Swamped Chapter 14 Page 5

Your first instinct is to get the poor fool some help. If he’s going out there, he’d best not be alone.

Technically, you’ve got no authority to issue orders. But the Captain’s gone. His acting commander is unconscious. Normally command would go to the senior sergeant, Vera Greenwoods, but she’s been knocked out too. You do send off messengers to the other officers telling them to figure out who’s in charge and fast, but until that’s sorted out, you’ll do what has to be done. There’s no time to wait for someone else, not with Captain Long charging off.

You call out three squads of knights to either drag the Captain back if they catch him before he reaches the Rider, or to help him out if he engages. You also order a lookout to the North Tower – it’s the best vantage point available, though it’s too exposed for general use.

Then you rush to the infirmary. You know John won’t be in the leadership meeting; he prefers to stay out of that business.

You step in, and give him a firm hug. You don’t know what’s going to happen next.

You’re now Captain Long.

Rider isn’t far from here, but you can’t help but notice the force with him is smaller than you saw at the last big attack.

Are the other Marshguards hiding? Or are they, perhaps, withdrawing?

If you could talk to Mudviper, you might be able to get a sense of what’s going on. But Rider more than likely won’t let her out of sight. He’ll want a full debriefing on the mission he gave her personally. That means he can’t risk anything happening to her, including some of the more aggressive Marshguards blaming her for the fact they haven’t advanced yet.

No, you’re going to have to come forward and parley. If they intend to fight, you’ll challenge Rider; if they’re leaving, you’ll encourage them to do it faster.

But you have to approach this carefully. You can’t let on just how much you know about Rider, not in front of the rest of the Marshguards. Or any Bogknights that might be rushing to your aid, for that matter. You’re not even sure how much you really know, just that it’s more than they do.

So. Exactly what are you going to say? You don’t want to antagonize the Marshguards needlessly, but you can’t exactly say you don’t have a problem with them gathering in large numbers on the edge of your territory.

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“Marshguards, what is your purpose for gathering and proceeding here?”