|The Bejewelled Nuncio against a horde of chaos-infested|
beasts and opponents.
VINDAR experiences a horrific visionary dream, in which:
- TERENTIUS, having evidently been away from Peerdin for some time, attempts to visit his and CATALINA’S young daughter, ALIA, but is coldly rebuffed by Cat and TOBIAS.
- ALECTO, as Daughter of Infinite Sorrow, kills LADY BLIGHT. Together with MANTIUS as Renegade Warder, she is now part of the Black Number, a group which apparently strives to undermine or at least preempt the Diamond Legion (in this case LADY ADRIA, DONOVAN, CRISPIANUS, and HEREUS, who are now the Second Number).
- VARIAN, while still in control of his own mind, is by some other means apparently controlled by THESSALY, as Daughter of Pleasure, who is evidently his lover.
- Mantius and Aly attempt to recruit ARCTURUS, who has evidently recused himself from both Legion and Number, preferring the company of his dragons. When he refuses to join them, Mantius takes his dragons away, apparently as part of an earlier agreement with the dragons themselves.
- SENATOR PATRICUS summons the First, which evidently comprises Ian (as Invincible Fist), Thess (as Bejeweled Nuncio), Cat, MAXILIUS, and ROGELIO. Rogelio declines the mission to go after the Black Number, and Cat uses the Puremind against Thess as the latter continues to manipulate Ian.
- Mantius and Aly return to base, where they are informed by ALOYSIUS, as Paladin of the Second Hour, that Arc is crucial to their plans. (He also calls Aly Mantius’s “wife”.) Mantius leaves and returns with Arc, while Aly threatens GENARIUS over his wearing the Saint of Warrens, and what he knows about “what happened to the Scholar”.
- Vindar, as Invincible Blade, overcomes challenges at Castle Thistlethorn to gain an audience with VEDA, now evidently the Queen of Frost. He pleads with her to help him and the Diamond Legion, saying he “will do anything”, but she refuses him.
- Cat materializes to attack Mantius, who uses the abilities of the perfected Renegade to deflect the damage onto other, distant people. Having evidently perfected the Puremind herself, however, Cat is eventually triumphant, despite her sorrow that “I know my friend is still in there.”
- Aly ambushes Thess, accusing her, before killing her, of doing something to Varian. Ian in turn ambushes Aly, driving a sword through her, but stops when he realizes who she is, only to be enfolded in the Daughter’s engulfing cloak.
- Cat is prevented from finishing Mantius off by Terry, who arrives and manages to help her remove the apparently controlling Puremind. They are both then burned by Arc, who attacks from above.
- Mantius congratulates Arc for his achievement, and Arc asks him if they are now even for what he has done. Upon Mantius’s agreement that they are, Arc kills Mantius using Brother Sun although he is still attired as Prince of Dragons.
- Aly appears, ostensibly to comfort the overwrought Arc, but in reality she engulfs him in her cloak as well. Genarius then arrives, bringing the Diamond Legion to confront Aly.
- On one of the rooftops of Peerdin, Patricus watches the developments. FIDA appears and says, “I can’t believe you did it,” to which Patricus replies, “Gods help me, I had to.”
Vindar relates the dream to his compatriots, leading to a harsh exchange of words between Cat and Thess, and soon after a shouting match between Thess and Aly. Mantius manages to calm everyone down and bring the group to a consensus that they will tell AUDEN and Terry, leaving out the portion concerning Thessaly’s control of Varian. They gain an audience with the two warders, and apprise them in between announcements by the first tier.
Gathering the Circle of Ten, OLIVERUS allows each mount to select three apiece from the pool of redistributed shards, with certain shards withheld or confiscated as necessary for assigned use on a per mission basis. Led by Maxilius, the Second Number takes exception to this decree, to the extent that they are prepared to abandon the Diamond in lieu of turning over certain of their shards. Oliverus therefore confiscates the shards of and exiles seven of the eight of them, with only BREGAN electing to remain behind. Led by Aly, the Eighth Number offers to take Bregan in; Bregan makes a counteroffer, which is accepted, with the result that Aly, Arc, Cat, Toby, and Bregan become the new Second of the Diamond Grey Legion.
The First and the new Second finish telling Auden and Terry their story, leading to the confiscation of the Daughter of Sorrow and the Fellmind, which leads to the Second being allowed to request new shards from Oliverus.
Auden informs the Circle of Ten that retraining will be required, and that all numbers will be expected to perform to a certain standard, or face expulsion.
KENJIRO gathers the Circle of Ten again, only to then—in rather brusque fashion—dismiss numbers Three to Eight in order to inform the First and Second that they will be departing with him on a frontal assault mission to reclaim a “brightlight facility”. Ominously, he tells them that the recommended taxonomies for the mission are their best shards—the ones that are most likely to help them survive.