“Well, there’s a game I know where one person thinks of something, and everyone else asks yes or no questions to figure out what it is,” you say. “We could do that while we wait.”
“Er, I suppose,” Dean says. “Um, all right, I’ve got something, start by asking a question.”
“Is it an animal?”
“Yes. Is it really that obvious I picked one?”
“That’s a standard opening question. Though, yeah, I had a hunch…”
Suddenly, you hear an assortment of growls and roars. They’re distant, but recognizable. Dean looks baffled, but you have your suspicions – Rider’s animals are upset.
Is it because he’s not back yet? Or is something else going on?
You’re not sure, and there isn’t a lot you can do about it in here. You decide to just continue with the game.
“Second question… oh, right, I get twenty questions total, that’s how the game works. If I don’t get it by then, you win. Anyhow, second question, is it an animal in this swamp?”
“Yes,” Dean sighs. “I’m that predictable, am I?”
“It’s just a starting point. You probably know more creatures here than I do. In fact, I think if I just asked about specific creatures, I’d probably run out of ideas before I ran out of questions.”
“Oh,” Dean says, a little dejected. “I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe you don’t know this one.”
“May as well guess anyway,” you say. “Um, let’s see. Is it an insect?”
“Okay, okay. Is it… a bird?” Not that you’ve seen any birds here, other than crows.
Hmm. You haven’t seen a lot of reptiles. There’s crocodiles, and there’s Rider’s beast. Maybe some lizards and snakes, but you can’t remember any particular species.
“Is it a swamp beast? Like Rider’s?”
Dean looks pale.
“Heavens, no,” he says.
“Is it a crocodile?”
“Well, then I’m out of ideas. Guess I’ll see how close I can manage. Is it a lizard?”
You’re about to give up, but then you remember.
“Is it… a mud viper?”
“Close, but not quite.”
“Hmm, then I’m… well, let me think for a bit.”
You definitely don’t remember seeing any snakes, but there are creatures you’ve been told about. You try to think hard if there were any snakes.
Then it jumps out from your memories. A warning from Jackson, back when he was showing you around.
Can’t tell if there’s leaf vipers or not, though.
“Is it a leaf viper?”
“Yes! I was thinking about how to answer if you asked me if it was dangerous. Not an easy question with swamp creatures. Did you have a run-in with one?”
“No, but I heard about them. Their fangs aren’t strong enough to pierce our armor, I think Jackson said something like that?”
“Right. And even if you do get bitten, you’ll survive. Might feel sluggish for a few days, but it’s not that bad, unless you get bitten and have to run from something on your way back to base.”
You let that sink in a little.
“So, um,” you ask. “Just out of curiosity, are mud vipers more dangerous?”
You don’t get a chance to hear his answer, as there’s a sudden knock on the door. Ringer steps aside, and someone else walks in.
Dean looks a little worried.
“Oh no. You.”
Who could this Marshguard interrogator be that has him so upset?
Why, it’s the patroller he incapacitated on the way here. If I recall right she specialized in poisons. Maybe she knows the answer to your venom question.