You descend deeper into the Kal-toka mines, more aware now of dangerous kobold pit traps and swinging axes. You shoulder down a sturdy door and burst into a kobold ambush. The kobold firebelchers and warriors hold their ground for only a few moments before fleeing deeper into the tunnels. You wisely pursue with caution, avoiding several new traps.
Excited and fearful yipping is the only sign of the kobolds as they retreat before you in the warren. You enter a long gallery with several branching passages and no sign of the pathetic creatures. A burning barrel of oil suddenly bounds towards you! The kobolds snicker as you dive for cover and you realize — too late — the barrel is an illusion, a delay tactic. Arrows rain down on your position and warriors charge in, the trap is sprung.
Surrounded, you swing wildly and push your way through jabs and cuts towards the kobold leader, a magic user of some skill. The creature’s spells dazzle and disorient you. As your vision returns, you catch a pare of firebelchers drinking their foul creations. As the first firebelcher’s belly distends with flame you pierce its hide and it explodes, creating a chain reaction that staggers you, chars the kobold leader and blasts the melee apart. The remaining kobolds are cut down in flight.
A few magical trinkets and singed leathers are gathered before the search begins for the prisoners. You find a large cell with three malnourished A-kans inside, one an elder that is too weak to stand and must be carried to the surface. The A-kans are grateful for the rescue and seem in high spirits as you wind your way back to the hidden village.
As you walk, the elder speaks of the horrors he endured and of Talebus:
“When Talebus came, the kobolds were like bees in a kicked hive. Each time he came alone and each time more traps waited. He could take an ax or spear, Talebus could, but when the kobolds began to trap the zombies, the dead left walking after he was Reborn… It drove him mad. You could hear it in the screams, you could.
“They finally trapped him, the kobolds did. Talebus killed near thirty of them in the end. But they got him in a net and sluggish with some poison from Kal-ereska, to the east. Traded him that day at the Waystone Market to some fiery dwarf for another fiery dwarf and a few carts of iron. Haven’t seen him since, but I bet he’s raving.
“The kobolds didn’t know what to do with the new slave, he didn’t stick around long. Refused to mine and the kobolds couldn’t go near him without burning themselves. Luar was his name, didn’t speak much common. He was a blacksmith, I gather, and likely strong enough to snap his irons if he’d had a mind to; seemed defeated somehow. The kobolds sold him to the Seravashi after he’d made them all the pretty iron daggers you’re carrying now!”
You are hailed a hero of A-ka! The next three days are dedicated to feast, music and dance. You are formally invited to join the village and accept. Wota gladly leads you to the hidden entrance to A-ka and reveals its secret: an illusory wall of impeccable skill. He says it is a gift from a friend of the village. It is impressive, regardless of its origin. As you rejoin the celebration, you ask Wota what payment would suffice for a new skiff, that you might better explore the island. He smiles broadly and asks only for your help minding his fishing nets.