Swamped Chapter 39 Page 12

With that business sorted out, you head to the one permanent structure in camp: the watchtower.

It takes you a few minutes to climb, mostly due to its height. You still find it hard to believe this thing was made for humans – ladders are so inefficient, and they don’t have claws to secure themselves with.

At the top, you give Rudolph a quick wave. He waves back before going back to scouting. Then you step into Harbottle’s observatory.

“Good to see you, Director,” they say. “How have you been?”

Of course. Harbottle’s usually behind on the news. You see them so rarely that they probably didn’t even notice you were gone yesterday.

“It’s a long story. Someone will catch you up on it by the next general meeting,” you say. “I’m here to check on your instruments, you had trouble with them a while back.”

“Ah! Yes, I’ve had to manually calculate the star positions for two nights now. Nearly got the recorder back in shape, though. Don’t suppose you’ve made any progress on finding out what’s causing this?”

“We have, actually. Seems news is slow to make its way up here, though.”

“I suppose it is,” Harbottle sighs. “And vice versa. I had some results I wanted to show you a while back, but what with one thing and another, I was never able to get a message to you.”

They walk towards a rolled up star chart at the back, and unfurl it.

“Take a look at this,” Harbottle says. “Does anything strike you as odd?”

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Pretty normal sky-stuff here, Harbottle.

Wait, is that the Maiden’s Veil? It’s too early for that to show up isn’t it?