Lie! Lie! Get him to pity you. People pity you all the time.
"It just seemed like a good chance," you say. "This is just a camp, it's not designed for holding people. So you've got three prisoners, two are being questioned... and you've got some illness going around, and a meeting that gets some of the few soldiers present out of the way, too... well, I saw an opportunity and I grabbed it."

"And a hostage," Long says.

"Well, I panicked a little when I heard the alarm. Look, I'll be honest, I don't know where I was going or what I was planning to do. The Guild's going to have my head for not getting what they wanted, and the only alternative I've heard is living the rest of my life in the middle of a swamp. I just, I don't know, I wanted to get away from this mess. I didn't want to hurt her, I just couldn't think of a way out unless I had some kind of leverage."

You hope that sounded convincing. You really don't want to get into the work you did before you ended up in the Guild. It's kind of true, anyways - you were less concerned with where you were going than with whether your past would catch up to you.

"The swamp's not so bad," Long laughs. "You get used to the smell faster than you'd expect."

You don't have the slightest idea what to make of that response.

"So let's be clear," Long continues. "You don't know anything about our other prisoners?"

Your first instinct is to say "not a thing".

But, you start having doubts. What if Long already knows something and just seeing if you confirm it? If that's his game, denying things could mean bigger trouble for you.

How should you handle this?
Look as innocent as possible with puppy dog eyes while swallowing your doubt so that it does not show
Tell him you think they might have been sent to kill you.
Oh geeze does he know you were actually heading towards the sandstorm??
"Well... There was something on my mind. There's been a number of attacks on Guild wagons lately. Heard about them happening in lots of places. We've got no clue who's doing it, because there's never any sign of the drivers afterwards. So, y'know, I was kind of worried they might be after me."

That might hold up against whatever Long knows already. Though his face doesn't give anything away. You've got no idea what he's going to do next.

"Where were you headed?"

"Nowhere, I was just trying to get away. Wasn't thinking clearly, I swear."

"Really," Long muses. "It seems odd that you'd take such a large swerve towards a sandstorm if you simply wanted to flee."

Dammit. Well, you're pretty sure you can talk your way out of this still.

"I figured it'd help to shake anyone on my tail. It's what the crew that caught me did last night, after all."

Long looks thoughtful.

"You'd need some time to get the shelter in place, even if you convinced Starling to help you."

"I've said it how many times now, I wasn't thinking straight. I didn't have a plan, I was just doing whatever fool thing I thought might work."

Long just sits still for a while. You don't know if he's plotting his next move, or if he's already decided it and he's just trying to make you uncomfortable.

Finally, he speaks up.

"Your hostage was sick. Were you aware of that?"

You have an uncomfortable feeling he's going somewhere you won't like with this.

"Kind of guessed that from the medical gown," you say. "What's your point?"

"Just that you seemed strangely unconcerned with how contagious she was. I'm wondering why."

He's still tough to read, but he must be damned sure he can nail you with this somehow. You've got to be real careful how you answer.

I don't get sick. Never have.
"I dunno. Been lucky, I guess. I've never really gotten sick, so it didn't cross my mind."

"Really," Long says. "That's odd. I thought that the purpose of your makeshift outfit is to protect you from the desert fever, when your employers weren't willing to handle that for you."


No. Don't panic, that'll just lead you into his trap. Play it cool.

"I've said it a hundred times now. I wasn't thinking straight. I had plenty of time before I had to head into the desert, so I thought about stuff like desert fever. This was just a rush job. I made lots of dumb moves. That's all it is."

You don't think he's buying it. But you know his type - he's got to be totally sure before he acts. You just have to hold out until he has to end the interrogation.

"There's one thing I'd like you to explain to me, then," he says.

Uh-oh. You better brace yourself. What could he be planning to ask?
Who told you we had two other prisoners? You were guarded before you sloppily knocked out your guard, you couldn't have heard more than the alarm.

Odd that you targeted the one person dressed like them.
"How did you know there were two other prisoners?"

You were expecting a lot worse.

"Tents aren't exactly soundproofed, you know. I heard all the commotion. And I overheard some greblings talking about it. They said there was going to be a meeting about what to do with them, that's when I figured I had a chance to make a break for it."

"I see," he says. Then he pauses.

Crud. There must be more. That was just a warmup.

"And did these greblings mention anything else that caught your interest?"

"Uh, not really," you say.

"So they didn't happen to say anything about the cloaks that are exceptionally good for concealment in the sand," Long says. "Cloaks which would be very helpful in, say, making it to your wagon undetected. Cloaks which have gone missing, and one of which Starling says she was wearing when she fell unconscious."

Crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap.

"Now, one wouldn't think, just looking at them, that the cloaks would blend in that well," Long continues. "They looked fairly ordinary to me, to be honest. So how, exactly, did you know about them? And it would also be nice if you could tell us where they are now."

You're in damned deep now. You've basically got two options, spill the beans or get the hell out of here.

Every instinct you have tells you to get out. But one look at Long's physique tells you that's a bad idea, never mind whatever wizardry he might be able to pull on top of that.

So what in the hells are you supposed to do now?
Funny how your body moves on its own when you're panicked. Also funny how you're now face down, pinned to the floor.

We'll funny to the person who was waiting outside the tent anyway.
You lose it.

You can't piece together the thoughts, it all happened at once. You tried to just rush out of your seat and break through the side of the tent, but Long was watching for that and tried to intercept.

You don't know what you did after that. You only know that it got you outside, where you were promptly pinned to the ground by the angry girl about two seconds later.

When your head clears, you're tied to the post in your wagon. Again.

"I apologize for the accommodations, but you really haven't left us with much choice at this point," Long says. "So why don't you tell us what you know?"

"Fine, here's what I know." you grumble. "Before I fell in with the Guild, I was in a group of bandits who hid out in the Balda Dunes. Y'know, it's a smaller patch of desert in the middle of the continent. Nowhere near as dangerous as this place, but empty enough that we could use it as a hideaway. Then, one day, after we get a nice big haul, we go back to our camp and suddenly these people just pop out of the sands and start mowing us down."

You have to pause a little. You really don't want to relive that moment.

"Now, as you might have noticed, I'm a coward. Rather than help my fellows, I hopped on a desert-horse and ran as far away as I could. Thought I was done with them. Then, a week later, I'm sleeping in a hay-loft and I find a dagger plunged in the ground next to me. There's a note on it that says, basically, they're willing to let me live so long as I don't ever tell a soul what I saw. So, I didn't, until you went and dragged it out of me. Are you satisfied now? That's all I know. For real."

You're now Captain Long.

You have little doubt that what Pubert just told you is largely true. But you strongly suspect there's more to it that the little muckweasel is still hiding.

What should you ask about?
And what exactly had those bandits plundered before the attack?
"What did you steal before you were attacked?"

"Don't know," Pubert says. "This was ages ago, and I didn't get a chance to actually see the loot."

"Surely you must have some idea who you robbed."

"Well, yeah. It was one of those fancy wagons the royal couriers of Lacran travel in. Y'know, the ones for delivering gifts to other royals, that sort of thing. There were a bunch of guards, but we got the jump on them, grabbed all the loot, and headed back home."

"And you aren't aware of anything unusual among the cargo?"

"I only grabbed two bags of coins. I wasn't exactly that high up the ladder, so if there was anything important there, I didn't get a look at it before the assault. Then again, if there was something more important than jewels or letters, they probably would've had more guards."

"When was this?"

"Let's see... oh, right, it was a few months after Lacran's old queen died. I remember a couple of the other bandits were joking we might find her corpse in there."

Hmm. This is intriguing, but Pubert doesn't seem to know much more about it. Perhaps there's something else you can clarify with some more questioning. On the other hand, perhaps this is all you're going to get, and you should leave Pubert for now and go deal with other matters.
Letters are important Pubert. Your life was spared with a letter. The right letter can win or lose a kingdom. Even you should know that.

Send everyone back. You have your own letter to deliver.
"You know, couriers don't just deliver gifts. They also deliver letters," you say. "Some of which could be quite important."

"Are you telling me my old gang got killed over a stupid letter?"

"I don't speak lightly of letters. Letters have started wars, ended them, stopped them before they began. They have the power to change lives."

"Maybe they do. I wouldn't know if we found any, or what was in them."

You don't think this is getting anywhere. But, you did gain some significant new information to confront the other prisoners with.

You inform Pubert you're done, and leave them in Rudolph's care.

Is there anything to take care of before you go and see the other two prisoners?
Check on Marshall
You'd best see to Marshall. You're the only other Bogknight here, after all - assuming you haven't been kicked out or declared dead, of course.

Regardless, you head to the tent where Marshall is staying.

As you step in, Dominique gives you a harsh glare.

"Leave the cloak outside," she says. "I've got enough trouble with my readings already."

"I apologize," you say, handing it off to a grebling who was clearly hastily recruited for guard duty. "I hadn't realized it still had any power."

"I think your little apprentice here might have inadvertently recharged it," she says. "You didn't notice?"

You wince at the word "apprentice". That's opened some old wounds. But you leave it aside for now.

"How are you doing, Marshall?"

Marshall looks up at you.

"Well, Dominique says it's safe for me to get dressed soon." There's a brief pause. "Sir, are you really a wizard?"

You could go into great detail about the answer to that question, but you settle for the simple one.

"Not any more," you say.

You're now Marshall. You feel like you've missed a lot today.

Captain Long has stopped in to check on you. Is there anything you want to talk to him about?
So, hey... the book thing. Is that normal?
Are you feeling better?
"Are you feeling better, sir?"

"Considerably, thank you." He smiles.

"Sir, what I did with the book... I don't understand it. Is that how wizardry normally works?"

"When it comes to magic, 'normal' isn't a word that generally comes to mind," he says. He seems a little uneasy now. "Where do I start explaining it..."

"We already had a talk about ether and enchantment," Dominique interjects. "I don't know about much more than that, myself, so you can start from there."

"Ah, yes. Enchantment is a good place to start, then. The most basic form of it is casting a spell on an item to give it special properties. A flaming sword that never stops burning... or, more practically, boots that won't wear out for a good long while. But it's possible to do more than that."

Long pauses, as he seems to be thinking how to demonstrate. After a while, he pulls off his gauntlet, and picks up a small sheet of paper off a nearby table.

"Let's say I want to use this paper later," he says. "I can put it in my glove, and then when I need it, I can take it out and use it then. Or, if someone else finds the glove, they can use the paper."

You nod along.

"So imagine that the paper is, instead, a spell." He holds the gauntlet shut. "The same idea applies, except that I can put a 'lock' on the spell, so it only activates under the right circumstances. It could be a keyword you speak, or a physical item you have to hold near it. But regardless of the method, only a wizard has any chance at using it."

"So... that's what the book is?" you ask. "It had the desert fever spell stored in it? But why? Did my father store it in there?"

Long shrugs.

"Rider would know more about that than I would," he says. "Regardless, it was rather common for wizards to use books for that purpose. I'm not sure if it was just tradition, or simply that it was easier to put clues in the text in case you forgot what the key was."

"Why prepare it in a book, though? Why not just cast it when you need it?"

"Some spells take quite a bit of effort to cast. If you needed them in a hurry, it was a good deal easier to have them in storage. In some cases, though, the whole idea was allowing somebody else to cast the spell."

You need to mull over that explanation for a bit. Is there anything more you need to know?
These marshguards...they're not that bad are they?

Oh and ask about the call. Is that magic too?
"What about the call of the swamp? Is that magic, too?"

Long shakes his head.

"I couldn't tell you what exactly it is, but there's no ether involved in that. Most guesses I've heard are that it's the work of some god or another, or perhaps nature itself."

He pauses for a moment.

"It's calling to me now. I want to go back, whatever it means for my position. But, before I can return, we need to resolve whatever's happening with the gateways here. No matter how distracting the thought of the swamp may be."

Suddenly, a thought strikes you.

"Is it hard to sleep when you're not in the swamp, sir?"

"When I first heard the call, it was. Over time, it grew easier, though usually when I left I already had plans to return. It's difficult to describe..."

"What was it like when you arrived there?"

"Overwhelming, at first. And I don't just mean the smell. It was as though something was near, something I wanted desperately to see with my own eyes. I still don't feel as if I've seen it, but in time, just being close to it made the sensation more manageable."

That sounds a lot like what's been going through your head for these last few hours. Are you hearing a call from the desert?

You wonder if you should try to explain this to him, but you're not sure how. Or even if that's what's happening.
Are Flame's artifices enchanted? Was (is?) Flame a wizard?
Have you ever tried to... pinpoint what you were looking for?

Also uhm...I could feel my arm, back when you were sick...is that normal?