Swamped Chapter 20 Page 7

The first thing you notice is a distinct smell, one that’s even stronger than the swamp stench.

You’d know it anywhere; that’s the smell of Henry’s pipe. He didn’t use regular tobacco, but something else, something more distinctive. Said it was hard to get ahold of more, so he was saving it; he only smoked once a year, always on the same day.

He never talked about why. Father seemed to know, but never said anything; just left Henry alone in peace.

And now that same stuff is lying in an open tin here…

Come to think of it, today’s that day, isn’t it. You remember he always aired the stuff out a day in advance, something about how that improved the flavor.

Was Rider observing the same ritual? Why?

You shove a nearby lid on the tin. It seems Rider won’t be needing it today.

As you do, you spot a letter, neatly folded up. Unfolding it, you read a simple message…

“Marshall has joined the Bogknights. I leave the rest to your judgement.”

You recognize the handwriting immediately. It’s Henry’s.

There’s also a letter on the desk. It’s barely started.

“Marshall,

In case I am unable to explain things to you in person, I will write what I can safely in here.

For these last seven years, I have been protecting your father from…”

You grab the letter. You don’t think you want Razor seeing these.

Speaking of which, you hear footsteps. You dive under the bed. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to slip out before he thinks to look here.

“Kandrian tobacco? My, it must have been twelve years since I had some of that. The growing never really recovered after the famine. And to think, Rider had a stash all this time!”

Maybe you did get here before he noticed you. That’s a relief. If he’s just looking for information, he’s not likely to go poking around under the bed.

“The scent’s still lingering, so it must have been airing out recently. Hmm, maybe Rider thought he needed some before last night’s battle. I’d still like to know where he got it.”

You’re getting more nervous with every passing moment. Should you wait for him to leave? Jump out and confront him? Distract him and make a run for the passage?

What should you do?

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Suggestions:

freeze up, not out of strategy, but out of raw fear

 

Oh good Razor found those maps he was looking for. Good thing you’ll probably never need them.

Author’s Note:

Before this update, I hadn’t completely decided who Rider was, or how he was connected to Marshall. By now I had settled in my mind that he wasn’t going to be Marshall’s missing father, but there had to be some link.

This was where it finally clicked for me. At this point, in his room, I needed to drop some hints, and hoped the suggestions might give me a place to start on what those hints might be.

The tone of the suggestions wasn’t very serious, but “and not the one that’s missing” got me to think about the question from an angle I hadn’t before. I could give Rider a connection to Henry.

It’s a risky choice to introduce a mystery without having an answer to it in mind, but it’s possible to make it work, and very satisfying when you do. Here, it didn’t just feel like I was making a decision about who Rider was; it felt, at least in part, like I was discovering who he was.