The trio has not much to wait. After plainly but kindly rejecting Aarlesidhe’s request of alligiance to the Winter Court, they go and talk with Daniel on the matter, and the man is quite preoccupied. If Ronald’s death was not an accident, that could mean bad things for two people, the Winter and Summer Fairies, usually always on the brink of bloody wars. Not to mention the coming of the Solstice, when the two courts must meet to exchange the sceptre of seasons, and pass from the great power of Summer to the reign of Winter. If the matter wouldn’t be resolved as soon as possible, who could know what problems could come of this?
Another thing that Daniel announces is the arrival of estimated guest. The Ethereal had been closed for the general public, because of them. And is in this particular situation that the three get to meet the Summer Lady, Aurora.
Aurora is beautiful and delicate, with a warm, welcoming and gentle smile, and a sweet, tender voice that make you feel all the warmth of summer, all the comfort of sun and wind. She’s simply dressed in a green short dress, and her hair are the colour of the tree bark. She welcomes the three in her private stall, divided with two Elves of her court, Lugolas and Lagolas, very busy in braiding each other’s hair, and Metaron, a disgruntled Minotaur.
Aurora shows that she already heard of the three, apparently especially of Chrystabella from “a member of her court”, and offers them drinks and food while talking to them about the tragedy occurred to the Knight. The three listen and try to make themselves an idea about what could have happened, especially when Aurora says, and not so much between the lines, that the idea of their guild is more widespreaded than they thought.
They are still trying to start and defend themselves from the accusations when the door slams and the Winter Court enters, lead by a tall, very skimpy-dressed vulgar woman with a man on a leash. She talks with a rude ghetto accent and tone, and is saluted by the heavily contrasting Aurora as Maeve, the Winter Lady.
The meeting between the two doesn’t end in anything useful. Aurora asks Maeve if they could clearly declare that they have nothing to do with Ronald’s death, Maeve answers that they aren’t, but that Titania, the Summer Queen, would never believe anythin Mahab, the Winter Queen, says. Even if fairies can’t, usually, blatantly lie.
The diplomatic encouter ends in nothing, and the Summer Court leaves. Maeve remains, instead, and starts talking with the mages.
In the end, she asks them to figure out if any Winter Changelings are in some way involved in the killing of Ronald, acting by themselves perhaps trying to do something for the Court before their Choice. If they found any, the trio was to give them a leaf that would have permitted Maeve to talk with the Changelings. This gives the trio the chance to investigate on Ronald’s deaht and clear their name. The mages manage to accept this mission, but without officially allying with the Winter Court. Their first steps in the complex Over The Veil politics are hard ones as well.
So they learn about Changelings: sons of supernatural creatures and humans who are born half-and-half. They apparently manifest just some kind of their powers during their growth, until the day the have to make The Choice: either remain completely human or turn completely fairy. The Choice has no coming back, at all.
The Three, young and naive but not entirely stupid, exhamine the leaf Maeve gave them, and discover that is not, in fact, a mere communication device, but rather a magic item that releases a special kind of energy that forces the turning of Changelings into fairies. Probably so if they find a guilty changeling, he would be absorbed in the Winter Court and become untouchable and, more important, very, very hidable. And with it, the truth. But they made a pact with the Winter Lady, they have to give the leaf to the Changelings.
So, they fast learn how to turn around pacts: they cover the leaf with a spell that will block the energy blast after its activation, rendering it harmless, or at least they hope so. They will give the leaf, they never guaranteed it would work. And they are partially safe.
Now, they just have to find the Changelings.