The handiwork of the mysterious and long-deceased stone mason interred on Goriseld’s isle prevents ready access to the teleportation circle uncovered by the bard Leonidas. Using her powerful magic (and the magic of the powerful staff), A’Kelah is able to float the bodies of the magi skyward into a hole in the roof of the tower. However, limitations of these powers require her to take only those who need to go in; namely Saffron, Odo, Steffan, Solveg, Aurelius, the siblings Ekemon and Millicent, Nikola, and Lord Almdor. The veer sorceress is gone for hours, much longer than is ‘arcanely’ necessary to open the portal that escorts her charges to the private Dragomov sanctum on the other side of the world.
The rest of the Starhunters, along with Perren, Jaina, and Tariq (who have elected to stay behind and journey also to Arsam) wait for A’Kelah in the decrepit monastery where they have dwelt now for the better part of a week. At last, the veer does return, alone, having whisked away the magi with the circle’s magic, as Almdor instructed she could. So she claims.The Starhunters are eager to be rid of the dead wizard’s isle and its trolls, the ominous lake which girdles it, and the remote loneliness of the dripping, indifferent wilderness environs. Their destination is a place unknown to them, but they have descriptions from Dark Aelish (and the crumbling map of Rothwar) to go on. They venture south; Fendrys plots a course over the old dwarven Ancestor Road, until the Holy Road can be found where east they will go until they find the strange valley of flumes described by Aelish’s twin. They trek over moraines and skirt around kettle lakes, traversing the land they once saw as the birds see it, from the deck of Perren’s Swiftlight. As before, their magic chaperons them over the broad rivers, feeds them, and keeps the worst of the exhaustion at bay. Both Fendrys and Aelish get strange premonitions and whispers of disquiet from the fearful animals. The beasts tell of fiendish stirrings when they cross the half-buried flagstones of the Ancestor Road.
With the road and its devil’s footprints behind them, Embo waxes in the night sky. On schedule, Aelish is moonstruck and overcome by her curse. She departs the group to spare them her terrors. She has half-remembered visions of stalking human prey before fleeing their torches and brandished farming tools. On the third night of Aelish’s transformations, she renders unto Fendrys the mighty scepter of command found in Goriseld’s tomb. The Arch-Principle, exasperated, instructs the ranger to use this forceful item of rulership against her, its current owner. Her gambit succeeds, the scepter’s magic is enough to contain her bestial rage and Aelish-the-Raven poses no harm for two consecutive nights.
Soon after Aelish’s moon-madness they meet with the Holy Road. Although they were hoping to arrive east of Hinturnal, they are instead due west of the town. They make way for its gates to restock and prepare for the second leg of their journey. They are met with extreme suspicion by guards who fire warning arrows at their approach, they say ‘only the dead come this way’. Aelish is having none of this treatment. She demonstrates her Elected status with a miracle of daylight to the awestruck guardsmen. In kind, they summon an Elected of their own, the local Margrave called Hendrik, a paladin oath-sworn to Myrnoch. He uses his own power to command the truth from Aelish and, satisfied, he invites them to tell their tale at his citadel. Aodh slinks away and blends into the human settlement as is his way. Perren has too much wine and spouts off about his long lost brother and something about a hammer. They all learn the current year to be AL 8444 but none in the company, not even Aelish betray their status as ones adrift out-of-time.
Aelish and Jaina are contracted by Hendrik to minister to the needs of populace while they remain at his household. Local personages, having heard the rumors about two Arch-Guardians and a pair of half-elves in town, seek audience with the Starhunters. An Eladric prelate of the local pantheon named Eva has a tale out of Encer. She tells Jaina and Aelish about a Knight of the White Feather named Sir Rinnebert who went missing three years ago. Eva asks them if they knew of him or his whereabouts. An explorer and self-styled ‘goblin-hunter’ by the name Zhiglov presents himself as a guide to the lands around Arsam. A magus named Enezesku takes an interest in them as well. An elderly man, he is the head of Hinturnal’s university and Hendrik’s chamberlain. The Starhunters are summoned before Margarve Hendrik, Enezesku, and the local Athemist Justiciar Oran for an important meeting.
But first, in private discourse with her companions, the Arch-Principle makes it known she has been in ‘holy contact’ with another lost Knight of the White Feather, Sir Damir. She is resolute upon using the power of the Meridian in a plan to rescue him from isolation and suffering in Hanezal’s prison realm of ‘Carceri’. Perren is enamored of the daring and heroic risk this poses; he tells Aelish he supports and will be at her side. Fendrys has unsettled vengeance for the fiends of that realm and he also agrees to go. A’Kelah too, remembering the presence of the Lurker there, has a need to return. Tariq, tugging nervously at his iron collar, calls this plan ‘madness’. Jaina, bereft of her memory as Perren’s confidant, is distraught and she must pray for Eladriel’s guidance on the matter. Aodh and Leonidas both squirm at the thought of such a plan.