Swamped Chapter 64 Page 6

She pulls out a letter. It’s badly torn and held together with tape.

“Pieced this together from scraps in his wastebasket. It’s pretty hard to destroy secret communications out here, considering fire’s not viable. And with the code I worked out earlier, I can see exactly what it is: an agreement with, someone.”

“That’s real helpful,” Grey grumbles.

“Wasn’t able to decipher the name,” Lisa says, though without a hint of concern about it. “What matters here is the contents of the agreement. If Ash becomes commander, he’ll launch an all-out attack on the Marsh Fortress with the help of whoever this is. And in exchange for their help, he gives them a foothold in the swamp. Don’t know who would want that or why, but damned if it doesn’t sound sketchy.”

“And bad for those of us here who don’t want Ash’s pals in the swamp,” Eighth says. “This is for real? I might be able to change a few of the less greedy minds among Ash’s crew if you’ve got evidence.”

“It’s a bit thin on that. But it’s clear this is the final negotiation after a long-running relationship. For instance, it discusses how their plan involves distracting the Marshguards by launching an attack from under the fortress with some kind of special digging machines…”

Well. Now you have to interject.

“Whoever it is has already made their move,” you say. “Without waiting to hear from Ash. Just before I ran into you, I came across some strange digging machines drilling through our floor.”

There’s a lot of murmuring.

“Well, hells,” Lisa says. “That kind of changes the focus of this meeting, doesn’t it. We’re going to need a plan, and we’re going to need it fast.”

“If he’s not just making this up,” Grey says.

“This isn’t one of those things where I embellish a bit and say I saw it with my own eyes. I really did see it with my own eyes. And, um, I might have let Ash know about the attack because he happened to be the closest officer.”

A sudden silence falls over the gathering.

“As I said,” Lisa continues. “We’re going to need a plan, fast.”

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We’ll need to conduct two simultaneous missions: one to warn the Marshguards and enlist their aid or cooperation (dangerous and potentially leaves you open to accusations of treason), and one to join Ash’s cronies and identify the incoming routes/supply lines of Ash’s allies (probably the Guild) so that we can prevent them from entering the swamp (again, dangerous and potentially leaves you open to accusations of treason).


You know what else tunnels and would be a real pain to deal with when you’re trying to operate machinery?

That’s right, let’s lure swamp rats to their tunnels

Author’s Note:

There’s an incidental mention of tape here, which seems like a good spot to talk about technology in this story.

My general sense of the setting is “vaguely medieval”, or at least an approximation of that which is similar to most fantasy stories. However, I don’t hold to a strict technology level. If it would be convenient for something to exist, and I don’t want to make the inconvenience part of the story, I just declare that it exists. So, something roughly equivalent to Scotch tape exists in the setting. I give no thoughts to how it was produced or if it’s named after someone or why it was apparently easier to create in this world than in our own – I’m just declaring it to exist.

This frees up a lot of space to think about other aspects of the story. It’s set in a world that isn’t our own, so who’s to say when they discovered what, or what sorts of materials they might have that don’t exist on our Earth. I can be as detailed or as vague about that as I want to be.

Of course, if I ever find myself thinking that it could be useful or interesting to explain the inventor of tape or what it’s made from, I can do that at any time.