Swamped Chapter 26 Page 18

You only have one thought.

You’ve heard swamp gas is dangerously flammable. If there were a fire, everyone’s attention would turn to dousing it.

But actually starting a fire would be reckless. Fortunately, you have another option. You’re carrying a pouch filled with mistflowers – they store moisture well, making them an excellent water source in the harsh desert.

You’ve studied mistflowers extensively, so you know quite a lot about how their mist can be contaminated easily. And a swamp is full of contamination.

Granted, it won’t be that dark. You’ve only just taken one out of the protective pouch; it’s barely had time to gather discoloring agents. Still, you’re pressed for time. You toss the flower as far away as you can, and then yell “FIRE!”

Then you leap to another tree. You don’t want anyone catching on to your presence.

When you’re some distance away, you dare to look. The Bogknights are all rushing towards the “smoke”, and you see Starling dive into the water as their attention is elsewhere.

“There’s little bits of mistflower here,” one of the knights says. “Is someone pulling a prank?”

“Doesn’t Dean have some mistflower? I remember him babbling about it when he got back from leave.”

“I hear Dean’s missing, though.”

“So, what, you think he pulled a vanishing act so he could send us after a fake fire? Whatever for?”

“Dean’s no prankster. I bet someone slipped into his room and stole it. Isn’t someone sleeping there because of the greatrats?”

“Tom Eighth, I think. But he doesn’t strike me as a prankster, either. He’s too focused on that project of his.”

“I could buy that he’d swipe Dean’s stuff and use it for some kind of test, though.”

“Then who shouted?”

“Someone who spotted the smoke and thought it was real?”

“Where are they, then? They ought to have come running with the rest of us.”

Damn. It sounds like they’re getting suspicious. You think you’d best get moving, just in case.

But where to? Back to the meeting spot? Or should you try to talk to Starling first? Or do you have some other idea?

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pull the old hand-over-mouth on starling. turnabout is fair play