Swamped Chapter 23 Page 9

“The operation was targeted at a specific noble. Much of his family’s wealth came from their duck farms – they sold eggs, down, and the meat itself. So our plan was to steal all the ducks.”

“All the ducks,” you say, finding this a little hard to process.

“It would cripple his finances. The point was more to demonstrate what we could do, in hopes of forcing the King and court to the negotiating table. It was large-scale, but limited in the damage it would do. If we were forced to act again, we’d do worse.”

“But you said it went wrong.” You’re finding yourself really curious about this part.

“Well. The operation itself wasn’t the issue. It didn’t go well, but only about a tenth of us were caught. The rest aborted before there was too much trouble, though we did get two farms’ worth. A failure, true, but in itself, not disastrous.”

“So what happened?” Rivers asks. You notice Corvus is looking thoughtful.

“On that same day, the King was assassinated. He was found dead in the throne room, with the captain of the guard standing over his body. The nobles pushed the story that the farm raids were just a diversion; an excuse for the captain to order men away and claim personal responsibility for ‘protecting’ the king. He was found guilty, and barely tried to fight it; he said only that he had failed in his duty. The captured rebels were, of course, tried as his ‘accomplices’ and given even harsher sentences than they otherwise would have.”

You’re starting to feel a little lost.

“Weren’t we talking about my father?”

Mudviper chuckles a little.

“Well. Let me say this much. The captain did have one fierce advocate at his trial – his younger brother. A man by the name of Henry Vall.”

“Henry! Is this how he and my father met?”

“Not quite. Henry was already working with the rebellion – and he knew that his brother wasn’t. Wherever his sympathies might lie, the captain took his duty very seriously.”

“Now that sounds familiar,” you hear Corvus mutter.

“He had met Christopher before. But with his brother’s execution looming – and that of most of his supposed accomplices – it was necessary to take action fast. Over the course of planning the next operation, to free the prisoners, they grew closer together.”

“And how did that operation go?” you ask.

“They managed to get most of the prisoners out of the capital. Many fled for the swamp afterwards. Others took their chances finding new lives in other nations. By that point, the rebellion had essentially lost, and the focus had changed to getting as many of our people out as possible.”

“That’s when Father and Henry…”

“When they fled to a small farm in the middle of nowhere, yes. That’s where they raised you.”

You’re not even sure what to ask next.

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now marshall is just pissed because there was no reason not to tell him these things or not to say goodbye

Author’s Note:

I don’t state outright who the guard captain is, but at this point I don’t treat it as hidden information.