Swamped Chapter 34 Page 3

“We could dangle the stone out of the wagon,” Starling suggests. “Just, tie it to your mudpike? Shove it out, um, the door I guess. Not a lot of windows in here.”

“It’s not a very big stone,” Pubert says. “Don’t know if they’d see it.”

“What about if we drew a picture of it?” you say. “Then we could make it as big as we need. I see a big sheet over there, we just need something to draw with…”

“I didn’t find any paint, but there’s charcoal,” Yvonne says. “Just don’t expect it to be very colorful.”

“All right, who can doodle up something fast?” Corvus asks. “Draw, I don’t know, a hammer striking the stone. Big as you can make it.”

“I’ll do it,” Rivers says. “Get me the charcoal.”

Yvonne grabs the charcoal, Corvus starts tying the mudpikes together, and you and Starling help to hold the sheet down as Rivers draws it, with Pubert grudgingly describing the lodestone in enough detail. It’s a tense few minutes, as several more bolts strike the wagon, but it’s soon finished.

You think it looks rather good for how rushed it is, but this probably isn’t the time for compliments. Corvus quickly ties it on the end of the pikes, opens the door, stands back and shoves the flag out, the drawing facing towards the back.

A few more bolts strike, then they stop.

Then one more strikes the flag. This one has paper attached; Corvus pulls the mudpikes in and takes a look.

“It says ‘stop the wagon and we’ll talk,’ but I don’t think anyone’s going to blame me for being skeptical,” Corvus says. “Still, I guess I can tell Rider about this and let him make the call.”

He goes back to the front of the wagon. You suppose you’ll have to wait to see what happens. At least they seem to have stopped firing.

You’re now Corvus.

“Got a message for you, sir,” you say to Rider. “We, um, convinced them to stop firing, and they’re offering to negotiate, but they want us to stop the wagon first.”

“I see.”

“Um, and there’s a crossbow bolt in your arm.”

“I’m aware.”

“So, ah, what do you think about the message? Should we take them at their word?”

“I’d like to hear your opinion first.”

Oh hells, he’s pushing this off on you? Is he giving you one of his tests now, of all times?

What are you going to say?

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1: They have done almost no damage, except to Rider, who I have no historical knowledge of personally but seems to not give a damn right now. The arrows or bolts or whatever seem to not even make it all the way through one wall of the wagon, so either they’ve got weak crossbows or you have a heck of a wagon. Could just… find something to give Rider cover and just keep going? But they’ll probably just follow because they…

2: Probably REALLY want this stone or whatever it is, because they were fairly quick to stop shooting and draw up a message when they realized you were threatening to break it. Does that mean they can be trusted? Probably not. Can rider climb back into the wagon proper, and can you barricade the exits so they can’t barge their way in? If so, could TRY talking to them. Still seems pretty bad.

3: In the end, this is a lose-lose situation. Unless someone here has a crossbow, then you could try to carefully retrieve the bolts and fire them back. Alternatively, hope they run out of ammo.

4: What’s stopping you from just CHUCKING THE ROCK like they want? Pubert is in a bad deal anyways, it seems. Unless there is something immediately unusual about the lodestone, you should just chuck it. If they keep firing after that, then it’s time to work out plan B.


Maybe it’s all a big misunderstanding and we can all be friends; we could use some!