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, 100

“I think we can safely assume at this point that the navy isn’t going to be catching up with us,” Natalie said, looking at the map weighted down to the table in Alse’s meeting room.

“I think we can rather unsafely assume that, given how unsafe we’ll be,” Pax countered. “But it’s fine. This is why Denver helped us acquire all this additional backup from Ran Errevir. We’ll be okay.” He gestured around at Ran Errevir generally to indicate how okay they were.

“Indeed,” promised Alse, gills frilling as he looked at Denver. “There is no need to worry. Our bargain is unassailable.”

Stowaway, 97

It was getting warmer the farther south they sailed, and Pax mildly appreciated that, but knew he would appreciate it less when he got hot in a few more weeks. But for now it was nice not to have to wear anything too heavy as he walked the deck.

Nate, of course, was looking forward to it soon being warm enough for Pax to test his newfound relationship with modesty by sailing naked, which he’d already promised both Nate and Denver he was not interested in doing but knew he would probably end up doing anyway. He was at least resigned to this and, having just come out of a quite large orgy where he’d been naked in front of a considerable number of people, felt confident in his ability to at least briefly experiment with new clothing/work configurations.

“Will we stop in Bevia, do you think?” Sharon asked, as Pax and Nate joined her at the railing.

Stowaway, 86

“Take care of the ship while we’re gone,” Natalie said.

“Don’t worry, Captain,” Cedric said, standing at the helm. “Sharon and I have everything under control.”

Sharon nodded. “Don’t worry. You do what needs doing down there.”

“We will,” Pax promised. “We’ll be back shortly, though possibly shortly in a calendrical sense.”

“Just keep the ship safe,” Natalie said with a nod. She hugged Sharon. “Cedric knows what to do. Don’t worry.”

Sharon hugged Natalie back. “I won’t. Everything will be fine.”

Natalie nodded, and stepped back. She, Pax, Denver, Louis, John and Sylvester were leaving the ship with Kein for a few days to go to his house under the sea to see the mysterious thing he needed to show them, which he’d tried being ominous and ambiguous about for a few minutes before Nate had called him on it and he’d given up and told them he wanted them to meet some merpeople royalty to talk about the Sea King.

Stowaway, 85

“It’s really nothing to worry about,” Pax explained to John, who was the only person on the ship with less sailing experience than him and therefore was obviously far more worried than he was. “This happens sometimes because as you may be aware, ships are transported across the ocean through wind, and sometimes the wind fails to blow because wind is, of course, a natural phenomenon that is reliant on various natural factors that are not always present and is also a lifelong, very spiteful enemy of mine, and sometimes it likes to go off and plot my demise. As a result, sometimes ships are becalmed, and it’s really nothing to worry about.”

John nodded along as Pax talked. “Yes, I understand that. Also you keep saying not to worry in a way that makes me think you’re very worried.”

Pax fixed him with a flat expression. “That’s just because you haven’t learned to properly interpret my encouragement yet. You’ll get there. But in the meantime, how much effort on a scale of none to world-ending would it take you to magically create wind that could blow the sails for us?”

Stowaway, 83

“Last hand, I think,” Natalie said, dealing it out as she talked. “It’s getting late.”

Pax fiddled with some of the coins in front of him. “It’s also getting cold,” he said. They’d travelled far enough south that it wasn’t freezing anymore, but it wasn’t warm either, and now that it was dark the not-cold was rapidly fading to a cold that was just cool enough that sitting outside on the deck playing cards was getting chilly. They could have moved into Natalie’s or Pax’s cabin, or Sharon’s hold, but they were enjoying the authentically almost-nice weather and having wine, and those were nice things to do outside.

Pax was also taking money from people, which was a nice thing to do in any weather. As the cards were dealt to him it became apparent that he wasn’t going to be winning anything with this hand, though.

He put one coin on the pile. “I’ll raise,” he said, rearranging his cards.

Stowaway, 77

“The admiral’s been arrested,” Natalie said, shortly after returning from her meeting at the naval base. “Apparently he was participating in some depraved experiments on prisoners under the base and now Gavin’s arrested him. He’ll be leaving with the prince to stand trial in the capital.”

Pax blinked. “Well,” he said. “That’s a rather unexpected development.”

At least, he thought, it was an unexpected development for him. No doubt, had he access to the information that Gavin and whoever else had participated in the arrest had access to, it would have been quite a logical development based on pre-existing information. But alas, Pax was only one person and could not know things that were being experienced and learned by other people, and thus this information felt as though it were coming out of nowhere just to arbitrarily change his plans.

Stowaway, 74

It wasn’t that Pax was nervous to speak with John the evil centipede necromancer-witch again, but even though he wasn’t worried, he intuited that others might be nervous about the concept, and so he made sure that Sylvester was with him, along with Sharon, and since that was two magic-users by Pax’s count, and last time he’d checked with the laws of numeracy two was more than one, and that was only if he didn’t count himself, Natalie and Nate, as well as Persephone, which he did.

He waited at the bottom of the gangplank, realizing as he did that he hadn’t ever actually told John when to come back. Hopefully he would just come at the same time of day like a considerate person. But then, he wasn’t much of a considerate person in Pax’s estimation, on account of the time he’d very inconsiderately tried to feed Nate to centipedes who were actually a demon.

Which, Nate reiterated to him, is why I don’t think you should be making any deals with him. You can’t trust him.