V’neef Kai summons Tepet Sanzo, ostensibly to discuss Saffron Veil. But upon his arrival, Kai questions him directly about his true nature and identity, asking how he has become such an important force inside House Tepet. Sanzo attempts to placate Kai by pointing out that he was originally hired as a spy, and ultimately insists on keeping his secrets.
Peleps Maera and Cathak Shao Dun meet after returning to the barracks. Shao expresses his frustration that the kinship is preventing him from killing Saffron Veil. After arguing about the rightful place of the Dragon-Blooded in the world and the kinship’s attitude to the Lunar, Maera allows herself to express her vulnerability, the pain she feels that her father may be among the host marching on them from Thorns.
Mnemon Sarissa creates a lightning gun firewand, using blue jade, with a greystone stock, shot through with veins of quartz from the remains of an earth elemental. The weapon combines designs from the blueprints of several previous projects. As always, Sarissa’s astonishing capacities for patience and concentration are applied to her work.
Before she is able to finish, Mnemon Zuri visits her. Sarissa informs her of the apparent destruction of Peleps Fleet, the Realm’s loss of Sarkarn to Thorns, and expresses her fear that Jiara may be the next target of the encroaching undead. She asks Zuri for help securing another audience with the Prince, and agrees to send Mnemon a letter informing her of recent developments.
After his combative conversation with Maera, Shao meets with Laconic Ibis. The two thoroughly break down the tactical challenges presented by Thorns and the political instability in Jiara.
Maera returns to Kai’s villa, annoyed by Shao’s stubbornness. Kai meets with her in one of his gardens, giving her a chance to vent her frustrations. Kai tells her that Shao and Sarissa may never see or understand the Realm and the world as they do, and vice versa, but he believes there is at least a chance.
Sanzo meets with Saffron Veil and tells her that he agrees with her belief that the Realm is deeply corrupt and needs to be destroyed. When he tells her that he intends to turn House Tepet into a champion of outcasts, allied with anathema, she cannot conceal her surprise. A modicum of something close to trust begins to develop between the two, based on their shared values.
Maera writes a letter to the Peleps Admiralty, thoroughly detailing the destruction of Peleps Polin’s fleet and the loss of Sarkarn. She then writes to her mother, detailing considerably more personal matters.