Stowaway, 116

The Omtec Prime was a very round merperson with dark blue colouring and lots of long frills, all fringed with orange and then yellow. Zhe had dark eyes that were set apart in zhier head and a small snout for a nose, and zhier body paint was swirling patterns of yellow.

When zhe spoke, zheir mouth was full of multiple rows of sharp teeth, and Pax was quite certain he saw a venom sac in there as well. Zheir ‘Vyle was accented in a way that suggested it was not zheir first language, but it wasn’t hard to decipher.

“I’m so grateful to finally meet you,” Zhe said, clapping zhier hands together. “The Emvel Prime’s messages about the mysterious sky people were so fascinating. You must be Captain Natalie.”

Stowaway, 115

“It’s actually super interesting being the morale officer,” Matthias said, leaning on the railing and looking out at the ocean. “It’s not just sex.”

Pax, who was well aware of both that fact and the fact that Matthias had been having sex with nearly everyone for the last five days, nodded, continuing to sharpen his knives. “Even if it were just sex, no doubt that could also be potentially interesting,” Pax said. “Given the number of people involved, one would be kept on their toes, I should think. Unless of course the people involved prefer one not to be on their toes, or prefer to pretend toes don’t exist, like that one village near the border of the Sevoshi Desert, remember them? The ones who pretend that feet end in fingers and if you disagree they throw you in foot jail?”

“Yeah,” Matthias agreed. “They’re half over the Dolovin border and so they use that as an excuse to get around the fact that Dolovin law forbids torture to tickle every prisoner for days until they repent. Weird place.”

“Let’s not go there again,” Pax agreed, finishing with one knife and grabbing another. “I’m not ticklish, of course, but I know you found it rather humiliating.”

Stowaway, 112

Pax woke up thinking that he should cut his hair today. It was brushing his eyelids, which meant it was too long as it could obscure his vision during critical moments, and then everyone might die and it would be all his fault.

He should get Manuel to do it, he’d taken to doing people’s hair for them and it would look nicer that way than if Pax did it himself. He could do that and then wax himself as well all in one day. A day of hair removal.

As Pax thought all of that, he opened his eyes, trying to sit up without waking Matthias, who was holding him from behind, his body tight against Pax’s. Not waking Matthias was a lost cause since nobody in Pax’s family was a heavy sleeper, but if he was gentle enough, Matthias would just roll over and go back to sleep. He’d had nightmares last night.

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.”

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.

Stowaway, 104

“Being a patriarch isn’t such a big deal,” Louis said, as Pax considered the injury on his lower back. It was just a shallow scratch, nothing to be concerned about, apparently. Dragons supposedly healed fairly quickly, in any case.

The claw marks on his chest were a little more serious, but they’d probably be fine too. Denver was putting ointment on them just in case. “I think it’s a really big deal,” Denver said. “And you’re just good at it.”

“I mean obviously I’m good at it,” Louis said, tail swishing. He hit Pax’s ankle. “Sorry.”

Stowaway, 101

“A whole other continent, huh?” Cyrus asked, leaning back against the wall, knee drawn up to his chest. “I wonder what’s there.”

“And why it’s being hidden,” added Ignatius, sitting beside him. “The Storm Seas surrounding it can’t possibly be a coincidence. If there’s a whole continent that’s hidden from the rest of the world, it’s because someone went to a lot of trouble to hide it.”

“The people who live there, do you think?” Robin asked, arm around Pax’s middle. “Or people who really didn’t like the people who live there?”

Pax shrugged, because he knew Robin was asking him. “My guess would be the former, because if you have the power to hide an entire continent, you probably have the power to do something worse to it. It makes more sense to assume that the denizens of our mysterious continent are either extremely isolationist or extremely afraid, which is really the same thing. Whichever it was, there are records of the Storm Seas dating back centuries, so it’s entirely possible that the people who live there now have no idea why their continent is inaccessible to the rest of us.”