“Vestiri’s a black sheep. I’m more of a gray sheep. Or at least very dirty.” — Ettorio Iluni
The morning following the brawl with Cianetto Tuderi and his hooligans, the adventurers recuperate at their individual paces. Most rise early, and discuss the day’s plans over breakfast. Opilio discusses with Ambira that he wants her to decide where to have her processional feast, and she opts to wait for Vestiri’s recommendation. Vesper slips away at one point and tells Carpa to go into Ettorio’s room while the half-elf is still sleeping and bring her the decoded list from the ledger. He reluctantly does so, and Vesper copies the list in her room, then has Carpa return it.
Meanwhile, Vestiri arrives at what he claims is a horrifically early hour. He tells Opilio and Ambira that the best Canterian processional season has passed, and at the moment they’d mostly get “leavings”; a late-summer or autumn processional feast is really much more the thing in Raspian or Invicci. They agree to examine the Cinquedean social scene when they travel there with Ettorio.
Vesper slips away to the Basilica of Sacred Earth, where she hands over the list of Calveran apple-buyers to Mother Capestica. The Chanethi thanks her, as does Caraverna, who also reports that Orimo Bastracci confessed quickly and is now in custody. Not long after, Ettorio rises and prepares for the day, takes a second copy of the same list he’d quietly repaired, and then takes that list to the Basilica as well. He explains that he wanted to do this quietly, to avoid any attention from the wealthy. Mother Capestica, though surprised, does not reveal Vesper’s actions to Ettorio, and assures him they will attend to the list cautiously.
The rest of the afternoon is spent in preparation for departure. And departure follows the next day — unfortunately attended by rain. The first four days see frequent showers, making travel less than pleasant.
On the fourth day, they reach a town where they see the wagons of Catafarza’s Prismatic Players. Ettorio hails the zany Pilo, who he’d last seen in a Ladona brothel, and offers some advice for what plays might go over best in Cinquedea — Ettorio feels the history of Prince Radivaldi would be a strong offering, but Ribella, or A Whirlwind of Treachery has the right title. The group is invited to share the players’ fire and help practice sparring or lines; only Vesper declines, as she prefers to avoid spoilers. Ettorio does the most sparring with the actors, teaching them a few local flourishes, and everyone exchanges rumors, gossip and onomatopoetic suggestions. The players mention the possible rise of House Miriadis, and the adventurers share increasingly exaggerated accounts of things they’ve seen and done. At one point Ettorio mistakes the female zany Ruserra for Vesper, forgetting the necromancer’s absence, and the comedienne does a credible impression of the somber Sespech for a good portion of the remainder of the evening.
As the adventurers approach the Inviccan border the next day, they note a small mercenary company, about two dozen strong, half-blocking the road. The small band, the Yellow Wasps by name, attempt to collect an expensive toll. The four are having none of it, though. As Carpa piles blankets over Ambira to protect her from any stray missiles, the adventurers begin to explain just how little a chance the Wasps have. Opilio and Carenza are particularly effective, one playing the role of the stubborn juggernaut and the other the hardened, dangerous veteran with very comprehensive mathematical skills. The captain seems unwilling to back down completely in front of his men, but the danger he faces becomes fairly evident, and his own math skills suffer as a result. Finally, the group offers to purchase the Wasps’ services for a day, for the fee of 25 reganti, and the captain agrees. One of his men attempts to talk him into attacking instead and taking all of the gold, but Opilio overhears this and approaches the captain, thanking him for understanding how to be honorable — and how to live. This final threat seems to bring the Wasps fully into line. Carenza compliments Opilio on the approach, asking him if he’d ever thought about entering military service. When he replies in the negative, only Vesper catches the hint of untruth.
They leave the Wasps with 25 reganti and the contract to safeguard the arriving Prismatic Players safely over the border. Then it’s into Invicci. Two days of land travel and one somewhat expensive day-long barge ride down to Cinquedea later, the group enters Ettorio’s hometown. Ettorio chooses Copperbank as their first stop (a place where he’s unlikely to be recognized), and they take rooms at the Glowing Poker inn.
There they begin to discuss their plans for the city. Ettorio decides that first he must call on his family, and the others express varying amounts of interest in coming along. Carpa points out that they have business with a brothel as well, which flusters Opilio until Vesper reminds them of the Golden Orchid, whose madam allegedly purchased a bulk order of plague-apples. They consider this, and a number of issues surrounding Ettorio’s unusual relationship with his family. Along the way, it’s explained that Ettorio and Vestiri both have issues because they don’t want to get married, although Vestiris is the only one of the two who prefers the company of men. The news of Vestiri’s inclination surprises Ambira and Opilio both, who find him rather a different sort than the burly fellow they knew back in their home village. Finally, Carpa is dispatched in livery to deliver a message to the Iluni estate of Eveningstones, informing them that Ettorio will be arriving in town tomorrow.