Swamped Chapter 95 Page 11

Play it safe. Tell the truth but hold back in ways that might tip him off if he’s working with Carma.

“I’m a bit in over my head here,” you say. “Yeah, I’m faking it but I didn’t get any say in whether to come here. Still don’t even really understand how I got here, honestly.”

He scowls.

“Illusion spells do not cast themselves. I can tell you’re no mage, and I don’t sense any enchanted items. I can believe this unknown ether is something that happened to you by chance, but the illusion is obviously deliberate. So who cast it on you, hmm?”

Hmm. You have an idea.

“Sorry, I can’t betray their trust. Not even on principle, just it’s the sort of thing that comes back to bite you. What goes around comes around, you know? Karma and all that.”

His face only shifts for a moment when you say it, but the expression is clear enough. He’s connecting some dots in his head.

“What is my name?” he asks you, without any further leadup. Same thing Carma did. Good thing she was careless enough to reveal it, though you don’t quite get how to pronounce it.

“Azel?” you ask, a little doubtfully. “Sorry if I pronounced that a bit wrong.”

“Ah. You must be an Aedran recruit, then,” he says. He sounds more than a little dismissive. “They all get it wrong one way or another. Aedran has no vzu sound, so none of its derivative languages does either.”

It stings a little to have your homeland just thrown under the name of a long-dead empire, but it’s good enough for you that you haven’t been caught yet. So you’re not going to press the point.

“Sorry. I’m new and I haven’t exactly been deeply involved. They only grabbed me because apparently they were desperate for a messenger. There was so much of a rush they didn’t even tell me you were aboard, only that she was.”

“Well, you may have arrived at a fortunate time,” he says. “My recent actions have drawn some scrutiny from the officers. It has made it difficult to do what I need to do. But it will be considerably easier if you take care of one small part of the plan.”

Great. You’re doing another shady favor. Or at least saying you are. You stay quiet this time, just in case you end up having to improvise an excuse if it turns out to be a problem.

So what does he want you to do?

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