Swamped Chapter 52 Page 9

And as we reached the top of the tower’s stairs,
We were greeted by fifty angry glares.
Their elite soldiers gave us a fearsome fight,
And one hundred more perished on that night.

You can’t help but notice, even as you’re pulling, that the flames aren’t giving off any heat. Curious, you actually touch one.

Not a hint of pain or heat. You feel vaguely unsettled, though, and pull your hand away nonetheless. Then you’re forced to leap off as a flailing claw comes near.

Our numbers were one hundred strong,
They told us nothing could go wrong…

Maybe the flames are some kind of ether storage? The magic’s gotta come from somewhere, after all.

Now, you’ve never really had firsthand experience with magic before. But back when Silver was your squad leader, he liked to tell stories. Some of them were even true.

And you remember he talked about the time, something like eighty years ago, when the Bogknights had a wizard. That is, one who did real magic, not trickery like Long.

The story was, she was a terror. Commanded the waters of the swamp and turned them against the Marshguards. Everyone was eventually forced to take shelter in the fortress itself.

But… something funny happened once she stepped inside. She placed her staff on the floor, prepared to cast, then suddenly clutched her head and shrieked in pain. Her squad had to carry her back, and it was a good month before she was seen outside the Bogknight base again.

At long last, we claimed the Iron Keep.
Exhausted, we made our plans to sleep.
But it turned out to be too soon to rest;
we would be faced with one last test.

Silver’s theory was that it was the purple wood all over the place. When her staff touched the wood on the floor, something happened. You’ve never really understood what the deal with the purple wood is, so you suppose it seems as good a theory as any.

There isn’t much in this room, though. You remember Rider putting up new walls and floors of regular wood, because too much of the purple stuff seemed to bother the animals.

But… well, under the floorboards, that’s another matter.

As the Keep began to fall apart,
Those who were left started to lose heart.
What had we been fighting for?
Was there any chance any more?

You slip under, and find a loose patch of wood amidst all the water. It’s not very important, structurally, so you grab it.

By the time you get back up, the fenguin-thing has gained the upper hand on the longbird. Neither of them seems to be doing too great against the scentstone, though.

Well. You hope this works. You fling the wood right at the mask, singing the finale.

But Fallet refused to lose hope,
And he pulled out a length of rope.
He threw it out on the Keep’s wall,
And scrambled down, only to fall.

But though it had meant Fallet’s end,
Ninety-nine soldiers vowed to honor their friend.
They all rushed to the rope with a burst of speed,
But only one lived through the deed.

The wood strikes the flames and, oddly enough, burns.

Now only one can sing the song,
They told us nothing could go wrong…

A purple mist fills the air, and the fenguin collapses, and then slowly turns back into a human. At the same time, Mantis wakes up.

Well. Once the intruder recovers, you’ve got quite a few questions to ask.

You’re now Yvonne, and you’ve arrived at your meeting place. Someone’s shown up, but they’ve covered themselves from head to toe in the most unremarkable cloak you’ve ever seen.

And you’ve got quite a few questions to ask.

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Who is responsible for the portals? …And what is that horrible smell?