Travel Log: Day 1
I had to borrow a piece of paper and a pen from Brin…the Frog Prince I’m traveling with. No matter how many times I ask his name, I can never make sense of it (let alone even begin to spell it), so I will refer to him as Brin. He seemed pleased by my suggesting such a nickname when we met anyway. He is a strange fellow…boisterous, pompous, over-confident…but all in all, his heart is in the right place, and if it weren’t for him, I might not be alive.
I reported my findings to the king of the Rainwood Hallows, and he instructed his son to journey as a representative for all frog-kind. I was nervous as the king’s suggestions (especially after Brin made a slight about my people consisting of only beautiful females…as if we can do no more than be attractive), but had to relent to his request. He is the king, after all.
We began the trek back to the burrow I’d seen the toad footprints in, me riding on Nym and Brin dashing nearby. I had been drawing a map of the area so as to not lose my way…however, as we were riding back, a splash of water fell onto it, ruining everything I had written. We couldn’t make out anything I had recorded and shortly found ourselves lost (an embarrassing thing for me to admit). Parched, we made our way to a nearby stream and were met by the (strikethrough)traveling(end strikethrough) migrating merchant: Feldsbar. He was eager to do business and trade with us (even so far as to accept the ruined map – that he claimed look like art – and Brin’s old, tattered backpack), which we appreciated. In the end, we purchased a few things and then managed to finally find our way back to the burrow.
We noticed a door inside and made to open it…but heard snarls and growls on the other side. Brin suggested laying down a net so as to capture whatever it was that was in the next room. Prior to that, he had planned to simply knock down the door and rush in. I hurriedly praised the idea of setting a trap; I’m sure the king would not appreciate me returning with his son dead.
We set the trap…only to have it fail. I’m not entirely sure what happened…but one minute Brin was at the door and the next he was on the floor beneath it with a snarling beast at his head. It looked like a wolf…but it should’ve been dead. We learned later these were called “The Returned,” but at that moment, it was an unnatural monstrosity that was out for our blood. The dead-but-not-dead wolf bit down on Brin’s head, and I instantly sprung into action. Whether it was because of the dim lighting or because of the shock of seeing such an abomination, my attack on the creature failed, and for a brief moment, I thought Brin would be lost to the Underfoxes who claim those who have no more life to live (Do they even come for frogs? I will need to look into this matter when I return home). Yet Brin, in all his unyielding confidence, reached up and ripped the monster’s…reproductive organs right out from beneath him.
Up until that moment, we didn’t know if the thing could even feel pain. It definitely felt what Brin had done to it (Brin must have had some sympathy pains: he vomited shortly thereafter). Seeing this encouraged us. I threw the net over the wolf-thing to keep it from attacking us even further, and together, Brin and I put the beast down. Brin was bleeding profusely, however, so I utilized the cloth from a pack I’d bought from Feldsbar as a bandage and wrapped it tightly around his head. We caught our breath for a few moments and then continued onwards.
We progressed further inside, and as we did, the stench of rotting flesh and blood hit me like a rock. I pulled out my lantern and gazed down at the bodies of the toads I had been investigating. The bodies had been mutilated, arms and legs ripped from their joints, the meat gnawed from the bones which were scattered about the hall. The Returned had brutally murdered all who had been here. Why, though, we didn’t know. Eventually, we came to a storage room.
Inside was a toad. Both his legs were gone.
He had managed to tie some rope tightly around them in order to slow the loss of blood he was suffering from. He told us the Returned had attacked him and those he worked with, coming out of the walls and wreaking havoc on all who were there. He asked us to deliver a letter to his wife for him, which we promised to do (Brin currently has this letter). He also gave Brin a glowing ring, the likes I have never seen, and told us to use its light against the Returned before passing into the Underlife.
I tried to take the ring from Brin to look at it more closely…but the stubborn frog continued snatching it back from me, yelling, “He gave it to me!” It was then we discovered the “light” the toad had told us about. It suddenly erupted from the ring, stunning the both of us into silence. I could not see a thing afterwards, and Brin had been affected as well (I know because he kept wandering into the boxes and shelves that were in the room, making such a ruckus). It’s a wonder nothing came to eat us while we were in there. Anyway, after a few moments, our vision returned to us, and we investigated on.
After a long while, we came to a small cave that had been blocked off by giant wooden crates. We heard the sound of water trickling inside and decided to take a look. I climbed the boxes and made my way in first (it would seem that not all Treefrogs are spectacular climbers: Brin broke his toe on the way up…though he did do a magnificent leap down afterwards). We noticed the water, and Brin suddenly dove in, whether because he needed the refreshment or because something piqued his interest I didn’t know. He was down there for awhile, though, and I soon became worried. My concern grew even more when I noticed bubbles rising to the top of the water. Something was wrong.
I leapt in after Brin (water is not something I enjoy being in, but that aside) and soon came face to face with a giant eel-like creature (this is why I don’t like water). It sneered at me, rows of shiny sword-like teeth glittering in the light. There was no sign of Brin, but I did notice bits and pieces of toads and other creatures snagged between its fangs before I began swimming hastily to shore. The monster (which we later dubbed “Manfisher”) followed close behind, trying multiple times to devour me, but to no avail.
By some luck, I eventually managed to mount the creature’s back, which it did not appreciate. I attempted to lull it to sleep with my sleep darts, but the Manfisher seemed immune to my poison. Lacking another option, I decided to stab at the creature instead. How long my fight with the Manfisher was, I honestly can’t say; there was thrashing, bashing, and various moments where I thought I would be thrown from its back only to find myself within its belly. But my grasp on the Manfisher’s back remained true, and I never fell. I was, however, slammed quite…powerfully against the cave’s wall, which left both my legs broken. The pain was excruciating. I thank Kumiho I did not pass out; no doubt I would not be here now if I had.
Between all the thrashing and stabbing, I saw as the Manfisher viciously spat out (who would’ve guessed) Brin. The frog prince was covered in slime and mucus, and he looked absolutely horrid. It turns out the Manfisher had eaten Brin when he was swimming beneath the water. He’d found a pile of gold on a suspicious looking rock and had decided to leave it be when it suddenly came alive and gulped him down like we do mice. The poor frog. He had managed to use the pitons he’d recently acquired to climb his way out of the Manfisher’s gut and into its throat where he had been hanging for dear life. He then stabbed the life out of the Manfisher’s mouth and throat (his words) in order to force it to spit him out, which it did.
As I was being thrashed about, I managed to pierce the Manfisher’s eye with my dagger, rendering it blind in that one (what better way to evade your opponent’s attacks than by blinding it). I heard Brin bellowing for some __________ and (to be quite honest with you, to just shut him up) I threw two from my bag in – what I hoped was – his general direction. Then Brin was yelling for me to let go, and the smell of smoke was in the air. I did as he said, released my grip from my dagger (which lay ruined in its eye as we speak), and somehow managed to land on the ground without damaging my legs further. Then the Manfisher was lunging after Brin who remained frozen in place (to my horror) with a burning stake of wood in his hands. With determination, Brin hurled the flaming plank of wood into the Manfisher’s mouth, and then narrowly dodged its last attempt at ending our lives.
The Manfisher then burst into flames, its shriek echoing in the small chamber we were in as though it were dying a thousand times over. Finally, it fell to the ground dead, its body alight and smoking. We had won.
Had I known we would be discovering such foul creatures…I would have dedicated more hours to training back home. (strikethrough)My kits were beginning their schooling this week, though, and I had wanted to see them of(end strikethrough) There are no excuses for my lack of preparation; I will train harder once I return home.
We will continue on once we’ve rested. I pray this was the last of the abominations we have encountered.
Captain of the Guards