Swamped Chapter 32 Page 20

You make your decision – you trust Mantis can handle whatever’s going on over there. This squibling needs attention as soon as possible. You’ll investigate once you have it secured.

As it happens, when you arrive at the menagerie, you find Shrike herding some of your swamphogs back into their pen. The animals get excited as you enter, and Shrike groans. Then he turns towards the door to see what all the fuss is, and his face goes pale.

“You’re back,” he says, surprised.

“Not really,” you groan. It’s inconvenient running into someone, but at least you know Shrike can be trusted to care for the animal. “I found this stray squibling in the halls. I don’t know how it got there and have no time to investigate the matter myself. In the immediate term, however, it needs food and care before we can return it to the wild.”

Shrike nods.

“Yeah, I can handle the feeding. Longer-term stuff, well, that’s going to be a problem. Especially if something happened to the mother squib. But one worry at a time, right?”

“I’m counting on you,” you say, as Shrike takes the squib to an empty pen.

“You want this robe back?”

“Not especially.”

Then you turn your attention to the animals.

Emerald isn’t here, of course. You’d never confine your closest friend to a pen. But everyone else is, and you can tell they’ve been agitated in your absence.

You certainly don’t have time to comfort them all, but it might be good to take a moment to calm one of your more troublesome pets. That should make things a bit easier for the Marshguards who have to handle them in your stead.

So, which of the beasts will you attend to?

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The big birdie with the long, long bill. It’s been quite upset since its penmate died of natural causes, and even the smallest disruption is cause for a big ol’ feathery tantrum.

Be called Drillbeaks, named due to their ability to pierce solid stone.