Now, if there was anything she'd regret, now would be a good time to think about it.
Okay, so she may have not been the best student in school and she was pretty sure a lot of people didn't actually like her. She didn't know why, but she didn't care. So long as she had her two besties by her side, she knew she could take on the world.
She just didn't expect to be sent into a completely different one.
"How long have I been here?" Sasha asked herself. It was hard to tell how many days it's been since she got sent into this jungle. She lost her phone and also lost her own bag, though for some odd reason got Anne's bag instead. So legally, she was empty-handed, with nothing more than the clothes on her back. She already checked Anne's belongings and she was not surprised that nothing in it was helpful for wilderness survival.
"I knew I should've gone on that summer camp." Sasha mused in regret. When she was a kid, she remembered Anne telling her about a summer camp out in the wilderness. But Sasha was not a fan of bugs and frogs and other icky things. Sure, she was willing to get down and dirty if it came to it but that didn't mean she'd enjoy it. Thus, she stayed with her uncle at his ranch instead that year. Now though, she realized those skills she could've learned would come very handy at the moment.
"Well, it can't be that bad, right? All I have to do is find some food and I'm golden. Yeah, that's right!" She spoke out loud to no one in particular. Pretty sure the forest was starting to get to her.
Unfortunately for her, that shout was a bit loud and the critters in the forest have a good sense of hearing. Just as she raised her arms in cheer, a giant centipede had found her. And oh boy, was it hungry.
Sometime later, One-Eyed Wally was walking down a dark and beaten path within the woods. He didn't live in the town of Wartwood so this path was common to him, even in the bleak darkness of night. He had decided to eat out for dinner that day at Stumpy's old diner, feeling a bit more jovial than usual.
"Dobedido, dobedida, I sure hope nothing comes out from these thick bushes and eat me alive~! Haha~!" Wally sang cheerfully, though the contents seem less so, as he pranced along the path. Minding his own business, he suddenly heard a rustling noise from off the road. "W-who's there?!" He asked in fear.
The forest responded with the rustling of leaves and skittering noise around him. A twig snapped in front him, causing him to turn towards it immediately. "I-I'm warning you! I know Frog-Fu! Well, some of it and I did fail the class but I know some!"
While he was looking off in that particular direction, unbeknownst to him, a dark and threatening figure emerged from behind, gradually growing till it was twice as tall as him. Wally felt a presence and slowly turned to watch as the large figure enveloped him in its shadow.
"N-no! Stay back!" Wally walked backwards, tripping and fell on his butt. The figure, however, did not stop moving. "NoooOOOOO—!"
The very next day, the town of Wartwood was going through its usual morning. Toads selling bug meat, frogs selling their farmed goods and the occasional kidnapping of random couples by giant dragonflies. So overall, it was a peaceful way to start the day.
Hopadiah Plantar, aka "Hop Pop", strolled into town from his little homestead on a cart, pulled by the Plantar family's one and only snail Bessie. Inside that, two younglings hopped around in excitement. With a whip of his leash, Bessie slowed down and with her, the wooden cart. "Woah there, Bessie! Hehe, chipper today, aren't cha?"
Hop Pop turned around to face the two kids sitting in the cart, an energetic young frog named Sprig Plantar and his younger sister, the polliwog Polly Plantar. "Alright you two, I'll be back with the groceries in a few minutes. You watch the cart until I come back. Don't get into trouble, ya hear?"
"You got it, Hop Pop!" Sprig replied enthusiastically. "I'll defend this cart with my life."
Hop Pop stared at Sprig. "Uh-huh... Polly, make sure Sprig doesn't get into trouble."
"Roger, Hop Pop!" Polly answered, to which Sprig exclaimed in surprise, "What?! But Hop Pop! I'm the older brother!"
"We both know you have less responsibility than Polly has in her little flipper."
"Ridiculous!" Sprig objected. "What makes you think I'm irresponsible?!"
"Oh gee, let me think." Hop Pop said, sarcasm dripping from his words. "Was it the time you added exploding cherry seeds into the gumbo? Or maybe the time you wrestled a worm cow into my bedroom? Oh, I know! Maybe it's time you left the lights on, and nearly got the house torn down by a pair of fireflies?!"
"Okay, so yesterday was a bad day but I can be responsible!"
"Hm hmm, I'll believe that when I see it. Until then," Hop Pop jumped off the cart, "Polly, make sure Sprig stays in the cart." He then walked into the store and greeted the proprietor of the establishment.
Sprig sighed sadly. "Wish there was a way to prove I'm not such a goof-up..."
As if the frog gods had been listening to that day, his pleas were answered. Wally's scream was heard from the thick groves and as expected, the one-eyed frog burst out of the bushes and into the clearing, screaming for dear life.
"MONSTER!" Wally cried out." THERE'S A MONSTER IN THE WOODS! I SEEN IT! I SEEN IT!"
As Wally continued his panicked spiel, a crowd slowly formed around him, listening to his every word. Loud murmurs were heard and exchanged between the townsfolk, forcing the town's mayor to intervene. "Now now, simmer down, Wally. Just tell us what you saw."
Wally explained the monster's features using any nearby twigs, roots and leaves. Just as he finished describing it, emphasizing on its weird face bump, the crowd gasped in fear and surprise. The mayor, listening fully, took the initiative and spoke up. "Well then, we better catch this beast before it hurts somebody. Because for Mayor Toadstool, your safety comes first."
Everyone clapped their little froggy hands at the political response, with Wally even saying how responsible that would be. Of course, everyone also agreed. This was a huge and scary monster in the woods after all. What shouldn't they do? Leave it alone to act on its natural base instincts? That would be very irresponsible.
Which is why Sprig wanted in on it.
"Polly, I know what I'm gonna do today. I am going to catch that beast and save the town!" He exclaimed out loud. Just as he was about to leave the cart to go on a suicidal quest, Polly stopped him in his tracks. "Stop right there! Hop Pop said you have to stay in the cart!"
Polly flexed her tiny flipper muscles. "You know you can't take me."
Sprig, in response, dug into the pockets of his shirt and pulled out some frog-based candies. "Oo oo, look Polly! Candy...! Pfft!"
He dropped it onto the cart and watched as Polly enthusiastically accepted his little bribe. With one move, he jumped out of the cart and ran straight to deep woods, ignoring Polly's warnings, "If you die, I get to keep your stuff!".
Sprig hopped around the woods as if it was his own backyard. He easily navigated through, looking for clues of the beast's whereabouts. Spotting something on the ground, he jumped off the branches and landed on the dirt, finding himself looking at a weird and unidentified footprint in the shape of a fat pickle. "Seems like the beast roams these parts... Probably a good place to start looki—!"
Suddenly, he was grappled from behind by large figure, who with the element of surprise, smashed his entire body onto the ground. "Gotcha!" It cried out. Sprig, completely shocked, did the first thing that came in his froggy little mind; He screamed.
"WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH—!" He was quickly silenced by a hand on his mouth. "Quiet! You'll attract it to us!"
"Atrackd whad?" Sprig asked, his voice muffled by the hand.
While there is no definite proof that the law of equivalent exchange applied to fate and jinks, it kinda seemed like it at the moment. By giving Sprig the opportunity to prove himself, the frog gods had also sent trials along the way in the form of a red giant man-eating mantis, looking at the two dead in the eye.
"SCREEEEEEEEEEHHH—!" The mantis screeched.
"AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH—!" The beast screamed.
"MMMMMMMMMM—!" Sprig muffledly yelled.
Letting go, the beast and the frog ran off in the opposite direction, away from the humongous mantis that was currently slicing off entire stalks in pursuit. Sprig, with his superior understanding of the forest area, searched for a way out and found a decrepit log with a hole large enough for him to slide into and hide. He pointed and shouted, "QUICK, IN THERE!"
Sprig dove into the hole, followed by the beast that captured him, and the two quickly put their backs against the log. The mantis looked around through the holes, searching for its prey. When it was sure it couldn't see them, it turned and walked away, looking for some other prey to dive its sharp insectoid mandibles in.
Finally calm, Sprig wiped the sweat from his forehead and sighed. "Phooey, that sure was close, wasn't it? Hahahaha... WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH—!"
Sprig continued his initial scream before the beast, once more, placed its hand onto his mouth. "Will you stop that?! It's going to come back!"
"BUT YOU'RE GOING TO EAT ME!" Sprig cried after moving the beast's hand off.
Said beast blinked, twice. "Uh eww, no. I don't eat frogs, especially not talking walking ones."
"Huh. I've never met a beast that's so picky with food."
"Okay, I'm just gonna stop you there." The beast said, followed by clearing its throat. "Hrm, my name is Sasha. I'm not some beast, I'm a human."
"Huuuuuu—!" She emphasized. "Maaaannn!"
Sprig smiled. "I have no idea what that is."
"Urgh, you know what? Mmmgghh!" Sasha screamed into her hands. "Let's try this again. The name's Sasha."
"Oh, I'm Sprig! Nice to meet 'cha, Sasha!" Sprig examined his new friend, the not-a-beast hooman. "I gotta say, I've never seen anyone like you before in Wartwood!"
"Wartwood?" Sasha asked. "Is that the name of this place?"
Sprig shook his head. "Nah, Wartwood' s the town I live at. Hey, I gotta ask—"
Just as Sprig was about to ask Sasha a question, a loud grumbling came from the female of the duo. Looking down, the two found themselves staring at Sasha's rumbling stomach, pleading for sustenance. Sasha blushed, embarrassed by the sound.
"Uh, do you like know a fast food joint nearby?"
Meanwhile back in Wartwood, Hop Pop returned to the cart, grocery supplies on hand. On his way, he noticed a sizeable mob at the edge of town. Said mob were wielding pitchforks and torches, and were yelling about a monster in the woods. In short; an average week.
"Another week, another mob. Hehehe..." Hop Pop laughed by himself as he loaded the supplies into the back of the cart. He then climbed up to the driver's seat, shuffling and getting comfortable.
"Alright, kids. Time to head back. I hope nothing interesting happened while I was gone, hehehe..." Hop Pop said sarcastically as he turned to look at his grandkids. Or in this case, grandkid. The sound of shattered glass erupted from Hop Pop's bulging eyes when he realized that 1. Sprig was not in the cart and 2. Polly was covered in candy, looking horrible.
"Uuuu, my stomach..." Polly belched. Hop Pop frantically jumped to the back of the cart and grabbed Polly's weakened tadpole body. "Polly, where's Sprig?!"
"Uuuu..." was all Polly could reply, her eyes bleary and drool escaped from her mouth. Suddenly, Hop Pop remembered about the monster in the woods and using his old deduction skills, he figured it out; Sprig ran into the woods to catch the beast irresponsibly.
"SPRIIIG! I'MMA COMING!" Hop Pop yelled as he ran through the mob and into the woods. The mob watched as he disappeared into the bushes with Polly, and in a moment of pure genius, Wally also screamed. "LET'S GO GET THAT BEAST!"
Everyone cheered and ran into the woods, following Hop Pop like the mob they were.
Meanwhile back to Sasha and Sprig, the latter had collected an assortment of bugs, mushrooms and roots into a bucket, and dumped them all out onto the ground. "Here you go! I don't really know what hoomans eat, so I got everything."
Sasha watched as a green beetle scurried around the mess and flew off before wiggling its antennas. Sasha gulped, "Yeah, we don't eat bugs from where I'm from." She picked up a root-like plant and took a careful bite, before smiling. "Mmm, hey this is not half bad."
"Mh mmm." Sprig sounded knowingly. "So first question, WHERE DID YOU COME FROM?! I've never seen a hooman before!"
"Well, I've never seen a talking frog before." Sasha remarked. "I guess you could say I came from another world or something."
"Either that or I'm dead and this is hell." Sasha added.
"Woooowww~" Sprig awed. "Do you know how you got here?"
Sasha shrugged. "Nope. One minute I was in my world and the next, I was here. I don't know how to get home, or if I can get home. And my friends! I don't know where there are!"
"Friends? You mean other hoomans like you?" Sprig asked.
"Yeah. See here?" Sasha pulled out a photo. "These are my BFFs. The one on the left is Anne, and the other one is Marcy. We've been friends since we were kids."
Sprig took the photo and looked closer. "Woah... So you think they're here too?"
"Well, they were next to me when I got sent here, so it's a safe bet. Plus, I got Anne's bag with me." Sasha answered, pointing at the backpack next to her. "Enough about me, what about you? What were you doing in the woods?"
"Proving that I'm responsible!"
"Oh yeah? How?"
Sprig blinked. "Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh—"
Before Sprig could process an answer, Wally the One-Eyed frog appeared from the bushes and yelled, "THERE THEY ARE!"
"Wha—?!" was all Sasha could squeeze out before the mob jumped on her, wrapping her tightly behind layers of rope. Sasha futilely tried to break free but the rope work was too good. Also, she was like 13 years old and didn't have the muscle mass to even strain it.
Sprig, no longer stunned, jumped in. "Wait, no! You guys got it all wrong! Sasha is—!"
"A monster!" Mayor Toadstool interrupted. "And this little boy here led her right to us! A proud citizen of Wartwood, led by me, Mayor Toadstool."
"That's not what I was going to say! Guys, just listen—!" Once more, Sprig was interrupted. Though this time by his own Hop Pop. "SPRIG! THANK GOODNESS YOU'RE SAFE!"
Hop Pop looked at Sasha aka the 'beast' as she continued to try and break free. "Sprig, get back! I don't want you to get close to it!"
Sasha turned to Sprig, feeling betrayed. "Sprig, what the heck?! You set me up?! We were having a thing, man! A THING!"
"Nononono!" Sprig denied fervently. "This wasn't my plan—!"
Before he could finish, he was interrupted the third time today by a giant green mantis of all things. The mantis proceeded to screech, scaring the mob in surprise. "QUICK EVERYONE! MANTIS FORMATION!" Mayor Toadstool quickly yelled, causing the townsfolk to break out of their surprise and climbed on top of one another, forming a pyramid of amphibians alike, taller than the mantis itself.
The mantis looked at the frogs (and toad) and moved back, feeling intimidated by the form. All of the mob cheered, only to be interrupted, not Sprig this time, by an even larger red man-eating mantis.
Polly, finally out of her fever dream, widened her little eyes in shock. "How did I get here? And what is that thing?!"
"That there, Polly, is a giant frog-eating mantis." Hop Pop answered. Wally then got involved and added, "And it's gonna EAT OUR GUTS!", causing the mob to break apart and ran off in random directions.
Sasha, being so close to the large insectoid and currently tied up, screamed. "WAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!"
Feeling her restraints loosen, she looked front and saw Sprig untying her ropes. "Sprig?! Is this another of your froggy tricks?!"
Sprig, however, paid no mind to Sasha's accusation. Finishing up, he stood up and took out his old slingshot from his pocket. "I'll distract that thing. You get out of here!" With said final words, he ran off towards the mantis with a war cry strong enough to scare an army. Though the mantis was about the worth of two, so it wasn't even phased.
Sprig launched a rock into the mantis' eye, flinching it. "Aha!... Oops."
The mantis retaliated with a swing of its forelegs at Sprig, too shocked to dodge. Suddenly, he felt a rope tighten around him and he was pulled out of the way, mere inches from being cut in half. With an oof, he landed a few feet behind from where he stood and the rope, revealed to be a makeshift lasso, loosened up with Sasha stading next to him, the other end in hand.
"Are you CRAZY?!" Sasha yelled at Sprig, causing him to flinch. Nonetheless, the boy frog answered with full confidence, "I got you in this mess, so I gotta get you out!"
"Uh oh, noooo waaay!" Sasha argued. "You already saved my life once, and I am not letting you do it the second time!"
"Come on," Sasha tightened her grip. "Let's teach this bug a lesson."
Sash ran towards it, also with a warcry, and threw the lasso onto one of its claws and slid underneath through. At the other side, Sasha threw her end of the rope towards the little frog boy. "SPRIG!"
Sprig noticed the rope end flying at his direction and leapt off to catch it, avoiding another attack by the mantis. With his end of the rope, he hopped all around, over and under the mantis, dodging every attack by the skin of his teeth and slowly but steadily wrapped the mantis with the same rope used to tie up Sasha just a minute ago.
Once done, he hopped back onto the ground and pulled hard but found himself lacking the strength to do so. The mantis struggled to get free and Sasha, thinking quickly, sprinted towards him and grabbed a part of his rope. "Let's do this!"
"And... PULL!" Sasha ordered, pulling alongside Sprig. The rope tightened and in turn, the mantis' limbs are pulled closer and closer until its balance shifted. With the screech, the mantis fell down to its side with a loud thump. The ground quaked underneath its weight for second and suddenly, everything got quiet.
The townsfolk that ran off, turned to see the mantis, out cold and unable to move at all. Realization washed over them quickly and Mayor Toadstool cheered, "They did it! It's down!", followed by everyone else.
"We did it!" Sprig exclaimed triumphantly. Sasha smiled at the scene and lifted her hand, "Yeah, we totally did it. Up top."
Sprig responded with his tongue, covering Sasha's hand with frog saliva. Grossed out, she flicked her hand around in a futile attempt to remove the sticky fluid from her palm. "Oh, should've seen that coming..."
Mayor Toadstool, now sure of his safety, walked up towards the duo with a crowd behind him. "Well, now that's settled, what the heck we gonna do with this thing? Maybe we oughta run it out of town. Just to be safe."
"Let it be someone else's problem." He muttered. The crowd, now once again an angry mob, pulled out their pitchforks and torches and charged towards Sasha. She stepped back, no sure exactly how to defuse the situation. "Now wait a minute, maybe we can talk about this!"
Immediately after, Sprig barged in between the mob and Sasha, stopping the former dead on their tracks. "Stop right there!" He shouted. "She's not a monster. Sure she's weird and creepy-looking but she's just lost. She needs our help."
Sasha looked at Sprig, a little frog boy whom she just met about less than an hour ago and yet was willing to stand up for her. A smile crept unknowingly onto her face, as she felt something she can't quite describe. But a word for it definitely exists; Gratefulness.
Of course, the moment was ruined instantly after when Mayor Toadstool objected. "Are you crazy?!"
"Yeah, what if it goes nutty tomorrow and starts eating people?" Wally added. Sasha rolled her eyes, "Yeah, no way."
Despite her assurances, some murmurs were heard from the back regarding that possible risk. However, Hop Pop stood forward, causing them all to quiet down. He voiced out, "Don't worry yourself silly. I'll keep an eye on 'em. Both of them."
Mayor Toadstool took his time and thought it through. While he would have preferred to run her out of town, Hop Pop did live far away enough from Wartwood that when this 'Sasha' does go crazy, at least he'd have enough time to hide all his embezzlements and run away for a bit.
"Alright, suit yourself, Hopadiah Plantar. But I don't like one bit. If she eats one of us, it's on you."
"Yeah, still not gonna do that."
Mayor Toadstool ignored her remark. "Alright folks, pack it up. Let's go have ourselves a celebration!" The folks cheered in delight and thus, the day ended with no further crazy accidents. One of them pulled the mantis Sasha and Sprig took down back to town, where it would be Wartwood's special dish for tonight.
Once all that was out the way, Polly took the opportunity to speak up. "So... Now what?"
After listening to Sasha's woes and Hop Pop giving Sprig a speech about responsibility and whatnot, she was invited to live with the Plantars back at their cosy little homestead. Not wanting to stay in the woods any longer than she could, she, of course, accepted immediately. Fortunately for her, their basement was spacious enough that she can stay there for the time being. It wasn't ideal but at this point, she was willing to take what she can get.
"Alrighty, the kitchen's upstairs. Breakfast in on sunrise, sharp. Since you're living here now, might as well help out with the farm a bit."
"Oh alright, cool. I can do farm work. Thanks, old man." Sasha said, watching Hop Pop leave the underground room. She inspected her new 'room' for a bit; A few boxes here and there, a furnace for heating, some stray pipes and for some odd reason, the lights here are controlled via mushrooms. "I guess it's not that different from home, huh?"
She placed her sleeping mat on the floor, somewhere not damp. A knock came from behind and turning around, she saw Sprig came in with a bunch of old plushies at hand. "Hey there, getting comfy? Brought some toys to keep you company. They're not your friends but hey, they're super adorable."
Sasha smiled. "Thanks, dude."
"Yeah, I'm too old for them anyway... Well, except for this one, and maybe also this one..." Sprig continued, taking back every single toy he brought here with him. With all toys in his arms, Sprig grinned. "Hey, Sasha? I'm glad you're staying with us. We don't have much but you can always count on us Plantars, even if you're a creepy hooman."
"Hah, me too. Glad to be here as well, weird little frog boy."
"Well," Sprig climbed the ladder. "Goodnight!" He finished, accidentally dropping one of his toys as he left.
Sasha strolled front and picked up the dropped toy, squeezing it lightly. "Heh, cute.", she muttered before walking back to her still-rolled up sleeping mat and took a seat. Sure that no one was watching, she zipped open Anne bag and from it, pulled out a weird bejewelled chest wrapped in some cloth. With one hand on the bottom and another on top, Sasha slowly opened the box, expecting some flashing lights and interdimensional magic...
But nothing. Nothing happened. She sighed, disappointed. "Well, it was too much to ask, huh?"
Unrolling the mat, she packed the chest back into Anne's bag and placed it next to her. Lying down, the room naturally turned dark with a tap of a mushroom, leaving only the moonlight to illuminate the area. Sasha held her photo above her and with a sad sigh, turned to sleep.
"I'll find you guys. I promise." Sasha said, closing her eyes for the night.