In which our heroes return dramatically to Earth and attend a high-society soiree.
At the control core of the Errant Jungle, the party realizes the various dangers of attempting to land such a massive structure and decides instead to dismount the jungle as it approaches landfall. This point is further cemented when ARC accidentally triggers an interdimensional ripple that deposits Xan and Driscoll back on the beach miles below.
The party agrees to pay the mercenaries one scarfruit each to help them deliver their cargo and return safely to Long Beach.
The party plans to exit the jungle by waiting until it is low enough over the ocean that Finn can safely dive into the water with a rope, creating a zip line. All of the party members except Jacob successfully — if terrifyingly — disembark before Brin arrives with the cargo platform. Jacob and the mercenaries make the tricky leap to the platform, and the party returns to the beach safely.
Brin agrees to meet up with the party later for her payment, and the party and the mercenaries return to Dracogen with their massive haul of scarfruit. They receive a sizable payday and are all invited to the party the next day. They are also gifted custom-tailored party clothes.
At the party, Finn delights the guests by swimming in an anti-gravity water feature, while a robosexual duchess flirts shamelessly with ARC, Jacob successfully survives the most boring conversation in history, and Zaphon tries to set Dickie up with a tough chick.
Finally, it comes time for the banquet, at which Chef Lindo Varga’s scarfruit stew is to be presented to the secret guest of honor and — since so many scarfruit were available — the rest of the guests. The guest of honor turns out to be Queen Princess Brindelonia — that is, Brin, this time dressed in regal finery and displaying impeccable courtly manners.
After the scarfruit stew is served, Brin summons the party back to a chamber in Dracogen’s estate, where she reveals why she helped them: she needed the party to be a success in order for her to stay in Long Beach and audition adventurers. While she is 25th in line for the throne of Navarene, she is the queen of a small tribe in the Beyond, to whom she wants to return. Her vizier, ruling in her place, has sent her vague messages about strange happenings. Brin wants an escort back to her kingdom at an opportune time, at which time she says she will contact the party.
Alas, Xan and Driscoll are sick in bed during the party, and Nail is undergoing a rather unfruitful analysis by the local Aeon Priests.