“Now that I think about it, we haven’t given you our names, have we Kha’la?” the Succubus asked.
Kha’la realized that she was right, and shook her head.
The Succubus that was letting Kha’la sit on her lap said, “Well, I am Angela, the Troll here is Cu’thar, the Hobgoblin is Gretchen, and the Dok Alv is Modryn. We are four of the leading members of a mercenary force called the Strong Horns, and Modryn was recently placed as the Commander.”
Kha’la gaped at all of them in wonder. Even she had heard of the Strong Horns. And she was sitting in the same room as four of the leaders? And one of them is the Commander? She had never thought that the leaders of such a well known group of mercenaries could be so kind.
She had seen the leaders of mercenary bands before. They were Beryl’s main clients, but they had always been rough people who honestly scared her. These people were something different.
“Well, Little Kha, welcome aboard.” Cu’thar said, smiling at her.
“No. Clan Kha. I La.” Kha’la replied to him, shaking her head.
“Erm.” Cu’thar looked to Modryn, trying to understand her meaning.
“I’m pretty sure that the first part of a Kobold’s name is their clan name, while the second is their given name. Although, they don’t usually shorten it in any case.” Modryn answered his unasked question.
Kha’la nodded her head at his glance.
“Anyway, what’s her story? Why’s such a young Kobold away from her tribe?” Gretchen asked, bringing the conversation back on topic.
“Her clan was destroyed by her tribe. She doesn’t understand why it happened, but she and her mother barely escaped, which is why her mother was injured and had to beg that Dwarf to take care of her.” Modryn replied.
Kha’la watched as Gretchen looked at Modryn with a startled expression. “Is that why you put so much pressure on that Dwarf? I know he was unpleasant, but the poor man looked like he was about to soil himself.”
Modryn sighed, “No, that had nothing to do with it. I just didn’t like him.”
“How old is she anyways?” Angela asked. Ever since Modryn explained why Kha’la was in the city, she was hugging her tightly.
“15.” Kha’la spoke up.
Angela, Cu’thar, and Gretchen stared at her long enough for her to start feeling self-conscious. ‘Was I not supposed to speak?’
Gretchen asked, “How many years have you been in this city?”
“5.” Kha’la responded while picking at her dress.
“Damn. She was with that ass for 5 years?” Gretchen said, apparently to herself.
“So now we know why Kha’la is here, but why did you buy all of the Stygian Iron?” Cu’thar suddenly asked.
“I figure we could find some use for it, didn’t want that ass to have something that valuable. Thought about going to a Kobold tribe and asking if any of them would want to work for us.” Modryn responded with a shrug.
“Uhm, Modryn? If what you said is true, wouldn’t the Kobolds prefer to keep this as secret as possible? If we go to them saying that we know they’re the only ones who can forge Stygian Iron, they’d probably want to kill us to keep that quiet.” Angela said with a nervous expression.
Modryn nodded, “That’s why I’m going alone. If negotiations break down, I’ll be able to get out without any problems as long as I don’t need to protect anyone.”
Kha’la stared at Modryn. He could escape from the middle of a Kobold tribe on his own?
Angela had a long suffering look on her face, “Hah. Figured you would say something like that. You know, even though you are a Rashee, you are the Commander now. You can’t just do stuff like that anymore.”
The word Rashee made Kha’la jump. ‘Rashee?! As in the Dok Alvs that Mother always told me stories about? Modryn is from that clan?’
Modryn looked at Kha’la, “Are you okay?”
“Y-Yes, m’ Lord.” Kha’la responded, slipping into Kobold due to her surprise.
A pained expression crossed Modryn’s face. “I’m not a lord or a noble anymore Kha’la. It’s fine to call me Modryn. But if you can’t feel comfortable with that, then you can call me something else.”
“Yes. Lord Modryn.” was Kha’la’s response, which brought a sigh from Modryn, and a chuckle from everyone else.
“Anyway, we can’t let our Commander go somewhere potentially dangerous alone. It might be troublesome for you, but we’re not budging on this.” Gretchen said, finishing what Angela was saying and cutting off all complaints.
“Fine. Lets go get some dinner. I’m starving.” Modryn had long learned when not to argue with the Hobgoblin, so he gave up quickly.
“Wait, there’s one more question.” Gretchen said. “Why did you buy the coat?”
Modryn chuckled. “That’s because I thought it went well with the gauntlets and breastplate.”
That brought groans from the two women.
As the five finished their dinner, Cu’thar and Angela went up to their rooms, leaving Modryn, Gretchen, and Kha’la in the inn’s dining room.
“So? You going to talk about what’s been bothering you?” Gretchen asked, with a sideways glance at Modryn.
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t give me that. Ever since we made you Commander, you’ve been thinking about something. What is it?”
“…If I asked all of you to go to war with Hell, what would you say?” Modryn finally replied with a faraway look on his face.
Gretchen looked at him for a moment. “That depends. If you say you want to do that for shits and giggles, then we’d say no, and beat you. If you had a reason we could get behind, we’d be with you every step of the way. So, are we going to war with Hell?”
Modryn laughed a bit, “Maybe. I’ll tell everyone me plans when we’re back.”
Gretchen smiled at Modryn, “Okay. I’m turning in for the night. Don’t stay up to long. Come on Kha’la, you’re with me and Angela tonight.”
As Gretchen and Kha’la left the room and headed to the stairs, Cu’thar and Angela stepped out of the corner.
“Looks like we were right. He seems to be thinking over some plans for the future.” Gretchen reported.
“He definitely has more ambition than the rest of us who only wanted to get enough to survive. I wonder what he’s planning.” Cu’thar said with his finger tapping on his chin.
“Whatever it is, it’s going to be interesting. He attracts trouble like nothing I’ve ever seen before.” Angela chimed in.
Kha’la was looking at the three of them, wondering what they were talking about as she followed them up the stairs, and to the girls’ room.
A few days later, and the group of five were approaching the small village that the Strong Horns were staying around. The clothing that was ordered was acquired without trouble, and the Stygian Iron left for the village the day it was purchased.
As they approached, Kha’la saw that there were three people waiting for them. A dark haired, human-looking man with wolf ears on his head, a large Orc with a shaved head, and an even larger Demon with red skin and ram horns.
She became nervous, and hid behind Modryn’s legs, causing the four that she was traveling with to chuckle.
“Oi! I hope you all left us some booze!” yelled out Cu’thar once they were close enough.
“Were we supposed to leave you lot some? You were gone so long, we forgot.” responded the laughing Orc as they got closer.
“Hey, Modryn. Why did a bunch of people with a large amount of iron come saying that you bought it from their master? And why do all of our smiths say that it can’t be used?” the Demon asked, while clasping Modryn’s arm. He looked like his face was cramping up, and he was barely keeping his hand from squeezing Modryn.
Modryn replied with an easy smile, “That’s because I did buy it, and it’s not just iron. It’s all Stygian Iron.”
“What?! Modryn, surely you know what that stuff is?! Why’d you go and waste money on metal that can’t be used?!” the third man asked with an incredulous expression on his face.
“It’s because I do know what it is, and I have found a way to use it. We just need to go look for a specific race and see if they are willing to work for us.” As he finished, Modryn looked towards Kha’la, “At any rate, this little one is Kha’la, she’ll be staying with us from now on. Kha’la, these three are Tristan, Gortuk, and Rom. Tristan and Gortuk are the other leaders of the Strong Horns, and Rom is the owner of the inn here in this village.” Modryn pointed to each person as he introduced them.
Kha’la shyly tried to curtsy to the three of them, but was too unused to it and just pinched at her dress and nodded.
As the three men looked at Modryn with mirrored raised eyebrows, Modryn sighed, “She’s been acting like that ever since she learned my clan name. I think it’s a combination of being nervous around new people, and the stories she’s heard about Clan Rashee growing up.”
“I’m more interested in why you brought a Kobold child with you. Not to mention everything else.” Tristan replied.
“That’s what we’ll talk about at dinner. Rom, could you set up the back room for dinner again? We all need to get washed up.”
“Sure thing. I’ll make sure you all have some hot water and cloths in your rooms. Ah, is Kha’la going to have her own room?” Rom responded to Modryn’s request, looking to Kha’la.
“No, she’ll be with me for now.” Angela responded before anyone else could.
With that, everyone went to get ready for the evening.
As everyone gathered at the table once again, with Kha’la included, the group who went to Felyor explained everything that happened in the city and Modryn’s plan to recruit some Kobolds.
As the eight of them sat with their drinks, fruit juice for Kha’la because she dislikes alcohol, Tristan said, “Well, at least you didn’t waste money. Although, I’m not sure what to think of you going that low on the Dwarf. He might have been unpleasant, but wasn’t that to far just because you didn’t like him?”
“Maybe, but he should just be happy that’s all I did.” Modryn responded with a smile.
“You planned on doing more?” Rom asked carefully.
“I’m pretty sure I could have found someone who our head smith believed to be ready to strike out on their own, and helped him set up in Felyor. It would have been interesting to see if the Dwarf could survive with some real competition.”
“Tell me, Modryn, did you always have that side to you? Or is it recent?” Cu’thar asked with a chuckle.
That brought a round of laughter from everyone, except Kha’la, who just sat there drinking her fruit juice, not really understanding what was meant by the joke.
“So, Modryn. Are you finally going to tell us what you’ve been cooking up since last week?” Angela asked.
This made everyone perk up. The three who went with Modryn had been curious about it since they noticed that Modryn was thinking deeply about something, and the others were told earlier in the day.
Modryn looked around at them, “I guess it’s about time, huh. I really wasn’t thinking seriously about it until we came across the Stygian Iron. Then I started thinking that it could be possible. I want all of you to hear me out on this. I want to unite the Demon Territories and conquer the continent.”
Silence filled the room.