A walk in the wood
After a long night, Malcolm Chaser goes out into the woods to speak with Lily alone. Lily reveals that she is upset that Chaser hasn’t spoken to her since they came to this valley, and when she needed him he chose the monster he saw as Adacius over her. As they go for a walk in the woods to reminisce, Lily tells Chaser that he should have chosen her to speak to the Hudbeklaaid warriors instead of Socrates. As he falls asleep in his tent, Lily strokes his hair and speaks softly to him, reminding him not to forget she is there for him.
The missing volume
In the morning, Tulasa goes into the Infinite Stacks to learn about Timmy Lupitz. While there, the Curator tells him that Krenzi or his demon took a crucial record from the library: the document compiling his mother Shaghira’s findings on the weakness of the Eater of Knowledge. He presses Tulasa to recover it quickly.
A Crusader’s eyes opened…
Upon waking, Chaser checks in with the leader of the Felkeziers, Jacobus. Jacobus reveals that his brush with the world of sorcery has unsettled him, and he wishes to learn from the Magisterial lorekeeper, Tulasa.
Chaser notices that Jacobus now has the dagger Adacius used during their confrontation in the Kirk, and Jacobus’s hand goes to its hilt while they are talking.
After taking his leave of Jacobus, Chaser finds Tulasa to tell him about the Lieutenant’s request to meet him, and Tulasa informs Chaser that Timmy Lupitz is dead, according to Chaser’s own account from the future. Chaser remembers that Adacius called the old man in the Stacks “Lupitz”, and Tulasa bolts when he realizes he must visit the Stacks again to find what he can about the old man.
After Tulasa departs, Lily reveals that she has found a Klav woman to possess so as to provide more visible help to her husband.
Cutting the gold
After his meeting with Armentad in the cottage, Duke addresses Renke Hinnemûs to warn him to tell no one of the gold that he has decided to share with Hinnemûs for the care of his family. When Renke says he can’t guarantee that no one else has heard of Niehege’s gold already, Duke tells him to spread the word that the gold has been confiscated under Magisterial authority and is no longer in play.
Renke tells Duke that it’s not safe for him to travel the Kl’au as an unarmed messenger while foreign armed forces occupying the land. Duke uses Maiven’s power to slice off a chunk of gold for the Klav and sends him away. Duke then orders his mercenaries to ready themselves to set out immediately for Heksepunt.
The Vaults under Deltoss
Returning to the Stacks, Tulasa finds what records he can about Krenzi Lupitz. He learns that the old man was a crusader who fought in the siege of Deltoss, who was captured as a war prisoner by forces carrying the Sultan’s banner, using ancient catacombs beneath the Sultan’s palatial estates. According to the Stacks, this was actually a covert Inquisitorial operation led by Adacius Fet, in which Krenzi and the other prisoners were subjected to novel and extreme interrogation methods which drove Krenzi to renounce his faith in Crucian. After that, the operation was cancelled.
Before Tulasa leaves, the Curator tells Tulasa that the scribes are idle and the Stacks are hungry for more lore that only their master can provide.
Chaser treats with Avga Akh, who agrees to send horsemen with the Inquisitor to scout out the Deenryk. Chaser readies his men and the Felkeziers to depart right away, and then hangs back tensely until Tulasa returns.
After conducting his research on Krenzi, Tulasa returns to tell Chaser about special project that broke the old man. They resolve to part ways, with Tulasa going North to find a lead on Lupitz at the Hinnemûs farmstead, while Chaser takes his search party Northwest toward the Deenskewâl. Jacobus decides to leave the remaining Felkeziers under Chaser’s command to go alone with Tulasa’s escort.
Encounter on Caer Hyvel
As the Baachus party escorts Tûk and Ghanna across the ridge called Caer Hyvel, Krenzi takes a shortcut to head them off, meeting them at an inconspicuous location. They decide that the place is good enough to make camp, and Tûk offers to go gather more firewood as he turns over his haul to them. The mercenaries build a fire as the dusk rapidly turns to bitter darkness, but Ghanna dismisses herself to follow Tûk, with Pinaka in hand. While Tûk is gone, Krenzi informs Duke that he saw the man dead just yesterday.
Ghanna follows Tûk’s snowtracks from at least a furlong behind, and notices them picking up pace—not meandering as if he were gathering firewood. She fires an arrow and uses Pinaka’s sight to spy out where Tûk went. Through the arrow’s perspective, she see’s Tûk reach a place in the forest where jagged, weathered stone markers stand between the trees, and Tûk’s body crumples into the snow. Out of the snow around him rise about thirty skeletons, clad in ancient armor and splintered spears, but as they stand in the moonlight the snow clothes them with the appearance of flesh and their ancient armaments look as new.
Ghanna opens her eyes and begins running back toward the camp. Duke realizes that Ghanna has been gone too long and calls his mercenaries to alert just before Ghanna returns to the circle of firelight, warning them that more than two dozen warriors are coming for them.
As Duke instructs the Baachus to pack up for an orderly retreat, Krenzi commands the Invader to take everyone to safety immediately.
The Warden and the Eater
Before nightfall, Tulasa and Jacobus ride side-by-side on the northbound path toward the Hinnemûs farm, with Kurik and Limnas riding close by. Tulasa asks Jacobus what he knows about Tulasa’s Magisterial mandate, and when Jacobus expresses a limited understanding of the mundane side of Tulasa’s operation, Tulasa reveals that he is at war with a demon known as the Eater of Knowledge.
Jacobus smiles at Tulasa and speaks in a different voice, “I am called by many names”. Kurik draws his horse to a halt to hang behind as Limnas draws her sword. Jacobus launches himself off his mount at Tulasa, but Tulasa leaps off the horse in time to escape. On Tulasa’s mount, Jacobus turns and rides down Tulasa, but Tulasa manages to dodge all but a glancing blow from a hoof as the horse goes over him.
Jacobus and Tulasa draw their swords, and Jacobus throws his into Limnas’s neck, felling her, while Tulasa leaps upon Jacobus, slashing the wrist of his weapon hand, hitting something harder than bone. Tulasa collides with Jacobus, knocking him from the horse and pinning him.
Jacobus laughs, goading Tulasa to surrender. When Tulasa refuses, Jacobus rips his skin off and Tulasa is thrown back by a massive golden coil that bursts forth. Out of the human skin comes a colossal golden serpent, crowned with horns, and bearing a mane like a lion. Tulasa leaps from the path into the frigid pools of the meandering Fuorjen rivulet.
The Invader snatches Ghanna and the Baachus crew by ones and twos, taking them through a screaming void to the ruins of Hyvel’s fortress some miles away at the top of the ridge. There they find Nolduske and Remke Hinnemûs, but Ghanna is missing. The Invader says he mistakenly dropped her at his Vault and disappears to fetch her.
While the mercenaries retch and recover from the shock of their first demonic exposure, Krenzi and Duke learn that Beppe Hinnemûs has pressed on to the standing stones at Heksepunt, in order to call upon Granaatmem for aid.