Swamped Chapter 58 Page 3

You’ve got too many questions on your mind. You can’t settle on just one thing.

“Sorry, I’m behind on so many things that I don’t know where to start.”

“I guess I’ll cover the big things, then,” he says, biting down on his mush. “Obviously, there was the annual storm, but I’d guess you planned your leave around missing that.”

“Yeah, I love the outdoors too much to stay cooped in for a month. Don’t know how we do it.”

“Well. That went about as pleasantly as it usually does. Not long after, we had a new recruit come in.”

That strikes you as odd.

“It’s months away from recruiting season, though.”

“Our recruiter asked us to make an exception. Best as we could tell from the note, our newmuck was either very eager or very desperate. But we had no particular reason to disapprove.”

“Did they get on well, then?”

“That’s where we come to the next bit of news. You know how there’s always at least two weeks of calm weather after the big storm?”

“Yep. I was hoping to enjoy a bit more of it before the rain, but the carriage only goes so fast.”

“It rained a few days early. We weren’t entirely ready for it. And… well, that new recruit, Marshall? Went out in the rain. Lost an arm, but thankfully that was it.”

You can’t hold together at hearing that. A newmuck, outside in the rain? You shudder to think what had happened if you’d been out in your first rain, it was bad enough watching from indoors.

“The hells? How did that happen?”

“It’s not my place to share the full details, but Burgundy claimed responsibility for issuing a bad order. Got busted down to private for it, but due to unusual circumstances she’s running the base right now anyways.”

Now you’re just confused.

“What unusual circumstances?”

“Not long after the early rain, there was a greatrat infestation. We chased them out, but the base was left in bad shape. The officers had a late-night emergency meeting, and most of us were exhausted afterwards. You with me so far?”

You nod your head.

“Well. The very next night, there was an all-out attack by the Marshguards.”

You make a point to look surprised. Don’t want to let him know you just overheard him talking about that.

“You’re kidding me.”

“We still don’t know exactly why. We have theories, but I can’t really discuss them with you. What matters is that Captain Long went out on his own to resolve it, by challenging Rider to a duel. And… nobody knows how that turned out, because they both vanished.”

You heard about this, too, though not all at once like this.

“How does that leave us with Burgundy in charge? Did Captain Long seriously pick a private to command the base in his absence?”

“Well, no,” the Postmaster says. “It was more a matter of both our senior sergeants being indisposed at the same time, and she was the most experienced option remaining. The thing is, for reasons I can’t get into with you, there’s a vote on whether Ash or Vera should take command, and it’s currently a tie. Except for, well, me.” He lets out a deep sigh. “And I really don’t feel happy about having all that pressure on me. My job is just to keep the mail running, I don’t really want to be thinking about our overall strategy for facing the Marshguards. But I have to figure out which of the two is going to be better at that.”

Well, now this just feels awkward. Maybe you should leave him with some encouraging words. But just what can you say?

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Suggestions:

Share some gossip you picked up outside! The old man has a soft spot for down to earth stories, probably why he invited you to stay.