In Diamond, Dr. Lupine finally tears himself away from the imperial Arboretum, with an invitation to meet his two new colleagues for drinks. He heads to the Trophy Room, a bar popular with paragons of all stripes, including Tiger Generals. There he warily notes the presence of Monkshood, a monster-hunter from the Witchwood, but she seems uninterested in his presence. He meets Valkar Doel and Gemma Swiftwind, and the two tell him of their run-in with the Conquering Sword. When Doel asks him how his studies have gone, Lupine launches into a discussion of the arboretum that lasts well past the point where his fellows’ eyes have glazed over.
Partway through the herbal monologue, two other paragons approach the three. They introduce themselves: Bolt Blitzmark, a fellow Tiger General, and Sir Belarius Ironpaw, a kobold knight-errant who aspires to wear the white star himself. The new Tiger Generals get along fairly well with the two, though Gemma doesn’t appreciate Bolt’s claim of being the fastest of the 108. They discuss major threats to the realm, such as local conquerors and Pandaemonium. Lupine asks if they just wait for trouble, or if there’s a way to invade the hostile realm and just drop a bomb on it or so
During the course of the conversation, Bolt Blitzmark moves over to one of the trophies for emphasis, the severed metal hand of a mechanical colossus. “There’s no way keeping a hand like that around could cause trouble,” Lupine notes sarcastically. His pessimism is immediately justified, as the hand comes to life, flicking the cheetah-Kin speedster away with a single finger.
The paragons leap to beat the hand back into submission. Gemma and Doel tangle its fingers, Lupine hurls alchemical bombs at it, and Sir Ironpaw lunges in with a sword as large as he is. Gemma peels off a portion of its armor, only for Bolt to dive in with a thunderbolt punch and give her a “thanks for that” wink. Finally, the hand is decommissioned. Lupine examines it, and finds some traces of alchemical application at its severed wrist. He remembers someone in gold armor passing the trophy, a possible candidate for the reanimation.
Gemma and Bolt tear through the bar at top speed, searching for the gold-armored visitor. They don’t find him, and it becomes evident that the hand was a distraction — Mistress Lush, the deific proprietress of the Trophy Room, is missing her sacred cornucopia. At this news, Dr. Lupine shifts into his wolf form and begins searching for the thief’s scent. He finds a metallic smell that is appropriately alchemical, and sets out into the streets of Diamond. It’s a tricky thing to track their quarry though the busy streets, but the trail leads to a skyport where a ship has just departed for Alabaster.
The three newest Tiger Generals head for Doel’s skyship as Bolt races off to get a little more assistance. As they are preparing for departure, a young weasel-Kin woman appears in a small whirlwind, introducing herself as Ichi. The Wild Phantom unrolls a collection of small rods with varying scents, a “library” of olfactory mugshots. Dr. Lupine goes through them until he finds a scent that matches the thief from the Trophy Room.
Ichi identifies the scent as Xanthus Quicktemper, a rogue alchemist with a grudge against the realm. The group sets out for Alabaster in pursuit. They let Gemma off partway through the voyage, and she races ahead to trail the alchemist.
Gemma reaches Alabaster before the skyship carrying Quicktemper. She watches him disembark, and tails him to a large warehouse/workshop where the parts of colossi are sculpted. Along the way he meets with a bulky henchman of some sort, and rants about how “soon they will all see… or they won’t.”
She returns to meet the others when Doel’s ship arrives, and leads them (and the Alabaster guard-captain Jiwei) to the warehouse. The Tiger Generals show a remarkable aptitude for stealth, and all three are able to sneak in and hide themselves among the massive portions of colossi still under construction. There they overhear Xanthus explaining to Iron Head Drang that with the perfect fruits from Lush’s cornucopia, he’ll be able to brew wine of forgetfulness. Then with that wine in hand, he can set himself up as the advisor to the recently discovered Tiger Heir — whether the Heir in question is legitimate or not.
The Tiger Generals decide they’ve heard enough. Perching on the massive stone hand suspended by chains, Doel calls on Quicktemper to surrender. While the alchemist and his henchman are distracted, Gemma darts in and makes an unsuccessful grab for the apple in Quicktemper’s hand, while Dr. Lupine crashes onto his workbench and snatches the cornucopia. Doel then soars down and pulls the apple away.
The knaves aren’t willing to let it go without a fight. Gemma throws unblockable punches into Xanthus Quicktemper, while Lupine struggles with Iron Head Drang. He lands good hits on the metal-plated knave, but is rocked by a vicious jab in return. And as they brawl, a number of smaller statues scattered about the warehouse come lurching in, animated by some viscous alchemical goo.
Gemma turns to dismantle the alchemical minions one at a time. Doel drops Quicktemper with an overcharged thunderbolt. Lupine manages to turn the tables on Drang by knocking him under the immense suspended stone hand. Then while the knave is still regaining his feet, the werewolf leaps atop the hand and severs its chains with his claws, bringing it crashing down on Drang.
“Ha ha!” roars Doel. “The Hand of Justice!”
With the cornucopia secured and both knaves subdued, they report full success to Captain Jiwei. He thanks them profusely for their assistance. He also notes that as chaotic as the realm is at present, it would provide much peace of mind if the Tiger Generals were to escort the two to prison. They agree.