After depositing his etchings at the library, Thiet goes to speak with his mentor, an elven theologian named Oxsethis [oxsethit]. Oxsethis is delighted to see Thiet again, and asks for a recounting of what he’s been doing with his time in exile. Thiet explains everything and asks for any help Oxsethis can give, especially information about fairies or relevant legal precedents. Oxsethis promises to find what he can and to borrow some books for Thiet from the library. He also tells Thiet that if he still has Ggita’s blessings (i.e. his cleric spells) then he is obviously not the one at fault in the proccess that lead to his expulsion from the seminary.
Sothet, meanwhile, is looking for answers in wizard dive bars. She doesn’t learn anything useful about fairies, but when she recounts her story someone does tell her that a person turning into ice when they die sounds an awful lot like a simulacrum. Simulacrum is a very powerful spell, so powerful that Sothet thinks only two or three wizards in the entire country are strong enough to cast it. She is concerned that this means the party has just angered one of the most powerful wizards in the nation and they are all going to die.
That evening, Ksea and Thiet go to dinner with the countess. Before the dinner, they spend some time planning out how they will present their case. They decide that mentioning fairies makes their story seem more made-up, and instead to focus on how neglected the town is by the local nobility. Discussion of the trial itself will be focused on Thiet – as one who obviously has the favor of a god, and yet is being wrongfully accused of murdering another priest. When they actually sit down for dinner, the plan goes off wonderfully – Ksea is an impressive orator, and Thiet is an earnestly convincing victim. Incensed by the tale, the countess offers the party a loan of horses to speed their travel and promises to send one of her own adjudicators to oversee the trial.
When the dinner is over, they stop by the college of Saint Sethas to pick up the books that Oxsethis has borrowed for Thiet, then return to the laughing star. There, Thiet reads his books while the rest of the party tries to come up with any more plans that might help them. At one point in the planning, much to everyone’s surprise and confusion, Ero mentions that they could talk to her father, the king, and see if he can do anything. Everyone else was previously ignorant of Ero’s parentage, but this doesn’t help when she tries to backtrack and claim that “King” is just her family’s last name. Ksea, who knows the names of most of the noble families of the realm merely rolls her eyes and asks if “Lord The King is here in Athash?” With her story blown, Ero decides to write a letter to her legal father, assuming he will pass it on to her real father, possibly in time to do some good.
The next morning, Thiet returns his borrowed books and the party sets off for Aggatõ, Adjudicator Thethu in tow. Although Thethu refuses to discuss the trial on the ride, he is otherwise friendly and he and Thiet amuse themselves discussing (unrelated) precedents.
When they do arrive in Aggatõ they are relieved to find that the town is doing alright – nobody else has died, and there has been no more fairy trouble. (Though the local nobility continues to be useless) Atia is surprised and glad that they returned, and delighted to see Thethu was sent to oversee the trial. The two of them seem to hit it off immediately, so the party asks leave to investigate Uskish’s rooms and leaves them. They are granted such permission since technically they have not been formally charged with any crimes.
Inside Uskish’s rooms, they find signs of longstanding neglect. Though the tower has everything one would expect to find in a priest’s residence – a holy book, some other texts, (too damaged to read, as Sothet set fire to the bookshelf in the earlier fight with Uskish) both a public and private shrine to Ggita – but everything in Uskish’s private chambers shows signs of long disuse. Even the bed has a layer of dust on it. Between this and some missing components of the private shrine, Thiet concludes that Uskish was likely not killed and replaced by a fairy, but had been a fairy all along.
Using detect magic to further investigate the room, the party finds a chest under the bed, with magical contents. They decide to take it downstairs to open so that it doesn’t look like they are tampering with evidence. Ero picks the lock, and they open up the chest to find three things inside. The first is a bowl of perfectly still water that doesn’t seem to have spilled at all despite the chest being jostled down the stairs. The second is a live holly branch with berries growing on it. The third is a rock. It’s a shiny rock. It’s a very shiny rock.
Ksea notices that the shiny rock seems to be trying to mind-control her so she slams the box shut, but Ero is slightly faster and snatches the rock out first. Erkad, Atia, and Thethu all seem to be similarly enraptured, and Thethu demands that the rock be handed over to his keeping since it’s evidence. The free-willed party members insist that it’s a mind-controlling rock that should really be put away, which is enough for Erkad to snap out of it. The party tries to reason with Ero, and when they ask why she decided to take the rock she responds with “Because I am a thief, of course” before hastily explaining that she’s just a metaphorical thief once she remembers that she’s standing in front of a displeased adjudicator. Eventually, Thiet just covers the rock with a scarf, which seems to help everyone but Ero shake off the effect, and Erkad wrestles Ero to the ground and takes the rock away from her.
Investigating the items further, Sothet notices Enchantment magic on the rock and water, Transmutation on the branch, and Abjuration on the rock. The group decides they don’t have the means to figure out all of these right now and don’t want to experiment just yet, so they go with the Adjudicator to arrange his introduction to the Rissash. He decides to go in and speak with them alone, so the party asks him to take Fret with. They claim that Fret is there to help them notice if there’s any mind-control going on, but really they just want to eavesdrop on the conversation.
Etâ is the one who meets with Thethu, explaining that her mother is still unwilling to leave Otat’s side. (Upon hearing this, the party has a moment of realization that they left Otat and Uskish alone when Otat lost her memories, and that since Uskish was a fairy that probably makes him the one responsible) Etâ is cordial with Thethu, but clearly displeased with his arrival in town and interference in her trial. Thethu, similarly, is cordial with Etâ but clearly displeased with her approach to justice. After a short, polite conversation, Thethu leaves and walks back to the temple with the party.
There, the party decides to more thoroughly investigate the two magic items they can look at safely. They ask the priestess of Satõ, goddess of nature, if she knows anything about it, and with some investigation she concludes that the berries are Goodberries, each of which is sufficient nourishment for a whole day and will magically heal wounds. They then turn their attention to the bowl. The water in the bowl behaves strangely, always staying perfectly level no matter how the bowl is tilted or shaken. Peering into the bowl, Ksea almost thinks she sees faces in the water. She points this out and asks if anyone else can see them. Sothet also thinks she maybe sees faces, and since the party has never heard of priming they conclude that there are in fact barely-visible faces in the water.
Not wanting to test out the effect of the waters on a person, Sothet goes for the next-best thing and orders Fret to drink from the bowl. Fret does so, and immediately starts to thrash about. Sothet tries to communicate with him but Fret is unresponsive. She tries borrowing Fret’s sight and hearing, which works fine, but for some reason Fret is no longer listening to her. She sets Fret up with a pillow for the night and the party locks away the magic items before sleeping.
The next day, the trial goes smoothly for the party. Tahâs is tried in absentia for banditry, but pardoned due to the evidence that mind control was involved and he provided useful information about the other bandits. Etâ resentfully declines to bring charges against the party, as she knows she does not have enough evidence to convict with an unfriendly judge.
The party decides that, having returned for their trial, they don’t particularly want to stay any longer. Though they may return later, they would prefer to spend more time in Athaash preparing first. Before departing, the party decides to bid farewell to the Rissash family and check in on Otat and Shkihe. Otat seems relatively OK – still very upset about both what happened to her and the loss of her father (Etâ curtly explains that her memories were erased back to shortly before their father’s disappearance and presumed death) – but with her sister and mother to support her she seems to have mostly put herself back together. Shkihe is another story entirely, and seems not to have eaten at all in the weeks since the party last saw her. On a hunch, Thiet steps out of the room for a moment and casts detect otherworldly presences. When he enters the room again, he notices with the spell that Etâ and Otat are both fae. He handles this revelation better and more internally than he did the realization that Uskish was covered in illusions and does not attack either of them.
As soon as they leave the manor, Thiet tells the rest of the group what he saw. Though they are concerned for Shkihe, they eventually conclude that there is nothing they can do for her right now. Leaving the next morning and returning better-informed and better prepared still seems like the right plan to them. However, as they pass through the main part of town on their way out, Thiet notices another Fae with his spell. The rest of the party also notices this person, because he is standing outside in the rain staring right at them despite the blindfold he is wearing. They hurry past the fae and take shelter in the temple for the night.
In the morning, the party discusses what to do with the magic items they found in Uskish’s rooms. They eventually decide to leave the rock behind but take the branch and bowl of water with them. Ksea remembers from fairy tales that fairies tend to be pretty vindictive about stealing from them, so she suggests leaving behind some form of payment. They are unsure what payment a fairy might accept – someone suggests writing down their deepest darkest secrets and paying the fairy that way, but this suggestion is voted down as a terrible idea. Eventually they settle on objects of sentimental value and Erkad and Thiet leave behind a dagger and ring, respectively, which were gifts from their parents.
When they open the temple door to leave, however, they find a familiar tall, pale, blindfolded man standing at the threshold. They close the door in his face and confer for a moment, concluding that they should probably at least find out what he wants. They open the door again and the man demands that they give him his eyes back. Sothet explains that they gave the eyes to Koshti, and the group (including Atia and Thethu) offers to escort him to Koshti’s to ask for them back. When Koshti comes to the door, Sothet explains that whoever created the simulacrum that they fought earlier wants the eyes from it back, which Koshti finds sufficiently terrifying that he runs back inside and hands them over almost immediately. The fairy puts his eyes back in their sockets and everyone else promptly averts theirs. The party is all set to leave town when Ero blurts out an apology for taking the fairy’s bowl of water. He does not seem particularly inclined to forgive the theft, until they explain that they left a ring of great sentimental value behind. The fairy seems to accept these terms and grants the party permission to leave town, which they do posthaste.