The team, examining their cells find them all just a bit too small for the occupant, no matter what size they are. They also discover that the latrine hole in the corner seemingly leads to a shit plane somewhere, and that some unfortunate’s who tried to escape through that route have become trapped down there. They can communicate aurally with each other, but otherwise have no ability to use any senses outside their cells. What seems like about a day passes, and as they all grow quite hungry, the void disperses, and they are ushered forth into a hallway, and directed towards a communal slop trough.
Deciding they best make some sort of play, Love and Fentin make reference to the strange song that Tanaka and Chessick heard, and Toff tries to cast some spells. This gets them all hauled off to interrogation rooms, as Toast, Gethin and Chem play it cool. Chessick decides to volunteer info to avoid anything unpleasant, having seen marks of torture on some other residents (including one man with a fresh brand of a dragon scarring his face). He secures an interview with Zeha Cadgris, the dungeonkeeper, who seems quite interested in what he has to say. He tells her what he knows of the story- that he was shunted here while fleeing Boston, and then wrongly identified as working for “the Unmaker” and hunted by the Wild Hunt. Cadgris accepts his tale, and says he will be brought before the Queen to receive her justice.
The other 3 don’t fare as well, receiving various amounts of torture before all giving up essentially the same story: they are pawns in a fey game, and came here on a quest, and merely defended themselves when the Wild Hunt appeared hostile. They are also told they will face the Queen’s justice, and shown back into their cells. Only Gethin, Toast, and Chem can still freely communicated, and begin conversing with someone calling himself Tom Foolery, who peaks Toast’s interest by mentioning Liam O’Connor’s former rule of the realm. He tells a story of O’Connor getting conned by some runners from the material plane to illustrate court dynamics, and also tells the team to seek a man with a crowing cock emblazened on his vest in the Crimson Hall some night, as he may be able to assist them.
Those 3 decide to volunteer up info at the next mealtime, not knowing what has become of their friends, and after confirming that their stories roughly match, and squeezing some more info out of them, Cadgris says she will send them before the Queen’s justice as well. The next day, the team plus the man with the dragon brand are all corralled together, and once again have their senses removed as they travel through what seems to be an astral gateway. They find themselves in the basement of an ancient castle, which seems somewhat alive. They are lead up a series of narrow passages and winding stairs, eventually emerging into bright daylight, and being paraded into court through the gloriously carved Dawnseeker’s Arch.
They take in the details of the court- the multitudes of fae races represented, the ornate and shifting art, and the massive tree that dominates the center of the chamber and seems to provide (or obscure) its ceiling. After watching a long litany of peon’s complaints to and requests of the Queen, they are ushered forward. The Queen, Lady Brane Deigh, is ringed with councillors, magistrates, advisors, ladies-in-waiting, and her champions and executioner, as well as other lesser figures in her retinue. Strangely, Toast notices that some of them share interlocking tattoos, and that one of the tattooed men strongly resembles Liam O’Connor, though haggard and bearing signs of traumatic injury only partially healed. He also notices Niall O’Connor, a former advisor to (and cousin of) Liam, lounging nearby, seemingly a respected figure though not part of the Queen’s retinue. Toast makes a subtle hand gesture implying loyalty to the O’Connor clan but isn’t sure if he picks up on it.
The Queen first deals with the branded man, declaring that his time in the dungeons and his prominent new adornment have rendered his sentence complete. the executioner seems disappointed. Then she turns to the team, questioning them intently, and occasionally conferring with Niall, who uses a ring to seemingly verify their truth. He vouches for them, and they manage to make a deal with the Queen, very subtly, to be able to seek the cache in exchange for helping located and secure the portal they entered through, as well as for providing the Queen with any powerful magical items that they find. She declares that so long as they stick to the terms of their arrangements, they will be forgiven their various trespasses. The team notices a rep of the Atlantean Foundation watching intently.
Love receives a private invitation to speak to one Lady Thisbe Sorrel that afternoon, and both Love and Chessick are summoned to the Queen’s private audience chamber immediately. The rest of the team go off with Niall to retrieve their gear, see their guest quarters, and use the valuable afternoon time to make some contacts. Niall makes a very subtle sign back to Toast, which seems encouraging. They go to an old-west style Tavern called the Gallows, hoping to make contact with the Hanged Men faction there (given the name), but instead Gethin manages to use her Society of the Golden Key membership to gain a meeting with a vain elf named Duke Flowerpot, who seems to represent the Bastard Faction. They set a follow-up meeting for the next day at the same place and time, in order to both take each other’s measure.
Meanwhile, at the Queen’s audience, Love and Chessick are thoroughly questioned about the song they mentioned hearing, as well as the man singing it and what he was up to. They tell her all they can and try to get some useful info, which she doesn’t provide much of. She tells them to come straight to her with anything else they uncover along these lines, refusing to confirm that this has anything to do with the Unseelie Court or the rumored Prophecy of the Unmaker. They head out, feeling hopeful that they are on the Queen’s good side for the time being. The rest of the team is shown their quarters, overseen by a somehwat mad hearth spirit named Castlekeeper, who seems to be the entity in charge of magically arranging and rearranging these quarters (as well as possibly the rest of the castle?) to suit needs. They have a moderate suite, and all take a minute to debrief while Niall goes off to deal with his own biz, telling them he will check in tomorrow.
Love heads to his tea appointment with Lady Sorrel, and is surprised to find what seems to be a teen elf girl, though her eyes perhaps reveal her true age. Niall had referred to her as the Queen in Exile, but the team isn’t sure what that means. She gives Love a very directly sexually appraising up-down, and then proceeds to launch forth in a long rant in hundreds or thousands of different languages, which Love has some trouble following (though his pacted spirit attempts to help translate). He eventually pieces together that she knows many things, claims to have lived since the 4th World (or before), and is drinking blood from a teacup. Bonding over blood magic, they head upstairs and engage in some raunchy knife-play with their athames.
She then bathes in fresh, steaming blood, and tells Love she can cure his radiation damage if he brings her fresh blood of an innocent or 2. He balks at this, but maintains his composure, and they agree to speak again, she seems likely to have ties to the Death faction. Love returns to the residence, just as the team receives a last-minute invitation to the Pranquet, aka the Prankster’s Banquet, in the Crimson Hall that night. They attend, and manage to all either gamely receive pranks or give as good as they get (except Fentin, who struggles), and eventually meet the event’s host, an human-appearing man named Rooster. He talks briefly with them of Tom Foolery and other matters, and seems to hint that a further meeting could be conducted the next day at some place called the Geocache, if they wish to pursue a relationship with Hanged Man.
The team, having many optional meetings and assignations for the next day, eagerly hits the hay, but wakens to find themselves poorly rested. Unsure why, they peruse the suite, and Love eventually determines that someone (or something) has rearranged many objects within to throw off the Feng Shui. He reorders the room using his geomantic knowledge, and the team almost instantly feels a bit better. But who was behind it?