Cold Nights in Arcosa
Forgive me my lack of emotion, and looks. I was not always this way. This story starts from many years ago, before you all were born, with the exception of Father Jonas here. I was once a comely youth, quick witted, and brash. Our last adventure into the Undertyr brought back memories of that time with my siblings. Also, hearing some stories, and witnessing the prowess of our associate Hanna, has stirred some troubling memories. Hopefully my story will help Hanna with coping with the pain she feels deep within. As I stated, I was a brash youth.
One day my siblings and I were wandering through the forest back home, when we stumbled upon a pond that was not supposed to be where we found it. As far as any of us knew, there was no water mass of this size for miles around. Intrigued, we decided to investigate our finding. We were observing the play of the water, when my eldest sister, Sylandria, spied a small green creature on a leaf that was in the water. The pad was acting as a platform on top of the water, upon which this small creature was perched. As we watched with amazement, the creature seemed to expel something from its mouth. To our utter surprise, it hit a winged insect that was flying nearly a foot away from the creature. With amazing speed the projectile was then reversed, and the insect was summarily sucked into the mouth of the creature. We were utterly mesmerized by the speed with which this tiny creature had just made a snack of the insect. The creature then seemed to puff out its lower jaw, like air had suddenly extended the skin surrounding the lower lip. It then expelled the air with what we could only discern as a croak (RRROOOOORRRRCK). With an extension of it long rear legs, it gave a mighty leap, and disappeared beneath the water. The rest of that day, we spent emulating that fascinating creature.
We made a pact that we would not speak of the pond with any of the villagers. It would be our special place. We knew that eventually, someone would find that there was a large body of water that wasn’t there previously. In the following weeks, we returned to the pond daily. Amazingly, still no one from the village had found our secret place. We enjoyed swimming and basking in the warmth of the sun afterwards. We spied the small green creature a few more times, but every time it noticed us, it disappeared beneath the water, with a mighty thrust of its hind legs.
One day we decided that we would attempt to capture this creature. My brother, the youngest of us four, came up with a brilliant idea. If we were able to sneak up close enough to toss small pebbles in the direction of the little beasty, maybe it would think they were flying insects. I said I would attempt this, not thinking that it could possibly work. Slowly I crept up to the side of the pond, where we had seen the creature before. To my amazement, it was on solid ground, and not 5 feet from my position. I was tempted to just rush out and grab for it, but decided that I would first attempt Syldar’s plan. I squatted down and scooped up a handful of pebbles from my feet. I chose one of the pebbles, and tossed it in the general direction of our little green friend. My aim was true, and the pebble landed a few inches from the creature. But it didn’t take the bait. I chose another smaller rock from my hand, and again attempted the toss, this time aiming above the animal. To my surprise, a long rope like appendage appeared, and snatched the stone in mid flight. Syldar’s plan was in motion. I spent a few more minutes tossing pebbles in the direction of this amazing little green monster. Each stone was summarily snatched before it could touch ground. After a while I noticed the creatures distended belly, and decided to step out from the brush. Seeing my approach, the creature attempted to escape to the water, but was unable to move. The pebbles in its belly were holding it in place. My brother’s plan had actually worked. I sat there observing our little friend when my siblings decided to join me. We noticed several nodules upon the little creatures back. My little sister, Synfell, dared me to touch it. Going one step further, I reached out, and pick the creature up. Thinking that we should probably let the little thing go, but knowing that it wouldn’t survive if we didn’t get the rocks from its gullet, I did the first thing that came to mind. I turned the creature upside down, mouth down, and shook it. We watched as the pebbles began flowing from the beast. As they finally finished ticking along the beach, I again held the frog in both hands. I brought it up to view it from the front, and apologized for our tricking it into ingesting rocks. Then I don’t know why I did it, but I kissed the green monster, and placed it on the ground, where it summarily leapt away.
Returning home to the village, my lips began to get numb. When I licked them, I tasted something sweet upon them. Ten minutes later, I was seeing colors through the trees that don’t belong in the forest. There were colors that I had never seen before, and had no words to give names to. Fifteen minutes later the colors were gone, and I was feeling better than ever.
Our next trip to the pond, I thought I would test a theory I had come upon. I left my brother and sisters playing on the beach, and went in search of the little green monster. It wasn’t hard, he was close to the same place we had first spied him. I decided to try my brothers system of catching him again. And, just like the first time, it worked. Ten minutes later, I had it in my hand again. I didn’t want to hurt the little creature, so I immediately dumped the stones out just like the first time. After another study, I noticed that it had webbed feet, which probably allowed it to swim at a greater speed than normal. I didn’t even stop to think at this point, if I had I probably never would have done what I did. I licked along the back of the creature, then put it down, and watch it hop away again.
Returning to my siblings, they wanted to go swimming, but I was in no condition to join. I was back in the colors. I was hearing new sounds, and seeing new sights. It was amazing. I heard my siblings splashing around, playing in the water. I laid there on the beach listening and watching the sky.
I lost track of time, but it was not long after, that I noticed that the splashing in the pond had stopped. It took me a few more minutes to get my bearings, and finally look down to the waters edge. There in the water, I saw three sets of eyeball staring at me from dark green bulbous heads that seemed to be floating on top of the water. With an explosion of movement, the three heads bust forth from the water. Attached to the heads, were what seemed to be the bodies of the little creature that my siblings and I had first found when we found this magical place. They had long legs, with webbed feet, green skin with large lumps protruding from it, wide mouths with a tongue that shot forth to strike me. The other thing I noticed was the large tri-tipped pole arms they were charging at me with.
My first thought was, where are my brother and sisters. My second thought was, I have to defeat these creatures and look for my siblings. Luckily we had brought our weapons with us this time, due to an orc scouting party that had been ambushed on the other side of the village. I grabbed my bow, and turned to run away from the pond, to get some distance. I ran and leapt up to plant my right foot upon a tree stump. Turning mid flight, I set an arrow to my bow, and loosed my first shot. My aim was true, and it took the closest creature in the eye. The high pitch scream that issued forth from the creature seemed to be out of place, but I could stop. I had two more of the creature rushing me. Dropping my bow, I drew forth my dagger. I was quick to get inside the reach of the second creatures weapon. A stab to the belly drew forth another of those high pitched screams. I pulled with all my strength to for my dagger up the length of the creatures body. Essentially gutting the creature. The third creature was in full flight by this time, running back to the water. I threw my dagger, with an accuracy I have never known before, the tip dove into the creatures neck. Effectively severing its spine, I would later come to find.
I ran into the water, trying to locate my siblings. Yelling their names, I dove beneath the water. I swam for hours looking for them. Diving as deep as I could, before I had to surface with my lungs burning for air. Defeated, I returned to the shore. I decided to look at these creatures to see if there was anything that might help me find my siblings. Walking onto the beach, I made a gruesome discovery. My eldest sisters’ body was lying halfway up the beach, with an arrow sticking up from her face. Rushing up to her, I saw that the arrow had entered her eye. Wasn’t that how I had killed the first creature rushing at me? I ran to where I had fought with the second beast. There lying on the ground, cut from stomach to neck, was my brothers lifeless corpse. Had I just killed my brother? Praying that this was not true, I raced to where I had downed the last beast. My discovery at this point was heart wrenching. There at the waters edge lay my baby sister. Face down in the sand, with a dagger, with MY dagger protruding from the back of her neck. I slowly turned Synfells’ body over. She was still alive, but gasping for air. The tears began flowing. I told here how sorry I was, that I didn’t know it was her, that I would get help. With one last gasp of air, she whispered, “we were just tryin to get you to play.” She died right there in my arms, at the waters edge.
There is more to my story, but I can’t go on. The pain of those long ago years has returned. Bring me another drink.