Hiromoto sat on his small, cushioned throne, watching as the half-orc known as Maskalock Braak was led from his audience chamber. He was not impressed, not in the slightest. The brute had no honor, no noble bearing, no moral code of conduct; he fought and killed for the sheer joy of it. He was a beast, his humanity sorely missing.

Noting the various scars stitched across his muscular body, Hiromoto could appreciate what the half breed had gone through in the arena. But nothing about the beast-man convinced him that he was their salvation, the key to their release, the means to end his curse.

No, something wasn't right. Something was missing, he just couldn't put his finger on it. And then it came to him and he turned to his left, calling out harshly, "Zahsi."

When he heard no reply, he hissed loudly, "Dammit, Zahsi, where in the Nine-Hells are you?"

A small reptilian creature stepped from behind the throne, his dull red scales covered in dust. Hands cupped together, hiding something small within them, the kobold looked up at him and gave him a toothy grin.

"I am here, at your beck and call, as always," it said with a flourish.

"It took you long enough," Hiro grumbled.

"I was feeling a bit peckish, so I did a little hunting. Besides, your meetings are so very boring," it said nibbling on some small animal bones within its hands before carelessly discarding them.

Hiromoto glared at the obstinate kobold.

"That's not what you're supposed to do," he growled, "you are supposed to advise me!"

"I'm a survivor, not an advisor. But since you are being so persistent, I'll give you some advice," it said with a dismissive wave of its tiny clawed hand.

Limping over to small plate of fruit, the kobold grabbed a firm yellow pear and bit into it, allowing the juices to run down its jaw and into his well-worn tunic. Turning to face Hiro, it grinned mischievously, "As your advisor, I advise you to utilize the tool that you've been given, before he's killed in the arena."

Hiro sneered at the kobold, "I should have let you die alongside that lazy goblin."

"Ah yes, Crichtik, how could I forget. He was a good friend. I miss him dearly."

"He was no longer useful," Hiro said, leaning back on his throne.

"You needed him; you still do, but you chose to ignore his warnings. You said the half-orc would come and he has. And there you sit on your cushy pillow, pining away for your ancestral sword. Nothing has changed."

"He's not the one!" yelled Hiro, slamming his fist into the arm of his throne.

"What do you mean, 'he's not the one'? You've talked about your premonition for months now. It's always been 'Braak this' and 'Braak that'…"

"He doesn't bear the ring."

"What ring?" the kobold said perplexed.

"The ring my daughter was to give him before he arrived here!"

"Oh, THAT ring," the scaly creature laughed before rolling its eyes at the human, "Maybe they stripped it from him?"

"He'd be missing a finger. The ring cannot be removed once it has been worn."

"Hmmm…he was covered in scars," the kobold paused, "And I did notice that he had all his fingers and toes."

"It was supposed to be him!" yelled Hiro.

"Are you sure?" question the kobold.

"Rhoda assured me it would be the half-orc. He was the only one foolish enough…"

"He does have a brother, the paladin. Could it have been him?" the kobold interrupted.

Hiro scowled, "No. Maybe. I don't know. My vision showed only a half-orc, a descendant of Craer Braak."

"Is it possible Wanda never gave him the ring?"

Hiro paused for a moment, lost in thought.

"She had to give it to someone, it's power has been activated. Someone has been wearing it," he said, dismissing the kobolds objection.

"Who would be foolish enough to have accepted it from her? I mean, no offense…" the kobold screwed up its face and chuckled, "…but she's ugly, even by orc standards."

"That's my daughter, you are ridiculing," Hiro growled.

"My apology, but the curse from Enolis…"

"Enough!" yelled Hiro, "Do not speak of him, Zahsi. His days are numbered."

"As are yours, Hiro," the kobold reminded him softy.

Angrily, the tanned human reached out and grabbed the kobold by the neck and began to squeeze. Surprised by the sudden attack, the kobold struggled in vain, trying to pry the human's fingers from its neck. Gasping and flailing, the kobold failed to remove the solid grip of the human. As it was about to black out, the human loosened his grip and watched as the kobold fell to the ground, gasping and rubbing its throat.

"Listen up, my little advisor. I tolerate you because you are still useful to me. Prove to me that you are no longer useful, and I'll feed you to the Savage Troll!"

The kobold could only nod its head, still struggling for breath.

"Send for Haberjeet. I wish to speak with him. I need to know who has that ring."

With a quick bow, the kobold replied, "As you wish."

As it scurried from the hall, a chill ran down the kobold's spine. The Troll was indeed savage. She was hideous and filthy. She was everything one would think a vicious predator would be, except for her perfect blue eyes.

She would rip her opponents apart and yet keep them alive long enough so they could watch themselves be devoured by her enormous appetite. The fact that she was Hiro's eldest daughter was no mystery, but how she ended up here, in the City of Brass, truly was.