Swamped Chapter 27 Page 9

Well. The crow calls seemed to work last time. You head to your hole in the mess hall, and start listening.

Since it doesn’t seem to be the regular meal time, you expect you won’t hear a lot of noise until Corvus’ squad comes in. So you wait.

“Well, well. Been expecting you. Thought there’d be more of you, though. Where are the others?”

That’s Keeper’s voice. You don’t recognize the one that responds.

“Mudviper wanted to talk to the boss, so he’s preoccupied still. Shorty wandered off somewhere, I don’t know where or why. Greeneye’s checking in with Doc, because she got pulled underwater last night. So it’s just us three for now.”

“Pulled underwater?”

“We got waylaid last night. Well, except for Rivers and Starling. At least the boss had the sense to keep them out of trouble this time.”

Ha. Whoever’s talking has no idea.

“You must be starved, then. Why’d you need two debriefings, anyways?”

“Damned if I know. Probably because Corvus has a reputation. And the rest of us are saddled with it.”

You hear what sounds like a noncommital grunt from Keeper. Maybe he’s not impressed with the rest of them, either.

Well, you’ve heard enough. You decide to risk the bird call.

“Caw! Caw!”

“Is that another crow?” someone asks. You don’t recognize the voice. Maybe it’s one of the other people Keeper said he was serving.

“Another one? I hope you’re not implyin’ anythin’, I run a tight ship ’round here. No animals get into the food on my watch.”

Well, you managed to.

“No, I mean we heard one in the hallway earlier. You don’t suppose some prankster let them out of the roost?”

Hmm. You’re getting concerned. You probably shouldn’t rely on this particular trick too much.

“I’ll see if I can find it,” someone says. It’s Rivers. She’s probably caught on, at least.

And indeed, she soon comes near your hiding spot.

“What are you doing?” she hisses at you quietly.

“Trying to get in touch with you. Did you find out how to leave the swamp yet?”

“No. Been busy in meetings. Didn’t tell them about you, don’t worry.”

“Right. Well, if you could just get a conversation going with your friend about how to leave the swamp, I’ll listen in and that’s the last bit of trouble I’ll give you.”

She looks skeptical.

“Rivers, what are you doing?”

“Looking for holes in the wall. Places a crow might’ve gotten lost.”

“Well, save it for after breakfast. You don’t want to starve, after all. The crowing seems to have stopped, anyhow.”

Rivers gets up. That makes things easier for you. All you should need to do now is wait and listen.

But of course, it can’t be that simple. Almost immediately, a problem presents itself, one you can’t ignore.

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smoke. is it a mistflower, or a fire? it’s so thick you can hardly breathe, the coughing might give you away
You sure are sleepy all of a sudden!