Knighthood, 109

Between the funeral, being there with Gavin and Owen, organizing the protest and trying to track down half of Three Hills’s black market, Edwin really needed these few days off.

He’d been in the bath for ten minutes and was falling asleep, so he should either get out and have a nap, or stay in the bath and have a nap. He was too tired to decide which was better, though.

“Do you want me to help you wash?” Nikolai asked, done changing the sheets on the bed even though Edwin hadn’t slept in it last night. He and Nigel seemed to think Edwin didn’t know that they fucked in his bed when he wasn’t there, even though they didn’t hide it at all.

“Nah,” Edwin said, shifting a little. “Thanks, though. I’ll definitely fall asleep if you do that.”

Stowaway, 113

“Captain, can I talk to you for a second?”

Louis had addressed Natalie, but Pax also looked up, though he was driving the ship, so only a little bit. They were sailing east now, having come around the southern coast of Kyaine. The sea was clear. But it wouldn’t be forever.

Natalie was looking at Louis, who had a rather throbbing erection. That was unusual for him, since Denver was standing beside him. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing,” Louis promised. He looked a little flushed. “I’d like to ask for some shore leave.”

Stowaway, 111

“Everything is in order,” Denver said, handing Pax the inventory list.

Pax nodded, scanning it while Nate very casually squeezed Pax’s asshole around his own cock. Everything did appear to be in order, and he hadn’t even gone behind Denver and counted everything himself, because he trusted Denver. “Thank you. I know you found that exercise pointless, but it eases my mind to know that nothing has vanished from the ship in the last two days.”

“I know,” Denver said, patting Pax’s full ass. “There’s nothing wrong with being thorough, and even if there was, it’s not like I opened every crate and barrel and sack, I just counted them and confirmed that they were all where they were supposed to be. Then I compared them to what I counted before we left because I knew you’d ask, and then added all the new supplies we took on just now.”

Pax coughed quietly, blushing. “Thank you, that was very thoughtful. I appreciate you accommodating me.”

Family Business


“Aw, come on!” said Alse’s cousin Kel. Kel wasn’t old enough to be one of the family members Alse hated, but he was old enough to look fuckable in his sailor suit, which he’d extremely explicably worn to the job interview that he’d shown up for on a holiday without telling Alse he was applying for a job. “Why?”

“Lots of reasons,” Alse said, looking at the resume Kel had given him. “First of all, the only job experience you’ve listed on here is feeding your neighbour’s cat while she was away.”

“Yeah?” Kel asked, shrugging as he looked around the aquarium, which was closed. “And you know what, Mango is still alive, Alse. I have a one hundred percent success rate with taking care of animals, and you have lots of animals to take care of. Clearly my skills are valuable.”

Stowaway, 110

“Okay,” said Pax, rubbing his head. “So what have we learned?”

We’ve learned that sweet tasting drinks are evil and we shouldn’t have twenty of them in one night, Nate said, making Pax nod so Pax would know he was correct.

Pax made him stop nodding, because that made his headache worse. “Yes,” he agreed. “We did learn that.” He’d never had twenty drinks in one night before and it had turned out to be an experiment not worth repeating. “We also learned not to make group decisions about body modification unless one of us is sober.”

Right, Nate agreed. Might have been good to have put more than ten minutes of thought into it, too.

“Yeah,” Pax agreed, looking at the flared lizard that was tattooed around his upper right arm in Bevian style. “I like him, though.”

Slavery, 102

“Cannot believe you made me go to the wedding,” Daniel grumbled, as he and Theodore filed into the First Church of the Blessed.

“Now, Daniel,” said Theodore, patting Daniel’s shoulder. “There is no need to be frustrated. The guards were only doing their jobs. They were trained to be thorough.”

“I’m not mad about the guards,” Daniel insisted. There had been people patting everyone down before they could come into the church.

Theodore made a vague noise, which made Daniel scowl. “Shut up.”

“I said nothing.”

Knighthood, 102

Rich people really did get all the perks in life, Edwin thought. Aside from all the obvious shit, they even got to have weddings on perfect spring days.

It was the first day of Remin and it wasn’t actually spring for another week, but it was warm and sunny and the sky was a brilliant shade of blue and everything looked very picturesque. Even though Edwin knew the streets had been cleaned and the dirty snow moved in preparation for the wedding, it still felt like the kind of thing that had just happened naturally rather than being bought.

The streets looked much nicer now that a lot of the people lined up to get into the First Church had been checked and let in. “Okay, thank you for your cooperation, your Majesty,” Edwin said.

Knighthood, 100

“I will be personally overseeing the wedding’s security,” said the knight commander, hands folded on his desk. “With Sir Devin working out the specifics. Given that the whole royal family will be present for the duration of the event, you will all be put under his command. The castle guard will comprise most of the security, and the city guard will be stationed outside the First Church to ensure order. Sir Elaine, you will liaise with the captains of those two forces to ensure continuity of protection.”

Elaine nodded, and Edwin was profoundly grateful he hadn’t been stuck with that job. “Yes, sir.”

“Given the security issues at the last several royal events, we’ll be searching all guests—no matter who they are—for weapons before they’re allowed into the cathedral and again before they can be allowed into the palace afterwards. Sir Edwin will be in command of that operation, and Sir Elaine can negotiate with the captains of both guards to have them spare some people to help speed the searching along.”

Oh. Edwin nodded. “Yes, sir.” He didn’t need to look around the room to know that was the crappiest job on the security detail. The royal wedding was a huge deal and over a thousand people were attending. The city guard didn’t play well with the order and wouldn’t like being under a knight’s command. If there were delays getting people inside—which there would be—they’d be Edwin’s fault.

If there was any kind of security breach like there always was, it would be Edwin’s fault. There were easily four hundred people doing security for the wedding, but anything that went wrong would be Edwin’s fault.

Stowaway, 106

“If you ask me,” said Pax, whom nobody had asked, “the Clan of Kozna’s plan had too many steps, was unnecessarily complicated and was poorly explained overall.”

“Since we’re still here to talk about it,” Jacob said, cleaning one of his knives. “I guess so.”

“I know so.” Pax did know. “Why did they summon their god in the tower using a sacrifice ritual that was powered by deaths occurring in the harbour? Why was there a second ritual to bind the god to this world, which was taking place underneath a church a half kilometre away from both those places? All of these different rituals could easily have been one ritual that took place in one place.”

“Maybe they thought splitting it up would make it harder for people to stop?” Cyrus asked. He’d been writing something for a few minutes, which Pax supposed was probably a letter to Klaus. This seemed wholly unnecessary since Klaus was doubtless present in Narwhal Junction, being that he was omnipresent and Narwhal Junction was included in the realm of omni, which was the name of a large jellyfish that had long ago consumed the world, including its northernmost continent.

Stowaway, 105

There were rather a lot of people fleeing the vicinity of the tower, which was probably because clouds were swirling above it and also it was glowing a little bit, which in Pax’s personal experience, towers didn’t usually do unless something was rather impressively wrong.

The tower was glowing blue, which created a striking and unique visual against the orange sky. Pax considered it for a moment. “So,” he said. “We know the torture cult is headquartered here. We also know the spell circle that was transcribed as a number puzzle on an abandoned Enjoni ship is carved on the ceiling of a secret sex room behind the governor’s office. We know the torture cult is trying to summon their evil torture god. And we know the general rules of reality, such as the sky being blue and towers not glowing blue, are not currently functioning in the area around this tower. What can we surmise from this?”

That the cult is using the tower to cast its evil torture god summoning spell? Nate asked.