Swamped Chapter 66 Page 22

Well, one thing’s clear enough. This temple is where the power is around here. And you’re no stranger to working your way up the ranks.

At this point, with all your plans involving the Bogknights basically moot, you might as well take what you can get. Even if you aren’t entirely sure how things work around here, the basic shape is clear enough. So it seems worth pushing a bit further on this, to see if you’ve got a hope of getting in.

“You expect to have a lot of free time when the Master’s work is complete, then?”

He smiles.

“Well, not immediately. There will be many changes when that happens, after all, and it will take quite a bit of work to see them through. But once that is settled, yes, I expect to have considerably more time. Not to mention resources.”

You’re not getting a clearer answer than that unless he slips up. So you keep going.

“Do you admit a lot of new priests, then?”

“Not usually, though we have grown greatly in the last year. The Master knows the time is near, and so has stepped up his efforts to bring us priests, in order that we may anoint more Silent Ones.”

What’s he mean by “the time”? And you’re having trouble getting a read on if he really thinks Silent Ones are “blessed” or whatever.

“Bring you priests? So priests aren’t raised in this city of yours?”

“Of course not!” he laughs. “Only the Silent Ones may give birth in the holy city, and their offspring share their holy mission. We would not dare reduce them to mere priests.”

You still can’t tell what he really thinks about the Silent Ones. Not sure why that is. But you have a hunch starting to form from the bits and pieces he’s tossing your way.

Maybe the deal with the guests or whatever is that they’re brought here as potential priests. If the Praetor here doesn’t think they’re worthy, they become guards or guides or something else.

Doesn’t explain the people in the war room, though. You don’t assign strategic planning to someone you can’t trust. But if they’re trusted, why isn’t the war room in the temple? It’s supposed to be important, after all.

Anyhow, the main thing you’re trying to do is keep the conversation going. You’ve definitely got some good info already.

“So, did you study languages as part of your duties?”

“Strictly speaking, no. The Master appreciates scholars, and indeed, my passion for languages is why I was chosen. But scholarship is not the focus of our work, though we are encouraged to pursue it nonetheless. And I have been able to help the Master with my knowledge, which is more than enough for me.”

“Really?” you say, sounding as interested as possible. “How did you help him, then?”

Now this reaction you can read. He’s torn between keeping a secret and bragging about a point of pride. Finally, he seems to settle on a way to split the difference.

“I was able to translate some ancient writings,” he says, clearly trying not to be specific. “They turned out to have information which the Master found most useful.”

And he’s probably not going to give you another shred of detail on that. At least, not until you’re “in”.

Then again, if you focus your questions on the parts that probably aren’t secret, you might be able to come across as an eager student.

“Really! What language were they in, out of curiosity? And do you have any idea how old? Where I’m from, we don’t have much that’s older than the height of the Aedran Empire.”

He looks disappointed.

“I am sorry. I do not think the Master would wish me to divulge those details. Though I must admit, my fellow priests are not that much interested – it seems I am our only linguist.”

So you might be able to get somewhere if you play up your knowledge. Seem like an eager student more than someone who picked them up out of convenience.

“But speaking of the Master’s will! As pleasant as this conversation is, I believe the Master has something for us. And he would rather we received it promptly.”

“Oh, of course,” you say, pulling out the package. “This is it…”

“But you have not shown me proof of your identity,” he says sternly. “I will have to insist.”

Hmm. Are you ready to show that, or do you need to think of another way to stall?

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Suggestions:

show him, but dont tell him exactly how you got it. Try to imply you know more about your situation than that you were dumped here with a few sentences of instruction.