Highclere throws some accusations at Amos and Arcady, then gets interrupted by some dudes who come charging up the stairwell at them. Amos bull rushes them, and arcady delivers the smackdown with his fists. They turn around to see Highclere mopping up some of the dudes who came from above. He decides that they’re not the source of the problem and says that they must rally a defense. Maza pokes her head down the stairwell and says that they’re under a serious assault. Highclere moves to head to the way below to plan an escape with dormer, but Amos gives him a piece of his mind for drawing down on him in the first place. they leave afterwards
They run into Aldebaran and Termina on their way down, and aldy says that Triona is behind the attack, and they have to go. Roric runs up the stairs past them to fight the dudes. His gauntlets are already bloodied. Highclere, Dormer, Termina, and AAA come up with the plan to construct a boat from the dirt of the island, and reshape it with alteration magic. Dormer powers up his two golems and commands them to protect wavestrider (while pointing a control rod at each of them). Highclere follows, and Amos and Aldy after them to get amos’s weapons back. Termina stays behind to guard Arcady and Dormer.
Amos and Aldy search for their weapons amongst the chaos, find them, then sneak over to them. Amos expresses his discontentment that they haven’t killed anything yet, and Aldy realizes that the Wavestriders are more valuable to them without a leader, so he points amos at Blake, who’s fighting for his life. Aldebaran confuses the golems by screwing with their ability to assess threats, then Amos takes the shot, and gets wavestrider in the heart. Triona pops up behind him and was about to stab him, but sees the bolt. She strolls casually over to them, blows Amos a kiss, then reaches into her belt and takes a ball of black goop, and drops it on the floor, which spreads nasty blackness through the room. They make their way through the darkness back to the stairs that lead down.
Meanwhile, Dormer has pried up some sheets of clay using evocation, and Arcady shapes them into a boat. The task is difficult, so he calls on Bynazgu. His horns and tusks become more pronounced, and his skin turns a deeper blue when Bynazgu is called upon. Dormer comments on the astonishing transformation of the boat and Arcady, then uses evocation to bore a hole horiontally out towards the beach. Arcady pulls the boat through, and Termina follows. Amos and Aldebaran come down the stairs, and the black smoke follows them all out to the shore.
They get the ship in the water and before they can shove off, dormer takes an arrow to the chest. They all turn to look, and see a group of assorted men come out from the tunnel Dormer had made. They hear the familiar screech of a dragon overhead, which swoops down on Dormer and claws open his chest. Arcady hauls his body back onto the ship and takes the golem control rods from him. Aldebaran gives Amos a heads-up on good cover, who then takes a shot at the one who looks like the leader, who takes the hit. Four of the foes rush Amos, who can tell that they’re humans, and they beat at him with their swords. He takes some superficial hits. The leader-type seemingly melts into the darkness coming out of the hole, and is not visible. The remainder of the foes nock some arrows and fire at Arcady, who avoids the volley handily.
Amos charges into the darkness and grapples the leader-type, who he can tell is an elf. Aldebaran, seeing that Arcady has the control rods, looks about and spots Alan Highclere fighting alongside one of the golems further down the shore against some foes. Aldebaran shouts at the golem and gets it to percieve him as a threat. As it charges him, Highclere piggybacks it so that he doesn’t fight alone. The golem smashes into Aldebaran, but Arcady manages to gain control of it before it can continue its attack. The men that had been attacking Amos rush in behind him, but get lost in the darkness.
Inside the cloud, the elf leader creates an ice dagger and cuts amos with it. Termina and Highclere move to fight the men that followed Highclere as he and the golem booked it. The dragon harasses Arcady on the ship, breathing frost onto the ship’s deck to make a slippery coating of ice. Aldebaran tricks the archers into moving closer to Termina and Highclere, who dispatch them easily. Amos continues wrestling with the elf, but the golem comes to his aid, and Amos guts him with his knife. Seeing that the golem has taken care of business, Arcady drops the control rod, and deals a mighty blow to the dragon as it swoops down onto him, dropping it from the sky onto the deck of their boat. Enough of the enemies are dealt with, so they all pile onto the boat and shove off. When they’re well clear of the shore, Aldebaran grabs the control rod and directs their golem to seize Termina and take her below decks (yes, Arcady did that well). Highclere does not object because he is preparing Dormer’s body for burial and considers his business with the Wavestriders finished, as they are all likely to be quite dead.
Bynazgu is particularly excited by the situation, and forces himself into control of Arcady’s body. He taunts and threatens Termina while Aldebaran calmly watches. Termina tells them that if she’s killed, the Kalashek will come down on them like a ton of bricks. That gets Aldebaran’s interest, but instead of heeding her threat, he asks Bynazgu to “do his thing”, at which point the possessed Arcady grabs Termina’s face and squeezes. Blue tendrils come from the orifices of her head and into those of Arcady. When he’s done, Termina is nothing more than a husk, and Arcady possess her knowledge in addition to control of his own body. Aldy tells the golem to release her as Amos comes down. He is disgusted by her state, and cuts her throat with Arcady and Aldebaran’s permission. Arcady lops off her head to present as proof to Black Aatos of a job completed. The rest of Termina’s body is dumped unceremonisouly off the side of the ship.
They get their makeshift boat back to Lonely-Gale’s ship, and take control of it. Arcady and Amos drop the dragon’s carcass onto the deck, then Aldebaran takes some of the ship’s food and hands it over to Highclere so that he can go bury Dormer and meet up with them at a later time. Aldebaran asks Arcady what he got from Termina, and he tells them that Termina was involved in an effort by the Kalashek to defend and militarize the Hirogen clans. He knows that her superiors in this plot were the two kalashek Diana Anderstein, and a mage named Alphonse Hayek. Arcady points them at two mercenaries named Nicky Small, a numiri halfling, and Mara Kun, a pimen mage, who were some of Termina’s contacts. Arcady says they usually spend their days in the Great Festhall. Amos and Aldebaran decide to meet up with them while Arcady makes his report to Ulyark.
When they arrive at the docks of Athforek, Aatos and a few Undertow grunts greet them. Arcady tosses Termina’s head in a bag to Aatos, who looks at it, grins, takes out a pipe, and begins puffing away happily. Aldebaran disguises himself as Milo Ritter, and heads to the Festhall with Amos. They spot Nick (based on Arcady’s description) playing darts and drinking. Aldy/Milo approaches him and asks him subtly to arrange a meeting with the kalashek. Nick is very hostile but doesn’t know how to handle their request. Fortunately Mara appears, and attempts to address their request. Aldy makes some comment about the delighful jewelry she’s wearing (they turn out to be her magical foci, so she slaps his hand away), then name drops everyone that Arcady told him about, which mara and nick take as a sign that they’re in the know. They walk them over to the business district.
The four of them walk past the establishment of Piko Ashrae, who shouts a greeting to Amos. Amos nods uncomfortably, and Piko picks up that it’s not a good time, and bids him a good day. The four of them go into an alleyway, and Mara taps on one of the bricks twice, which makes it glow and hum for a time. A minute later, the same group of Kalashek that Amos saw earlier appear. Aldy/Milo does the same name-dropping routine, and the leader of the newcomers identifies herself as Diana. She pulls out a white hemisphere from her pack, places it on the ground in front of the wall of one of the warehouses. It appears to crack open, and an image is projected onto the wall.
They see an office, and a man sitting behind a desk. There is a cloud of smoke around him that prevents them from seeing his face clearly. He is silent, so Aldebaran speaks first. He removes his disguise, then introduces himself as Aldebaran, Lord Chancellor of the New Entente, and introduces Amos as Lord Castellan of the same. Alphonse says that those are fancy titles for a farcical group. Aldebaran assures him of their growing power, and says that he and the Lord Castellan witnessed the murder of Termina Vzorcaya at the hands of the Creythia Society. The smoke clears, and Alphonse leans forward, and says that he doesn’t believe Aldebaran. He’s not sure which part is wrong, but says that if Termina is out of the picture, then the Undertow will have to be good enough to defend the Numiri. Alphonse then tells Aldebaran about a letter he intercepted from their friend Lagto Wuruk, and says that he’ll hand it to them if they retrieve a stolen book for him. The job seems simple, and Alphonse doesn’t seem angry, so Aldebaran accepts.
Meanwhile, Arcady has gone to see Ulyark to report on his excursion to Wavestrider Island. He parks the golem outside. Ulyark expresses surprise that Arcady is still alive, and Arcady tells him about the attack by the Creythia Society. Ulyark says that he knew about it and sanctioned it, even knowing that Arcady would be there. He qualifies that by saying he takes Arcady’s survival as evidence of Caya’s whim, which he accepts unconditionally. Arcady is shocked but grateful that Ulyark doesn’t want to kill him off anymore. Ulyark says that he never wanted to kill Arcady off, but deemed him an acceptable loss if he could also end the Wavestriders. He says that he found Arcady and Bynazgu’s growing ambitions to be problematic, and since they did not die, he believes he must help them. He presents a staff that he calls “The Staff of Rulership”, and gives it to Arcady on the condition that he leaves Athforek and builds his ogre nation elsewhere. Arcady takes it. Ulyark dismisses him and asks him to bring Amos and Aldebaran to him.
Arcady walks over to the business district, and stops by Piko Ashrae to ask him about the Creythia Society. Pico opens himself a bottle of Vapanese wine and drinks deeply before telling Arcady he knows that the Society does a lot of bad things, but they really just want to give the elves a better place. As far as he’s concerned, he’s just a businessman, and will let things be as long as nobody comes for his head. Arcady shrugs, says his goodbye, and goes to find Amos and Aldy.
They meet up, and head back to Ulyark. Arcady goes to the Festhall one last time. When Amos and Aldy get inside, Ulyark says that he promised to sever the connection to Aldebaran’s spirit, and that he will proceed forwith. Two lounging chairs materialize in the circular chamber, and he invites them to sit. They do so, and Aldy quickly looses consciousness.
He’s floating in a gray void and there is a cord tied around his body. A ball of bones, mud, and vegetation appears before him, and investigates the cord. Aldy follows it with his will, and somewhere down the line they see a black cord connected to it going in a different direction. The ball ignores it, and pulls Aldebaran along the white cord. They approach a scene of two Felac’Dora playing some kind of chess game in a well-adorned home. One is white, one is black. Both have cords of the respective colors attached to their wrists. The ball approaches the white one and “whispers” to it. It replies aloud that a gambit requires a prize of at least equal value to be on the line. The white felac’dora releases the cord from its wrist, then ball and Aldebaran speed back along it to the place where the black one connected to it. It too loosens, and flails about in confusion before slinking back to a pile of gold and gems. The cord releases from Aldebaran, but his vision shifts to that of an old wolf with a missing eye stalking through the forest. The cord wraps around it. Amos starts to hear a strange voice in his head.