The documents from Devargo’s locker prove valuable enough to raise the funds to pay for Troska’s cure, while also indicating that the King of Spiders was keeping track of the party’s movements. With Troska’s concerns seen to, the party tries to recover from their ordeal at Eel’s End.
But their rest is interrupted by the news that Trinia’s trial for the murder of the king is over. The verdict: guilty. The sentence: death. Queen Ileosa has scheduled the execution for sunset in the public courtyard of Castle Korvosa and has invited everyone who’s someone in Korvosa to attend. Field Marshal Cressida Kroft secures invites for the party. Given all the irregularities in Trinia’s case, she’s concerned that something fishy might happen.
The atmosphere at the public courtyard is more that of a cocktail party than a somber event. Korvosan high society has turned out in their finest, while servants run back and forth carrying trays of refreshments at the beck and call of the nobility. While Zandu positions himself on the wall overlooking the courtyard, the others patrol the crowd. Ser Arlynn inadvertently catches the eye of Lord Tavius Jalento, but Lady Jalento intervenes before anything can happen.
The Queen’s arrival is heralded with a tremendous fanfare of drums and trumpets. No longer cloaked in mourning veils, Ileosa appears dressed in a fabulous gown of emerald and white, followed by Sabina Merrin and a train of servants. Ileosa has clearly grown into her role, moving with the poise and grace of a true monarch as she takes her seat on a small dais erected on the opposite side of the courtyard from the headsman’s block.
As the sun brushes against the horizon, a tremor of anticipation runs through the crowd. Trinia is led into the courtyard hooded and shackled. When she reaches the headsman’s block, the hood is removed to reveal a very frightened woman who nonetheless bravely holds back her tears, if only barely. Trinia is forced to kneel and place her head on the wooden block while an enormous axe-wielding executioner looks on.
Queen Ileosa addresses the crowd, telling them that the tragedy, chaos, and violence the city has suffered over the past few weeks was instigated by Trinia. The Queen insists that while Trinia’s death cannot undo the wrongs she has inflicted, it will allow the city to move forward into a shining new dawn. ‘Off with her head!’ Ileosa commands.
The executioner raises his axe, but abruptly pauses, then drops it to the ground. He keels over in agony, a throwing dagger embedded in his back. It is then that a dark cloaked figure leaps onto the platform as someone calls out ‘By the gods, it’s Blackjack!’
While the crowd looks on in shock, the folk hero cuts Trinia free and helps her up before turning to address Ileosa: ‘Yes indeed, my queen! Let us usher in justice, but let that be justice for Korvosa, not this shambles you petulantly call a monarchy! Long live Korvosa! Down with the Queen!’
Blackjack’s words spread like fire, causing the crowd to erupt into a frenzy of activity. Some demand that he release the assassin while others call for the queen to step down from the Crimson Throne. Queen Ileosa makes a rapid exit, accompanied by Sabina and several squads of guards. However, the executioner has recovered enough to take up his axe again and prepares to strike the distracted Blackjack down from behind.
Ashla calls out a warning to the vigilante, while Egan dazzles the executioner with a flare. Arlynn merely watches with approval as Blackjack dodges the executioner’s blow and together with Trinia climbs up a hanging banner onto the courtyard wall. Backlit by the setting sun, Blackjack bows before the crowd and offers a salute to Ashla and Egan. Then he drinks a potion of featherfall, grabs Trinia and tumbles gently off the wall with her. Zandu follows them as they attempt to escape through Korvosa’s streets. A Sable Company hippogriff rider swoops down to ask Zandu which way the fugitives are running. The sorcerer points in the completely wrong direction and proceeds to lead the pursuers on a wild goose chase. Back at the courtyard, Arlynn manages to calm the crowd down enough to allow for an orderly exit, while Ashla and Egan blend in with the rest of the attendees.
Once it’s clear that the fugitives have escaped, Zandu travels through the wealthy sections of Korvosa and then—after a costume change—through the poorest, spreading news of the botched execution and emphasizing Blackjack’s denunciation of the Queen. News that the city’s longtime protector has come out in direct opposition to the monarchy is raising serious doubts about Ileosa’s legitimacy as queen.
While Zandu roves about the city, the rest of the party checks in with Cressida. The Field Marshal is concerned that Blackjack’s actions could lead to more unrest, but she doesn’t seem too unhappy with the immediate outcome of freeing Trinia. Arlynn then decides to take another crack at investigating the whereabouts of the necromancer Rolth, but after a day spent asking around, all they manage to learn is that he hasn’t been seen since his lab in the Dead Warrens was shut down.
While walking down a quiet street on their way back to Zellara’s house, the three of them are suddenly attacked by a gang of Vudran monks, who launch a volley of crossbow bolts at them from the balcony of an adjacent home while two hired thugs block off the street in front of them with a wagon. An intense battle follows as the monks drop down to street level to battle Arlynn and Egan while charging up to the second story to fight the monks.
By the time a squad of Korvosan Guards arrives, the three heroes have the situation in hand. Ser Arlynn convinces the thugs to surrender, while Egan delays one of the monks until Ashla can knock him unconscious. The leader, a Vudran woman dressed in white, manages to slip away.