Redeemers of Agasteel: Raising Bards Part 4
From our last adventure, something kind of changed with Dad. I wasn’t sure if it was the snake venom or that she’d increased in strength, but her left eye mutated into that of a wolf’s. It was a little disconcerting, but not if you’re on her side.
The Adventure’s Guild contracted us for another exploration mission, specifically to discover whether or not reports of giant, human-sized frogs to the East were legitimate.
Mom, Dad, Randal, and I are reunited with the angry Drow from our first adventure, whose name I learned is Talador Nem. We asked him to read the tablet we secured from the underground goblin cave.
From the stars they came
Into the Heavens above
Landing on the earth
To crawl to the seas
And tunnel down below
Warring between themselves
As they go.
We pondered the idea of some kind of alien species that lived below ground and warred with another below-ground alien species before turning the tablet into the Guild. Talador began to explain the millennia of history knowledge he had, but Mom silenced him and we started our journey.
“Palor, bless these morons. They need it,” he grumbled.
A fighter named Khan also joined our party. We could always use another pair of strong hands lest we have another incident when Dad goes down. We didn’t talk about snakes around Dad anymore.
Five days out, we arrived at a swampy area and set up camp on a raised portion of dry land for the night. Talador took the night watch as he always did. The night was far from quiet. I could barely sleep with frogs croaking, little splashes, and crickets chirping. In the dim light of morning, Talador heard the sound of a boulder splash and watched a large ripple split the water in front of him. He shook us all awake, and we poured out of our tents to see a pair of large eyes poking up from the water watching us. An army of small frogs (yes, that’s the correct plural form for frogs and not a literal military band of amphibians) swam around us.
“You woke me up for frogs?” Dad snapped at Talador. She turned to the large eyes staring at us.
“You!” She pointed at him. “Frog, what do you want?”
The large eyes disappeared under the water. A small frog leaped from a nearby branch and landed on Dad’s face. Her eyes crinkled in anger and the tiny frog hopped into the water.
“Get it!” She yelled.
Talador used his quick reflexes and snatched the little frog from the water. After a great deal of yelling amongst our group, we determined that the little guy was not poisonous. The sun rose completely at this point, and the frog crawled into Talador’s front pocket to a chorus of “Awwwwws.” Mom groaned. Dad growled.
“Frog! Hey! Can you hear me? Talk!”
The frog recoiled into Talador’s pocket.
“Are you intimidating my frog?” Talador asked.
Mom grabbed the frog from his pocket and tossed it to Dad. The frog landed in the water and dived under, swimming away in a straight, southward direction – the same direction the other frogs went.
Dad charged after the frog yelling “Spy!” and we sprinted after her.
A large, stone frog appeared before us. Its giant mouth open with a long, stone tongue leading down into a cave at the back of its throat with a deep, slippery slope.
“This must be the Temple of Ranine.” Talador started, drawing closer to the opening. “Legend states that a fabled humanoid frog creature lives he-ERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRE!”
Randal shoved Talador, and he slid on his stomach down the frog’s throat.
“Let’s go then,” Kahn said before sliding down himself.
Dad shrugged and leaped in after him. A loud thud echoed back and a groan from Talador. Randal grabbed a nearby plank of bark and used it as a surfboard. He ollied up over Talador, landing on his feet.
Mom and I looked at each other.
“I have tha strength to hold me shield, but not the agility to land it,” he said.
I nodded. “I got you covered. I’m showing up Randal on this one.”
Mom set his shield on the slide and sat in the middle. I grab his shoulders from behind with a leap and surfed on the back, steering the whole way down. I flipped our shield bobsled up the tunnel wall a full 360 degrees while Mom screamed. The tunnel spit us out and we landed ahead of Randal with a loud thud. Mom shot off the shield into a nearby wall with a flurry of curses. I stayed on the shield in a full arabesque, landing on pointe.
I winked at Randal who knew he’d been bested by me. Again. ^_~
I turned in a curtsy, coming face to face with three large, near human-sized frogs. “Bullywugs!” Talador shouted, pulling himself up out of the mud. The smile fell off my face. One Bullywug sprinted in the opposite direction and two advanced on us.
Randal used his exceptional power of putting people to sleep, and the two advancing frogs fell over in slumber. Kahn and Randal sprint after the third.
Dad was more concerned with the two sleeping on the ground and checked them out. They were aboriginal in nature, clothed with scraps of leather and linen with strings of seashells and teeth around their necks. While Dad tied them up with rope, I threw two daggers at the fleeing Bullywug. One clattered off the tunnel wall and the other sunk into his back. He kept running anyway.
Mom rolled his eyes. “Palor, show these fools how it’s done.”
A blinding light from Mom’s hammer seared a path directly into the Bullywug. He vaporized into a pile of ashy goo in an instant. Khan grabbed the dagger that landed near him and tossed it back to me as I ran toward the pile of goo. I saw my other dagger and pulled it from the mess, only to find the dagger itself was vaporized. Only a chunk of the hilt remained.
“My baby!” I burst into tears, holding it up to show Mom.
“Oops…” he said. “I owe you one.”
Randal used his invisible butler and a rope to help Dad haul the two sleeping frogs back to our cart. I slumped to the floor and gave my dagger a proper eulogy. We took a short rest, and I was ina horrible mood. I barely slept, I’m covered in filth, and one of my babies was gone. Once everyone reassembled, we made our way down the hall.
The walls were damp and dripping with water and algae. It stunk of mildew and pond scum. Mom and Dad determined that the small stones constructing this place were not Dwarven made. I debated whether this place was built in the swamp or if it was built above the swamp and sank at some point. Either way, I didn’t like the idea of being underwater in an enclosed building.
We made our way into a long, 100-ft room with stone columns every few feet. A carved depiction of men who evolved into frogs took up one long wall. By the end of the carving, the frogmen overthrew the humans by eating them.
“Well that’s gruesome,” I said.
At one end of the room, a spiral staircase led down to another floor. At the other, a large frog head with an open mouth adorned the wall. We drew nearer to the large frog and didn’t notice Randal slipping away down the spiral staircase.
Mom lit the back of the frog’s mouth with his mace and found nothing but a small pool of water in the back of the throat. Talador studied the face for a moment.
“There’s nothing magical about this,” he said.
A chorus of small chirping frogs echoed through the room. I looked around the room for a moment and noticed the walls and the floor didn’t quite meet up.
Baby frogs poured in the room from every edge and down through the large frog’s mouth. They flooded over all of us, Dad picking them up one at a time and shouting something about spies. The frogs subsided as quickly as they came. Dad swiped one last frog and shouted at it.
“You! You’re the spy!”
Once empty again, I steadied myself against the wall and slid to the floor. I looked down at my arms and saw a tinge of green spreading from small blisters. Sweat poured off my brow and nausea set in.
Dad said something to Talador and Mom about it being the same frog from outside.
“Today is not a good day.” I sighed and curled into a ball, exhausted.
Kahn shouted something, and I looked up in time to see two more bullywugs enter and a gigantic frog mere feet from me. I didn’t have time to grab a dagger before he scooped me up with his mouth. Constricted in the frog’s throat, with a leg sticking out of his mouth, I thrashed to no avail.
I heard the faint sounds of combat, of steel and magic hitting the large frog with no effect. The frog swallowed and I slid further down into his throat, stomach acid splashing my face and burning. A familiar voice filled my head.
Let the bodies hit the floor. Let the bodies hit the floor…
Randal. The frog expelled me and went limp. The other frogs layed motionless onthe ground as well. I layed shaking on the stone floor, feverish, poisoned, covered in sweat, saliva, and gastric juiced. And worst of all, Randal saved my life.
“Witness the power of a real god,” Mom said before a white light filled the room, filling me with warmth and vitality. As the light faded out, I looked up to see Randal standing over me.
“You okay?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I mumbled.
He dropped a towel over my head and handed me bar soap.
“You need this,” he snickered. “You stink.”
“Funny,” I said, sitting up and patting my face with the towel. I mumbled “thanks.” He smirked, so I knew he heard me.
“So I went down those stairs,” he said, pointing at the spiral staircase. “There’s some kind of summoning circle. I’m pretty sure that’s where the frogs order takeout.”
We followed Randal down the stairs to an acid green-lit marking on the floor. Talador approached the circle and blasted it with magic. A section chipped, and the light faded out.
“Well, I vote to get out of here,” I said.
No one disagreed, and we took the spiral staircase back up. A moment later, two large dragonflies followed us in. We looked around and noticed Talador wasn’t with us. One dragonfly stung Mom under his armor, and the other one stung Randal in the face.
“Not my money maker!” he shouted.
A quick exchange of blades and Kahn and Mom dropped the dragonflies. Talador appeared at the top of the stairs, and we stared at him. Mom threw a dragonfly carcas at his head.
“What? A Bullywug appeared and activated it again!”
“Yeah right,” Mom said. “You just want another story for your fae princess. Not like Annathyst being swallowed wasn’t enough.”
“More importantly,” Randal shouted. “Look at my face!”
“Eh, shut up,” Mom groaned. He raised his mace with a flash of light, and the welt faded to nothing.
“Awww,” Randal whined. “I could have become an Operatic Wraith!”
“Ugh, he’d really be insufferable then.”
We headed back to the cart, our two captives still fast asleep. It took a few days, but we arrived back in Orm tired, grumpy, and a little worse for wear. Our bullywug cargo proved the existence of large frogs, and we handed them over for a lovely 25 gold.
I had the remnants of my dagger baby strung onto a silver chain and donned it around my neck. Mom presented me with a beautiful gold-gilded dagger with Annathyst carved into the blade. I more than forgave him for vaporizing my baby and tucked it into my vest for safe keeping.