The Kobold of Ponyville
Chapter I - Adventure is out there!
Tak let out a loud yawn as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes and smacked his lips, his eyes easily adjusting to the dimness of his room. He’d been awoken from his dream by a loud bang that had come from outside of his hut. Grumbling to himself, he pushed himself up and headed to the door to investigate what had caused it.
Upon opening the door, Tak shivered as the cold winter air hugged him and a quiet sigh escaped his lips. As he looked about for the source of the commotion, he saw the rest of his clan arguing over what was now a mostly destroyed cart. Walking over to the others, Tak inspected the cart for himself. Sure enough, it was an Equestrian cart, the type that belonged to ponies.
“Latest raid then?” he asked one of the others.
“Yer,” the kobold grinned. “We caught them sniffing around the edge of our territory, so we took der cart!”
“And the ponies?”
“Nah, got away,” he sniffed nonchalantly. “Doesn’t matter, dis cart is worth more than them, anyway.”
“True, Tak will go get the chief,” Tak replied with a nod.
The kobold grunted as Tak turned and started to make his way to the large hut in the clearing. The clan wasn’t that large. In fact, it was a subsection of a much larger clan that was situated several miles north of where they were. The boss of the clan, Riddek, had sent Tak and the others south in order to have more security on the border of his territory.
Tak smacked his fist on the door of the large hut and waited. After a few seconds of silence, a loud grunt sounded from within, giving the signal that Tak was allowed to enter. Opening the door, he strode in.
The chief was a fairly plump kobold who was barely small enough to fit into the armor that he wore at all times. He raised his eyebrow and waved his spear in acknowledgment as Tak entered.
“What does Tak want?” he asked.
“Tak comes to tell you we got a cart with some goodies in it,” Tak replied.
“Good. Salec will go with Tak and see what we gots.”
With a nod, Tak led the chief out of the hut and towards the ruined cart where the others had already begun to relieve it of its cargo.
Tapping his spear on the ground authoritatively, Salec grinned as the others quickly stopped what they were doing and stepped away from the cart’s cargo. As he casually walked around the looted items, he carefully inspected each in turn, making crude comments occasionally and chucking smaller objects to the onlooking kobolds.
As Tak watched, he sighed quietly to himself. Raising his head upwards towards the sky, he let his mind drift away into a daydream that was not unlike his dream which had been rudely interrupted.
He’d been walking through the forest that he called his home. In one claw was his trusty spear, and in the other was an iron buckler. Instead of his normal attire - a basic tunic and a pair of shorts - he was wearing some beautifully crafted iron armor that was perfectly tailored to fit his small frame.
He’d been tracking down a strange, mysterious creature that had been spotted in the area and had decided to take it up upon himself to claim the bounty that had been placed upon its head. In the dream, he had tracked the creature to what he had assumed to be its lair inside of a large, dark cave. Tak barely even noticed the darkness surround him as he boldly strode inside, his eyes easily adapting to the lower light levels. He readied his spear and shield as the darkness swallowed him whole.
Before he’d even taken a few steps, the beast attacked. He couldn’t quite see the creature clearly as it attacked so fast. However, from what he could see, the thing was huge! Larger than anything he had ever seen before. Bravely, he had charged towards the beast, ready to plunge his spear into it - when his dream was shattered by that loud bang.
As Tak continued to smile at the sky, he was suddenly knocked over by an object colliding with him at high speed.
“Can’t Tak even catch a book?” someone called out as the rest of the clan laughed. Tak let out a loud groan as he shook his head. On top of to him was the large, green book that had recently smacked him in the head.
“Pay attention, Tak. Boss Riddek doesn’t like slackers,” Salec grunted. “Now go get rid of that. S’not worth anything to us.”
Tak sneered as he pushed the book off him. Being only 2’8”, a book - especially seeing as how this one was bigger than most - was almost the same height as him, and judging by the thickness, it was a very long and detailed book. Tak continued to grumble as he dragged the book beside him towards the edge of the small clearing where he and the others would throw their rubbish away. This was mostly just leftover bones from meals or items that they had deemed not valuable after one of their raids.
“An’ don’t be all day, you’s got a lot more work to do!” Salec’s voice sailed after him.
Tak sighed and walked past the others as they laughed at him. Unlike the other kobolds, Tak didn't just dislike going on raids or patrols, he hated them. Something inside of him just didn’t feel right when it came to doing the job, and instead he would remain at the camp and prepare for the arrival of whatever the raiders brought back. This meant cataloguing anything they wanted to keep and items that were to be sent to the boss. On the rare occasion that they captured a pony, griffin or any other creature unfortunate enough to get ambushed by their clan, Tak had also refused to take part in anything to do with the prisoner, simply ignoring them and leaving his kin to deal with it. Due to his reluctance to participate in nearly anything, he was always the one who had to dump every item that the chief deemed ‘useless’ in the nearby dumping ground.
As he came to the dumping ground, he was about to simply toss the book away when he caught sight of the cover. Curiously, he sat on his rump and settled the book between his legs and studied it.
Kobolds weren’t as stupid as most races thought they were; whilst being naturally gifted in the language of their cousins, the dragons, kobolds were not unfamiliar with the common tongue that was spoken in all corners of the known world. Even if they did speak in third-person most of the time.
On the front cover of the book, Tak could see three reptilian creatures he didn’t quite recognise swimming in the water. What he did recognise however was a pegasus in an odd-looking getup while she held onto a vine and a very beautiful sapphire stone. He squinted his eyes as he read what was written in big, bold letters just above the picture.
“Daring Do… and the Quest for the Sapphire Stone…” Tak read out loud softly.
Tak felt a grin form on his face as he looked around. Satisfied that none of the other kobolds were watching him, he quickly stood up and ran to a nearby bush and hid the book.
“Tak will come back and read you later,” he murmured to the book.
“TAK! WHERE ARE YOU?” Salec bellowed, his voice shattering the tranquil silence.
With a startled yelp, Tak turned tail and quickly darted back to the village in order to continue his job.
As night fell, the small kobold settlement was quiet, save for the few guards on night watch. Tak rolled over in his makeshift bed, unable to sleep; all he could think about was the book. After what seemed like an eternity had passed, he slowly got out of bed and crept over to his door. Turning the handle, he peeked outside. He could see where two of the four guards were standing and decided to try and sneak out of the camp and back to where he’d hidden the book.
As quietly as he could, he slipped out and made his way around to the back of his hut. When he was certain he was out of earshot of the guards. He scurried out of the camp and towards the dumping ground.
It wasn’t long until he arrived at his destination and, after a quick rummage in the bushes, he found his prize. With a happy cackle, he carried the book under his arm and carefully made his way back to the camp. Just as he was about to slip back in unnoticed, he heard a twig snap to his right and his head quickly spun in the direction of the sound. Taks eyes widened slightly upon seeing one of the guards.
“Tak? What you doing out?” the guard asked as he spotted him.
“Tak was just uh… going for a piss!” Tak quickly lied.
“Oh… well then… eh, whatever,” he grunted and turned around, heading back to his post.
Tak waited until he was out of sight before letting out a sigh of relief. Thankful that the guard didn’t spot the book, he made his way back into his hut without any further incident. With a big grin he picked up the blanket from the floor and made his way over to his chair. Sitting down, he wrapped himself up in his blanket and began to read.
“As Daring Do trekked through the tropical jungle…” he began.
As the sun started to rise over the land, the camp began to slowly awaken and prepare themselves for the new day. Inside Tak’s hut, however, the young kobold was still sitting in his chair, eyes glued to the book as he skimmed down the last page.
“And so, with Ahuizotl defeated, and the sapphire stone secured… the world was safe and sound once again, thanks to Daring Do!”
Tak gently closed the book and blinked a few times.
“That was… unbelievable!” he whispered to himself, hugging the book to his chest. “Why would Salec want Tak to throw this out?”
Loud banging on his huts door startled him from his daze, causing him to jump and drop the book with a thud.
“Tak! Get your scaley arse out here! We got work to do,” he heard one of the other kobolds yell from outside.
“Tak’s coming, keep your scales on!” Tak shouted back.
He yawned and quickly hid the book under the covers of his blanket before heading outside to get on with the day’s jobs.
The day went on as it normally would for Tak. He was always given the simple and boring tasks to complete around the campsite that the others wouldn't do themselves. Usually, he would grumble about being treated like a slave, but today it was different; despite the lack of sleep, he couldn’t stop thinking about that book.
He’d often stop to simply look out into the forest and sigh happily to himself. He imagined himself off on an adventure like Daring Do, fighting off vicious monster or recovering long-forgotten artifacts. Each time he slipped into a daydream, one of the other kobolds would have to give him a smack or sharp jab with the back end of a spear to wake him up.
Tak sighed as he took a seat on a nearby tree stump and looked back at the camp. As his mind wandered, he began to question why he was there. Why was he there? He didn’t enjoy his daily life, so what was keeping him there? Was it because of some strange loyalty? Or something else? Was this really all there was to his life?
Tak rested his head on his hands and yawned loudly, mumbling to himself as he closed his eyes. Just as he was about to fall asleep, he was pushed backwards suddenly and he let out a startled yelp.
“If you’re gunna fall asleep, Tak. Then jus’ go back to bed,” a kobold said.
“Really? Tak can go sleep?” Tak asked.
“Yeah, but your gunna do double your work tomorah!” he snickered.
Tak hissed at him and slowly made his way back to his hut, trying to ignore the jeering and laughing from the other kobolds. He growled angrily as he entered his hut, slammed the door shut and roughly grabbed the blanket from the floor, forgetting the book was under it. As he started to wrap himself up, he spotted the book and stared at the front cover. He felt as if Daring Do’s eyes were looking straight into his. In that split second, Tak came to a decision, one that would change his life forever.
“Tak will run away and have his own adventure!” he decided, hugging the book close to his chest. “Tak doesn’t need his stupid clan.”
As the moon shone down over the forest, the camp was as quiet as it was every night, save for a few guards. Tak, however, was not asleep. Having slept throughout the day he was now wide awake and full of energy, he’d already packed a small bag with some bits and bobs such as a few berries, a slab of deer meat, a single strand of cloth which he was fond of and a few gems.
He picked up his Daring Do book and stood it upright, tying a cord of rope around it before fastening it to his own body.
“No way is Tak going to leave this behind…” he murmured.
Once the book was securely onto his back, he hoiked the bag over his shoulder and retrieved his trusty spear from the corner of the room.
“Definitely no way is Tak leaving this behind,” he chuckled.
Satisfied he was ready, Tak made his way to the door and carefully opened it. Giving a careful glance out, he spotted all four of the guards near the other end of the camp happily chattering away to one another. Tak slipped out and made his way around to the back of his hut before silently slipping out of the camp and into the forest. The chilly air sent small shivers down his spine.
He was soon clear of his camp and smiled to himself with glee as he strode as quick as he could in order to put as much distance between him and the camp.
“Next stop, adventure!” he declared.
The sun slowly rose into the sky, covering the land in its first rays. The morning birds began to wake up and the sunlight penetrated through the leaves, leaving a distinctive shadow on the forest floor. As Tak walked through the woods, he began to whistle a merry tune to himself that seemed to echo off the trees around him.
Tak’s foot made contact with the snow as he entered a clearing, and he shivered from the cold touch. The fresh blanket of snow glistened in the brilliant sunlight, stinging his eyes a little. He’d never seen snow before; the thickness of the trees where he lived meant that snow rarely made it past the dense canopy.
He stared down at the white substance and bent down, cautiously poking it with his claw. Although it was cold, it was soft and light. Tak grinned mischievously as he grabbed a handful of the stuff and rolled it into a ball. Throwing it as hard as he could against a nearby tree, he laughed with glee as it exploded on contact and sent snow flying in all directions.
Tak rested his spear on his shoulder and began to march through the snow, kicking his legs up so the snow would go flying and over swinging his arms. Closing his eyes and listening to the sounds of his song and the crunch of his feet on the snow.
After walking for what seemed like several hours, Tak was now bored.
He had long since overtaken the winter’s snow and was now in a part of the forest that was instead damp with dew. Somewhere along the way, he had also stopped whistling his tune. Since leaving the clan, nothing had actually happened. Tak had expected that the second he entered the unknown that dangerous creatures would jump out of nowhere and he would have to fend them off, or at the least he would discover some form of cave where he could explore for hidden treasure. Instead, all that had happened was some time playing in the snow.
“Maybe… maybe Tak should go back…” he sighed. “This seems like it was a bad idea.”
His musing was interrupted when his stomach growled loudly, indicating it was time to eat something. Tak walked over to a downed tree and took a seat on the large tree trunk, whisking off the bag in order to retrieve his slab of meat.
Before he could sink his fangs into his tempting meal, he heard the bushes rustling behind him and instinctively dove for cover. Keeping himself hidden, he listened out for any more disturbances. Just as he summoned up the courage to poke his head out above the tree, an orange filly emerged from the foliage. What caught his attention was the attire she was wearing. It was the same as the strange clothing Daring Do wore on the cover of the book.
“Stupid Diamond, stupid Silver. So what if I don’t have one? I’ll show them!” she muttered to herself.
His attention on the filly was short-lived, however, when a second bush began to rustle. Both the filly and Tak glanced uneasily at the source of the commotion when a chicken popped its head out. Instinctively, Tak growled as he recognized the beast.
“Huh? A chicken? Maybe Fluttershy’s lost one—”
The small pony’s eyes suddenly widened in realization and fear as the ‘chicken’ stepped out, revealing it’s very unchicken-like body.
“A cockatrice!” the filly gasped and took several steps back until her flank hit a tree. The filly desperately looked about for a way to distract the cockatrice, but she was frozen in place with fear.
Tak trembled as he watched the cockatrice advanced on her. His mind screamed at him to do something - anything - but his legs had turned to jelly.
“What would Daring Do… do?” he hissed to himself..
The filly screamed as the cockatrice’s wings flared out, and Tak pushed all of his fears to the back of his mind. Letting out a loud, furious roar that startled both the filly and cockatrice, he leapt over the tree and charged at the demonic abomination.