Girl Genius
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Girl Genius

A 2020 end-of-the year story, starting at the end of November and set in the immediate aftermath of the Other War. Phil and his new wife Kaja attend a Winter Solstice party hosted by Oggie in Mechanicsburg. Oggie tells Kaja about the city's traditional celebration of this holiday, which is being "properly" celebrated for the first time since Agatha became the Heterodyne. The Professora hears enough that her academic curiosity is aroused, and she goes off on her own to investigate. She gets over-enthusiastic about this quest to the point that she volunteers to Revelsmeister Ignitheus Plumm to stand in for Agatha, who has left town on short notice to deal with a problem in Zagreb. In the more public part of the whole affair, "The Heterodyne" officially shuts off The Castle for the night and starts the Jagerstomp: some quality balcony ranting and then a parade through town to the Jagerhall where the Jagers lock themselves in and party for three days.

The Heterodyne is now completely alone , except for a mysterious waif who offers up a glowing horned crown. Accepting this adornment means that the wearer is hunted through the streets of the city by bands of his/her own citizens, trying to avoid being caught until dawn. It's never made exactly clear what hunters do to The Heterodyne if they are successful; maybe nobody knows as supposedly it's never happened. Kaja probably wouldn't have lasted long, except it turns out that since she's not really The Heterodyne, the Castle is for the first time ever still active, and helps her evade capture. They discover that Plumm has been scheming to let Agatha/her stand-in get caught and then sell a whole warehouse's worth of tacky "I Helped Capture The Heterodyne" merchandise. They set the warehouse on fire, and Plumm immediately runs afoul of his numerous creditors. Agatha returns from Zagreb at dawn, the Doom Bell is rung, and she and Kaja unwittingly swap places. Agatha gets all the glory for another (non)successful hunt, while Kaja gets some cake and as promised by The Castle, a copy of a certain rare book. Happy endings all around, like in all good Solstice Stories!

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