Swamped Chapter 29 Page 3

After everything that’s happened today, you’re just worn out. For now, you might as well sit tight; at the very least, if something goes wrong, you won’t get blamed for it.

Keeper comes back a few minutes later. He doesn’t even acknowledge you, he just starts filling another bowl with leaves.

“Is it busy out there?” you ask. You don’t have a lot to talk to him about, but you’re desperate for some kind of conversation.

“Nah, just the stragglers who missed lunch for one reason or another,” he says. “Think that’s the last of ’em… no, wait, Seahawk hasn’t been in, and I saw him at breakfast so he’s not missing.”

“You remember everyone here?”

Keeper shrugs.

“Got a good memory for people. Besides, they’re my family now. Not like I can push ’em out of mind.”

He keeps working as he talks, without slowing down at all.

“So,” you say, desperate for some subject of conversation. “I found some darkwood earlier. I thought it might have come from the desert, but Razor was skeptical.”

“What’s that got to do with me?”

“You seem to know about, well, chemical processes.” You point to a distillation device you noticed in the corner. “So I was wondering if you’ve ever studied up on that stuff. I know the stories, of course, and a little bit on its chemical composition, but not much more.”

“I ain’t that good of a chemist,” Keeper grumbles. “Just the best the Marshguards can find.”

He says that, but for the first time since your conversation started, he’s slowed down on whatever he’s doing with the leaves. You think you may have hit a nerve.

How do you want to proceed from here?

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Keep prodding him about his background. Humans are hard to read, but that’s probably what he wants you to do.

“So what did you do before marsh… guarding, then, if not chemistry? Some other science?”