Golden Toad of Pagh-Ti Temple
Entry 614, chapter titled "Across the Sea in exotic Wu-Saban" wherein we learn of queer local customs, visit a temple, meet a peculiar toad, and where Barbo thinks he has finally caught up to the Mhug-Atla'r, only to realize that it has eluded him still.
We had to reach Wu-Saban by ship, and so Barbo spent the voyage hacking his bile into the sea. The dwarf was not fond of water travel.
Once disembarked, our first stop along Wu-Saban's Onyx Road was the quaint town of Pagh-Ti. Here we were warmly greeted by the local populace and offered the finest of hospitalities.
On the second day, we were taken to their temple and shown a huge golden toad, which proceeded to ignore us.
Barbo looked unimpressed and even I was unsure of what to say, but then the priest informed us that the toad vomitted gold. Needless to say I was dubious, Barbo just laughed, but the high priest petted the golden amphibian, scratching its head as if it was some loyal dog, and lo and behold, the toad opened its maw and spat out gold chunks!
I know what you may be thinking happened next. Barbo took his trusty axe to the necks of the locals, while I grabbed the grotesque, little yellow miracle, and together we high-tailed it out of Pagh-Ti, dreaming of riches...
No, we did no such thing. Instead I inquired as to this weird creature's nature. The priest spoke riddles back to me, mentioning something called the Sea of Dirt, bait in the form of gold coins on a string, a mighty general of ages past, and other esoterica I could barely follow.
Then Barbo, bless his bluntness, asked the high priest why no one as of yet, had stolen this fantastic gold-making frog from the temple and the people of Pagh-Ti. And why, he further inquired, were not the Pagh-Ti people, the richest in all the lands?
The high priest demurred, but later an inn-keeper explained this weird creature to us further. Apparently the golden toad inside the temple was a fake, its gifts of gold a parlor trick, and the real Golden Toad, he insisted, resided safely and secure, hidden from all, in some cave nearby, and only used sparingly by the villagers whenever gold was actually needed. Not too much gold at any one time mind you, but just enough. He winked. The people of Pagh-Ti had no intention of attracting the attention of the Wu-Saban Imperium and its avaricious eunuchs, with their gold-gifting miracle toad.
This still made little sense to me.
Barbo meanwhile, kept asking everyone he encountered, as to where he might be able to find the real Golden Toad. Just to have a look, and maybe a quick pet.
This tale becomes more political and philosophical rather than biological and ecological if I continued it, so I will stop writing of this mysterious beast instead.
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Barbo and I left Pagh-Ti none the wiser, and still confused. A toad made of gold, which ate gold, and regurgitated gold back twice-fold. Or so we were told. I hesitated in adding this entry to my journal. On the other hand, the people of Pagh-Ti all looked quite happy, and were constantly smiling. Who knows.
Interesting. I hate using that word but there you have it. So these are iron spikes on long thin chains? Or more "meteor hammers" or "death-birds" of Chinese inspiration? We learn nothing of the weapons really.
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I enjoyed the tale however! Quite grr martin-ish, particularly with some of the phrasing and pace. The weapon itself seems secondary to the story. But as you said, to be continued, so I'll wait...
Nice! This really has the feel of an old-fashioned undead "monster" (and I mean that as a positive) and yet the "old man" thing is an original nuance. I take it you were inspired by some muttering curmudgeon you encountered in your travels? :)
Seamlessly fits into an "army" of various undead, sent against PCs, the white-haired, gray-skinned floating spectral head is a great visual.
Finally, knowing that the head was recently someone's grandpa is a macabre touch. "Noooo! Gramps!!"
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What exactly does "ghost-flame" do?