Will the motley build a civilization to stand the test of time, or destroy one?
"If I could just have one more turn before things slide out of control…."
As the Masked Man announces the imminent arrival of High King David himself, the motley springs into action. Braum kneels for his king while discreetly building up a static electricity charge as a bunk while both Patches and Sophia vanish from view using cantrips. David Ardry steps into the room, once again calling out that he is alone. Braum notes the High King's messy hair, resplendent attire, and distant melancholy expression as he bows to the monarch.
When Braum states his intention to reinvigorate the Red Branch as protectors of justice in Concordia, High King David seems quite candid about the Masked Man's intentions, confirming to Braum that he is an enemy. "Now that your enemy is here, what would you do?" Braum is adamant that he would challenge all his enemies and destroy them if they would not relent. Patches, unseen, moves towards the masked man, the King of Willows, and tries to use a cantrip to remove his mask. It fails, but the motley realize that there must a passphrase protecting the mask. The High King offers Braum additional authority in his quest, and draws his sword Caliburn to knight him. Braum kneels to receive the honour, and the High King brings the blade down on his neck!
A fight erupts in the office as Braum manages to parry away some of the blade's power as it bites into his shoulder (and Sophia's Oakenshield cantrip). Patches doubles Braum's size as Sophia manipulates the room's potted plants to drag "Caliburn" out of the "High King's" grasp. Meilge releases a burst of power, infusing David with the power of dragons as he trips the ire; with his size, Braum manages to snag David and hang him from the chandelier in the ceiling. Sophia, desperate to know the passphrase to the mask's power, unleashes Oneiromancy but loses control, knocking herself out and driving Meilge into her dreams inside the Faerie Ring. David manages to get a poisoned dirk out to cut himself down, jamming it into Braum's chest as he leaps for Sophia with another.
The troll conjures up the power of a storm to blow the poisoned blood out of his own body, spraying it all over the walls. Meanwhile, Claude manages to slice Meilge's bomb jacket in half, where it starts beeping angrily. Patches becomes a blur with Quicksilver, grabbing the bomb jacket, racing outside and Hopscotching up into the air where, launching the bomb upwards, she is blasted back down towards the freehold, hair singed by the explosion.
Inside the Dreaming, Sophia confronts the boggan from Braum's memory in the Kingdom of Willows, sneering and jeering at her. She slaps the man, taunting him with the knowledge that he hides his cowardice behind a mask. As the boggan removes the mask in the dream, it is Claude's face she sees, but the word "shatter" echoes over and over in her mind, the passphrase revealed.
While she was unconscious, David managed to stab her with another poisoned dirk, taking down Claude at the same time. Patches throws ashes in his eyes as she tries to grapple the weapon away: howling, he lets it go, driving it into Patches' abdomen. As Claude, Sophia, and Patches begin to feel the effects of poisoned dagger, slowly inflicting paralysis on them, Patches desperately conjures up a huge illusion in the room of dancing, swirling furniture and chimera. The illusion captivates Meilge as "David" rushes out into the hall. Braum reaches out and plucks the mask from the King of Willows' face, revealing the wizened boggan grump underneath. He gently places the mask down on MacAllistar's desk. Drawing Whisper, he begins to channel Glamour into the blade, using Zistor's devices linking him to the rest of the motley to borrow from their Glamour as well. Whisper continues to demand power, drawing blood and vitality straight from Braum's body and channeling it into the blade until the mask finally cracks in half.
The boggan, now tied up, merely smirks at the motley. "You don't think we planned for this contingency?" he asks, Glamour building around him. And as the motley watch, the boggan is struck down by an old cantrip tied to the destruction of the mask. As Braum tries to pursue the other assailant, Sophia, still surrounded by Glamour and the Wyrd, takes a small flame from the fireplace and threads it through the veins of herself, Claude, and Patches to burn out the dagger's poison.
Lady Jessica approaches, followed by the other residents of Homefires. She stops Braum in his tracks, seeing his injuries and fragility from using Whisper, and informs him that the other imposter was already captured… and that Kyoko managed to save her from yet another bomb jacket. She steps into the office to see Lord MacAllistar returning to his senses, and takes in the magnitude of the combat. Claude acknowledges that Braum is now "a King-killer twice-over", and that they are in no position to take their suit to the true High King right now. They need to rest and recuperate, knowing that knowledge of Meilge's destruction will spread like wildfire once it is known, and that they want to control the narrative. Sophia declares her continued intention to bring knowledge of a conspiracy to the High King David so that "he can have a chance to rule". Claude, for his part, makes amends with Lord MacAllistar and gains a new quest: "to be a knight".
Back at The Spark, Dr. Sayley clucks at Braum for having brought so much more hurt on himself, promising to "teach him a lesson once and for all". Zistor Flexx demands to know how his lightning rifle was broken, swearing to kill the one who did it. Patches assures him that it's already done, and that she better get to repairing it. "Sleep is for the weak," she mutters, grabbing more coffee.
Upstairs in the Exhaust, Sophia and Ramzia break down what happened to her in Homefires. Although unleashing Oneiromancy is incredibly dangerous, Sophia is more intrigued by the future possibilities: "it feels like I'm just opening up more pieces of a maze". Ramzia reassures her that anyone searching for knowledge (like the Crystal Circle) will also do so, as knowledge is infinite, and that by remembering that, sorcerers keep themselves honest and acknowledge their own imperfections. Ramzia asks Sophia what she truly desires. "I want to see the world that the child inside me imagined every time I closed my eyes." Ramzia tells her that the world she dreams of doesn't exist, but by taking steps towards it, it always becomes better.
And later that night, as Sophia ponders the words, Incisor arrives at her door to "crash on her couch" so that she needn't be alone, and the sidhe pulls her inside….