The Year of Frozen Iron

Chapter 4

Treachery

Spring:

Prologue The chill of winter clings tenaciously in Duluth, insidiously creeping around the tall dark stranger framed in the doorway and into the room beyond. His eyes are black, his bearing regal, his hair strewn with the dark feathers of a bird. “Brothers and Sisters,” he says to the assembled Lost, “I come before you with a heavy heart. I bear a message from the Fae Lords themselves, and I promise you this: your masters will come for you at season’s end to drag each and every one of you back to the land beyond the Hedge.” So begins Spring: perhaps the last season of freedom upon this earth for the Lost of Duluth. The messenger is known as Alistair Darkwing, a member of a noble order. He goes on to say that the only way to escape the catastrophe at Spring’s end is for individual Changelings to mark a mortal to go in their place.

Part 1 As the chapter progresses, our brave heroes struggle to confront their own demons before they are able to band together in mutual defense.

Blanche du Niege: The fair princess is rudely abducted by a government spook who has incomplete knowledge of the gentry and their servants. He explains that his only daughter has been kidnapped, and that the Fae have taken her. Mistakenly believing that the Changelings are working with the Fae, the spook threatens great pain and death unless Blanche helps him get his daughter back. Blanche readily agrees to help him and convinces him to stay his hand, but how far can a desperate man be trusted? p. Ticktock Jack: The clockwork man’s dear twin sister is abducted by a powerful undead adversary. In a desperate bid to reclaim her, he tracks down the vampire with the intention of killing it himself. Fortunately, his stalwart allies join him in his quest. With subterfuge and epic feats of strength, they penetrate the inner sanctum of the vampire, gird their minds against his mental assaults, and deliver him into Final Death. Jessie is rescued and our heroes successfully fled the facility, but will there be repercussions to their daring acts? p. HUGO 7SN-E0: In a misguided display of loyalty, HUGO returns to Arcadia to serve his Master. To his surprise, the Light Personified does not accept HUGO back into his service. In fact, rather than clarifying HUGO’s purpose and re-affirming his place in the world, his Master sends him away with only one thing: a mysterious recipe for souffle. What does this recipe mean, and where will it lead? p. Zvwaychel: p. Paul Twicetaken:

Part 2

As the season progressed, Paul Twicetaken was grappled with seemingly insurmountable challenges as the leader of the Lost in Duluth. First, he had to find a way to root out the cancer lurking in the heart of the freehold: those Changelings who secretly remain loyal to their Fae masters and those who aid the privateers in the surrounding Hedge. Second, he had to find a way to deal with the Fae threat looming at season’s end. Deciding that the latter threat required his full attention, he delegated the former task to his second in command, Edward Nightcap. He also suggested to Edward that he might be able to lure out traitors by insinuating that his own loyalties are subject to corruption.

With time, the Motley’s attention fell upon a baker; one of the Lost known as the Muffin Man. His time in Arcadia was neither kind nor pleasant, and the strain of adjusting to life back on Earth pushed his mind beyond the breaking point. Following evidence discovered in the Hedge, our party of heroes discovered the grim truth: that both the Muffin Man and his good friend Flint Stone were secretly aiding the Privateers in their dastardly work. p. Following close on the heels of this discovery, the Motley went to confront the Muffin Man. As they approached the bakery where he often worked, they narrowly escaped as the building exploded in an intense conflagration. Apparently, the traitorous cell in the freehold had discovered that the Muffin Man was under intense scrutiny and had decided to kill him themselves rather than allow him to fall into enemy hands. Significantly, Edward’s jet black Ferrari was seen speeding away from the scene. p. On the run from both the freehold and privateers, Flint and the Muffin Man made a desperate gambit. They contacted the Motley begging to make a deal: in exchange for clemency and protection, they would turn over the names of their fellow conspirators. HUGO and Ticktock Jack met with him, but lack of trust coupled with a misunderstanding led to a physical confrontation instead of a deal. Despite considerable magical and physical prowess, both Flint and the Muffin Man perished in the fight. However, with his dying breath the Muffin Man began naming names: “Muffin Man, Flint Stone, Pandora, Edward Nightcap, Paul Twicetaken…probably, Al…” p. Before he could finish the final name, the Muffin Man was assassinated by a dark, shadowy figure perched amongst the rafters. The figure leaped through a mirror and into the Hedge as the mirror tipped and fell, shattering on the ground and preventing any pursuit. In the aftermath, HUGO recognized the Muffin Man’s body as a powerful reagent required for the Souffle recipe that his master had given him. p. Endgame

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