Swamped Chapter 56 Page 7

You decide to press a little harder on Tallow.

“Cattails has a point. Maybe we should help you recall that a bit more clearly, hmm? Why don’t you tell us what you do remember.”

Tallow groans, and then starts talking.

“The Bogknight kid was confessing to stealing murderfly eggs, said it was to fight off a greatrat infestation at their base. Then you came in and the kid panicked about your jar. Once he said they didn’t kill humans, I kind of tuned out.”

“You don’t remember anything at all after that?”

“Bits and pieces, I guess. I caught the part about freezing the beetles? I suppose that’s why I thought you were talking about them, because freezing a dragon makes sense to me. They’re supposed to be all fiery, right?”

Hmm. That’s the misconception you’d expect, but he might have realized his mistake and be trying to cover for it.

Fortunately, you’ve got another suspect to push, and you’ve got a chance to do it.

“Well, Cattails. Since you were clearly paying close attention, why don’t you fill Tallow here in on what he missed.”

She doesn’t miss a beat.

“The eggs were from a rare Kandrian insect called a blood beetle. Normally very reclusive. Although infections from them don’t usually kill humans, they can still be quite painful and were once used by the Aedran empire to suppress a rebellion. It’s possible someone had the idea to use the same trick on us, but it’s weird that the eggs weren’t near our food supply or any scavenging spots. Because crushing is unreliable and burning is impractical in the swamp, Crosswinds suggested freezing them, and then Razor asked if anyone wanted to contradict the kid’s story about the greatrats. No one did, but Claws asked a weird question about animals. Then Bigfoot dragged the kid away and made him hold the jar. You want me to keep going, Crosswinds? There’s a lot you missed, after all, might be good for you to hear it.”

Heckling by doing exactly as asked. She’s good at this.

“No, that’s pretty good. Though you forgot the part where I told Razor I found this,” you say, pulling out the metal thing.

And now Tallow looks strangely confused.

“But I thought… oh, wait, I’m thinking of something else.”

That wasn’t a reaction you were expecting. It might be worth pressing him a little harder; you just need to work out the right approach to it.

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