Swamped Chapter 53 Page 1

“Who’s responsible for the gateways?”

The figure shrugs.

“We know little about them ourselves. Probably no more than you. They seem to be led by a powerful wizard, who speaks a language we have no knowledge of. But in addition to their magic, they also have access to machinery more advanced than anything we have seen. We are also not sure the wizard is truly their leader – he may simply be more visible than whoever is giving him orders.”

“Do you know what they want?”

There’s a pause.

“We believe they may be after something that is under our protection. I cannot tell you more than that.”

“Not even if it’s in these mountains? We know something’s been going on here.”

Silence. You suppose it’s not worth pressing the point. But something’s been bothering you since you arrived.

“And what’s that smell?”

“That would be my scorching flesh. The wizard’s spell left quite the mark,” they say. “Thank you for the warning, by the way. It would have gone much worse if we had been unprepared.”

“Um. How did that go, then?”

“One badly wounded, but alive. In part because the other two of us blocked as much of the spell as we could. Once our wizard was incapacitated, they were satisfied. Though I don’t think they realized what we did yet, or we might not have gotten by so easily.”

“I don’t suppose you could tell us what you did, then.”

They don’t speak for a while. Just when you’re about to give up and move to another question, though, they say something.

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We sent in an operative…to follow up with one we’ve sent previously.