At first, the sage Goriseld is certain his visitors are here to arrest him and bring him to the capital to the share fate of so many of the University’s magi. Though he is a retired wizard, living a secluded life on his land by the lake, alone and at peace, he has been in contact at least with ‘Lukya’. She has kept him apprised of events near the capital—of the imprisoned Agrafena, of the collected magi, and the political turmoil. Goriseld welcomes them all into his home which is an old Vartuskan temple ruin, kept in semi-repair now as a sprawling garden.
The humble country wisdom of Aodh’s fine people means that warm, soothing cook fires and clanking pots attend the long hearth-side talks of the next two days. While the halfling is busy, hopping from stool to stool, using his stone hands as spice-grinders, the sage is told the tale of the Starhunters, and of Oksana (who drops her incognito guise here). Her Royal Providence seeks a council on her next move, for she remembers Goriseld as a trusted confidant during her younger days under Almdor’s tutelage.
Oksana would know if she should return to Castle Slatewind and deal with her mistake there. Should she free the captured magi and rally them to her cause or should she raise a conventional army and retake the capital by traditional force, embroiling herself in the civil war? Goriseld cautions against the Castle and its dangerous pagan monks. Leonidas and A’Kelah both argue in favor of courting the magi to further her aims. Aelish pleads caution, favoring a conventional military and political strategy as a show of lordly force.
All this while, Perren and his crew stay mostly aboard the Swiftlight so as not to overwhelm their host. The dashing treasure-hunter plots a return to Lost Lokken and redress for the death of Jaina.
While in Goriseld’s home, the Starhunters have a chance to learn more secrets of the magic they carry with them. Fendrys trades with the sage the obsidian shield found in Lokken for an elven hauberk of bright mail. Goriseld tells him it was the armor of Galan Ardryll, an elven hero of old and friend of Marquis Almdor. Goriseld seems happy the armor can be put to use again in exchange for a brilliant new mantle-piece. A’Kelah too trades, offering 50 of her prized dragon scales. In return, he gifts her with a ‘Scarab of Protection’ that will ward against the evils of the undead (which figure in the foretelling of the Watcher’s visions). Goriseld explains to Aelish the properties of her ‘Eversmoking Bottle’, such that she no longer desires to possess it. Leonidas meets privately with the sage, discussing other matters.
Importantly, the crystal ball recovered from the goblin bounty hunters is also shown to the old man. Goriseld finds it magic impenetrable, mysterious, and perhaps dangerous. He argues they should be rid of it, fearing a curse or some or other sinister force.
Also during this interlude, A’Kelah is asked by Goriseld to return here so that she might examine the deep sunken roots of ‘an old elven tree gone bad in his lake’. Aelish meets with Zita and the two talk of Eladriel and of Oksana. Aelish gives Zita her signet ring and asks her to spread the truth of her holy mission. Zita is moved to tears and vows it will be done.
Deep in the night, with dawn only hours away, Lukiria Vanator arrives—in her inimitable way—by magic teleportation. Cautious Aodh is the only one roused by this disturbance, and Lukiria is being very secretive. Later in the morning, they learn ‘Lukya’ has a young girl with her, Marietta, and that said girl is injured. The two repair to Goriseld’s tower, where others are forbidden; little is seen of them. Marietta is in pain, and frightened of so many strangers. Lukya is so protective of her, she spares no time for pleasantries despite her prior ‘acquaintance’ with the Starhunters.
Though suspicious and curious of Lukiria and her young charge, the Starhunters can spare no more time with the Goriseld and his peaceful, garden home by the lakeside. Early on the morning of Crowning, 5th of Terentius, they are off. Following a rapid farewell to Goriseld, Oksana, and Zita Nemeth, the Swiftlight carries them all aloft once more.
En route to Hinturnal, ideas are put forth about what should be done with the dangerous crystal ball. Some say it should be tossed overboard, others argue to keep it, but out of sight. Fendrys blindsides everyone by suggesting the device be fired out of one of the Swiftlight’s cannons (a decision he will come to rue for the rest of his days). Opinions are mixed on this plan. Hoff, Elaina, and Gage are stridently opposed to the proposal. Perren, however, as captain of his ship and owner of his cannon carries the day by favoring this “once in a lifetime chance!” Sascha volunteers to ignite the gun, being fearless of powder toxin. Everyone keeps a safe distance—some even remain on the Swiftlight—away from the cannon which gets moved to a ground position.
The fuse is touched. The spark burns down in four heartbeats time. The cannon explodes in a splatter of wild ether set forth by the detonated magic glass! Sascha is thrown from the scene. A fiery, purplish, scintillating miasma of magic energy and reality distortion hangs in the air after the explosion. Emerging from this vortex is a giant floating eye ringed with tentacles, each tipped with yet more eyes. The alien eye-beast assaults Rashid, Fendrys, Aelish, and A’Kelah with deadly spell-like rays that issue from its many optics. A’Kelah is pulled toward the creature with an inexorable force. Rashid is slain outright, his mind overcome by a psychic blast. Fendrys is held in check, being shown his worst fears as the shuddersome thing witnesses his mind. Aelish however, strides forward to meet the creature, confidently bolstered and sanctified by her unshakable faith. Leonidas and Aodh are quickly conducted to the scene from the deck by his magic while Perren and crew rush to their battle stations.
Aodh joins Fendrys is his arrow assault as Leonidas rallies behind with warcry and song to drown out the thing’s mind-twisting powers. A’Kelah, pulled up close, is bitten savagely. Therefore she moves to protect herself with her bead of force. But this only makes it effortless for the creature to fling her, bead and all, behind it and into the vortex. With A’Kelah no longer in the way, Leonidas, Aodh, and Fendrys all have clear shots. The beast is slain—its death signals the end of the vortex. Aelish bravely leaps into the fast closing vortex after her companion, hurriedly handing a length of rope to Fendrys on her way. The ranger, still terrified and in shock, reflexively tugs with all his might on the rope, yanking it entirely from Aelish before she can finish tying it to her waist. The vortex closes. Aelish and A’Kelah are gone from the world.