“You’re right, we’re supposed to be in the swamp,” you say. “And the main thing we’re doing is investigating the thing that brought us here instead. So if you’d like to know more, well. Maybe we could arrange that, if you were a little more cooperative.”
The grebling looks back and forth between you. They seem to be struggling to figure something out.
“How do I know you’re really the Rider?” they finally seem to settle on. “I don’t see your beast.”
You’re starting to wonder why they’re so hung up on Rider. At first you thought it was just because of his fearsome reputation, but it’s starting to seem like there’s something more specific going on.
And then Rider laughs.
“Emerald may not be here in this desert with me,” he says. “But look at my armor, and you can see for yourself the proof of our bond.”
The grebling seems confused, and takes a closer look. And for the first time, so do you. There are green patches all over Rider’s armor – you’d taken them for just padding, at first. But now you see exactly what they’re made of.
“Those are shell scales, aren’t they?” you ask.
“Indeed. It took three sheddings to get them all.” Rider glances at the grebling again. “Or do you want to suggest I poached them from a dead beast?”
The grebling seems almost petrified.
“No, of course not,” they finally manage to say. “Not when Reth herself has judged that so clearly.”
You really feel like there’s a lot you’re missing about this. Should you ask questions, or just save them for later and see how the conversation goes from here?
Could be that this branch of the Church of Reth holds the Rider of the swamp in high regard, maybe even considering him blessed or protected by Reth, and that this grebling has unwittingly been sacrilegious by attacking you. But… Why would that be?
You’d better wait to ask Rider about it later. If Rider has any kind of sway here because of his reputation, it wouldn’t do well to spoil it with potentially irreverent questions into why.
Ask if they know anything about the recent intrusions in the camp. Were those also innocent investigations by the benevolent Church of Reth?
Rider’s armor description is inspired by my friend MrQBear’s drawing of him.
I hadn’t thought about what he looked like in this much detail before, but I liked the shell-scales so I incorporated them into the story.
While I’m at it, here’s a drawing of Captain Long by the same artist.