With cultists on their heels, nowhere is safe for the Dragon Friends. Chasing and leaving clues, the Dragon Friends start to unravel the mystery behind the final 4 gates as plot threads are followed, and in some cases severed.
The Dragon Friends have discovered a mysterious tome in a secret room in Hofferman Hall, guarded by a floating skull. They have also forgotton that Baston is naked. The skull, speaking in the voice of Prudence Hofferman, tells the Friends that this is Constance's Grandfather's room; the Friends attempt to trick the skull into thinking that Philge has been appointed the new Governess by the Dukes of Daggerford, which goes well until Philge actually mentions that Prudence is now a skull whereupon she screams and attacks, knocking Banknote unconscious because he forgot to increase his maximum hit points each time he gained a level. Philge and Baston together smash the skull into pieces with their magical swords, and Baston stabilizes Banknote. However, the flames of the skull have set the room alight. After failing to put out the fire, Bobby runs downstairs and warns the new butler that the secret library is on fire, asking him to deal with putting it out.
Outside the building the Friends find the Ducal Carriage outside the building, with a note left behind apparently from LaCroix. Banknote suggests that they go to the Sanitorium, but Philge suggests that the carriage might be a trap as LaCroix would be unlikely to leave them a note. Philge throws a rock into the carriage, accidentally hitting LaCroix who is inside the carriage. He explains that he has arrived to pick them up on the basis that a building just caught on fire and so it was the most likely bet that they were there. The Friends ask LaCroix to take them to the Sanitorium, while Baston tries to read the book that the skull was guarding.
It is a book on the history of the Illustrious Order Of The Lamplighters, the old name of the Lampwick Cult. Bobby looks for any references to "the hand" in the book, on the basis that the poem listing the gates described "a tome of lost truths now in hand". The book describes that at one point, the Order of the Lamplighters was actually devoted to killing those who would attempt to restore Carcosa, and that there was a reference to "a tomb in hand" when ancient writings on Carcosa were stolen from the vault of a merchant king.
Arriving at the Sanitorium, they find that the building is apparently being fortified and made over by a work crew wearing symbols of Illmartyr, goddess of suffering. Seeing the ducal carriage arrive, the foreman, Blensley, comes over to speak to them. He casually tells them that Brackenvald "cracked after only 15 hours of torture" and that the leader of the priests of Illmartyr, Minister Scarrow, does not believe that the Glimmering is a mental illness. He offers to fetch Scarrow for them, and tells them that Brackenvald has now been thrown into the asylum as an inmate. Banknote and Bobby decide to go and meet Scarrow, while Philge and Baston go to inspect the cells.
Bobby and Banknote meet the patronizing Minister Scarrow; Bobby asks him who has given them the right to take over the asylum, and he responds that the Church has given him that right; Brackenvald lacked conviction and backbone, and was too sympathetic to those claiming to have the Glimmering. Banknote considers using his Necklace of Fireballs to kill Scarrow.
Philge and Baston ask Blensley to take them to Brackenvald's cell. Blensley brings them into a locking anteroom separating Brackenvald's cell from the corridor, then invites them to walk into the cell without him. Suspicious, they smack Blensley over the head knocking him unconscious and steal his keys. Moving forward, they see a figure wrapped in chain in the corner of a tiny cell. Brackenvald, distraught, explains that he has failed them and allowed Illmartyr to ruin the Sanitorium in which he was trying to heal them. He also explains that Scarrow may be collected to the Cult of the Lampwick, and that the church do not believe in the Glimmering because they believe that the only great evil in the world is Elemental Evil. He also tells them that Scarrow has taken over his office, and that there's a secret passageway in the office leading to the Western Corridor of the Great Hall. They give Brackenvald the keys and leave him in the cell.
Meanwhile, Banknote throws all 6 beads from his Necklace of Fireballs at Minister Scarrow, dealing 98 points of damage and killing him instantly.
- The floating animated skull of Prudence Hofferman
- LaCroix Pamplemousse
- Hofferman Hall
- Old Hill Sanitorium, aka Bonkerz Town
Themes, Tropes and Running Jokes
- Kung Fu Baston attempting to kick the flying flameskull while covering his junk with the grimoire it was guarding.
- Accidental Arson, although not committed directly by the Friends.
- A reference to the Billy Joel song We Didn't Start The Fire in the scansion used by Bobby when speaking to the new butler (which Tom also plays on the piano at the time). Dave throws in a reference to the original Back To The Future when the replacement butler hurriedly calls "Mr. Joel" to say "You know that new sound you've been looking for...".
- Semi-Dragon Huddle
- Baffling Reference for our International Listeners: another reference to Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) comedy courses, described as "the worst form of torture" employed by the priests of Illmartyr.
- The device of a flameskull haunted by a ghost who is not aware that they have become a flameskull is from the Tomb of Annihilation adventure; the Friends did actually encounter the corresponding skull in that adventure and threw it down a stairwell.
- "Hey, you know how you're a skeleton..?" "WHAAAAAAT!?"
- "Philge, you take a rock and you throw it carefully into the carriage and then you hear a BW and a little voice go 'Ow.'" "Awww, me hurt the rock. Sorry rock!"
- "Baston and Philge and Master Builder Blesley are walking down a long corridor with spluttering torches as they past cell after cell with grinning snarl-toothed snagglepusses." "... Whaat?"
- "Um. Hey Philge, Semi-Dragon Huddle. I feel like we shouldn't both go in because then he could lock us both in here, you know how that could happen." "You think me bonk him on head?" "Yes, maybe, just yea, three two one.."
- "I'm done for but get out, get out while you can, and stop the cult." "Wait, how's Scarrow related to the cult?" "It's all connected." "Look, I'm going to be honest, Brackenvald. I mean it's pretty fuckin' obvious that they're baddies and they've taken over and they've locked you in here. Give me a little more, OK? Give Daddy a little more. What, you just going to give up, 'aw, leave me behind' we've come to rescue you, look, come on, buck up."
- "Wait.. there's a secret passageway that starts in his office or to get to his office?" "Both.. that's how passages work."
- "Many of the poets and scholars and philosophers would do well to think upon the time that a junior artificer essentially incinerated a elder cleric of Illmartyr in the course of his duties, who died still with many secrets and plot points on his lips."