Speaks-of-Silence's rescue continues and Jorek plays a dangerous game.
“Is it better to tantalize that you might be able to get away with something, or not let you try at all?”
Standing on the airship miles above the Empress Runner, Jorek observes the rescue mission in progress through Seh’s spyglass, and notices that the fire on the deck has begun to grow. He tells the first mate to keep an eye on it as he heads downstairs to speak to Rain-After-Storms, wincing as Seh calls him “fuel” for the ship. The Eclipse approaches the fae with the possibility of a bargain, and she tells him to make sure he is alone in his quarters at two bells to discuss it further.
Below, on the Empress Runner, the sailors are beginning to panic as the fire spreads. It is suddenly extinguished as Ember appears, chastising the crew for using lantern fuel to try to quell the blaze. While they are confused about how he came to be on the ship, Valeria notices that the sailors are deferential towards him. The Terrestrial barks a command to fetch the captain, stating that he has come aboard with a small team to reclaim “the prisoner”. Valeria takes this moment to step out of the shadows to present Ember with his forged “letter of passage”, but one sailor is quick to recognize her as the Angel of Nexus.
Below decks, Rey, able to hear everything happening above, carries Speaks-of-Silence in her fox form to the captain’s room, hoping to head the sailors off. She plans to use one of her Smash Fists’ evocations to eliminate the captain’s loyalty to House Tepet, but before she can, he snaps awake and exclaims: “Alvor’s girl?!” It appears that the Empress Runner had just transported Rey’s mother to Nexus and he briefly mistook Rey for her. The Dawn is upset to hear about her mother, especially when the captain proclaims her to be “kind” given her wealth. The captain, deep in drink, gives Rey a scrapbook belonging to her mother, which includes a drawing of Alvor. When he bemoans his fate as a captain not taken seriously by his crew, Rey half-jokingly advises him to take charge, and he storms out to do just that.
The captain storms out on to the deck, shocked by the appearance of Valeria and Ember. In a fit of passion, he orders the crew to scuttle the ship: “We’ll at least take her down with us!” Rey jumps in and carries the howling Captain up to the crow’s nest, where, holding him out over the ledge, threatens to drop him unless he lets them go with the longboat. As he pleads for his life, he admits to having caused her father’s illness by sending him to work on a ship with hazardous cargo. Rey drops him towards the deck; Val manages to catch him in some rigging and rushes over, as does Rey. While Rey doesn’t give her any specifics, she tells Val that she must kill this man and that he deserves it. Val can’t let that happen, and when Ember, now the new “captain” of the ship, orders Rey to put him in the brig, she disobeys and tosses him overboard to his death. With any hope of commanding the sailors now gone, and Rey having taken her revenge, the four take the longboat and push out into the ocean to await pickup.
At two bells, Jorek meets Rain-After-Storms in his quarters: he hopes to make powerful allies with the Fae and bring the Wyld and Creation together… and to do that, he wants to learn some of the Fae’s powers. At first, he tries to bargain with the creature, promising to do all he can with his future influence to further her goals in exchange for teaching. When she asks him to prove his power, Jorek spins an intricate tale of a lost First Age artifact of great power, a lantern whose light led a million across Creation. This cold iron lantern in his room would normally be abhorrent to a Fae, but Jorek’s master salesman instincts overcomes all odds, and she accepts the “artifact” as the price for teaching him what she knows. She does warn, though, that “many will suffer” for his teaching.
Back on-board the longboat, Ember asks Valeria what to do about those still on the Empress Runner: he offers to sink it himself, but she cannot knowingly let all of the sailors die. When Val asks Rey her opinion, Ember snaps. “I don’t remember asking for her opinion!” Getting them back on to Crest’s ship, and having saved Speaks-of-Silence, Jorek tries to figure out what happened. Rey takes off to be alone; Jorek asks Ember about what happened and he says simply that he saw “perfection fall”. “If you want to convince Creation that the Solars have left behind hubris, you must prove it.” Jorek reads into Ember’s passion about the Solar Exalted and uncovers his intimacies on the subject. “The Solar Exalted must rule Creation if they can improve life for all.” ; “I believe my mother was right.” ; “The Empire is fundamentally flawed.” Jorek defers to Ember, hoping to keep the Terrestrial as a loyal ally. Ember relents in his anger and tells him that “I don’t ask you to be perfect… Just to stand with me.”
Valeria and Speaks-of-Silence reunite in the ship’s kitchen. As Valeria starts to set the Lunar’s leg, she admits to having missed her and that the thought of her kisses was what she used to keep away the pain….
And somewhere to the East, in Valeria’s village, alongside her sister and the wounded, Exquisite Tide has found a temporary home.