Swamped Chapter 33 Page 7

“I can understand why you’re worried. We’ve got sensitive equipment at camp that’s expensive to replace. So I certainly wouldn’t break anything, and I’d keep an eye on the others…”

“You can’t watch five people. Can you say for sure they’d all be as careful?”

You can’t, but you have another angle to approach this from.

“I’d naturally assume all responsibility for anything damaged. That includes paying for a replacement.”

They seem to be thinking about it. Maybe contemplating a little self-sabotage for money?

You might be a little over your head. Fortunately, it seems you have backup, as all of a sudden Corvus speaks up. You’re not sure when he arrived here.

“Hang on a sec,” he says. “You’re here to meet someone, aren’t you? For a handover.”

The wagon’s occupant seems to stiffen in posture. Seems Corvus struck a nerve.

“Surely you don’t mean to suggest it’s you,” they say.

A golden rose has silver thorns,” Corvus says suddenly.

“That’s years out of date,” says the wagoner, before realizing how much they just gave away. They slam the door in your face.

“They’re not going to get far,” someone says. You turn towards the voice – it’s Starling, sitting on the hump of a desert horse with a noticeably loose harness.

“What’s going on here?”

“Shady business,” Corvus says. “To be precise, the same shady business I used to be involved in. Don’t know if they’re making a pickup or a delivery, but either way, taking on passengers is asking for trouble.”

“Oh. So what should we do now?” you ask.

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You’d all hoped it wouldn’t come to this, but it looks like you might need to commandeer that wagon. Temporarily, of course.

Author’s Note:

One of the fun things about writing fantasy is that if you feel like it, you can just make up a fancier name for a real-world animal. As a bonus, if you get any nitpicky details about the real-world animal wrong, you can always say “oh, that’s okay, it’s not actually a camel, it’s a desert-horse.”