Saturday, May 17, 2014

Wolfbang, the frog protector

 During the winter, a new group of treasure hunters visited the moathouse, and finding the upper levels virtually entry, took their time searching the dungeon area, and found a hidden staircase leading to a still lower level. The survivors of that expedition shared news of their adventures back in Hommlet. New rumors of strange, bestial creatures circulated the village. Burne the wizard, and a few others with rare sensibilities, kenned a change in the environment that suggested the treasure hunters had unwittingly re-opened a source of magical energies or knowledge. Burner convinced the elders that it was time for Hommlet to establish an official claim to the moathouse and its contents. He proposed that a force of vermin-hunters, led by several of his own men-at-arms, and supported by Hommlet's militia clear out any remaining giant frogs or other similar odious creatures that laired in the ground level of the moathouse. This would allow a garrison force to secure the entrance until the village decided on a plan to exploit the magic resources below.

Jaroo, Hommlet's chief druid and a member of the council, was muted in his opposition to the plan to eradicate a species from its natural home. He provided sound reasons to delay the extermination plan, and in the meantime called on his fellows to send a young druid who could help him save thee frogs.

The druid college sent Wolfbang, a headstrong and bellicose initiate who arrived in Hommlet with his pet wolf and a donkey laden with spears. Jaroo explained his plan. The frogs days at moathouse were numbered, that was clear. But there was an expansive swamp south of Hommlet that would provide a better home. Wolfbang should hire some assistants and transfer as many frogs as possible from the moathouse to the swamp. 

Wolfbang talked to some of the treasure hunters who had previously visited the moathouse. Gerilynn and Phoebe accepted the job, making terms with Jaroo that involved payment of 10 gold pieces for each successfully re-located frog.

The group started by surveying the swamp, seeking a suitable new home for the frogs. The swamp seemed to extend for miles in the area south and east of Hommlet, becoming progressively swampier in the area near the moat house. They were surprised to find signs of human habitation, a criss-cross of narrow tracks through the trees and mud.

Next, the group approached the moathouse. Gerilynn, based on several previous experiences, explained to the others that frogs, if hungry, would attack anything living that made its presence known. The party came to within 30 yards of the muddy water surrounding the moathouse, and then began throwing stones and clods of dirt to attract the frogs' attention. 

Sure enough the frogs came. Wolfbang accosted the largest of the frogs and made it understand that he was not food. The second largest frog lashed at Phoebe with its long sticky tongue and began to draw it toward its mouth. Phoebe drew her sword and severed the tongue-- that frog retreated to the water. Several smaller specimens lingered on the edge of the water.

The remaining large frog made Wolfbang understand that it was still hungry and that if he was not food, then there should be food somewhere else close by. It looked meaningfully at Gerilynn.

And so Gerilynn started to run. The frog ran after her. Wolfbang, Phoebe, and the wolf followed the large frog while the smaller frogs followed them.

The merry chase led away from the moathouse and toward the swamp. Gerilynn sprinted toward one of the few trees suitable for climbing, and pulled herself into it. Wolfbang, Phoebe, and the wolf ran into the swamp. The smaller frogs began to gain on them in the thick mud, but the advantage was reversed once the party reached one of the tracks they'd located earlier. 

The large frog, finding it couldn't reach Gerilynn with its tongue, joined the smaller frogs in their pursuit of the main party. After waiting to be sure it was safe, Gerilynn climbed down, and returned to Hommlet on the path through the woods.

Running on the trail, Wolfbang and Phoebe discovered they could easily outrun the frogs, but varied their pace enough to lead their pursuers well into the swamp. Only when the shadows were lengthening toward the end of the day, did they run their hardest and complete their escape.

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