When I saw this Scouting Party piece by Aaron Miller, I instantly thought about an NPC from an old D&D campaign that was quite the hit with my players. Some disliked him, but they paid him for his guide services through The Wet Forest.
While I enjoyed the character, this is the first time he has ever peeked his head out in my fiction.
Another bead of sweat found its forerunner’s path and ran down Swampy McGee’s cheek. As much as he wanted to wipe it, and the others beads, he remained statue still. His fae friend Wal did, too.
A raiding party comprised of torteeze, gator-folk, and lizard men had just rounded Tristan’s Knee and were heading up east past Kellen’s waterfall. All three races of the Wet Forests’ vision were primarily movement base and Swampy didn’t want to catch their eye.
An ancient hate among the reptilian races normally kept them at each others’ neck. That rift was what kept their populations low enough for his guild of explorers get a toehold in the former elven lands.
The pinch of shredded jerky Swampy had in his cheek had lost all of its cherry-fly spice and had become bland horse meat. He resisted finishing it.
The raiding party was close enough to the waterfall that they wouldn’t hear much of anything beyond their near radius, but they were oft to glance around and it’d be a bloody shame if his chewing jaw is what sent their spears his way.
What could unite, them ‘onters? Realization made his eyes flutter. Steeling himself from excess movement, Swampy focused on getting back to being statue still. They all have similar arms and armor. Whas’sat mean? They an army? Whose der leada?
Man, the blood of his forefathers—scouts unequaled—itched. He could go back with word of what he’d seen, but he wouldn’t have all the answers.
The last of the raiding party rounded out of site.
Wal piped, “We have to spread word.”
“Of what?” Swampy chewed his jerky and looked at the small wingless fae on the back of his swamp raven mount. “They walk ta’gether. Got the same gear. And what?” Swampy swallowed. He wiped his face. “Der’s a whole-lotta more ta know and a whole-lotta more ta tell.”
“No Swampy.” Wal shook his small head. “We’re not going to trail them.”
“You mean, you ain’t.” Swampy grinned. “You run and tell what you know.” He clicked his tongue twice. His strad-lizzard mount eased down into the water. “I’ma go find out mo’.”
© Ezekiel James Boston