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Ley Lines Finalist: “A Done Deal, a Final Act, and a Parting” by Chris Lozaga

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“Put your considerable girth between me and the crowd, else it will look as though we are breaking in,” Ivka said slyly as his nimble, scaly hands furiously worked a set of picks. Gremmel, twice his height and four times as thick, glared at him, glanced over her shoulder and did the best she could to mask the kobold’s efforts from the Zobecki throng making its way down the busy market street.

“Aren’t we?” she replied huskily. Knowing Ivka’s dislike of cramped spaces, she pressed in close to rebuke his casual insult. Ivka’s eyes widened in alarm at his imminent envelopment.

“Well no, Haradus invited us. Three bells after high sun. The old wizard never let us down before, something must be wrong. Yes, what kind of friends would we be if we didn’t check in on him, duty to our good and dear friend is all.”

“Do you always practice your lies before you need to use them, Ivka?”

“Only with you!” he replied.

“I hate to admit it, but you are right, Haradus has never missed an appointment.”

“Like clockwork!,” Ivka couldn’t resist the pun even if Gremmel was too thick to appreciate it. He imagined the gearforged mage’s strange copper brow furling angrily at him. “Okay Gremmel, stand back. The lock is vanquished, I will now remove the wards.”

“Are you madder than the Ruby Despot? Your lute against the wizard’s spells? If I’d known I never would have…” Before Gremmel could finish, Ivka made several quick motions and barked out a few unintelligible words. The door creaked open.

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Ley Lines Finalist: “The Apple Thief” by Maggie Hoyt

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The eastern Margreve was desolate, an endless waste of sparse trees. Finna crunched through falling autumn leaves, her footsteps echoing against the silent, lifeless backdrop.

Her hunger hadn’t been so bad yesterday, for she had gorged herself on candied apples at the festival the night before. Finna loved apples. Every autumn after harvest time she would run to the orchards and choose a few of the bruised apples left on the ground. Never pick an apple off a tree, her father had told her, because that belongs to someone. The candied apples had tasted even sweeter this year because they were especially for her.

The harvest festival was for remembrance, her mother said. Centuries ago, a terrible sickness had rolled out of the Margreve into the tiny village of Lundar, nestled against the forest on the Rothenian Plain. Only one young maiden was brave enough to seek aid from the forest itself. Within a few days, a thrush descended into the town square and spoke with the voice of the maiden.

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Ley Lines Finalist: “A Place Without Time” by David Amburgey

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Nera thought she had never seen a man so strong, which was funny, really. The rocks Johr piled onto the cairn were so small. She sat with her back to his travel bags and watched him wander across the blasted land in search of stones. Pulling her cloak around her shoulders the wind played with the expensive fur of the collar and hood. She squinted into the dimming light as Khor’s chariot raced west.

The light of the day faded away and still her guide laboured to shape the cairn. She knew only too well what it was like to lose a brother. The Wastes were no place to bury loved ones, but sometimes the gods do not give you a choice.

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Oh, I’m Going to Get Killed Any Minute Now (Part 2)

Oh, I'm Going to Get Killed(Also Titled: The Ongoing Diary of Thppgrg, Goblin Minion)

Previously… (Seriously. Check out the previously if you missed it!)

DAY FIVE

New unintelligent undead arrived today. More accurately, the bodies of the attacking dwarven warriors have been re-animated to act as guards, and so has Sigvald.

New arrivals are total jerks; at Jimbo’s suggestion, am trying to figure out how to sneak up on them and put silly hats on their heads while they are not paying attention. Limited success, limited access to silly hats.

Really looking forward to this weekend. Need vacation.

DAY SIX

Weekend vacation canceled due to adventurers. Hid in my strategically important water-filled hole while the dwarf skeletons and the reanimated Sigvald fought the intruders; pretended to be a semi-sentient toxic mold. Have perfected a pretty darn good impression, according to Jimbo. The trick is to make bloop-blurgle sounds and occasionally say things like ‘I am very toxic’; am told that I am quite convincing.

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