She appears above a bit of frozen wasteland. She falls, conscious but without making a peep, to the ground, and breaks a few more bones.
She lies there.
Sharing the image of a scry over Mindspeech with a non-Mindspeaker is hard, so Leareth describes it briefly to Promise. "Does that sound like the right place?"
"Yeah, that sounds like it."
"Well, it appears it is not warded against scrying. I can start drawing a map in more detail?"
"Sounds like a good place to start. I could maybe identify what kinds of fairies are around with good enough descriptions."
Then Leareth will contentedly spend the next few candlemarks scrying various features up closer and drawing a map of the terrain, including any magical elements he notes with mage-sight, and describing the appearance of any fairies he notices to Promise so they can keep a list of the kinds of fairy present.
Promise knows what the Queen looks like, and as a one-of-a-kind she should be unique, but it transpires she has body doubles, which will complicate things. She fills in her notes about what kind magic they'll need to expect.
The terrain around Queenscourt has a sourceless waterfall just pouring from the sky for no reason, and one of those floating islands tethered by a silk rope to a stake in the ground, and a lot of magically interesting plants and a cave system under the palace full of glowy crystals.
It's beautiful, and fascinating, and Leareth is slightly awed.
Also it's a pretty long way for scrying and after two candlemarks of it he's getting tired. He asks Promise if she wants to keep looking, if so he'll hand it over to another mage. (No one is as good at scrying as Leareth, but he can give a fellow Mindspeaker an image of a starting point, and an Adept mage can manage quite a lot of scrying at this range if they take breaks, even if they're not as efficient as he is.)
"I think I'm still getting useful information out of this."
Leareth finds another mage who can sit with Promise and do the same work, though he needs a break every ten minutes and isn't as good at giving detailed descriptions as Leareth.
She draws a floorplan of the place, firms up estimates of numbers and kinds, writes what she knows about their magic. Guesses at court positions. Determines that the interesting water feature is actually another one-of-a-kind fairy who has hydrokinesis and is in there somewhere.
Leareth goes back to his other work - right now, writing up a proposal of services that sorcerers would be able to provide in Valdemar once they achieve various milestones in their training process - but whenever Promise has detailed enough intelligence on Queenscourt for her liking, they can meet again to discuss plans.
"I think anyone who goes in should forget their name like me. It won't prevent food claims but it makes them annoying to transfer, adds logistics we can interfere with. But it may be that one Fetcher with Mindspeech can do it all. Who've you got with both?"
"- Not sure I have anyone at this location with both very strongly, but I can get a list of candidates with both. Ideally a mage as well so they can defend themselves if necessary."
"I'm not sure that's in fact ideal. If someone gets them with food, then they have a lot more at their disposal."
"That is fair enough. How difficult is it to prevent food claims by physically preventing the fairy in question from feeding you?"
"Injection and inhalation can also work."
"Huh. Physical shielding could make injection much less practical, but filtering the air is a greater challenge. How...exactly does one turn food into an inhalable form?"
"I wouldn't be able to do this at all, but if the Queen wants pollenclouds she's got as many as she cares to, so you should assume it's an issue."
"Ah, so food is just broadly construed. There is magic that can hold a bubble of clean air around someone, and I am sure it can be built into an artifact if I work on it. In which case I can send someone who is not a mage, to reduce the downside if they are gotten, but nonetheless with mage-protections."
"Yeah, that'd be the way to do it, and then the artifacts will run out of power and be useless if the Queen tries to use them."
Nod. "It might not be impossible to figure out a way of re-powering them with sorcery, but it is certainly not obvious to me how one would research that, even though I already understand how they work."
"It'd probably at least take a while, though I should assume she has all the best sorcerers in the world."
"We should think about a contingency plan for if she does capture the Fetcher-Mindspeaker. I suppose one option would be to try again the same way, but from a different location, but - trying the same plan that failed once and hoping it will succeed is not the ideal strategy. The much more aggressive plan I had been considering was to open a Gate from high in the air and have Sunspring poke her head through and immediately set-command the Queen to eat food - since we think set-commands override orders, I am not sure compulsioning her to eat would work - but that requires knowing where she is fairly precisely, and also involves risking Sunspring, which I would prefer to avoid."
"The Queen may have contingencies that will activate if she acts at all oddly and could physically prevent her from eating, anyway."
“That would be a sensible precaution for her to take, and it sounds like she is clever so we ought assume she has taken the obvious measures. Do you have any other ideas for backup plans?”