Swamped Chapter 56 Page 5

You might have tipped your hand a bit there. Then again, Toobles was looking especially unsettled. Someone who’s a bit subtler in their tells might think they don’t need to worry.

“As I was saying. We’ve had several independent reports of rainbow mallows showing up. They’re not native to the swamp or the desert, but we can’t tell yet if it’s the same phenomenon or just that some fool smuggled a rainbow egg in and lost it.”

“Of course you can’t,” someone grumbles, deliberately being loud enough that you can hear it. This is a face you recognize; it’s Cattail. She’s always heckling – which, admittedly, is a trait you tend to consider a positive, yourself.

But you also know how to deal with it.

“Would you like to come up here and explain what you mean by that?” you say, looking directly at her.

She rather pointedly stays where she is.

“I just mean, we don’t know what’s making the desert creatures show up, so how can we know if it’s the same thing we don’t know behind the mallows?”

Hmm. She could be trying to work out what you know about the gateways already. Rile you up so you give away more than you intend to.

And it’d be easy to pass off as her usual mild insubordination. Worth keeping an eye on.

“We’ve also confirmed sightings of the following. Sea lizards, plated badgers, island hens, a couple of charred wolves, a clutch of dragon beetle larvae, and a common mud eel. Which, for those of you who don’t know, is not so common in our swamp, as they have no real defenses against the rain.”

“And which of those do you think were caused by the same mess as the desert beasts?” Cattails asks. She seems rather calm about it.

Notably, she doesn’t have the same wide-eyed expression as the rest of the officers, who obviously don’t know what a dragon beetle actually is. Not that you can blame them, you didn’t know that yourself until yesterday.

So. Where do you go from here?

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Now’s the time to dramatically reveal *where* the critters were spotted.

Most of the desert beasties showed up randomly throughout the areas described by Razor and Rider, but the critters found specifically within (or below) the fortress ought to raise some concern.

You go into a fugue state.

Try to make yourself look tall and imposing.

Stand on Toobles shoulders, perhaps.