Swamped Chapter 63 Page 12

You’re about to suggest something when a swamphen shows up. Didn’t you chase her off? Or is this another one?

Either way, it gives you an idea. You rush over to the ladder and drop it before the climber arrives.

“The hell? Who’s keeping swamphens in the roost?” Sphagnum shouts.

“Well, don’t try to knock it off!” someone else says. You don’t think it’s Erin’s voice. “Just climb down and we can grab it.”

“Sorry about that!” you call down. “That hen just came out of nowhere and scared off the crow. I tried to catch it, but it fell down the ladder. Seems you had bad timing… why were you coming here, anyways?”

The knights at the bottom of the ladder glance up at you. Looks like there’s two besides Sphagnum. Erin’s not among them.

“We wanted to make sure you were doing what you said you were doing,” one of the knights says, after pulling the swamphen off Sphagnum’s head. “And not using a fake note to go sneaking around.”

“The Postmaster gave me the note, just ask him yourself. In fact, I’ll go with you, so I can tell him what happened.”

The knights start whispering among themselves. Finally, one of them waves to you.

“All right, come down, then. We’ll get this sorted out. But after that, you’re going directly to your room!”

Suits you fine. If they’re focused on you, Elize should have a chance to slip out afterwards.

“Yes, I’ll be right down,” you say. “Let me just close up the cage, I haven’t gotten around to that yet. The crow may be gone, but we wouldn’t want a pest slipping in there.”

There’s some grumbling, but eventually they just tell you to hurry it up. You use the excuse to talk to Elize.

“I’ll lead them away. And I’ll keep talking, so if you listen until I’m too far away to hear, that should tell you when it’s safe to go down.”

She looks at you, a little confused.

“You’re going to a lot of trouble to help me.”

“What can I say? I don’t know exactly what you’re doing, but if Kandria isn’t going to like it, that’s good enough for me. Anyhow, go hide for now, I really do have to close the cage.”

You do as much. It occurs to you that it might be better to cover your tracks by making it less clear the Kandrian crow is missing, but you can’t think of a good way to do that. Anyways, even if one of your pursuers gets suspicious about that, it’s not as if they’ll be able to do much about it.

So you head back down, and two of them start leading you away. Sphagnum looks at the hen and grumbles.

“I’ll take this thing back up,” he says. “Let it out so it doesn’t cause any more trouble.”

Oh dear. Elize is probably close enough to overhear that, but just in case she isn’t, you think you want to send some kind of warning. Or perhaps dissuade Sphagnum, if possible.

So how can you do that?

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Do you really think it belongs in the roost?

We should check with the postmaster before contaminating the flock.

Do you think someone smuggled it in for meat or eggs? Or that it wandered in on its own?