Now that the Solars have All Fates Saved, what's next?
No longer does the Circle have a companion called Three Fates Shadow: All Fates Saved now stands in front of them! She seems shaken, and, unsurprisingly, is starving after having gone so long without food. The three Solars bring her some of the Unconquered Sun’s pizza and reaffirm their love for her, asking as well how her connection to her Deathlord has changed. Although they continue to have a “complex relationship”, All Fates tells them, she at least no longer hears him. While the Solars know that they will have to confront him, getting to the Underworld may not be something they can accomplish immediately.
The Circle decides that the best course of action is to return to Nexus to re-establish themselves and seek additional allies for their eventual move on the Blessed Isle, where they will work to join forces with the Dragon-Blooded in facing a larger threat. Moving out of the Jade Pleasure Dome to rejoin their other companions, Jorek is held back by the old man who had cleansed them. The Eclipse has come to terms with much of the pain in his life, but he is still unsure about his place in the greater scheme of things. The old man presents him with a simple stick of wood, which, when he removed it from the support truss of a bridge, killed a thousand soldiers; “Many fall every day, but you are going exactly where you are meant to go.”
Speaks-of-Silence is happy to see All Fates Saved, and the circle heads into Yu-Shan to find somewhere to rest for the night before returning to the Repository of Secrets. A poor merchant, Quiv, attempts to sell them very mundane mortal plants from Creation, and then some weapons of very poor quality. When Valeria challenges him to attack her with one of them, it shatters, proving his worthlessness (which she is quick to point out). Quiv admits to having once been a god, but now, lacking his charge, no longer has any power. Jorek takes a different tack, proposing to present Quiv with a business plan for his stall if he can provide them with information about where to stay.
While Jorek scribbles out a plan for Quiv’s stall (“Live like a mortal! Find fortune with a plant from each corner of Creation!”), the god brings them to a small hut. Inside, a scholarly man is intently studying a huge tome with a high-power lens. He introduces himself as Schizen, the Chosen of Happy Endings. He offers to let them stay overnight in his hut and explains that he knew they were coming because of a very recent happy ending: All Fates Saved’s exaltation.
During the night, Valeria and Speak-of-Silence, together again, lie together. Speaks-of-Silence tells the Zenith that their relationship feels natural. Jorek takes a moment to read Schizen’s huge tome and, amidst butterflies and prismatic light, reads about all sorts of happy endings currently being written in Creation. When the Chosen of Happy Endings returns, bringing with him a fresh fish, he tells Jorek that, while he may not be able to see the future, he does know that Jorek’s final end will “mean something”. He also brings Rey a small mirror, through which she can see her father, healthy and happy, regaling his friends with tales over a drink. She is reassured that he has a life away from her, though the realization also saddens her.
The next morning, the robin’s egg-carrying tiger returns to take the Circle back to the Repository of Secrets. He again requests a story, and Jorek volunteers a tale of a young girl bursting with all of the music in Creation. Reaching Eyes Alight’s building, they venture inside, and Valeria asks to use the Repository. She speaks briefly to Tepet Exquisite Tide, who is now residing in Val’s home village with her sister. The Circle asks Eyes Alight whether there are any other allies in Creation that they can trust: she admits there may not be many members of the Gold Faction, but the one who had volunteered to protect and guide them can be trusted, and that she is none other than Starlight Dove. Eyes Alight informs them that the Repository of Secrets generally creates simulacra to speak to, but can also be used to summon the Chosen of the Five Maidens. As the Circle steps into the darkness again to speak to Starlight Dove, Ember volunteers a secret as a donation….