Swamped Chapter 151 Page 9

The big trick is to use perspective. People perceive smoke relative to what’s around it, and birds aren’t exactly smarter about that. Confuse them about what they’re seeing, and they’ll think there’s more than there actually is.

So you grab the torch, to get the smoke around you. Then, when you’re sufficiently surrounded, you kneel a little, raising the torch slightly at the same time. It makes it look like the smoke is getting higher around you, even though there’s the same amount.

The birds around you fly away, and the rest seem hesitant. This is a good start, but you think you’ll need to get a bit showier to really scare them off.

Well. You haven’t been in theater long, but you think you’re up to the task. While you haven’t managed a real hit on any of the birds, you’ve gotten close enough to knock some feathers loose. You point to the ones on the ground, and the bookish fellow – was Badger his name? – picks them up and hands them to you, under the cover of the smoke.

Then you toss them out and scatter them. That’s enough to make it look like you scored a kill – birds aren’t exactly good at taking headcount. They start flying off in a panic.

Minnie stands up.

“Pretty good performance,” she says. “But we should move fast. Who knows how long that’ll work? Someone’s clearly directing them, somehow.”

You nod.

“I don’t know where you’re going, but I’m happy to go there with you,” you reply calmly.

“Before that, there’s something important I have to talk to you about,” Badger says. “Very important.”

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