Stowaway, 107

“Thanks for everything,” Robin said, as Pax lingered in the doorway.

“Of course. There’s nothing to thank,” said Pax, nodding. “You know I’d do anything for you.”

“I do. But it always means a lot to me. I know you have to go back now.”

“I do,” Pax agreed. He sighed. “But I appreciate having spent all this time with you.”

Others, 45

“It’s just, it’s not fair that everyone decides what I’m like before they even meet me,” said Evander Magna Demna Aergyn, Imperial prince.

Robin thought it was pretty fair to decide what he was like before meeting him, because even if he’d turned out to be more of a whingy kid than he’d expected, he was still an entitled Imperial who thought the whole world belonged to him by virtue of existing. “You’re right,” said Robin, to the boy whose family was winning the worldwide racism contest. “It’s not fair to decide your opinion of people before you meet them.”

Evander nodded, a huge pout all over his face and the rest of his body. “All I’ve done since coming to Qonvel Redda is almost get murdered and then be faced with scorn everywhere I’ve gone since. I was almost murdered! The people here are the ones who should be feeling bad about themselves, not me!”

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, 103

Pax woke up with an erection, which wasn’t unusual except that this one was in his hand.

He also had an erection in his penis, but Robin was handling that, so he wasn’t worried about it. “Good morning,” he said, giving a gentle stroke. He knew that if he was awake, Robin would be too.

“Good morning,” said Robin, kissing Pax’s cheek. “Did you sleep well?”

Pax nodded. “Really well. Did you?”

“Yes. Slightly weird dreams.”

“Yes, that was Nate’s doing,” Pax said. Nate had given him a dream that he and Robin were kids again and were trying to burgle each other’s virginity.

Guilty, Nate said, unashamed. Good morning.

Soothsayer, 12

“I’ll break into Ogwen’s Tower tonight,” said Knifebird, Dawn Thunder’s human boyfriend. He was a pretty, unassuming Dolovin guy with striking eyes and an impish voice, and it was easy to see why Dawn Thunder liked him so much.

Except for he was clearly also crazy. “You can’t just break into Ogwen’s Tower,” Mads told him. “It’s fortified, and crawling with Imperials. The walls are sheer even when they’re not covered in ice and half the windows don’t open anyway. They actually guard the servants’ entrances. There’s no way in.”

Knifebird’s teeth flashed. His human name was Robin, but like Mads and Nuka, the pack had given him a name as well. One that fit his smile perfectly. He’d only been with Dawn Thunder since the summer, so it had happened pretty quickly, too. “Don’t worry about that. They won’t be expecting someone to sneak in tonight. I’ll be fine.”

Stowaway, 102

Narwhal Junction was very cold, which Pax appreciated because it had given him the opportunity to purchase an ankle-length coat with nice fur trim and many places to attach knives. Because Natalie typically chose to spend most of the winter in warm places, he anticipated not wearing it very often, but they had spent almost none of this winter in warm places, so he could dream.

Please, said Nate, as Pax reflected on the lack of utility a winter wardrobe had for him. Robin lives in Narwhal Junction. You’re going to come here all the time and it’s always cold here.

They do have summer here, Pax objected, instead of objecting to the first part of what Nate had said, which would have been foolish. Though you’re not wrong that by tropical standards it is generally quite chilly in this part of the world, yes.

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.”