Swamped Chapter 55 Page 10

Urgh. You’ve got a lot of bad memories coming back.

The alliance breaking down. The sudden ambush. You thought you were dead, but considering what happened after your capture, you think you might have been better off that way.

They forced the prisoners to be gladiators. And they didn’t end the matches until someone died. You were just toys, to be broken for their amusement.

And because they could tell you were comrades, of course they made you and Elmin fight each other first. While you were full of frustration for what your respective commanders had done, too.

The worst part is that you enjoyed it. You were so damn mad at the humans for giving the greblings the dirty work that you didn’t even care if Elmin had any say in the decision. That the whole time, she’d fought hard to call you all real soldiers and even asked to go in with you, if no one else would. You were exactly what those bastards wanted you to be – a wild, dangerous creature, with nothing on the mind except thoughts of violence.

Right up to the moment when you heard her neck snap.

You could see her mouthing the word “fate”, even if she didn’t have the breath to say it.

She’d been on about that for as long as you’d known her. That fate was no different from the wind blowing, it just happened and you couldn’t fight it. She saw everything that happened as fate.

Fate killed me, she thought in her final moments.

That’s when you started to despise fate. That’s when you became the crosswinds to blow it aside.

That’s when you escaped.

And it probably would’ve killed you if Claws hadn’t made her own escape that very night. You don’t know if that was fate or not, but when she said she was fleeing to the swamp so they’d never catch her again, well… you couldn’t think of anywhere else you wanted to be.

Funny how that worked out for the both of you.

None of that tells you how in the hell this dead woman is sitting in front of you, clearly alive. So you ask her flat-out, in her own language. It may have been more than a decade since you spoke it, but you can’t really forget.

Torim samwa cassiks ef?

Elmin blinks.

Nat,” she says.

Or, in Common, “I’m not.” Real helpful answer there.

Ringer is just staring at you.

“I heard her chanting and recognized the language,” you mutter. Technically accurate, if skipping over some significant details. “You got a problem with that?”

Two rings.

“Right. So I’ve got a few different messes to deal with here. Mantis is in the menagerie, dealing with a different prisoner in a magic mask. Apparently that one put a bunch of people to sleep. So we need some loud music…”

Sanne,” Elmin says suddenly. Meaning, roughly, “I can fix it”.

If anyone else were saying that, you’d expect it was a prelude to bargaining. But the way she says it… it sounds like she’s just volunteering to do it, not wanting anything in return.

So what in the hells do you tell her?

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Yeah. You want to find out what these wizards are doing here anyway. And it’s particularly fortuitous that you know this person.