In the blood-drenched parking lot of St Vincent’s Hospital, the police scream at Maximilian to freeze! Before he can react, Ashcroft commandeers Solomon’s van and careens out onto Victoria Parade. Drawing magical power from Albion’s blood, Maximilian turns into a wolf and tries to escape, but the police cut him off; he’s forced to squeeze into the same storm drain that the rats fled down moments earlier.
Fodhla wakes in pain from her healing sleep to find Marlowe in her hospital room, defending her from the conductor-spectre; he explains what has happened as she pulls the drip from her arm. They hear gunshots and see the van skid across tram tracks -and glimpse the Conductor in reflections and flashes of lightning. Leaving the hospital, Marlowe calls Ashcroft, who tells him to look after the portal at Flagstaff Gardens – it’s connected to the Tellurian Circuit.
At his sanctum in Flinders Street Station, Ashcroft opens the briefcase Albion was taking from Solomon’s van – and discovers it’s full of copies of his plans for the Arcadia Apartments, with rough geomantic power sigils sketched in! Only Solomon could have obtained those plans! He also finds a post-it with a mobile phone number; Ashcroft calls and Iannos answers. The winter fae reveals that Solomon was going to help him open a gate to the fae realms through the Arcadia Apartments. When Ashcroft tries to pump him for more information, Iannos walks into the sanctum backed up by one of his skate-cultists, offering Ashcroft a deal – cooperation or death.
At Flagstaff Gardens, Ashcroft and Fodhla examine the flagpole at the centre of the hidden portal to the netherworld, which can be glimpsed and accessed through a utility shed. Unsure of what he should do, Marlowe calls Ashcroft, which causes Iannos to lose his temper with the architect – and Fodhla calls her cousin Dylan, calling in a debt to insist he find and bring her the Goblet of the Moon that Albion possessed. The Conductor cuts the call short, draining the life from Fodhla – Marlowe must open the portal a crack to free the spectre as he promised. Meanwhile, a furious Iannos insists that Ashcroft take him to Flagstaff Gardens so he can collect what belongs to him before they open the gate to Arcadia.
Maximilian squeezes his way through storm drains that become old train access tunnels, finally reaching Erehwon Station, the abandoned stop in the mystic centre of the City Loop, where rats swarm in a dry fountain, a silver goblet in their midst. Before he can take the goblet, Dylan shows up and tries to take it himself, calling in an old debt Maximilian owes to the Queen of the Moon Court. Maximilian agrees to help the fae- but the rats swarm from the station, taking the Goblet with them! The vampire and fae chase after them; Maximilian manages to get the Goblet and throws it to Dylan while he feeds on the rats. Dylan runs through the tunnels to Flagstaff Gardens, pursued by the rats and the energised Maximilian.
Marlowe opens the nether portal long enough for the Conductor to manifest in the real world as a horrific monster, accompanied by a foaming morass of ectoplasm. It stops Marlowe and Fodhla from closing the portal, and Ashcroft and Iannos arrive as more ghosts are oozing through. The three battle the Conductor with magic, fae spells and bullets, destroying it just as Dylan and Maximilian arrive with the Goblet, which Iannos tries to claim. Maximilian interferes and Fodhla, sensing emotional vulnerability in her father, strikes him down with enchanted moonlight. She claims the Goblet and reveals her secret- with it, she can claim the throne of the Moon Queen from her mother! Iannos seeks her forgiveness, telling her he only wanted to bring him back to her, and the fae travel through the Flagstaff portal back to their home plane.
In the aftermath, Flagstaff Gardens is filthy with ectoplasm and melting ice, and the police are on their way. Maximilian, furious at being dragged into a fae family squabble, recruits Iannos’ forgotten cultist as a servant, while Marlowe and Ashcroft return to the safety of Flinders Street and plans that must be re-examined.
The rains clear. Cold September shifts into warm October. And Melbourne is back to normal again.
For a while.