Swamped Chapter 13 Page 7

You decide that it’s best for him to know about the letter, but it may be too risky to let him know what’s in it.

“I’m trying to clear things up,” you explain. “I understand there’s a rumor going around that we’re stockpiling poison.”

“Might have heard something like that, yeah,” Shrike says warily. “What’s that got to do with you being all the way over here?”

“It’s my fault. I did gather a large supply of fly eggs, but it was for dealing with our greatrat infestation. We had tunnelers too, you see, and…”

“Get to the point.”

“The point is, we’re done with the poison. So, I wanted to make my way over here and let you all know that. The plan got a bit more complicated when we discovered you were already preparing an attack, though… well, anyhow, the point is I wanted to sneak off and let the base know I’d made it here, then just sit quietly and wait in my cell. Because I didn’t imagine the Marshguards would be cooperative about me writing home.”

“Can’t argue there.”

“Well, ah. The crow for the base has already flown out, so I left the message there. Um, in your name, because I couldn’t very well use mine.”

“And you want me to cover for you.”

“In short, yes.”

“Ha. Is that all? Fine. But you’re not causing any more trouble, got that? I get teased enough for having a pen-pal in the Bogknights, don’t need rumors. So I’m guessing it’s addressed to you?”

“That was the plan.”

“Fine, fine, I’ll say I left it before hearing you were captured.”

“And, um, could you tell them you found me outside the cells? If you tell them I was near the roost, they’ll get suspicious.”

“Right. Even better, let’s head back that way. I’ll ‘catch’ you there and we might even be lucky enough to have a witness. Of course, if you slip away from me, deal’s off.”

“Fair. Let’s go.”

You were hoping to have a talk with Shrike, but he’s got a good point. You sneak back around, while he checks ahead for other guards who might spot you too soon. Before long, you’re back at the hallway leading to the cells, and there’s a group looking around.

“Here’s good,” Shrike says. “I’ll head back down the hall. You run towards me in about a minute, then I’ll ‘spot’ you.”

He slips away. You count for roughly a minute before running in his direction.

“Bogknight!” he shouts. It genuinely startles you, which should be good for makng this convincing. You make a show of panicking for a moment before turning around, at which point five other Marshguards are running your way.

“I give up! I give up!”

You hold up your hands in surrender as the Marshguards approach. Shrike laughs.

“Well, look at this!” he says. “It’s my pen pal, the Dean. Had no idea we had him here. And just after I finished writing my letter to him!”

“Ugh,” one of the other guards says. “Last time he was here, you two wouldn’t shut up. Hope I don’t get guard duty with you.”

“It kept him well-behaved,” Shrike snickers. “Why, just look at the trouble he’s getting into without my good influence.”

“Wouldn’t have happened under normal circumstances,” the other guard says with a growl. “But we were too short-handed tonight to keep a proper crew ready at the cells. And that damned smoke trick didn’t help matters when we finally started getting organized. At least we’ve got the others separated now.”

It sounds like you won’t be heading out again. Good thing you got that message sent off.

You’re dragged back through the cell block and flung into a solitary cell now. You can see Mary, Walter, and Jackson in three other cells nearby…

“Where’s Marshall?” you ask, just as they slam the door shut.

“Razor’s got some questions for ’em,” says the guard. “Should be back in twenty, though I can’t make any guarantees as to how many pieces your friend’s coming back in. Now, keep your trap shut, unless you want to be next.”

Razor? Why is one of the Marshguard elite questioning Marshall? Are they that shorthanded with the assault force they’ve sent out?

Or is Marshall that important?

You’re now Marshall, and you’re in deep trouble.

“Rider wants you for some reason,” says the man ahead of you. He’s got short black hair, a scar on his face, and a very sharp sword in his hand.

You also have a vague feeling that you’ve seen him before, somewhere else, long ago. But you don’t think it’s likely he’ll give you a chance to ask him any questions about that.

“Now, why do you think that might be?”

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“We’ve met before, outside the swamp.” Keep things vague.

The truth is, you don’t know. YOU came to the swamp to find Rider. Really, you have no idea why the person who abandoned you wants to see you now. You hope its because he cares for you, but…if he’s known you’ve been in this swamp this whole time, why hasn’t he just called you over before then, aside from all this sneaking, kidnapping and bag of secrets!

He’s associated with your father’s disappearance some years ago, and… that’s all you know for sure. Among the many things you DON’T know is how Rider knew you were coming to the Swamp.