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, 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.”

Stowaway, 71

Being mysterious was very important in Pax’s family. Some families had rituals about eating certain kinds of animals or playing games together or hunting or something, but Pax’s family bonded over mystery. As such, they were usually all late to everything and when Cyrus said he was going to meet Pax at the sea monster museum entrance at sunset, it was definitely going to happen at least an hour after that because there was nothing more mysterious than being fashionably late.

Pax, however, being the most mysterious sibling of them all, had chosen to arrive a full half-hour before sunset, because if they were all late, which they would be, then his being late would just be predictable and he couldn’t well have that.

Plus this way he got to lean against the wall with his hands in his pockets and his eyes closed like he wasn’t worried about anything in the world, which made him look dashing and cool. He couldn’t help but feel like Jacob would be impressed.

Stowaway, 68

“Okay,” said Pax, once they were all safely through Sharon’s portal and seated on her nice furniture in her weird pavilion in the middle of the desert. “I’m going to start with the obvious question, if that’s okay. Where are we, what is this place, and how do you keep sand out of it?”

“That’s three questions,” Louis growled.

“You get used to it,” said Roberta, poking around the cushions, some of which seemed to have gold trim. It was all very classy.

“We are in my hold.” Sharon nodded at the low table between them, and a platter with five goblets shimmered into existence on it. She took two and handed one to Natalie. “Please, drink. You have my word that no harm will come to you while you are here.”

“Great,” said Pax, taking one of the goblets, which was warm. He sipped the drink, which was a strange spiced tea. He quite liked it, actually. It made him feel pleasantly warm, instead of the unpleasantly warm that the weather often made him feel. Nate liked it too. “Now, as an addendum to the first two questions, what’s a hold?”

Pax could guess, but he felt like having direct answers was to everyone else’s benefit.

Knighthood, 60

Edwin wished he were guarding the outside of the door rather than the inside. But no, he was in here, and he was going to have to pretend to pay attention and be alert for this whole meeting of Gavin’s. It was going to suck.

Erik was out there, and Edwin would much rather have stood guard with him for however long this took, but Elaine and Owen had both insisted that they only needed one person on each side. Currently only Cal and his people were here with Gavin and Owen, but that was enough people that Edwin was now working.

Not that Gavin needed protecting from all of them, Edwin thought, since Owen was now going over there with a look on his face that suggested that they were all about to get invited to the orgy that Owen had mentioned before.

Stowaway, 67

“If I get arrested I expect you to break me out of prison,” Alec—who’d changed his name to Sylvester, apparently—said to Pax as they headed for the meeting room. They’d been let into Draughten’s house with no problems this time, even with all their extra guests.

“Why can’t you break yourself out of prison?” Pax asked.

“I can, but consider it a test of your abilities.”

“I’m insulted that you think that’s challenging enough to be a real test for me,” Pax said. “Not that practice is ever a bad thing and of course nothing would ever receive less than my whole attention and effort, but breaking someone out of a prison when they’re already a wizard and also very skilled at breaking out of things is rather weak in terms of challenges. Can there at least be a bunch of orphans with you and the necessity of escaping across a series of slanted rooftops in an ice storm?”

Sylvester patted Pax’s shoulder. “No. But if it helps, I’m wanted for several unsolved crimes in Pelican Bay and if you want I’ll throw something at the prince so instead of a prison, I’ll get myself chained to a cliff face during a thunderstorm.”

Team, 65

“I swear to me, the world had better not fucking end because of this meeting.”

“I’m pretty sure the world’s supposed to end because of a battle or something,” Mick said as he took his seat. “Not a meeting.”

“A meeting is just another kind of battle,” Cal disagreed. “And besides, I think I’d know a thing or two about the world’s going to end, so if I say it’s going to end because of a meeting…”

“You literally don’t know fuck-all about how the world’s going to end,” Beatrice interrupted. “Stop acting like you know stuff just because you created the universe and everything in it.”

“Not you.” Cal pointed at her. “Definitely didn’t create you, at least not on purpose.”

“When, exactly, will these two be having sex?” Mathilda asked Lillian.