Vastavika manages to corner Kibu and Weed on her balcony and tries to pry out the story of their adventures since she had seen them last. She asks Kibu about his capture, and wants to see the interrogation scars, which the boy brushes off as nothing special. Kibu is willing enough to relate how he later dashed across the shoulders of the crowd, launched himself at the retreating Crimner, then scaled the police HQ façade to break through the chief’s windows, watched for an opening, and dropped down on the roof of the carriage he was trying to escape in. By threatening to slit his victim’s throat, he manhandled him through the crowd and into the arms of the Syndicate, thereby actually earning the legendary status which the street mob had already bestowed upon him, which until then had been fueled only by fabricated rumors.
Weed was more difficult to draw out, but in a self-deprecating stammer, he told of melting the bars of Kibu’s cell, helping to release the rest of the prisoners, and escaping into the crowd. From there they were discovered by Syndicate men and shuttled into the meeting place in the Theater. They found Jarley in full command mode and he assigned Weed to help with the bank break-in while he took Kibu with him to work on crowd control, which resulted in the unexpected capture of Crimner. Meanwhile Weed joined a handful of professional thieves breaking into the basement of the bank through a locked sewer gate and an air shaft hatch, both of which Weed alone was able to crack. They knocked out the guard and left him in a pool of liquor next to an empty bottle. Then they found the vault keys in the bank office and began to open the private vaults of the Burghers in league with Crimner, a list of whom had been compiled by the youths whose families had been persecuted by the faux Inspector.
It was here that the thieves got a little carried away, and rather exceeded their instructions to look only for documents that would incriminate the conspirators. They followed up on a suggestion that someone had made to rearrange some of the valuables in the various vaults in hopes of fomenting accusations and strife among them, and if a few choice pieces of jewelry and whatnot accidently found their way in the pockets of the burglars in the confusion, who would be the wiser? Crimner’s vault was empty save for two well-wrapped pieces of odd-looking equipment, and on the way out of the sewers, Weed contrived to win possession of these items as his share of the loot by means of a contest of strength which he won with the help of a small pointy object hidden in his palm.
[Editor’s note: not all of the above details came from Weed, but Vasta was able to fill in the picture in later weeks through Jarley Buttles, who was to become a regular and enthusiastic attendant at her well-lubricated soirees.]
During their conversation, Kibu asks Vasta if there is anything she wants him to tell Gary when he finds him. Vasta tells him she will think about this and tell him before they leave. The next morning, Yachak enters his usual morning trance out on the beach, and returns to find Vasta interested in talking to him. They set off together to visit the apothecaries in the market where she can act as translator, and learn a little more about Nhymeri’s secret remedy. After asking Yachak a few questions about his intentions regarding his mother, she feels satisfied with the plan for him to interview her alone. They return to the townhouse to find the others nearly packed and ready to go up to the Chateau.
They drop by the clearing in the woods to collect Nhymeri while Yachak sets off on his mission to the Countess. Kibu is already there getting to know Spot and learning to ride him. She mentions that she has been studying the notebook from the cave, but still can’t make much sense of them. But she has made a new drawing of the map they found, and presents that to Marina, who is able to recognize her home settlement and the origin city of the Warlord attacks.
A long conversation ensues over whether it is possible to take Spot. Kibu has covered him with mud and believes this disguise will conceal him. Weed is sympathetic but the others stand firm, and it begins to look as if Kibu may not get his way on this one. Vasta proposes to continue up to Karadevelia rather than try to resolve the issue on the spot (no pun intended). They pass the graves of the thugs and note where Marina and Trink had snuck up the previous night and planted the necklace that Kibu stole and the group altered. When they arrive at the Chateau, they are greeted by Mully and the other servants who had returned a day or two earlier to open and clean the place up.
Vasta invites them all to a farewell dinner that evening, and has been ordering new provisions to be delivered, which filter in throughout the day. They discuss the map further, and Marina points out the place she is from and where Nimmo disappeared. Yachak arrives and reports on his meeting with his mother. He has asked her repeatedly why she won’t tell them about her mission and superiors, and she reiterates that she is under orders not to do so. She claims to be a free agent, and not under immediate threat if she disobeys, but believes they are all in danger if they do not find and arrest Geronimo.
Yachak tries to pry into her past, but she will say only that she came from a highly regimented society and was desperate to get away. She paid a great personal price for her freedom, and part of that price was to be on call to serve her people if the need ever arose. She will not say more than she’s already said about her intentions towards Geronimo, but stands firm on her belief that he is a criminal fugitive who must be caught and questioned about his actions. He asks her why she was chosen for this mission, and the response is simply that she was in the right place at the right time, and had been obligated to answer the call in exchange for her release into the wider world.
Yachak explains that while his mother did put emotional pressure on him to choose between his loyalty to her and to his friends, his shaman intuition did not detect a sense of malice or deceit from her. He is concerned, however, that she might try to follow the group and use them to lead her to her quarry, and he is conflicted about whether his presence will somehow present a danger to them. The party assures him that he should come, and points out that he is more likely to be a protection than a danger if they should have any further dealings with Matreya. And he does have his eagle warning system to detect any pursuit, after all.
Vasta wants to know if Matreya still has designs on Karradevelia, and as far as Yachak knows, she has backed off on that intention, perhaps because any evidence of Geronimo’s presence has likely been scrubbed by now anyway. Vasta comes to the conclusion that her own best contribution might be to let Matreya get close to her so that she can keep tabs on her activities. Trink asks if there is some way for Vasta to report back to the group during their travels, and it turns out there actually is somebody at the table who has a proposal to offer on that point.
Mully has been listening intently to the conversation and trying to screw up his courage to address the group, and at this juncture, he can no longer contain himself. He describes how he and Nimmo have trained the gyrfalcon, Ginny, to home in on Karradevelia, and also to go back out and search for Mully when he is miles away. He thinks that if he came along with them and brought Ginny, she is smart enough to keep track of their progress and find them again each time she is sent back from the Chateau, so that without slowing them down much, she could carry messages back and forth. He asks Vasta’s permission to leave her service and she assures him he is free to chart his own course.
Septimus thinks this is a fine idea, and also doubts Matreya’s ability to follow them once they set off. Yachak then raises the question of how they will present themselves as they travel, and Septimus nixes Kibu’s impression that they should be simply marching forth as soldiers. The shaman suggests that they pose as a troupe of entertainers, and Kibu seizes upon the traveling circus disguise as a way he can keep Spot. Ever a performer at heart, Septimus quickly warms to the idea and immediately begins to build the plan around his own obvious role as manager and central attraction. Kibu can help with the prestidigitation and knife throwing, the thought of which automatically makes Weed very nervous. But Septimus jollies Weed along by proposing that he could create pyrotechnic displays and other effects, and also that Trink could perform her scarf twirling and Nhymeri might let them take her body paints.
The group gets more and more excited at the possibilities and Kibu actually gets the confused Weed to stand up against a wall with an apple on his head until the moment when a knife zings up and splits it in two (the apple, not the head). Surviving this ordeal once is enough for Weed, and he insists on finding some other way to contribute. Meanwhile, the party members discuss some of their other talents. Most of them play some sort of instrument, and there are many possibilities for their animal companions to participate as well. The lively chatter proceeds into the evening as the sun begins to set over the valley spread before them, and an overjoyed Mully races out to the barn to discuss his crazy good fortune with Ginny.