V’neef Kai and Mnemon Sarissa rush back to Jiara to warn Prince Ozria Khidara of the coming dead from Thorns. Along with Saffron Veil, they discuss how best to defend Parapet, the Bridge City, where they intend to make their stand.
After Kai leaves, Sarissa lingers and offers her aid to the Prince, and asks to see Saffron Veil’s true face. The one she believes to be Veil tells her this might be possible after the coming battle.
Sarissa meets with Tepet Ejava, the Roseblack, to deliver a message from Tepet Sanzo: the dead have been spotted near Trellis, and he intends to remain in the area to buy time for the defenders of Jiara to prepare. Sarissa herself offers her help with military engineering. The two excitedly chat about Sarissa’s new construction project over tea.
As Kai busies himself taking care of his responsibilities to his house, he receives a visit from Salana Tovin. The troubled lovers find comfort in each other’s arms.
Sarissa works late into the night completing her most recent magnificent artifact, a flame piece she names Fire Strikes from a Cloud-Covered Mountain.
Kai bonds and communes with the warstrider Longaeva.
In Trellis, Peleps Maera, Cathak Shao Dun, and Tepet Sanzo mount a determined effort to delay the advancing dead from Thorns, using deceptive guerilla tactics in hopes of confusing the enemy.
The Maiden of the Mirthless Smile, leading the army from Thorns, orders her forces to set a trap for the Dragon-Blooded.
As the three Dragon-Blooded confer, their scouts report that the enemy has made contact and prepared an invitation for them. Shao and Sanzo cautiously take to the field to probe the enemy’s intentions.
Shao detects the presence of a nearby spirit and impulsively pursues it, drawing closer to the enemy’s trap. The Maiden of the Mirthless Smiles rushes Shao and Sanzo intent on cutting them down…
Cathak Shao Dun