A week passes in Kingsfall as the trials of Mangarich, Carrach and Beragain play out. A stern judge finds all three guilty and passes sentence.
In the meantime, Honora spends some time researching Spurwall and Cyr Bastaan, and some time assisting at the Valysan tower, repaying them for their assistance. During her period there Sister Thereda describes a Valysan shrine that stands deep in the Broken City, a site of pilgrimage among the dangers. Honora can do no less than make the journey herself, and stands vigil one night at the shrine. In the morning, she discovers a long grey feather on the altar, and takes it with her.
Baden spends some of his week researching Syrakul and the fall of Tor Caeldaran. He also attends regular devotions at Kingsfall’s temple to Kaeal, and passes several hours in discussion and shared meditation with the questor Aedrin. An autumn elf caravan in Kingsfall is able to take a message to his superiors, and also provides a message in return: the scroll and mask marked with the silence rune may refer to one of the liches his order seeks, the scholar of the void called Tythoas Nil.
Abbron spends his time deeply socializing. He has many friends to catch up with in Kingsfall, numerous rumors to sift through, and plenty of drinks to buy and have bought now that the hunt’s at an end. Bralta joins him in his endeavors, when she’s not wandering away for similar efforts with different crowds.
After a week’s time, and some money spent on warmer gear against the oncoming winter, the four gather and resolve to head to Spurwall. They choose to hire a barge to take them downriver, to be dropped off between Severill and Hawkshadow and make their way to Spurwall along the old elven road. There’s some traffic on the river, and they reach Severill without incident three days later.
That night, though, Abbron hears a meaty report against the shutters of his window. He descends to the lane outside to discover a severed head, apparently hurled from below. He immediately recognizes it as the head of one of the Chamber of Embers’ drugged guards, one that had been sent to a workhouse after drying out. Now under full alert, the group gathers quickly. Baden sights someone slipping over the town wall, and the group follows.
Baden is first over the wall, but the light shining from his axe makes him a target, and he’s creased by a poison crossbow bolt. The group soon discovers an ambush: four bugbears, two with great axes and two snipers in the woods. The goblinkin do some damage, yet are clearly overmatched — but then the door to a nearby fishing shack opens, and two more men join the battle. One hurls hellfire akin to that of Chandrevan — the missing Knight of Torches, evidently — the other wields a headsman’s axe and wears a black hood.
Then as the battle is in full swing, a final combatant joins in — a massive man, taller even than Honora, wearing an armored executioner’s hood and with an axe that matches his size. The true Hardrave slams into the fight like a warhorse, and almost singlehandedly puts Honora and Bralda on the defensive. He nearly fights them to a standstill, but the tide shifts as Baden slays the last of the bugbears and Abbron dispatches the pyromancer. Even though Hardrave shrugs off wave after wave of punishment, he can’t stand against the attentions of all four. Guided by a shaft of Amaelin’s sunlight, Earth Dragon finally severs the executioner’s head.
A quick check of the bodies reveals the expected Knight of Torches card on the sorcerer’s body, and an old elven ring from Faliene in Hardrave’s pocket. Bralta identifies Hardrave’s axe as likely something made by dwarves as a gift to their Brelyndy allies, and Honora offers to help her take it to someone that Bralta might find more worthy.