130. Labyrinth

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The motley confronts Mazer.

"There's often a moment where you are put on game point — nothing's changed, but the tension skyrockets."

The morning after the wedding of Sophia and Xaeron, the motley awaken on tenterhooks, but as of yet, there is no word from Mazer. Sophia, Braum, and Patches meet in the Exhaust with Xaeron and Kyoko, getting ready to plan their next move. Kyoko and Patches agree to take point (at a distance, to be sure) while Braum goes to meet with Mazer. Kyoko also provides Sophia and Xaeron with the ability to listen in so that they can stay in The Spark, while Sophia casts Oakenshield on those leaving. Braum receives his instructions to meet Mazer at "their first meeting place" — the ironmonger's in Montreal's Griffintown neighbourhood.

Patches Wayfares the three of them to a nearby dilapidated fire station and finds a good sniping spot while Braum goes to meet Mazer. The environs of the ironmonger feels almost-sludge-like to the Kithain, and he is met by an enchanted mortal who hands him dross in the form of a baseball card, and a note directing him to café a few blocks away. The woman marvels at the new world she's discovering, and offers to stick around with Braum, but the troll gently suggests that it might be dangerous. A few blocks up the road is a café with mortals sitting at tables outside, and Mazer, underneath a large parasol. The satyr offers him a choice of drink, and Braum has a sip of water as they stare each other down.

Mazer cuts to the chase: he wants to leave the city, safe in the knowledge that he will not be pursued by the Golden Braid. Braum laughs at him: does he really think that he's so important as to warrant an international manhunt? But Mazer is adamant: he wants to have a clean break from the consequences of his actions with Broken Flight, and he knows that Braum, at least, will listen. Not like Xaeron, who would "play a game" — he is a thrillseeker, after all, the satyr reveals. Will Braum swear an oath to let him go? Mazer muses about having once played the flute, and Braum works in a trigger phrase that will Wayfare his weapons to him. As Whisper and Absolute (his sword and shield) appear underneath the small café table, he quickly moves to freeze Mazer in place. A nearby server becomes concerned, offering to call an ambulance until he too touches Absolute and freezes in place. Braum is forced to let them both go, but starts to cause a scene, causing Mazer to walk away. Braum begins to feel ill, and gives chase down the street. High up in her perch, Patches fires a homing dart, and then chimerical bullets, exploding Mazer's brains over the sidewalk.

But as Braum pulls his corpse into an alley, it becomes apparent that it wasn't Mazer, but a decoy… and that something had been in the water. Braum begins to collapse, paralyzed, as Mazer's voice chides him, saying this is why he can't trust any of them. Patches appears, taking a glancing blow from the cold-iron crossbow bolt meant for Braum before firing into Mazer. As Kyoko arrives in the alley, the satyr disappears, leaving the three to take stock.

Back at the Spark, Sophia turns to Xaeron, asking if what Mazer had said was true: would he leave Mazer's fate to a game? Before Xaeron can respond, Mazer materializes next to them! He levels his weapon at Sophia while complaining about the expense of making a single-use treasure just to employ Wayfare… but now that he has them here, he intends to get what he wants. Sophia stares back in cold fury, imploring Mazer to repeat what he said about Xaeron. "He's a thrillseeker," the satyr says dismissively, waving a hand at Xaeron; but in that moment, Sophia takes advantage of the distraction to turn into a dragon! Mazer is aghast, and tries to vanish from view. As Xaeron activates the Spark's Defense Matrix to keep Mazer inside, Sophia unleashes gouts of flame on the Exhaust, incinerating it. She notices the elevator has begun to descend, and she transforms back so that she can follow Xaeron down to the workshop.

Patches attempts to Wayfare herself, Kyoko, and Braum back to the Spark, but because the Matrix is active, they appear at different places. Patches manages to grapple Kyoko out of the air above the Spark while Braum appears on the street below. Rushing up into the lobby, he notices everyone in the area seems to be frozen… and then he sees the bomb. A large case in the lobby of the Spark's building, counting down. Braum quickly calls forth electric gremlins, which safely opens the case — but that's all he can do, and he urges Patches to hurry. The nocker is quick to arrive on the scene, using her powers of Chronos to glance backwards through time to figure out which wire to try to cut to disarm the device. Braum uses his shield to freeze the device as Patches levitates her multitool towards what she believes is the right wire.

Landing on the elevator, Sophia opens the hatch and is confronted by a charred Mazer, on his feet only through sheer force of will. As Sophia attempts to strike him, he pierces her heart and Sophia is chimerically killed.

In the lobby, the multitool snips the yellow wire, and quickly retreats. The two breathe a sigh of relief: the bomb has been defused! As they venture up into the Exhaust, they are shocked to find it aflame. Patches rushes into the kitchen to help [|Talus]] take care of the other Spark residents, who seem to be OK. Braum heads down to the workshop, finding Xaeron trying to revive a chimerically-dead Sophia. "Where is he?" the troll asks. Xaeron motions to the balefire, and Braum marches in to find a near-dead Mazer reaching weakly towards him. Braum reassures him that his struggle is over, and beheads the traitor.

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