Swamped Chapter 9 Page 12

“That’d be me, sir,” Florentine says, stepping forward and tripping. You let out a sigh.

“You’re also the most accident-prone, Greenbags.”

“Not when I’m running, sir. Instinct takes over. Don’t know how else to describe it.”

You feel unsure, but that’s why it’s good to get a second opinion.

“Grey. Your thoughts?”

“He’s not lying. We were cadets in Lanzen together. They’d never seen anyone take the obstacle course at his speed, and he didn’t stumble once. Until they called him over to congratulate him on his record, that is.”

“I’ll trust your judgement, then. Greenbags, lure those pests off the barge while we get the controls. And then warn anyone you can find.”

“Yes sir!” He salutes. “I know just the thing, too. I’ve got an excellent rat call. Just get ready to board.”

You all duck behind a crate near the gangplank, as Florentine cups his hands to his mouth and makes a rat call. The rats rush off the ship in search of food, and Florentine takes the opportunity to fling his knife at one of them.

It hisses and growls, and the other two follow its lead. Florentine rushes off, with the rats in pursuit, leaving you free to man the barge.

Assuming there aren’t more rats in the hold, that is. You assign Grey to keep watch while you take the wheel and drive out towards the breeding grounds.

The trip is thankfully quiet; there’s no noise from the hold. However, as you approach the breeding grounds, you spot some Marshguards on a walkway not far off.

They don’t seem to be preparing an ambush, but a fight would slow you down. Fortunately, they don’t seem to have spotted you yet. In fact, it looks like two of them are having an argument.

Still, the barge is hardly stealthy. They’re likely to spot you as you draw closer, and even if you were to get past them now, they might be waiting for you on the way back.

How are you going to handle this?

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Suggestions:

try diplomacy, cite the unwritten rules of swamp combat and that you’re fighting monsters back at the base so you need to pass just this once. (they might use the information to plan an offensive in morning though, once the monsters are dealt with)

Call them out by name and say, “Hey, ____, hows it going? Love to catch up with you guys later but you know how it is, greatrats and shit”

Dissention among the Marshguard ranks eh?

Well they’re not a full fledged core so it’s to be expected but…the real worry is why are they at the breeding grounds, and if they see you harvesting fly eggs they’ll probably assume you’re trying to use it on then later.

The /last/ thing you want is to start a poisoning arms race in the middle of the swamp. It’s fortunate poison has been avoided by both sides so far.

You could try and scare them off. They don’t know how many knights you have on the barge, you could raise a bunch of noise and try to scare them off…but that would certainly attract the attention of the adult bog flies.

What’s more worrisome, however, is the fact that they’re here at all. You know that they have a swamp beast rider and…burrowers…the base has never had an issue with burrowers before…they aren’t all that dissimilar from swamp beasts in some regards.

You need to get poison and get out fast. And not be detected.

It’s risky, but park the barge and take the dingy to cast the net. Then hop back in and leave. Don’t forget to mask-on.

Author’s Note:

After my recent comments on introducing complications, it’s worth noting that I don’t add any to the decoy plan. We introduce Florentine Greenbags (there were some other suggestions but this was the one I found more interesting), he executes the plan, and we move on. This is because I felt it was time to move the story along. Of course, in doing so I introduced another complication anyways.

I’m going to be honest here. I don’t always pull off the balancing act of “do I add complications to the immediate problem or do I move the story along” nearly as well as I do in this part. There’s going to be some portions later on where I get a little lost in where I’m taking things, sometimes for quite a while.

But I’m not going to dwell on how I could have done those parts of the story differently. I’m just going to acknowledge that’s how it is sometimes.