Swamped Chapter 12 Page 5

Your thoughts are interrupted by a question from Rider.

“How did you escape, Mudviper?”

His voice is imposing, even to you, and you know him better than almost anyone. It takes you a moment to regain yourself and answer. Fortunately, you can cover it mostly with honesty.

“The guard was the sort who takes himself too seriously. Think his name was Squib, something along those lines. It wasn’t hard to lure him close enough to knock him out and take the keys – it seemed as though it was his first time on guard duty, in fact.”

“And that didn’t draw any attention?”

“Oh, it did. But only one knight. Seems the rest of them were busy. Why, they didn’t even have anyone guarding my gloves – all I needed was the keyring I already had.”

You haven’t said a word of how it was Long who arranged for your escape to be that easy, of course. Rider can figure that out on his own easily enough.

“Did you encounter anyone else before being recaptured?”

“I had to incapacitate a lookout before slipping out of the base. Didn’t really have a way to open the gate without drawing attention, after all.”

“Is that it, then?”

“That was it. No other knights got in my way.”

Rider leans in closer.

“Is the base aware of your escape?”

“Almost certainly by now. The knights I knocked out should have woken up, for one thing.”

“That means increased patrols,” Rider muses. “Both inside and outside the base. More knights woken up, to ensure you don’t slip out of sight.”

“More knights who might notice us sitting here with our weapons out,” you note. “You, in particular. I’m sure you’ve noticed that they don’t take it lightly when you’re around.”

“And yet, we are some distance from their territory still,” Rider points out. “If they are focused on finding a single prisoner, they may be unprepared for a full-on assault.”

He turns to one of the other squad leaders.

“Bluesight,” he says. “I want your squad to scout ahead. Report back with the state of the Bogknights’ defenses.”

“Yes, sir,” Bluesight says. Their squad moves forward and vanishes into the night. You hope the Bogknights are ready.

You’re Marshall again. In the distance, you see a group of Marshguards slipping forward towards Bogknight territory. You tell the others immediately.

“Might just be scouts,” Walter says. “Of course, if they’re scouting, that means they haven’t given up on their attack yet; they’re trying to figure out if we’re ready for them.”

“We should be,” Dean says, though he’s not sounding as confident as you’d like. “Sergeant Ash was focused on shoring up our defenses from the moment he took command. I don’t think we have much choice but to hope that’s enough to scare off the scouts; I doubt we can catch up to them even if we tried to pursue.”

“Lights up ahead,” Tom Tenth says suddenly. “We’re nearing the patrols.”

“Got to think carefully here,” Jackson adds. “There’s some underbrush to the west we could hide in, but there might be something nasty hiding in there. Or we could press forward; I don’t see any Marshguards on the nearest walkway, even though it’s lighted.”

How should you proceed?

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What does Jackson think could be hiding in there? Of course Dean opts for it anyway. The chance to see some swamp creatures up close drives his gut instinct. Walter seems confident he could wrestle whatever’s in there as well. Only Tom really prefers the path, but he’s in charge of the raft after all.

Stacy is nonchalant about the whole thing…or sleep swimming, it’s always hard to tell.


encountering swamp creatures is probably a better bet than encountering the marshguards at this point. especially if walter can wrestle them to death silently. just make sure you aren’t going into the brush with anything poisonous.


Author’s Note:

I make a fair number of minor continuity errors. For the most part, I haven’t corrected them unless I notice them shortly after the fact, though I do correct spelling errors.

Here, though, I made a fairly significant change. In the original, Mudviper said “the guard was the sort who doesn’t take women seriously“.

In the real world, this sort of person is easy to imagine. But in Swamped, I strive to reflect a world with gender equality. I’m not saying I do a perfect job – but I can’t remember a single scene where someone isn’t taken seriously specifically because they’re a woman. In fact, I go out of my way not to have that happen. And it’s closely related to the fact that sexual orientation isn’t something that gets a lot of thought – much of that prejudice builds on separating men and women and criticizing people who don’t fit into standard gender roles.

So I consider the original line a continuity error, and a fairly strong one. This is not to suggest Squib is really a better person for not being a misogynist, though. It’s more like the energy he would have put into hating women gets redirected into other forms of antisocial behavior.