Swamped Chapter 48 Page 23

There’s one thing that’s left you curious for quite some time now. You might as well raise the question now.

“What happened to your arm? If you don’t mind letting me know.”

Without any hesitation, the woman draws a scene. There’s a few figures fighting a full-grown tunneler. You’ve heard enough stories of those beasts to understand that just losing an arm makes you one of the lucky ones.

“I see. How did the fight go?”

She draws X’s on three of the figures. Then she bows her head.

“I’m sorry to hear that. I hope you don’t have to deal with something like that again.”

She points to your arm.

“Um. That’s a bit hard to explain.” You pause a moment. “Could I borrow your sketchbook to show you?”

She hands it over, and you doodle a shadow in the rain, then show it to her.

“I don’t know what it actually looks like. But that’s what took my arm. Only a few days ago.”

She seems put off. She calls something out, and the old woman comes running.

“What is it… oh, just show me the picture,” she grumbles.

The one-armed woman holds it up.

“Huh. I think we might need to have a more standard conversation to explain this one,” she says. “What do you know about those things?”

“Not much. No one does. Just that they show up in the swamp when it rains, and they’re ferocious.”

“They didn’t seem to care much for the desert,” the old woman says. “Don’t know if it was the sand or the heat or what, but they didn’t move at all. We wondered if they’d died, but if they did, they didn’t leave any bodies behind. And you’re telling me they show up in the swamp at every rain?”

“There’s a superstition that talking about them makes the rain come sooner. I couldn’t tell you more than that, I’ve only encountered them the one time.” You absentmindedly rub the space where your missing arm would be. “Apparently I was really lucky to survive that.”

“I knew it had something to do with the gateways. Maybe now I can get the elders to stop listening to Jarn’s nonsense explanation. I don’t know how many times that man can be proven wrong before they stop taking him seriously, but apparently it’s a lot.”

“Why, what does he think?” you ask, before really giving any thought to it.

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That the spawn are temporary manifestations of aether shadows cast by normal people in the presence of magical emanations.