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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
The Goddamn Pacman

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"Say, maybe you could help me catch up a bit," you whisper. "I saw a rather good-looking officer I didn't recognize, I think his name was Dominic? What's he like, I'm curious."

"He only got promoted from corporal a few months ago. Guess it might have happened while you were on leave? Anyhow, he's pretty typical of a sergeant who got his rank mostly through fighting. Which is to say, he tends to expect a fight with the Marshguards, whether it's likely or not, and that affects his decisions. Wouldn't call him a bad sergeant, per se, but I think he could stand to be a bit more flexible."

"Hey!" one of the Squib Squadders suddenly shouts at you. "What are you two whispering about?"

Your conversational partner looks nervous, but luckily you know precisely how to handle this.

"I saw this dashing fellow in line and thought I'd invite him to dinner later this week," you say smoothly. "A matter that we saw no reason to bother the rest of you with by speaking too loudly about it. But if you're particularly interested in how our relationship is developing, well, I suppose we could be a little more public about it."

"Hey now, I haven't said yes yet," the knight shoots back at you. "Don't get ahead of yourself."

"I suppose I'm just an optimist," you chuckle.

The Squib Squad member gives you both a glare.

"Well. In that case, do it somewhere else. I ain't got a romantic side."

"A delightful suggestion! But unfortunately, my new friend here is waiting for treatment, like you all. Though, I imagine for different reasons. I just thought I'd give him some company."

"So you're saying you don't have a reason to see the medic?" your interrogator asks, rather pointedly in your view.

"Not as such, no. I just happened to be in the area..."

"I could give you an excuse to hang around if you want."

Oh dear. That sounds rather like a threat.

How should you respond?
04-20-2018, 01:33 AM
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btp
 RE: Swamped
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Ignore the threat. He's snappy, possibly aggravated by some pain. No obvious wounds makes you think it's possibly a similar issue as your friend.

Feign a sudden stomachache, perhaps that garners sympathy.
04-20-2018, 03:53 AM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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Squib Squad is here to see the medic. That could mean they're in pain, which would make their members more agitated than usual.

And whatever's bothering them isn't clearly visible. Perhaps they're having stomach pains as well.

You can at least get some clue into that.

"All right, I won't bother you... ooohh... oohh.."

You hold your stomach, trying your best not to look too dramatic about it.

"You know, maybe I don't need your help finding a reason after all," you groan, giving your interrogator a pained look.

He doesn't seem impressed.

"You ain't gonna get a stomach ache that bad on a diet of leaves," he growls. "I'm not stupid."

You may have overdone it a bit.

"Actually," says the knight you were just talking to, "that's what swamp sickness looks like if it's not treated quickly. My pal Ben Ninth skipped out on seeing the medic for a couple of days and threw up rather spectacularly."

Suddenly the Squib Squad member looks a little worried.

"Really? Uh, how long does it take?"

"Don't know. I just know that nasty stuff they give you fixes it pretty quickly."

Hmm. Does he have swamp sickness? Or is he worried about catching it off you? You have to admit, you didn't know it could get that bad - you always took the nasty stuff right away, because you preferred to get it over with.

Of course, if you're going to keep up this charade, you'll probably get a dose of it. Which you'd rather avoid. Maybe you should just come clean now, before it gets too far.

Then again, maybe you can find a way to get some more information by playing this up some more. Decisions, decisions.
04-21-2018, 02:25 AM
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thriggle
 RE: Swamped

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That "diet of leaves" comment seems like a giveaway. Could Grey be wise to (and Squib Squad involved in) some plan to capture or smuggle animals into the base for their meat? A sort of culinary black market?

Complain aloud about the leaf-only diet, and how you don't think you can stand to eat it much longer. You'd give a week's wages for a decent steak, etc, see if anyone shows any interest or fear.
04-21-2018, 01:36 PM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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A thought strikes you. Swamp mush isn't exactly the most appealing of meals - but with how long it takes to bring anything here, and how much the rain devastates the local animal populations, meat isn't much of an option. Hunting requires special permission.

But there's always people who don't respect the rules. And there was something going on involving animals that Grey didn't want to talk freely about.

What about a poaching operation? Pest control would have exactly the tools you'd need to capture an animal. Grey could be involved in the scheme... or it could be he noticed the missing tools, and doesn't want the information to get out too far.

Well. You can look into that later. What you're wondering about right now is if Squib Squad is involved in unauthorized hunting.

"I wouldn't be surprised if the leaves made me sick, honestly," you groan. "Forgot how unpleasant they were. I suppose I spoiled myself when I went back home. Now I wish I'd at least treated myself to a good steak before I got on the return carriage... It's not like I didn't have the money to spare for it, after all."

You can almost see some gears turning in the Squib Squadder's head. He looks like he sees an opportunity, but isn't sure on it.

"Just quit whispering behind our backs," he seems to settle on after a minute or so. Then he almost immediately rushes over to the man at the head of the line - Squib, most likely. And - hypocritically enough - begins whispering to him.

You don't have much practice with lipreading, but you think you catch the word "greatrat". Are they desperate enough to eat greatrat meat? That's definitely a good way to get sick.

"What was that all about?" the other knight asks you. "You're up to something, aren't you?"

Hmm. It might be worth taking on this fellow as a helper. He seems eager enough. But, while you've worked with others on information-gathering before, you never quite got the hang of working out which details to share with your would be accomplices.

So what should you say to this (rather good-looking) knight?
04-22-2018, 01:18 AM
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Pharmacy
 RE: Swamped
wake me up in five.

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Anywhere.
Asking them if they want to go...hunting...together.
04-23-2018, 12:48 AM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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"Just checking a huntch," you say. You keep the mispronunciation subtle, but the knight seems to pick up on it.

"Squib Squad's actually been stayin' outta trouble the last couple of days," he says, not directly addressing it. "Don't know why, but there's been some weird stuff going on with them lately. First Squib got knocked out when he was on guard duty, then the next morning, one of the squad, guy named Clancy, just up and quit the knights entirely."

Now that's interesting, combined with what you already heard. Grey thought that this group had an arrangement with Ash. So what if Ash asked them to do something so dirty it gave their departing member a crisis of conscience? Or perhaps he'd been having a few of those, but on that night, Squib was in no shape to talk him out of it?

Of course, you might be sensationalizing things a bit there. Although... if Ash's requests really are that bad, it could also explain why the squad seems to be lying low. He wouldn't want to risk them getting caught, and possibly pointing a finger back at him, until he was securely in command.

You suddenly remember that when you got in, another knight left in your carriage. Damn! That must have been Clancy. A shame, he could have told you so many interesting things.

"Squib Squad gets in a lot of trouble, then?"

"I'd rather not talk about it while they're around. What's taking the medic so long, anyways? I know they just changed shifts, but it shouldn't take this long to start seeing people, right?"

"Maybe it just feels longer because of the company you're keeping."

"I guess," he shrugs. "Say, we haven't introduced ourselves, have we? I'm Mark Conchway, been here about six months."

"Tom Sixth. I've been off on leave for about eight months. No wonder we haven't met before."

"There are worse ways to meet someone, I suppose," Mark says. You can tell he's thinking of someone specific - but that particular piece of gossip will have to wait, you may be on the cusp of something big.

Squib and the other knight are still whispering. Doesn't look like they're coming to any sort of agreement, but then they stop. And now Squib's coming your way.

Mark backs away a bit. You suppose you can't blame him.

"Hey, you," Squib says.

"Are you Squib?" you ask. "That was the impression I was getting."

"That's right. And I'm the one asking the questions here. What's this I hear about you being able to afford steak?"

"I do a good job of saving up my pay," you explain. "Got about two or three weeks' worth that I could dip into to treat myself, not that it does me much good out here in the swamp. Not on me right now, of course, because what's the point in lugging it around?"

"Well, y'know," Squib says, not at all subtly. "You could always toss a few coins at a fellow knight as payment for a favor. I'm sure they'd find a way to use the extra money when they go on leave."

Well. This tells you a lot about what sort of people Squib Squad are, but it doesn't confirm Grey's suspicions about Ash.

Maybe following this trail a little further can help you out in that regard.

"And what sort of favors might you be willing to offer?" you ask.

"Who, me? Oh, I was just mullin' over the idea. I mean, if you'd like to talk later, after we're done here, well, that's no problem, we can meet someplace quiet. But I can't promise nothin' until I know I ain't gonna be too sick."

"Well, it can't be a problem to talk out here while we're both waiting, can it?" you say as innocently as possible. "You're not suggesting anything that would get us in trouble, are you?"

"Oh, nah, nah," Squib says, very unconvincingly. "It's just that I'm too worried, y'know? Ain't been able to sleep properly. Hopin' it's nothin' too serious. Hard to focus on things."

You're not sure what he's here for, but after the way he said that, you're quite sure it isn't insomnia.

You wonder if you should try to get anything more out of him now. It might be better to take him up on his offer for a meeting and see what you can learn at that point.
04-23-2018, 02:26 AM
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thriggle
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Yeah, see if he'd be willing to meet later for a game of swamprats in the auditorium.
04-23-2018, 06:13 AM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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"Well. That sounds intriguing, at the least. All right, I'll talk to you later, then."

"Great," Squib says with a grin. He then whispers in your ear. "We'll meet in the auditorium in a couple hours. It's closed for repairs, but I can make arrangements to get us in. Don't say a word of this to anyone."

"Next!" Eve finally says. Squib turns around, glares at the rest of his crew, and marches in. Obviously, he's insisting on being treated first.

Well. If Squib Squad's going in first, you can probably keep up the swamp sickness bluff for a while. No problem in dropping it once it's just you and Mark.

So in the meantime, you've got a chance for some conversation. Will you discuss things with Mark? Or would it be more productive to try and get some answers from a Squib Squadder first?
04-24-2018, 12:19 AM
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btp
 RE: Swamped
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You could talk to Gorp. You know, the big one whose face is 90% beard.
04-24-2018, 07:00 AM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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You realize that you have a unique opportunity now. With Squib preoccupied, the rest of his squad might be a bit more willing to talk about what they really think of him. That would be interesting in and of itself, but it could also be a good opener to a more informative conversation.

The trick is in figuring out which of them to single out. You're looking for someone who doesn't care much for Squib, but wouldn't tell him that to his face. Which means, someone who looks to be relieved that he's gone.

And you think you spot one. One of them who's turned towards the wall and is brushing his rather long beard. Funny, you thought there were regulations on beard length; too long and they can get tangled in breather masks.

"That looks like it takes quite a bit of work to maintain," you whisper to him.

He gives you a look that very clearly says "don't make fun of me." Yes, this is definitely a promising target.

"I'm sorry if that came across wrong. It's just that I once tried to grow a beard, but all the day-to-day work proved too much for me. I can't help but respect someone with the self-discipline to manage a beard like yours."

He starts beaming proudly.

"Well, I'm glad someone appreciates it," he says. "Squib sure doesn't. He always has some choice words for me if I do my beard care in front of him."

You definitely picked the right person to question.

Now that you've got his attention, how should you proceed?
04-25-2018, 01:17 AM
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btp
 RE: Swamped
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What's it like on the S-quad?

Talk about Clancy!
04-25-2018, 12:03 PM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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"So what's it like on your squad, anyhow?"

"Not so great lately," the bearded knight grumbles. "For one thing, Squib's not actually in charge right now, so he's been even rougher on us when we've got downtime. Which we ain't had much of since Clancy quit. Makes me wonder if he somehow knew it was coming."

"Wait, what do you mean Squib's not in charge?"

He seems real upset now.

"Burgundy filled Clancy's slot with someone who's pretty obviously there to keep an eye on us. Here I thought it'd be smooth sailing once she got busted down to private, but no, she still finds ways to give us trouble. And it's put Squib in a worse mood than usual."

Intriguing! Squib Squad has a minder now. Apparently, this isn't widely known, since Mark didn't know the reason for their better behavior.

"So who's she got watching you, then?"

"I think her name's Nora? Don't care much for her. She's bossy."

The only Nora you know is Nora Feldspar, and 'bossy' is not at all how you would describe her. She's one of the most cheerful people you've ever had the pleasure of meeting, even when she's on the job.

Although you can certainly imagine her giving this group a hard time.

"So what was this Clancy like? I'm naturally curious, and it sounds like I won't get to meet him."

"Why would you want to? He's a little weasel. Always mouthing off at bad times, acting like he was smarter than the rest of us just 'cause he could read. Y'know, he blabbed on us at the newmuck the other day. And then he acted like it was Squib's fault! Hated that smartass. Didn't help that he was practically second-in-command, and hells, some days it felt like Squib answered to him. The way he made a big deal of it every time we got orders from..."

He suddenly stops himself.

"Never mind. Point is, Clancy was a piece of shit and I don't miss him in the slightest."

Well. This clarifies a lot about why Clancy left. You can't imagine this group being subtle in their disdain.

But it also seems this fellow came very close to saying something he shouldn't have. Which has definitely piqued your curiosity. He doesn't seem to have much restraint, so perhaps if he's upset enough while talking, he'll spill a few significant beans.

So. Where do you take the conversation from here?
04-26-2018, 01:21 AM
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btp
 RE: Swamped
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Better talk about burgundy. Think she's gonna stay in charge?
04-26-2018, 09:49 AM
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thriggle
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More like Burgun-DUMB, amirite?
04-26-2018, 12:11 PM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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"Why is Burgundy in charge, anyhow?" you ask. You've heard answers on this already, but as this is a particular sore spot with him, it might get him a little less cautious.

"Beats me. It's nuts, though. What was the point of demoting her if she's allowed to run the base?"

"Why'd she get demoted in the first place?"

He shrugs.

"Don't know, don't care. I just hoped it'd get her off our backs. But it didn't. Figures, can't have anything good last around here."

He seems rather ill-informed.

"So, what, you think they'll just leave Burgundy in charge?"

"I dunno. Who the hell knows how officers think. I don't even get what Ash is thinking half the time he..."

There's a sudden pause.

"...he chews us out," he concludes quickly. "Which he's always doin' for one thing or another."

So there is something up between Squib Squad and Ash. Something they aren't supposed to talk about.

"I'm a little confused. Why's Burgundy such a problem if Ash is the one lecturing you?"

"Sometimes she thinks Ash is goin' easy on us," he says, sounding annoyed. "So she gives us even more work to do."

"Sounds rough. Gotta wonder, though. If they pick someone else to be in charge, who's it going to be?"

"I'd say anyone would be better," he grumbles. "Except, well, they might pick Ash. Ugh, he'd work us so damn hard if that happened. Not sure who'd be worse, him or Greenwoods."

"What's wrong with Greenwoods?"

"She's a teacher," he says, as though that's adequate explanation. Says a lot about what sort of person you're dealing with.

It seems that if you're going to hear a case for Ash, you're not getting it from this group. If this fellow is any indication, they don't like anyone telling them what to do.

Probably including Squib.

But it's also clear that they are working for Ash, on things that he doesn't want them blabbing about. Considering how easily he let that much slip, they must not be used to small talk, at least not outside their group.

Maybe that's enough for you, and you're done here. Or maybe you can push him a little harder and get some juicy details.

What's the plan?
04-27-2018, 01:18 AM
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btp
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Tom Sixth don't push, he glides.

Why does Squib answer to Ash anyway? Does he have something on him?
04-27-2018, 02:22 AM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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"Why does it even matter if you get assigned more work? I have a hard time seeing why Squib would particularly care about orders from anyone."

"Now hang on a sec," the bearded knight says, sounding annoyed. "We may have a bad rep, and we may talk back a lot. But we're still Bogknights, and we take that seriously. When we got a job, we do it, even if we gripe a lot. I ain't a quitter, not like Clancy."

Hmm. Interesting. Not really what you were looking for.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest anything about you in particular. I just meant Squib didn't strike me as the type. Maybe I'm wrong."

"Okay, yeah, that's fair," he says with a shrug. "Squib probably wouldn't stick around if he wasn't in charge of the squad. As it is, I'm pretty sure he likes having a squad to boss around more than he hates working."

And now this is going in an interesting direction.

"So why is Squib in charge, then? He doesn't seem particularly well-suited for it."

"No kiddin'. The hell was Ash thinkin'..."

He stops suddenly. He realizes he's said too much.

"Ash picked him for squad leader?" you ask, pretending not to notice his nervousness. "I wonder why."

"I mean, I'm just guessin'," he says, visibly panicking. "Ash was talkin' to all of us before he formed the squad. So I figure that was about picking the leader. Can't say for sure, though."

His sudden fear is more than a little strange. There's nothing unusual about an officer picking out a squad leader, after all, and it's not as if the other officers wouldn't already know about it. So why would it be so worrisome to admit to Ash picking Squib?

Because maybe this fellow knows the reason why, and he almost let that slip.

You'll have to tread carefully here. He's frightened right now, but if you make the wrong move, he might get violent. On the other hand, he's also not thinking clearly, which means he might forget to hide something if he's focused too much on hiding something else.

How do you approach this?
04-28-2018, 12:47 AM
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btp
 RE: Swamped
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Huh..ash was talking to you individually? Wonder what he told Squib...
04-28-2018, 01:12 PM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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"So, he was talking to you one at a time?"

"Uh, yeah. Asked a bunch of weird questions. I don't really remember 'em, though."

Or rather, judging from his expression, he does remember but he'd rather not pass them along.

"I wonder if he asked Squib the same questions. And what Squib's answers were that got him picked as squad leader."

Silence. He's not taking any chances now.

"Oh well, I suppose we'll never know, will we? I doubt Squib remembers either."

"Yeah, probably not," he says. He's so easy to lead right now. Move away from the truth, and he talks. Move towards it, and he clams up.

Of course, if you take too long getting to the point, he might remember that he can shut you up with his fists.

"And if you don't remember the questions, well, then you probably don't have any idea which one you answered in a way he didn't like..."

His face practically freezes. You must be getting really close.

So it's time for some quick speculation.

This fellow actually seems to care about being a Bogknight, at least a little. Or he's concerned with putting up appearances, at the very least.

So, let's say your guess that Ash is up to some dirty business is right. Then if he were assembling a squad to do it for him, he'd probably ask them questions about how they'd handle orders. Figure out who'd do what he said without blabbing.

And Beardy here said something in response that was less to his tastes than what Squib said. That'd be your guess.

So what can you say to hopefully lead your new friend here into confirming it?
04-29-2018, 12:35 AM
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btp
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From what you can gather, Ash is a tactical type focused on results.

Did he ask you to do something unethical?
04-29-2018, 01:50 AM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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"Well, it probably wasn't just one question," you continue, acting as if you haven't noticed his reaction. "I mean, I'm having trouble thinking of an important enough question to ask that wouldn't be very memorable. It's not like he'd pass you over because, say, you weren't eager about eating swampleaf. If it were one question, it would have to be something big, like, I don't know. What would you do if an officer gave you an unethical order?"

You glance at him. The terror in his eyes is growing...

Oh dear. It just turned to rage. He tosses a punch at you, and you dodge just in time.

"What was that for?" you ask, as if you didn't already know.

"Shut up! I've had enough of you and your damn questions!"

"Sorry, sorry! I'm just a talkative sort. I'll leave you alone."

"I got a better idea. Why don't you stay right there while I give you a pounding..."

"What's going on here?"

You both turn to see Sergeant Dominic. Hmm, he's even better-looking up close.

"Nothing, sir," the bearded knight says sheepishly. "We're just waiting for a turn in the infirmary."

"I don't usually see knights throwing punches over nothing, Gorp. If it really is nothing, then I think you owe this fellow an apology."

"Tom Sixth, sir," you say. "Just got back from leave."

"And you're already sick?"

"It's been a few months since I was in the swamp. I think I'm having more trouble than I expected adjusting."

"I suppose that does happen, yeah. Lots of stuff that can give you trouble her. So, what exactly happened here?"

At that moment, Gorp shoots you a dirty look that suggests there will be consequences for being too honest. So, what are you going to say?
04-30-2018, 12:32 AM
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btp
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Oh he was trying a shock remedy for my stomach ache. Huh...woah I think it actually worked! Wow. Really just a jolt of adrenaline was all it took. So Sergeant, since I'm currently freed up anything I can help you with? Winky
(This post was last modified: 04-30-2018, 01:56 AM by btp.)
04-30-2018, 01:54 AM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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"It's nothing serious, Sergeant. You see, I had a bit of stomach trouble, and Gorp here was telling me about a folk remedy where you shock the patient into feeling better. I was skeptical, but, well, it seems to have worked!"

Sergeant Dominic looks more than a little skeptical. It's a rather appealing look for him.

"Even if we leave aside how ridiculous that story is on its own, these troublemakers aren't exactly known for helping other knights out of the kindness of their hearts. There's no need to protect him."

"Who said it was out of kindness?" Gorp shoots back. "I just wanted a little favor from him, so I offered to save him the trouble of a visit to the infirmary. And if it didn't work, well, I'd get a good chuckle out of it."

"Really, it's nothing important," you try to explain.

"Maybe you can explain to me just how unimportant it was when Squib Squad's out of earshot," Dominic says, dragging you away.

Well. That's one way to get a one-on-one conversation with a handsome officer. Not the way you would have picked if it were up to you, perhaps, but you're not one to pass up an opportunity.

Dominic leads you down a few hallways, into an empty room.

"You have no need to worry about retaliation," he says. "Now, tell me just what happened there."

So. What do you say?
05-01-2018, 01:05 AM
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thriggle
 RE: Swamped

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I asked too many questions. Still trying to get the lay of the land and get caught up on all the gossip I missed, but I struck a nerve with a question about an officer's actions.

I meant it as small talk, but I think Gorp misinterpreted it as innuendo.
05-01-2018, 02:23 AM
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