It’s another game night of immersive role playing with Keeps and Kobolds where Kickaha and Calex get in character by becoming actual kobolds. This time though, a magical mixup makes the adventure a little bigger than normal.
Keeps and Kobolds II: Nanobolds
“You excited for today’s session?” Kickaha asked his charge as they walked through the forest towards Kickaha’s burrow. Kickaha was in his normal form, a three foot and some change foxyote with rusty orange fur with yellow and brown markings, and was wearing a green cloak.
“Yeah! The last one was really fun! But the villain was kind of on the easy side.” Calex nodded as he followed Kickaha along. As a six and a half year old werekitten, the uniform orange furred boy was one of the few friends Kickaha had who was actually shorter than him. In fact Calex was roughly half Kickaha’s size. For now. Calex’s size tended to vary, ranging from small to extra extra small. Still, the kid had a good head on his shoulders, at least by Kickaha’s standards. And was sensible enough to know that pants were the enemy. Calex didn’t wear any clothing at all. Kickaha felt he could benefit from a cloak, but the kitten preferred to do without.
“I mean, we were a little overprepared with our buffs and gear for going up against a dragon.” Kickaha waved a paw dismissively. “They’re not exactly the biggest threat, a few elemental barriers, spell resistance and damage reduction and one kitten with a surprisingly sturdy lute and down they go.”
“I feel like that combination takes out most encounters easily, not just dragons.” Calex muttered.
They reached the burrow, Kickaha opened the door to let the werekitten inside and they both descended. Then he opened the door to the basement. A basement that had not existed previously.
“I moved the game room downstairs.” Kickaha explained. “The kitchen no longer has to pull double duty.”
“Neat!” Calex smiled as he walked to the basement door, opened it, and started down a staircase.
There were several advantages to hanging out with Calex. The kitten was one of the only people Kickaha had met who could match the foxyote equally in weirdness. Both in the sense of attracting weird things like some kind of magnet, and as being the weird thing that happened to other people. But, there was a downside to this. Such as Calex not even questioning how there was a basement where there hadn’t been before. Or pointing out that the burrow was a hole in the ground, and how little sense to have a set of stairs that went from there to what looked like a normal basement. It was always fun to see people react to impossible things and how they would process them. Many people, especially adult humans, would just reject reality outright and dismiss the thing. Some were more flexible, and would eventually come around to accept it. And some people, especially kids, were able to process it faster while still finding it strange.
But Calex? Calex didn’t comprehend the idea of something impossible happening, because in his simplistic childlike view, there was no such thing as impossible. And since Kickaha had learned the kitten had faerie heritage, that even he seemed unaware of, and tended to enchant whatever areas he visited, the world tended to conform to his view of it. And so a basement coming into existence out of nowhere was nothing special. It was just the type of thing that always happened. Like mountain pirates.
Kickaha followed Calex down the stairs. There was a table down there, as well as several comfortable chairs, that Kickaha, as he watched the kitten jump up onto the table, and considering how they played the games, had realized they were a bad investment in hindsight. Well, he supposed they were comfortable if anyone ever wanted to take a nap. And it wasn’t like the basement could only be used for tabletop games.
“So, what style are we going with today?” Calex asked as he made himself comfortable on the table, leaning back on his hand-paws.
Calex was referring to the fact that the two didn’t quite play tabletop RPGs in the traditional way. They both preferred a more immersive experience. And so they had two different ways they went back and forth with playing depending on their mood. This specific game was Keeps and Kobolds, and since they were playing as kobolds, one way was to transform physically into kobolds and then go through a portal to the location where the adventure was a little more real. The other option, which was always a good fallback when you couldn’t find a good tyrant in need of a whacking, was to shrink themselves down to the size of game miniatures, and fight magically animated plastic and pewter minis.
“Hadn’t really decided yet.” Kickaha mused. “I believe the plan was to run Lair of the Goblin King.” Kickaha was fairly certain he could find a world that had something like an evil goblin king. But he had not had time to confirm it in advance. “So, your personal opinion.”
“Hmmmmm.” The kitten looked thoughtful. He greatly enjoyed both styles of adventures. After a few seconds he brightened up. “Why not leave it to fate?”
“I knew you’d say something like that.” Kickaha grinned. He could arrange for two separate enchantments, and one of them would trigger at random. It was something he did pretty commonly with other people’s games. It was hard to tell what was going to be better for strangers, so setting up the spell to choose randomly was always a solution. “Shall we get suited up?”
“Ready when you are!” Calex grinned.
“Alright, kittens first.” Kickaha pointed a paw at Calex and fired a beam of green energy at him. The kitten began to change, just as he always did for the games. His orange fur was replaced with orange scales, his tail thicker at the base and thinner at the tip, a much longer snout, horns growing in. Before long the kitten had been replaced by a kobold. Luckily for Kickaha’s table, kobolds were pretty small on their own, and with Calex being kindergarten aged, he had barely changed in size at all where he sat on the table. Nothing had been destroyed or even knocked off. Which actually was a little weird. Calex was a cat. Well, had been. And nothing had been knocked off the table yet. Kickaha couldn’t help but wonder if he was feeling alright.
“I’ll get my stuff while you get changed.” Calex stood up on the table and jumped down. He looked around the room trying to find something. It didn’t take long. A bookshelf with several drawers attached to it. It was where his equipment had been stored last. It was just in a new location. The kitten put on his own green cloak, a belt, what he called a sword but was really just a dagger, and a lute that he could strap to his back. The kitten may not ever wear clothes, but right now he was playing a kobold who was more than willing to wear a cloak that boosted his resistance to spells and other hazards. Besides, he was still basically naked and thus comfortable.
Kickaha had transformed himself while Calex was getting his character’s equipment. Like Calex, Kickaha was an orange scaled kobold, but darker and more rust colored. And he kept the brown mark on his chest, as well as the markings on his back, though that was hidden by his cloak. He was playing a wizard, which meant he didn’t need a whole lot more to add to his character since he was already magic and had a cloak. He just retrieved a staff. Apparently some practitioners of the Art needed such implements to cast spells properly. For Kickaha it was purely for decoration. And the occasional bonk. He had learned staves were really good for giving people a good bonking when they deserved it.
“All set up then?” Kickaha grinned.
“Yup!” Calex nodded eagerly.
“Alright then…” Kickaha grabbed a d20 off the table and held it in his paws as he carefully put both enchantments on it. Since this was a tabletop game, if they were leaving it up to fate it felt appropriate to do it through the die roll. Which spell would go off was going to be entirely determined by the die. After a few seconds, the enchantments were ready and Kickaha rolled the die across the table.
He didn’t see the number that came up, as the world around them began to change as soon as he rolled the die. It looked like an otherworldly adventure had won out. The cozy basement was soon replaced by stone walls, lit by torches with sinister shadows lurking along the walls. They must have teleported right into the lair of the Goblin King, or at least the closest thing to a Goblin King that Kickaha’s magic could locate in a hurry.
Kickaha gripped his staff to be ready, just in case they should have a random encounter right as they appeared. But he felt awkward as the staff felt a lot heavier than normal. Then he noticed his cloak was starting to get longer on him.
“Uh… Kickaha?” Calex’s belt had fallen off him and his dagger and lute had dragged to the floor. “Which version we playing?”
“Apparently, both.” Kickaha slapped a hand to his face. He knew this was possible of course. There was always a risk when combining different enchantments. The two transformed kobolds had been transported to another world. And now they were shrinking much, much smaller. It wouldn’t be long before they were game-piece size. Kickaha lost his grip on his own staff as his cloak fell down over him. The floor came rushing up to meet him in an experience that had become all too familiar since he had started hanging out with Calex.
A few seconds passed, and there was no sign of either kobold in the stone hallway. Their equipment and cloaks lay discarded on the ground. Then, after a few seconds, two very tiny figures crawled out from underneath the cloaks. Kickaha was only about an inch tall now. And Calex was about stomach high to the older kobold.
“Did you cast both spells?” Calex as usual took things in stride and looked around excited. “I didn’t even know that was an option.”
“I mean it wasn’t intended to be!” Kickaha couldn’t believe this. The odds of both spells firing off were astronomically low. Which meant that since he and Calex were in the same room of course it was going to happen! He should have been prepared for it, but if he had been, something even more unpredictable and possibly dangerous would happen. Kickaha had gotten pretty savvy to some of the universe’s rules. And he knew one important thing was to not let the universe know you were onto its tricks. The universe tended to retaliate hard when it thought someone wanted to be a wise guy. And thus Kickaha was obligated to blind himself to obvious outcomes, for the good of the universe, and to ensure he didn’t get other world monsters summoned into his home. Magical fire marks were such a pain to clean off the walls. “Just… The spells misfired, they’re not supposed to both be capable of going off. Now, I’m not the most powerful user of the Art, but I have a good idea of what I’m doing. Most of the time. So a spell backfiring like this is like…”
“Rolling a nat 1 on your caster level check?” Calex asked.
“Yes. That.” Kickaha, without being able to see into the other world, immediately knew what number the die roll had come up. Of course it would have been a natural one. He rolled a one, and now he was one inch tall. “This could make things a bit more complicated.” Kickaha mused. “This is the point where I’d ask if we should try to quickly retreat… But I get the feeling you’re going to want to go in like this.”
“Darn right I am! How often do you get to go fight real monsters and be game miniature sized!” Calex beamed.
“Isn’t that something you do like weekly, as part of your detective work fighting supervillains?” Kickaha grinned cheekily.
“Well yes, but that’s different. That’s real life, this is fantasy.” Calex gestured at the giant halls around them.
“Technically, this is real life too.” Kickaha pointed out.
“Well, it’s not my reality.” Calex crossed his arms and stuck his tongue out. “So that makes it a novel experience.” He grinned. “Besides, you know as well as I do if we just tried to go back, something would go wrong with the spell, and then we’d have to accomplish whatever objective we had in the game anyway or be stuck like this for the rest of our lives. So why not just skip to the part where we do the thing anyway while we’re still doing it for fun instead of to fix some magical catastrophe.”
“I… Can’t argue with that logic. It’s pretty sound.” Kickaha rubbed his chin. It would seem Calex had also become somewhat savvy to the way the universe worked. Hopefully it wouldn’t get the kitten-gone-kobold in too much trouble down the line.
“Think I’m gonna have to reclass though.” Calex mused. “I’m not really able to carry a musical instrument, and this doesn’t look like the kind of place where I could find whimsical small items to make a makeshift one. It’s gonna be awfully hard to bard like this. So I guess I’ll monk.”
“Weren’t you multiclassing between the two anyway?” Kickaha asked. “If I recall you had some monk build that used charisma so it actually synced pretty well with bard. I think you had some kind of plan for a prestige class down the line.”
“Pretty much.” Calex nodded. “But I’m not high enough level to take the prestige class, as useful as it would be in this situation. So I’m just going to full time monk for this adventure. I can go back to multiclassing next time. Today, I need to punch things.”
“I would express concern for your safety, but I have seen you suplex a kaiju.” Kickaha chuckled. “I’d bet that he’s never going to shoplift again.”
“Yeah, I think he learned his lesson.” Calex grinned. “But getting the shop back in place after he picked it up was a real pain in the rear.”
“Ah yes, so many adventures focus on the highlights, the fighting, and the dramatic twists.” Kickaha gave a sympathetic nod. “They don’t talk about all the cleaning up we have to do afterwards.”
“Anyway… Magic is magic regardless of if you’re big or small, so I think you’ll be fine.” Calex grinned. “Plus, we’re so small they’d need to invent a completely new size category for us. I can only imagine the bonuses we’re getting to stealth. Almost makes me wish I had built a rogue instead so I can sneak attack. But, then I’d just be playing a bard without class features.”
“Wow. You’re gonna ruffle a few feathers with that one.” Kickaha snickered.
“Anyway… We should get moving.” Calex looked around. “Regardless of what crazy bonus we get to stealth when a patrol comes through, it’s going to be hard not to notice our gear laying around on the floor. And while they might not guess they’re dealing with shrunken kobolds-“
“I think you can call us nanobolds for short.” Kickaha suggested.
“Right… They may not know they’re dealing with nanobolds yet, but they are more likely to give this area a much more thorough check.” Calex looked up at the ceiling. “Hmmmm, old place, mostly stone, but lots of rafters for support. If we climb up to the ceiling it’ll be super easy to get around, we’re even more unlikely to be noticed, and we don’t have to worry about accidentally getting stepped on.”
“Going to be quite a climb.” Kickaha looked at the wall.
“Can’t you just turn into a crow and fly us up?” Calex asked.
“I mean, a foxyote could, but not a kobold.” Kickaha shrugged. “I got more offensive spells than utility ones.”
“Fair point.” Calex mused. “Well, thankfully, we got claws, and with the walls made of stone there’s like a million handholds. And if you fall, you’re so small the impact won’t actually hurt you.”
“You know, you’ve told me that before in previous incidents. And I’ve seen the square-cube law in action. And yet…” Kickaha put a hand to his chin. “The heights we reach while shrunken never cease to feel absolutely terrifying.”
“Well, it’d hardly be fun if they didn’t.” Calex countered.
“Again I can’t fault that logic.” Kickaha followed after Calex as they quickly ran to the wall and looked up at the distance they’d have to climb. It was intimidating to look at, but Kickaha knew from practice it wouldn’t be a long climb. Again, this type of situation was common around Calex. While shrunken you technically were covering distances slower, but relatively it felt like you were covering them faster. Essentially, while small the relative distance you could run or climb in a minute went up, even if from a normal person’s point of view you were moving slower.
The two kobolds started up the wall. At the size they were, neither one had claws long enough to actually dig into the rock wall or even scratch it. Instead, they were very useful for finding pieces between the stones they could hook their claws into and climb up higher. The climb was not especially difficult. Stone bricks left so many imperfections for them to use to scale their way up, and as they weighed so much less, climbing was less effort. Yes, they were weaker thanks to being small, but one’s overall strength and endurance decreased at a squared rate while your mass decreased at a cubed rate. This was why ants could easily lift 100 x their size. Right now Kickaha was 1/36th his normal height. That meant his strength was roughly 1/1,296th of normal. But his body possessed 1/46,656th its natural mass. So it was suddenly 36 times easier to lift himself up the wall. Kickaha had gotten rather good at these calculations. It came with spending time with Calex. Especially since despite his youth the kitten seemed to have a surprisingly firm grasp of physics, or at least in how it applied in changes of size.
As for Calex’s current level of strength compared to his normal size: That was a mystery best left unsolved, lest physics professors everywhere weep in despair as the kitten treated the laws of physics as very loose guidelines at best. Calex’s strength came from a supernatural source, and it was best not to ask too many questions for one’s own sanity. Suffice to say though, if he was able to suplex a kaiju at his normal size, then at his current size, where normal people would be kaiju sized, they would take considerably less effort for him to knock down.
And this was why Kickaha was glad the kobold kitten had decided they should take a stealthy approach. Whatever evil army they were up against, Kickaha imagined it would be devastating to their self-esteem if they all got taken out by an insect-sized kobold. Just because they were evil didn’t mean they deserved to have their self-worth destroyed. Robbed of their humanity (goblinanity?), sure. But it was important to do it with a certain level of respect.
After a few minutes, the two kobolds had made it up into the rafters. It was right on time, as two guards appeared in the hallway, each holding a spear and a lantern. They were quite large, but then again the kobolds would have considered most things large. But, although they were green skinned like goblins, they still felt too big, even given the kobold’s tinyness.
“Hey… Kickaha… I think those are orcs, not goblins.” Calex hissed. He was trying to keep his voice down, an effort that wasn’t needed. He would have had to purposely try to make himself heard for the orcs to pick up his tiny voice.
“Yes, but the adventure is the Lair of the Goblin King.” Kickaha replied.
“Yes, that’s the problem, and I’m pretty sure those are orcs, so we’re up against an orc king, not a goblin king.” Calex thrashed his tail.
“Yes, and you’re actually a kitten, not a kobold, but no one is making a fuss about it.” Kickaha replied. “It’s a role playing game. If you can play the role of a kobold, an orc can play a goblin.”
“Hmmmmm.” Calex seemed unconvinced. “Though I guess as nanobolds they’re both giant green monsters so not that different. But pretty sure orcs are a lot smarter, and stronger.”
“You swung a dragon around and threw it by its tail.” Kickaha retorted.
“I’m just saying!” Calex whined. “At the very least it should count as an adjustment to the challenge rating and how much experience and loot we get.”
“At our current sizes I don’t think we’ll be getting any loot.” Kickaha snickered.
“Not with that kind of attitude.” Calex huffed.
Below, the orcs were in confusion. They poked at the cloaks with their spears, unsure of what to make of the scene.
“That looks like a wizard’s staff.” One orc remarked.
“And the other some bard gear?” The other orc seemed unsure. “What’s going on?”
“Well… Either we’re under attack and this is part of an incredibly strange and elaborate plan that won’t make any sense to anyone who can’t see all the details…” The second orc poked the staff with his spear. “Or the wizard might be incompetent. Maybe they tried to teleport and accidentally left their gear behind… Or turned themselves into rats. Point is, this could easily be the result of a magical mishap of an incompetent wizard.”
“Excuse me?” Kickaha demanded, not that the orcs could hear. “The rate of magical mishaps actually go up with the competency of an Art user. If you’re never having mishaps then you’re playing it too safe and never growing. You’re boring. Your magic is too. The possibility of a mishap just means that you’re dealing with a caster of significant power and ingenuity! The nerve of them! To just assume I had a magical accident that wrecked my own plans.”
“Well, isn’t that kind of sort of what happened?” Calex asked. “You didn’t mean for us to be small and teleport to another world.”
“Well yes…” Kickaha admitted. “But the fact that it could go so horribly wrong that both happened only proves my competency and skill.” He thrashed his tail. “I ought to turn both of them into rats right now.”
“I feel like if we go around transforming the guards it might ruin our attempts to remain hidden and unknown.” Calex of all people tried to be the voice of reason.
“I mean maybe not all of them. Just these two.” Kickaha muttered. “And anyone else that deserves it.”
“Also, you’re smaller than a rat, and a kobold, so if you were planning to do the thing you did with the mountain pirates of acting big and hungry to scare them off after the transformation, there are going to be a few logistical problems.” Calex continued.
“Okay, first off, you don’t know that’s what I was planning.” Kickaha’s tail thrashing gave away that the kitten might have guessed exactly what he was planning. “Second, I’ve told you like thirty times already. Those weren’t pirates, they were bandits.”
“But they had a ship and everything!” Calex protested.
“It had treads! It was a tank!” Kickaha threw up his hands. “Mountain pirates aren’t a thing. They’re never going to be a thing. The best you’ve got is mountain bandits who happen to cosplay as pirates.”
“But if they’re dressed as pirates, stealing things like pirates, attacking people like pirates…” Calex started.
“It’s not proper piracy if they’re on a mountain.” Kickaha hissed. “Are we really going to get back into this?”
“Look I was just trying to point out transforming them right now might not be the best course of action.” Calex tried to get back on track. “And also mountain pirates are totally a thing.”
“For the sake of my own sanity, I’m going to drop this argument. But please know that I am very much still thinking you’re wrong and ridiculous in my head.” Kickaha muttered.
“Were I not ridiculous, would you still hang out with me?” Calex grinned.
“Fair point.” Kickaha muttered, sounding defeated.
“Uh… Wait… Kickaha… The guards are gone.” Calex sounded a little nervous.
“What?” Kickaha looked down from the bannister. Sure enough, the guards had disappeared. They had also taken Kickaha and Calex’s belongings. “They just stole my cloak.”
“We’ll get it back.” Calex assured Kickaha.
“This wouldn’t have happened if I just turned them into rats.” Kickaha crossed his arms.
“Maybe but… This could be a good thing.” Calex beamed. “We gotta track ‘em, and follow after them. Figure out which direction they went. Your cloak is all magical and stuff. That makes it treasure. Meaning, they’ll take it to wherever they keep treasure. Which will be where the orc, erm goblin king awaits, since you always get the treasure after completing the adventure. We can follow them, get your cloak back, and take a short cut straight to the final boss fight.”
“So… Which way did they go?” Kickaha asked as he looked down the halls.
“Well…” Calex glanced in each direction, not seeing the guards. “They came from that way… So… I say the opposite! If we book it, we might be able to catch up with them.”
“Right… Let’s get my cloak back.” Kickaha began running across the bannisters.
“And the treasure! And my stuff too!” Calex added.
“Sure, but mostly the cloak.” While Kickaha seemed to be hyper focused at the moment, his voice had dropped back to a more playful teasing tone rather than the highly annoyed voice he had spoken in when it first happened.
In truth, the cloak always seemed to find its way back on its own. But that was exactly the sort of thing that it was crucially important to remain ignorant of. The universe loved to snatch such convenient coincidences away when people took them for granted. And just as human grownups were masters of ignoring anything truly out of the ordinary, a proper trickster’s subconscious mind quickly learned the virtues of selectively ignoring the odds.
Like climbing, running felt easier the smaller you were. It was weird situation. The smaller you got the less distance you covered over time. But, the more relative distance compared to your body you covered. As a result Kickaha felt like he was in cheetah form as he rushed across the bannisters. The hallway soon ended in a fork. This posed two major problems. Assuming the guards had come this way, they now had no way of knowing which door they used. They also had no way of opening either door of their own power.
Well… Kickaha spared Calex a glance. They had no way of opening the door under their own power that would be discreet.
“Okay… We can logic this out to figure out what door they took.” Calex looked thoughtful. “They had to have gone through recently… And they were carrying the torches… The handles! If one of them has soot on them, that’s our door!”
“That… Is actually rather clever.” Kickaha gave Calex a look.
“What?” The tiny kobold looked back at him.
“I’m kind of used to you just rushing in and doing your thing.” Kickaha replied. “It’s kind of weird, you being clever and deducing things like this.”
“I am a detective.” Calex pointed out.
“A junior detective.” Kickaha corrected. “And so far from what I’ve seen your job mostly consists of punching bad guys.”
“I mean that’s part of it but you gotta figure out the right bad guy to punch first.” Calex sounded insulted. “If you just go around punching every bad guy you’ll be up to your knees in wrongful face punch lawsuits.”
“At least your knees aren’t very high right now.” Kickaha teased.
“Technically we’re on the rafters, so it means they’d be piled up to the ceiling.” Calex pointed out. “But um…” He leaped down from one rafter landing on a door handle. There was zero hesitation. Despite how far the distance must have felt, the kitten didn’t show any fear.
Then again, the distance was probably relatively the same as what Calex was used to having to jump during his other adventures when things got rough.
“This handle is clean.” Calex muttered. “No grease, soot or anything. They weren’t wearing gloves… The fact there’s no grime or anything is kind of weird.” He leaped from one door handle to the other in a single bound. “AHA! Black marks, roughly finger shaped… We have our door. They went right.”
“Okay… So how do we get past the door?” Kickaha asked.
“Well… I could try crawling in through the lock and undoing it from inside.” Calex suggested.
“We’re not quite that small.” Kickaha pointed out. “And if we were, we could just go underneath the door.”
“You’re right!” Calex beamed. “Kickaha you’re a genius!”
“That would explain why I’m not properly understood in my own time.” Kickaha chuckled. “But… Why exactly?”
“We just have to get smaller and we can walk right under the door.” Calex jumped down to the floor.
“Oh is that all?” Kickaha made his way down to the floor a little slower. Again, he knew logically the fall wouldn’t hurt. But his mind had enough survival instincts to not just jump off what was essentially a massive cliff, and so he scaled down the rocky wall instead. “You don’t think our size gives us enough of a disadvantage?”
“We only need to be even smaller temporarily. Just to get past the door.” Calex pointed out. “And any future doors we get through.” Suddenly he grinned. “Heeeeey, you still itching to turn people into rats?”
“Oh no. We are not doing that.” Kickaha crossed his arms. “No way. Besides, rats would be bigger than us. We still wouldn’t be able to get through.”
“But we’re nanobolds because the two gameplay rules are getting mixed up. If we turned ourselves into rats we’d be rat-sized compared to our current bodies. We could easily slip under.” Calex had enough experience in seeing enchantments stacked to guess how it’d turn out.
“Look, you’ve gotten me turned into a rodent a few times in the past. I can only handle being nutritious so many times.” Kickaha pleaded. “Got any other ideas?”
“A squirrel?” Calex tried.
“Still a rodent.” Kickaha crossed his arms.
“Okay, a cat.” Calex finished.
“Better, but…” Kickaha examined the door. He could see scrape marks where it went across. “That’s still gonna be pretty tight squeezing through.”
“Unless… Baby kittens.” Calex beamed. “When we’re born we’re really small! Like as small as a lot of rodents.”
“That’d work… But, are you seriously suggesting that I should stack an age spell on top of a polymorph on top of a shrinking spell on top of another polymorph?”
“Yes, that was the idea.” Calex replied. “Is there a problem?”
“Not really, I just enjoy hearing the bad idea out loud before I follow through with it.” Kickaha flashed a grin. “Two baby kittens, no bigger than specks of dust coming up. So, not really a new experience for you.”
“I mean it’ll be the first time the kitten part was a transformation.” Calex paused. “Or… would this count as reversing the transformation.. I mean I’m a kitten in reality, but a kobold in the game… And in this world the game is reality.”
“I’m casting the spell now.” Kickaha spoke up. He decided it was best to reduce both of them to an age where they couldn’t speak before this line of reasoning had a chance to become a proper discussion.
In a few seconds, Calex was back to his kitten form, but much younger, with a shorter tail and round body. Kickaha joined him a few seconds later. They had indeed shrunk to be baby kitten sized compared to the kobold size they were, which meant that the door now had a crack large enough for them to slip through.
“Mew!” Calex bounded off on all fours not wasting any time to squeeze under the door and get to the other side.
“Meow.” Kickaha couldn’t help but have a little bit of perk in his step as he followed. When the kitten was in adventure mode, it was infectious. It made everything feel a little more fantastical. Which was strange since both of them were already fantastical just by the nature of their existence.
After squirming under the doors, Kickaha quickly cast a spell to return them to being kobolds and their proper age. However, there was a slight problem. Calex changed back to normal… well, back to tiny kobold normal… just fine. Kickaha, while regaining his nanobold form, failed to go back up to his proper age, and was now no older than Calex.
“Huh, this happened.” Kickaha looked over himself, noticing the younger body.
“You sound surprised.” Calex tilted his head. “I figured you more than anyone would know weird things can happen when you stack transformation enchantments.”
“Oh no, I fully expected something to happen.” Kickaha explained with a grin. “I just didn’t expect to get off easy. I was sure at least one of us would wind up being carried out of here as an egg by the other… Assuming we didn’t both become eggs and wind up being found and hatched into the service of a very tiny dragon.”
“That actually sounds kind of fun.” Calex grinned.
“Maybe next adventure… We have a cloak to retrieve.”
“And a Goblin King who is actually an Orc King to defeat!” Calex nodded eagerly. “Let’s go!”
The two didn’t bother climbing back up to the rafters where it would be safer. They had lost enough time chasing down the two guards getting under the door. They did stick close to the wall, so as to stay out of anyone’s way. And with the shadows cast over the wall it was nearly impossible to see the two tiny kobolds despite how bright their scales were.
Eventually, the hall ended at a dead end with another door. There was only one this time, and it was noticeably more ornate than the other.
“So… Feeling up to rats yet, or should we do baby kittens again?” Calex asked in a teasing manner.
“We don’t need to do rodents, we can-“ Kickaha was interrupted as the door opened on its own. The two guards they had seen earlier appeared, though without the two nanobolds’ equipment.
“I’m saying he didn’t have to yell at us.” The first orc muttered. “I mean we brought him the adventurers’ gear.”
“I get where he’s coming from. It is weird.” The other orc shook his head. “And they’re probably up to some ploy. But it’s not like we’ve run into anyone to fight yet.”
As they spoke, Kickaha came up with a ploy indeed. He quickly ran beneath the two orcs and through the doorway while it was still open. Not every ploy had to be clever or convoluted. Only when it made things more interesting, and the situation was already interesting enough. Kickaha turned to signal Calex, but found the other tiny kobold had already followed him. They both made it to the other side of the door before it closed.
And the room they were in was a sight to behold. It was definitely where the orcs kept their treasure, but it was far different than the dragon’s hoard from the last adventure. Mainly, everything was organized rather than just spilled out into a pile. Coins and gems were kept in chests, magical books and scrolls on bookshelves, potions inside glass casings, shelves lined with different items, and plenty of cabinets. Most of them were up against the walls, circling the entire room. A few cases with some much fancier looking items on them were out on display in cases closer to the center. And in the center of the room was a large throne. And upon it, a green skinned man with a scar over one eye, dressed in leathers and an enormous axe at his feet.
“Found the Orc, erm, Goblin King!” Calex shouted. “Let’s go teach him a lesson and get our stuff back.”
“You know…” Kickaha put a hand on Calex’s shoulder. “This does look like an evil lair and all, but you should probably confirm if he’s actually evil before you start breaking things.”
“Good point.” Calex kicked a clawed foot at the ground. “Don’t want to jump the gun and make wrong assumptions.” Then with that he quickly ran towards the throne and began to climb one of the cases near it. “HEY! YOU!” He shouted as he was near the top.
“I mean, I was going to suggest eavesdropping for a bit. But I suppose this works too.” Kickaha found himself wishing he had some tiny popcorn to munch on as he watched the events about to unfold.
“What?” The “Goblin King” sat up in his chair, looking around confused as to where the oddly-muffled shouting was coming from. Then he squinted and finally saw the very tiny kobold. “What is this?”
“Hi! I’m Calex! And I’m here to defeat the Goblin King!” Calex spoke as loudly as he could to make sure he was heard. “And also get some treasure. Especially my friend’s cloak. It has a lot of value to him.”
“What?” The “Goblin King” stared at the tiny kobold with a blank expression. Nothing that was said had made any sense.
“Anyway, are you evil?” Calex asked. “I kind of need to know cause it vastly changes the morality of the situation and what options we have.”
“I get it now.” The “Goblin King” gave a laugh. “You’re one of the adventurers we found the gear from. Looks like you had quite the magical accident infiltrating my lair. As for your naïve question on my alignment, I don’t entertain the idea of petty morality. The strong rise, the weak serve. This is the way of the world. Only those who can not win their own battles cling to the sentiment you call morality as a shield to make themselves feel superior for lacking the power others wield.”
“Okay. Yeah. You’re evil. Got it.” Calex responded.
“I just said-“ That was as far as the “Goblin King” got before Calex leaped from the glass casing, launching himself into a flying kick, not against the king himself, but his throne. The impact knocked the throne over backwards, causing the king to tumble out of it onto his back.
“OKAY! WHAT!?” The “Goblin King” got to his feet and grabbed the axe. He found himself more confused than angry again as he tried to process the impossible thing that just happened. He glanced around looking for the tiny kobold to swing its axe.
“Yeah, that’s not really gonna work.” Calex nimbly leaped to the side. “I’m like an impossibly small target. And your axe doesn’t even have a blade.”
“What gibberish is-“ The “Goblin King” started to ask, but after one swing in which the axe planted in the floor close to Calex, the tiny kobold quickly punched the metal part of it, shattering it and leaving the “Goblin King” holding only a stick. “What the devil are you?”
“Someone who may have min-maxed their character by just a tiny bit.” Calex replied, sticking his tongue out.
“What does that even mean?” The “Goblin King” roared.
“Look, if you surrender now, give us back our stuff, and promise not to do evil anymore, we’ll let you off with a warning.” Calex was in his element.
“Do you think you can intimidate the Warlord of the Orcs of-“ That was about as far as the “Goblin King” got before Calex seemed to disappear from sight as he jumped straight up. Then he came down, bringing a very tiny drop kick atop the “Goblin King’s” head and knocking the man down to the ground on his face. “OK! Seriously, what the heck is this?”
“Soooooooo… Wanna think about that surrendering thing now?” Calex asked.
“I told you-“ Once more the “Goblin King” was unable to finish his sentence. But this time it was because of Kickaha. He had slowly walked closer to the one-sided battle that was going on. He held out a hand, pointed at the “Goblin King,” then fired a green ray. Suddenly, the king disappeared into his own armor. A small lump moved around beneath it, and then a green rat climbed out from beneath the armor. “Squeak?”
“Sorry, but I felt I had to intervene before someone got seriously hurt.” Kickaha grinned as he walked closer to the rat.
“Eh? What do you mean? I was fine, I had it covered.” Calex seemed insulted.
“Oh I know you did.” Kickaha patted Calex on the back once he was close enough. It wasn’t Calex he was saving. The little guy wouldn’t have killed the “Goblin King” but he would have left him stuck in bed recovering for several months if the king turned out to be stubborn and kept refusing to surrender.
“Squeeeeak!” The rat that was once a king stood up on his hind legs, towering over both kobolds. Despite his transformation, he was still larger. He was not about to be intimidated by two tiny kobold children!
“Seriously?” Calex asked. “Like… I just floored you when you were like, over fifty times my size. You really wanna keep going?”
“I should also mention that you currently smell and look delicious.” Kickaha interjected. “And I can only be expected to restrain myself for so long.”
“Squeak…” The rat looked between the two tiny kobolds. He tried to look menacing. But as he looked at them, both brimming with confidence, and seeming to have the strength and magic to back it up… Well, he blinked first. And he turned tail and ran, disappearing into a crack in the wall of the room.
“That’s what I thought.” Kickaha clapped his hands together. “Though if he was the king, there’s probably gonna be a bit of chaos surrounding who gets the throne next.”
“Maybe one of us should take the throne, and lead the goblins into an age of peace in which they join normal society?” Calex suggested.
“I’m going to veto giving you any kind of political power.” Kickaha was all for chaos. But there were limits. “We’ve cleared the adventure. Let’s find our stuff and take it home.”
This was a task that proved to be far more difficult and time- consuming than anything else they had done. It was true they could get around with ease, but there were a lot of things to check, and it wasn’t always easy to find a way to open them. It was several hours before Kickaha found his cloak. And with that, he was happy to conclude the adventure. He placed one tiny hand on his cloak to make sure it’d come through the portal with them as he began casting the spell to take them back to their normal reality.
“Done already huh?” Calex sulked. “I bet I would have made a great king.”
“Maybe in a future campaign.” Kickaha would make sure it was one that did not influence events in another world. His spell took effect, and they both found themselves standing on the game table back in the normal world. Things were back to normal now.
Except, they were still six year old kobolds the size of game miniatures.
“You know I probably should have seen this coming.” Kickaha mused as he looked across the giant table.”
“I mean, stacking enchantments, stuff gets weird.” Calex shrugged. “You could always try to magic us back… Buuuuuuut.”
“That’d be stacking even more magic.” Kickaha rubbed his chin. It could prove interesting. On the other hand, he was a species that hatched from an egg right now, meaning there was a very real risk of becoming an egg, depending on how the spells reacted with each other. Especially since age altering magic was already in the mix. And while sometimes it could be a nice break from the world when things got strange in the less fun ways, Kickaha had other plans. “We should just let the spells run their course. They’ll wear off eventually.” Specifically when being kid nanobolds was no longer interesting. That was how these things went.
“Sooooo…” Calex looked around. “Guess I’m probably spending the night then. Walking home like this would take too long.”
“True…” Kickaha nodded. As well as there were the matter of predator animals that lived in the forest that might try to make a snack out of the tiny kobold. It could cause some real instability in the ecosystem if every predator suddenly became absolutely terrified of engaging something smaller than it. “So… Sleepover?” Kickaha was six too right now, he figured he was allowed to have fun like a kid.
“Sounds like a plan!” Calex beamed. “So… Do we have like snacks or something?”
“When I set up the new game room, knowing you would be playing, I took precautions in advance.” Kickaha sounded proud. “See those little cabinets in the corner? There are plenty of snacks stashed away, and some cotton balls and tissues to make pillows and blankets.”
“You were really prepared for anything huh?” Kickaha said.
“Well…” Kickaha rubbed the top of Calex’s head. The affectionate gesture was a little more awkward when they were the same size and age. “I planned for you at least. Now… Let’s get to those snacks. Destabilizing a goblin empire really builds up an appetite.”
“Right!” Calex followed Kickaha to the edge of the table as they jumped down. Soon the game faded from their minds as they instead focused on the sleepover.