Swamped Chapter 58 Page 4

Well. You might not know what to say to help him feel better. But, you’re good at keeping your ears open. And while you may not be up-to-date at what’s going on in the swamp these days, you heard plenty of stuff in town.

So maybe you’ve got something relevant to share with the poor Postmaster. Something about being faced with a tough decision, maybe?

Yeah, that might do the trick. If he hears about what someone else did to make a choice, that might be a boost to his mood. Give him some way to think about it that isn’t just the choice itself.

Oh, wait, you remember just the thing. The blacksmith. That’s a good story, and it’s right on the subject.

“Well, when I was on leave, I spent some time with the local blacksmith. She told me about how she had to handle a tough decision not that far back.”

The Postmaster perks up.

“Oh? What’d she do?”

“Well, here’s how it goes. She had this supplier she’d worked with for years. He said he couldn’t get ahold of the good iron any more, but he could put in an order for some lower-quality stuff. At a discount, naturally. She asked for some time to think about it, see what her options were. And owing to how long they’d been doing business together, he agreed to give her five days, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to place the order at all. So she started talking to other suppliers to see if they could get ahold of the better ore.”

“Makes sense so far.”

“Well. The next day, she found someone who said he could, but he was charging double the old rate. When she pointed this out, he simply said that quality product was worth more – of course, she was welcome to look for another supplier. He wouldn’t bargain at all, and she was concerned about having to raise her own prices to compensate.”

“Honestly, this guy sounds a little shady. Why could he get the good iron if no one else could, especially if he was charging that much?”

“She thought so, too. Which left her stuck – did she go with the worse ore for a better price from someone she trusted, or did she pay extra for quality ore from a questionable source? She spent two days thinking about it without getting anywhere.”

“Sounds uncomfortably familiar,” the Postmaster sighs. “So how’d she settle it?”

“Well. When she woke up the next morning, she had a realization. What was really important wasn’t the quality of the ore, or the price. When it came down to it, her customers would be the ones who had to face the consequences – higher prices or worse quality. And she hadn’t talked to them at all.”

The Postmaster starts looking very attentive.

“So she spent the whole day tracking down her regulars, telling them about the situation. And as she explained it, every one of them thought the guy with the high prices sounded like he was scheming something, and told her to go with the reliable choice. They’d back her even if it meant their horseshoes would wear out a little sooner, or their armor would be able to take a few less blows. And at the end of it all, not only did she make the deal with her old supplier, but the town guard looked into what the other man was doing, and found out that some of his buddies had been chasing people away from the best mines. So they put a stop to that, and before long the good iron was back in circulation anyways.”

The Postmaster smiles at you.

“Thank you, Sixth, that was just what I needed to hear. So, before I get back to work, I’ve got one quick question for you.”

Shoot. You think you know where this is going, considering you’re the one who led him here.

“I know you’ve been gone for a while, but I’d appreciate your thoughts nonetheless. How would you feel about Sergeant Ash or Sergeant Greenwoods as acting commander?”

Yep. Now you’ve gone and done it.

How are you going to answer him?

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You don’t really have a preference. On one hand you’re more familiar with Greenwoods, but maybe you could score a few points with Dominic if you helped him out.

Actually, you know what would be way more interesting than delivering swampleaf? Going around the base and gossiping with folks about the new commander.

You don’t have an official assignment, and Postmaster is a higher rank than Tom First. Ask him to let you get a feel for what folks are thinking, you’ll report back in a couple of hours.


Besides, you actually prefer Burgundy.