Swamped Chapter 4 Page 7

You recall that you arrived at the lounge rather late after training yesterday, what with one thing and another, so if you head straight there you may arrive at the start of Lisa’s break.

But when you arrive, you don’t see her, Mark, or the other knight whose name you never caught. Their shifts must be different today.

You do see a familiar face among the five or so sitting around, though. It’s Jackson. Well, you’re going to be training with him, so it might be good to talk.

“Well, if it isn’t the new face!” He smiles. “How’s the training coming along?”

“It has its ups and downs,” you say, smiling awkwardly back. “I got a little lost.”

“Inside, or out? Or both? I used to have the hardest time finding my way around here, but it’s gotten better.”

“Both,” you say, not wanting to admit to your little ruse. Even if you didn’t really find out anything interesting, you don’t think anyone needs to know you were eavesdropping.

“Well, tell you what. Let me show you a few important spots inside and outside the base. They probably won’t cover them in training because they assume you’ll figure it out on your own, but I know I needed some help there.”

“Sounds good,” you say.

You follow him out and he asks you about a number of places. You feel confident in your ability to find your room, the lounge, the mess hall, the medic’s office, the showers, the laundry room, and the docks. Also the holding cells, but you’re not likely to go there regularly. You’re less sure about the various training rooms – or rather, you say you are to cover your tracks – or whatever else might be around.

“Seems you’ve got most of the essentials. There’s the armory, but you won’t have to worry about that until training’s over. Aside from that, there’s the archives, and the Captain’s office, and those aren’t the sort of places you go regularly unless you get assigned some work there. Oh, and the auditorium, but we’re generally too busy to hold assemblies or perform plays. Still, it’s where we do headcount during the rain, so I suppose it’s best you know where it is.”

He guides you to the auditorium. It’s large and empty, with a number of chairs piled up in the corners.

“I hear there’s occasional talk among the officers of finding another way to use the space, but it never goes anywhere. So anyhow, if it’s raining or there’s some other emergency, you come here to get counted so everyone knows you’re safe.”

He leads you out of the room.

“So that covers the big things inside. I might be forgetting something, but for now, let’s head out so I can show you what you need to know there.”

When you’re outside, Jackson leads you down the walkway a bit and then points at a large rock sticking out of the muck. It looks almost like it has a face.

“We call this the Rock. Creative, I know. Mostly it’s a landmark, so if you’re patrolling you might be told to check from the Rock to the east walkway, say. Or, if you’re sneaking off with your friends to do some mischief, which technically you’re not supposed to do, you might agree to meet at the Rock.”

“So there’s more of these notable points, I take it.”

“Yes, but most of them don’t stick around for as long as the Rock does. The Snag, for instance, washed away three months ago. I still sometimes forget and use it for giving directions.”

“I see.”

You glance around and notice a tree. You remember that you have a lesson in climbing coming up.

“I want to get some climbing practice in,” you say. “Think you could help me out?”

“Right. Let me just check the tree first,” Jackson says. He gives it a quick glance, then nods. “Looking good, no bark-lizards.” He turns to face up and scowls. “Can’t tell if there’s leaf vipers or not, though. So don’t climb too high.”

“Are those real things?” you ask skeptically.

“There may be some knights willing to tease the new recruits with tales of dangerous beasts that don’t exist, but I don’t see the point when there’s enough risk in this swamp already. Anyhow, leaf vipers aren’t that bad – well, by comparison anyways. Their fangs can’t pierce your armor, and their venom isn’t that strong.”

You feel a little nervous, but you do have someone right here if something goes wrong, so you climb up a bit. You manage to make it about halfway up the trunk before deciding not to risk the leaf vipers.

You’re about to start climbing back down when you think you spot something in the swamp waters below. What is that?

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Suggestions:

It’s a shiny necklace! Did someone drop it?

A ring. Real fancy and real old.
OR
Watchful eyes, and a mouth full of sharp, pointy teeth.
OR
A deck of cards

Mysterious goop.