Vadran, priest of Fyros, calls upon his church to deal with Eerdred’s buried tower and they agree to ward and wall it up. With the Seal of Surzil thus well protected, the group dwell on other matters. Hasnim, for one, thinks on clues given him by a Legend Lore spell cast upon The Crying Gods Smile. The strange history revealed by this divining points at danger. Does the last survivor of The Fallen Moon Tribe dare follow the riddled rituals revealed by magic? And what, exactly, might he unlock with these keys of knowledge?
Meanwhile, Miched Sanel Dufraine casts his nets throughout the city in search of answers — who were the diplomats from the northern kingdoms, now imprisoned as spies in Half Moon Keep, and what was changed by the Time Shift? A few well-placed coins in barmens’ hands and crafty phrases in Thieves’ Cant lead him up Castle Hill to a balcony near the great fortress itself. As though he was expected, an alarm is raised. A call to arms! An escape!
Word spreads swiftly and gates are shut, one by one. Miched manages to slip back to The Sleeping Tabby, where he finds a troupe of shackled men huddled in the shadows of the stable yard. The fugitive spies! But what’s more, a cadre of the gentleman sky-pirate’s old friends — Bixle the Branded and four others — who Dufraine once helped escape back when all were slaves in Naddium, many years ago. As he hides them from patrolling guards, they tell their stories.
Count Agarande, royal ambassador of Kinscold, was on a peaceful mission to Pacht a week before with a small group of nobles and aides. Just as they rode into the city-state’s territory, they were halted by a wayward peasant girl with a plea for assistance. Upstanding men that they were, they could not help but be led to a barn, where the girl vanished and a trap was sprung. Bixle and his crew, too, had been tricked. Hired by a mysterious Dark Elven woman to “acquire” a shipment of spices, they found themselves in a barn full of incriminating evidence and confused noblemen just as the Ruby Knights raided the shoddy structure and took them all prisoner.
Led back to Half Moon Keep in disgrace, they were questioned by no less than Virgis Avraille, The Hand of the Viceroy, who, after magical scrutiny, seemed to believe some of their odd tale. Facing the hangman’s noose, which would likely provoke a war, they could do nothing but wait. But then, a black-masked man appeared and whisked them out of the dungeons with far too little effort. He led them to The Tabby and disappeared without a whisper.
Roused by an early-morning message from “The Ambassador,” the group is asked to escort the accused men to Brandlebarge Ferry. They split into small teams, and Samael Thrushton III talks his way out of the one tight spot in which they find themselves. The men from the north escape, escorted by Miched’s old friends. War is averted… for now.
Hours later, Master Klein’s town hall contacts come through again. Gray Lord Ravenix’s name appeared on a record of purchase in the city register a month prior. The property? The Old Haelmgood Embassy, of course. Incensed, Lt. Thrushton leads the group to the great house and barges in. Finding nothing on the ground floor save for empty rooms that have not been well-tended, they move upward, weapons ready. In a shuttered office, they find a lone desk and scraps of paper inked by the Gray Lord’s hand. Haldis the Sage pieces together these castoffs to reveal the contents of a letter to an unknown Master who may be one of “The Dire Kings.” Ravenix wants help with “The Interlopers,” and asks for the services of “The Five Infernals” to speed their destruction. He also hints that three more Time Shifts are being prepared.
Hasnim senses a trap and leaps into the hall just as a magical hand of force slams shut the doors to the office. Hidden in an adjacent room, the one-armed Dark Elf releases a dozen poisonous snakes upon the group who finds the windows have been bricked up. She escapes from a window before the tribesman can get to her, but the danger is quickly managed. A hidden puzzle-box reveals money, poison, antidotes, and the Embassy Deed. Was this clumsy assassination attempt simply a bungled job? Or, do Ravenix and his Lady have another motive?