The motley attempt to retake Heart's Light from Duke Velan and House Balor.
"I know games, see patterns and know how to exploit them. And we've had time to play this game for a while now, and become experts…."
The motley is at Chateau Frontenac still ascertaining their next move. To simply attack Heart's Light would potentially endanger the captive Xaeron, and Sophia is adamant that if she is to retake her County, she wants to have political allies in doing so and not risk a war with House Balor. With that in mind, she calls Kenwyn to organize a meeting with Lord Li-Tili, the head of House Balor. In the meantime, Braum gets an update from Kyoko in regards to Duke Velan's power, learning that he has about twenty warriors there; Patches reaches out to Velan to inform him that the papers will be returned to him soon. She hopes to learn the conditions around Xaeron's release but she is refused any details.
Before departing to meet the head of House Balor, Sophia uses her powers to Willow Whisper to the book that contained Countess Viara's family tree. She learns that the book was altered: High King David's proclamation as to Viara's claim on the County of Cross' Shadow was completely fabricated! Even though the knowledge still needs to be confirmed with Queen Faerilyth, the motley are convinced that Duke Velan's power grab is illegitimate.
Sybil is furious that Sophia chose Sybil's Tenderness as her meeting place with Li-Tili, but bows and scrapes when he appears. The Autumn Sidhe is stocky with a childlike expression and skin that seems to shift between all the hues of the rainbow, but Sophia can sense the Glamour pouring off of him: he's near Bedlam! Li-Tili seems almost high on Glamour as he listens to Sophia's questions about Velan, avoiding her attempts to tie him to Velan's power-grab. Li-Tili eventually offers Sophia an Oath: he will protect the motley from Balor reprisal if they kill Velan "the embarrassment" for him. With some hesitation, Sophia agrees, knowing that Velan's life is most likely forfeit anyway. On his way out, Li-Tili gives them some cryptic advice: despite having been raised by Garou, he tells the motley to "not trust everything they say…"
Preparing to return to Heart's Light, the motley learn that Velan has released a public declaration of his rightful claim "with the assistance of Countess Sophia". Kyoko also gives an update: it seems that the occupants of Heart's Light are bringing tools inside, and Claude is there as well. Still no sign of Zistor, and MacAllistar has gone dark as well… On their way the motley is met by Tailor, who has a piece of dross for Sophia and "the things you requested" for Duke Granville, who is off to confirm the illegitimacy of Velan's claim. The motley know their time has run out with Velan, who is making a big play of some kind: they decide that Patches and Sophia will mount a rescue for Xaeron and any other captives while Braum buys them some time by negotiating with Velan.
Sophia and Patches appear noiselessly in the basement of Heart's Light, where they spy a few guards watching over a focused Zistor Flexx. The old nocker is beetling away behind a Guest List cantrip, constructing a new Rocket! Sophia imbues herself with the essence of air as Patches fires at one of the guards, stopping him dead in his tracks.
Upstairs, Braum steps into the Duke Velan's chambers, prepared for the worst, but finds the sidhe alone, consumed with anxiety. The troll stands tall and demands the release of Count Xaeron, even going so far as to offer his services to the Duchy in exchange. Velan waves them off: there's nothing Braum can offer him. When the troll relinquishes his weapons, he tries to reason with Velan, who snaps at him. Braum hardens the Duke's heart with the power of Winter, releasing his emotions' control over him. Calmly and flatly, Velan reveals that he knows his "part has been played": he was only to retrieve Zistor Flexx, nothing more. The takeover of the County and the Duchy was merely a ruse for what the High Lord of House Balor had planned. "I was told to deliver the object made by Zistor to Li-Tili, who would then pass it on to someone else," the Duke tells Braum. Li-Tili was raised by the Garou, and wanted to make a gift for them to be used "in the special place on the Mountain". Braum retrieves his sword and shield, prepared to leave Velan. The sidhe is ready for death, and taunts Braum, telling him that he killed MacAllistar. The troll controls himself, unleasing Winter to freeze Velan to the wall, conscious and terrified, until they return for him.
Back in the dungeon, Patches watches in horror as Zistor's completed rocket vanishes into thin air. "Where did you send it?" she screams. Zistor can only tell her that it will be useless without the code, safely locked away in his mind. "Only you can end this, Patches," he whispers. Realizing what she must do, Patches loses Zistor in the mists, forcing him to believe that he is no longer a Changeling at all, but simply his mortal self, Nelson. The nocker relaxes, safely away from the conflict.
Meanwhile, Sophia materializes behind a guard and commands him to release Xaeron. The sidhe complies, but sneers at the Countess, telling her that "it's too late". Arriving in the cell, she sees Xaeron held with cold iron, and the disenchanted body of Claude on the cold ground. The sidhe turns on Sophia and whips her with the cold iron chain. Sophia screams, tossing Xaeron's weapon Brushstroke to him. Patches bursts in, firing on the assailant and forcing him to drop the chain; Xaeron hurls Brushstroke into his neck, where a golden sun begins to burn. Whisper can destroy, asking for power from its wielder; Brushstroke creates, but demands a sacrifice from its target. The guard turns to ash, and now the freehold is eerily silent. Where is everyone else?
The motley assist Xaeron and carry Claude back upstairs and out the front door to reunite with Kyoko, but are confronted by a woman dressed all in leather. A powerful confidence radiates off of her, along with a horrific rage. She introduces herself as Zhyzhak, and asks politely for the code to "the device". Thinking quickly, Patches hides her Rocket Containment Unit, swearing to never give up the code. Zhyzhak approaches her, telling her that she'll only ask once before taking what she needs. Patches, feigning a great struggle, refuses to give up "what she needs to activate the Rocket". The werewolf spends five Rage….