Three riders are coming over the river on the ferry barge, and are met by the local constables. The commander does not speak Timble-tainian, but has an interpreter who proclaims, “My superior officer, Marcion Yavo, commander of the 2nd spear of the Loo-Vongai wishes to confer with the Chief of the arms of this city. It is a matter of importance.” He also adds that they do not intend any threat to the city. The constables begin to lead the newcomers towards the police station, but they pause when the interpreter notices the shuttered up emporium of Edibal Spekso, and inquires as to the merchant’s whereabouts.
No one has an answer to that, but Jarley Buttles shows up about then and takes over the function of town tour guide. He tells them the Chief of Police is on his way to greet them formally, but has been detained. In the meantime, he asks, would they accept the hospitality of one of the finer local restaurants which just happens to be located nearby right on the market square? They are willing to be so entertained at one of the outdoor tables, and Jarley recruits Septimus to help keep them occupied while the rest of the group pull up chairs close by. Yachek does not detect anything duplicitous about the visitors as they make small talk about the dusty 3-day journey they have just completed.
The Chief Constable, Sigil Barlain, shows up in a carriage, heavily under the influence of alcohol, but manages to introduce himself and welcome the visitors to the city. The interpreter stands and unfurls a scroll from which he begins to read:
”From His Excellency, Zovarr the Shrewd, Satrap of Loo-Vongai and Protector of the Western Sector of the Emerald Road,
”To the Chief Inspector of the Trading Center and Depot known Timble-Tain:
”Let it never be said that we are not constant and diligent in upholding our pledge to protect the Emerald Road and preserve the trade which flows through our respective lands and brings life to our peoples. I have heard your summons and have dispatched this Spear of the Guardians of Loo-Vongai to assist in the defeat and capture of the Outlaw, Renegade Band, or Criminal Enterprise with which you have recently become entangled, an enemy and rogue element which as yet is unknown in our own lands, but which you have identified by the name or title of KEE-BOO. We offer our forces to assist your efforts to rid the land of this threat to the prosperity of our respective populations. If you will be so good as to apprise us of the current status of this menace…we will help formulate and execute a plan of action to ensure its absolute elimination.”
The interpreter is somewhat distracted towards the end of this recitation by shouts of “Free Kibu” from the milling onlookers, but no disruption ensues. Kibu pokes Weed for an explanation of why his name came up, and Weed merely tells him that the new people don’t appear to like him very much. Septimus tries to smooth over the confusion and find out who summoned these forces. He takes over the diplomacy role and thanks them for replying to the summons. He tries to allay the sense of urgency, and with Jarley’s help, arranges to have them meet with a contingent of Burghers later in the day. Kibu becomes wary of the attention and tries to make himself inconspicuous.
Marina pulls Septimus aside and suggests that Crimner may have summoned these forces in response to Spekso’s stolen necklace, and wonders if its return would help the situation, reminding him that she still has it on her person. They recall the earlier plans they had of planting the necklace back in Spekso’s wagons, and note the fact that his place of business is standing conveniently abandoned only a few paces away. But no decision about it is made at this time.
As the delegation is led away, the group returns to the subject of provisioning. Marina takes the lead in deciding what to get, and the party pools its resources after a fashion, acknowledging that they will have to rely on the good graces of Vasta to fill out the shopping list. As afternoon turns into evening, Kibu discovers the delirious pleasures of squid on a stick and a mysterious foreign substance called Mint Oreos.
As night descends, everyone returns to Vasta’s townhouse to find the lady herself in good spirits and eager to hear about everything that has gone on in her absence. She is astonished at the audacity of the plot to rouse the people against Crimner, and delighted at the swirling fragments that emerge of the story of Kibu’s rise to fame. Septimus tells her about Countess Matreya’s offer of material support in exchange for access to the Chateau, but Vasta is skeptical. Septimus suggests that Matreya may be willing to be generous to Vasta because she doesn’t see her as a threat, but Vasta is much more focused on the threat that Matreya poses to Nimmo and his secrets. She is very defensive about Karadevelia and still wants to keep it out of the Countess’s hands, and in response to this, Septimus proposes that Nhymeri might be willing to stay with her to lend protection and medical support.
A long discussion ensues about what to do about Matreya. Does the Countess plan to follow the group and use them as a means of finding her quarry? Septimus doesn’t think this is very plausible. Trink is worried about leaving before finding out more about the woman and her plans, but no one can think of any way for them to do this without a protracted delay in their departure, and they agree that the one who really has all the answers is Nimmo himself. Yachak offers to stay behind and talk to his mother some more, and while the group immediately vetoes the notion of his being separated for even a day or two, Marina thinks there might be time before they leave for him to at least have a short meeting with her the next day, to find out what he can. Everyone agrees this is a good idea, so they plan to send a messenger to Matreya requesting a meeting with her son.
Jarley shows up at Vasta’s to fill them in on the meeting with the Burghers, who were appreciative of the way the encounter with the soldiers was handled, and have endorsed the diplomatic approach initiated at the meeting in the market restaurant. Buttles is delighted with the way these events are playing into the advancement of his career, and Vasta finds it very droll to be speaking with the up-jumped leader of the Bloody Knobbers almost as a social equal.
Jarley does ask again about how the whole business with Kibu got started, because the visiting soldiers, while pleased with the cordial reception and gifts, still want to know what’s been done about this outlaw contingent supposedly threatening the trade route, which they were sent to deal with. As they explore the bounty of Vasta’s liquor cabinet, Septimus tells him as much of the real story as he knows, which leads back to the fate of the former leaders of the Syndicate up on the mountain at Karadevelia. This is the same puzzle Jarley had been trying to figure out when he first interrogated the group in the back room of the pub in the poorer quarter of town. Only now, having seen Kibu in action, can Jarley begin to wrap his head around the fact that it really was just the one hellion kid up there, backed up after the fact by this unassuming group of recent friends, who defeated the strong arm of the Syndicate, his former superiors. But Jarley still needs to cook up a story that the soldiers (not to mention the rest of Timble-tain) might actually stand a chance of believing, and Septimus suggests that they take a few of the out-of-towners up to the mountain burial yard, produce the bodies of Droat and his gang, and tell them that that is what became of the notorious Kee-boo gang, which is now no more than a bad memory.
A little later, Marina follows up on this idea, suggesting to Weed that they plant the necklace on Droat when they dig him up.
Distressed at the idea of having to deal with a corpse, Weed philosophizes: “This is pwobably the sort of thing we’ll have to do a lot, isn’t it?”
“We will have many unforeseen adventures along the way,” Marina says, presumably trying to reassure him.