Toreo uncorked his wineskin and took a deep drink. The pier was empty at night, and ordinarily when he was alone with a woman under the starlit sky, there would be at least some expectation of a romantic turn. Anyone except this one, really. He offered Cara the wine. "No, thank you." The magistrate's spyglass was surveying the waters. "I need your eyes searching as well. Don't drink too much." "Ever dutiful, aren't we?" The marshal groaned and leaned back onto the wooden planks. The stars were brighter out here, away from the cities and the burning night-towers. "Could just enjoy the view." "We have a job to do, Marshal." Cara glanced up at the Orrery before reorienting herself due west. "The toxin smugglers are supposed to be active around this time." "Like I said back at the station house, I'm pretty sure the information is bad. Why would the smugglers bother moving product around at night when they could just take the ferry? It's not like you or I are there every day inspecting luggage. This is chasing pigs." "You can go back to the station house if you want. Nobody's making you stay here." The magistrate looked at the sky. "Though I do agree, the sky here is quite beautiful." "It's either I have a drink here or I have a drink at the station house, and it doesn't really matter, does it?" The marshal grinned. "Only that the eye of the old gods is watching us while we're under the stars, to ensure we don't do anything immoral." "Disgusting as ever, Toreo." Cara clapped her spyglass closed. "Boat with two oarsmen north and northwest, headed east towards the Durban sandbar. Let's get moving." She grabbed the mooring cleat and hoisted herself onto their outrigger. "Any chance they're just night fishermen?" Toreo sighed and clambered into the oar seat. "Fine. Let's go."
The Orrery is the term for a constellation of eight stars in the sky that are clustered around the polar rotation point, a four point box enclosed by another, rotating in place. The stars composing it are named, in a rather unimaginative fashion, Orrery 1 through Orrery 8, with 1 through 4 composing the 'inner' box. The stars of the Orrery are bright in the night sky and they are easily picked out with the unaided eye amongst all the other stars, though their position relative to the horizon means that they are often occluded by clouds. Notably, the Orrery stars create nearly perfect squares, with the inner enclosed square circumscribed by the outer.
The Orrery has been observed and studied since time immemorial, with the earliest texts describing them dating from prehistory, and the first truly scientific observations of them dated to 50M. At that point, the Orrery was not centered around the polar rotation point, but was next to it, rotating slowly around it each night, with Orrery 7 being at the actual rotation point. Over the last seven hundred years, the sky has shifted, bringing the rotation point into the inner box (between Orrery 1 and 2) and finally to its current position just left of center of the 'boxes'. Although there are tens of thousands of stars in the night sky, the Orrery cluster is the most recognizable of the constellations, and all schoolchildren are taught their position in the sky as a navigation aid for orienting north. The Orrery is a prominent part of several pre-Principality myths and legends, due to their position in the sky and their symmetric properties. One example is that in ancient Askri religion, the Orrery is the Watcher, an eye of the heavens monitoring the people of Creus, and its presence as proof of the existence of gods and higher powers. The denizens of old Kafteros considered it the 'first flame', from which all other flames (stars) emerged. Sukkhiri of the west claimed that the Orrery is the location of the highest heaven, to which the most virtuous souls ascend after death to be with the great Maker. In modern times, the Orrery figures into the Origin question with the same type of arguments as of old - according to the deists, their position in the sky and their mathematical symmetry and orientation is too 'perfect' to be natural, and thus the world is the creation of a god or god-like entity, as opposed to being a natural creation. The rationalist school rejects this out of hand, noting that, without being able to see other worlds and looking for patterns, there is no reason to assume the Orrery is any more or less unnatural than any other constellation.
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