Swamped Chapter 26 Page 7

You doubt you can jump to another tree without being spotted. But maybe you can fake it. You pull a twig off the branch, and get ready to throw it into a tree closer to the base. If you throw it with enough force, you might be able to make that tree shake and create the illusion that you’ve moved. Hopefully, that will divert the humans’ attention long enough for you to flee in a different direction.

It might also be useful to make a lot of noise. You try your hardest to do a fierce growl, and you strike the twig against the branch you’re on a few times to make some more noise.

“What the hell makes a noise like that?”

“Maybe it’s an owl? I heard the postmaster had to deal with a whole flock of those. Could still be some lingering around.”

“Since when are there owls in the swamp? Especially in the daylight?”

“Maybe the snake woke it up! I don’t know! Dean’s the animal expert, ask him!”

“I haven’t seen him since last night. …You don’t suppose whatever that is got him, do you?”

They’re sounding a little scared. It’s time to make your move. You toss the twig as hard as you can.

“Gah! Did it just jump to that tree?”

“I didn’t see it jump… but I’m not climbing up there, not again!”

You take advantage of their confusion to leap away in the opposite direction. Hopefully, you can get further away while they regain your bearings.

You’re not fond of spending so much time in the treetops, but you don’t see much of a choice. You keep moving, only stopping briefly on occasion to see if there are any other patrolling soldiers nearby.

But you don’t think to check the trees you’re going into. As you crawl into one, a woman in purple armor grabs you and puts a hand over your mouth.

“Don’t know what a grebling’s doing in the swamp,” she whispers angrily. “But I can’t risk the Bogknights finding me here, so you’d best stay quiet if you know what’s good for you.”

What do you do now?

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Suggestions:

Sounds like you’d better stay quiet, if you know what’s good for you. Maybe she’ll divulge more details.

bite the hand that gags you

Author’s Note:

Now that I’ve actually named Yvonne’s species in the story, I’ll talk a little about it.

About a year before I started this, I did some short pieces of writing in this setting to try to settle some of my thoughts about it. Vera Greenwoods was the protagonist of some of those, though I didn’t develop her to a great degree at that point. I thought I might as well bring an older version of her into the proper story.

In one of those short pieces, a wizard suddenly appeared in the swamp thanks to some sort of spell gone wrong, mostly as an excuse to write some exposition and try to settle some decisions for myself. For whatever reason, I decided the wizard wasn’t human, and just sort of pulled the name “grebling” out of nowhere for the species name.

I also had an offhanded line that greblings tended to live in the desert. So, when the story involved creatures from the desert popping in, and I had a specific suggestion that could involve someone from the desert arriving, I thought I might as well reuse the idea and develop it a little more.

I’ve never fully settled on what greblings look like, other than a few minor details – short (around three-and-a-half to four feet tall), have claws, herbivores. Feel free to use your imagination.