A’Kelah goes to university of Hinturnal to study their maps and learn all that she can about Arsam. She also researches the Meridian and the Dragomov skull. Damir stays behind as his concern for Aelish is also a concern for her companions.
Aelish and her companions go north a few hours out of town to visit the house of the painter who disappeared. The missing painting has left behind his triplets; Tomas, Ekaterina, and Eva. Each child displays a particular. Fendrys learns of Tomas’ great facility with numbers. Leonidas is intrigued by Ekaterina’s violin playing. Aelish talks with Eva about her father’s painting. Eva produces a sketch of the last painting her father worked on, a canvas which has since gone missing—along with his easel—not long after the disappearance of the man himself.
Fendrys locates some tracks both in the studio and also leading away from the house. The Starhunters are invited to spend the night at the painter’s house, summoning A’Kelah and Damir that evening. The next day, they set out bright and early, traipsing into overgrown lands that were years old sold to the Duke of Odenva. Leo speaks with locals. A raven follows them most of the way. As evening comes on, they arrive at the old Harkin farm that locals had described. Ambushed by Hobgoblins. One Hobgoblin flees invisibly. Vallon and Damir and Aelish quit the scene, but leave behind the others who cannot manage their mounts. Leo’s loud spells spook the horses. A’Kelah kills one, Leo the other while Fendrys keeps them busy. Aelish’s miracle reveals the hidden goblin who Damir captures.
The old farm is a nothing but a dilapidated barn and an old dovecote. Dozens of ravens are perched all over the ruins of the farm. The Starhunters barge in to the dovecote where a glimpse of a large, inhuman figure is caught before it vanishes into the air. A’Kelah flies up to the open roof in secret. The scoundrel Dougal is within the dovecote with a lantern, an easel, and the stolen painting. Vallon and Damir move to protect, neither concerned over the pistol aimed at their chests. Fendrys acts first, adroitly disarming the highwayman, but not before being gut-shot by him. As this action ensues, a beam of moonlight enters the structure. Vallon springs forward to tip over the painting which has come in alive in the moonlight.
Dougal looks on in horror. Damir cries out. Fendrys becomes lost in the painting when it falls on him. Aelish is changed before their eyes, her body transfiguring into a tall, emaciated variation of herself with black feathered wings for arms, a raven’s head, and talon’s on its feat. She has grown over 20 inches in height, her armor and clothing in tatters from the transformation. Dougal scrambles to lift up the fallen painting and enters the portal after Fendrys. Aelish, revealed as a were-raven by the full moon’s light, takes flight and escapes out of the open roof, rushing past A’Kelah’s shocked face. Leonidas stands up the painting, careful not to be sucked into by it.
‘Aelish’, after soaring a few moments, returns to the dovecote and flies straight into the painting. A’Kelah gathers her and Leo’s horses and all of their supplies. She makes Damir swear to guard this place—which he does—before she and Leo ride into the large canvas.