Idia lingered in the shadows, watching silently as the others took their leave to chase their rest. Stroth knew she was still there. She knew he was waiting for her to speak but she needed a moment to organise her thoughts. They were in disarray. The oceanic kobold rarely came to shore so had little to do with the non-kobold races, other than those she came across when attacking their ships. And there wasn’t really much of an opportunity to speak to those individuals. She only agreed to go on this mission because she needed to find out what happened to Tsuna. She’d been angry. She’d hated all who were not kobold. But now…
“My King,” her rasping voice, unused to so much talk, spoke softly from the shadows where she stayed. “I would give my report now as I wish to return to the sea to sleep.” At his acquiescence, she continued. “I arrived after V’s scouting party. I just missed a battle. I do not know what happened but it appears V and the two new tribe members were defeated by overwhelming numbers, losing the altar’s crystals in the process. As I say, I was not there, I do not know for sure.”
On the way to meet her fellow kobolds, Idia had run into an orc with red hair that hung in thick, knotted locks. She did not mention this to Stroth.
“As I approached the camp, I noticed a man by the water’s edge. He seemed confused. He seemed like easy prey. We spoke for a time. He seemed to be in existential crisis. I would have put him out of his misery right there, and was sorely tempted, but he made me an offer. He said he could put in a good word for me with his leader. The Dark Horde leader. Said he could get me an audience. I took a moment to marvel at how easily this human trusted but I am not one to refuse a gift so sweetly given. I told him I was interested in his offer, should his leader be willing, and we parted ways. He left alive but as an unwitting lure, and I returned to camp.”
“Many came to the altar, my King. Very few accepted the gift. Most died screaming. The first, I tore her fingers from her hand, still she did not accept. Another, I ripped her still beating heart from her chest. My lure returned with not just his leader in tow but his entire tribe. I think I broke his heart without laying a claw to it. His leader refused the gift also, and again we used a denier’s blood to sate Lyssa. I do not understand why they would choose death over life. That they would call me sick and cursed when I have always been this way. Been better, stronger, than their fragile little forms. Why do they think of it as a curse and not the gift it is?”
“So many do not understand us. They think of us as monsters but there were some that asked questions, some that did not dismiss us outright as mindless beasts. They were clothed in white and pink robes. They asked me questions and took down my answers on paper. I was sceptical at first. I accused them of attempting to find something to use against us like all the others. They denied it. They say they make no claim of our land, that they are travellers simply seeking knowledge. I am not sure I entirely believe them, Sire, but they certainly did not look upon me with revulsion that most of their kind do.”
“There were two sacrifices that stood apart from the rest. The first was the queen and her knight from a colourful tribe that appeared to worship animals. Their words were pretty. They spoke of how they understood our plight, that they could see it was justified, but they could not accept the gift. The queen because he people needed her, the knight because she served only her queen and her god. For declining the offer so graciously, Suriya granted them swift deaths. The other sacrifice was a pirate. This pirate somehow managed to slip from the grasp of both Akraisael and Suriya and get away from us. I did not see how he managed it as my back was to them as I kept his crew at bay. Forgive me, my King, I should not have let such a one out of my sight. I assure you he was not so lucky the second time. With the help of V and Akraisael, he was recaptured and sacrificed to Lyssa as should have happened the first time. I did not give him the opportunity to escape his fate a second time. As soon as he was kneeling before the altar I plunged my dagger through his heart.”
Idia paused, coming to the heart of her cause for going on this mission. She took a deep breath of air that her gills resented for not being wet enough.
“We discovered what happened to Tsuna. She is gone. They sacrificed her. Lead her like a lamb to slaughter and spilled her blood. The blue ones. The Wren. They took responsibility. We made them pay. Again and again we made them pay but it was not enough.” Idia clenched her hand-like fins. “It did not matter how we slaughtered them, they would not remember. Would not remember my face as I tore them to pieces for what they had done. The magicks of the land saw to that, and so they kept coming back without fear. But they were interested in Akraisael. At least, they were interested in who he once was. Particularly their leader. So I used him to lure her away from the others. She stood alone. Asked questions of the human he once was. As Akraisael killed the rest, we spoke. She whined of a child that was fatherless, bemoaned her lost love, said she knew that kobolds could change back given the right motivation. I asked her if she would rob me of a brother so as to have her husband back. She seemed conflicted.” Idia paused. That moment had caused her to pause earlier as well. The Wren woman seemed to understand what she was asking. Saw that it was wrong and had guilt that she wanted it still.
“But then Akraisael returned. I will let him tell you of what he said as I do not wish to steal his moment but know this, my King; he was sorely tempted, I could see the fight warring in him, but he remained true to himself. And the pain it caused her.” Idia closed her eyes at the sweet memory of that moment. “How it filled me with joy. They took one of our family. It seems only right that we took one of theirs. We left her there; sobbing and broken.”
“Sire, just before we left, we found a message from Tsuna. She is alive but she will take time to recuperate and return to us. But, despite this, I do not regret what I did to those who tried to kill her, nor do I forgive them or absolve them of what they have done. They did not know she would survive. Their intent is what matters. Any being that is not a kobold is not to be trusted.” Except for a certain orc with red, knotted hair. For her, Idia thought she might make an exception, though for the moment it was more curiosity than trust.
“If that is all, my King, I will take my rest now.” Idia bowed her head and turned to make her slow trek back to the shore, more than ready to return to the ocean after a long and tiring day.