Beatrix is asked to remain in Fort Diamir with Marquis Horatio Fortigar, and Lt. Goodwin is loathe to let the cadets chase the foreign Captain’s sword around the countryside during the Deep of Winter. Beatrix deduces that the thief would likely travel to Tengpoche – a southron port city where hot merchandise is traded with ease. A few days pass. Meanwhile, priests of Avalon flood into the fort. Iness asks the head priest, Father Fleance, about a book called the demonomicon. Father Fleance cautions against “that tome of great evil” unaware that Iness has the book in her pack.
An excuse to travel to Tengpoche reveals itself – a few yeomen are carrying supplies from Lt. Wainwright to trade with the merchant vessels there. Zayna, Eddin, Odogg, and Iness are their escort. They travel by horse and cart, riding south on December 10th.
A few days later, Draylene and Aden are given an assignment by Lt. Goodwin. They’re to head to Tengpoche and return with a mercenary named Fydak. Draylene is given a promisary note and special orders. Aden also meets with Colonel Victor Tybeam, head of the Intelligence Division. He says Aden is one of a few cadets who have captured the attention of the espionage branch of the Loslia Royal Military. While in Tengpoche, he is to search for information about any merchants who may be associating with demonic forces. Dray and Aden take chocobos and ride off the roads. Draylene falls asleep on her watch and the two are robbed in the night.
The horse and cart is ambushed under the light of the Lesser Sun – the lizardfolk strike hard and fast, killing one of the yeomen. Iness fights bravely, and dies in battle. While searching the bodies, Zayna finds the demonomicon and conceals it, telling no one, not even Eddin, about her find.
The cadets on chocobo catch up with the horse and cart on the 14th, and they all arrive in Tengpoche. The guards at the gate instruct the cadets to check in with Captain Korburg – an order that only Draylene follows. She goes to the guard house inside an ancient white wall on the west side of town. There, she meets Lt. Braxton (a middle aged, slightly palsied, sweaty man) and Cpt. Malinda Korburg (a late-twenties, freckle-faced, direct, and icy woman). For information on mercs, Cpt. Korburg directs Draylene to Captain Parker, head of Tengpoche Intelligence. Of course, Dray will have to find Captain Parker in town, and he is not an easy man to find.
Aden and Odogg head to an inn. Aden investigates the merchant companies in town (the big names are Seabull Traders, Peridot Trading Co., the Tave Trading Co., and Lost Winds Trading Co.) He also looks for mercs by the name of Fydak, and if any bandits have come through town. He picks up a few leads and heads for the docks. Odogg drinks and plays darts.
Eddin and Zayna head towards the docks, passing a street performer juggling swords. In an attempt to be funny, Eddin attempts to shoot one of the swords out of the air with his crossbow. It goes horribly wrong, cutting off the performer’s fingers and causing him to fall on his head. Zayna rushes to help while Eddin disappears into the dark day, quickly changing his appearance.
The party convenes (minus Odogg) at the docks. Aden has taken a room at the Jade Turtle, the rest are investigating at the less reputable Whiskey Ronald. Presenting Dray as a noble looking to buy, they speak to the captains of every ship planning to leave port this week, including Tony, captain of the Tave ship Salty Drider, and Parader de Lovestay, a foppish Peñapesaran on the small pleasure boat Mortal Lute with several strange contraptions on board.
Aden breaks into the warehouse of the Peridot Trading Co. but finds nothing suspicious.
At the Whiskey Ronald, Zayna runs into an old friend – Lazenal – who lost his Peñapesaran citizenship several embers ago. They spot the woman from the barbarian camp – Aden and Dray spy on her. Her name is Shin de Leridas, she booked passage with Parader de Lovestay and leaves on the morrow. They hatch a plan to search her room for the sword. Aden keeps her distracted for a few minutes while Zayna searches her room. Eddin waits in the alley watching the room window, while Dray acts as lookout for the upstairs hallway. Shin refuses Aden’s offer for a drink, and attempts to return to her room, only momentarily halted by Dray. Zayna escapes the room in the nick of time, but Shin collects her things and attempts to sneak out the window, noticing Eddin.
A brief skirmish occurs, with Shin using the full extent of her magic to try to slip away. Aden orders the seizure of Parader’s ship in the name of the Marquis. Zayna leaps from a second floor window to tackle Shin, but misses and falls to the ground. Dray is quickly at the mouth of the alley, and arrows soar through a cloud of fog, many hitting their target. Shin attempts to escape into the back alleys of the town, but Eddin catches her with a net.
The party interrogates her. She reveals that she already sold the greatsword to Tony the Tave – it was how she got the money to book passage with Parader de Lovestay. She knows that the Taves are the unforgiving sort, and begs that the party allow her ship to depart immediately. They do so, but send Lazenal the old ex-patriot back to Peñapesara with her. Aden finds Lt. Braxton and calls off the seizure of the ship.
The Mortal Lute sets sail, and the mechanical devices transform it into an airship, which takes off into the dawning of the black planet.