Chapter Six: Wherein I am returned to my human self, an event you probably expected as toads seldom tell stories and most especially do not see them published in book form, and then I have a most peculiar conversation.
It is true that toads do not have much of interest in their lives. They chiefly go about their business eating bugs and other small creepy-crawlies and attempting to not get eaten themselves by cats. I honestly don’t remember too much about it, no doubt a result of my toad brain having been somewhat smaller than the average pea. It did feel like quite a long time had passed. I am not sure how long toads live, but I would guess that it is somewhere in the neighborhood of a year or two and as I was a toad for at least a week, I must have aged at least seven years. The next thing I truly remember was waking in a hard bed in a room that was obviously not in one of the better inns in town, with Ellwood Cyrene leaning over me.
“Oh varlet, villain, and false friend,” I said, and felt my lips crack as my swollen tongue moved around to form the words.
“Do not speak Eaglethorpe,” said Ellwood, pressing the brim of a glass of cold water to my lips. “You must know that I love you.”
“In a very manly way, no doubt,” I croaked.
“Yes. Very manly indeed.”
He took a clean white cloth and dipped it in the water, using it to bathe my brow.
“I only belittled you because I thought that it might make the sorceress let you go. You know I have the highest respect for you.”
“And my storytelling?”
“And your storytelling.”
“And my heroic adventuring?”
“Heavens above Eaglethorpe. If I did not love you so much, I would hate your guts.”
“What happened anyway?”
“She turned you into a toad, a quite ugly one at that. It took me all of a week to locate you and three bags of silver to get an apothecary who was willing and able turn you back into yourself.”
“What happened to you?”
“Oh I managed to escape her after a few hours.”
“A few hours?”
“A few hours?”
“Yes, a few hours.”
“A few hours?”
“Yes, a few hours. Did you damage your brain while you were a toad?”
“So you were with her for a few hours?”
“I believe we have established that.”
“So… she made you do things.”
“You spent time with her?”
“A few hours!” Ellwood rolled his eyes in exasperation.
“She… you know.”
“She quenched your fire?”
“The fire of passion.”
“What? No!” He stood up and began pacing back and forth across the room. “Well, I’m sure she would have liked to, but I got away long before that could happen.”
“Why?” I asked.
“What do you mean why?”
“Why didn’t you wait till after the quenching before you escaped?”
“Because she’s a sorceress.”
“And she’s evil.”
“Well, she’s a… She’s just not my type.”
“Why not,” I wondered.
“She’s… too pale… and too blond… and too short.”
“What complexion do you prefer for your woman?”
“A complexion about like yours.”
“That’s too dark. What hair color do you like?”
“About like yours, with little streaks of grey.”
“Then she would be too old for you,” said I. “A young man like you should have a beautiful young woman. How tall do you prefer?”
“About your height.”
“That is way too tall for a woman.”
“I know,” said Ellwood, and then turned and rushed out of the room.