Arboth the Kobold hardly noticed the pebbles that hit his small, scaly back. What finally got his attention were the giggles and taunts of the three young kobolds crouched on top of the high but crumbling wall that made up the ruined island fortress that was his home.
“Gonna hit us with fire breath, Arboth? Kobold soooo scared!” cried one of the young thugs. “Cra-zy Ar-both! Old Ar-both the Dragon and his shinies!”
Arboth glanced up at the small, lizardy creatures, barely two feet tall, and decided they would bore of their game soon enough if he ignored them. He continued stacking his firewood for the day.
He had not claimed to be a dragon for generations, but Arboth the Dragon was a favorite story in the kobold camps. The younger ones often dared each other to harass the old kobold, he knew. He regretted ever telling the old ones of his history and his plight. They were only kobolds; they could never understand what he had been through.
He no longer visited the kobold settlements on the 'big' island at all, preferring to be alone on his little island in the shallow waters. His fortress had no roof and one of the old stone walls had huge gaping holes in it, but the fortress gave him a place to secure his tent and build his fire, protected from the winds that blew in from the Thunder Sea.
Another pebble smacked him, this one in the side of the head. It didn't hurt but when he glanced at the missile they had thrown at him, he realized they were actually throwing dragonshard fragments from his hoard, not pebbles. That made him angry.
“Go away!” he barked at the youngsters. His voice was odd for a kobold, deep and resonating but creaky with age.
The youngsters snorted and laughed, raising their arms for another taunt. Suddenly, with a chorus of yelps and yarks, they scurried away.
Arboth grunted and stooped to gather the fragments. These dragonshard fragments only had partial runes on them, but every runed dragonshard held part of the puzzle. At some point, he would combine them to see if he could recreate the full runes, but that had to be done at a special stone in the city. It was a trip fraught with danger for a kobold, so he only went once a year.
The Prophecy was recorded on those stones, both its history and its future. Much of it did not make sense to him, but he was compelled to collect the shards and study the runes. It was all that mattered to him.
As he returned the shards to their pile behind his tent, he realized what had driven the young thugs away; there was splashing and yelling coming from the ocean nearby. Someone was fighting the rust monsters that lived in the bay. Arboth moved to the arched doorway and looked out over the water, shielding his eyes against the glare of the midday sun with a wrinkled, greenish-brown hand. He watched a young human male, breathing heavily as he struggled through the shallow water that separated his island from the "big" island, turn and cast a powerful lightning chain at the attacking creatures. The huge red monsters slumped into the water, lifeless.
The human turned up onto the beach of Arboth’s island, his eyes lighting up as he saw the kobold standing in the doorway. Arboth usually hid when strangers came around poking about his home but it was too late, the mocking kobold children had distracted him and he hadn't heard this one coming. He was too tired to run away and the man was already too close. He could not outrun lightning, he knew. He would deal with this human face-to-face.
“Are you Arboth?” asked the man.
Arboth nodded slightly.
“Thank the Host! I've been out here three times this month and haven't been able to locate you. I am Finn Davies,” the man introduced himself. “I am a wizard of The Twelve.”
Arboth shrugged. He was aware of The Twelve, an organization created by the twelve dragonmarked houses of the Five Nations of Khorvaire to study magic. They had an enclave in Stormreach, the main city on the nearby continent of Xen'drik.
“May I come in?” Finn asked after an awkward pause.
Arboth looked at the man’s dripping robes with annoyance; he had just cleaned his small living area and didn’t want it muddied up. Jutting out his jaw a little, he nevertheless waved an arm into the ruined enclosure and stepped back. If he needed to run, he'd rather the man be stuck inside the walls while Arboth made his retreat.
“I guess you are wondering why I’m here and how I know your name,” Finn started but the ancient kobold did not respond. After centuries of being trapped here on the island of Ataraxia, very little about the visitors that came to seek him out was surprising anymore.
“I actually heard about you from Veej the kobold sorcerer and I was hoping to ask you some questions," the man said as he looked around for a place to sit, finally choosing a boulder to rest upon. "I know you have lived here longer than anyone can remember. I have come on an odd but urgent mission to ask you what you might know about the Prophecy.”
Arboth eyed him with aged, bleary eyes. He had talked to many over the years, many people of all types and races. Most simply came to laugh at him. Some came to threaten or hurt him. He was in no mood to be mocked or attacked by this human.
"What you think Arboth knows about a prophecy?" he creaked, wary and alert. The last person to ask him about prophecies had tortured him and left him for dead. He tensed, preparing to run.
"Veej mentioned to me that you claim to know the Truthful One... the ancient dragon of lore... personally. Veej also mentioned that you fought in the Quori-Giant war, forty thousand years ago. Of course that can't be right, you don't appear to be a lich and even the oldest kobolds rarely live past one hundred and thirty... but I am currently studying the thirteenth moon and the Draconic Prophecy. I came across a curious reference to Arboth the Kobold, in a tome from 500 years ago... well, I wanted to ask you if that Arboth the Kobold is in fact... you... or maybe an ancestor of yours..." The young wizard was blushing and seemed embarrassed at the question.
Arboth’s lips curved into a small smile and his chest puffed out as he raised himself onto his tiptoes to his full height of three feet and five inches. He forgot to be careful, something that nearly always got him into trouble. He had waited many millennia for someone to take him seriously. Maybe it was time; maybe the prophecy had swung back to include him.
"Kobold is Arboth, from the tome," he said. "Many come to seek answers from Arboth but none ask the right questions."
"You are 500 years old?" asked Finn.
"No, Arboth is thousands of years old. Arboth lose count..." Arboth corrected him.
"How is that possible?" asked Finn, open-mouthed and wide-eyed.
“Kobold never forget,” he intoned in his creaky but deep voice, growing louder and stronger.
“Arboth was once the great red dragon, Aurboranostrix. Aurboranostrix was there when the Moon Breaker was used to destroy the thirteenth moon forever!”