Halfway through their second year of running their kingdom, the ruling council was getting ready for the events of Wild Night – a celebratory evening dedicated to the Dark Six deity The Fury, where the faithful and nonfaithful alike give vent to their passions in a raucous festival. (A close allegory for this celebration would be Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras) despite its association with The Fury it’s seen as a dedicated time to vent and release a lot of tension.
The guards and soldiers under Ogg were informed they could have some fun, as long as when it was time to be on duty they were fit for it. Keeping with the spirit of the holiday, the guards gambled and bet their shifts against one another to see who would be stuck with duty that night.
Everyone enjoyed the holiday in their own fashion. Alanea in particular spent the evening in the library of the University, finally able to surround herself with books and no distractions.
…the following morning Auchs sought an audience with Alanea. After going over the inventory of the library last night he thought he found some of the special collections books missing…but after going back through them this morning, nothing appeared to be missing.
Alanea and the rest of the council looked over the books that had been noted as ‘missing’ – all of which were indeed from the special collections and all focused around the philosophical “Dark Tapestry”, a strange interwoven method of planar travel through literally traversing across the universe…pretty technical stuff. Definitely not for the casual reader.
Dox and Tarvis spoke up at the news as well…there had been sightings of a giant metal Orrery appearing at random times across the capital over the past few months according to stories from townsfolk and guards. It always appeared between midnight and 6am and always in a different place than where it had been seen before. It seemed like just a rumor but…all this evidence at least deserved a cursory investigation. Based on where the Orrery had been sighted (using a giant map of the capital) Alanea was easily able to deduce (damn Bards and their knowing stuff) the next place that the Orrery should appear based on which section of the night sky it appeared to be focusing on.
Tarvis, Dox, Alanea, Sidney, and Boudreaux simultaneously: STAKE OUT!
“Stealth” was not really this groups specialty…with Tarvis, Boudreaux and Sidney largely sitting out at night having a picnic as opposed to actually hiding anywhere. Luckily for our heroes the one they were waiting for was not the greatest at stealth either. Walking down the middle of the road some 60 feet away was the librarian’s assistant they had rescued out in the forest – Pax Tera. Turning in a “I’m totally not walking away after seeing you guys over there” kind of way, Pax starting hittin the old dusty trail…
Tarvis slapped a Fly spell on Sidney and Dox as Boudreaux calmly informed Eleanor to play “fetch”.
Finding himself suddenly shoved back towards the group by the large dinosaur of high society, Dox began walking him back towards the others, arm around his shoulder. Noticing something suspicious, Dox spotted a simple bag attached to Pax’s belt…and with a convenient shove by Eleanor and the Plot Twist Card – Secret (played by Alanea’s player) a number of large books came tumbling out of the bag as Pax was sent rolling forward…much bigger than should actually be able to fit in the pouch. Quickly scrambling to gather up his books and put them back in his pouch, trying to play it off as “oh these were just in my cloak” moment.
Dox, still feeling rather mischievous after Wild Night took it upon herself to Sleight of Hand Pax’s pouch as they arrived back at the others, opening it up and finding…a simple pouch inside. Huh. That’s not what she wanted. As Tarvis began questioning Pax about some of the mysterious happenings with the appearance and disappearance of this Orrery, Dox passed the bag over to Sidney who similarly attempted to figure out what was going on with the bag…with similarly no luck.
As Pax continued to try and play it cool he finally noticed that his bag had been stolen as it was handed over to Tarvis, who reached inside with a “Activate Wildly” check on Use Magic Device…a rolodex style inventory suddenly rolled across Tarvis’ mind. Book. Book. Book. Book. Orrery. Book. Book. Book. Book.
Choosing “Orrery” Tarvis suddenly clutched something metal from within the bag and pulled the massive machine out until it landed with a great THUD!
The color drained from Pax’s face as he stood there speechless for a moment. Taking a moment to compose himself, Pax’s demeanor changed.
“Yeah alright it was me. What of it?”
Technically what he was doing wasn’t really…illegal just odd. So what were you doing with your Orrery?
“Researching. It’s my job. I figured since some asshats had killed my guardian, raided my house, and stolen my prized possessions this was the least I was entitled to do.”
Wait a minute…he couldn’t be…
Pax reached into a pocked and pulled out a familiar letter, tossing it into Tarvis’ hands.
We flashed back momentarily to the end of Book 2 Chapter 17 – A Cave of Wonders
“Everything was taken, except for the Orrery which the group determined was too unwieldy to carry back to the kingdom. Not one to be terrible explorers since it seemed this area had been abandoned the group left a letter for anyone that would come back to this cave…indicating who they are and where their kingdom of Valdrik could be found.
Surely, this will not come back to haunt them.”
“That’s right, you stole my stuff. I’m just here to take it back.”
Tarvis pondered for a moment…well…they had left that letter. You totally have a point, we should let you have your things back.
Somewhere Korin tossed and turned in his sleep, a nightmare of some terrible financial loss rearing it’s ugly head.
Pax seemed rather surprised by this admission. “So…you’ll give me my things back? All of it?”
Not only that, Tarvis went on, we’d like to offer you a position at the University teaching Grad Students. Tenured of course.
Pax scoffed. “Having ‘students’ from your University no mater how learned would be like surrounding me with yapping noisy children and dogs…or…dog children…either way you get my point”. It was quickly apparent that not only was Pax not entirely human but also much older than he appeared. “But perhaps we can work something out. After you give me back my things. I would prefer to do my research in peace after all.”
Right…what exactly are you looking for up there anyway? The group remembered the giant painting on the stone wall back at Pax’s old home depicting a great red star trailing across the sky. That’s it isn’t it? So…what is it? When is it going to land? And are we talking big explosion kind of landing or…like soft landing?
Pax shrugged. “That’s what I’m researching.”
Things had been smoothed over…for the time being at least. Just who was this guy really? And what was he going to want in exchange for access to his knowledge?