In a stroke of luck impelled by the quizzical gaze of “Mr. Grasp”, Leonidas gains custody of that which the Starhunters have sought—a long hidden memory. It is Fendrys, though, who will later come to understand this captured notion as ‘the answer to a question unknown’. The bizarre astral nightmare that is The Maze of the Blue Medusa collapses in a gaping and dripping mess of stone-become flesh, depositing A’Kelah, Aelish, Fendrys, and Leonidas into the Blind Eternity between the stars. They will later wake with a fractured awareness of their experience here, one punctuated by: an accusatory knight, a sedentary lich queen, a golden engine, a peacock automaton, aurum specters, a wraith-boy and his flayed-skin collecting body, a gang of bird-faced thieves and their glyph witch mentor, timeless “Chrono” and the vine-locked bloom of his brother “Zamen”, a swan paddling a pool of wine, a pickle; choked-on, a wedding couple frozen in embrace, those fucking chameleon women, the moon faced “Torgos Zooth” and the masked repairmen who keep the lamps lit.
Days after the four Starhunters disappeared into the painting called ‘False Chanterelle’, elsewhere in Rynas, a dangerous man is saved from the brink of death by an even more wicked angel.
Aelish, perhaps a wicked angel in her own right, continues to march her enigmatic path with the self-same zeal and conviction known to her namesake.
A’Kelah returns to her senses far away from her companions, far away from the painting, from the dovecote, from anything familiar to her on Em. She sits in a boat and it does not take her long to realize she sits in the wrong body, that of her stone-handed compatriot Aodh Chisholm Duncan, the halfling urchin run off to purloin the Crown of Rynas. Her companions in the boat, also thieves, grow suspicious quickly and pull ashore while asking many questions.
This leaves Aodh to wake up bewildered and confused in the 5’6" body-tower of the human Princess Aelish Samarkov. Leonidas’ mind is seated now in the hairless body of the veer sorceress A’Kelah Can-Tan. Fendrys rambles in the fey-touched skin of half-elven Leonidas Darksbane. This leaves Aelish to peer out from the keen gaze of fellow human Fendrys Stonehollow, whose body is powerful and profane in equal measure.
The four of them are in an unfamiliar attic near the seashore. For company, Ashen Chanter lies asleep in the room under a blanket. Lukiria Vanator and Damir Galkin are soon discovered coming up the stairs in response to all the voices they hear. The four Starhunters, very out of sorts in their new bodies, try to explain their presence here. Lukiria well understands the painting is involved. Her attention, through her wizardry, was signaled to the astral shear created by the Starhunters as they entered the painting. The Prosecutor explains how she came to the rescue of Damir as he defended the dovecote against an onslaught of goblins.
Lukya, like them, is much more confused by why their minds are scrambled, but she is certain the erratic boundaries of incidence swimming in the astral realm are responsible for this dilemma. “Perhaps it will wear off with time?” If not, she hopes that her colleague Beris Tanum can restore their minds to their proper homes—‘the landscape of thought is his specialty’ afterall.
As the Starhunters become more situated (as situated as they can be, given the circumstances) they learn they are guests in the house of the sailtheurge Thyvalda Valentin, captain of the ‘Karolina’. They are in the great port of Ibeadra, the powerhouse of blanche shipping. Aelish, through fasting and deep prayer, is able to sufficiently mortify Fendrys’ flesh and perform her miracles with the conduit of his body; this act will answer important theological questions for the sages in their towers, settling many debates. Aelish and Lukiria each focus their efforts on locating and contacting A’Kelah-Aodh. It seems Małgorzata has the halfling captive with A’Kelah’s mind trapped in it! Wolverton has gotten away with the crown. The succubus demands the ‘spider-can’ (and perhaps Aelish’s blood) in exchange for the halfling. Lukiria must attend to the dangers posed by the painting and Ashen and refuses to assist in this matter. The Starhunters however, convince her lover Thyvalda instead, to help them rescue their friend.