Swamped Chapter 134 Page 12

Badger takes a deep breath.

“The thing you need to understand is, my specialty is investigating fairy tales, folklore, that sort of thing. Seeing if there’s any truth to them. Sometimes the world is stranger than it sounds.”

“And you think one of those stories might have these folks taking an interest in you?” Long asks.

“Well. I ran into a real oddity tonight. One of the enemy’s men was frozen stiff just outside Patterson’s bar, not moving even slightly. And what that sounds like is time magic.”

You’re not surprised, considering what the wizard gave you to work with. But you try your best to look surprised – and you are, a bit, because you didn’t see anyone frozen.

“I was over there and I didn’t see anyone,” you say.

“That’s worrying. It could mean any number of things, and few of them are good for us,” Badger mutters.

“You sure it wasn’t just some kind of stun magic?” Spade interjects.

“Every stun spell I know of leaves you breathing. There’s a small number of spells that can kill with a touch, but they don’t leave the body standing up. Or feeling warm, for that matter.” He pauses. “Anyhow, I was pursuing that lead. Someone suggested that one of my books might be in a particular grebling language, so I risked a visit to a grebling tavern to find out if anyone in town speaks it. Can’t say nobody was eavesdropping, though.”

“You didn’t just go and outright say you were looking into time magic, did you?” Spade asks incredulously.

“No. But if it happens that the enemy has some source of it, well, then the eavesdropper might have passed the info along to someone who could read between the lines. Just a guess, though.” Badger shrugs. “It’s definitely the most esoteric thing I’ve looked into tonight.”

“Did you get any leads on who might speak the language?” you ask carefully.

“I did. I made contact, and brought a copied page from the book to avoid risking the book itself. But we weren’t able to meet long. Still, I learned something very interesting.”

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There’s a grebling legend about the gods and how they share control of time. But that because they squabble, and have sweetened throughout history, time magic is inherently unstable. The more divine conflict, the more unstable the magic…