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The water to their left splashed making them both jump. Balamor turned with his dagger in hand to see a large fish push through the muddy water. Their soaked bodies slowly crept across the wetland, a large tree was knocked over towards another patch of land; they looked at each other and both nodded. Awkid moved to the splinted trunk, he saw its surface was grown with more mushrooms and covered in the same iridescent spit. He strapped the lantern to his pack before crawling on all fours across the downed tree. His bandaged arm carefully avoiding the slime that splattered over its bark. The moment was tense as Balamor watched. Steel blue eyes scoured the foggy marsh while he awaited his turn. Awkid finished his crawl after minutes of antagonizing suspense, now waiting for the young mapmaker to join.

The Wisebeard returned his bag to one shoulder and began to cross. He gripped onto the spongy moss with his hands and slowly moved forward. He glanced at Awkid ahead who was hardly visible, the dwarf looked to his left and right as he fanned Balamor forward. The hobbit began to pick up his pace when his hands slipped in the gooey substance. He yelped as he grabbed onto a broken branch and yanked his leather pack from the fall. The chirping of bugs died down instantly and the mighty sound of a whip echoed through the mist. The young hobbit was frozen, now halfway across the fallen tree. Awkid knew the sound and immediately huddled next to the closest tree. He felt a deep vibration grow into a long guttural call. Balamor quickly pulled himself atop the fallen tree and looked down at the water. Large ripples waved across its surface with the sound of a distant thud before fading to nothing.

Balamor looked for Awkid but the fog was too thick, his breaths became still when he looked back at the water below. The large round snout of a frog poked through the littered surface, its two bulbous eyes — ghostly white with cataracts — stared at the robed hobbit with nostrils flaring. Balamor held his breath as the creature rose from the swamp on his legs to the height of the tree bridge. It’s spiny skin was a dirty shade of green and spotted with gray and black patches. Balamor couldn’t take his eyes off of the monster that stared him down. The grotesque figure of a frog-like man fitted with the remnants of scale mail and wearing the twin pillars of the Steel Isle. A light blue tongue crept from the monsters wide mouth and slowly brushed over the fallen tree trunk. The smell of death made Balamor’s stomach turn. He closed his eyes and fought to hold still when suddenly something splashed into the water. The frog-man whipped back his tongue before peeking over his shoulder.

“Hmmmmm... Well, well!”

He said with a half smile, his smoky voice trailed with a hiss.

“Who dares disturb Du’gahr? Don’t be shy… It has been, awhile, since Du’gahr has had any visitors…” He rolled his tongue and blinked his blind eyes.

The End

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