Swamped Chapter 12 Page 9

You nod, but then you hold out your palm in an attempt to say “let’s not move quite yet”. Walter seems to get the signal, and passes it along as you get your skyslicer ready. Everyone starts getting ready, but you think it might be better to wait for the Marshguards to be a bit more vulnerable.

You hold your head close to the ground and look through the bushes to try and see what they’re doing, and get a good angle for your skyslicer shot – it’ll serve as a signal.

“Corvus, we can’t keep poking around out here. Starling and Rivers can’t handle that lookout point by themselves if someone tries to attack while we’re stuck here.”

“Fine, then you head back and help them. I think we can take a few guards.”

There’s a bit of rustling as one of the Marshguards leaves. Good, that gives you a better chance. You can still hear some splashing, though – they must be walking through shallows. You decide to wait until that noise fades before making your move – despite the argument, the Marshguards seem more interested in talking to each other than searching the area.

“Can’t believe Rider wouldn’t let us join the attack,” Shorty mutters. “Is he still mad we bungled that capture mission?”

“Of course he’s still mad,” the leader says. That other guard called him Corvus, you think. “But he’s not petty. He’s not punishing us, he’s giving us an important job. Maybe it’s a bit of a test, too, I wouldn’t put that past him. But I know he didn’t tell us to watch this area just because he was mad at us.”

That’s right – this squad takes their orders directly from Rider. They were ordered to retrieve you, something you haven’t told anyone. You feel like it could get awkward if Corvus recognizes you; fortunately, while you can only see the feet of the Marshguards from here, they’re different enough in build that you can tell which one’s which.

You start planning your throw to hit Corvus, just as you hear him talk again.

“Now quit wasting time with stupid questions and start searching!”

“But there’s a dead bear here, boss!” Shorty protests.

“If you see something that looks like it killed a bear, yell and run. Otherwise, keep looking. Wouldn’t want any Bogknights sneaking past.”

That sounds like a good time to strike. You toss your slicer and it flies through, hitting Corvus in the head. A moment later, Walter grabs Shorty, a ball goes flying through the air and strikes Legs, and Corvus gets knocked to the ground by a large shield.

“Mmph!” Shorty tries to scream, but Walter’s already covered his mouth. Dean pins down Legs, while Jackson sits on Corvus and pulls out some rope.

It takes a few minutes of work from there, but you soon have them all tied and gagged. However, you can’t help but notice something.

“Where’s Stacey?”

“I think she was going for an ambush from the water if one of them slipped out,” Dean says. “I’ll see if I can find her.”

You’re now Stacey.

You tried following that Marshguard who stepped out, but she kept to the shallows. You didn’t have a good chance to strike her without being seen.

Now she’s on the walkway, looking back at the underbrush you just came from. She doesn’t have long goggles, but you recall hearing the name “Greeneye”. Eye-related nicknames usually indicate a scout. She might have good vision on her own, then.

How should you handle this?

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Follow her back to see where she’s stationed and return to the group with that intel.


Heh. A scout.

Visual acuity is a valuable trait in the swamp, but it’s not the only way to keep aware of your surroundings.

You don’t see your way through the swamp. The grime and muck obscures your vision, especially when swimming. You don’t have to look to find your way.

You listen.

You’re always listening to the swamp on some level. It has much more interesting things to say than most of the bogknights do. It’s when you’re swimming though, submersed in the waters of the swamp that you can hear it most clearly.

Greeneye has stopped moving. The walkway creaks as she shifts her balance. Maybe she’s spotted you?

No. You’re still mostly underwater – your weapon is drawn, but aquablades are invisible when submerged. Greeneye must be looking somewhere beyond – you can hear the others’ fight finishing. Perhaps she’s assessing their situation. Regardless, if she’s a scout, then she’s used to looking for danger far away, relying on her squad to handle dangers up close.

Dive deep – and come back up under the walkway.

Author’s Note:

And so, in the sixth month of Swamped, the very first Marshguard we met finally gets a name.