The magi stumble across the veil between the mundane and faerie realm in Nottingham. The grogs, companions and animals don't notice that the magi are missing until they stop for the night in Nottingham. The magi see their company turn dull and colorless.
Suddenly six hags rush out of the woods and scream at the magi. The
seventh appears and claims to be the queen of these woods and accuses
the magi of trespassing. The magi our lured into the queen's throne
room: clearing with a throne carved out of the low bough of a tree. The
plainest of the hags (that is, the least hideous) uses magic and
flirtation to trick Cearl to accept the queen's challenge: to rid the
forest of a horrible Beast.
Cearl collects one pawn of Muto vis from some "stretchy" grass that really did not want to leave its home.
The magi encounter a talking fish who claims his nephew was eaten by the Beast, who swept his nephew out of the water with wicked claws.
That night, our heroes stumble upon a Satyr party attended by several anthropomorphic animal faeries. A raccoon-man and a bipedal badger are holding the hands of a pretty woman dressed in white. She looks bewildered. Cearl, in lion form, is mistaken for the "King of the Beasts." All these faeries are frightened that the Beast is near but must continue the party. Melyon frightens of several of the creatures and tries to communicate with the woman. Unfortunately the woman seems dumb, but she does seem comforted by Melyon's presence and the fact that he carries a staff. The magi return to the dark forest, leaving the party behind.
The Beast is attracted to our magi and the woman. They fight the
Beast and charm it into submission where it reveals that it is Efferus
the Skinchanger. The party reaches the Queen's throne by morning to
find that by removing the Beast from the forest, Queen Esmerelda and
her court are returned to their original, indescribably beautiful
forms. The plainest of them seems to be flirting with Cearl. When
Cearl, Efferus, Melyon and the woman in white are allowed
to leave the faerie realm, the woman returns to her true form of a
white sheep. She follows Melyon back to the Covenant.