While Mikmek was overjoyed at the sight of Old Sharptooth, as the adrenaline wears off from battle, he thinks of his dead comrades in the room behind you. As the party prepares to leave the Old Sycamore, Mikmek asks for help with his comrades. On the walls of the Torture Room were three other Kobolds who had been killed at the hands of the Mites.
“When a kobold dies in battle, the tribe destroys any unhatched eggs of his clutch. Normally his carcass is tossed atop the trampled nests to rot and serve the nourishment of future growth of the tribe. But we cannot take them back. They must be cremated with all their possessions,” he says.
Regardless of whether or not you help, Mikmek begins to take the dead down from the wall and to the surface. Gathering dead branches, he builds a makeshift wooden pyre for his fallen comrades.
Afterwards, the party travels south for an hour or so to clear away from the Old Sycamore and then sets up camp exhausted. Anod and Cornath agree to set the watch themselves so that the swordlord and the knight can rest.
The next morning, Momo remains sluggish and has trouble tying and clasping his leather armor. Brixton feels weak and tired. As he dons his armor, Brixton pauses to examine the large red wound where the Tick pierced his skin. The area around the wound burns with a red ache.
Mikmek is upbeat and cheerful again. His brothers were honored. He has the statue. He is on his way home. The first to awake. He left camp and returns with a deer for a celebratory feast. The temperature is warmer than normal with a high in the mid 60s. A light gentle breeze no more than a few miles per hour comes from the Tors of Levenies looming to the east.
The party, in no rush, breaks camp and begins the trek to the home of the kobolds. Mikmek leads the way with Cornath keeping a sharp eye. The party is not exploring this area yet. They are heading straight to the entrance. After another hour has passed and thinking you are maybe halfway there, you encounter a battlefield of sorts. The eight spider riders are slain in a large field. But Mikmek can only count the dozen or more dead kobolds mixed with the mites. He whispers their names as he recognizes their faces.
“They must be burned” he states grimly. As you make preparations to gather the field of dead, you think you hear Mikmek whisper, “Death to Tartuk.” But any questions along this line draw stark denials and words of Tartuk’s power and benevolence. Tartuk has made the kobolds strong and has led them to prosperity.
The name of the Sootscale kobold tribe changes each time their chieftain changes—currently, they are ruled by Chief Sootscale, and so they are known as the Sootscale kobolds. They have lived in this old silver mine in the side of a hill just north of the Shrike River for several decades, periodically clashing with bandits or mites or trappers but always enduring even through the most disastrous of times. The Sootscales all have dark gray or black scales, and have a particular fondness for swimming in the Shrike River and catching fish with their tiny teeth.
In fact, Chief Sootscale is not the actual leader of these kobolds. Their true leader is a frighteningly intelligent and manipulative kobold sorcerer named Tartuk who came to the tribe a year ago from the east.
An outcropping of large boulders emerges from the weathered face of a nearby hillock. A narrow opening in the rock leads into darkness below. A fallen sign leans against the side of the cave entrance, and a cage made of branches and sticks sits on the other side.
The fallen sign is weathered and bears a few faded words: “Oaktop Silver Mine.” Originally used by Taldan explorers, this mine was abandoned long before its potential was played out as the Taldans realized the mine was far too distant from other settlements to be viable.
A lone kobold stands constant watch here, crouched behind one of the big rocks at the cave entrance, he spots PCs, and he chirps loudly in surprise—he was expecting mites, not bigger foes.
The kobold hesitates for a few moments, confused since he has no actual orders regarding big folk, then makes an unusual decision driven by an uncharacteristic stroke of logic. He hails the PCs and cries out, “Wait! Wait! I wanna talk!”
As the party approaches, Mikmek strides forward and says, “Nakpik! I am back.”
Nakpik smiles or what you guess must pass for a smile among lizards, “Mikmek!”
Mikmek queries, “Has the curse killed anyone yet.”
Nakpik, “No not yet, but Sootscale still worries. We all worry.”
Mikmek holds the statue of Old Sharptooth above his head and shouts, “We worry no more.”