The party tries to recover from wounds that are more than just physical. Speaks-of-Silence's continued absence is cause for concern.
Finally able to rest at the manse, if only for a time, Valeria finds no trace of any sickness within the slain council members’ bodies, leaving the Circle with no clear answers about Entropy’s disease. They leave Exquisite Tide outside, tied to a tree some distance from the manse, guarded in turn by Jorek and Three Fates Shadow. In the morning Rey brings food to Three Fates and Exquisite Tide, bringing herself to thank Three Fates for her help in escaping Nexus.
The Circle discusses how to address the crises, namely the riots in Nexus and the Tepet army outside the gates. Jorek and Valeria debate how best to deal with these issues: Val proposes a new system of government, and Alvor shares his insight as a long-time citizen of Nexus. Reminded by a comment about Alvor’s improved health, Val tells Rey that she should soon be able to start treating his lungs, repairing all damage to them. The Solars agree to try to stop splitting up, whenever possible, both for safety and for Valeria’s public relations. Rey reveals to the others that the Tepet soldiers had chained up “Exquisite Tide” (Speaks-of-Silence in disguise) and that she is worried for her well-being. Ember raises the point of Val and Joreks’ injuries, and so they agree to wait a few hours before speaking to the army. In trying to devise a plan for getting rid of the army, Rey suggests they ask Exquisite Tide, and so, after complimenting Jorek’s now-burnt shirt, the gang heads above ground to speak to her.
Jorek apologizes for Exquisite Tide’s loss… but she does not acknowledge it as such. He tries to convince her to take her pain and direct it towards creating a change; Val wants to frame Tide’s burden as something not to be escaped, but embraced as a challenge, and so releases her bonds and allowing her into the water. Rey asks Tide to give them a reason not to kill her at the end of the week, and, challenging her to reclaim her rightful power within her house (using Tide’s principle of being the one to give orders), Rey brings Tide over to the Solars’ side.
Exquisite Tide tells the group that House Tepet wants to either eliminate the disease or destroy Nexus, but either way return victorious to the Blessed Isle, in order to secure better standing there. Tide suggests they find someone honourable among the ranks, with whom they might have some luck affecting the goals of the army. Valeria also takes a moment to show Tide the arrowhead she had found inside her body: Tide has no recognition of the item, nor does she know how it would have gotten there.
They begin to develop a plan in order to lure House Tepet’s Dragon-Blooded members into Nexus (as their fear of the disease should prevent them from sending in normal soldiers), so that the group can speak again with Tepet Crest Exultant. However, Tide suggests that he will have left now that he has completed his mission to retrieve her, so the group plans to find him before he has departed by having Rey stand at the gate. Exquisite Tide makes it clear that she does not wish to return to her family, but to find a new one. She also asks Jorek about why he is still carrying the drug – he isn’t sure that he won’t need it at some point.
Three Fates Shadow interjects, speaking of death, of Val courting it, and of Summer Blaze’s feelings at this moment: totally at peace. She reminds Val, though, that she will never be at peace.
Tide re-emerges from the water, and Val allows her a range of 100 feet from the tree in order to be able to enter the water, find shade and food. She then gives Rey a message for Ember: “Tell him I release him, and I’m sorry.” As Rey and Valeria head back down to the manse to rest, Tide takes a moment to tell Jorek off for being a terrible soldier. If he were to command, he should be more prepared to throw his soldiers into harm’s way, and that while he should consider his options and value his assets, using them when necessary, he should not feel guilty for Summer Blaze’s death. Tide reveals that long ago she had found a book about the First Age, which was what had led her to first being drugged.
The group returns to the Manse to rest and heal a bit more before they head into the city, but agree to let Rey do some scouting on the army. Val makes Rey promise to keep her distance and run back to the river to regroup if anything happens.
Rey heads off, approaching via an edge of the forest in order to gather information. She hears “Exquisite Tide” laughing, then saying “…again, sister. I think I need it again.” But she also catches a whiff of someone preparing pork buns. Deciding to keep eavesdropping while waiting for the pork buns to steam, Rey can hear roughly five people in the tent, three of whom are in armour, the jangling of chains, the sound of a bow, and a male voice saying: “Tell me what I need to know.” An unarmoured man walks out of the tent carrying a red jewel, exchanging it for a larger one from a neighbouring tent – the false drug they had sent Speaks-of-Silence with has been discovered. Deciding the time has come for action, Rey decides to pull the pins from a side of the tent in the hopes of creating a distraction for Speaks-of-Silence.
Back in the manse, the others can suddenly see what is happening to Rey. Ember asks for Summer Blaze’s other daiklaive and joins Jorek and Val as they rush out into the river. Val asks Klem to bring them to the army’s encampment, apologizing but insisting that they are trying to save Rey and get rid of the army.
Rey crawls into the tent and sees a very tall man in armour holding a chain around “Exquisite Tide’s” neck, along with the other armoured soldiers. “Hey, I thought you were on the same side!” she taunts. As the less threatening unarmoured man tries to duck out, Rey intimidates him into staying before turning to address the one choking “Tide”. Despite his insistence that he will kill the prisoner if necessary, Speaks-of-Silence gives Rey a subtle wink before passing out. As the Tepet army forms around the tent, the man makes a power play, offering to trade “Tide” for Rey. But as soon as he releases his prisoner Rey swings into action, leaping up and swinging off one of the torches, setting fire to the tent. The man stomps on Silence’s neck, then lashes out at Rey. The two fight, a desperate struggle inside the burning tent, gaining and losing advantage with each strike.
Klem sighs, and the undercurrent changes directions, hurling Ember, Jorek, and Valeria out onto the riverbank next to a couple of soldiers, a stone’s throw from the Tepet army. Val covers up their sudden appearance by claiming that she and Jorek are water aspects sent from the Blessed Isle, and even though they recognize Ember, they point her in the right direction as she strides towards the commotion.
Speaks-of-Silence uses the distraction of the melee to transform into a fox and run away. Valeria strides towards the commander’s tent and announces that they have arrived with Ember on behalf of House Mnemon to negotiate for his wife’s fair treatment and return home. However, someone in the crowd recognizes her and shouts out, “She’s the Angel of Nexus!” Ember grabs Val’s arm, kicks Jorek to his knees, and tells the army to tie them up. Ember kicks Rey toward one of the tents and demands the army bring them his wife “or I will burn this compound to the ground.”
They are brought into a tent, Valeria is gagged, and Ember demands that they are left alone. Once this happens, he unties them, tells them to escape, and begins to set fire to the tent, pulling Rey in for one kiss before he sends them off. Val cuts a hole into the side of the tent, and they scurry off, rushing across the camp towards the river, listening to Ember demand that his wife be brought to him and commanding the army to dig (“They went straight down into the earth!”). The trio are spotted as they dive into the river, but Klem whisks them and Speaks-of-Silence away.
Speaks-of-Silence thanks Rey for saving her, and they share a hug. She then reveals that she knows where Tepet Crest Exultant’s ship sits…. his airship. Val invites Speaks-of-Silence in for tea, taking her hand, while Rey waits for Ember’s return. It gets to be just a little too long before he returns, then he too is hurled onto the shore and Rey tackle-hugs him into the river.