The group prepares for a quick return to face the snakes led by Hessalich. Peluma is particularly active, both undergoing poison treatments at Milarcen’s hands to purge herself of her fever, and making inquiries about rats and snakes among the Night Sweepers, Sewerjacks and Battlemen. The rats are revealed to be a recurring but usually contained problem, while the serpents are a notably new threat. Dewlian and Sym consult the Book of Yellow, Red and Black to learn something of the rituals potentially at play.
When the union members make their descent, they are accompanied by the wretched Flump, who has been dispatched by Mickletart to guide them. He shows them the route to steam furnaces where water is heated to supply the Manses. The first skirmish against snake-man sentries is a particularly bloody one.
The trail leads to what appears to be an old subterranean bathhouse, possibly for the use of the nobles. A room full of many soaking tubs proves to have been converted to a room of amniotic vats, wherein new recruits are undergoing the alchemical conversion to snake-bloods. The group slays another group of sentries here.
A portal reveals the lair of Hessalich, a grotesquely mutated snake-blood alchemist. In his lair he keeps a captive as well, the drakaina Ketaspa who has apparently donated the blood for these transformations. Once Hessalich and his loyalists are dispatched, Peluma moves quickly to free Ketaspa despite the concerns of her companions. Ketaspa proves to be peaceful, if not precisely friendly, and offers some information to the Union: she was captured by their enemy the Locksmith, and she knows his goals. The Locksmith, indeed an apprentice to the Architects, is driven by a desire to see Tanglestone fully populated. He would see its buildings filled by anything and everything that could serve as a populace: boggarts, goblins, a plague of wererats, and all manner of things from Outside. The group ruminates on these issues even as they loot the lair.