The motley finally meets the commander of the Red Branch, and learn more about a new adversary.
"It's in the nature of games to be interrupted."
As Sophia and Patches relax upstairs in their temporary quarters in Terra's Glade, Braum speaks a bit more with Jessica the Chatelaine. She knows very little about Terra's Glade, since there are so many freeholds in the Kingdom of Apples, but does provide him with its location off-island. The troll takes a moment with Sir Xaeron to try to learn more about what happened with Lady Helena. His shieldmate promises that Lord MacAllistar will be able to fill in the blanks, but that the Red Branch suspects that the Lady Helena cut a deal during their mission in Abford Pharma to save herself, betraying Kay's life in the process.
Upstairs, Sophia makes a new friend in Bara the piskie, who helps her get dressed. Meeting with the other members of the motley downstairs, she proposes a possible plan to bring forward to Lord MacAllistar: by getting close to the right Abford Pharma employee, it would hopefully gain them access to the information they need (possible location of the rocket, what their ultimate plans are). Tensions mount between the members of the motley as it becomes clear that Braum is willing to be loyal to the Red Branch's plan, whatever it entails, while Patches understands a possible need for violence, which Sophia would abhor.
Lady Jessica takes Patches and Sophia aside to let them know that here at Homefires, no matter how it may seem, everyone is free to speak and give their input; this freehold, being the Winter Court of High King David, is less formal and restrictive. While they head to Lord MacAllistar's office, Braum looks for Kyoko upstairs, deliberately avoiding reading her open journal as he does so.
The group reunite in the office of the Red Branch commander, Lord MacAllistar. An older satyr wearing a kilt and open vest, his style belies his incredible energy, shown off in his fiery hair and sparking eyes. The commander is impressed with each of them in turn, and declares that, because of their actions thus far: "the Red Branch used to be the embodiment of being a hero; I am glad that you're all carrying on the tradition."
When Braum formally requests more information about his past missions with the Red Branch, Lord MacAllistar frees all of its members from their previous oaths of secrecy. He confirms Sir Xaeron's suspicions about Lady Helena, and reveals what he knows about Abford Pharma. It seems that the company is in fact a shell corporation, hiding the research certain mortals are doing into the Kithain and the Dreaming. When the motley asks how this is even possible, Lord MacAllistar explains that the company is possibly headed by so-called "Awakened Ones": mortals awakened to the knowledge of the Dreaming, but still with
some power over it. These Awakened Ones seem to be hunting down Kithain in order to further their knowledge of the Dreaming, and are rending open specific passages into it as well. Everyone present agrees that these actions are a significant threat to the Dreaming as a whole, and that they must be stopped. Together, they reach a general consensus that the team will have to somehow infiltrate Abford Pharma, find out everything they can about the location of the rocket and destroy the building and research. At Sophia's insistence, all present agree that this needs to be done without any collateral damage… "if at all possible".
That night, as the group rests, Braum shares a glass of whiskey with his fellow Red Branch members; Patches heads down to the docks and meets another nocker; and Sophia calls Incisor, learning that the redcap is hunger, much as Sophia is the embodiment of beauty and grace, and that she can never be satisfied.
The next day, Sophia sets out for Terra's Glade with Patches in tow, who is, in turn, carrying Kyoko's rabbit form in a bag. Knowing that Braum would certainly draw attention from Lady Helena, Lord MacAllistar casts Veiled Eyes on him, rendering him forgettable to most Kithain. As Sir Xaeron and Claude wait in the car nearby, a sullen boggan directs Sophia to a stump where she begins to play to entertain the crowd. Court at Terra's Glade is an informal affair, more of a mixer than a ceremony, although Patches spots at least three Kithain with military bearing, probably concealing weapons.
Braum makes his way to a small hut where an unearthly beauty, a white-haired woman, is directing the event and preparing to speak to the assembled crowd. Braum notices that Lady Helena's notes seem a bit strange: what kind of sidhe would need reminding to thank people for coming to court? As she moves to a podium to speak, she indeed thanks the assembled Kithain for coming, especially on an anniversary of happiness and sorrow, when she lost some friends. When Patches asks a nearby courtier what she means, he evades the question, before confirming her identity. "Hey! Check out my new friend, Patches!" he shouts. And with that, Lady Helena approaches the nocker, and accuses her of being in league with "the known Dauntain, Zistor Flexx"! As Patches subtly drops the bag containing Kyoko, she notices the three military types approaching her… "Giddy up, cowgirls," she mutters under her breath, reaching for her lightning gun….