After our meeting was cut short, we bring Queen Katrine to a seemingly random corner in town, where she is picked up by Misery, who pulls up alone in Katrine’s blue vehicle (according to Jonathan, he’s doing it wrong? He seemed perfectly adequate in his driving skills).
The Queen tells us this, “Listen. I am officially the Queen of the kingdom now. My word is more or less the law. Autumn rules through fear, summer through war, spring through ravelry, winter through secrets and silence. Magic helps those, and punish those who do otherwise. I won’t tell you my plan, or anything at all, but you’ll have to trust me. Even when you think you shouldn’t, you have to trust me. On that note, I want you to try to be secretive yourselves.”
Anthony glares at Jonathan.
“Never discuss the court business to outsiders. Never discuss your motley outside your motley. If you can, always smile at your enemies, never bare arms if you can help it.
Do you understand?”
Anthony informs the Queen about Christina Choi, the police officer looking into our motley. She says she’ll look into it.
Anthony asks me to write up a pledge for our motley, to bolster our strength, and help us keep our secrets. Luckily I have been looking into learning how to do just that.
I learn about the following events later on, after we speak with Jonathan.
The newly arrived Changelings, KJ & Gretchen, have spent a week in the Santa Cruz courts, where they quickly learn that the courts there are much more…festive, than they are in the Quatrine Kingdom.
KJ seems to have a knack for learning about underworld dealings, and finds that any contraband is accessible in Santa Cruz, if you know where to ask.
Gretchen tries to ingratiate herself in court politics, but being so new, does not find answers easily.
Duke Stagheart informs the ladies that he’ll be picking them up and taken on a small trip to San Jose, while he attends to some business.
After a night of rest, Dil wakes up in the Hotel California. Dil curses and talks to Ishi. As the song say, you can check out anytime but never leave. Ishi says there is never any rhyme nor reason, but someone will always get transported back. Usually occurs in their sleep, but not always.
At the hospital, Anthony speaks with Susan. He questions her about the child she was found with. Susan says she found the baby on a tree stump, in the hedge. Anthony suggests that she claim the baby as her own, if anyone should ask.
Otohime is waiting for Anthony when he arrives home, lounging in our living room. “I heard about what happened with our Queen.”
Tony smiles. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Otohime asks the motley to help out with a vampire issue that has arisen. The vampires have taken to feeding on skaters in the local skate part, spreading out where they aren’t welcome. She suggests the motley create a small riot, in order to close down the park for a few evenings.
The motley arrives at the skate park early in the morning. The park is filled with skaters of all ages, various pedestrians, and food trucks. The nearby lake has frozen over, enough so that many ice skaters took advantage of the unusual frosty climate.
Dil walks straight into the middle of the lake. He smiles and then unleashes Bedlam.
Several skaters start to enjoy themselves more, skating with more vigor, with more lust, and with the beginning of a conga line.
Jonathan walks up to the biggest gentleman at the park, and convinces him that the man at the beginning of the conga line was saying terrible things about his mother.
Anthony goes to a local hispanic thug’s motorcycle, smiles at him, and punches out the headlamps. He makes a crude gesture at the gang, and then causes them to chase him onto the ice.
I play my part, and cast out waves of fear onto the masses. The mixture of emotion is palpable, and soon erupts.
A riot does indeed ensue, with the gang beating on helpless victims, while the rest of the people flee in delicious terror. I mean, they run away.
Jonathan leaps onto one of the food trucks, to get a better view of the chaos. He spots a scruffy looking gentleman in a large parka, approached by a rather hulking fellow in a hoodie, with horns curving from underneath. The dealer takes a wad of bills from the changeling, and exchanges it for a tiny bag of white powder. Folded up behind the baggie, is a slip of paper. They turn and walk away from each other.
Jonathan follows the changeling. He reaches into his pockets and discovers a handful of reese’s (lord knows how long they’ve been in there). He tosses the candy in front of the changeling.
“Oh, Candy!” exclaims the horned fellow, and reaches over to pick them up. Jonathan picks his pockets.
The slip of paper is a photocopy of two women, a blonde and a read head, and a location.
Back on the lake, Dil hears the ice begin to crack. A young woman falls through a hole created by all the stampeding. Dil whips out his scarf so she can get a hold of it, while Anthony dives into the freezing water.
Using a contract to warm himself up, he is able to grab hold of the girl, already turning blue. He escapes the watery clutches and allows the paramedics to take over.
We head home.
Otohime is once again at our home, but this time she pulls me aside. She informs me that the Autumn court will be meeting tonight, and that not everyone is happy with the fact that I have been given my position. Most will try to undermine it, starting with not telling me about their gathering.
Back with Gretchen & KJ, they have arrived at a hotel in San Jose. They are to be part of Duke Stagheart’s entourage for some diplomatic meeting.
Back at our home, Misery shows up with word from the Queen.
Apparently the local vampire prince heard about the disruption at the skating ring, and is none too pleased about it. The prince wants a summit that same evening. The queen and prince, along with a vampire of his choosing, and another monarch, which I believe to be myself.
The prince wants the summit on neutral ground, but the Queen suggested Changeling territory, specifically at Dil’s bar.
Soon enough, Duke Stagheart arrives at our home, flanked by two young ladies, KJ & Gretchen.
The Duke suggests, insists actually, that he take my place at the meeting, radiating his power. I do not back down, for I take my position very seriously. I tell him that I will attend, for it is Quatrine Business. He takes his leave, with his entourage.
The Duke updates the new changelings on how SBM ruled the kingdom, and how he dealt with the vampires. I would imagine he did not paint a pleasant picture. He tells the ladies that they must make a decision about where they would like to reside.
Gretchen calls up an informant and asks about the San Jose territory. She finds out that San Jose was a “big muckety muck for years, and everyone else had been in the shadows, and that never sat good with Duke. He wanted a bigger slice of the pie.”
KJ and Gretchen return to our home, wanting to have a meeting with The King of Autumn. I unfortunately must prepare for the evenings summit, so I ask Jonathan to show them the kingdom. Though Jonathan is rather, unpredictable, he is honest and true. If anyone could give the ladies a clear picture of our kingdom, it is him.
Jonathan answers the ladies’ questions, as he gives his tour. He describes the various monarch, “Spring is a butt face, Katrine is too compassionate for her own good, Calvell is the only one with a plan, and SBM is bound by his station, and the rules.”
KJ asks why Stagheart hates the Quatrine Kingdom? Jonathan tells her about the incident with the gate, and how Clavell was able to claim it for ourselves.
Gretchen wonders why anyone cares that the true monarchs are missing. Jonathan explains that part of what protects us, from intruders, invaders, and The Others themselves, is that the seasons change, and we follow the rules.
“I started to realize how much everyone depends on the monarchs. Nobody else can hold that weight, no body is ready for it. Those are our guys. Well except for Spring.”
After leaving Susan’s baby in The Hotel California, tended to by our robotic hobs, Anthony and I head towards Dil’s bar, where Dil has been helping Katrine set up.
We find The Duke waiting for us outside. We do not know how he found the meeting’s location. Queen Katrine walks out of the bar and smiles at us. I nod and walk in.
Duke explains why he is there, and Katrine welcomes him inside.
A few minutes later, two black cars pull up. One of the valets is a vampire that had previously attacked the motley. The vampire that comes out is Sabertooth, with a leather jacket and gun bulge on his chest. Out steps the Prince, a portly but imposing gentleman with beetle brows, who carries with him an air of dignity.
“Prince Lambert, her to see the Queen.”
From the second car steps out Tobey, Elizabeth’s childe, who opens the back door, where Elizabeth herself steps out.
“Elizabeth of the Carthians, here to see the queen.”
I stay calm, force my face to remain neutral. But my heart has sped up at the very sight of her. I do us both a favor and pretend to not be madly in love with her.
After a bit of pomp and bluster (mostly from Prince Lambert), we get down to business.
“What I mean to say, our truce, with your SBM, was signed under duress, so it is now null and void, with his absence. The way of your courts was tyranny. That attack was the way of getting your freehold attention, and until we get some concessions, you can consider us at war after this meeting.”
Elizabeth asks about the attack in the woods, and the vampire says that it was the first of many to come.
The Duke asks what sort of concessions the vampire court would like? Prince Lambert’s demands are nothing if not Carte Blanche.
Jonathan has taken the young changelings to all the “cool” spots in town. At the local arcade, they are approached by three fellow changelings, and are challenged to a game of “laser tag.” Jonathan excuses himself and goes off on his own, leaving the girls to play.
Jonathan has seen the horned changeling and attacks him. He also fights a dwarf for unknown reasons. He watches as Usagi, who appeared out of the shadows, take out another changeling.
Jonathan spots another changeling on the roof and leaps into action. There is a tussle, with Jonathan getting the upper hand, but his sparring partner escapes.
Meanwhile, the challenging changelings have led KJ and Gretchen down an alley way, promising to take them to a party. The ladies both soon realize that these vagrants are up to no good, and fight back, holding their own until Jonathan catches up to them.
Gretchen chases one down the alley, but he slips into a doorway leading to the hedge. The other is torn to shred by Mr. Roboto, who joins the tussel.
Mr. Roboto says, “Well done, Jonathan.”
Back at the summit, I listen to the Prince’s demands. They are ridiculous, childish, and insulting. Though Queen Katrine has managed to keep her composure, I alas, cannot. I slam my fist on the table, channeling my king, SBM, channeling the emotion held so close to Autumn’s chest, and glare at the Prince. I tell him that he is bluffing, that he does not have the means to engage in a “war” and that this prattling accomplishes nothing. The Quatrine Kingdom will not back down, and we will not give into these so called demands. We will take a moment, regain our dignity, and continue with these negotiations, but where there is compromise between both of our peoples.
But any further bluster will. not. be. tolerated.
Dil senses the tension in the room and heads downstairs to get “the good stuff.” As he inspects his wares, he notices something unusual. And by unusual I mean he notices the various explosive devices spread out along the basement, all primed to blow within a matter of seconds.
Outside, Anthony converses with the vampire bodyguard. Toby meekly wanders over, asking about Susan. Anthony is none too kind.
Anthony hears Dil running up the stairs, but before he can burst in, he is attacked by Grayson.
Dil yells out BOMB as he runs into the bar. Tony tries to chuck a newspaper bin through the window to create an exit, but Grayson grabs it and jams the entrance.
At lightening speed, Elizabeth tries to push open the bar door, but can’t. Joel yells to everyone to follow him into the basement, their only means of escape.
Anthony battles Grayson, breaking Grayson’s jaw. Anthony presses on, but Grayson mule kicks Anthony, knocking him to the ground. As he loses consciousness, he feels hands on him and then the earth trembles.
In the basement, Dil tries the basement door, but it is chained up from the outside.
Dil and Joel notice cashmere hair sticking from the bombs.
Joel spends a glamor and opens the hedgeway door. As they all rush in, an EARTH SHATTERING KABOOM follows them into The Hedge.