After giving a stunning performance with a less than 100% survival rate, the Dragon Friends are given a moment of reprise from machinations of their shadowy adversaries. However, their actions have taken the notice of the cult, and the Dragon Friends are now in the cross-hairs of The Order of the Lampwick.
As the Friends stand outside the burning Rivershine Hall, Banknote considers the risk of Roman Hofferman being brought back from the dead and murdering Jovian to open the Brother's Gate, and again considers killing Jovian to make this more difficult. Jovian attempts to flee, but is grabbed by Banknote, who is disturbed by Inspector Boggins who has come to investigate the fire, and two medics who have come to stabilise Philge. Baston suggests that Boggins might send Jovian away instead, and after being reminded that he was planning to leave for Baldur's Gate anyway, Banknote suggests he should be sent somewhere where Roman would not expect him to go; and Jovian begins to hand over all his remaining possessions in the town to Banknote in exchange for the promise that he will be allowed to leave and never come back again, and Boggins ushers Jovian away.
As he does, the Friends meet Grimm Saltback who has also seen the performance, and who invites them to the cast afterparty at the Dragonback Tavern, adding that he has some potions that can heal Philge. The Friends head to the Tavern and rest in comfort; Philge starts to come around, and consumes an entire roasted veni-pig before Grimm arrives with the healing potions (and an attempt to pitch a theatrical script for Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf). Dave reminds the group that all of them except Banknote need sleep, and Philge asks if Grimm will let them sleep in their old bed (singular but very large) in the inn. He agrees, and they head up to the bedroom - revealing that Grimm has become a Dragon Friends fan and is collecting things related to them. Banknote, having already slept, spends the night fitting Bushu-D2 with grappling hooks.
As Bobby sleeps, he dreams of passing through two of the gates of Carcosa, and of seeing a circle of cultists and the Herald, who explains that the Brother's Gate can not be opened and that the cult has failed. However, the "dark lady" has decreed that she will open the third Gate in exchange for a sacrifice - the Herald poking out his own eyes with nails - and that she has also notified them of who the Dragon Friends are, and they must now die. Bobby panics and wakes up the other Friends, warning them that he has recieved an omen that the cult is hunting for them, and suggesting that they quickly return to Daggerford Castle.
The Friends jump out of the Inn window and sneak through the town back to Daggerford Castle. They decide to go and see Thomas Smedley in the dungeons to see if he has produced any more prophetic paintings. Smedley has started a painting, but it's very incomplete, vaguely showing three people standard around a table. Bobby decides to take another look at Hofferman's journal with the other Friends' help and (thanks to rolling a natural 20) suddenly realises that he can understand part of the cipher and can read the seven-line poem at the front of the book.
The lovers are doomed and frozen in sadness,
The burning is brighter, outshining all madness.
The brothers united, though one may be damned;
The learning, a tome of lost truth now in hand.
The others, his servants arriving once more,
Returning, the Dark Lord to settle the score.
The ending, the Lost City, back on our shore.Bobby suggests that if the next gate is indeed the Learning Gate, then they should return to the Hofferman Library, but Banknote notes that it's quite possible that the "tome of lost truth" is the one Bobby is reading from, but suggests burning down the library down anyway just to make sure. The Friends head back to Hofferman House and sneak past Smiggins while he is enthusiastically polishing the candlesticks, returning to Hofferman's private study to search for a "tome of lost truth". By searching for the oldest and smelliest book, Baston locates a very old leather book marked with the Seal of the Lampwick, but there is a skull in a bell jar resting on top of it; Baston asks Bobby to check to see if it's a trap. Somewhat patronisingly, Bobby tries to talk to the skull to ask it about the book - and the skull actually begins to float, animating with dancing flames in its eyes.
- Inspector Boggins
- Grimm Saltback
- Rivershine Hall
- The Dragonback Tavern
- Daggerford Castle
- Hofferman House
Themes, Tropes and Running Jokes
- "Now Dave, I haven't brought this up, but I am dead."
- "There is a roaring fire, there is a pig on a spit; he pours you all some nice, humble whiskies and you sort of slump up Philge on a couch. As, Philge, the smell of the crackling venison causes you to stir.." "The smell of venison from the roasting pig?" "It's stuffed. It's a half turducken." "... It's a pig stuffed with a deer? Are there antlers protruding from its stomach?" "No, one antler out of each side of the snout." "We're going to get drawings of this, aren't we."
- "Hofferman House. One of the few buldings you have visited this season not yet aflame."
- "My Mum asked me 'what do you do for work these days, Tom?' 'I play keyboard while six people talk about dildoes.'"