The group deals with the aftermath of the last episode and reaches Yu-Shan.
“Here’s the thing about heroes: they make mistakes. And it’s not always clear when they do.”
Speaks-of-Silence and Valeria cuddle in a hammock, taking a brief respite before the coming storm, as Val tells the Lunar that “you brighten my life”. Back up on deck, Jorek tries to convince Ember to go and speak to Rey, but he wants to give her some time to herself. Rey, sitting alone up in the rigging of the airship, receives a visit from Crest Exultant. They share a pipe of cinnamon-flavoured tobacco and commiserate about love. Crest is unsure if he’ll ever be able to love again, while Rey expresses doubts about the reasons for Ember’s feelings towards her: is she maybe just a symbol to him, an idea that he loves? Crest quickly shoots down this idea, asserting that if someone was to be by your side through the bad as well as the good, their feelings are plainly written. This comforts Rey, and she heads below deck to make amends.
When Rey heads down to their quarters, Ember is there, his anger mostly abated. He tells Rey that he knows she is not a murderer and must have had a good reason for doing what she did. Rey tells him about Captain Merrick’s hand in making her father sick and says that while she is sorry she ruined their plan and made things more difficult, she is not sorry she killed him and would do so again in an instant. That protecting and avenging the ones she loves comes before everything else. She admits her flaws, worries that Ember’s expectations of them are unattainable. Ember, although forgiving, is quick to ask her about consequences: “What happens when someone hurts or kills me, and killing them would mean the end of all things?” Rey answers without hesitating: “I would kill them.” Ember is not so sure.
Jorek checks in with Rain-After-Storms before heading to bed, but she is all over him, sensual and manipulative. She tells Jorek that they are a lot alike, in that “we both like to play with our toys”. When Jorek challenges her, saying that he is stronger than she might believe, she is intrigued: “I’ve never met anyone who could break me.”
During the night, Speaks-of-Silence screams out in her sleep. The Circle learns that Luna had spoken to Speaks-of-Silence and told her that not all of their number would be admitted into Yu-Shan when they arrived, specifically Three Fates Shadow. Rey is the first to leap to the former Abyssal’s defense, saying that the Circle will do whatever it takes to get her into Yu-Shan. While Valeria first offers to stay behind with her if they are unable to get everyone in, the Circle soon comes to agree that they will fight the odds. On their way out, Speaks-of-Silence takes a moment to address Jorek. Acknowledging the fact that they are not bound like they both had thought, she asks him what he is seeking; she tries to advise to not look for someone like her, but rather someone who will make him happy. She also adds that he should probably never be without cold iron, sensing his growing closeness to the Fae. Valeria, alone again with Speaks-of-Silence, admits that she had been hoping to have been her chosen mate, instead of the Twilight caste member of their Circle. Val also confesses that she is falling in love with the Lunar, which Speaks-of-Silence returns, even though she may have a deep connection with another.
On the approach to Yu-Shan, Jorek takes one more opportunity to visit Rain-After-Storms: he feeds her his rage and shame at so many of his failures, which she claims is a “bond” between them. While they hold to their bargain to exchange Fae knowledge for future considerations, the two are very much at odds. Up on the deck, Crest Exultant lets Rey take the wheel and pilot the airship up into Yu-Shan while he takes the crew below decks. The three Solars, along with Ember, Speaks-of-Silence, and the inert form of Three Fates Shadow, venture up through a cloud and behold a gate as large as Creation itself, stretching out in all directions. Rey brings the airship up to a road of solid gold flanked by two lions, and the Circle steps out, preparing to find a way in. Suddenly, the two gigantic lions topple down, cracking the path as a shadowy figure steps forward. The drawling figure seems at first to be Entropy, but reveals himself to be the one who exalted Entropy, the God of Discord! He is hoping to bargain with them in order to grant access to Yu-Shan: Valeria manages to persuade the God of Discord to take the broken pieces of Betty (Entropy’s firewand) in exchange for letting them in. He agrees, but adds a single caveat: the Circle must express their disagreement with the Unconquered Sun. As Jorek sanctifies the oath, the Circle wonders what that will mean for them as they enter the home of the Gods of Creation.
Below them, a ship is engaged in battle, and may not be able to stay aloft for much longer….