Valeria tells Ember his mother is alive and Rey insists they go see her. Jorek has many admirers.
“They destroyed a threat, and yet Creation is not fine…”
Exquisite Tide’s news of Ember’s mother being alive and well and nearby takes him completely by surprise. Valeria in particular urges him to go to her and find out what she’s been up to since he last saw her. Ember exits the manse, with Rey close behind to provide him with some moral support. As Hope explains the state of affairs in their village to Valeria, revealing that the Zenith’s cult has grown, she bluntly asks why Hope came. Exquisite Tide had compelled her, she explains. As the sisters catch up, Jorek starts to plot a course to Mahalanka, eager to reunite All Fates Saved with She-Who-Knows-Ten-Thousand-Things. Tai-La, alone in a manse full of strangers, is drawn to Jorek again, hoping to win him back.
Ember is hesitant to venture out to the fox cave, concerned with how his mother might react to him. Rey pushes back, telling him that being nervous is fine, but that he should seize the opportunity. The two of them head out to the cave, and there, drying some clothes and cooking a meal, is his mother. With dark skin like Ember, but hair like Summer Blaze, the plain, small woman introduces herself as Firma, mother to 26 children, all but one of whom has died protecting the Chosen of the Unconquered Sun. The three share some food as Ember apologizes for not having done enough to protect Summer Blaze. Rey berates Firma for not showing more emotion, but Firma hits back: “Have you ever been to the Blessed Isle?” Displaying emotion, even in extreme situations, is mostly repressed. As Rey and Ember stand to head back to the manse and share the good news, his mother stops them. She knows, too, of Ember’s importance in the prophecy, and insists that he return with her to the Blessed Isle. When Rey asks for even a few minutes, she refuses. Rey, belittled by someone she thought was a friend, and in danger of losing Ember, suffers a Limit Break and flies into a rage. Taking weeks of pent-up anger towards controlling figures, she smashes Firma in the ribs. As Ember steps between them to defend his mother, she cracks him across the jaw, and leaping up into a tree, lands on Firma, killing her. The rage subsiding, she sees both her lover and his mother lying dead by her hands.
Having rebuffed Tai-La and then following her outside to try to mollify her, Jorek is alerted to the fight by Valeria, rushing out of the manse. The two stumble across the scene, where they see Rey staring off into the distance, Races-the-Dead with his ribcage crushed, and Ember unconscious but alive! Venturing into the fox cave, Jorek discovers Ember’s mother’s corpse with her heart missing. Speaks-of-Silence also arrives on the scene, furious with Rey for killing her pack-mate. When the Solars explain what they think happened, Speaks-of-Silence finds a note on the other Lunar’s body and confirms that he must have been impersonating Ember’s mother in order to take him back to the Blessed Isle. She calls him a traitor: while he was loyal to his pack, he also had a Defining Principle to free the Lunars from the influence of the Solars.
Ember comes to, not understanding what must have happened. Learning that his mother was not killed by Rey, he is briefly overjoyed, only to then learn that she is indeed gone. Ember and Rey sit together, both having gained and lost a mother in the past days….