Mundagurg opened the canteen and sniffed it suspiciously. Three times he had returned to Angry Grandfather for help or at least advice, and three times Angry Grandfather had told him things he didn't really understand. The third time, however, Angry Grandfather had given him this canteen and instructed him to "take care of it and stop bothering me, or ask somebody else." So he'd taken the canteen and come up here again, to this distressed strand of beach where his glorious service on behalf of his confusing patron deity had ground to a frustrating halt at the finned hands of some corruption-fouled beasts that smelled even more pungent than he and his fellow Merwarts did.
Mundagurg emerged from the tunnel still running at a breakneck pace, too afraid to even look back. Even though the sounds of pursuit died down a few hundred yards from the hole, he didn't slow down until he was within sight of Angry Grandfather's town. Surely, he thought, some kind human friend of Angry Grandfather's would be happy to kill all those Fin-heads, if only he could come up with the right reward to bribe them with… It was always rewards with the humans, after all.
Mundagurg, for his part, was flummoxed by Angry Grandfather's reluctance to come away from his shrine in the human settlement and use some of his awe-inspiring magical powers to help one of his most loyal and daring disciples. After all, who else among the Merwarts raised up by Angry Grandfather had been hardy or clever enough to explore so much of this strange and confusing land? Only Mundagurg. And had not Angry Grandfather demonstrated his godlike powers to them when he first raised them up? Had he not shown the ability to conjure fire in his hands and to call lightning from a cloudless sky? Had he not shared with them the secrets of the Blue Stone and the Magic Brew? Why was he reluctant to smite the enemies of his people?
The confused little Merwart waggled his big, melon-shaped head in resignation and decided that it was not for him to question the wisdom of Angry Grandfather. There had to be some reason why Angry Grandfather had tasked him with exploring all of this island, but would then refuse to assist him when an impediment to the mission arose, not even an hour's walk from Angry Grandfather's own shrine!
Sighing in a human-like gesture that he'd picked up during his travels, Mundagurg pushed all his doubts back. He had a task to accomplish now, and then he'd be able to think about more complex theological matters later on. Having settled his own internal debate, at least temporarily, he held his breath and took a big gulp from the canteen. The thick, bitter liquid almost overwhelmed him with its powerful, almost grotesque taste, smell, and fizzy texture, but his long practice and devotion to Angry Grandfather's rituals helped him overcome his natural aversion to the strong drink.
Almost immediately, he was rewarded for his efforts by a surge of energy throughout his battered limbs. The vitality that flowed through him bolstered his own confidence in himself. He scrambled up on top of the rock formation that he'd been hiding behind and examined the scene again.
There was a hole in the land here. The Fin-heads had dug their way up out of some hidden warren and were in the process of trying to claim a portion of the beach for themselves. More and more Fin-heads came out of this hole every day, and he'd even been able to get a glimpse of their apparent leader, a taller, smellier, shambling specimen that Angry Grandfather had named "Blightfinger" when Mundagurg described the situation. Mundagurg had explored just about every other inch of the humans' island, and he knew that the Fin-heads were not native to this area. They mostly kept to other areas, nearer to the hot, smelly Vesayen Isles that Mundagurg had already explored and catalogued, months ago, as one of his first tasks.
"Must learn to stop fearing what happen maybe later, think about what happen now for sure," Mundagurg repeated. It was a rough paraphrase of the advice Angry Grandfather had offered him each time he'd come seeking guidance on how to deal with the Fin-heads.
"Okay," he muttered to himself. "Go get club off dead not-me, then run away before Fin-heads send me back to Blue Stone… Then think about future maybes."
Mundagurg took a deep breath and vaulted over the rock formation. He hit the sand running, and his flat, flapping feet helped him keep a fast pace over the shifty sand as he sprinted forward. There was a handful of the Fin-heads outside of the cave mouth this time. One of them saw him coming and turned to bellow a warning to its fellows, but it was too late. The speeding Merwart was past the knot of them and running through cool, damp tunnels as fast as his little legs would carry him.
Mundagurg, like the rest of his fellow Merwarts, was not particularly smart, but his sense of direction in the dark was excellent, and he navigated the tunnels of the Fin-heads with ease, despite only having been through here briefly, and while fighting the whole time. He navigated the corridors without tripping on the vines that had slowed him up the first time, and he managed to evade or slip past a few other Fin-heads. Despite his adept maneuvers, the noises that reverberated through the tunnels behind him made it clear that the outside patrollers were still chasing him.
Finally, after a few twists and turns, and with by now half a dozen monsters on his trail, Mundagurg found what he was looking for: his own corpse. To even look upon the empty shell that once was his body inspired a tremor of theological terror in him. Not even the lessons provided by Angry Grandfather would ever completely quell his discomfort in seeing and interacting with his own corpse. But he managed to shove away those concerns long enough to reach out and take the glowing green club from his own dead hand: the prized weapon he'd carved himself, and lost during his first fateful trip into these tunnels.
His club retrieved, Mundagurg spared a second to listen to the grunts and shrieks of his pursuers as they closed in on his position. He took an experimental swing, felt the strength still flowing through him, and tried to find an out-of-the-way corner in which he could hide for a moment, just long enough to surprise his hunters. He glanced back at his own body, and at the vines that crawled up the walls of these tunnels, and came up with an idea…
The Fin-head pursuit arrived just a few moments later. They saw the corpse of the little Merwart still clutching its club on the ground, and they saw the Merwart himself, apparently tangled in some of the hanging vines nearby. Roaring in outrage at the intrusion, they launched themselves at the little Merwart. So blinded were they by primitive anger that they didn't even notice the corpse get up, wielding its club with a fiendish gleam in its eyes. They jumped on the decoy in a pile and proceeded to become thoroughly tangled up with each other.
Mundagurg's first swing of the club shattered the kneecap of the last Fin-head that had jumped on the pile drawn by his corpse. The beast shrieked in pain and fell onto its fellows. By the time the beasts got themselves untangled, their quarry was far down the tunnels, chortling in glee. They could hear the hue and cry from their fellow tunnel-dwellers as the Merwart made his escape, but without advanced warning or a concerted hunt, the little Merwart could evade any one of them individually and probably make good his escape.