Sophia and the motley meet the Crystal Circle.
"In the end games are supposed to be fun. Are your characters having fun?"
Incisor barges into the Exhaust at breakfast: she tells the motley that she wishes she had known about Talus before he became a problem again, what with being the head of security and all. She promises to keep an eye on him while the motley tries to find a way to save him.
Ramzia, dressed in a long purple and black cloak, tells Sophia that there's no need to be nervous for their meeting. "Have you ever failed at anything, Sophia?" The sidhe is stung, but replies that she knows what exactly she is fighting for: the real Talus. "He laughs, he dances, and he loves Zistor very much." Before setting out, Ramzia asks Patches and Braum about their rest, and both recall nice dreams they had the night before.
The motley and Ramzia find themselves in Mount Royal Cemetery. One of the oldest in North America, Sophia believes it to be the meeting place of the Crystal Circle, "somewhere everyone ends up but no one wants to go". They are greeted by a white animal, something akin to a leopard that prowls amongst the gravestones, leading them to a copse of trees. Small lights illuminate the path inside, but Sophia and Ramzia find themselves ignored by them. Instead, the tiny creatures, called wints, surround Braum and Patches, whispering questions and pulling at their clothes. They offer gifts to the two, claiming that Sophia's gift is "telling her the way to go". They embed something in a long, complex braid on Patches' head, and replace one of Braum's boots with a new one, covered in a fine chainmail mesh. The boot, known as the "Stand Firm", prevents Kithain from breaking oaths as long as it is intact.
The motley finally comes across a small ring of stones, similar to the Faerie Rings they have encountered elsewhere. As Sophia steps inside, faces of other Kithain suddenly appear in the trees around her. Some of the members of the Crystal Circle introduce themselves: Ala the old eshu tries to spook Sophia, claiming that they've been "watching you your whole life". A piskie, Jack, is quick to roll his eyes at Ala and take over the discussion, being much more blunt than her or the two sidhe, Fren and Gelanne. They reveal to Sophia that the Crystal Circle has been affecting her circumstances and actions her whole life, particularly Countess Weyer's knighting of Sophia, and influencing High King David's decision to make her Regent. They believe that they influenced outcomes for the best, but still manipulated the system for their own gain. Sophia is free to work with them in any way she chooses, although Ala cautions her to understand that the Circle are not oathbound to aid each, only to pursue their own research, quests, and goals.
Sophia broaches the subject of Talus with the Circle, who visibly recoil with disgust at hearing of a Dauntain. Jack asks why on earth they would want to help "Oathbreaker trash" like him, and Sophia does her best to convince them that she believes he can be saved. If his soul was corrupted, there must be a way to reverse the process! While the other members of the Crystal Circle are unconvinced, Jack lets Sophia know that the Unbroken Circle are the ones to speak to about Dauntain… though he should be able to rustle up some research. Unfortunately, it will take weeks for him to get her this information; how will they possibly keep Talus until then?
Returning to the Spark, Sophia asks Incisor to help with regards to Talus… and the redcap calls upon the Dreaming to "zone him out!", unleashing the powers of Winter on the satyr. Talus cracks down the centre and becomes suspended in time, completely frozen, comatose. The motley now must wait until Jack can send along his research, hopefully giving them a way forward to "saving" Talus. Patches points out that doing so, rather than being in opposition to the Unbroken Circle, actually helps them advance their cause. But what to do in the meantime?
Telling Zistor of the developments to do with Talus, the nocker tells them to "get him out of here", unable to stand the thought of him staying in the Spark any longer. Claude offers to move him to his wife's basement, where she never goes: "that should keep him safe!" As the three members of the motley each go their separate ways, they each grapple with Claude's parting words: "You need to have some fun!"