“I think I can handle it. Might need you to catch me if I slip, though.”
She gives you a doubtful eye, but she seems willing to put up with it for the moment.
“Fine. Lead me there.”
You take the lead, and head to the nearest stairway. The lookout point isn’t too far off from there, but someone’s on duty.
Mudviper takes care of that with a quick tap to the back of the guard’s neck. You look down, and realize it’s Nathan.
“He’ll be fine,” she says. “He’s just napping for a half-hour or so. That should be enough time for you to get down, right?”
“Yeah,” you say. “But it might be easier barefoot. Better grip on the trunk. Can you help me get my boots off, and take them down for me?”
She gives you a glare, but she helps you take off your boots, then climbs into the tree.
“Be quick,” she says, before slipping down at a speed you wouldn’t feel safe at.
Fortunately, stepping out onto the trunk isn’t that hard; you have to make a small jump, but it’s manageable and there’s a branch that offers decent footing. You slip around the trunk and start making your way down, slowly and carefully.
Then your foot hits some sap, and you struggle to keep your grip. Fortunately, by then you’re low enough for Mudviper to grab your leg. With a little bit of help, you make it to the bottom. Mudviper wipes the sap off and puts your boots back on.
“Now, we can’t have any more delays. Follow me, and stay in the shadows.”
She leads you down the walkway, then guides you to another tree – this one shorter. It doesn’t take long to climb up into the branches, and then the two of you scramble through the canopy for a while.
You’ve got no idea where you are, but at least she doesn’t seem inclined to lose you.
Suddenly, she stops.
“I hear footsteps. Lots of them.”
“We’ve been spotted?”
She shakes her head.
“Worse, if I’m right.” She pokes her head out through the leaves, then dives back in. “Oh hells, I am. We’ve got problems.”
“What could…” You decide to see for yourself. You climb to the end of the branch you’re on, and look through the leaves.
Up ahead, you see more Marshguards than you can count. Some are marching along the walkways, some are in makeshift rafts… you even see a few in a lifeboat. Nearly all have weapons raised, save for the ones carrying lanterns.
In the lead, you see the Rider, floating through the muck on his beast, spear at hand.
Weakly, you sink back into the canopy.
“They’re attacking,” you say in disbelief.
“Those damn fools,” Mudviper hisses. “If they’d just waited a couple of hours, I could have told them the poison was for the rats. Now it won’t do any good even if I do tell Rider. The order’s already gone out.”
It seems Mudviper doesn’t want this fight any more than you do. Is there anything you can do?
well, at least meet up with Rider! Maybe since you’re so important and all, maybe Rider can get the attack called, or at least get the other members of the marshguards to agree to postpone it.
This might play to your advantage honestly, if the Bogknights are victorious in repelling the battle, than with all the confusion of an full on attack, nobody will piece together the various clues that you were behind mudviper’s breakout, they will just think you were captured during the heat of battle. And if they fail… well it doesn’t really matter then does it, nobody but mudviper and whoever set you up to break her out will know. It might weigh heavy on your conscience though, especially considering the incapacitated Nathan, who wont be properly warning the base of the battle.
Even if the full marshguard regiment cant be recalled, maybe you can still get to Rider and get a partial recall of the marshguard forces they are in direct contact with. Of course even though it’s an immoral fight and gross leap in aggression, now that the orders have been given and there is no way to properly communicate a retreat to the rest of the troops, there’s no advantage for the rider and the marshguards to not put their full force into the fight. You are going to have to convince rider somehow to get the troops directly under their control not to participate, which might be tricky.
The only answer I can see is to have Mudviper leverage yourself as collateral to convince Rider to let a loosing battle take place. You are worth something to the marshguards, maybe enough to shift the tide of this battle. Appeal to Mudviper’s emotions to get her on board with this, she knows the bogknights aren’t bad people, just a diametrically opposed force. She must know someone in the base too because of the whole note thing, just cross your fingers it’s someone worth going up against her commander for.
If she leaves you here, hidden, she can come back for you if she’s negotiated a losing battle (or at least a weakened marshguard force) and if she doesnt come back for you, then you return to the base as a traitor and hope you can do something to help with the battle.
You can’t let them attack the base…All the bogknights…They’re not ready for an assault like this. People will die. You have to stop that from happening.
What tools do you have? You can’t stop this many people. Mudviper has said even Rider can’t stop this once the order has gone out.
The rat poison? This entire army thinks that the base has stockpiled poison? MudViper must mean the fly egg poison, so…
Tell MudViper…”We have to lie to them. You just escaped from the base and my dad is over there. Tell them the base is on high alert – they know you escaped and took me. This will not be a stealth attack. If that doesn’t work, tell them the rumors on poison are true. That if they keep marching they will be facing an alert, active army with lethal toxic weapons and not a sleeping unprepared base like they think.”
That should at least make them hesitate. The more battle-hungry ones might not be satisfied leaving without a win. If it doesn’t stop the assault entirely, you do have a bargaining chip, one that could stop this conflict but also mark you as a traitor.
Send most of the Marshguards back, leave only the talented and stealthy. The Bogknights are looking for escapees, not an army (though they’ll certainly notice one). There is one target that they may have checked for stowaways, but not one that a lone Marshguard could easily use to flee.
You’ll take them to the barge.
This is one of my favorite moments. I’ve talked before in the notes about adding complications to keep problems from being solved too easily.
And I thought that “Marshall goes to the Marsh Fortress” was a little too easy of a way to resolve the search for their father, which was where this whole story started. So I introduced a very big complication, one that I’d already set up for.
If you thought things were a little slow-paced to begin with, that’s about to change.