“Who knows? With the gateways acting up, even if your dad brought it to the swamp it could have found its way here by chance. Or, heck, he was a scholar, he had connections, maybe he gave it to a grebling scientist for safekeeping and then they found their way here. Maybe it just got lost and Pubert snatched it at some point but never had a chance to look inside. Oh, wait, which side of the family is the crest from? I guess I just figured it was your missing dad because he was a scholar, and more likely to have one than a farmer…”
And Rider wouldn’t keep it in a package with his own crest without mentioning that to you. He may be stubborn, but he’s not an idiot.
“That’s right, it’s Father’s. I never asked if Henry had a crest, I guess I just didn’t think about it.”
“Well. Point is, there’s lots of ways it could have turned up here.”
“Maybe. But the explanation that makes the most sense to me is that Rider got it from my father and brought it here.”
Which is probably right, dammit.
“Yeah, I can see how you might think that. But didn’t you say something about getting it from a grebling kid? I can’t imagine Rider would be careless enough to let something that important get stolen.”
“How did you know it was stolen? I didn’t say that.”
Oh hells. Better think of something fast.
“Oh, I guess I just figured it was the little troublemaker Rivers asked me to help take care of. I couldn’t see Rider using that rascal as a deliveryperson.”
“Oh, right. Rivers was there when it happened.” Marshall pauses for a moment. “She didn’t tell you about the package, did she?”
“Nope. Probably figured it was your business and not mine. That’s how we do things in the Marshguards.”
“I suppose you’re right. Do you think I should ask Rider about it, though? Or Captain Long?”
No, definitely not.
“I wouldn’t chance it. Tell you what, I’ll worry about figuring out where it came from, you worry about keeping it safe. Okay?”
And take on the risks. Dammit, what was Rider thinking? Regardless, you hand back the sketchbook.
“I guess so. Thanks for the help. I was actually hoping for someone to translate it, though…”
“Can’t say that’s a good idea. Not only is it risky to talk about it, but you’d be getting the info secondhand. Better to learn the language yourself.”
“You’re probably right,” Marshall agrees.
“Great. Well, you should probably be getting some rest. Me too, for that matter. It’s been a long day.”
Marshall nods, and puts the package away. You wish you had better ideas for protecting it.
You’re going to need to have a talk with Rider when you get the chance, though.
As the two of you step out, you take a moment to think about if there’s anything else you need to deal with, or if you can finally get some sleep.