Swamped Chapter 66 Page 20

When in doubt, stall. Keep a conversation going for a while, and something you can use might just turn up.

“I do have something to show to someone,” you say noncommitally. “But the thing is, I arrived here rather suddenly, so I’m not entirely clear on how everything works around here. I need to be sure you’re the person I’m supposed to show it to.”

You’re not sure what sort of reaction you were expecting. Maybe he’d get a little upset at you for your ignorance, maybe he’d give you a lecture. Maybe he’d call the guards on you, not that you see any around here.

Instead he seems… amused?

“Tell me something,” he says, and you’re not sure what he’s getting at. “Have you had any trouble understanding what anyone here says to you?”

“Haven’t talked to that many people, but no,” you say. “Well, except when somebody mentioned a Kabracam, I’ve got no idea what that is.”

The Praetor chuckles.

“Do you know where you are?”

“I worked out that I’m probably not on my own continent.”

He smiles, seeming to approve.

“And yet it does not strike you as odd that the people here speak your language so readily? Before you have even said a word, if you have been following instructions?”

It does, but a lot of things struck you as odd. You hadn’t had time to linger on that one.

“I’ve had a lot on my mind since I got here, but yes, that is strange.”

“And why do you think that is?”

Well, you’re not naive.

“Probably magic of some kind,” you shrug. “I suppose Kabracam can’t be translated into anything we have, so the spell didn’t bother?”

“A clever deduction. And what did the guide call me, to your ears?”

“Praetor. I’m not sure what it means, but it sounded like a title.”

“Another interesting limitation of translation magic. Few know every word in their own tongue, but the spell does not care. Although in this case, it is more of an approximation than an equivalent.”

You feel a little lost, and you opt to let it show. The Praetor continues.

“I have studied your Common quite extensively. A praetor is a mid-level magistrate. A civil servant. I believe the term isn’t so common now, it was in broader use during the Aedran age.”

“I would have guessed it had something to do with praying,” you say. Seeming a little dumb can’t hurt when you’re trying to get him to let something slip.

“A coincidence, most likely. Your Common borrows from several languages. I would guess that the original words came from different sources and happened to sound similar. Regardless, the point I was getting to is that this temple is the center of our city. So I suppose that does make us civil servants, of a sort.”

“All right, so why’d you bring that up?”

“I imagine your instructions tell you to contact a priest,” he continues. “I was wondering if the translation had been unclear on my role. Nothing more.”

That’s what he says, but you definitely feel like there was more to it than that. After all, you’ve had to test people for loyalty without being too obvious about it, and you’ve got the distinct sense something similar is going on here.

Which is something to go on, at least. What are you going to do about it, though?

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Keep talking about language and translation magic. Maybe try a few words from other languages you know (if you any others) and see how he responds.the more you know about where this is and who these people are, the better.

Author’s Note:

What happened here is I just gave this guy the title of “Praetor” without actually knowing what it meant and then I looked it up, and made the conversation about it.

Also note that there is still no explanation of what the heck a Kabracam is. All we’re told is that there’s no equivalent concept in the Common language.

I have no idea what it is either, beyond “the place where the guides are”. I never actually had to make that decision.