Swamped Chapter 3 Page 3

A thought strikes you. You’re still wondering why the Marshguards seemed to be after you yesterday, and you wonder if it has something to do with your missing father.

And the prisoner won’t be here for long, so this is likely to be your last chance to ask him anything.

But there’s a problem. You’ve been here for all of three days. There’s no way they’ll let a new recruit just walk into the cell block and talk to the prisoner. For that matter, you know so little about the layout of this place that you’re not even sure where the cell block is.

You’d have to sneak in, or come up with some excuse so they’ll let you talk to him alone. Or you suppose you could talk to someone who can see him and pass along your questions, but that would entail explaining more about who your father was than you care to at the moment.

As you stand around in the hallway wondering what to do, Tom First walks past, carrying a small pot of swamp mush that somehow looks even less appetizing than usual.

“Marshall, was it?” he says, noticing your state of boredom. “You look lost. I’ve got a few things I could use some help with, so if you’ve got nothing else to do, you can come with me on my rounds. I’m just about to give the prisoner his day-old swamp mush, then I’ve got to finish taking inventory in the storeroom. Thrilling job, I know, but I could use some company all the same. What do you say?”

Well, it’s a chance to get near the prisoner, at least. You’ll figure out the rest later.

“Oh, and make sure you put your mask on first. He’s a spitter.”

You are the prisoner again. The chef’s come by with your tasteless mush, though he’s not alone this time. You can’t tell who his companion is due to the mask, not that you particularly care.

“Well, I see you’re still your usual cheery self,” the chef says. “Still doing push-ups?”

“Sit-ups today,” you mutter noncommitally. As the chef slips your meal through the bars, you wonder what happened to Shorty. You haven’t heard him knocking again at all. He can’t have been captured, or they’d have brought him over here. And he’s not the sort to run. Either he’s laying low, he got eaten by something, or he got dragged back to base.

Your train of thought is interrupted as the chef’s companion trips and starts howling in pain, holding their leg. The chef panics, and runs off, no doubt to fetch the medic.

Much to your surprise, they turn to you once the path is clear.

“I’m Marshall. The recruit from the other day. I have some questions I want to ask you while no one else is around.”

“What makes you think I’m going to tell you any more than I told the others?”

“You were after me, weren’t you.”

This kid’s smarter than they look, not that you’ll admit that. Maybe if you play your cards right, you can lead them over to your side. Not that you know why your side wants them, but it might help you salvage your reputation slightly when you get out of here.

So how are you going to answer?

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tell them that the boss seemed to know you already and really wanted to see you, though you’re not sure why. Maybe saying something as vague as that will let Marshall fill in the gaps with assumptions that will put you and the marshguards in a better light!

Let’s try the most powerful weapon of all: THE TRUTH

Also appeal to the kid’s sense of adventure, maybe?