Before journeying to the Blessed Isle the circle returns to Nexus, possibly for the last time.
“I’m not going to say the Blessed Isle is the most dangerous place in Creation for the Solar Exalted… but what you are attempting is dangerous.”
Having left Mahalanka with one fewer ally, but with a renewed sense of purpose, The Circle takes some time with each other. Rey finds a particular book in among those She-Who-Knows-Ten-Thousand-Things included, and gets a sense that there is something different about it. Bringing it to Valeria, the Zenith discovers that it is a primer for Low Realm, included for Rey; the Dawn is stoked to finally learn to read and write, if only in memory of 10K.
In his cabin with Eyes Alight, Jorek sorts through the sorcery materials given to him by 10K: he is particularly intrigued by Corrupted Words, which would grant him the power to ban his victims from speaking of a certain topic (or be subject to a disgusting fate). He also learns to channel his essence into his focus, the Talisman of Ten Thousand Eyes. He asks Eyes Alight whether she wouldn’t be safer back in Yu Shan, and she tells him that she is no stranger to danger: she has been on the Blessed Isle before, attempting to sow discord. She also playfully asks Jorek where he would like to go, if he could choose anywhere in Creation. The other Solars are also having moments with their romantic partners: Speaks-of-Silence comforts Valeria, making sure she knows that leaving Ten Thousand behind may have been the “right” decision, even if it wasn’t easy; Rey tells Ember that, even if she’s not yet ready, perhaps the two of them could raise a baby together… or at least have fun trying for one, as Ember suggests.
The Circle gathers together to plan their next few moves. All Fates Saved appears to be missing: Jorek finds her up in the crow’s nest of the airship, looking up into the sky. She thanks him sincerely for giving her one more day with She-Who-Knows-Ten-Thousand-Things, secure in the knowledge that their love is strong, deep, and true; they will find each other again. Coming down from the crow’s nest to join the rest of the Circle, they hear from Crest Exultant, who grew up in Arjuf (their first stop on the Blessed Isle). The city of Arjuf, he tells them, is laid out according to precise geomantic lines, and is the home of the Merchant Fleet. Speaks-of-Silence recalls that the Circle’s war manse is located just outside of the city, behind some “shifting rocks”… although she has never been inside. The festival of Hearthstand will be starting soon on the Blessed Isle, celebrations leading up to Calibration with all of the Dragon-Blooded houses presenting grandiose offerings to the Elemental Dragons. The Circle decides the chaos of the festivities will be the perfect time to find their war manse outside Arjuf and move into the Imperial City.
Stopping off in Nexus to resupply, the Circle obtain disguises as members of House Tepet: Rey will be the young, fiery upstart due to Exalt soon, Valeria will be the “lady of the house”, too superior to even be spoken to, and Jorek will be the “face”, speaking on behalf of his “lady”. The Solars head off to check in with Exquisite Tide: on the way there, Rey is overjoyed to discover that Bacon Day’s Pork Buns is re-opening. As Jorek takes a moment to use his Solar Bureaucratic powers to speed along the reconstruction of all projects in Nexus (including Bacon Day’s), Rey and Tide step aside to speak about their mother, Tepet Final Rush. Tide recently discovered a note from her, revealing that it was prophesied that she would have two daughters, “one I will betray to save, and one I will betray to strengthen.” The two, realizing that they were both mistreated by their mother, and having come such a long way, finally embrace as sisters. Meanwhile, Valeria’s Essence-fueled treatments of Alvor finally come to fruition as he is fully healed. He thanks both Valeria and Jorek profusely for everything, asking them to watch over Rey.
As Rey returns to Bacon Day’s to buy several dozen pork buns, she notices several children playing in the street. Just like Summer Blaze did when they first met her, Rey shares her pork buns with the playing children as Valeria tells them of the Terrestrial’s glory.
Meanwhile, Jorek has a mysterious package pressed into his hands by a stranger. Opening it, he discovers a small piece of chocolate, some perfume, and a letter from Three Fates Saved to She-Who-Knows-Ten-Thousand-Things. Digging deeper, he discovers a pair of gloves with small circles on each, mirroring a drawing from Sewell’s diary… and schematics for a Warstrider!