Swamped Chapter 2 Page 9

You start wriggling your way over to the water, but Shorty just stomps on your leg with a surprising amount of force.

You’d have to distract him to get out of the boat, and it would probably be best to get your confiscated dagger back so you can cut your way out of these ropes. Unfortunately, your newly-sprained ankle makes swimming a slim possibility even if you could manage that now.

It seems you don’t have much choice but to wait. At least you can sleep while you wait for the exchange.

You’ve heard from the older Bogknights that these prisoner exchanges have been growing more common. Over the years, both sides have concluded that the swamp is dangerous enough to begin with, and so they’ve developed a number of informal agreements to protect each other from its hazards. If you see an enemy soldier being pursued by a swamp beast, you attack the beast. If you’re in battle and the rain is coming, whoever is further from base surrenders so that all may live.

It’s gotten to the point where hasn’t been a fatality in actual combat on either side since you signed up three years ago. Which is not to say there hasn’t been a lot of fighting in the meantime, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down any time soon.

“Well. At least you didn’t come back empty-handed.”

Your reflections are broken by the chilling voice of the Rider. You’ve only heard that voice twice before, during major offensives by the Marshguards, and you were hoping not to hear it again. Although at least this time, it’s not shouting attack orders.

“Yeah, I found Shorty and we found a prisoner to exchange for our man.” Legs glances down at you, smirking. “Can you believe he was fool enough to sleep in the lifeboat?”

Legs pulls you to your feet, though with your sprained ankle it’s still not exactly comfortable. In the low light, you can barely make out the features of the Rider’s armor, enough to bring back unpleasant memories.

“He appears to be exhausted,” the Rider comments. “Fortunately, he’ll have little to do except rest, and perhaps answer a few simple questions.” The Rider turns towards Shorty. “Speaking of which, Shorty, I believe I have some questions for you. Follow me, if you would.”

Shorty seems visibly nervous. Not that you can blame him. But you don’t have much time to reflect on his predicament, as Legs promptly marches you to your cell.

You are Marshall once again.

The medic says there were no signs of poisoning overnight, so you should be fine. You’ve also improved your knowledge of the written language a bit, though you had trouble following the actual plots of any of the books you tried.

However, you soon hear that someone called “Ninth” has gone missing and that the Marshguards sent a messenger claiming responsibility. Seems everyone is expecting that the prisoner you’ve got here will be set free to bring this Ninth fellow back.

As usual, you feel lost about what’s going on. But you’ve got little time to think about it. You still have training, after all.

What’s the first step in your training today?

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Suggestions:

Swimming lessons round two!

Scale the inside of the stronghold

What Not To Eat

Author’s Note:

Chapter 2 concludes with the proper introduction of Rider, and a sense of his fearsome reputation among the Bogknights. I also made use of Tom’s capture to give a sense of the overall state of the conflict, and just how dangerous the swamp is.

Especially the rain.
This will not be the last time I use frequent perspective shifts, though it’s not going to happen again for a while. At this point I was still experimenting heavily and figuring out where I was going. I think it worked out well – we got to see the perspectives of two very different Marshguards, as well as a more experienced Bogknight than Marshall, and that allowed different aspects of the setting to get some focus.