We open with Davos finishing up his business, asking a few casual questions about the imperial outpost at the Sandpeak Mountains. They have been behaving unusually, almost as if they did not actually care that much about spice. He decides to bring this information privately to Gwyllion before bringing this to the group’s attention.
Gwyllion agrees that Imperial focus seems to be on Kyra. Davos wonders if they should break her out, but Gwyllion prefers keeping focus on our mission of delivering the package to her. He points out that the Princess needs to eat, and someone has to deliver supplies to her. Davos suggests keeping the place under a few days of surveillance. Meanwhile, Gwyllion keeps the Sardaukar in his eye, accompanied by Pardot.
Pardot figures out that the people running this city likely already know we’re here, and may suspect why. It’s entirely likely we’re walking into a trap. The only thing that doesn’t fit is the presence of a Botani assassin.
Come breakfast time the next morning, Davos notices the painting again. He suspects he’s seen it before, somehow. We’re sharing the space with four Sardaukar, also eating their breakfasts. Despite the others giving them a wide berth, Gwyllion sits right down next to them. Davos learns Kyra used to work here and it comes to him. This is a print of an Old Terra painting.
Daphne studies the Sardaukar, identifying House Corino’s sigil. They carry themselves like professional killers. Meanwhile, Gwyllion strikes up a conversation with the Sardaukar, Face Dancing into a grizzled old war veteran and baits them into swapping war stories. He does manage to befriend them on the basis of shared military service.
After breakfast, she draws the House upstairs for a family conference. Gwyllion and Davos reveal what they know. Gwyllion says he’s working on a plan, but they need to know what’s in the box. Daphne decides she might as well trust her House mates and shows them the two brilliant sapphires. They’re beautiful but not valuable. Daphne suspects their value is sentimental or symbolic, and mentions her mother had said something about, “This has gone on long enough,” when handing the box to Daphne.
Putting their heads together, we learn: these gems are called Spiritfires. Each one is supposed to be unique, from a planet called Dasfen. They’re drawn up from beneath the waves by the locals, who believe the soul is just another form of energy. A Spiritfire gem, they believe, can hold a human soul. They tend to be unique, and those who find a matched pair are said to be soulmates.
Pardot takes some time to fabricate decoys out of glass. Gwyllion continues ingratiating himself with the Sardaukar, planning to take them out drinking one evening. He brings Lysander, bribing him to separate from Daphne long enough to accomplish his goal: assassinating one of the Sardaukar. Gwyllion assumes his face, integrating into the Sardaukar. This allows him the chance to see the outpost for himself.
It’s built into the side of the mountain itself, and extremely well fortified. Gwyllion manages to sweet-talk his way past any potential complications. Observing the landscape, he notes a particularly dense thicket of trees. Ornithopters fly over this area regularly, but no one patrols the forest on foot.
While Gwyllion does this, Daphne does her best to spread confusion. She misdirects the locals, who know she’s up to something… but with all the red herrings she’s distributing, they’re not sure what. Lysander accompanies her, keeping an eye out for spies, tails, and tactical locations. He does notice the Sardaukar, before and after patrols, seem to talk to a few regular informants, including a child. Together, Lysander and Daphne ingratiate themselves with all the town’s children. The child reveals that he keeps an eye on who comes into the town who looks new.
Davos goes about his business as a trader, while Norma takes some of the younger girls and runs them through basic Bene Gesserit training to see if any are worthy of full training. It’s not entirely altruistic, as she uses her new students as informants and spies. She gains a temporary asset, a girl named Belle.
Davos uncovers some valuable information about the village, including the meaning of it’s name. ‘Suhl’ means ‘peace’ in an ancient language. But why would a village named Peace be so overrun with Sardaukar? Especially because it’s a young village, only about 12 years old. About as old as the wedding. All the people living here were given the land as a reward, in part for their secrecy over whatever happened nine or ten years ago.
While the rest of House Cheshire gets up to shenanigans, Pardot remains focused on fashioning Spiritfire replicas. They’ll fool any casual observer.
When Gwyllion returns, he has a plan. Lysander, Daphne, Pardot, and Davos need to get caught attempting to sneak in while Gwyllion and Norma sneak in through the forest. Lady Daphne, however, feels a personal obligation to deliver the box to our target, and asks Gwyllion to bring her on his plan. He nods, saying Lysander might kill him for what he’s about to do.
It’s up to Davos to arrange the river mission. His contacts are wary, they know how dangerous this mission is. Davos has to bargain with our planet’s special cats. He makes sure our inquisitive child acquaintence sees us renting the boat.
We move at night. Norma, Gwyllion, and Daphne manage to move secretly through the forest as the decoy ferry does what we meant for them to do, and draw Sardaukar focus. The soldiers fire a warning shot, yelling at the boat to turn around. Davos takes his sweet time turning the boat around. He expertly maneuvers the boat around the shots, especially when the Sardaukar commandos board us. They have their blades out, ready to strike, aiming for Lysander.
That’s about when the real Gwyllion appears and makes his way, alone, to the cottage.
Back on the boat, Davos uses his fake gem to slowly push his gem past the Sardaukar’s shield. The gem breaks, damaging the helmet and opening him up to be trapped in a net. Lysander focuses his determination on the Sardaukar attacking him. He barrels into one, baiting one into injuring his own ally while he slow-blades the other and push them both into the river. Pardot decides it’s time to take a hostage, and uses the net-trapped Sardaukar as his bargaining chip. Itsaves us from more attacks.
Deep in the forest, we encounter sensor fences. Fortunately, the three of us all have prana-bindu and can move beneath it. The cottage is within reach, surrounded by small livestock. Fortunately, no Sardaukar. Daphne proceeds, sneaking into the cottage. We see a woman standing at a large table, peeling carrots. She knows we’re here. She palms her vegetable knife and steps into the light. We can see she’s absolutely beautiful.
She appears to recognize Daphne, but doesn’t want to give herself away (though Norma picks up on it). Daphne greets her in the name of House Cheshire, and hands over the gems. Now Kyra greets us in turn, recognizing them. She invites Daphne to talk, and says she should come meet her younger brother. Daphne’s confused by this.
At this point, true!Gwyllion makes himself known. He tries to kiss her hand, but she’s not willing to engage in such contact. He reveals he has the true gems, and hands them to Kyra.
“Before I was Bene Gesserit, I was on Iasi. I met Adelaine, but was meant to marry another to the benefit of my House. Torn between duty and love, I chose to serve the sisterhood instead, hoping such a choice would lead me back to her. In the intervening years, however, my House was wiped out. I fled Wallach, back into the arms of my beloved.”
The story continues. She had spent ten years on Gylemi, when a nobleman appeared and arranged a match between Kyra and a mysterious friend of his. They married in secret, she bore him a son, and has not seen her husband since. He’s been far too busy ruling the Empire.
Kyra now wants to give her long-lost daughter something. House Iasi was descendent from another House, and she offers Daphne those holdings as her birthright. Before the stunned Daphne can respond, Norma realizes something is off. There’s something in the dark corner, moving. She hears a low sound, and a Hunter-Seeker emerges. “Nobody move,” Kyra says, “Minimize your sound.”
It goes straight for the child.