, the kobold panted heavily.

The Master’s face popped in to his mind again. “Argh!”, he let out a quiet yelp. Manic now, the kobold set off again as fast as he could, sliding around corners, running in to the walls of junctions and bouncing off down the passages he knew so well.

Suddenly the air changed. A subtly different smell, something he’d never noticed before ticket his nostrils, but there was no time stop. Deep in the burrow now, he was getting closer to the den, but knew he’d have to cross the lava flow over the old rickety bridge and didn’t like that bit at all. In all honesty, this small fry creature didn’t like much of anything!

Another corner, faster now, little legs still going, and another corner, and across the junction, nearly to the cavern with the bridge, round another corner and … SPLODGE!

The kobold piled in to something horrible and began gargling foul tasting jelly has he tried to breath. Within seconds he found himself floating, first six inches above the floor, then a foot, then two foot, surrounded by a world of translucent molasses, not that the kobold knew what molasses was.

“Gargghhgghgle!”, was the noise that came from the kobold’s mouth, but inside a gelatinous cube, no one can hear you squirm! The world around the kobold became blurred with a sickening green tint as the gelatinous cube slimed slowly onwards down the corridor, digesting a new unsuspecting morsel.

The kobold forced his arm down and through the thick, pungent jelly, managing to get his hand around the blade of the knife. He drew the knife up as fast as he could, trying futilely to slash and cut his way free, but unable to swing his arm with any degree of power. Small, sparlking, stones of frozen jelly appeared where the knife slashed but it’s cold blade had no noticeable affect on the cube.

The kobold was running out of air now as he desperately struggled within the gelatin mass. He’d never done it before, but he summoned up his acid breath and vomited it out only managing to make a puddle of acid right in front of his own face. With this, the kobold expired, exhausted and suffocated, while the cube continued it’s mindless journey along the the dark corridors.

In the trail of the cube lay an old leather bag that once contained the collected herbs of nameless kobold.

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