He led us along a dark path, lit only by our flashlights. As we approached what appeared to be a bridge, we saw under its electric light a small group of strange creatures. Perhaps 3 of them? They stood upright like humans, and carried swords in their hands, but their faces were not human. They bounced up and down, making a noise, “Chitter, chitter!”
As we approached, they said in broken English, “Pay toll! Must pay toll to cross!” We said that we had no money, and as we slowly approached they attacked us with their swords. Fortunately they were no match for the 6 of us, and we quickly dispatched them. In the tavern, I’d been told that we could find money on the various monsters in the woods, because they liked to attack and rob travelers. We searched the bodies and found several pouches with coins.
We had not quite crossed the bridge and when we met another small group of strange monsters. They also stood upright with swords, but with cowls and hoods covering their misshapen faces. “We’ve lost some Chitters,” one said in a high-pitched voice, their swords pointed menacingly at us. “Have you seen them?”
Lauren and I approached them shoulder to shoulder, our weapons blocking the entrance to the bridge. “Some Chitters tasted our swords just a little ways back,” I told the creature.
They attacked with more skill than the Chitters had displayed, but we were still able to defeat them. Searching their bodies produced more coins, which was good: we had found enough to pay for our meals the next day. “Is anybody hurt?” Sunflower asked, her spellbook out, ready to heal us if necessary. We had sustained a couple of minor injuries this time, but nothing serious.
Young Lord Ted, who was unarmed, had stayed behind the fight. Once the creatures were destroyed he came back out and led us quickly to a small cabin where we could safely spend the night. He distributed earplugs and advance apologies for his snoring.
The night was very cold, and even my warm sleeping bag felt insufficient at first. Eventually I moved my cloak from pillowing my head to on top of my body, and that helped quite a bit. I curled in a ball and burrowed deep inside to hide from the bitter cold and the cacophony of my companions’ sleeping noises. Eventually, I slept.
Saturday morning came all too soon, and it was announced by happy high-pitched voices enthusiastically exclaiming something along the lines of, “Cocoa Ander! Who wants cocoa? Morning! Time for cocoa! Yay!” My eyes blurry without my glasses, and my head blurry from trying to wake up, I fumbled around in my sleeping bag for my eyeglasses. By the time I’d managed to sit up, the Cocoa Anders had bounced out the door saying, “Not ready yet? Okay! We come back!”
I looked around me in befuddlement. Some of my companions were sitting on their cots, drinking cups of steaming hot cocoa. Outside the window, I could see two cheery creatures with fiery orange hair playing and squeaking in the clearing.
Cocoa Anders to help you wake up in the morning. Well, how about that. This strange land had a few friendly monsters after all.