A tense face-off with Sanguine forces the Solars to choose between a bargain and a battle.
“You’re not home… In fact, this is the first time that none of you are home for some time. Fewer allies, fewer safe places…”
Sanguine’s ultimatum delivered, Valeria leaves the others and sets off in search of the children who may be carrying the Abyssal’s letters, hoping to head them off. Jorek offers himself up as a “hostage”: he places Heart’s String on the ground and tells Rey to head inside to get Sola, while also communicating only to her that she should try to find a way to get around behind Sanguine. Heart’s String is upset by Jorek’s cowardice: “Let me fly between her eyes!”. Rey meets up with Quiet Word inside the mansion, briefly catching him up on the situation and explaining what Abyssal Exalted are, and rushes with him down to the basement to get underneath Sanguine. Valeria, meanwhile, chases down a young boy whom she suspects of carrying one of the messages: she persuades him to give up the note he was carrying, but it seems to have been a decoy!
Back outside, Sanguine recognizes that Jorek may be trying to trick her. Also realizing that he is most likely the least competent fighter, she lunges at him, and although Jorek gets to Heart’s String in time, he is thrown off-balance. The two clash, and Jorek manages to knock her down, but the Dusk Caste Abyssal Exalt is much too formidable an opponent, and she leaps up and drops the Eclipse to the ground. At that moment, Three Fates Shadow re-appears, hanging three stories in the air, being choked by a hand emerging from a huge dark cloud. Sanguine, calling the figure “Master” and dedicating her kill to him, stabs down at the defenseless Jorek. As Sanguine’s cold dagger descends, Heart’s String leaps from the Eclipse’s hands and takes the brunt of the blow. Jorek is cut across the abdomen, and the fragments from the exploded Heart’s String pierce his left eye.
Rey erupts from the ground beneath Sanguine, blasting her away from Jorek. As Valeria arrives back on the scene, the dark cloud (seemingly a Deathlord) drops Three Fates to the ground as the Zenith moves to confront it. Rey throws Sanguine into the hole in the ground with the force of Heaven’s Thunder Hammer; Valeria refuses to stand down as the Deathlord offers to end a life, and so Jorek is further critically wounded by the dark magic from the dagger’s gash. At that moment, a huge bolt of lightning hits Quiet Word’s glass tower, smashing it to the ground, killing Zek and Sola, as well as crushing Sanguine Grasp of Gentle Repose. The cloud-figure demands that “the Dawn” be fetched: he tells Rey to make sure “Ember listens so that he may learn, like his sister, what lies beyond the veil”. With that cryptic message, he is gone.
While Jorek is brought back from the brink of death by Valeria, he is now a scarred and broken man, and can do no more than to embrace Three Fates Shadow. Rey approaches and breaks the news to Quiet Word, who explains to her that Sola had been living on borrowed time. While it may be a tragedy, she had been fated to death at birth, and Quiet Word had been extending her life. Valeria commits the bodies of Zek, Sola, and Sanguine in front of the broken tower, and reveals the following ties and principles in their hearts:
Zek: “Protect the girl”, “Sola: Love”
Sanguine: “I will cast off this yoke.” “I will kill when necessary, but I will make it count.”
Sola: “Make my father smile once every day”, “Never tell my father I know he is not my biological father”, “Find my biological father”.
Quiet Word’s valet appears and lets Valeria know that there was once a woman in Chiaroscuro who told stories of Val, foretelling her power. The valet also implies that she is Anathema, although no more details are given. Just as the Circle is preparing their next move, the sound of several hundred people approaches: mortal soldiers, on the orders of one Tepet Flow Exultant, are here to clean up the tower. The soldiers are headed by a man who has Velvet’s face, and he claims they have much to talk about, as he is Crest Exultant’s husband!