The motley navigate a political quagmire.
"Asymmetrical games: sometimes allegiances are known, sometimes secret. Being a villain is often only recognized in retrospect…"
In one of the small offices of The Spark, an impassioned Duke Granville towers over Xaeron, Sophia, and Patches; the Fiona knight stares back, surrounded by his friends, and declaring that if House Fiona cannot support him the way those around him have, he will be forced to take action. "You forget your place," hisses the Duke, not backing down either. Sophia attempts to calm those around her: she doesn't want yet another conflict to have to be resolved through rage. Doesn't love conquer all? The question gives the Duke pause, and the motley press him further. Sophia is happy to take the issue up with High Lord Rathsmere to alleviate pressure on the Duke, while Patches is unwilling to compromise on the deeds she did to earn her title, and Sir Xaeron looks like he's planning on challenging the Duke. Sophia wants to know how they can help: it would have been better not to have "undone my deeds in the middle," the Duke snaps. Years of planning, wasted; it's so "troublesome when your pawns turn out to be knights," Patches fires back, using her substantial wit to silence the Duke.
The Duke takes the conflict out to the garden to rope in Braum and the Countess Neela. He lays out parchment and begins to draw a map of Concordia, illustrating the holdings of various Seelie noble houses in the kingdom. House Fiona is not nearly as strong as they seem, spread thin across Concordia, and Broken Flight's attack on Caer Frost only weakened them further. Combined with threats of chimera to the north, it's obvious why House Fiona needs the strength (and weapons) of House Dougal.
Countess Neela tells her uncle that she will not have Sir Xaeron, dashing any final hopes of the political marriage. When she names herself a villain for having ignored Xaeron's feelings, Patches moves to her side and whispers that she is now a knight of Dougal as well… perhaps they can speak to the High Lord together?
The motley try to propose solutions to Duke Granville's political impasse: how is House Fiona to secure an alliance with House Dougal now that a valued asset is marrying a Liam? Braum suggests founding a Legion of Adventurers to secure their borders and bring glory to Fiona; Sophia and Patches are "Defenders of Nothern Ice" and pledge their aid. Perhaps a knight of House Dougal could be persuaded to manufacture their products here, in Cross' Shadow? But then they'd need the aid of one Zistor Flexx! The motley head off to the freeholder to see what they can arrange.
Zistor and Talus are sitting together, enjoying a glass of champagne, "celebrating a wedding and a knighting." Knowing that Granville is waiting on him, Zistor pulls the power play of making him wait — while he doesn't want The Spark to be repossessed, he wants to get something out of the deal! If House Dougal moves some of its production to the Spark, House Fiona could pay for it… Zistor asks the motley if they swear an oath of fealty to him as the freeholder of the Spark. That way, he gets a few more "knights in his stable" and a Dougal on his payroll. He also demands that they find a way to get Talus reintegrated into Changeling society. The motley take the proposal back to Duke Granville, who grudgingly accepts. House Dougal will get access to the Spark's substantial workshop, House Fiona will earn some of the product as a tithe, and Zistor gets more business & renown for the freehold!
Xaeron and Sophia step aside to celebrate overcoming their obstacle, although Sophia is quietly disappointed she was shut out from negotiations because of title in House Liam, a house that "can't offer anything". The two affirm their commitment to each other, but confirm that they don't necessarily need to be monogamous: they both want to experience joy and love in all its forms. Meanwhile, Braum passes the news along to Kyoko and Sayley, and offers to help Sayley with any experiments she needs volunteers for in the future. Patches and Talus commiserate over her new title, and the nocker tells him that she was initially considering petitioning House Fiona for title, but after seeing the Duke today, she's glad she didn't. She approaches Granville as he's leaving, implying that their relationship has changed after the way he's treated her today.
Sophia leaves the Spark to find Incisor, refereeing a junior hockey game. The sidhe gives Incisor the news of her coming marriage, and the redcap is happy for her friend… even though she knows she could kick Xaeron's ass, if needed. Sophia and Xaeron approach Talus to officiate their marriage, which brings him to tears, and Braum is asked to be Xaeron's best man, which moves him too.
Patches is called upon to assist Sir Xaeron: if anyone challenges him at the wedding, he asks that Patches be his second. Accepting the burden, the nocker heads back to the Exhaust to share a drink with Claude, the other Unseelie knight in the Spark. He tells her that, like him, her title is secondary to her soul: "You're not a knight first… you're Patches!" In return, Patches offers Claude some advice about Halleah: if it's not working, move on… "You're right. It's time for me to understand that memories of joy are not enough," Claude muses.