Mekapa, the kobold midwife, proves a chatty traveling companion. She’s eager to share the lurid tale of her luckless former king. The reign of Merlokrep, first of his name, all-mighty Dragon King of the Truescale Kobolds, suffered misfortune from the day of his coronation. When his consort, Vreggma, slipped on the dais steps and poked out the king’s eye with one of the points of his own crown, he should have known his rule would be ill-starred. Even when a third of his subjects perished in haphazard mining excavations to retrieve more gold trinkets for his demanding consort, Merlokrep remained undaunted. When the foul “creeping shadows” rose from the dark caves below and withered his finest warriors to skeletal husks, the Dragon King acknowledged defeat. He gathered his most sycophantic followers and, taking only what they could carry (mostly gold baubles), they fled up and away from the spreading darkness. Exiled from their comfortable warren on the lower levels, the kobolds took up residence in the catacombs beneath an abandoned Dwarven monastery. Merlokrep and his few surviving followers did their best to eke out an existence among the other dangerous denizens of their new home, but Merlokrep’s tribe continued to shrink with each passing week as accidents, attacks by their new monstrous neighbors, and the king’s own homicidal outbursts of rage claimed more and more of his people.
Growing trepidation over the slew of hardships faced after Merlokrep ascended the throne finally jarred the memory of the tribe’s senile shaman, Jekkajak, called by many “He Who Forgets More Than You or He Knows.” At a tribal dinner of stewed goatherd, Jekkajak suddenly lurched to his feet and babbled forth a dread prophecy long tucked in some cobwebbed corner of his crusty mind: “When the Doomed King sits the Throne, our great tribe gasps its last breath! To save our people, we must wash the curse from the crown with the blood of pink-skin-spawn!” As the last word left his mouth accompanied by a dribble of stew, Jekkajak slumped face-first into his bowl and Merlokrep’s path became instantly clear. The only way to save his tribe from annihilation lay in the blood of the pink skins’ squishy children. In the dark of night, he sent forth his sneakiest to steal the pink-skinned babes from their strange fluffy beds. Before the kidnappers even reached the town, though, destiny intervened on their behalf. As luck would have it, on the very evening Merlokrep’s band of minions emerged from the ruins, a group of children from Falcon’s Hollow, their curiosity piqued by tales of Lord Arnten’s discovery of the forgotten monastery, picked their way through the gloom toward Droskar’s Crucible. When the kobolds caught sight of these fresh pink morsels blindly bumbling through the dark, they quickly subdued them, and dragged the children back to their king in triumph. But Jekkajak struggled to recall the proper protocol for the sacrificial ceremony. While Jekkajak dithered, factions within the kobold tribe began to whisper about overthrowing the cursed Merlokrep, his avaricious consort, and the addle-brained shaman. They lacked the courage to act boldly, and so died defending a king they had lost faith in.