The new Countess has her authority put to the test.
"How many times have you finished a game and thrown yourself back in your chair out of ecstasy? You did it!"
The motley pursue their own goals. Patches is working to redesign and rebuild The Spark, which ends up looking similar, albeit with pieces of the old Defense Matrix now adorning the walls. Sophia is settling in to her new role as Countess of Cross' Shadow, informing Xaeron of her intention to interview Kithain as her new Sénéchal. Meanwhile, Braum and Kyoko are on the hunt for a suitable location for a new freehold in Cross' Shadow, checking out the Plateau area of the city.
Braum and Kyoko follow a chimerical cat up Mount Royal, and it takes them further into the forest, away from the paths normally walked by mortals. They walk through Montreal's Sunday tams (drum circles) and find themselves in front of an Abandoned Rest Stop, an old stone building that once provided a place to stop along an overgrown path. Braum steps inside, drawn by a feeling of Glamour in the shack. In amongst old chairs and moldy ice cream containers, Braum spies a wall filled with dozens of games of tic-tac-toe. Pressing his hand into the wall, he is overcome with a vision of the two young Kithain who played there, a Sluagh and an Eshu. He watches as the two play a game to determine a course of action regarding a kind Duchess who created an unjust law, then watches as they vanish, holding daggers. Braum recalls that about 35 years before, a corrupt Duchess in the Kingdom of Burning Sands had been overthrown by mysterious forces, and realizes that this place was of great significance to two Kithain dedicated to justice. Returning to Kyoko, he calls Patches to get her over there.
At Heart's Light, Sophia prepares to meet with Sir Kenwyn, her choice for the Sénéchal. The sidhe assumes he has been invited in order to test his loyalty, and is surprised to learn Sophia wants to work alongside him. "House Ailil and House Liam haven't always gotten along," he cautions. Sophia, though, suggests that "perhaps it's about time that change." The knight agrees to work for her at Heart's Light, and Xaeron joins them for the next discussion: the formation of an artists' program for enchanted mortals as a front for Countess Weyer's proposed "mortal spy network".
Patches arrives on the mountain and seems happy enough to work with the location. Before they can contact the other members of The Golden Braid, a young boggan in cutoff overalls approaches them through the woods. "This place isn't yours," she warns them. Braum and Patches both assume that somehow word of Sophia's rule as Countess has not yet reached the ears of all Kithain. The boggan, though, doesn't change her tune: refusing to give her name, she hands over a very old parchment, declaring the authority of one Countess Viara over the region, as part of the "Hochelaga declaration". Rightfully confused, Braum tries to explain what they want to use the space for while Patches produces a forged writ from Countess Sophia. The boggan, however, is unmovable, and orders them to "tell the whelp" that she has no claim over this side of the mountain, preparing a Sovereign cantrip to force them out.
Before they can reach Sophia, a call comes in from Zistor: "who the FURK is Countess Viara?!" In the moment after the boggan left (followed by Kyoko), a redcap delivered an eviction notice to the Spark! Rushing back to the freehold, Patches gets in touch with Duke Granville at the Chateau Frontenac, initially getting around Faux, who stole his phone. The Duke is put through to Sophia when he learns of "Viara's" notices. He explains that Countess Viara ap Balor declared her claim hundreds of years ago, and since she is now long dead, he hoped it wouldn't be brought forth again. Countess Sophia decides to reach out to the one ranking member of House Balor she knows: Baron Velan.
The Baron arrives in the new Exhaust shortly (while Xaeron brings a frustrated Zistor out to the garden to "weave baskets"). He is the essence of calm and collected as he hears of Kithain in the city bringing forward Viara's claim, and offers to "snarl in the right directions". He shakes his head over the "gauche cult of personality" that seems to have sprung up around him, reminding the motley that he's a recluse. Watching him go, Braum and Patches worry about his motives; Sophia vows to find out.
Patches offers to go to the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City to see if there any records regarding Countess Viara, and Braum accompanies her. The two are greeted by Baroness Akanthea who brings them to the castle's library. There, they pour over tomes until they find what they're looking for.
Back at the Spark, Kyoko takes Sophia out into the garden, sensing something is amiss. The sidhe is shaken up about her chimerical death, and, while she trusts Braum, she "never saw Mazer die." The two commiserate about fear, and Sophia admits that she's worried about Xaeron, vowing to stay near him for the rest of his life.
Back at the Chateau Frontenac, the two members of Ignite read about Countess Viara. Her proclamation several hundred years before does indeed seem legitimate, although she (unusually) set out that her holdings would pass down within her family according to a specific family tree. Though half the page seems to have been torn out, Patches finds it in the back of another book, and discovers that the direct descendant of Viara, the one who is the rightful ruler of Cross' Shadow… is the Baron Velan.