| Nibar The Nervous|
|"...kill it! Somebody kill it! Quick!"|
It is a truism that kobolds, on the whole, believe that they are the scions of dragonkind, that their place is beneath the vast wings of the Elder Dragons when they return to take back the world, “returning” kobold-kind to glory and ruling with the ancients. Whether the kobold masses have a sincere faith in this coming to pass, or merely hold it as a fetish to comfort them against the cruel bleakness of their lives, is a secret that is kept in each little reptilian heart; and who knows if all those hearts believe in unison or branch as the great oak? One thing, however, is certain...
...Nibar thinks it's rot.
Too much evidence, historical, social, arcane, even the stories the kobold bards tell; he's heard or read it all (what little there is to read in the Bloodskull Barony), and for him, it leads inescapably to the conclusion that kobolds are just another people. Just...folk, to put it simply. Not that Nibar would express such an opinion to any of his fellows, much less his reasons for holding it. No, he keeps that view close, as he does with most everything.
You can chalk that up, you might say, to the time of his birth. Some augurs would ramble on and on about the alignment of this or that star, the position of such and such comet, when he was born, but it was simpler than that: Nibar was born the year before the founding of the Boodskull Barony, the year before Valkith and his orcs “annexed” or exterminated the last of the goblin and kobold clans. Nibar's clan was among them. He doesn't remember it, of course, but he witnessed the orcs marching into the kobolds' caverns, their fields, their homes, slaughtering those who caused too much ruckus about becoming a part of the Barony. The stories about this that Nibar was later told, and being amongst so many other races, eroded the idea that kobolds were a special people; he did not doubt consciously at first, but his doubts and questions proceeded inexorably to his conclusion.
The clans were broken up, sent hither and yon to help them integrate and to squelch ideas of rebellion. Nibar, his parents, and his brothers were sent to live in Valkith. Surprisingly, once they were separated and settled into their new lives, the Bloodskull treated the kobolds well. Their skill with mining and with farming under the boughs of dark, dense forests was readily recognized, and respected. They were given full rights as citizens under the Barony, the ostensible equal of any orc, though it was best not to say that where any of the Black Hand could hear you. So, Nibar and his family never wanted for food, clothing, shelter, and even for a modicum of safety and stability. However, Nibar for much of his childhood saw little of his father, as he was sent to work, and later oversee, the mines in the Kaldir Crown Mountains, and then in the Broken Peaks. His mother became a washer-woman and a babysitter, looking after the children of many of the other-clan kobolds as they were enlisted to work in various mines or outposts.
So, Nibar never lacked for playmates. Indeed, you could say that he maybe had too many. He would often hide from the other kobold-children as they played their rowdy games, just to sit and have some time alone. His peers, as children so often do, found it strange that he'd want to sit off by himself, for any length of time, and they took to harassing him when they found him alone. The high-strung manner he'd developed didn't help matters any, and many of the children would delight in frightening, and as they got older, bullying, him.
It was on a day when he was being hounded with extra vigor that he found himself in an alley. In one of those coincidences that, in hindsight, seem equal parts Fate and blind luck, Nibar had manged to crawl up to the second story of one of the buildings lining the alley, and he managed to sneak his way inside through an open window. Once inside, he'd barely gotten ten steps before a voice—stern but musical in its cadence—brought him to a halt with renewed terror. A large goblin appeared from one of the doorways in the hall, and had grabbed hold of him before he could blink. Though the goblin's questions were as stern as his voice, when he heard how and why Nibar had gotten into his inn, for inn it was, he laughed and brought the stripling kobold downstairs for some bread and meat, and to introduce Nibar to his brother. Madroc and Modroc they were, a pair of goblin bards who'd given up a life of travel in favor of making a place where other travelers might rest. Being in one place all the time also gave them the chance to indulge a fancy of theirs: book-collecting. Though neither of them could read quickly or well, they had collected what had quietly become one of the largest libraries outside the baronial keep. They had books of all sorts, from poetry to almanacs to medicine and war, and of course, magic, lining the walls and much of whatever other space was horizontal and not a table.
Nibar was instantly entranced.
Seeing his obvious interest, and taking a kindly turn to him, the brothers offered him the run of their library and a little bit of spending coin (that more often than not, he simply turned over to his mother) in exchange for cleaning up the Common areas before they got most of their day-traffic, and helping out in the kitchen or stables. He needed their help learning his letters, but soon after, he was helping the brothers with their reading skills. He took to books naturally, like a dwarf takes to drinking.
When they found out where he was spending his days, though, his parents were decidedly less enthusiastic about his literary pursuits. “It's good that you're bringin' home some coin, boy,” his father had told him,not unkindly, “but spendin' yer time readin' is jes' wastin' it. Yer gettin' near to'n age where you might be joinin' me in the mines.” His peers were not blind to how he spent much of his time now, either. They started calling him Nibar the Knowing, which almost instantly became Nibar the Know-It-All, which before long branched into Nibar the Nervous, due to his continuing tendency to be high strung, and to run and hide when the taunting and bullying got too severe. But he persisted stubbornly in his love of reading, devouring the goblin brothers' library whole tomes at a time, eager for any new material they happened across. And, as he probed deeper into the histories and lore of dragons and kobolds, he grew certain that the great winged elders bore no relation to the small and frail kobolds.
During this period, Nibar became acquainted with a traveling dwarf. A traveling merchant, Durfi passed between his home at Khurn-Azur, Valkith and some of the larger Bloodskull outposts, and a smattering of the human lands, and came to Valkith every summer. Durfi had somehow developed a relationship with Madroc and Modroc some years ago, though the young kobold never learned the details. Each summer, the dwarf would stop at goblin brothers' inn, catching up on news and offering them whatever uncommon book or rare liquor he'd managed to find in his dealings and wanderings. In company with Nibar, the dwarf—an elderly one, by all indications—would tell stories of his home, and of his visits to the great dwarven hold of Citadel, of course of the places he'd visited. His stories revealed that many of his dwarven brethren did not like him doing business in the Barony, considering all who lived under its banner to be bloodthirsty savages who deserved nothing more than a sharp pike through their severed heads. His favorite quip at these times was some variation on the idea that anyone willing to trade with him couldn't be all that bad, though he would always note that he was not held in particularly high esteem by his own people.
A couple more years passed; Nibar's father was preparing to take the boy out with him on his next mining tour, as he had taken each of his elder brothers, in turn. But, as luck would have it, military recruiters were passing through town, looking for likely conscripts to fill the ranks from among the strapping youth. They quickly took note of Nibar's keen eye and mind, and the fact that he could read with ease, and offered him a position doing scribe work for the Bloodskull military. He knew it wouldn't be books all day, but he leapt at the chance to be free of the specter of mining. Over the objections (and curses) of his parents, the recruiters took Nibar with them to the keep.
He was put to work copying low-level communiques and proofing provisions lists for room, board, and a small stipend. But it was glorious just the same, because in his spare time he was given free run of the keep library. Many a morning an assistant had to lift his gently snoring head from the opened leaves of some musty tome or other, and drop it on the desk as payment for getting drool on their books. He soon showed an aptitude for languages, and language instruction was added to his list of duties, so that he could be put to work translating for the many races living under the orcish flag.
He was evaluated, and passed over, for entry into the ranks of the battlemages. Determination and wit, they said, but no subtlety of mind, and no intestinal fortitude. That bothered him not at all—and when he found essays of instruction into the arcane arts in the library, he learned it with the same alacrity he had with orcish and goblin. Eventually he began to practice what he'd been reading—in secret, to be sure. He was careful, and his progress was perhaps the slower for it—but it was as inexorable as the rising of the sun. Soon he had the fundamentals and was moving on to more proper instruction, just at the time when he was issued new orders. He was to report to the foreman of the newly formed mining outpost of Azhgrott, there to act as translator, scribe, clerk, and general gofer. Disappointed at the loss of his library, but eager to see new places (from relative safety, of course), he reported to the small caravan headed to his new post.
Nibar is tall but skinny for a kobold; he stands at 3 feet 6 inches, and 33 pounds. His skin is a mottled dirty grey, contrasted by his bright orange eyes. Normally, he would wear nondescript scholar's robes, but for his trek to Azhgrott he bought some special clothing: small, sturdy brown boots, a pair of brown breeches, a slightly used grey knee-length tunic/robe, and a belt and pouch for various small items he needs close to hand. There is a long, thin dagger strapped to one of his hips, and the whole is covered over by a traveling cloak so faded that the color cannot be readily discerned. On his head sits a dusty wide-brimmed hat that looks like it has been sat on several times. He carries a smooth wooden kobold-sized quarterstaff which he calls Ambrosius. While generally a personable and happy sort of fellow, his relations with others are somewhat hampered by his high-strung and neurotic nature; he often shoots worried glances from side to side, and displays a small facial tick if something is disturbing or frightening him, which is often when he is outside the walls of the barony keep, let alone beyond the city of Valkith.
|View the journals of Nibar The Nervous.|
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Contributor: Chris Schuettpelz