As Alonzo and the crew make their way to the captain of the guard, Blodwen sees Volf being led as a worker/prisoner in one of the gangs they pass by and she forgets herself by going up to him, giving him a friendly smack and demanding to know where he’s been for the past few months since he disappears. It turns out he said something he shouldn’t have about the king and was carted off by the King’s Secret Police in order to work of his debt to his liege. He has been worked hard as have the hundreds of other prisoners, to mine dross for High King Meilge.
Unfortunately Blodwen’s actions accidentally draw attention to the fact that none of them are tied up. The guards lower their weapons and tell the imposters to be still. Chief uses Chronos to slow down the guards, then knocks them out by banging their heads together. Alonzo takes advantage of the opportunity to gather up some of the dross for himself and distributing it to the crew. Immediately, though the group is being shot at by other guards on different levels. Alonzo then uses his King’s Hand persona to convince the guards to leave them alone. He sends two more guards to take the knocked out ones into solitary confinement.
The commotion draws the attention of Stafani, the young satyr who had decided to join the Resistance after Chief, Alonzo and the crew had freed the prisoners from Revel Grove. Chief had asked Stefani to allow herself to be taken by the King’s Men in order to see what they were doing with the prisoners. However, he had lost track of her in the Dreaming and she had been imprisoned for the past few months. During her time in the mines she had gathered information about the mines’ production and about all it’s strategic defenses and weaknesses.
Stefani and Volf then lead the group to the captain of the mine guards, an ogre named Rothgore who is initially skeptical of the Alonzo’s act, but is intimidated by the strength of the pooka’s performance and the shadow magic cast on him. Alonzo informs the ogre captain that he has traitors among his men and that he and his crew have arrived to find them out. He lets the captain know that two guards have already been imprisoned and demands that the Captain answer his questions. The Captain agrees and leads Alonzo and Celia, his “assistant” up to his office. Alonzo interrogates the Captain, trying to find out what he is mining out of the pits of Cthon besides dross but the Captain doesn’t seem to understand the question.
Meanwhile the rest of the crew is taken to the mess hall where they are given some of the prison mine’s best food. While they are eating Volf and Stefani fill the others in on the things they have seen, but they aren’t aware of anything being mined here other dross. A horn is then heard outside followed by shouting and, going to the window, the group sees one of the king’s airships arrive with elite royal guards. When the airship comes in to land the guards disembark, followed by Baron Agondus, the sidhe lord in charge of the mines of Aballon, who had paid Ygraine and the crew to hunt down the killers who murdered the alchemist on Aballon and stole the formula for distilling a planet’s essence. Finally Galamord, a half-dragon man, the king of the Kingdom of Apples, Blodwen’s former home, disembarks the ship.