A Kobold and A Dwarf Talk about Culture III
Transcript Part III, Interrogation of a Kobold Records of the City of Whitestone:
High-Investigator Krun: Now, in order to be fair to the record, I need to state that I understand at this point that you are here in Whitestone with a fairly narrow purpose. That is, you’re not here to do any of what we would call diplomacy. But given that you have a fairly detailed understanding of what has gone on in your tribal territories and a fairly clear understanding of what your local politics are about, I wondered if we couldn’t talk a little bit this afternoon abut the possibilities.
Nalk the Kobold: Within the framework of that declaration, I can talk, yes.
Krun: So I think it should be quite clear, if we were to exchange in tit for tat exchanges, what the basic benefit to us Dwarvenkind would be. That is, its pretty clear to us that your kind and your tribe have the numbers and the skills to be quite influential in any kind of skirmish with Orcs or Goblins. Particularly, if we are set up for some kind of a skirmish or siege of one of our cities, where the Orcs or Goblins or whomever would be arrayed in tight bands trying to hold in the powerful forces we have.
Nalk: It would be to the liking of a mother to have a friend-tribe in that situation. We’d be able to probe and strike through them and cut their forces into pieces like a world-sized set of dragon’s claws, yes.
Krun: I guess our basic question to begin then, is on what you think we could give to your mothers in exchange for support in these situations. So I guess to put it into pretty blunt terms, what is there that we have that you think they might want?
Nalk: Its hard to really describe what mothers want. Especially because their wants are at the same time both highly similar and dissimilar to the interests of the tribe as a whole. But to speak about them in the broadest possible terms, and I took a little time to review the history of this diplomacy thing after you asked about it yesterday, I think the first thing we’d like to talk about is the idea of something called mutual defense. As I understand it, it’s an, if we are attacked, you help defend us, and if you’re attacked, we help defend you.
Krun: That is often the foundation of this kind of agreements. We’ll make you a diplomat yet, Nalk. Mutual defense is a great starting point. But while I think our methods of defense—and thus where mutual defense comes into play—are fairly obvious here in Whitestone, I will admit that we don’t have the basic familiarity with your part of the world to comprehend how we’d be committing ourselves.
Nalk: So you would like us to make… what do you call it when you commit to the the dead skin of an animal the shapes of the world?
Krun: A “map”, like this one here.
Nalk: Right. So you would like us to make maps of the adjacent territories as well as parts of our own?
Krun: Well, that can certainly be part of it. But even more fundamentally, Nalk, can you talk about where and how your homes are ‘built’.
Nalk: Sure, sure. We’ll come back to mutual defense things later. Our homes are constructed in the top third of the great mushrooms of the cavern that your kind call the Goblin Forest—or as we would say, the Wyrmwood. My particular clan occupies a small corner, where we have what your kind might call a “village” among and just below the great shroom-tops. When we’re nesting, our mothers take flight and go a little higher, to the very top sides, always leaving a vertical access route for sure-climbers to bring her food and allow the young, when their time has come, to head back down to the general village areas.
Now the villages are made by layering the great-folds of the mushroom top in just such a way as to make a connected pad in the big empty space between about three or four great mushrooms. On those pads, we can pull down other folds—great mushrooms grow dozens of these things—and use them to construct covered dwelling so that nothing from straight above can fall straight in. As bindings for all of this, basically nothing works better than a goblin’s big tendon and a couple of old mother-teeth.
Krun: So, how would somebody attack you and invoke a mutual defense clause, in the event that we were able to work that out? How do the nasty Orcs and Goblins manage to disturb sure-climbers or flying creatures that far off the ground?
Nalk: Well, our village has managed to steer clear of this, as we always built our pads in such a way that they were adhered to four great mushrooms. But the clan of five-shrooms, they had a problem in the recent past, where a large collection of hobgoblins were arrayed against them, ostensibly over an insult which actually occurred in a tavern in the human city of Murfreesboro in which a kobold of the five-shroom clan called a goblin an “Orc-shit”. Now these hobgoblins, who themselves do nothing but mistreat and even eat the little goblin, were so moved to offense by this that they gathered a few hundred of them, and taking some metal axes, they started to cut down the great shroom at its base.
And the goblinoids aren’t the brightest, and it took them far too long to realize that they had an issue, as there were still four other shrooms attached at a high level, so by the time they had finished cutting through the thick base, well, at that point they still couldn’t tear it down like they wanted, so they started to try to set it on fire. And I can tell you from a bit of experience, they will burn if you get the fire hot enough.
But those first few goblins didn’t really live long enough for that, since there were only about ten who were actually involved in the cutting. They caught sight at that point of a very angry mother—might even have been a battle-mother, I don’t remember if they have ’em or not—descending at a frighteningly fast pace from above. And the mother let out a yowl that the whole forest heard, I think, and then her mouth and her wing-claws and her tail went to work on that first set of ten, and she cut them to pieces in the few moments. And the foremost of them she saved for last, and picked him up in her jaws and brought her big talons up and disemboweled him something fierce.
The trouble for the five-shroomers was that instead of flying back up at that point—having made a demonstration that would have been remembered by all of Goblinkind for half and Eon!—the mother went a bit mad. And by a bit mad, I mean a lot of bits mad, as she took on the rest of the host. Now, I don’t know how true the tales are of Dwarven captains taking on whole armies at once and living, but it was not to be so for the mother.
She learned a bit too slowly that there’s quite a difference between taking on ten hobgoblins who’ve never seen a Wyvern before to taking on ninety who just saw you obliterate their captain. She survived long enough for the other two mothers available, themselves smaller and less battle-worthy to get down and clear off the rest of the goblins. But a mother without wings is a huge liability, and even goblins can see that. Her wings were tattered bloody messes, and now most of it was hers.
Krun: You should take up the bard’s craft, Nalk. But how would a marching Dwarf army have helped in this situation?
Nalk: If I read the brief pamphlet of Dwarf military history correctly, the diplomatic edge is in the mind of the hobgoblin, to know that if they’ve messed with us, you’ll join us for the retaliation and ridding of the world of that particular menace.
Krun: I see that you’ve understood our history better than some of our own. I must speak to others before I dare say anything more.