After two days spent in study and discussion of the Gloaming’s secret stars, Kazimeer bids farewell to his host Sire Inkwether and exits the portal back into the sunlit world. He rejoins his comrades at their breakfast only to discover that a week and a half has passed in mortal time, and the summit is tomorrow.
The group also learns interesting news regarding the Huntsmen. Last night, the mercenary company suffered a bout of infighting. Some are reported dead, others missing, and the survivors are in lockdown, watched over by their overseers the Red Tears. Kazimeer opts to write a letter to Otr Grimbrow to relate the latest news concerning the Gloaming.
Gena travels back to Westhill to work on ensuring that the Ten Brothers don’t misinterpret the loss of one of theirs as the fault of Uncle Brunya and his operation. Once he’s satisfied, he drops by to converse with Miyar and then visits his family. Anfisa takes a lazy day and visits the bathhouse. Mika pokes around hunting for rumors, and Kazimeer writes down his notes on time distortion between realms. During the process, Otr’s owl returns to him, bearing a message that the trouble with the Huntsmen is cause for concern.
Otr arrives in person shortly thereafter. He says that he has performed a divination, and it points toward more trouble from the shadow. Yelgor Greencap is likely to use this grimoire again to summon more assistance. According to one tale, a man offered up his whole family to the Faceless Tailor, and the Gloaming lord came to his call in person. Kazimeer quickly assembles his comrades to explain the potential danger.
Gennadiy sets out to contact Hovrisk and see what the Huntsman lieutenant might know. One of the city sergeants overseeing the house arrest turns out to be a fan of his books, and gladly escorts him in to meet the Bald Wolf. Hovrisk relates a tale of Yelgor sacrificing one of his own men, offering the man’s face to something out of shadow. This was the final straw for Hovrisk and many other Huntsmen. They rebelled against their captain, and while they battled his loyalists, Yelgor, Havek, and roughly a dozen others escaped. Hovrisk notes they probably fled the district by going into the sewers, where they could bypass district gates.
Gena examines the area of the ritual, and notes a few scraps of fine clothing: apparently Greencap cut apart an elaborate dress as part of the conjuring. The material seems to be particularly fancy costuming, though with affordable materials. Gena turns to depart, and asks Hovrisk if he has any message for his former captain. The Bald Wolf shakes his head. “Sounds like you’re giving him the right one.”
Once Gennadiy returns to the others with his findings, they discuss the possibility of tracking the rogue mercenary. They try a few tailors, none of whom remember taking any commissions of that nature. However, the remnants appear to be from the sort of dress that might be used as an opera costume. Mika also checks the area around the Summer Bridge, where she uncovers a few reports of people showing up at the archway gate, shouting for a few minutes, then swearing profusely, and quickly leaving. They deduce that Yelgor’s working relationship with Sire Bleakmouth is at an end.
The investigation leads to The Grand Hippogryph, Tyurin’s most notable opera house. The group manages to talk and bribe their way in, several hours before the shows are scheduled to begin. Gena takes a bouquet as part of his cover. As they start looking for signs of passage, Gena notices some of the halfling staff are reliably keeping an eye on him.
He approaches a halfling woman tending to the vases of flowers, and offers her a bloom from his bouquet. She bows politely and attempts to place it in the vase by her. “No no,” Gena stops her, “that’s for you.” She looks him up and down and raises an eyebrow. “No offense, sir, but you’re too tall for me.”
Gena asks the halfling if they’d noticed anyone stalking about who was wearing a green cap. She shakes her head, but admits that there was a largish group of men who entered the opera house during the early hours, and they largely looked like trouble. Gena says the group is after them, and the halfling shows them to the wardrobe area.
They explore the opera house’s wardrobe department, through rooms of walk-in closets and large mirrors. Kostya growls a warning in one room, as Kazimeer notes something odd in a floor-length mirror’s reflection. Gena pushes his way into a walk-in closet, and his hand meets a living, but unseen form.
The enemies are instantly upon the bogatyrs. Another of the Faceless Tailor’s dressmaker dummies leaps from among the costumes, scarring Kazimeer and nearly Mika. Several Huntsmen drop from whatever spell of invisibility was keeping them concealed and leap to the attack. The fight is chaotic and messy. The group focuses first on the dummy, and once it’s wounded, Kazimeer obliterates it with a firebolt, sending burning shards into the racks of dresses.
Anfisa cuts down several of the less-skilled Huntsmen. Mika calls a hex to strike at the minds of Havek and a nearby soldier. Gena puts down another, and then closes with Havek. Both men attempt to end their old grudge, but Havek’s probing attacks fail to draw out the weak point he’d anticipated.
Kazimeer conjures another spell and exhales a cloud of poison. Four of the Huntsmen stay on their feet for only seconds before they drop dead. One makes a run for it, while Anfisa and Kostya cut down one of the lieutenants.
Gena continues to force Havek back, demanding to know where Yelgor is. The Huntsman admits his captain’s around — “But you can’t see him, can you?” Gennadiy smashes him against a wall with his shield, knocking Havek senseless. With no opponents standing, they hastily join Kazimeer in extinguishing the fire.
They investigate the odd reflection and note that the mirror has some sort of space beyond it. In a small, bare room, Yelgor bends over a book, studying its pages while some sort of faceless troll thing stands watch over him. No other exits seem to lead from the mirror-space. The bogatyrs wonder about smashing it — would Yelgor have any way out? Certainly if the only one with him was another shadow-creature, he would be left with no offerings for the Faceless Tailor. Gennadiy argues against it, in part hoping to take Yelgor’s cap as a trophy; Anfisa argues for the poetic justice of such a fate.
Finally they reach an agreement. Gena taps on the mirror with a mailed fist. As Yelgor turns around, eyes wide, and struggles to sprint for the mirror, Gena smashes the glass into slivers. The shards show the panicked expression of the mercenary captain before it fades and they become simple reflective glass once again.
With the Huntsmen’s captain left to his unknown fate, the bogatyrs make to leave. Gennadiy hands a pouch of coin to the halfling who watches them exit the wardrobe rooms, to pay for the damages, and they drag Havek away to meet his own dividends.