The motley and the Golden Braid face off against High Lord Allenion ap Gwydion.
"Sometimes I go a long while without playing games."
Patches returns from the Grand Bes Din in Halifax, and is "announced" by Jasper, who also notes that they will face a "test of mettle" before the ball tomorrow in honour of Lady Sophia's new position and the formation of the Golden Braid. Sir Xaeron, Kyoko, and Patches catch up over an episode of Drag Race, comparing relationship notes. They overhear Braum and Sophia talking about the sidhe's new relationship with Sir Xaeron, and the troll is just happy for the both of them. Kyoko tells Patches that she thinks Queen Lenore's test was more about being decisive and moving forward, rather than about "avoiding pain". Claude requests a moment with Sophia, and explains to her that he understands what she did, but that he is still in pain. He tells her of his wife, who betrayed the nation, and that Claude had been blinded to her deceit before that; similarly, he wanted to help Sophia avoid the ugliness of life, but she ended up hurting them.
The members of the Golden Braid, headed by Braum, set off to visit High Lord Allenion ap Gwydion, along with Sophia and Patches. He forces their meeting at 6:00am, and demands they enter his office unarmed, paranoid about their intentions. Braum manages to keep himself under control as his High Lord berates him for all of the choices he's made, and the other members of the Golden Braid try to defuse the situation and calm him down. Allenion, however, refuses to be tamed: "Keep a leash on your cur!" he shouts, cursing Sophia's rank in House Liam. After trying to leave the room, it's Patches who, out of nowhere, starts laying into Allenion, calling him out for his superior and cowardly attitude: "These people fought for the fate of Concordia, and you're looking down on them? You deserve to be forgotten!"
This proves too much for High Lord Allenion, who leaps across the deck at Patches, casting Grandeur, making himself appear dazzlingly important; Patches, for her part, casts Veiled Mind just before, causing everyone else in the room to forget who Allenion is… true to her word. Allenion is incensed, and the rest of the Kithain are confused as to who this assailant could be. The High Lord tries to fling a dagger at Patches, but it smashes into his hourglass instead, cracking open: Patches manages to swear it shut again as she urges the rest of the team out. They manage to subdue Allenion, binding him as Sophia examines the hourglass. Since Lord Macallistar is now the ranking member of House Gwydion, he gives Braum permission to knight Fala, bringing her into the House; Xaeron tries to persuade Patches to let him take on the punishment from attacking the stranger, but she refuses his sacrifice.
The nocker and the sidhe go straight to High Queen Lenore, and she undoes the cantrip long enough to explain what happened. The Queen is absolutely furious at his cowardly actions, and asks that they all report to her. Upstairs, Sophia is almost overtaken by the Glamour of the hourglass, understanding that the Treasure exists only to become an object of obsession. She convinces Braum and Macallistar to destroy the hourglass with Whisper, and the group bring a bound Allenion down to Lenore, watching his mind unravel like the sand from the hourglass.
That night, Lady Sophia ap Liam is to be presented to Tara-Nar's court at a large ball, along with the Companions of the Golden Braid, who are honoured as "branches growing from roots out across the sky, now woven together, stronger." Seeing as Sophia's High Lord is not allowed to attend court, an enchanted mortal is brought in to "walk her in": it's Sophia's poet father, Gerald Aisling, accompanied by her childhood chimera, Peeps. He is, of course, incredibly proud of her accomplishments and her beauty, and the group take in their successes at the ball, dancing the night away.