Swamped Chapter 27 Page 16

You keep listening. Unfortunately, there’s no further mention of the wizard; Sieve gets distracted when one of Corvus’ squadmates pops in, and then Corvus starts talking with Keeper about what sounds like base politics.

If you had any plans to actually stay here, it might be relevant. As you don’t, though, it only bores you. With little else to do, you decide to count how much mistflower you have in your pouch.

Wait, hang on. There’s a tiny package in here. How did…

Simone! Oh, that little scamp, she snuck a special something in your pouch again. You can’t help but smile. You hope you can see her again soon.

You carefully unwrap it and… yes! It’s a carrot! Oh, darling Simone, she knew just how much you missed these. She must have gotten one on her last trip into town. You’ll have to thank her.

If you ever see her again.

You collect yourself. You need to focus. And for the moment, that means wrapping up this carrot again; no sense getting it soaked in the swamp water. Besides, they tend to crunch. You wouldn’t want to give yourself away like that. Better to save it for when there’s enough noise to cover you, or when nobody’s around.

Unfortunately, you got distracted just as the conversation was wrapping up. You hear footsteps, but you’re not completely sure they’re actually Corvus’.

Well, you don’t have a better idea for now than to follow them. Then, suddenly, they stop.

You feel a little lost.

Maybe someone else is talking to whoever you’re following? But you didn’t hear another set of footsteps…

Still, when you press your ear against the ceiling, you think you can hear faint noises like a conversation. Not that you can make anything out.

Perhaps it’s time for another listening-hole. You start crawling away to make it.

Then you feel a strong grip on your arm. You turn and see another grebling, this one wearing a Marshguard uniform.

“Well, how about that!” they say, grinning. “Here I thought I was the only grebling mad enough to come to this swamp. Let’s go somewhere and have a little talk, shall we?”

You’re about to protest, but then you feel a hard smack on the back of your head and everything goes black.

When you come to, you’re in a small room, and you’re tied to a bedpost and have a gag over your mouth. The grebling you saw before is looking over your mask.

“Apologies for the poor accommodations,” says your captor. “I wasn’t expectin’ anyone, you see, so I didn’t have much time to tidy up or get a nicer cushion.”

You suddenly realize that you’re sitting on a pillow.

“Now, I’m gonna take out the gag, if you promise not to scream. Seein’ as you don’t want to be spotted, I don’t think that’s in your best interest.”

You nod weakly.

“Good. Now, I didn’t have time to introduce myself before, so lemme do that. The name’s Crosswinds. Before we get started, let me make one thing clear – if you’re here to hurt us, you’re gonna pay for it. If you’re not, nobody has to know you were ever here. Got it?”

You nod again. You don’t intend to harm anyone here, so that sounds like a deal worth taking.

“Awright. So!” Crosswinds pulls down the gag. “Let’s start simple. What’s your name? ‘Course, if you feel like volunteerin’ anything else before I ask, you can go right ahead.”

Hmm. How should you handle this? Just how much information are you willing to share here?

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a fake name

You’re a desert wizard and they better help you get out of this swamp if they don’t want to be immaterialized.

Author’s Note:

I hadn’t specifically planned on making Crosswinds a grebling when I introduced them. But the passages Yvonne was crawling through provided an explanation for their sudden disappearances, and there was nothing I’d written that actually contradicted it, so I decided to go with it.

I don’t remember exactly when I made the decision. It wouldn’t have been long before this.