Falling from Gossamer’s tower, VARIAN experiences a series of flashbacks, from which he learns that:
- He was born one of a pair of twins, both of whom were blessed (?) at birth by AUDEN’S comrades in what appeared to be his number, including PATRICUS and NIKOMEDES.
- Varian, his mother ANA, and his sister were evicted from their city home by some jewel-wearing woman, probably as a result of Auden’s extended absence.
- Traveling out of the city, the caravan the family traveled with was attacked. Ana managed to hold on to Varian, but the little girl was taken away in the tumult by a bearded man.
- Lost and in dire straits, the mother and son were rescued by a man, who took them to live with his mother or mother-in-law, who took Ana on as a servant.
- Over the course of years, Varian became friends with their rescuer’s son, HADRIAN, while Ana and the rescuer evidently developed a relationship. The old lady apparently died and left Ana the house.
- When Varian was twelve or thirteen, Auden reappeared, but was rejected by Ana. Mistakenly, Auden then took away Hadrian, whom he assumed to be his son.
- During the funeral of his adoptive father (the athlete whom Varian remembers as his father), Varian saw Hadrian again, mounted by a shard. Also at the funeral were the young Brandeus and his sister Thessaly, who is the very Thessaly now in the First.
|Varian in a future form.|
With the assistance of the Saint of Warrens (and, unbeknownst to her, Ana), ALECTO manages to defeat COVETOUS, stealing his necklace and possibly freeing certain essences and abilities held captive by the courtier. In the process, she learns from the Saint of Warrens that the latter has decided to essentialize as All Saints. She and Varian are reunited and go to find Kenjiro.
Having sensed the defeat of Covetous and the relinquishment of Gossamer, KENJIRO frees himself from the bondage he apparently permitted to occur, taking on Pinion, the Lambent Angel, now made vulnerable by the loss of her supports. Aly and Ian arrive to a scene of feathery dismemberment; and Kenjiro sends Ian to “secure the perimeter” while Aly and the Black Dragon proceed to have crazyhotbattlefieldsex. Ian sees Ana once more, but she elects to leave him be, despite their earlier agreement that their next encounter would be as enemies.
Meanwhile, in the place of exile, CATALINA brokers a deal with MAXILIUS, promising to speak for his group to the Diamond Grey if they will help her rescue her teammates. Max agrees and selects himself, BRIGIT, and JOVAL to bear the three shards Cat received from Dumas. Joval, however, is rejected by the Ember Mind and TEREGAN takes his place. Cat uses the Diamond Azure Cloak to transport them; and GENARIUS prompts the remaining mounts of their number to leap through the portal as well, resulting in the disintegration of Joval and the betrayal of ARIUS, both of whom Genarius was evidently using as guinea pigs to ensure the safety of himself and ISOLDE.
In the blue, ARCTURUS faces CARESS of the Pallid, who fortunately is unable to see him as Grey Speaker. Matters are complicated by the very vocal arrival of VINDAR, but Arc is able to defeat Caress and he and Vindar together manage to also put down her secondary form that emerges from the remains of her body.
In transit, Cat realizes that she can only carry two passengers, and has to make the decision to leave Teregan en route. The remaining three arrive at Arc and Vindar’s location and the group integrates, not without some tension. Cat and Max go to find Toby, quickly discovering that the latter has been killed and partially devoured by either a minion of Ariadne’s or Ariadne herself. The duo return to the main group; and when Brigit states that the Soul Collector may be able to revive Toby, Max volunteers to recover the body on his own, claiming that the Forlorn Avenger works best solo.
With much flirting and fighting going on, Toby is retrieved and restored, notwithstanding Cat having to revive Brigit from the attack of the giant spider that follows Max, Arc having to chase after Toby’s butterfly-shaped soul, and Max having to battle the spider again to buy time. With the support of Vindar and TOBIAS as Savant of the Senses, Cat is able to transport the group out, only to stop before exiting Peerdin, having spotted Aly, Kenjiro, and Varian.
Updates exchanged, Kenjiro summarily dispatches the present members of the First and Second back to Peerdin. There, Cat takes Aly back into the blue to successfully recover Teregan, and Kenjiro soon returns with TERENTIUS, the two evidently having formed a truce in order to confront the waiting FIDA. The two male warders tell the party they will depart again soon to find Mantius and Bregan. Cat volunteers to accompany them, but is refused, to her annoyance.
Cat pleads Max and company’s case to OLIVEROS, and the trio is reinstated in the legion, albeit not in the Circle of Ten. Terry then invites Cat to accompany him and Kenjiro. Kenjiro says that he is bringing “some girl”, which causes Terry to retract his offer. The pair departs.
Ian tells Aly about his suddenly recovered memories and, as Daughter of Memory, Aly helps him recall further that when he was eighteen, Auden tampered with his mind to prepare him for recruitment against his wishes, saying, “You will become centurion… as I cannot and Hadrian could not.” The fuming Cat arrives and they share the information with her, with the three of them coming to an agreement to let the matter lie for the time being.