Could it be? Are we actually going to get some…answers?
“The pain of losing a fight might be worse than the injuries that accompany it. And yet, you’re still alive. You’re still here.”
As Three-Fates Shadow disappears into the tunnel, Val, Jorek, and Rey speak about the now-committed corpse. While they don’t know much, that it was a Solar Exalted seems likely; their mistrust of, and brotherly love for, Three-Fates Saved is certain. Jorek suggests that if there was indeed a circle of Solars in Nexus before, there must be a history of their deeds, if not their identities. The three (along with Ember) decide that it is high time they learn more about their collective past: Starlight Dove seems like the best candidate to give them some answers. Val takes the spear from the tomb, and passes the orichalcum headband to a reluctant Rey while Jorek privately ponders the significance of the corpse’s Defining Intimacy being so aligned with his own. It is also revealed that Rey doesn’t know how to read, and Jorek has trouble accepting that; Rey is adamant that people’s actions, not their words, are what define a person.
Before leaving the tunnels, an old woman approaches demanding they tell her who “shut off the water”. She is Klem, the foul-mouthed keeper of “this river and these aqueducts”. In exchange for helping find someone to provide answers for the Circle, she asks for lunch and the name of the one who turned off the water (Ember providing the former, and Jorek the latter). Klem is unperturbed by the presence of the Solars, seeming to know a lot about each of them, and is able to direct them to Starlight Dove outside of Nexus, somehow knowing where she is.
On their way out through the tunnels, the three Solars & Ember discuss those things that make them happiest: Rey loves the “switch” in a fight when her opponent realizes that they will be defeated; Jorek is satisfied looking out over Nexus from the top of The Ziggurat, imagining the lives & desires of those in the city; Val loves learning things she hadn’t known before, to give her new perspectives on Creation; and Ember remembers his mother telling him stories about “wonderful people doing wonderful things”.
Now reunited with Summer Blaze and Rey’s father at the Manse, Starlight Dove tells the Solars the history of the Celestial Exalted, of the First Age, and of the fall of the Solars for their hubris, engineered by the Sidereal Exalted. There were some of her kind who did not necessarily agree with the plan to empower the Dragon-Blooded to overthrow the Solars, and now she is here to encourage them to stop hiding, stand in the light, and lead the people of Creation.
Rey and Ember speak privately for a moment: Ember explains that he wants to take things slowly, making sure he joined them for the right reasons. Rey reassures him that ever since Exquisite Tide’s words at her apartment, she has been certain of his loyalty. Jorek goes to find Summer Blaze as well, telling her about all that has happened, including Exquisite Tide’s love for Ember. He doubts that her actions are true indications of love, to which Summer Blaze retorts: “And what do you know of love, Jorek?” Val also takes this opportunity to heal Rey and confine her to bed.
In that moment, a cry for help is heard outside the manse, and the river is discovered to be aflame! Val, Jorek, and Summer Blaze run out while Ember urges Rey to leave her bedrest to do the same. The ghost of a pirate is found in the flames, which, after being rendered corporeal by Val, is quickly dispatched by Jorek. However, after discovering the flames themselves are only illusory, Rey senses a trap and rushes back towards the manse: Three-Fates Shadow is standing over her father. Rey orders her away from him, but Three-Fates points out that Rey may only be prolonging his suffering, allowing her to offer a… more final alternative.
Jorek is reunited with Starlight Dove, who confides that Val is in incredible danger. He must choose, right now, whether to leave her and flee, or try to stand his ground with Val and likely die. He chooses Val, and they rush out of the forest just in time to see Val racing towards the voice that was calling for help. It may have sounded like Speaks-of-Silence, but is in fact a Deathknight, a terrifyingly powerful Abyssal Exalted. As Val stands her ground against his demands for Three-Fates Shadow, three more descend from the trees….