The party reunites and sets about discovering all they can about the mysterious sickness threatening Nexus.
“Can two heroes be completely opposed to each other, and yet cannot reconcile each other?”
The heroes arrive at Bacon Day’s Pork Buns, with Rey, Ember, Jorek and Summer Blaze not much worse for the wear. Jorek and Rey are both satisfied with their various “accomplishments” from the day, but, cutting to the chase, Val tells the Circle about Exquisite Tide’s presence in Nexus, and the revelations she brought. Ember is upset, but when Jorek suggests that he is the closest thing to an ally that Tide may have, Rey snaps at him, and Jorek realizes the extent of Rey’s relationship with Ember.
Jorek suggests that Rey and Ember could try to hunt down Tide while he and Valeria “play her game” and try to seek out her mysterious disease. However, Tide or no Tide, the sickness is too dangerous to ignore and, not wanting to be separated again, the five set out for the Ziggurat, a multistory market where the merchant’s floor number indicates their status. Rey and Ember keep watch outside, trying to figure out the best way to “deal” with Tide. Ember feels somewhat responsible for Tide’s actions, but considers her merely a stepping stone, an obstacle for the Solars to overcome on their way to greatness. Rey knows that, whatever happens, they won’t face her alone, but she does make sure Ember knows that this is why she needs him not to hold back in their upcoming fight; if she can’t beat him, how can she beat Tide?
On the first floor of the Ziggurat, the merchants are quite crass: a man selling fertilizer tries to lure Valeria with an offer to star in a play about the Angel of Nexus (which she flat-out refuses). When Jorek, straight-faced, presents himself as an alternative to Val, the merchant instead offers him a role as the “guy who got his ass kicked just before the Angel of Nexus showed up”. Jorek is not amused. Another man selling stone offers up news that the Ziggurat has been closed from the seventh floor up, due to the death of a merchant. Their way upstairs is blocked by Meh, a silk vendor and dress maker who warns them about going further up, lest they catch whatever disease (or poison) the dead man had. Val tries to order a dress for herself that would allow her to still wear her armour underneath, and although Meh refuses, he does agree to create a fine shirt for Jorek (which he requests be “the green of the forest east of Nexus”).
They make their way to the seventh floor, where a lithe figure in a blue cloak crouches over the corpse, scraping the inside of its mouth. He is extremely intent on getting Val and Jorek out of there, asserting that they have no business with this corpse. He appears distressed when Jorek quickly determines that the man is not from Nexus. Val reveals her caste mark in a show of good faith; the stranger does likewise, revealing himself to be a Twilight caste Solar Exalted. He is, unsurprisingly, the man named Pearl that Tepet Exquisite Tide had employed. It was he who created the disease that killed the merchant, and he claims to have already infected 30% of Nexus’ elite (somehow everyone in Ziggurat now carries the infection, although the trigger for the disease remains unknown). When Jorek and Val question his reasons, Pearl tells them he plans to root out corruption and oppression in the city and stoke the flames for a revolution. Val tries to gently reason with Pearl, while Jorek becomes furious.
Meanwhile, outside, Rey and Ember see that the Deathknights have returned and circled the Ziggurat. Fearing for the civilians’ safety, Ember gets everyone out of the building by means of a rather stinky fire. Rey conceals herself on a rooftop to survey the exchange between Infinite Dirge and the others. Dirge has been unsuccessful in locating Three Fates Shadow and blames Val for “stealing” a member of his circle. He demands that they either provide one of their circle to him, or aid him in his search. Jorek discovers that Dirge’s desperation to find Three Fates stems from a defining intimacy of unrequited love for her. Attempts at negotiation are fruitless, and to make matters worse, Entropy suddenly appears and points his firewand at Ember. Jorek shouts out a warning and the fight begins. Rey hurls one of the Abyssals from a rooftop; Val slays another with help from Summer Blaze; Entropy takes shots at nearly everyone, loyal to no-one; and Infinite Dirge, Val, and Rey crash through a rooftop before the Abyssal takes flight and escapes.
After Entropy has sauntered off, chaos sown, the Circle gathers around the corpse of Mercy of Scream’s End, slain by Val. The Solars are exhausted, but Summer Blaze declares it a victory, and the party reunites to fight another day.