CATALINA writes letters, in particular one to TERENTIUS, ending their relationship. She makes the acquaintance of the messenger THADDEUS; and she and KHIMERE bond in shared sorrow over reluctant men, following which Kim has a dream about a man, presumably the one who rejected her some time in her past. MANTIUS also has a dream, in which the second secret of finality offers to reveal itself to him, but he declines.
Following the realization that the Bejeweled Nuncio has accomplished itself as an aggregator, commander, summoner, and civilar, VARIAN goes off to the warder meeting wearing the Saint of Shadows, which raises some eyebrows, although JOSIAS of the Fifth is likewise literally ill-suited (having been sobered up by Cat barely in time for someone of his number to attend the meeting). Ian bonds with LEONTES of the Second, and Cinelis announces the new protocols for warders:
- commitment: a priority list of specific mounts and corresponding warder shards indicates the only mounts allowed to bear same. When acting as warders, mounts may wear only the shards assigned to them; no other mounts may do so.
- the killing protocol: In the event of a warder’s capture, the corresponding shard will be activated in such a way as to kill the mount, as well as any person who attempts to bear the shard thereafter. The killing protocol may only be deactivated upon return to Peerdin.
- While all new shards acquired by each number are considered to belong to that number, warder shards must be submitted to the Diamond Shadow Vambrace’s office for testing before inclusion in the number.
- Warder communication has been reactivated and is once more considered to be safe.
- The responsibilities of the office of the DSV have been expanded to include all affairs directly concerning warders.
- Mounting of oracular shards is to be avoided on missions, as this may constitute an information leak.
- primary objectives: (1) assist the Ivory Legate Teltimtor; (2) keep Fort Huldon from falling into enemy hands; (3) gather information useful to the Diamond Legion
- secondary objective: evacuate the town of Salermo (where ALECTO’S parents live), 4 hours NE of Fort Huldon. The gate provided takes 30 minutes to open and 30 to close; and the activating pendant must not be used by a shard bearer.
Kim gifts Aly with her own Devoted Warder shard, convincing it to modify its requirements accordingly; while OLIVEROS permits each mount of the numbers to select three more shards to add to their pool, after which THESSALY arrives with the documents to be signed by three ruling warders in order for the First to be able to attend Bregan’s hearing. To their dismay, they learn that it is to be held while they are on mission. Nevertheless, the First scrambles to attain the signatures necessary, with:
- Cat getting the first from Oliveros, despite his chiding her teasingly over requesting his own shard for their pool.
- Aly getting the second from KENJIRO, and getting to know M. TALTUN a little better.
- Ian trying with Auden, but being declined mostly on grounds of propriety.
- Cat and Aly separately trying with Terry, who is cold to Cat (following their public confrontation in the hallway prior) and promises Aly that he will “see the man hang”.
- Aly trying with Fida, who declines on the grounds that her position is currently too tenuous.
- Mantius getting the third from Cinelis, who tells him in privacy that she distrusts the speed with which the matter is being pursued.
Arc goes to sit in the sun, which does not sit well with the Grey Speaker, such that the shard somehow transforms his current shard, Brother Sun, into Brother Night. Orlando becomes aware of this amid a heated conversation with PIEZO of the Eighth (and formerly of the Silver, evidently) and offers to help him despite Arc involuntarily holding his sword to Orlando’s chin. Arc is also offered assistance by LUCIA of the Third, who posits that the Grey Speaker may have some artificer abilities in addition to its apparent taxonomies. Concerned over the Grey Speaker’s threat to kill Ser Orlando if he interferes, Arc decides not to share his predicament with anyone else.