While recovering in fisherman Jhonen’s home from the harrowing journey back to Ten Towns, Søngberg has a particularly vivid and worrying dream. He is greeted with a vision of Eira succumbing to exposure. Navena is lost to a battle between zombie Reghedmen and Orcs warring over the human settlement while he and Eira’s body drift away, on the sea, under the stars, on a small iceberg. They are led on by an angelic figure shining bright in the sky. Søngberg feels Tyr grow nearer as he shepherds Eira’s frozen body into the unknowable horizon.
Søngberg rouses from his unsettling dream to sounds of Nevena and Jhonen talking of her heroic adventure in the eastern mountains against Grendel and the Seldarine Tower’s ghosts. The elf and the fisherman share his pipe, its smoke intermingling with that of his hearthflame’s. Søngberg prays. The humans Eira and Ardemis shudder in their sleep. The wizard’s pixie familiar Argent keeps her eyes trained on the door all night, knowing how uneasy Nevena is with Jared and the devotees of Lathander. Therefore, that night while everyone else sleeps, her back is turned to the presence that silently creeps in by way of the chimney …
The following day, Nevena goes to a watering hole to drink and gather gossip. She discovers that she, a troll-slayer and banisher of banshees is the only matter of gossip to discuss. Jared arrives to Jhonen’s with a posse of his acolytes and watchmen. He seeks the Malefic-sword and information (the map notes) from the Seldarine Tower; they seize the sword from Dheirgryn who is now retired from evil magic and dread monsters of the wild places. Jared then tracks down Nevena to interview her. At this time, Nevena discovers her notes from the map room have gone missing!
Not wishing to impose any further on generous Jhonen, the adventurers reluctantly agree to take up Jared on his arrangement for them to stay in Easthaven’s ‘House of Dignitaries’. The marvelous beauty Shannon visits them all there, hoping to collect her parchments and inks with the notes from the tower. During this meeting, Ardemis’ previous skepticism about Jared’s miscreant motivations recedes when he learns (from the use of his magic) that Shannon’s mind is entirely not human and unlike anything else he’s ever encountered. Shannon agrees to send over fresh, warm winter gear and other odds and ends before departing.
Nevena, Ardemis, Eira, and perhaps even Søngberg now are all highly suspicious of Jared Frosthonor and wish to know more about what is going on under his watch. Ardemis agrees to use his considerable spell power to learn what he can by spying and scrying. After a week in the warm house, now fully recovered from frostbite and exhaustion, Nevena seeks the Shar-witch Marsible Pinewhisk while Eira, Søngberg, and Ardemis return to Bryn Shander. Marsible is not at home, the locals tell of her “taking that child—and heading west. Looked to be going for some time.” Nevena lets herself in and squats in the drow’s home.
Meanwhile in Bryn Shander, most of the 1,000 Heads Trading Coster’s assets have been seized (including much of Eira and Søngberg’s pay). Ardemis continues his campaign of spell-spying in Bryn Shander. Local gossip indicates strange activity of late, people and wagonloads of stuff moving about back and forth to Targos—which is odd for this cold, dark time of year when the snows are at their deepest. Another week passes, bringing more bad news; the upcoming Candlemas festival has been all but cancelled. It will be overseen now by Sessel Morningmantle instead of Jared, with much of the allocated funding and other stores intended for it retracted.
In Bryn Shander, they decide this news is dire enough that they must rejoin with Nevena to discuss next steps. With possibly Marsible, Rynvah, nearly all their material wealth, and of course Jared all rumored to be in Targos, the group agrees they must head west, there to the shore of Maer Dualdon.
On their way, a shield-maid behind a team of sled-dogs from Caer-Konig races past them on her way to Bryn Shander. “Alarm! Alarm! Orcs attack from the north!” She cries before speeding away into the darkness ahead.