The festivities are slowly winding down when Rohim makes it back to the Palace. Leaving Ebele behind, he enters the great hall once more, silently repeating the speech he’s been preparing as he was climbing the hill, too absent-minded to notice the local nobles horrified stares at his torn clothing. With an uneasy smile, he greets Asteria, introducing himself as Rohim. Before she can interrupt, he launches into a long apology for his companion’s attitude, explaining that their curiosity is understandable, since he has been withholding a lot of information from them about his past, and stressing that he has been forced to do so in order to protect his family and those he loves. The strange glint in his eyes as he says those last words robs her of her response for a few seconds, and she waits a moment to regain her composure before accepting his apology, visibly uneasy at the implications. With a curt nod, he takes his leave, getting out of the hall and the palace, his face ashen and nearly trembling.
Hanging from the top of the tent, Pragatima and Rain Pearl are silently observing Zapir, painting absent-mindedly as He Who Burns stands over him, nourished by the Star-Prince inspiration. They share a terrified look, both wondering how to deal with the monster on their own. Without exchanging a word, they come up with a simple plan and spring into action.
Rain Pearl drops from the roof, throwing herself on the Fair Folk to distract him… Immediately, the fae’s molten glass robe lashes out, red-hot daggers whistling past the Shining Mirror’s ears. She responds with a throw of her own, her knife striking true, the force of the blow throwing the Fair Folk towards the tent’s fabric. Immediately, everything around them catches on fire, and the two Exalt flee, Pragatima carrying the stunned Star-Prince. They leave the wyld zone and the tower, Pragatima throwing herself on Beyaloa’s Cirrus Skiff, leaving Rain Pearl behind to adopt the fae’s mien and sow chaos in the Inspired’s ranks before disappearing, contrary orders leaving them incapable of responding properly.
Uncertain of how their adversary will respond to such an intrusion, the circle decides to move the Voriyara’s camp in a concealed location under cover of night, settling on a cave complex that shows signs of having been a smuggler’s hangout sometime in the recent past. There, Rohim takes care of the shell-shocked state. Zapir and Foam Spiral reunite, and the circle interrogates the former, eager to learn more about their foe. But Zapir has few recollections of the Fair Folk, and expresses only a desire to go back home in order to reflect upon what he has learned and spread his love of the arts in a more familiar setting. Suspecting influence from the fae, the circle tells him what they know of He Who Burns, and advises him to spend some time in the Fiery Isles to rest under the care of their physician.
The sun rises over a calm city, and the circle breathes a collective sigh of relief as they realize that He Who Burns hasn’t made an overt move against them for now. They decide to honor the invitation extended to them during yesterday’s celebrations, and make their way towards the Natae’s villa in time for lunch. In the open house overlooking the bay, they are introduced to the entire family, children playing with the captive birds whose song overdrowns the noise of the city. As they eat and drink, Osir tells them about how few loyalist families remain in Baliad, and how the families currently supporting the Bey tend to be linked to the cult of Inspiration, and would need to be convinced in order for the Bey to send his fleet north.
While talking about the marriage between Kami and her guildian husband, they also learn that a silver mine has been opened recently in the Mirror Mountains, currently exploited by the Bey and the Guild.
In the afternoon, Pragatima, still pondering how to free Obin, meets with Enandi Iobana, to visit her garden-manse and talk about a possible exchange: one of the minor artefacts from the Wood Aspect’s collection would certainly be enough to buy the Hazan’s freedom. Intrigued and somewhat amused by the mercenary’s bluntness, Enandi mentions that she might be willing to give them one of her trinkets for the services of one of their sorcerers. Smiling, Pragatima agrees to the deal, and promises to come back with either Beyaloa or Harik.