Scourge Forty-Six – Triangulation
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Scourge Forty-Six - Triangulation

Our night at Bianca’s place is rather nice. Beds are a great invention, second only to books in terms of how helpful they are for sleeping (though pillows come in at a close third).

Breakfast is a quick affair. Eggs and bacon and cheese as well as some local bread that’s shaped a bit longer than the bread I’m used to seeing. It had nuts in it too. Once we’re fed and Felix has gone through the leftovers, we all head outside where Bianca meets with Rafael again. “We’ll be heading out now,” she says.

“Is the young lady and her companions heading back to the capital?” he asks. “We can arrange for a coach.”

“No thank you,” Bianca says. “We’ll find our way to our destinations ourselves. If my father shows up, could you give him this?” She tugs a letter from a small purse she’s carrying by her hip. It’s sealed with wax and an impression from the ring that Bianca’s wearing.

“Of course,” he says. He’s obviously a bit confused about us heading out on foot, but making sure that the locals aren’t confused isn’t our job. Besides, if he knew we were flying off on monster-back, he might make a fuss.

“So, we’re heading straight south?” I ask.

Esme nods. “I measured the direction the books were in last night, then again this morning. There was a half-degree change, I think. It’s hard to tell, exactly, but I think it means that the books were moved a little during the night. Or they were moved a lot a long ways away.”

“We can keep measuring the change in angle as we fly south,” I say. “Maybe we can travel perpendicular for a bit? Head east or west between two landmarks, then we can triangulate the book’s exact position.”

Esme nods. “I was thinking the same thing, yes.”

We head out of the estate’s walls, then dive into the forest. A few little friends come out to greet me, and I have them lead us to our love birds who have found a big rock to roost on while pressing in close to each other.

“We should have stolen some horse stuff while we were there,” Felix says as she tosses a blanket over one of the birds.

“It’s not theft if I give you permission,” Bianca says. “But... yes, actually, that would have been clever.”

“I don’t know if we’re going to fly all the way down to Algecante,” I say. “Not if we’re going to need an army at any point between here and there. I can’t exactly summon monsters from the sky. Mom might be able to do that, but it’s way beyond me.”

There’s not much more to say on the subject, so we hop onto the birds, Esme hugging Felix close from behind, and Bianca riding behind me with her arms around my tummy. We take off, then once we’ve circled a few times to gain some altitude, we veer off more or less south and start to follow one of the bigger roads heading away from the capital and towards the mainland of Caselfella.

The morning passes in a breeze. We fly south, keeping an eye on the distant road so that we don’t lose our orientation. Esme convinces Felix to create an air shield around their bird for a while so that she can read while flying, but that ends up proving a bit hard to do, especially with Esme having to read over Felix’s shoulder.

In the end, Felix takes the book and just reads it aloud while we listen. It’s a guide about using electrical attacks empowered by Surprise that was a bit technical and hard to keep up with. Felix isn’t the best orator, or the best at reading aloud.

Early afternoon comes around and we sweep down to land in an open field separated from the road by a strip of forest. A few curious bear monsters pop out of the woods, so I tell them to start heading south. I’m not sure they’ll make it before we need them, but more monsters coming down can’t hurt.

Felix gathers some branches while Esme and I set up a fire pit and Bianca conjures up a few flames to get things started. We have dinner while Esme pours over a map.

“Look, I think we’re here. A bit to the north of this big crossroads. The angle is... here.” Esme sets a second page atop the map, one that’s thin enough that we can see through it. She scribbles some markers over landmarks and draws a line tracing out the roads on the map. Then she draws a circle over out location and a line from that circle going down. “Do you think we could head west? About here, next to this big hill? I think that’s about as far as we can travel in one flight.”

“That looks doable,” I say. “Isn’t your triangulation going to be thrown off by the amount of time between measurements?”

“A little, yes,” she says. “But I think we only need a direction for now. And a twenty-or-so-degree cone from our next location will make it much easier to pinpoint things.”

“That’s the same direction the Templars were heading in,” Bianca says. She traces a finger across the map from Castaneda’s stop heading east. “Between there and Algecante.”

I nod. “We might run across them.”

“What should we do if we run across Templars?” Esme asks.

“I guess that’ll depend on the Templars. We’re not here to fight them. I don’t think they have anything to do with all of this,” I say.

“Might be working towards the same goal as us,” Felix points out. She stirs our food, then sniffs it before opening a little baggy of herbs which she pinches into the pot.

She’s not wrong. If the Templars are around here, then they’ll be here to kill the undead. I can’t imagine them working with Altum. It wouldn’t fit their image. Then again, Templars really don’t like Mom.

“I guess we’ll have to see. Maybe we should talk to them first?”

“And if they decide to skewer you?” Esme asks. “I’d really rather not see you get hurt.”

“Then we’ll talk to them with an army behind us,” I say.

We eat, and our conversation turns away from all this serious business and more towards normal girl talk, like how Esme’s electrical magic can chain between people to fry an entire group’s nerves, or how Felix wishes she had enough control to make a person’s lungs go inside-out. We all agree that that would be really gross, but kind of neat to see anyway.

Once we’re done eating and Bianca cleans off the pot with a spray of water pulled from a waterskin, we douse the fire and hop back onto the love birds.

Our flight continues south, though we don’t fly quite as quickly as before. The sun’s way too hot on our backs for strenuous flight. A wind is coming in from the east from the ocean, and it’s warm and humid and tastes a bit of salt.

We angle over towards some hills by late afternoon for a bit of a break from all the flying. It’s tough on the backside after a while.

“Alright,” Esme says as she pulls out her maps and pencils and of course the book-finding machine. She cranks the device, checks the compass against a normal compass, then makes a few notations on her map. Then, with a ruler, she draws a line from our position that follows the direction of the machine’s compass.

The line bisects the one she drew before. “There you go,” she says.

“What about the other cards?” I ask.

“Oh, good idea.” She pulls out another, and redoes the whole thing. “Oh... that’s not good.”

The new line she has doesn’t point in the same direction. In fact, it’s off by about twenty or thirty degrees more towards the south.

Esme grabs at her hair. “I’m such an idiot. I should have checked every book’s direction last time. We wasted half the day!”

“No, we didn’t,” I say. “Look, we know exactly where one of the books is.”

“One of them,” she says. “What about the rest? Maybe they’ve split up. Maybe we’ll reach that one and find it in a ditch. Do you think they know that the Archivists can track them and are ditching the books, or even just the tags?”

“Calm down,” Felix says. “We know more or less where the books are, which means we know more or less where the bad guys are at. All we’ve got to do is search around until we spot them, then make their day infinitely worse.”

Bianca checks the map, now covered in lines. “It’s a large area to search.”

Felix shrugs. “How hard can it be? We’re literally heading out and looking for trouble. Usually it’s avoiding trouble that’s hard.”


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