Their fortunes having finally caught up with them, the characters were discovered in the Vault of the Ascension Queens where, having had their discussion with Daphine, they were finally hoping to make their escape back up to the surface world. No luck. The wall slick with oil, were ignited when a Preferably Dead agent named Pargus threw his torch against it. The walls turned into blue sheets of dancing flames and the characters were all but trapped until Isdre caught sight of a secret door swinging shut. Hurrying down to the platform below to wedge the door open, the characters saw the sillouette of a figure escaping down a tunnel too short to be meant for human use.
Giving chase, the party finally caught up with Duckett McGurdwho, at the last moment before the characters could grab a hold of him, cautioned their silence. The walls of the tunnel revealed a latticework of slits through which the characters could look down into the Receiving Parlor of Lady Gleneese. McGurd’s tunnel, it would seem, defied the rules of space. While the characters should have been deep under ground, they found themselves inside the walls of Gleneese’s manse.
Hidden above the scene below, the characters were allowed to listen in on a conversation between Gleneese, her crone Padrigal, and Slee Hazwhile the beautiful Sidhe accused Padrigal of stealing her beauty potions. Slee Haz insinuated that she had seen in her magic mirror that Gleneese was no longer beautiful behind her mask and that she now needed beauty potions in order to win the contest. The characters had already learned from their time in Barnaby’s Alchemical shop that the materials normally needed for brewing beauty potions were in short supply. Griffon feathers, in particular, had become hard to acquire as Kronzo’s ogres were having trouble getting enough to meet demand.
After listening in, Duckett led the characters on into an old attic. They emerged from a wardrobe onto a cleared out space where a chemical lab and mirror were situated. Duckett explained that the mirror belonged to Slee Haz, that it was her “Vanity Mirror” through which she could lay eyes on the most beautiful person in Evermeet in order to learn who was in the lead to be the next Ascension Queen.
The chemistry lab seemed to be the place where Slee Haz (or her alchemist) put together her beauty potions. The rest of the attic, though, was little more than a store room—a place where Kronzo and his family kept their old things to forget about them. Duckett began to explain to the characters the meaning of things like the attic, or at least, that they had a special meaning within the world of the fey. The forgotten-ness of the things up in the attic had an energy all of its own, an energy that was barely held in check by the light. In the shadows, it seemed to coalesce and prepare for confrontation.
Duckett explained also that he and his family controlled a thing called a “Bolt Hole”—a place of escape that seems to connect disparate locales together. Thus, Duckett was able to bring the characters from the tomb of the ascension queen to Kronzo’s attic. Duckett, convinced that the characters were in danger from Preferably Dead and equally convinced that the Bolt Hole had chosen them for some special purpose, had brought the characters to Kronzo’s attic to hide them until the end of the Ascension Queen’s Festival. He also intimated in strangely abstract terms that the characters, being from the real world, were somehow more real than the fey world that surrounded them, that the Fey world operated on rules of pretense and that the characters were cast in roles of importance, that of heroes. Duckett was also convinced that the characters worked for the Lord of Thundersparks because of their association with Vixel (evidentally a known patriot of the Thunderspark’s court).
The characters decided that they didn’t want to spend the next few days hiding in an attic so they headed out onto the streets. Before they could make it out of the attic, however, they first had to handle the strange apparitions that seemed to have formed around the lost dreams associated with Kronzo’s forgotten stuff. The shades pushed crates onto the characters and grabbed hold of them with their cold, energy draining, touch. At the end of the attic, Smaug rent the dark curtains from off the windows allowing a flood of light to drive off the shades.
The rest of chez Kronzo was empty and so, descending first through a trapdoor in one of the bedroom s closests and then down through the front entrance, the characters found themselves in one of the infamous markets of Evermeet where they bartered for new ornamental armor, and produced a new spellbook from the multiple volumes that Isdra had been carrying around.
Finally stopping in to visit a sage, they were told without hesitation that they were to leave. The sage took one look at Thorin’s palm and was stricken by a deep panic. Unable to get help, the characters left only to be greeted on the way out of the soothsayers tent by a scaly figure wrapped from head to toe in a canvas like robe. He suggested that he knew someone who might be able to help the character and asked that they meet back with him two days after the festival so that he could organize a meeting with Grigik the Goblin.
After making arrangements for the clandestine meeting, the characters headed back out into the main avenue where they were nearly run over by Uletti Berrettiand troop. Uletti, happy to see the characters again after the rescue of Gilford from the slaver Drelosol Pride, inquired of the characters and asked them whether they would be attending the parade of Ascension. He assumed, of course, that as the main guard of the Knight of the Morning Dew, they would no doubt be in attendance, but he wondered whether Isdra would be interested in joining his merry band of players as they performed the music for the parade.
The party split up with Thorin and Smaug guarding the palanquin of Vazor while Soltan and Isdra took to the stage with the musicians. As the parade started, the gloom masks first stood by their mistress and Queen, but soon performed a kind of nightmare ballet leaving Gleneese behind and swarming into the crowds, and then, quick as a flash, a section of on-lookers began to panic.
From up above the swarming masses, Isdra could see that one of the people in the stands along the parade route was turning into a young white dragon…