Archmage 18 Snow falls on Knight’s Keep. The Professor arranges with Dozor to have a sample of troll’s blood sent to Rhynis at Oleg’s Trading Post. While talking to Dozor, he is informed that a female elf named Shian came to him asking for alchemical components similar to those used by the Professor himself. Following up on the curious visitors, the Professor discovers they stayed at Armaki’s near the beginning of the month. Having received a cold welcome from Lili upon his return to Knight’s Keep, he becomes annoyed when she seems to be avoiding him in favor of spending time with the women watching over Goody Niska. Visiting Simon’s cottage where Goody is being tended to, he is given a cold reception from Elva, who challenges his authority over Goody and women in general. Lili attempts the same, but is cowed by Bronin’s harsh tone and returns defeated to the keep with him.
Archmage 19-20 Snow falls. Rest and Administration. Further effots by Bronin to chastise and discipline Lili come to mixed results over the next few days.
Archmage 21 The Professor is informed by letter from Armaki of the arrival of the strange elves reported by Dozor. Making his way to the Holy Bottle, the Professor seeks them out and introduces himself. He learns they are Captain Vanadir Arideth and Adept Shian Telgalad – members of the Company of the Star. Claiming to be on a recruiting mission in the area, they travel with two Wildlander barbarians named Orik and Doyle – guides and soldiers in the company familiar with the Feralwood. Shian reveals a surprising knowledge of alchemy, as well as an interest in magic items found the region, particularly a crystal sphere she calls a “map”. Bearing a resemblance to the elemental gem found near Arven’s Fishing hole, the Professor brings them to Simon to examine it but say that it is not what they are looking for. Being helpful, Simon suggests they seek out the dryad Tiressia, who might know more about such things in the region. Eventually Gaiar is informed of the elves’ presence in town and arrives at the Inn to investigate as well, but upon seeing them quickly withdraws. His odd behavior is witnessed by Gregory, and when confronted Gaiar explains that they are his people, but until he knows what side of an old political conflict they stand on, as well as their current intentions, he will not reveal himself to them. His suggestion to “borrow” some of their possessions for examination is rebuffed by Gregory as theft, and a resolution for the situation comes to an impasse. Tig is sent to spy on the elves, but cannot understand their language. The professor, under the effects of an invisibility extract, does likewise to better results, learning that they are wary of the attention they’ve attracted, concerned about the stability of their wildlander companions, wish to move on as soon as the storm breaks, and mention a “barn” somewhere.
Archmage 22-23 A blizzard snows in Knight’s Keep.
Archmage 24 The blizzard continues. With the help of the Professor and Tig, Gaiar manages to slip the Wildlanders a Lord Bender, which sends them into a deadly game of archery involving teeth, and knife manipulation involving fingers. They survive the experience, but are heavily bandaged the morning after. Tig, having stolen a few swallows of the feywine-spiked ale as well, goes missing.
Archmage 25 The blizzard continues. Goody Niska goes into labor at Simon’s cottage. Elva brings a group of women to assist in the birth, but suddenly attacks Simon with another mysterious woman, both using clerical magic. Simon barely manages to escape and make his way to the Holy Bottle for backup, finding Sir Gregory and Gaiar there. Sending Gaiar to the Keep for more reinforcements, Simon and Gregory return to the cottage where they are confronted by Elva leading a handful of poorly armed local townswomen including a young prostitute named Luna, a crippled old widow named Agatha, and Arven the fisherman’s wife Magda. As Simon and Gregory force their way through the women, a very bloody and disheveled Goody Niska emerges from the back room and begins using powerful witchcraft upon the two men. The two manage to hold out long enough for Gaiar to arrive with Bronin and the Professor, and with their combined skill Elva and Goody are quickly defeated. Lili is found murdered in the back room along with a living newborn baby girl. The last member of the coven, the mysterious woman who attacked Simon with Elva, is tracked through the storm to the shore of Lake Tuskwater, where the markings of a boat are discovered leading to the icy water.