You thank Murfle for their gracious offer but politely decline. "Get ready to POUNCE!" Reecho says, his tail twitching with excitement.
"I have the paperwork!" Amele says, gliding up to you with an enormous backpack slung over her shoulders. "Penelope says that I get to be your official Federation liaison. I'll be with you until you have your travel permit, watching your back, and answering any questions you have about fantastic Insula!"
You bring your two new friends back to the Odyssey where you make them comfortable in the guest quarters section. Amele happily settles in to a small room with a large round observation window, while Reecho takes a little more time to make a decision. He walks around, thoughtfully examining room after room, before returning to the first and sitting down directly in the center of a circular rug on the floor.
"Araveen is the ideal planet," he says, taking out a small brush to straighten out the fur on his arm. "We have enough water to keep ourselves comfortable but not enough so it gets in the way. I prefer the deserts, personally, but some Felisi do live by the...sea," he sniffs, as if finding the very idea distasteful. "Most of our people live in cities, for the sands are unwelcoming to all but the hardiest traveler. What's your home like?"
You reminisce about the Earth and chat about Araveen.
Before long, your ship settles into a standard orbit around a sandy-green planet. A ragged band of small oceans encircles the equator, with streaks of clouds swirling overhead. You land on Araveen only to find yourself caught up in a large crowd in front of the POUNCE buildings. "It appears they have already heard of your arrival," says Reecho with a growl under his breath. "I told my Research Assistant to be discreet, but he does like to show off. And, of course, his mother is the Matron of Trade. So now there will be quite a fuss. It looks like half the members of the merchant clan are here with their wares."
A cheer erupts from the crowd. You hear someone shout, "There they are!" A hearty Felisi in trailing aqua garments thrusts a package into your hands. "I brought you some fish sandwiches all the way from Tahlasa!" he says. A rotund fellow with a grey fur and a red scarf obscuring their face gives you a different, slightly lumpy package. "Wouldn't you prefer a ground-squab meat pie? Only the finest from Sebulin!" A veil of fine-woven linen somehow is draped over your head like a hat, while yet another Felisi has thrust a tiny bottle of shimmering clear liquid into your hands. You all quickly run out of carrying capacity, but, thankfully, Reecho steps in between you and the mob. "Enough! Thank you for your interest, but we really must get on to the research now."
Reecho brings you through the elaborately woven reed doors into the grand hall of the University. "Our Matron has invited you to dine with her in the morning, and I must prepare our research proposal, so a short tour will have to do for now." He gestures to the sea of columns around you, each one carved and draped with patterned fabrics that ripple in the warm breeze. "This hall was built by our esteemed ancestors over six centuries ago. To the north, we keep all our archives, from the ancient scrolls and wooden tablets all the way up to our modern data cores. Doors to the west lead to classrooms, labs, and lecture spaces. And if you'll follow me to the east, I'll bring you to your sleeping rooms." The sleeping rooms are much smaller and feel cozier, full of plush pillows and low couches. "Sanitary rooms are at the end of the corridor, and, erm, you probably want the non-sand facilities. Amele can also help you find your way around." He retreats back down the hallway, leaving you to your own devices.
In a shocking upset, pie was not the winner! Click above to continue deep into the archives. Sadly, there is no pie in the archives.
(28%) See if you can find the pie merchant nearby.
(22%) Wear Felisi clothing as disguises and explore the city.