- Chaser confronts Adacius about the war hosts gathering in the Klau and learns that his mentor is mad or possessed.
- Tulasa finds a family hiding from the warriors now converging on the Klau, and they tell him some local lore in exchange for a letter of protection.
- Duke and Ghanna find a cozy cottage surrounded by ripe corn and take shelter there for the night.
A Report from Elder Kristus
Kristus briefs Chaser as the Hounds lead their horses down the steep descent into the Klau: Adacius led the Felkiezers here several weeks ago to establish a Magisterial presence in the Klau and began searching for any signs of heresy. Soon, he found a family conducting heretical worship in a barn.
Under interrogation, they revealed that they were mere minions of a Necromancer abiding at the spire of Heksepunt on the Deenskewâl. Adacius left a tithe of his force in the Klau while he force-marched the family into the mountains so that they could guide him to the Necromancer. Two nights later, Kristus saw a fire on Heksepunt.
When Adacius did not return, he sent a messenger to summon Chaser. But Adacius came back this morning after long travels, and he brought an army of Hudbeklaaid mercenaries and their dogs with him. Adacius is planning war with the Necromancer, whom he claims is gathering strength in the Deenryk, and he has sent for other warriors to join him in the Klau.
Chaser and Kristus ride into Klausted, where a crowd of angry Klavs confront Felkiezer sentries who surround the village. A Felkiezer tells the Klavs that Adacius will address them shortly. Chaser asks him about Adacius, and he recounts making the ride to Heksepunt with Adacius.
He reports riding up the mountain with the heretic family, and seeing someone climb up the last stretch like a spider while carrying a body. The other Felkiezers were uneasy, but Adacius could not be detered and made the last climb, taking only the boy with him while the other men kept watch over his parents.
The parents broke free and pursued Adacius up to Heksepunt, and the Felkiezers followed. When they reached the summit, they found only Adacius and the boy. Adacius was badly wounded, and the boy was stricken with terror and would not speak. As Adacius recovered, day broke over the Deenryk and they saw signs of the Necromancer mustering forces there.
Just then, the Kirk bell tolls and Adacius appears in the bell tower. Klavs crowd around the hilltop on which the Kirk stands, and Adacius tells them that they will have to endure sacrifice in the fight against the Necromancer in order to defend their way of life. He tells them that their stores for the winter will be taken and redistributed so that Adacius can provision his assault on the Deenryk.
After the speech, Adacius recognizes Chaser in the crowd and comes out to greet his pupil. Adacius takes Chaser into the Kirk to speak privately. Adacius tells Chaser about the threat posed by the Necromancer, and says the Klau’s geography offers them a perfect fort. Adacius insists that they can foil the Necromancer’s plans to attack Magisterium lands if they strike before the enemy’s forces are ready to march.
As Adacius looks Chaser over, he marks the heretical Kasai amulet Chaser wears. Chaser tries to deflect suspicion by telling his mentor that the amulet belonged to his wife Lily, who was killed by necromancers. Adacius expresses sorrow for Chaser’s loss while continuing to scrutinize him.
The Hinnemûs Farm
Tulasa and his armed escort follow Chaser’s path down into the Klau. As they follows the Fuorjen, they pass a farmstead that appears recently abandoned. Tulasa investigates, and notes an external cellar door. Knocking, he gains welcome from the family hiding inside.
They tell him that the Magisterium took the Lupitz family away and killed them, and now they have brought Hudbeklaaid barbarians to the Klau. Tulasa offers them his protection, in exchange for a story from the local folklore. The grandmother, Beppe Hinnemûs, tells him the tale of Granaatmem and Appelmem. Once satisfied, Tulasa dictates and letter which the monk Kurik in his escort takes down, granting the First Warden’s protection to the Hinnemûs family.
According to Beppe, Granaatmem and Appelmem were witch sisters. Granaatmem was a bitter old misanthrope who kept a golden grass snake in her garden named Jhaltys. When some Klav children wandered into Granaatmem’s garden to steal her produce, Jhaltys caught them and Granaatmem held them prisoner until Appelmem came.
Appelmem challenged Granaatmem to a game of riddles for the fate of the children and for her grass snake. When Appelmem won, she returned the children to their parents in the Klau. Granaatmem flew into a rage and went up to Heksepunt, from which she sent storms and plagues to smite the children of the Klau. But no matter what magic she wrought, Appelmem’s magic was stronger. Appelmem defused and countered every plague sent by her sister, so that it became a blessing for the Klav children.
Finally Appelmem turned the last curse back on her sister, sapping all of Granaatmem’s power, and they all lived happily ever after.
After taking leave of the Hinnemûs family, Tulasa sees a hundred Skaalruter horsemen riding down into the Klau following the same path as Tulasa, passing the farm to press on to Klausted. Tulasa follows with his escort, and speaks briefly with the riders in the rearguard. They say they were summoned by Altin Qarga.
Golden Patch on the Landscape
Duke and Ghanna ride into the Klau with Duke’s Baachus mercenary crew, and Namuu of the Skaalruters.
As they ride, Siliona tells Duke that she is feeling deja vu, but can’t quite place why. When Ghanna nocks her bow to use Pinaka’s far-seeing sight, Namuu draws his instinctively and they enjoy some sport in aiming for a circling buzzard.
Ghanna uses Pinaka to get a wide view of the Klau, and she catches sight of a golden patch surrounded by grey and brown lands that have already been harvested.
The Ring of Fire
Adacius presses Chaser with questions about the heretical amulet. Chaser says he is ready to be purged of his sins, and jots down a regret on a piece of parchment as Adacius kindles a fire in the Kirk’s central brazier. Chaser drops the note into the fire, but Adacius urges him to burn the amulet as well. Chaser looks into Adacius’s eyes and sees a ring of golden flame illuminating the deep wells of darkness.
Chaser takes the amulet, and orders Lily to possess Adacius while Adacius knocks the amulet into the brazier. Lily struggles with Adacius and recoils, burning; she gives out a cry of pain and shock, which Adacius hears.
Panicked, Adacius draws his knife to stab Chaser, but Chaser catches his arm and they struggle beside the burning brazier.
Sjef Hun Tegn and Her Puppy
Tulasa follows the Skaalruters to Klausted, where he sees Magisterial Inquisitors. Inquiring after Adacius, they direct him to the Kirk hill, where he finds the Felkiezer Jacobus speaking tensely with the Hudbeklaaid war chief Sjef Hun Tegn.
Sjef Hun Tegn warns Jacobus not to let his men speak in the presence of her warriors, because men are not permitted to speak among the Konur Villtar. Her wolfhound growls over Jacobus’s protest. She tells him that she will speak only with Adacius, who can find her making preparations for war in the Southfarthing.
Rattled, Jacobus takes his leave of Hun Tegn when Tulasa approaches. Tulasa asks where he can meet Adacius, and insists on seeing him immediately when Jacobus reveals that the Lord Inquisitor is in a private meeting. Jacobus leads him to the Kirk, were they throw the doors open to see Adacius and Chaser struggling over the brazier.
Tulasa and Jacobus pull the men apart. Adacius wearily withdraws to a seat beside a table placed on the dais, and asks to be left alone. Chaser exists with Jacobus and Tulasa, and begins to convince Jacobus that Adacius is losing his mind.
The Golden Field
Namuu parts ways with Duke and Ghanna when they reach a farmstead surrounded by ripe, golden corn. Namuu wants to catch up with his uncle immediately, but Ghanna and the Baachus crew want to make camp here for the night.
Armentad and Sidney check out the burned ruin of the barn, and find a massive lump of gold in a charred brazier buried in ash and blackened beams. They inform Duke and celebrate their unexpected windfall. Something watches them from the corn, marking Ghanna’s pocked scar, Duke’s earrings, Pinaka’s heat waves, and the flaming shimmer on Maiven’s blade.
As the sun sets, they determine a watch order and shelter in a tiny cottage untouched by fire. Ghanna takes the last watch. Before Duke turns in, she sees that the corn has surrounded the cottage, cutting off their path to the Fuorjen.
She sends an arrow from Pinaka into the rows of corn to see what is watching them. Ghanna sees nothing, but Pinaka recognizes a demonic presence in the field, and greets Ourora in the Old Rumadhic tongue. A wind blows through the corn, and a rustling voice greets Pinaka in Old Rumadhic, and then greets Ghanna.