Swamped Chapter 50 Page 5

After explaining the basics, you bring up something that bothers you.

“I was crawling around all over the place in your fortress, and one thing that kept striking me was how small it seemed on the inside. Even the hidden passages seemed to, I don’t know, curve in odd ways. As if they were built around something.”

“They don’t tell us squat about that sort of thing,” Corvus shrugs. “And for the most part, we don’t care. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were something, they call us Marshguards, right? So presumably we’re protecting something and the Bogknights want it. Even if most of them don’t know what it is either.”

“So your whole little war is over something that most of you have no idea about?”

“Technically? Yeah. But for me, the Marsh Fortress is home. So, I fight to protect it. That’s all there is to it.”

“And what’s the story for the Bogknights?”

Corvus pauses.

“I was about to say I have no idea,” he says. “But… I think I do. See, I’ve heard the call of the swamp.”

You don’t know what to say to that.

“It’s really hard to explain,” Corvus continues. “I’m not even sure what it means, but… I think the swamp wants whatever we’re protecting. So people hear the call, they join the Bogknights, and they don’t really care about the politics behind it. They just hear the swamp telling them to fight for whatever it is.”

You can’t even process that. It sounds like nonsense, but then, plenty of wars have been fought on nonsense. So you decide to bring things back to the subject at hand.

“I was asking for strategic reasons, mainly,” you say. “Stefan has this theory that the anomalies… the gateways… are being used as a weapon. So I was wondering if what you were protecting might be something they could use against us. Or, you know, anything else dangerous they might bring in from the swamp.”

“No idea about our ‘treasure’. But I’m pretty sure it’s defended against magic. I’ve heard stories about us fending off wizards back in the day. And these gateway things seem pretty magical to me. And dangerous things in the swamp… there’s plenty, but they’d likely have trouble dealing with the desert. I’d hazard a guess that if someone’s using these things as a weapon, it’s the other way around. You’ve got full-grown tunnelers here, don’t you?”

“Yeah, we try our best to keep track of them. They can really mess with our camp. Especially the tower; everything else is mobile, though of course we do have some useful holes that have to be re-dug.”

“We found a dead one at our fortress,” Corvus says. “I’d bet against it being the last if someone’s actively using these gateways against us.”

“That’s worrying,” you say. “And not just for what it means for your home.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

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It means the gateways could be opening underground, for one thing. In fact, that might explain some of the peculiar readings on our instruments which we’d assumed were calibrating errors.


And if that is the case, then they’re occurring much more frequently than we originally calculated.