The freehold comes under a mortal threat.
"If you know how things are going to progress, there's no need to do so. We need surprises…. They are inciting incidents."
Patches, squeezed inside an air duct, is face-to-face with a severed arm seemingly being kept alive mechanically, and branded with a dark sigil. Her eyes widening, she texts Sophia, telling her to find an excuse to leave the room and get to safety. Down below, Zistor calls up, asking what she's found. Patches probes him on the contents of the safe, and pulls her lightning gun on him when he comes up to try to investigate. Zistor starts to whisper madly at the arm, and Patches uses the grappling hook on the lightning gun to drag him back down out of the vent.
Zistor takes offense when Patches suggests the arm is a Dauntain's, and looks like Talus'. When Braum tries to get the nocker to tell them the truth by picking him up and shaking him, Zistor begins to glow. Not recognizing the Pyretics cantrip, the two Kithain rush him out into the garden, believing him to be a threat.
Sophia creeps into the kitchen, where Talus was last seen… but he is nowhere to be found. Looking around, she whispers to him to "come out" and talk to them about whatever it is that's going on. Suddenly, a glass smashes onto the floor as a cantrip is cast; Sophia whispers desperately to Talus to stop the madness and come out. As she feels the Glamour begins to drain from The Spark, she hears a whisper in her ear: "I did love the way you sang." "Talus, I love the way we sang together! I know you're scared…" "I'm going to leave now, and you're not going to stop me. You're going to stay quiet for the next five minutes. If you don't, I'm not just going to destroy the balefire; you will never sing again."
At that moment, Cog enters the Exhaust through the elevator doors and stops dead at the sight of everyone's deadly-serious countenances. Patches wraps her arms around him as Braum stops the elevator from leaving, creating a cantrip to short-circuit the electrical panel… for a while. As the motley desperately search for Talus, they can feel The Spark losing its Glamour: somehow, the Dauntain is destroying the balefire itself! Hearing some metallic clangs from above, Braum rushes back up to the duct, grabbing a hold of Talus' leg as he crawls towards his arm. The troll, in a rage, rips the duct from the ceiling, but only manages to smash the satyr's hoof into his face, ripping open his wound from Homefires, and sending him tumbling to the ground.
The satyr stares down Sophia as he starts to move towards the door to the garden, gripping his severed arm. "Talus, you've already taken the Spark. Don't take anything else…" Sophia begs him as Kaylie looks on, suppressing her urge to tear him limb from limb. "Why do we disgust you?" Sophia asks. Talus only laughs, stepping out of the freehold as Sophia rages, telling him never to come back. Braum throws his sword at the satyr in an act of desperation, catching him in the side. "Just for that, Braum, do you mind telling me what the code is? I'll give this back to you…" Braum flatly refuses to give a traitor any quarter just as Patches steps back into the Exhaust after having been in the workshop with Zistor. "Why are we letting him get away?!" Patches shouts, bringing her lightning gun to bear. As Talus starts to move, the nocker squeezes the trigger, and blows his head clean off. Talus' severed arm lands on the floor, but his body only turns to dust… an illusion! It is at that moment that the motley hears the elevator ding, and the doors close.
Patches rushes to catch the elevator, clamoring down the cables to confront Talus. She is instead surprised by some plastic explosive stuck to the roof of the elevator! Thinking quickly, she throws herself against the side of the shaft, tearing open the doors to her architecture firm's floor, falling into the hallway just as the elevator shaft goes up in flame.
Rushing headlong down the emergency stairwell, she throws open the lobby door and comes face-to-face with the satyr, who leaps at her. Patches ducks backwards, pulling out her lightning gun: she gets a shot off, but Talus manages to catch her in the shoulder with a small knife, just as the chimerical blade flickers, transforming into cold iron. Leaving her for dead, Talus starts out the front door, but Patches is in hot pursuit, keeping her grievous wound concealed as best she can.
Back in the Spark, Sophia leaves Braum to recover his sword and Talus' arm as she rushes down to the workshop. She finds the balefire flickering dimly, sputtering out. "Wake up!" she commands, unleashing the power of spring. A whirling cyclone of energy erupts from the balefire, maple leaves swirling through the air, connected by dancing arcs of electricity. When the storm dies down, Sophia cracks a smile, seeing that her efforts were not in vain; the Spark's balefire is alive once more!
Braum finds himself in the Spark's downstairs lobby with no sign of a struggle, explosion, or blood; puzzled, he tries to catch Patches' trail, but comes up empty. Further down the street, Patches doggedly chases Talus to the entrance of the Alexis Nihon shopping centre. When Talus pulls out his chimerical cold iron knife, promising to end her if she pursues any further, the nocker uses the grappling hook on her rifle to grapple up and swing down into the metro in pursuit. The satyr throws the knife at her, which misses her my a hair's breadth… but when she looks up, he is gone. Brushing past shopping mall security, she collapses in the metro tunnel, having lost her quarry. At that moment, a very surprised Padraic appears, seeing her in need. He helps her back to The Spark, where they reunite with Braum as she fills them both in.
Up in the Exhaust, Claude and Sophia are both laying into Incisor for her lazy security work. How could she let this happen? Incisor seems totally nonplussed by the events of the day, seemingly apathetic about the idea of Talus as Dauntain. "There have never been any threats here!" she claims. Sophia, in a moment of desperation, slaps Incisor in the face with Talus' severed arm, and in that moment, realizes that she has somehow been cursed by the warlock: Incisor can't even see the arm!
Back safe and sound, Kyoko envelops Patches and Braum in hugs while everyone deflates. Zistor is particular is in extreme shock, and when Braum attempts to formally apologize for dishonouring him, the assembled group watch in sadness as a single bird appears on Zistor's shoulder and slowly flies away; it appears his Oath of True Hearts with Talus has come to an end. The group hunkers down, trying to process the events of the day.
All except one: Sophia persuades Incisor to let her Dreamwalk in her mind in order to lift Talus' curse. That night, she watches as Incisor walks around a track in her mind, Talus touching her arm every so often, causing her to forget. Sophia takes the redcap aside, crafting the Spark in incredible detail based on Incisor's description, including Talus' office, where Incisor shows Sophia that he has been keeping objects belonging to each of them. "Incisor, I'm sorry I slapped you with a severed arm," Sophia smiles as she touches her, hoping that by bringing her confidence in her abilities, she will be able to, eventually, lift the curse.