Although BREGAN and a strangely reticent MANTIUS are returned to Peerdin, Kenjiro and Terentius remain on mission while the First and Second undergo retraining under AUDEN, along with the new Tenth, which possesses the shards:
• Dispassionate Warder
• Master of Shrouds
• Knight of Tides
• Blind Incantatrix
• Horde Breaker
• Cloud Anchorite
• Cipher Adept
• Dweomer Keeper
• Dragon Song Lyrist
In the course of a day and a half of training, the mounts learn the following:
The Benefits of Rank
Prestige: The higher a number the mount belongs to, the higher the class of Chaos creatures that mount can not bother to engage with. This applies to the numbers from Ninth to Second; the First need only engage with the most powerful Chaos beings, though all numbers may elect to engage with lower if they wish.
Percentage: Starting from the Ninth, a percentage of bright light is added on to the number’s rewards for missions. The Ninth gets an additional 10%, the Eighth gets 20%, and so on up to 90% for the First.
Paragon: With the right combination of shards, mounts, and at least one warder, the First, Second, and Third are able to materialize a being that expresses the unified aspects of the number and has all the abilities of the shards currently worn. The warder(s) must have minder, empath, and avatar actions slotted.
Other Learnings of the Morning 1
- There are 66 numbers; the Diamond Grey is 85% established; warders are now allowed to slot in contradiction of mission parameters.
- The Classes of ShardsCLASSMASTERY COSTACCOMPLISHMENT COSTCOMMENTSutilitarian0 to 500500 to 2,000evidenced500 to 5,0005,000 to 20,000elite20,000 to 60,00060,000 to 120,000noble blood may be requiredpatrician120,000 to 250,000250,000 to 500,000noble blood requiredlegendary500,000 to 1,000,0001,000,000 and abovenoble blood required
Other Learnings of the Afternoon 1
- Aduro’s secret history involves four shards;
- Lord of Autumn is an expressed legendary;
- the first three numbers can circumvent some shard prerequisites
The Legions of the Army of Shards
- Diamond: special operations (unique taxonomies: Avatar and Hazard)
- Emerald: (smallest legion; engages with courtier class) heroic front line (unique: Eggs)
- Ivory: resource management and procurement
- Sapphire: (most numerous, at 200 mounts per number, supported by standing armies of unsharded) warrior elite front line
- Ruby: (all mounts possess flight ability) aerial corps (unique: Dragoon)
- Bone: (underworld; virtually nothing is known about them) black operations
- Amber: (close ties with Copper) front line artillery
- Copper (close ties with Amber) engineer corps
- Silver: (known for chivalry, mounted combat, scholarship) front line (unique: Knight)
- Platin: (formerly Steel) founded as front line, expressed as elemental corps (unique: Wizard)
Other Learnings of the Morning 2
- The Diamond’s opposition (the specific chaos court name) is the Blight Speakers, an invasive force that captures and holds territory;
- Bregan was formerly with Bone and Platin!
Aside from all this, VARIAN scams his dad for help setting up a temple to Proserpine; and ALECTO (“excellent aura… strength… sister sorrow”), ARCTURUS (“You will leave”), and CATALINA (“He will stomp upon your heart with elephantine feet”) receive foretellings both heartening and otherwise from the aura-reading MAISI.
The afternoon session of the second day is called off when Auden seems to receive some urgent communication. TOBIAS pisses Cat off; Cat goes and has a heart-to-heart with MS. TENNIN, in which the latter suggests putting on a performance to boost morale; Aly does her Le Parcour thing to vent anxiety; Arc proves to Toby that he really is a blacksmith; and Ian gets a clue from Ms. Tennin that Hadrian may currently be assigned to the 47th Number.
The performance is cobbled together—Cat singing, Aly dancing, and Ms. Tennin and Ian playing—to great success, raising spirits, garnering OLIVEROS’S approbation, and turning into an impromptu party. Toby apologizes to Cat and she forgives him. Aly cajoles VINDAR into dancing, which results in his unexpectedly kissing her and running off.
Aly chases after Vindar, and tells him that she’s otherwise involved. Vindar runs off again; and Cat and Toby catch up with Aly, only Cat is soon pulled away by DONOVAN, who asks her to dance and bribes her with bright light to kiss him. She does, just in time for TERENTIUS to arrive.
Terry and Cat go off for a heart-to-heart, in which he tells her of his wife of three months, who died four years ago and whose death he was made to re-experience during this most recent mission. Despite or because of this—as well as Cat’s revelation about her mother’s profession—he asks her not only to give them a chance but to marry him, which Cat provisionally accepts.
Ian, meanwhile, is asked to dance by GWYN, who turns out to be Veda’s cousin. They hit it off famously. He is then asked to dance by KAIZA of the Tenth, from whom he is later “rescued” by Gwyn (because Ian is scared of potentially clingy girls now).
Aly decides to sit in an empty courtyard, to allow Vindar to come to her. Instead, it’s KENJIRO who appears, making Aly’s world ten thousand percent better with the news that he, Terentius, and Megaera are all safely returned to Peerdin. Amid much fooling around, the couple agrees that they’re exclusive and heads off to eat. Kenjiro tries to find out who Aly was waiting for, and she laughingly refuses to tell, just as Vindar makes his reappearance.
Arc catches sight of what seems to be a signal light just outside the dome, and goes out to find a bloodied silver dragon awaiting him. “The kin of the aerie need the Prince of Dragons,” it tells him; and Arc says that he must tell someone, but will return. He finds Varian and they argue until Ian realizes that, contrary to Maisi’s prediction, Arc is not just going to run off. They go back to see the dragon together, but it has already gone.
Finally, BREGAN says to MANTIUS: “Don’t you think we should tell them now?” and Mantius casually agrees.