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The hearth arrives in the Imperial City along with Maral, and are ushered in to a meeting with one of Sientelle's contacts.

"I like big moment, small moments... and the moments in between."

Disembarking in the Imperial City, the Hearth (and Maral) are whisked off via private carriage to the Dynast neighbourhood. At the top of a tall tower, the six step through an antechamber into a massive, open room, looking out onto a courtyard surrounded by other tall towers, each representing one of the Great Houses (and that of Iselsi's in ruin). The bald man from the table's communications is seated behind a desk, greeting them cordially.

He asks the members of House Cathak, Pyres and Oresta, to report on Vieren's actions at the House of Bells. He seems to hold disdain for Vieren as well, and nods approvingly as Pyres and Maral both name him a traitor, while Oresta expands on the reasons they believe so. The man tells them that "you can see Zindel now" as her body tumbles by the window! Despite Pyres rushing over in the blink of an eye, the woman is already dead, run through. The man, "Cathak" Jalal, reveals himself to be a member of House Iselsi, along with Sientelle. The hearth are able to keep up the ruse and appear surprised, with Oresta almost going so far as to attack Jalal when Sientelle pushes Fleuvienne "to her death" over the edge of the balcony!

Jalal lays out his terms: House Iselsi needs them to win over the people of the Realm so that the Scarlet Empress's return can be triumphant. They only need her cache egg containing access to the Imperial Manse, which Sientelle confesses she hasn't been able to retrieve yet, while Gale surreptitiously slips the egg to a dangling Fleuvienne. Jalal tells Pyres to prepare a glorious speech, and to execute another captured Anathema: their old quartermaster, Juwinn.

Jalal leaves the group alone, and Sientelle keeps us the ruse, telling the assembled members of her hearth that she already graduated from the House of Bells... they don't really know her at all. Gale suggests that, instead of executing Juwinn, they poison her and fight her publicly, to show Terrestrial superiority. Secretly, she tells the others that this might make an excellent opportunity to get Juwinn fighting alongside them, and Pyres plans to turn the crowd against House Iselsi at the same time.

Jalal bursts back in to take Oresta downstairs: Bracken has been captured, and he needs her to find out "what she knows". They speak privately about Juwinn's goals and her own, and the librarian admits that she's unsure if Juwinn would sacrifice herself to save the Hearth. Oresta, thinking quickly, puts the toxin left for Bracken into her own wine, drinking some while making it appear she fed it to her. She then tells Jalal that they must have made a mistake: there's another woman who took on Bracken's face who is the real Anathema; this woman isn't even Exalted! Apologizing profusely, Jalal lets Bracken go free, who promises to spread any messages they have to other House of Bells students.

Back upstairs, Gale is once again developing a version of Gateway to discredit her enemies: this time, the combination of the obscured game and the reflexive game is called "Iselsi's Cunning". The hearth grit their teeth and prepare to get their allies together for one final battle...

Student Comments

The following are reactions from viewer's non-canon students.