Swamped Chapter 16 Page 10

You look Razor directly in the eye.

He’s trying to scare you. There’s a vacant seat on the council now, and under normal circumstances, you’d be favored to fill it. Razor and Bigfoot might not like you, but they respect your skill. And fundamentally, they wouldn’t even be worse off with you taking Rider’s place; most of your votes would be the same.

But there’s a good deal of blame that can be placed on your shoulders here, and Razor’s taking advantage of that. He must mean to put one of his own in the position. And Mantis, disliking ties, will probably swing his way unless there’s a credible alternative; then he’ll favor some form of test to decide between them. Bigfoot can be counted on to support that, whether Razor does or not.

You don’t think there’s any chance that alternative candidate will be you. Both your loyalty and your competence have been called into question. And the only one you stand a chance at proving is the former.

Looking directly into Razor’s eyes, you reach into your pocket, and pull out a key.

“This is my one belonging from the outside world,” you say. “The key to my cell, which I was given in order to escape. Ever since then, I’ve held onto it, because it’s all I have.”

Your gloves start to crackle. You grab the key and pull it apart. Electricity surges through the pieces as they fall to the ground.

“And now, I have nothing save the Marshguards.”

Razor is clearly upset, but he’s also got no response. Nor does anyone else.

Every one of them has their own mementos of their past lives. None of them could imagine doing what you did just now.

It’s Bigfoot, out of all of them, who finally breaks the silence.

“I have no doubts about her loyalty. Acquit.”

“Acquit!” Claws declares quickly.

Mantis nods.

“Acquit,” he says silently.

Razor looks frustrated. But you can tell what he’s thinking, and that the vote he’s about to cast is sincere, even if he doesn’t like it.

“Acquit,” Razor growls, just barely holding himself back from spitting out the word.

It’s unanimous. Your loyalty is no longer in question.

“Mudviper,” Claws says, obviously not wanting Razor to get a word in edgewise. “The command council has concluded that you lack the skill to fill Rider’s seat, but that your loyalty is beyond reproach. In light of these facts, I would like to ask. Is there anyone else you would recommend for the vacant seat?”

You’ve been thinking about this ever since Rider’s disappearance, and there’s only one answer you can give. Only one person you know who can be counted on.

But will you be able to persuade them to see him in the same light you do?

“Corvus,” you say.

“Corvus!” Razor howls. Bigfoot looks angry. Even Claws is taken aback by the idea. Only Mantis doesn’t seem to have a reaction – just like him, you note.

“Are we talking about the same Corvus who sent his entire squad to attack three Bogknights, and lost? The same Corvus who crawled back in hours after you did because most of his squad had been tied up? That Corvus, or do we have another one I don’t know about?”

“That is the Corvus I am putting forward,” you say, unflinching.

“And would you care to tell me why, exactly, we should put him on the council over someone like Crosswinds or even Doc? What possible redeeming qualities could that fool have? I knew you’d suggest someone on Rider’s side, but why him, of all people?”

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so corvus got a bad squad


Doc has her hands full managing the much lacking medical care at the fortress and Crosswinds can never be found when you need them!

You have 3 reasons for suggesting Corvus:

Unlike EVERY squad leader in the marshguards, Corvus has never lost a single squad member to the swamp. His crew didn’t even succumb to the recent poisoning outbreak. He knows that sometimes the better route is patience and surrender can sometimes be the safer choice. That’s saying something considering the other members of his squad.

One of Rider’s main roles was introducing and training new recruits (with the exceptions of the hand-picked recruits the other council members chose either for…personal gain…or for the elitism that comes from joining a squad of the big 4. Corvus was able to take some of the most worthless recruits we’ve seen and turn them into a cohesive unit. Heck, he even taught greeneye how to bring out her latent ability! And because of him, every member of his squad has some degree of literacy.

And finally, and most uncommon, like Rider, Corvus has heard the call.

His crime was theft, and but that didn’t mean he had to come to the swamp. Corvus chose the swamp and most importantly, Corvus chose the marshguards.

That’s your offer, who would you 4 put up?

Author’s Note:

I wasn’t going to do “chopping off a finger”, but destroying the one memento you have of your old life is, if anything, more drastic in the Marshguard context.

I was also pretty surprised by the suggestion to get Corvus on the council, since what we’d seen of his track record wasn’t exactly impressive. But that also gave me a chance to have Razor bring that point up.