The magi investigate the disappearance of Matilda ex Miscellanea, a hedge wizard who has helped them in the past and who lived some miles from the covenant. Her cottage has been burnt down, with signs of what may have been a mob of people in the area. They eventually locate the remains of her body hanging from a nearby tree.
Fetching Alicia to commune with her spirit, they discover that she was assaulted at night by peasants accusing her of witchcraft. She recognised one of her assailants as being from Fox Hill, the village where the magi had had issues with diabolism last year.
There is a discussion of a need to deal with the demon responsible once and for all, which will require careful planning. Rather than try and tackle it immediately, they decide to try and first find out what has happened at the covenant of Nocta Flamma, to see if it is at all related.
Wee Angus has been exploring the local region, and has discovered a couple of unusual caves, one which made him feel uneasy and a second which seemed to be home to giant spiders. Since they are on the way, and the fey wolves which have been seen by peasants are also in the same direction, it is decided to make a season out of adventuring.
The first cave they investigate has an infernal aura about it, and the grogs have bad dreams about drowning whilst camped outside that night. Entering the cave during the day, they find a cold brackish pool inside, with demonic carvings on the cave wall. Deciding that investigation could cause more problems, they decide to alert the Church about the place and let them deal with it.
The wolf riders are not too hard to locate. There are four goblins at an old burial site. The magi manage to have a friendly conversation with them, and discover that they come here every 13 years to pay their respects to an old hero named Esherra, who died fighting their subterranean dark faerie foes many centuries ago. Columbanus offers to supply the goblins with sheep whilst they stay, as long as they don't bother the peasants. Pleased with this arrangement, the goblins offer Columbanus a short staff decorated with feathers. He is told to wave the staff and call for Lady Willow, and the goblins will come to his aid within a lunar cycle.