“I saw him too,” you say, holding up the long goggles. “At the shack, right? What do you suppose he was he doing there?”
“Nathan thinks he was letting his beast feed. Says he usually sees Rider alone at the meeting ground in the days just after the rain. Can’t believe he’s so calm about it, though. That’s the fuckin’ Rider out there.”
“Meeting ground? That’s the shack?”
“No, there’s an open space there. Hard to see from this level, I suppose. It’s where we go for negotiations. That’s probably the Marshguard side you saw; we each have a building there, in case negotiations run long. Neither is good enough to wait out the rain, though.”
“Why’s it purple?”
“Don’t know. The Marsh Fortress is made of the same stuff. But I’ve never seen a tree that color, and it doesn’t seem to be paint. Best guess I have is they go deeper into the swamp and find something there.”
He seems to be a bit calmer now that he has someone to talk to. He hops in the boat and motions for you to follow, then begins rowing back to base.
You sit there for a while. Having only one arm isn’t very good for rowing, so you don’t have a lot to do except think. About the Rider. About your father. About how good Walter looks right now, and about Sandra.
You aren’t ready to say anything to Walter about those last two points just yet. But there is something on your mind.
“I’ve seen Rider’s beast before,” you say. “Years ago. Far from the swamp. It turned up the night my father disappeared.”
Walter doesn’t seem that surprised.
“So you’re the one that story’s about. Huh, figured it was just another of those silly rumors floating around.”
“It’s spread that far? I didn’t talk about it that much.”
“Yeah, well, we do a lot of talking when we’re not on duty. Any scrap of news, no matter how unreliable, tends to go around the whole base pretty fast. If you want to keep something secret, you need to keep really quiet about it. But then again, that’s more of how the Marshguards do things. Anyhow, yeah, there’s this story going around about someone whose father got captured by the Rider years ago. Not that anyone really knows more than that.”
It’s not that surprising, in retrospect; you’ve heard plenty of rumors in your short time here. In fact, quite a few people have heard about your arm before you’d met them.
But you only mentioned that to Mary yesterday. Has it really spread that far?
You don’t have much time to reflect on it, because Walter’s pulled into the dock. You’re back at base. You go with Walter to the infirmary, where Eve looks like she’s about to collapse.
“Got the boat back, good,” she mutters. “Anything else?”
“Yeah,” Walter says. “Two things. I was on lookout duty while Nathan grabbed the boat, and I saw Rider at the meeting grounds. Nathan says that’s normal, but, it’s Rider. I can’t just let that go.”
“I’ll let the Captain deal with that,” Eve groans. “Hopefully he’ll wake up soon. What’s the other thing?”
“I got into a fight with a greatrat in the water,” Walter says. “Got caught in some muckweed. Probably fine, but, y’know. Gotta be careful. Probably got a bunch of fly eggs on me, if nothing else.”
“Right. Cindy, take a look at him. I’ll need to put someone else on patrol… were you assigned long goggles, Marshall?”
“Oh! These are Nathan’s. He never took them back.”
“Yeah, I gave him mine,” Walter says. “Patrollers get them too. Figured it wasn’t worth the trouble for him to climb down and back up again.”
“Right, well. Those goggles should be given to whoever’s taking your shift… which I’ve got written down somewhere.” She glances through her notebook. “Okay, Tom Fifth is the first on the reserve list for enough. He’ll be by soon, so just leave the long goggles here.”
You put them down on the desk.
“And, urgh, you’re still looking for orders, aren’t you. You know, Marshall, I don’t think I have anything for you to do right now. Or if I do, I’m in no state to think of it. If you’re hoping to make yourself useful, I suggest you go see another officer. Though I wouldn’t blame you for taking a break, honestly.”
“Thank you, ma’am. I hope you can get some sleep soon.”
You could go see if Tom First or John Recordkeeper has any jobs for you, or you could just take a break and go to the lounge or something. What are you going to do?
Keep at it, you have a reputation to maintain! You dont want to be known as the one armed slacker after all.
(go see john recordkeeper)
yeah!!! john recordkeeper!