Swamped Chapter 16 Page 9

“Do you have time to spare after this evening’s patrols, Mudviper?”

“Oh, hells. Mantis, we’ve been over this before. I’m not ‘troubled’ and I don’t need to ‘unburden myself’ in your little confessional. And if you dare try ordering me to…”

“I merely thought, with Rider’s disappearance, matters might be weighing on your mind more heavily than usual. I only wished to remind you of the option, should you desire to avail yourself of it.”

“Stay on the damn topic, Mantis,” Razor growls. “I still want to know what the hell she was doing last night.”

“I told you. I warned Rider of a Bogknight infiltration attempt.”

“And, in doing so, you got him to send half our force running on a wild goose chase while the infiltrators made it right to our front door. I also can’t help but notice that you escaped alone, rather than helping your aides.”

“I had important information about the poison. Given that the entire basis for the assault was that someone blamed the Bogknights for our recent troubles, I thought it was quite relevant to get that information back here swiftly.”

“You could have used a crow,” Bigfoot says. Urgh. She knows perfectly well why you couldn’t.

“They guard their roost better than we guard ours. And, for that matter, they check it more often, because they’ve got more soldiers who can read. Even if I’d taken the risk of sending a crow, it could be days before one of you noticed it.”

“Rider would’ve checked,” Claws mutters, barely even talking to you.

“And that would have been very helpful when he was already leading our assault force, wouldn’t it. If you ask me, you’re all as much to blame for sending him out so recklessly.”

“Perhaps we are focused on the wrong issue,” Mantis says.

Is he just changing the subject because he doesn’t want to account for his vote? You honestly can’t tell.

“Based on Mudviper’s information, it would appear that the recent poisoning outbreak was not the work of the Bogknights – or at the least, not a plan approved by their captain. In which case, should our most pressing concern not be to determine the actual cause?”

Razor growls.

“You know full well she’s being soft on Long.”

You clench your fists.

“Are you daring to suggest I would endanger the Marshguards just to protect someone I once knew? This fortress is my home as much as it is yours. I have nothing to go back to. If I betrayed the Marshguards, my only reward would be going back home to languish in a cell for the rest of my life.”

“And what if I am suggesting that?” Razor gives the sort of smirk you’ve learned to despise. “All you’ve given me in response are words. I want something stronger than that if you’re to stay among us.”

Well. What else can you offer as an answer?

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if you have some hard evidence on you, use it. nothing comes to mind though, at least, not without combing through 12 pages. but if you don’t:

pick a finger. look razor dead in the eye and stone-cold chop it off of your hand. do not break eye contact. do not flinch. do not say a word. you can do this

Razor is a bully. Not as bad as the people who sent you here, but still he’s just trying to throw his weight around.

You really hate bullies.

He hated that Rider was at the top of the Marshguard food chain, and with the news that he’s vanished Razor is trying to throw his weight around. That includes getting rid of the officers closest to Rider, and hopefully anyone who’d follow them. If you can shut him up now, though, his power grab will screech to a halt, and more importantly, you’d preserve Rider’s seat.

Corvus isn’t the most talented marshguard, but he was loyal to Rider, and he’s a decent tactician. You want him to temporary fill in Rider’s place on the council. Of course Razor has one of his lackies he wants to fill the position as well…they might have to fight it out…but of course, if you can shame Razor, you could probably ensure it’s a fair one.