The motley learns of an upcoming alliance with far-reaching implications.
"Board games can be intricate to set up, but when that setup is ruined, it can be devastating, taking away that moment of enjoyment…."
A lazy Sunday morning after the gala at the Grand Bes Din: Braum, Sophia, and Sir Xaeron leave a sleeping Kyoko in her bed as they head over to find Patches. The nocker is up early(ish), and discovers Cog in the corner of the cafeteria. He is clearly happy for Patches, but seems disappointed (and not doing a great job of hiding it), and so eventually comes clean. The night before, he went to see High Queen Lenore, but she only "wanted to maintain the relationship they had"… and Seven made a veiled reference to there being "consequences" to continuing on with her. He tells Patches that he "had to do the right thing" and walked out on her, but now isn't so sure, and is convinced to speak with her once more. Communication is key, the motley reminds him.
Patches approaches Seven about the relationship, claiming to only want what's best for the High Queen: she surely could use a confidante, someone closer to her own age? The sluagh advisor defends himself, saying that he only wanted Cog to know what he was getting into.
Suddenly, a commotion in the wing's lobby: a beautiful Arcadian sidhe dressed in the colours of House Dougal and surrounded by a phalanx of women is in a staredown with Sir Xaeron. As Patches steps in to be her most gracious self, offering to take her on a tour, Sophia whisks Xaeron and Braum away, hoping to find out who this woman could be. The sidhe introduces herself as an engineer, Countess Neela ap Dougal of the County of the Gnarled Rose in the Kingdom of Apples. Away from Xaeron, she seems more than gracious and is clearly knowledgeable about art and architecture. She also inquires about visiting Zistor Flexx at The Spark, an offer Patches accepts. She explains further that she'll be visiting soon, as she is Duke Granville's niece. She asks Patches to print a small project, the intertwining of the House Fiona and House Dougal's crests, and passes it off as a "dowry".
Xaeron tells Sophia and Braum about Neela, and that she was once one of his "admirers". She has called in some favours with House Dougal and, seeking to mend fences between her house and house Fiona, has been arranged to marry Sir Xaeron! He's not happy about the arranged marriage, seeing it as anachronistic, and both he and Sophia leave to be alone with their thoughts. Braum finds Kyoko and, filling her in, they both head upstairs to be with their friend in his time of need. They find him poised above a large canvas, totally at a loss for what to paint.
Sophia finds herself visiting Lanta's workshop, with steam pouring from vents above her aquarium. The nocker is very excited: her creations are ready for a field test out into the Near Dreaming, and hopefully even further! Sophia congratulates her and asks to be "one of the first people she calls" with news of the expedition; when Lanta recalls that her night with Reggie was spent hearing him talk only of Lady Sophia, the sidhe goes in for a kiss….
Patches finds Cog, who is thrilled to announce that Lenore asked him out! The two bond over the challenges he'll face in his new relationship, but Patches reminds him that all new relationships have their fair share of obstacles. She is then summoned to a meeting with the High Queen, who thanks her profusely for the new wing of the Grand Bes Din, as it means a lot to her. She means to only hold on to traditions "when they are important", and asks Patches if she's alright with her spending time with her young apprentice.
Sophia makes her way to Sir Xaeron, hoping to commiserate with him over his arranged marriage. "I think we both knew," she begins, hoping to ease him into accepting his duty. "You're going to be a great Count." Xaeron is upset, furious about how much he's sacrificed in service to House Fiona, Duke Granville, and the Crown, and being repaid in this way makes him feel betrayed. "To turn away from this would be to betray who you are!" Sophia exclaims. Xaeron just shakes his head: the person he used to be, George O'Neil, is no longer who he is, and despite having stayed in Montreal for Braum's sake at first, he's grown attached to the place, and the people. His duty forces him to go, but "love conquers all"… the Seelie code is tearing at the strapping knight. "Go to the Kingdom of Apples excited for this next chapter," Sophia implores him, "don't break my heart any more."
Duke Granville accosts Braum in the hall: he has a big favour to ask of the knight. A certain Countess Neela is going to be visiting her uncle in Cross' Shadow soon, and would Braum oblige the houses Dougal and Fiona by agreeing to be her knight-on-life? Braum accepts this duty, agreeing to defend Neela while in Montreal or in the Spark, no matter what….