Swamped Chapter 35 Page 2

It takes you a while to remember that Rider’s been hit by more than a few crossbow bolts. What with all the other problems to worry about and how unnaturally calm he is about it, it’s slipped your mind up to now.

“Hey, Pubert,” you say. “You got any bandages here?”

“I keep them near the chamberpot,” Pubert says, sounding resigned. “And speaking of which…”

You let out a groan.

“Right. How long do these storms usually last, Yvonne?”

“This looks like a small one. Should pass in an hour.”

“I can’t hold it in that long!”

“And we’re not going to be able to empty the chamberpot for an hour either,” Yvonne says. “Then again, I suppose you swamp folk are all used to worse smells.”

“Yeah, it’s not the smell that worries me,” you say. “It’s letting Pubert run free.”

“Strictly speaking, you only need to loosen the bonds below the legs,” Rider says. “This isn’t the first time someone’s had to attend to a prisoner’s needs in less than ideal circumstances.”

“Or we could just let them out,” Starling says. You do a double-take as you notice she’s sitting on the lizard-worm. “I mean, there’s a sandstorm out there. Can’t exactly make a run for it.”

“Fine,” you sigh. “I’ll take Pubert over there to do their business. And I’ll grab the bandages while I’m at it.”

“What about my privacy?” Pubert protests.

“I promise you that nobody here is going to stare,” you say.

“It’s the principle of the thing!”

“Look, we’ll just get it over with quickly. The longer we argue, the longer you have to wait.”

“Can’t I at least get a curtain? There should be one around here somewhere.”

“We’ll turn around,” Rider says.

“Except me. Somebody’s got to make sure you don’t try to sneak a knife or something. That’s as good as you’re going to get.”

“Fine, I’m desperate, let’s go.”

You untie Pubert and lead them to the chamberpot. They sit down very pointedly as everyone turns around, except the lizard-worm. But it doesn’t have any eyes at the moment, anyhow.

“You’re really unsettling right now,” Pubert says.

“Gotta be cautious. We don’t know what you might try to pull.”

“Well, you do, apparently,” Pubert shoots back. “Since you used to be a courier. You know what it’s like, what kind of person it turns you into.”

“You want to talk? We can do it after you take care of your business.”

There’s a tense silence for a minute or so. The only noise you hear is Pubert filling the chamberpot before pulling their pants back up.

“Happy now? Bandages are right there, by the way.”

You grab the bandages and lead Pubert back. You hand the bandages off to Starling, and tie Pubert up again.

Now what? Seems you’ve got about an hour to kill. Starling’s going to be taking care of Rider for a bit, and Marshall seems to be buried in a book. So are you going to talk to someone, or is there something else you can do?

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Yvonne wants to talk about the lodestone and what its true value is.

See how Starling and Rivers are holding up.