The great inestimable power of the Meridian has, in accordance with the collective will of the Starhunters, translocated all of them. They arrive to the isle of the wizard known as ‘Goriseld’ on Mooncradle Lake. They will soon determine that although they have traveled space by incredible mystic speed and accuracy, the calendar year (of A.L. 8369) they all knew as their shared reality has been swept away. A grave marker discovered on the isle reveals that at least as much as a few years have passed; it is feared considerably more years than that are gone too.
All but Sir Damir escaped from the prison realm of Carceri. The Starhunters have a baker’s dozen of other captive magi—once imprisoned by the vizier Azdar—now in their charge. Among these are none other than the august personage of the Lord Marquis Dessan Almdor and his protégé Kohano, the veer. The half-elven treasure hunter Perren Sparrowhawk and his companion, the elected guardian Jaina Mulongo from Myhtan are there too. Also in the company of the freed prisoners are two adherents of Myriath’s cult, the siblings Ekemon and Millicent.
The others are either promising University students or hapless foreign attaches from places like Dicia and Bravere. Their names are Tariq, Saffron, Odo, Steffan, Solveg, Aurelius, and Nikola. Every last one of them, it is presumed, was considered dangerous by the vizier and locked away in the terrible domain of the six-armed demoness Hanezal. All of the freed magi sport iron collars around their necks which prevent the will-working of their magic. Gone too are their memories; only Almdor (and to a lesser extent Perren) have their identities intact. Azdar stole their memories, but he had difficulty with the long lives of the elven folk, to hear Almdor tell it.
The misty isle, stepped on to from outside of space by the Starhunters, is abandoned and quiet from all but nature’s hum. Aelish retreats to deep and sustained prayer, being sorely grief stricken by the absence of Damir. She fears the loyal knight dead. Elsewhere, around the ivy-covered ruin of Goriseld’s ancient monastery Fendrys finds monstrous giant tracks that he warns the others about. A few such creatures, he can tell, last left the isle heading south quite recently. The magi prisoners are suffering from a state of privation; they lack proper attire and are in need of nourishment. They wash in the lake and the Starhunters spare them their rations. Leonidas attempts to use his magic chime to break the enchantment on their iron collars, but to no avail.
Almost immediately after the test of the chime, the gathered prisoners seem to lose hold of their senses and begin chanting an incantation in eerie concert. Aodh feels a stirring in his soul from something that has hung over him ever since the touch of the buried skull gave him a brush with death. Terrified at what this means, the halfling wills away this sense of dread to Fendrys (by dint of the power he acquired at Imris). Aelish too feels the same dread stirring within her. Thus, as the prisoner’s chanting mounts, the cleric and the ranger are both treated to a vision—a vision of Azdar speaking to Goriseld in this very room—while energy is sapped from their bodies. The energy flows directly into Dark Aelish and she cries out, “Oh no, Lesha! They have tricked me!”
Dark Aelish turns invisible and flees the chanting circle. Aodh tosses ball bearings to try to trip her up but he is too slow and misses his mark. Aelish chases after her twin. A’Kelah goes on the defensive, wary of danger and more tricks. Leonidas does his best to calm down the scared and confused prisoners. Fendrys, deeply shaken by what he has seen and experienced, broods by the lakeshore.
Aodh and Aelish seek the dark twin elsewhere on the isle. They find her, and Aelish gets in a few words with her, but only briefly before more trickery and illusions causes her to vanish for good once more. At this point, Aodh convinces the others to go along with his plan of drugging the collared magi with his sleeping draught. This should buy them all time to freely consider their options, he claims. Without Fendrys around to overrule the plan, the other exhausted Starhunters relent and attempt to help Aodh execute his plan. Magi, even those who cannot cast their magic, are a clever lot however. The plan is bungled and, upon discovery, the magi are outraged by this treatment.
To add distance from the angry prisoners, the Starhunters busy themselves with breaking into Goriseld’s old tower while Fendrys continues his solipsism. Leonidas dispels protective runes on the door. Inside the tower they find a simple sarcophagus containing the body of the wizard Goriseld himself. He was laid to rest upon a heap of treasure and books, outfitted in a magic rob and clutching a pair of magic staves. A’Kelah plunders the robe and spell-staff from the mummified body. The second staff, a rod that commands obedience, is prudently given to Aelish. As night comes, the Starhunters retire, with A’Kelah and Kohano seeking watery solace in the lake. Two giants, nasty trolls arrive with the down. The stomping of their wet, webbed feet rouses Aodh during his watch. The fire and miracles and arrows of the Starhunters kill one troll and drive the second away. During the melee, both Aodh and Fendrys are poisoned by the trolls fangs. They are quickly overcome with a sickness that makes them thirsty and dry; their skin goes clear and scaley. Only immersion in the lakewater keeps them safe from utter desiccation.
So many competing wills on the isle make the gathering fractious and temperamental. A’Kelah wants to fulfill her promise to Goriseld and investigate an ancient tree deep in the center of the lake. Aodh wants to further explore the rest of the tower. Others are desperate to leave the isle, but heading where? East to Arsam? North back into the mountains? South to the Capital? Aelish can try to restore Fendrys and Aodh to health, but first she reaches out in prayer three times seeking answers. Every response she receives is ominous.
Aelish calls out to Lukiria Vanator, but there is no answer; the Prosecutor is dead.
Aelish calls out to her Royal Providence, Agrafena Dragomov. The reply is an unintelligible dragon’s roar.
Aelish calls out to her brother Yuri, Duke of Samarkov. He responds! But his words distress her…