Swamped Chapter 13 Page 4

The simplest option is to make a crow call. A warning should do it. If the ravens panic, you’ll hear the keeper try to calm them down. The rest of the base has bigger concerns than ravens right now, so you shouldn’t draw attention to yourself; and even if you do, what matters is getting the message off before you get caught.

So you make the call. You don’t hear a lot of calls back, which you suppose makes sense; the Marshguards don’t have that many places to communicate with.

You also don’t hear anyone trying to calm them. There might be a guard up there who doesn’t care about the racket, you suppose, but you don’t really have any better options right now than to hope.

You scramble up the ladder and find eight cages, four of them empty. Huh, must be some messages going out.

You glance at the signs on the cages. They don’t seem to list cities, but rather organizations. Three of them you recognize as criminal groups; two are charities, of which one is currently empty. Two others, you can’t place at all, but both of their birds seem to be out.

The last cage is marked “Bogknights”, and it too is empty. Well, that’s a problem.

Your only chance now is to make your note look like a real letter from a Marshguard. You recall that they get very upset with Marshguards who read each others’ mail, but you can’t help but think messages to the Bogknight base would at least be read by the officers.

So you’ll want to make this sound innocuous. Luckily, when you were last captured you had a good conversation with a fellow called Shrike, who shares your interest in wildlife. You’ve been corresponding since, so it would be easiest to pass the letter off as one of his.

You just need to think of how to get the message across. You don’t think you can mention the desert creatures directly, as that might be considered sensitive information and your whole ruse will be blown if they give Shrike an earful about the letter.

So what can you say?

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Author’s Note:

This is one of the first glimpses we get of how the Marshguards are very different from the Bogknights. The Bogknight roost was a lively place, but the Marshguard roost barely has any crows. Even raising a ruckus doesn’t make nearly as much noise.

I was trying to give both groups their own distinct cultures, rather than making them basically mirrors of each other. We’ve only gotten a little sense of that so far, but it’s going to get clearer as we spend more time in the Marsh Fortress.