Harik is the first to hear the music and the sound of marching feet. He leaves the rest of the circle talking in the living room around their breakfast, uninterested in the political discussion. His eyes widen as he looks at the street from the first floor windows: dancers and musicians are descending from the hill, escorting a howdah carried by half a dozen beastmen slaves and crowned by five peacocks. Behind them, two hundred silver masks are marching, wearing the colors of diverse noble houses.
Descending the stairs as fast as he can, he bursts back in the living room to warn the circle: He Who Burns is coming. Chaos erupts as everyone ask what they should do. Pragatima wants to go out and negotiate, while Beyaloa is planning on escaping. Ultimately, Rain Pearl and Rohim end up agreeing with the Eclipse, and the circle leave, heading towards the roof with Teferi’s retainer.
From rooftop to rooftop, they get away from the procession, Beyaloa ready to call up her Cirrus Skiff. But the Dawn stays behind, observing the soldiers surrounding Teferi’s house. When it becomes apparent that the house is empty, He Who Burns’ peacock fly off into the air, one of them landing right next to the Hazan woman. The circle stop moving, uncertain of what this could mean, and the peacock bows, delivering an invitation from his master to meet and talk outside the city. Pragatima ignores the Eclipse mouthing a silent “No” and accepts, on the condition that the Fair Folk comes without his army of silver-masked warriors.
After preparing for the worst and berating Pragatima for her lack of prudence, the circle heads out to a small verdant hill south of the city walls, where He Who Burns is already waiting for them with a few associates.
He greets them with a warm tone, and explains that he heard about the nascent Wyld Hunt that the circle managed to call off, complimenting them on their subterfuge. He stresses that a full-blown Wyld Hunt being called to Baliad would be a disaster for both him and Beyaloa, and hints that if any of them reveal his true nature to the Bey or other political leader, he will out her as a Solar Anathema. The circle agrees that such mutually assured destruction would be less than ideal, and the fae nods silently.
And the negotiations start, He Who Burns offering them a chest of treasure and offering to escort them out of the territory. Quick-witted, Pragatima picks up the magnificent present, going off into the distance as the others start arguing with the Fair Folk.
In the end, after hours of negotiations, they have a deal: the circle will not attempt to move against He Who Burns as long as he helps them accomplish the mission they have, and will leave as soon as Baliad’s fleet is promised. They move back towards the city, their heart heavy with what they learned about the fae’s growing power in the region, as he sends emissaries to the noble families he obviously controls. As she walks towards the walls, Beyaloa struggles to contain her hatred, asking herself if she shouldn’t have struck her hated enemy dead where he stood when she had the chance.
The diner at the Palace, in comparison, is severely less tense, with the Bey agreeing to send his fleet north as long as the crown promises to set a flat cap on taxes so he can have something to show to his supporters in returns. Beyaloa realizes that he is trying to play her, and that such a move would leave all the profit from the newly established silver mine in the hands of the Bey, and that this could leave Baliad rich enough to offset the power balance of the Twelve in a few years’ time… but her concerns are over the safety of the region as a whole, and she accepts the terms.