In this special edition marathon stream, the Solars return to Nexus and are met with a confrontation that was a long time coming.
“I don’t think everyone is going to come out in the same way – things will change.”
The Circle, safely onboard the newly-christened Celestial Leeway, travel onward towards Nexus. Jorek has a “lesson” every night with Rain-After-Storms, who teaches him how, when bringing ecstasy to another, he can twist that pleasure and use it to remove feelings of negativity towards him or a cause he holds dear. Valeria and Speaks-of-Silence’s relationship continues to deepen, with feelings of true happiness that they promise to hold on to for as long as possible. Rey, apprehensive about seeing her mother again after so many years, asks Jorek to teach her to hide her emotions. He tells her about the art of misdirection as well as give her the advice that in order to truly hide feelings, they have to be numbed. Rey refuses to accept this, and Jorek agrees that Rey’s strength is in the depth of her feelings. Later, Rain-After-Storms asks Jorek why he didn’t “help” Rey by twisting her emotions and removing her negative tie to her mother; Jorek is furious, warning her to stay away from the others.
Arriving on the outskirts of Nexus, the group spies a large Tepet banner out in front of the city with the gates wide open: deciding to fly the banner of the Unconquered Sun, they land outside and observe that a massive army has made its way inside in the past couple of weeks. A sorcerous message for Rey arrives: She-Who-Knows-Ten-Thousand-Things warns her that the Deathlord has other Abyssal Exalted in his ranks, but that the Circle may have a true ally in Exquiste Tide. She also cautions Rey against believing everything she sees, as there may be visions from various gods in her future.
On their way into Nexus, the Circle encounter some city guards: one has had his tongue cut out, while another claims House Tepet conquered Nexus in the name of the Solar Exalted. “We are not to interfere with Heaven,” as one citizen puts it. Many of the Circle’s familiar locations are gone: Bacon Day’s has been burnt down; the old Guild offices have been completely emptied, and the door emblazoned with the Eclipse symbol. Speaks-of-Silence takes that as a sign that the Guild may have escaped the destruction and gone into hiding, and so she disappears off into the city to seek them out. The Circle, on their way to the Ziggurat where they believe Rey’s mother to be, come across the spot where Summer Blaze died. There, a plaque has been erected, claiming her to be an enemy cut down by the Solars: “The last traitor was dispatched”. Valeria, furious, shatters it and takes the pieces with her as a symbol.
Rey realizes that everything the Solars had a relationship with in Nexus seems to have disappeared: ignoring Ember and Valeria, she races off to her father’s residence. His home has been turned into a fish processing plant, with Alvor nowhere to be found. Returning to the Ziggurat to confront her mother, the Circle prepares for the worst. Inside an office, they find a woman with dark hair, standing at a large window overlooking Nexus. “I’m disappointed with you, Rey.” Tepet Deep Fury, Rey’s mother, is in Nexus to complete what she started 30 years ago: annexing the city for the Blessed Isle… and now for House Tepet. With the departure of the Solars, she saw an opportunity to “change the narrative”, using the Solars’ deeds for her purpose. Looking down into the courtyard, the Circle becomes aware of a few people that Deep Fury seems to have control over: Alvor and Tai-La, picnicking, and Hope on the way with Deep Fury’s other daughter, Exquisite Tide. She reveals that there are archers on the rooftops surrounding the innocents below, and she also has two other methods available to her with which she could kill them. If they don’t want any harm to befall their loved ones, Valeria will have to make a grand speech to the people of Nexus reinforcing the new Tepet order. Rey is torn: her mother is clearly determined enough to hurt others in order to get what she wants, but it appears she also does seem to be affectionate towards both Rey and Alvor. The Dawn is all set to walk away from the standoff and regroup, but Valeria and Jorek have other plans….
Valeria summons her spear from the doorway and thrusts at Deep Fury, driving her back. Rey leaps out the window and down the side of the Ziggurat, gunning for her father. Jorek fires out the window and manages to hit one of the archers, but another fires down and hits Tai-La. All Fates Saved appears from the shadows, dealing with the other archers and disappearing again with the mortally wounded Tai-La. Tepet Deep Fury, for her part, jumps out the window and glides away, but not before Val tosses her spear after her. Sensing her injuries, Ember too leaps out the open window, catches Val’s spear, and throws it back to her so that she can deliver the coup de grace.
Lying on the ground below the tower, Tepet Deep Fury is almost dead: Jorek gets the last hit with Final Beat, allowing him to ask her spirit three questions. He learns that the Tepet’s next-in-command is Exquisite Tide, who will return to assume power, and that House Tepet, currently “leading” the struggle for the Scarlet Empress’ throne, is led by a mysterious figure known only as “Stone”. Learning of these developments, Jorek rushes to Tai-La’s side, mortally wounded, until Val is able to use her spear’s evocation to keep her alive.
After being pulled away from the fight by Rey, Alvor is overjoyed to see his daughter again, and to share his wonderful news… that Rey’s mother has returned home! Not knowing how to break the news to him, Rey leads her father to her mother’s body and lies to him about what had happened. Alvor is crushed by her death, and furious with Rey for lying to him; Rey runs off into the city as her father curses all Exalted. Valeria commits the body of Tepet Deep Fury and learns of her loyalties as Ember rushes off to find Rey. The Dawn, however, is found first by All Fates Saved, who allows her a brief moment to simply cry and rage.
At that moment, Alvor begins to foam at the mouth, much as Tide had done when in withdrawal from the red crystal: thinking quickly, Jorek discovers a small stash in the picnic basket to keep Alvor and Tai-La from withdrawal. Tepet Deep Fury’s final method of assassination reveals itself when Totes the goat, grazing quietly all this time, starts to smell like saltpeter… a bomb! Valeria very quickly operates on the goat, removing a small metallic bomb from his chest and tossing it away before it can injure anyone. Having avoided Deep Fury’s traps, Rey and Alvor have a tearful reunion, both admitting they had emotional reactions. As the Circle heads back to the manse, two women are aboard a ship sailing towards Nexus: Tepet Exquisite Tide and Valeria’s sister Hope, each with a red crystal in their hands….