It is the aftermath of the fight against the insect-men. We see, from the rear, a man wearing the clothes that Sir Ian McKellen was wearing in the last session. He gives a grateful wave and departs, his face carefully left unseen. Budget issues this season, or saving up for an extravagant finale? We shall see.
At Anarië’s suggestion, two of Jonathan’s soldiers fill in the pit, from which insectoid sounds can already be heard. Our heroes head to the Welcome Wench for a well-deserved drink.
Within, they find a notorious local drunkard in conversation with the Bard, the major topics of conversation being the inadequacy of the Bard’s musicianship and the strange ghostly sights to be seen out towards the east. The party are interested in going to see these phenomena, but the man refuses to go out there again. Even Anarië’s prodigious powers of persuasion will not sway him, so they resolve to go out there themselves. All except for Anarië, who decides to stay at the inn and rest, putting a bag of gold on the bar and asking the landlord to give drinks to everyone – except for that unhelpful drunkard. The man staggers off home, muttering bitterly.
Mortimer, meanwhile, is helping Rufus clear up the dead bodies in the chamber, where Master Burne is still recovering in bed. He plans to tell Burne’s Badgers to be ready to act against Jonathan’s soldiers, but unfortunately all of the code words have long fallen into disuse. Instead, Rufus gives Mortimer his ring, intending him to use this as a token of authority when speaking with the Badgers and telling them of what has happened to their master. When he Dimension Doors out onto the road, however, he finds the party on the way to the barrier and joins them. Revealing nothing of what has transpired at the tower, he claims only to have been refused entry and turned back.
Out to the east, the party first go to inspect the hole in the barrier which was letting water flow from the other side into Hommlet. The hole is the same size it always was, but the flow has slowed right down. Possibly a result of the temporal mismatch between the two sides of the barrier.
Even more troubling is the transparent shape that appears to be emerging from where the barrier would be, if the barrier were visible from this side. Hanging in the air, barely visible, the outline of the head, arms and body of a time wraith. On closer inspection, other time wraiths seem to be in various stages of emerging along the barrier. Some mud smeared on one of them reveals its shape distinctly – and after a time, the transparent strip that is evident at the edge of the mud shows that the thing is indeed moving towards the west.
Concerning as this is, there is little the party can do about it for the moment, so they head back to the Welcome Wench. There they find Anarië sharing a very fine wine with Spugnoir, who has been telling her all about Master Burne’s recent experiments with bringing the dead back from the Grey Wastes using a single diamond in place of the previous array of mirrors. This is immediately fascinating to Mortimer, of course, but less so to the rest of the party, who decide to rest for the evening.
In a corner, Enderis is showing off the mechanism of his hand crossbow to a woman he has just met – Mawgojzeta. He is sure she is very impressed, and is happy to share with her many details of what he has seen on his travels in the wild lands. On the pretext of a comfort break, Mawgojzeta goes out to the outside privy and attempts a Sending to the citadel. The spell fails, and she emits a sharp shout of frustration before composing herself and heading back for more of Enderis’s doubtless fascinating conversation.
The Bard attempts to buy a jug of fine spirits from the landlord, or failing that, vaguely decent spirits. When even that turns out to be an unrealistic expectation, he settles for some not actually poisonous spirits, and accompanies Mortimer as he heads out to curry favour with the guards and speak with the Badgers. In this he is successful – the spirits are moderately repulsive, but welcome nonetheless, and he manages to speak to a few of Burne’s people, telling them what Jonathan’s people have been up to. The Badgers are convinced by Rufus’s ring, and listen closely to Mortimer’s story.
While he is busy doing this, the situation in the tower deteriorates catastrophically. Jonathan’s guards pile into the bedchamber and slaughter Rufus and Master Burne, although the two do at least go down fighting hard to the end. One of the guards then leaves the tower and goes to Jonathan’s home – and is followed by No Name, in the shape of a cat. Jonathan brings the man in, and No Name changes into a spider so as to crawl under the door. She observes the guard explaining to Jonathan that Burne and Rufus are now dead, and Jonathan stabbing the guard to death with a knife.
Once the grog has run out, Mortimer Dimension Doors back into Burne’s chamber, only to find a bloody scene, with Burne and Rufus lying slain. He returns to the road the same way he arrived, prestidigitates the blood from his boots, and is met by No Name who informs him about the murder she has just seen Jonathan commit.
And that’s when it all kicks off.
By now, most of the party are asleep in rooms in the Welcome Wench (in the case of Enderis and Mawgojzeta, the same bed…). They are awoken by a great hue and cry outside – Captain Jonathan is shouting incoherently and rousing the whole town. Quickly dressing, the adventurers go outside to see what is going on (apart from Mawgojzeta, who feigns sleep while watching Enderis depart).
Outside, Anarië orders Jonathan to pull himself together and report. This does not go down well, and Jonathan becomes extremely riled with Anarië, even ordering three of his crossbowmen to aim at her before declaring that he was going up to the tower to see what was what. Resisting the urge to disintegrate him on the spot, Anarië announces that everyone should follow Jonathan. A small crowd heads off with them, including most of the party but not Mortimer. You see, the initial shock of seeing Burne and Rufus dead having worn off, Mortimer remembers that he is in fact a necromancer, and Dimension Doors back to the tower with resurrection on his mind.
The tense deputation also heads towards the tower, but before they can reach it the ground opens up. Out pour insect-men, and, rising horribly out of the earth, the great insect queen.
Battle is joined. Both Jonathan and Anarië engage the insect queen, the former with sword, the latter with disintegration. Enderis joins in with rapid crossbow shots, while the rest of the party melee with the insect-men. The insect queen claws and bites, with Anarië receiving a particularly nasty attack, but the damage is not just physical – she deals out psychic violence as well.
In the tower, Mortimer succeeds in casting his spell. He sees into the Grey Wastes, where Burne and Rufus are waiting. Seeing him, Rufus steps forward, protective of his partner, while Burne moves back, volunteering to stay behind. But Mortimer had already begun the ritual on Burne regardless. Burne’s body sits up, alive – but the soul inside it is Rufus…
Eventually the insect queen is killed. Her death causes all the insect-men to cease functioning, ending the battle. But it also releases a wave of psychic energy that shares past traumas and future dreams of all those near it. The Bard’s memories of a final confrontation with his father, the Grand Vizier. Enderis’s memory of being denied a ring, tears clouding his sight. Jonathan angrily telling his men to take no action against Burne and Rufus. And finally, Anarië’s vision of herself on the royal throne, the nobility arrayed before her in two groups, one on the left, the other on the right – and the left hand group being incinerated by her magical fire.