We spent most of the morning relaxing and discussing the situation with the kobolds. Though I was adamant that the mission remain peaceful and diplomatic, I don’t think my message rang through loudly enough — my companions may have assumed I was using euphemisms for “slaughter them all.” Which, normally, I would. However, it’s important to keep the big picture, the long term goal, in mind here: We want to establish a kingdom. Kingdoms, especially in their infancy, need allies. In any case, pooling our knowledge, we came to realize that these must be the Sootscale (I thought Jack’s Bitch had said Scoot Scale, but I had misheard) tribe. Named for their unusually dark complexion and led, of course, by Chief Sootscale. By carefully correcting the rough estimates I had made on the map earlier, we realized that the Sootscale lair is in an old silver mine! It was instantly agreed that, should the mission go sour, we’d annihilate the kobolds and come into possession of a silver mine, to go alongside our gold mine.
We arrived around evening, eager and excited. An old sign near the entrance said “Oaktop Silver Mine,” though it was clear from the decor and a caged mite that this was certainly a kobold lair. We met a sentry out front, who was puzzled and bewildered at the appearance of our group. His name was Knackpick, or Nappick, or Nebbick, or Nammack… something like that. Here’s the thing, diary: Typically, typically, I’m not good at diplomacy and being politically correct and so forth. But it’s because of my overall demeanor, I give people a sense of unease and distrust, regardless what I say. Reyes, on the other hand, seems perfectly suited to such work. And Jack, luckily, seems very charismatic and lovable. In another life, he would have done great as a silver-tongued con man! So as much as I like to be involved in everything, I had to step back and let Reyes and Jack do most of the talking. It pains me, because, again, I worry that they aren’t keeping the big picture in mind.
And gods help me, if they fuck this up, I’m not letting them get a word in edgewise next time we need to do some talking.
Well diary, guess what? Yes, they fucked it up. Let me record here, for all posterity, and historians for ages to come, just how badly they fucked things up. Nebbick, our new friend, admitted us into the lair when we revealed that we had recovered a particular ivory statue of a devil from the mites. It seems this statue is the idol of their deity, and they are very pleased to have it back. Reyes played up the “We rescued your god” angle and downplayed the “We destroyed your enemy, ensuring peace for many years” angle. Whatever. I think they were equally important points to make.
We were taken to Tartuk, the shaman. Jack and Reyes tripped over each other in trying to talk to this guy, who made a big announcement about us saving his peoples’ god, yadda yadda. In my curiosity, I couldn’t help but point out that his god was actually a devil. I doubt the common kobold knew this, but surely the shaman did. He called me a blasphemer. I told him I wasn’t judging, it was just weird to me that he was referring to a devil as a god. Reyes and Jack told me to shut up.
Presumably, they wanted me to shut up so that they could blaspheme harder than I ever could. Reyes suggested, weirdly, that maybe the shaman didn’t want the god/devil statue after all, and that for a small fee, we’d be happy to keep it with us. “Blasphemers! They mean to steal our god!” cried Tartuk! It was comical, but Reyes and Jack were taking this so seriously. And they were being so seriously bad at it. Why on Golarion would Reyes even suggest such a bizarre thing?
So we almost get into a fight, but Jack saves the day with that silver tongue of us, and a charm spell. Tartuk is unaware, due to the charm spell, that Sparrow already put an arrow in his chest. The other kobolds stood around awkwardly, not sure of what to do. Clearly, we could mop the floor with them without breaking a sweat, yet two of us were very, very interested in spewing as many words as possible at their shaman.
Why they didn’t just say “All we’re looking for is a wedding ring, we’ll happily pay you if slaughtering your enemies and rescuing your god wasn’t enough,” is beyond me. That was LITERALLY all we were here for. Yes, we wanted them to be allies, but seeing as how WE WERE NOT CURRENTLY A LEGAL ENTITY, it’s not like we could draw up some sort of strategic alliance agreement and hash out trade laws and such. All we had to do was be friendly, get the goddamn ring, and get out. But that’s not good enough for Jack, oh no.
Jack took Tartuk off to the side and started whispering with him. Reyes could hear, but I couldn’t. I kept pestering Reyes to fill me in, but he kept waving me off. I got bored and went to the kobold’s convenient pile o’ treasure in the shaman’s chamber, along with Sparrow, and we looted all kinds of great stuff! Now, I learned later that Tartuk admitted to Jack that Chief Sootscale was just a puppet ruler: Tartuk pulled the strings. It was in Tartuk’s best interest to keep Chief Sootscale and the other kobolds occupied with a war, so Tartuk could do whatever he wanted. Now that the statue was returned and the mites were gone, there would be no more war. The restless Chief might soon discover Tartuk’s schemes.
Come on, Jack! This is easy! All you had to say was “Well, give us that ring, and we’ll run off with your statue!” Or “Give us that ring, and we’ll set you up with another war against the Stag Lord!” Or literally any combination of “Give us that ring” and “we’ll set you up with another war” with any one of the hundreds of creatures out in this fucking country. But no no no no no… Jack convened with Reyes, and the three hashed out some sort of agreement where Tartuk would work the mines, and somehow Chief Sootscale would be ok with that instead of war, and the kobolds would somehow give us 25% of the profits despite the fact that NOBODY WILL FUCKING TRADE WITH GODDAMN KOBOLDS, THUS MEANING ANY PROFIT FROM THE MINES WOULD BE ZERO. Seriously. If they could have gotten rich from the mines, they would have done so long ago. Silver ore is worthless to them, and if word gets out that only a small clutch of kobolds are protecting the silver mine, they’ll be slaughtered by a sudden rush of miners.
Reyes and Jack purposefully kept me out of the loop on the details of that agreement. Hopefully because they knew it was fucking idiotic and were ashamed beyond all recompense. Finally, though, they decided to talk to me and Sparrow, a conversation that went like this:
“So, we’ve come to an agreement where-“
“We have the ring and tons of other loot, shithead. We could have left 20 minutes ago. Let’s go.”
But on the way out, we of course run into Chief Sootscale and a cadre of kobolds. Nobody deemed to inform Chief Sootscale that we were even in the lair. Therefore, we were intruders, and he ordered us killed. I will admit, Reyes and Jack and Sparrow were incredible. I literally leaned against the wall in comfort and watched them pull moves so badass, I hadn’t pictured them possible in my wildest dreams! Despite their incompetence in diplomacy, I swear there’s nobody better I’d like at my side in battle than these companions. The kobolds, to their credit, did not surrender, despite Reyes beheading the chief and killing guards with the head. We looted the chief and got out of dodge.
Reyes couldn’t let things be without a cheesy warning about “hold up your end of the agreement!” and tossing the head back into the cave. Look, Sir Fancypants, THEY WERE INCAPABLE OF UPHOLDING THE DEAL IN THE FIRST PLACE, AND THEY CERTAINLY WON’T DO IT NOW! There’s only a handful left, and I’m sure they are downright pissed.
So much for prospective allies. We started heading back to Oleg’s, and Sparrow and I can’t wait to show off our loot to Reyes and Jack