Swamped Chapter 12 Page 20

You’re Lisa Black, and you’re in over your head. Worse, you don’t see Sergeant Greenwoods anywhere, which suggests that you’re the most senior knight out here.

That means, essentially, that you’re in charge. And you have no idea what to do. You can’t attack him, not with that hostage – but you certainly can’t approve prisoner releases. He doesn’t seem like the sort who can be talked down, either.

Well. That leaves only one option you can see – stall for time.

“Lester,” you say to another knight, loud enough for the Marshguard to hear. “Head back to base and tell them about his demands.”

Lester nods and runs back. You doubt they’ll agree, but there’s not much you can do other than make a show of complying.

“Good, good,” the Marshguard sneers. “Everyone can be happy tonight.”

Hang on. Something’s off about the way he’s talking – not just the unusual accent, or the simple word choices.

Is he… bluffing?

Your instincts are telling you that he is. But, finely-honed as your skills are, they’re not good enough to give you a solid read on a foreigner from his voice alone. If you could see his face, that would be another matter; unfortunately, between his helmet and the darkness, that’s not really feasible. And with a life at stake, you can’t take the risk unless you can be sure.

But this has changed the playing field. You have a specific question to answer, and you know more than most about how to find the answer to it. Even if you can’t see his face, he’s sure to have other tells.

So how can you try to get a better sense of how serious he is?

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Make a couple of slow, calculated advances towards him. See how he reacts.