Seeking summaries of Will Wight’s Cradle series? Need a recap of each book? You’re in the right place! See all Cradle-related summaries available on my website here. Obviously, these are designed to have spoilers. Don’t read any of the summaries if you are hoping to go in to the series without being spoiled! If you haven’t yet read any of the Cradle novels, I have a no-spoilers review of the first two books.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Sorry this is later than I said it would be, folks! Life happened the past couple weeks and I simply didn’t have the bandwidth to get it out any sooner. But it’s here now! Enjoy, and please do point out any factual errors in the comments. Forgive the numerous and many typos, as I reckoned that getting it posted would be more important than having it proofed. Thanks for understanding! 🙂
King Daruman and the Vroshir are attacking the Abidan. Ultimately, the Abidan are forced to surrender and fall back on their core worlds, much to Suriel’s dismay. Where they now have thousands of worlds, they’ll be reduced to a mere hundred or so. Ozriel remains missing in action.
In Ninecloud City, Seishen Daji has been captured. Mercy sits in judgement at his trial. Due to some meddling by Reigan Shen allowing Daji to lie under oath, it’s ruled a personal grudge between Daji and Lindon. Lindon challenges him to trial by combat and wins handily. Daji is deemed therefore guilty, and is taken away to the Akura prisons.
Akura Fury ascends to the Abidan alongside an entourage of Akura clan members. Before he goes, he encourages Mercy to forge her own path and avoid becoming trapped in their family’s politics.
Lindon and Yerin convince Akura Charity to allow them to help evacuate Sacred Valley now that the Wandering Titan is making its way there. They, along with Eithan, Mercy, and Ziel, are teleported there alongside numerous Akura Golds in a fleet of cloudships to pick up refugees. During the flight, Eithan helps him train his new Authority and also reveals that he was a former advisor to Tiberius Arelius.
At Sacred Valley, it becomes clear that Yerin’s ascension to Herald was imbalanced. She is disproportionately impacted by the boundary field, but she continues with the group. At Heaven’s Glory, they learn about the Wei Clan exiles – and that Orthos is with them. They meet Orthos and find him in battle alongside Kelsa against Heaven’s Glory sacred artists. They win the battle and reunite tearfully with their old loved ones. Jai Long and Jai Chen had been helping the exiles, but now are seeking to leave Sacred Valley when Lindon meets up with them. He encourages them to join the evacuation efforts and invites them to join them after.
Other than the Kazan, who are quickly convinced to leave, the clans and schools are stubborn and reluctant to leave. Most have to be forced to go at the last minute. Lindon’s reunion with his clan and his parents is emotionally fraught, as none of them really understand his new power. They still believe him to be Unsouled, and they betray him repeatedly. He ultimately takes control by force.
When the Wandering Titan arrives, Yerin calls in her favor with Malice to have her delay the it while they continue evacuating. She also receives her prize from all the Monarchs as Uncrowned Queen. They rebalance her spirit.
Unknown to them, Reigan Shen wakes the Bleeding Phoenix. It joins the assault on Sacred Valley. North Strider joins the battle as well.
Lindon and co evacuate as many as they can, but Malice teleports them back to Moongrave. However, they decide to go back to fight the Titan once more. Dross helps them drive the Titan off, but overextends himself and is reduced to formless dream madra in the process. They are unsure if he will recover.
Long ago, King Daruman was a wise, charismatic ruler, and the very first to unite his home iteration. He was quickly recruited by the Abidan, who considered him a perfect, humble hero. He was the first of the Executors, a group given special dispensation to alter Fate outside of the Eledari Pact. Unfortunately, after some time, the group known as the Executors turned on the Abidan. Their minds cracked under the power. Daruman held out the longest, but miscalculated when he defeated a Class One Fiend, Oth’Kimeth, by sealing it inside of him. While the Abidan couldn’t find traces of corruption in him after, the Court of Seven nevertheless sealed him away to ensure that if the Fiend did gain the upper hand. Centuries later, the Abidan’s worst fears were realized. Daruman has been corrupted by the Fiend, and he escapes the clutches. He proceeds to create the fortress Tal’Gulour, where he focuses on gathering and protecting people, who he prizes above protecting the Way.
Later, two hundred years ago, Daruman heads to Iteration 216: Limit to test out a stealth artifact he’s forged from other treasures as a method of hiding himself from the Abidan. He calls it the Origin Shroud. He enters undetected, but Ozriel finds him anyway. Ozriel allows him to escape, but first destroys the Origin Shroud.
Now, in modern day, Daruman is using a Scythe to destroy Iteration 129: Oasis, and all the Abidan present there.
On Iteration 246: Commandment, the Vroshir and Abidan are battling. The Vroshir are are winning until Suriel arrives and turns the tide by reviving the downed Abidan. Simultaneously, she is reinforcing the Abidan on another iteration, Iteration 247: Jester. A dozen other worlds beg for her help, but she’s at her limit. On Commandment, she allows the Vroshir to escape so that she can focus fully on Jester. While this is a victory, she remains pessimistic as far as the larger war is concerned.
Back in Ninecloud City Akura Pride is still wounded emotionally and mentally, but is much better on the physical front. He’s anxious to be active again, but Mercy forces him to rest as best she can on the strength of Charity’s instructions. Her Uncle Fury drops in unannounced, surprising them. He informs them that Seishen Daji has been captured, and that Mercy will be the one to sit in judgement at his trial. He also informs them that his ascension beyond Cradle as a new Monarch will take place this evening. While he might like to stay, he recognizes that his existence upsets the delicate balance of power on Cradle.
London and Yerin are on their shared cloud fortress. They are locked down in Ninecloud City, with no air or spatial travel in or out allowed. Charity, Fury, or Malice could teleport him, but they’ve made themselves scarce when he tries to find them. London is itching to leave – there’s a dreadgod on its way to Sacred Valley, and he intends to do what he can to save his home. Dross and Yerin threaten the Ninecloud Soul a bit to no avail, but fortunately Charity decides to show her face shortly after. She teleports just outside their fortress – London has wards to make entering via spatial travel challenging on preparation for the day Eithan learns to teleport. Charity argues with them, stating that an Underlord Sage and the world’s first pseudo-Herald cannot be allowed in the path of the Wandering Titan – nor in Sacred Valley where the labyrinth security measures will sap their strength. Yerin makes the connection between the dampening field and the death of her master, much to her dismay. London informs Charity he will go to Sacred Valley even if he has to walk, and she begs him not to go, stating that she will do anything in her power to keep them as allies. Mercy arrives at that moment. After discussion, Charity allows that they may help with evacuation efforts, but must leave at the first sight of the Wandering Titan. They agree.
The trial of Seishen Meira, Daji, and King Dakata is underway. All three are in rough shape. They are accused of conspiracy to assassinate members of the Akura head family. The spatial anchor Daji used previously to summons assassins is presented as evidence. Dakata’s face is horrified, showing that he had no idea about what his son had done. Under oath, Meira testifies her innocence. Dakata screams that he was him, attempting to take the blame and save Daji. Mercy is having none of it, telling him to shut up. Daji, under oath, appears to somehow be capable of lying. London suspects Reigan Shen’s meddling. Daji claims that London has a personal grudge against him. As such, London challenges him to a duel. London wins, handily, nearly killing him. Dross asks why he didn’t. As Daji is dragged off to the Akura dungeons, London responds that his name isn’t Merch.
Fury and an entourage of about two hundred Akura family members ascend that evening. Malice is not in attendance. London and Yerin, however, are, and they’re treated with a great deal of respect due to their newfound status. Watching Yerin and Lindon, Mercy experiences a pang of envy for their relationship – she’s had few friends, and those are her two closest despite their short acquaintance. Yerin shares a moment with Fury, gleefully recounting how it felt to swat the Dragon Monarch like a fly. Akura Grace’s parents approach London. He apologizes to them for her death, but they surprise him by instead thanking him for having avenged her. They give him a gift in a generous bag of scales of various types of madra. London is torn as to whether to accept the gift, but ultimately expresses his deep gratitude as he pockets the scales. As a final goodbye, Fury speaks to Mercy, telling her to become a leader in her own right and avoid falling into the traps their family will weave around her. He opens a portal to the Abidan, and they welcome him to a great blue world, Threshold, filled towers and light.
Charity begins preparing the portal to Sacred Valley. While they watch, Yerin holds London’s Remnant hand, and they talk about London’s worries as they prepare to return to Sacred Valley. He reaffirms his pledge to look out for them and save as many as possible. Yerin holds a grudge against Heaven’s Glory now, but also recognizes that it would be abhorrent to take her rage out on Jades. London and Little Blue are both surprised and pleased by her vehemence on the matter. She hates them… But they’re not worth anything to her, either. They kiss, and Eithan times his entrance appropriately. He promises a surprise.
Charity completes the portal, scouts the other side, and proclaims it safe. They enter, and Lindon notices his Sage perceptions give him greater understanding of the structure of the portal as they pass through. It feels twisty, a hole bored through space. They exist above Sky’s Edge, which has been reduced to rubble. The Wandering Titan is feeding in the water, pulling aura from the earth. They move away towards Sacred Valley, quickly. The Wandering Titan chooses that moment to move, giving them all a fright as it takes a giant step and cycles it’s madra. One cloudship is destroyed, collateral damage. As they move into a safety, Eithan reveals his surprise: he’s smuggled Mercy aboard. She’s looking forward to one more mission with her friends. Ziel joins them as well.
London gives Ziel a tour of their cloud fortress, which they’ve named Windfall. There is a miniature volcano for Blackflame aura cycling and a sharp sword cave for Yerin. Yerin dejectedly notes she’ll need blood aura now too, what with having integrated Ruby. There’s also a sacred orus tree for spirit fruit and a crystal pool for Little Blue. Eithan’s portion of the island is dedicated to farming plants and herbs for use in the sacred arts. A flock of bird monsters attacks, and they make a game of taking them out and testing their new abilities, which prompts Mercy to ask why London is still an Underlord and hasn’t advanced yet. He explains that since Sacred Valley saps power, it made more sense for him to wait.
While helping Lindon train with his new Authority, Eithan reveals to him that he was formerly an advisor to Tiberius Arelius.
The crew arrive at Sacred Valley. They land and make their way with a group of Golds on Thousand Mile Clouds towards Mount Samara. When they pass the boundary, Yerin collapses. The field took too much from her. On examination, Ziel and Eithan realize that her ascention to Herald left her imbalanced, hence the disproportionate impact on her. They say she shouldn’t get any worse, so she chooses to continue rather than head back to the Windfall.
When they arrive at The Ancestor’s Tomb it appears abandoned, until a lone Iron appears and attacks. The attack is not very effective. London is disconcerted when they speak and he hears his own old, humble way of speaking coming from the young Iron. It’s a bit cringey to him. The Iron believes they are exiles from the Wei clan. Elder Rahm arrives next, recognizing London. He attacks with four constructs, which Lindon destroys with a flick. He asks Rahm for information on the Wei exiles, but Rahm refuses. They go to Heaven’s Glory school, which is in shambles. Apprentices scurry about repairing the buildings. Further, it appears that a grimy prison was formerly here. When a Jade elder appears, they attempt to explain the impending Dreadgod attack and offer refuge.
They go to speak in the Lesser Treasure Hall. It is at odds with London’s memory – it feels tiny and insignificant now. The Jade, Emara, reveals that the Wei exiles are in league with… A giant turtle. London, Mercy, and Eithan take off to find Orthos.
Orthos, Kelsa, and Jai Chen and Long are in battle, losing against Heaven’s Glory. They sought refuge with the Fallen Leaf school, but were refused. They debate covering the retreat of the refugees including London’s dad. Jai Long and Chen leave, cutting their losses, as Kelsa and Orthos accept that they are likely to die covering the Wei Exiles retreat. And then… Orthos senses Lindon. He laughs, joyful, telling Kelsa the battle is almost won.
They fight is brutal, Jades attacking ruthlessly. They are near defeat. And then Lindon arrives. Kelsa doesn’t recognize him at first, only realizing who he is when she catches sight of his badge: Unsouled. London and co wipe them out without breaking a sweat, not killing, but disabling. After, London, Kelsa, and Orthos reunite tearfully.
The arrival of London and co and the gold’s accompanying them bring the Fallen Leaf school to open their gates to them all. London finds himself angry at the way Heavens Glory has treated his family. They’ve suffered, needlessly. He could have wipes them out if he’d wanted to. Kelsa takes him to his parents. His father’s eyes have been burned, and he retains only a tiny amount of vision. His mother is traumatized, paranoid and anxious. Meeting them again is nearly surreal. They’re familiar, but also strangers. They also can’t fathom the notion that he grew powerful himself, instead choosing to think that his friends lent him power. Kelsa comes to his defense, however, telling their parents what she saw against Heaven’s Glory. The conversation goes downhill as his parents insist they should fight Heaven’s Glory and display their own ignorance of the power of Golds, and they talk over London. He feels as though he never left. Dross, however, pushes him to action. He tells them, bluntly, that he is more advanced than they can understand, and that behind that, he’s just… Very good at the sacred arts. Further, he’s taking them away to save them from the Dreadgod attack. He leaves, heads to Yerin and Orthos, and sobs.
Jai Long is being denied exit from Sacred Valley by the Fallen Leaf school. Internally, he expresses admiration for Kelsa – and by extension Lindon – for her personal drive to improve, in comparison with others of the Valley who seek to simply politic with each other. Just as he prepares to force the matter and battle the Fallen Leaf elder guarding the exist, Lindon arrives. Jai Chen remembers him fondly, and is very pleased to see Little Blue again. London explains that a Dreadgod is on its way, and that there are Akura cloudships for evacuation. Jai Long, however, doesn’t trust them and decides to leave now from here instead. He panics when he realized London is an Underlord, and tells Jai Chen to run. To his embarrassment, it quickly becomes apparent that London does not intend to fight. London begins speaking to the Fallen Leaf Elder re the Dreadgod.
Back at the main school, Lindon and co begin planning out who will go where to manage the rest of the evacuation. The residents are, unfortunately, less than cooperative, even as they run low on time. Eithan, being Eithan, takes this as a training opportunity to work with Lindon on using his authority. He explains that authority can generally be used to accomplish the same things you could do without it, but skipping the steps between start and finish. Further, actions related to his Icon are much easier. Eithan also demonstrates that he can use his own will to block Lindon from taking authority actions, despite not yet being a sage himself.
As for the evacuation efforts, the Golden Sword School in the west has already left before London and co arrived. The Holy Wind School is in process of evacuating. London and Yerin will go to the Wei Clan. Orthos and Little Blue will handle the Fallen Leaf School. London is surprised Little Blue wants to be apart, but suspects she wants to grow independently to be able to protect him, too. Eithan volunteers to handle Heaven’s Glory. Mercy volunteers to handle the Li clan, and Ziel will take the Kazan.
Ziel negotiates passage for himself and his Golds into the Kazan compound. His assistant explains to the Kazan that they’re Gold’s from outside the valley representing the Akura clan and the Sage of Twin Stars and warning of the Dreadgod attack. Ziel feels the Dreadgod strongly in the veins of earth aura in the camp. He meets with the Patriarch and his wife, the other clan members having retreated from the room. He voluntarily allows the Patriarch to place half silver bracelets on him, restricting his spirit. They’re not locked and he could remove them, but believes it to be an important gesture of goodwill. He tells them that what they’ve been sensing is the Dreadgod, and that they will all die when it arrives if they do not evacuate on the Akura cloudships. The Kazan are uncertain, having hoped to rely on their defenses. A young boy child approaches Ziel, clambering up onto his cloud, much to his the Patriarch wife’s horror. Ziel reassures her that it is okay, and that he’d never harm a child. He pulls on Ziel’s hair as Ziel continues to encourage the Kazan to evacuate. When they continue to be reluctant, Ziel decides to be vulnerable, discussing the sacking of the Dawnwing Sect by the Weeping Dragon. And that was merely by its passing – an attack would leave no survivors. There is escape, or there is death. Ziel’s speech convinces them as it aligns with the reports of their scouts and scholars, and they send out the call to the other Kazan to gather and evacuate. Ziel reluctantly accepts his new position as a leader.
Mercy has been having less luck. After much difficulty, she finally gains and audience with the Matriarch of the Li clan. The Matriarch is uncooperative, insisting she must convene with the clan elders and accusing Mercy of rudeness with her urgency. Kashi, Mercy’s True gold commander, recommends using force to evacuate them, but Mercy believes they’ll come around.
Jai Long and Jai Chen have ended up with Eithan heading to Heaven’s Glory school. Eithan is being extremely obnoxious, as per usual, though Jai Chen enjoys speaking with him. She shares that the name of her bonded spirit dragon is Fingerling, since he started as small as a little fish. They both have a touch of Eithan’s bloodline power, though Fingerling is better at it, able to see things over a mile away. Jai Long insists to Eithan that he’s left the sacred arts. Jai Long is derisive of Eithan, considering that he expects Eithan to someday reach Overlord (note: Eithan is already Archlore, Jai Long just doesn’t know it). He tries to needle Eithan, congratulating him on London’s ascension to Underlord and saying that maybe London will even surpass Eithan. Eithan, of course comes back with the fact that London is a Sage, and allows a grin to come over his face when he notes that Jai Long hasn’t yet scanned Yerin. Jai Long assumes Eithan is lying. Jai Chen, however, had noticed that something was odd with Yerin, though she doesn’t know enough to understand that she’s a Herald. Eithan reveals he’s and Archlord, and Jai Long immediately changes attitude. Eithan asks where they intend to go after leaving the valley, and when Jai Chen says they’re unsure, Eithan invites them to join him. London had already extended an invitation. Jai Long is suspicious of their motives, believing it couldn’t be a good faith offer. Jai Chen convinces Jai Long to help the evacuation efforts.
London arrives at the Wei Clan. It’s not as grand as he remembers, though he’s glad that Elder Whisper’s tower is as tall as he remembers. He’s nervous, and Yerin comforts him. The Iron at the gate challenges him, having no spiritual perception and believing him truly unsouled. The Wei clan believes his group are exiles. London tells the guard to hit him with his spear. The spear cracks, and Lindon tells the Iron to tell the First Elder that Wei Shi Lindon is here to see him. The Iron runs. They walk in, and it becomes apparent that the Iron hadn’t gone to the elder. Instead, he’s gathered a half dozen Irons and “trapped” London in a security script. Yerin, however, is very impacted by it in her weakened state – so London destroys it immediately. When they attempt the Fox Dream Ruler technique, Dross fires back and tells them it’s clumsy and stupid.
One of the Irons approaches Lindon. It’s Mon Teris, the same person from Unsouled (book one) who left London to the fight the tree Remnant. He says he’ll take London to the First Elder. Unfortunately, he betrays them and attempts to attack Yerin, believing she is in charge since he thinks Lindon is Unsouled. It goes poorly. Mon Teris agrees to actually guide them. They reach the gathered Elders, who believe London to be Jade when they scan him. He gains audience with the First Elder, and explains the situation. Dross projects memories of the Titan into everyone in the room as proof. For further proof, he places the full power of his spiritual pressure on all of them. He informs them that if he wanted revenge, he could have it. He could kill them. But he doesn’t want that. He wants to save them. The Patriarch gives the order to call the clan to the Heaven’s Glory school for evacuation. London is happy and proud.
Heaven’s Glory arrives, claiming Eithan sent them to help. London does not trust them, and it proves wise. Heaven’s Glory came to betray them in cooperation with the Wei Clan. He confronts them before they can begin their attack, but they begin to set up their boundary formation. They get two layers set up, and it severely impacts Yerin. London uses his Dragon’s breath to destroy the script. Yerin teleports using her moonlight bridge back to the ships. London has Dross break down the Path of the White Fox for him, and he begins attacking the Wei Clan with their very own Path. He confronts the Patriarch, who accuses him of hubris and of attempting to take over the clan. The Patriarch says he doesn’t know the Path of the White Fox, and attacks. London tells him that he should pay attention: Lindon will show him the Path of the White Fox. He destroys him with the Path and finally cripples him with an Empty Palm. The Elder still chooses not to believe London, but at that moment the Titan nears – it’s aura over the mountains to the West. London uses his authority on the Patriarch, and tells him to walk to the Titan, since maybe HE’LL save him, then.
Mercy has not yet convinced the Li clan when the Titan arrives. She gives the order to leave, with as many of the Li clan as they can carry. The average citizens are clamoring to leave, but the Matriarch is holding them back, disbelieving Mercy. Mercy attacks her and takes control of the clan. She hates that it’s come to this, especially since it’s what her mother would have done, but it is effective and there’s no time for anything else. She takes control, and the evacuation begins. She feels sick to have perpetuated the power structures of weaker bowing to stronger.
Ziel, leading the Kazan clan, is set by a terrible earthquake. He saves many of the clan, but others fall to their deaths in great fissures. He tells the Akura Golds to grab anyone who fell but to keep moving. The gold, however, says they must leave – they were instructed to prioritize their own lives at the first sign of the Titan. They offer to take Ziel and the Patriach’s family with them. Ziel refuses and tells them to make the offer to the Patriach and other Kazan. He’ll lead the rest.
Eithan arrives at Heaven’s Glory, now abandoned by his Akura Golds. There are twelve Kazan prisoners, whom Eithan intends to take with him and save. He’s given up on persuading Elder Rahm, who is adamant about staying. Eithan discover Heaven’s Glory’s treachery against London and the envoy they sent. Eithan confronts them, and whole Rahm knows he can’t take Eithan directly he knows one way to attack indirectly… And sets fire to the house the Kazan prisoners are in. Eithan asks if he’d prefer to die rather than let the prisoners leave. Rahm says he’d rather die than now to Eithan. So, Eithan kills him with the Hollow King’s Crown, destroying his soul. He kills the others who attack him, bit states that anyone who goes into the building to help rescue the Kazan will be forgiven. None come to help. Eithan tells them he will remember this.
Although Yerin meant to teleport back the ships, her Moonlight Bridge missed because of her current spiritual imbalance and suppression. She ends up near Orthos and Fallen Leaf School, weakened and coughing. She’s afraid for London – what if he’s been more impacted than he realized, or takes stupid risks? When the sky turns gold with the titan, she panics and teleports successfully to Orthos. She tells Orthos Lindon has been betrayed, and Orthos informs her that Lindon does not feel as though he’s in danger. Yerin relaxes. They discuss next steps, and determine it’s time to leave, assuming the Titan is still two or three days away… Just as the Titan crashes through a mountain, entering Sacred Valley. It’s here. But they need more time, or else they’re trapped. Yerin tells Orthos to go get Lindon. She’s going to go slow down the Titan. She heads outside the valley, and uses the Moonlight Bridge to take her to Akura Malice.
Malice is perched in a giant tree over a large valley, killing dragons inside it with her bow. Yerin asks for her help to stop the Titan. She tells Yerin her ability to slay these dragons is thanks to Yerin, and asks how she can bless her life. Yerin asks again about the Titan. Malice states that it will weaken her and her people too much – but Yerin responds saying she’s willing to make this her tournament prize, keeping all Monarchs at the same degree of disadvantage. Malice creates a communication array of darkness, bring the other Monarchs in. The Blood Sage is gleeful at Yerin’s success in incorporating her Blood Shadow and advancing to Herald. Malice silences him, and expresses surprise Reigan Shen allows him to speak on his behalf. Yerin catches his eye: she wants his knowledge on the Bleeding Phoenix and the labyrinth when this is over. She makes her request, but Emriss responds that it’s already been tried to corner a Dreadgod in the boundary formation. It was ineffective, as the formation also affects Monarchs. Fortunately, the Dreadgods can’t breach the labyrinth in Sacred Valley and lose interest quickly. Yerin threatens to say they broke their promise if they don’t intervene, but they respond that there are limits… And further, her spirit is not balanced. It was further harmed by the valley. If it’s not fixed, she may never advance again. It’s possible it could resolve on its own, but not a guarantee. With the understanding that this will help her function in the valley, she reluctantly agrees. They rewrite reality to heal her. After, Malice reveals that she’d been manipulating her – she was always going to come help, but she wanted to mislead the other Monarchs beforehand.
Reigan Shen is working in his own plan. He’s avoiding the attention of other Monarchs with false trails. He teleports to an area with many eggs of the Bleeding Phoenix, and uses an Abidan artifact. The key to the western labyrinth a mummified, chalk white hand. Hunger madra. If it’s exposed too long, it could even manifest an Icon. The Phoenix eggs respond and begin to reform. He feeds the Phoenix a single join of a finger from the hand, and notes that it should be enough for it to know the way home. It looks west, to where the being called the fifth Dreadgod, the father of the Dreadgods, lies. Their progenitor from which they all formed. Subject One. The next phase of Shen’s plan has begun, and he follows the Phoenix.
London is driving the remaining members of the Wei clan to Heaven’s Glory, with much physical encouragement via shows of strength. They follow him out of fear. They arrive at Mount Samara, and Lindon finds Eithan in battle, drained and flickering. The Kazan are protecting him. He beats the rest of the Heavens Glory and sets them to helping evacuate.
The Titan is on the move again, and roars it’s anger. The refugees run. Eithan’s airship, barely flying in the valley, is there and they load people on. London goes to Orthos, Little Blue, and his family on Windfall. They take off, leaving some behind, but they are out of time. The Titan is destroying the valley. Some Akura ships left before filling with refugees, and others stayed longer. London doesn’t blame them for going, but is grateful to those who hung back.
Malice arrives and begins to attack the Titan. She nods to London before continuing to engage. Yerin arrives, smug in having brought Malice with her. London lands the ship, unloads the refugees he has now, and turns back to pick up more. Yerin chats with London’s family, who ask about the Uncrowned Tournament she won. She is humble, and notes Lindon was top sixteen. They don’t really understand the scale, and Lindon doesn’t want to come off as bragging. London’s family believes that Lindon is Yerin’s student, and she’s unsure how to react or explain. His family catches on that they’re romantically involved, and ask Yerin what she sees in him. She tells them that he’s determined, loyal, and brave. He’ll win at any cost, but fiercely dedicated to those he cares about. He’s embarrassed, unsure if he can live up to that description. But he wants to.
London picks up more refugees on Windfall. Some are leaving on foot or in whatever vehicles they have. He hopes for the best for them. Mercy has arrived as well, and surreptitiously hides something in the ground. Something scripted that feels like it might create a portal. She’s not hiding it from London and Yerin, but from the others present.
Abruptly, Yerin pulls him aside. Her eyes are bright red… And so is the sky over Mount Samara. The Bleeding Phoenix has arrived. Blood spawn begin to form.
North strider is destroying the harvesting towers of the Abyssal Palace, designed to siphon power from the Titan’s passing. He’s collecting samples from dreadbeasts, as well – they’re his best source of info and materials since he’ll never risk the inside of the labyrinth again. North strider senses the Phoenix and teleports to it. Initially he plans not to intervene directly, until he senses Lindon and co. He’s furious Malice allowed them in the path of the Dreadgods, clustered.
Ziel’s company of Kazan is attacked by bloodspawn as the Phoenix approaches. He starts to run, believing he made a mistake in staying, before suddenly finding that he’s moved himself back into the fray, protecting the Kazan and destroying bloodspawn. He forges a boundary field, destroying all in his vicinity why the Kazan cover him. They begin moving again towards the exit.
London lands an Empty Palm on Yerin, but it’s unnecessary. She still has control despite the Phoenix. Yerin handles the spawn while London focuses on getting them further away. The Bleeding Phoenix turns it’s attention towards him, and he struggles beneath it’s pressure. It’s crushing Windfalls defenses. Yerin believes it wants her back – it’s focused on HER. Just as their defenses begin to buckle, its attention is diverted: North strider has attacked it. They fight in a blur, but it’s clear that the Phoenix has the upper hand. It’s not completely imbalanced, however. London understands the delimma of the Monarchs better. They’re on an almost even level, but if they go too hard the Dreadgods will all wake and work together. And the Monarchs have people to protect where the Dreadgods don’t. However, Lindon isn’t quite satisfied. Monarchs outnumber the Dreadgods. There must be something more. Malice joins the fray with NS and they begin pulling the battle further north away from Sacred Valley.
The Titan is still in the Valley, sitting. It begins to move, destruction raining down. It destroys the Wei compound, including Elder Whisper’s tower. The refugees and Lindon sob, and Malice abruptly scoops them up and teleports the cloudship back to Moongrave. The fight is over.
Yerin reassures Lindon she’s okay from the fight, even if Ruby had separated into a distinct identity for a moment under the Phoenix. London doesn’t believe her – he saw the Moonlight Bridge and knows she’d have tossed herself to the Phoenix if she could. Eithan tells Lindon that Ziel, Jai Long, and Jai Chen are not here with them.
With the Titan destroyed the Valley, he feels like he failed. Dross, however, points out that he did save the people – and are those not the true soul of Sacred Valley? But they’re not even impressed with him. But… They did make it. He relaxes a little, feeling that perhaps his job is done. Until he spots Mercy to the side. She asks… Does anyone want to go back? She knows they can’t bring anyone back as rescue, but they could stall the Titan. London’s family says it would be insane for him to go back, and expresses their gratitude for what he’s done so far. London prays to Suriel for guidance, hoping for an answer.
Suriel is at that moment checking in on him. She’s surprised by how fast he’s grown and how well he’s done. She’s looking forward to his decision on whether to return. Given that she’ll be facing the Mad King soon, she decides to take this opportunity to speak to London. He tells her about the Titan, but she informs him she knows. She’s been keeping an eye on him. She tells him circumstances have changed since they last spoke, and warns that Cradle may experience corruption of space, with strange beasts that don’t obey the laws of reality appearing. She tells him the Abidan won’t abandon them – Cradle is one of their core worlds. He begs her to save Sacred Valley, but she says she already has. London is her solution, and he is in position. He tells her he’s not ready, and she shows him a vision of the refugees as they are now. He already HAS saved them. It’s up to him to decide when he’s succeeded. And… Who he’ll be after that. She shows him possible futures of all sorts for himself, happy ones, peaceful ones, and even ones where he kills Dreadgods. She leaves him to make his choice.
When he returns, he opens the void key he took from Sophara. He prepares to advance to Overlord. Orthos joins him. When he’s ready, he speaks his Overlord revelation: I advance. And so he does.
Outside, he meets Yerin’s eyes. He says he’ll see her soon. And using his authority, he returns.
Jai Long and Jai Chen are in a bad position, overwhelmed by Bloodspawn. He believes they will die, but he is determined to protect his sister to his last breath. London arrives and uses launcher constructs to destroy bloodspawn, fifty firing simultaneously with Dross’ help. Jai Long doesn’t understand at first – he’s only seen sights like this from entire sects previously. But this is just Lindon. Finally, he believes that Lindon truly is the Sage of Twin Stars.
Suriel is in Iteration 129: Oasis to face the Mad King. Makiel is there too. They battle, Suriel with her Razor, the Mad King with the Scythe, Makiel with the Sword of the First Judge. The Sword is a symbol of order, and has been since the Abidan first rose from Cradle so long ago. The Razor is meant to separate the diseased from the healthy, and the Mad King is a cancer. The iteration becomes less stable the longer they battle. They nearly drive off the Mad King, but the tide turns at the last moment and they are forced to flee.
London faces down the Titan. He realizes that the Titan isn’t attacking now, but rather looking for something. When the Titan reaches for Samara’s Ring, he attacks with a Dragon’s Breath from outside the boundary field. It fades as it passes through. It doesn’t harm the Titan. It eats part of the ring, using hunger madra. Just as he’s about to plunge in, space cracks, and Yerin arrived. She’s mad, and tells him he’s an idiot to think he could leave her behind. Mercy, Orthos, and Eithan all arrive too. They begin to attack the Titan, with… Mixed success. The Titan waves away their attacks. Yerin manages to stop the Titan’s fist when it strikes at her, and Lindon senses a power beyond the physical in Yerin, a weigh of conceptual strength. But only for a moment before she’s pushed aside. London prepares to attempt to command the Dreadgod with his will, but Dross stops him. Neither Charity nor Malice commanded them directly, instead working their Sage powers though techniques. They continue to attack together, simultaneously hitting it with the Hollow Crown, The Endless Sword, and The Dragon Descends. They finally have the Titan’s attention properly, and it takes out Eithan with a stream of earth madra from it’s mouth.
London begs Dross for a way to win. Dross tells him it will be too much, that he doesn’t want to. He tells Lindon it will hurt himself. But… He does it.
Dross accelerates the perception of time in each person he contacts, meaning that it feels like time is frozen when he arrives.
Ziel is flying away from the Dreadgod when Dross appears in front of him. Dross tells him he has little time, but they need help against the Dreadgod. All Ziel has to do is make some platforms where Dross tells him. The goal is to make them more trouble to beat than they’re worth so that the Titan goes away. Ziel thinks about what it would have been like to see the Weeping Dragon turn around and leave… And he agrees.
Mercy is working with Jai Chen to protect a large group of Irons. Dross appears and asks for her help. He wants it will hurt her – a lot. But hopefully not permanently, because her family should be able to fix her. He needs her bloodline. She agrees.
Orthos, having advanced to Underlord with the treasures in London’s void key, is next on the list. Orthos agrees to help too.
Eithan is collapsed and in pain when Dross comes to him. Eithan says not to waste his energy, knowing he’s split so many ways. Eithan says to just say what’s needed. Eithan must stop a Titan striker technique from hitting Lindon. Dross will handle getting Eithan into position. Eithan agrees, but is worried – he’s hurt badly enough this might be a problem.
Dross arrives at Yerin beneath the Titans raised foot, preparing to stomp her. He’s visibly strained, but tells her not to worry. He asks her to hold the Titan in place so London can hit it. She’ll need to use her master’s sword. And she’ll have to overload it, and there’s no way around it short of advancing right now to Archlord, which she can’t in Sacred Valley. She clings to the hope that the Winter Sage might be able to fix it, and agrees. Dross tells her to just do it when the Titans foot comes down.
Dross releases his time acceleration. The Titans foot comes down. Yerin’s madra flares below it, and freezes it into place. Green rings appear to the south, Ziel flying through the air using them. Mercy sprints in coveted in her bloodline armor, the size of a tall building with Orthos under her arm and filling himself with soulfire. The Titan punches Mercy, she ducks, but then is hit by it’s tail. Mercy stands her ground and lobs Orthos through the Dreadgods legs. And the turtle begins to grow, soon he’s half the height of the Titan. The Titan prepared to attack Orthos, but Dross cues Lindon then. London and Mercy catch the Titans attention from Orthos. London jumps down, and the Titan targets Eithan. Eithan dodges.
Orthos roars, empty of soulfire and frankly gigantic. His shell is splintering as the Dreadgod grips him. London tries to send him reassurance, and he drops onto the back of the Titans neck. With all his will, he begins to Consume. He feels frustration, irritation, dissatisfaction, and exhaustion. The Dreadgod wanted to satisfy it’s eternal hunger, and followed the scent of the thing that could end it’s suffering here – but nothing is here. All it wants is to eat and then sleep. London breaks contact and tells Dross that the Titan is tired and wants to leave – they CAN drive it out.
The Titan tosses down Mercy and her armor shatters. The Dreadgod wants to go through Mount Samara to get out. It had thought mount Samara might have been it’s ancient home, but had discovered that not to be the case. It wasn’t home. Not quite. It prepares to throw Orthos at the mountain. London begins to Consume again, costing the Dreadgod power. But it’s not enough.
Dross groans. He’d hoped it would work. He turns to London. “Hey, London. You wouldn’t… You wouldn’t throw me away, would you? . . . I’ve always been afraid of being thrown away. Please, just keep me around.” London is suddenly nervous. He tells Dross he’s NOT going to throw them away, and asks him to please help. Dross replies that that’s good, he just needed to hear it. And then dream aura floods out from Dross. The Fox Dream. Dross blazes with madra, and sends a dream to the Titan. Right figured over Mount Samara, all Monarchs, and erasing Orthos from it’s mind. The Titan is irritated – all it’s found is very well defended nothing. It turns around, and begins to walk back the way it came, absently dropping Orthos.
They did it.
London sags, thanking Dross for saving them. But Dross doesn’t respond.
Iteration 001: Sanctum. Suriel is restoring Makiel, even as Makiel works to find a way to preserve Fate. She watches Makiels map of the iterations, and sees 129: Oasis wink out. The Spider, Telariel, connects her to the other judges. She tells them what happened. They are shocked by their defeat. She commands them not to engage the Mad King, and to abandon any world they cannot hold. Fortify those the can. The Vroshir will finish their raid, many will die, but they will endure and rebuild. The Court of Seven (including the Hound, the Phoenix, the Ghost, the Spider, the Titan-Gadrael, the Fox-Zerachiel, the Wolf-Razael, left out is Ozriel whose relationship is unclear) are in agreement. From ten thousand worlds, they’ll be reduced to perhaps one hundred.
One sector in particular has already been surrounded by the Vroshir. Sector 110. Containing Iteration 110: Cradle. Before it closes off, she sends a message through London’s marble. It is short and simple: I’m sorry, hold on. Cradle is now at the Mad King’s mercy, and he well knows the significance of it. It was the birthplace of the original Abidan, and Ozriel’s home.
London and co are recovering as best they can. To Eithan’s dismay, he’s had to cut his hair as it was terribly damaged. He’s only three inches left. Barely enough to style. Though, he reassures himself he still looks great. Other than that, he’s got braces on his neck and all four limbs and is filled with pills and healing elixirs, but that’s not as important.
Mercy and Ziel sleep, recovering from spiritual wounds and having been healed by Little Blue. Mercy may need attention from Malice to recover, but they hope not to have to request it. Ziel is largely fine and just needs rest due to the Pure Storm Baptism Eithan gave him earlier. Orthos is recovering well, though stuck at his giant size until he gathers more soulfire. Yerin is largely fine.
London is physically fine. But… He is grieving Dross. Eithan notes that being like Dross don’t usually die except under truly extraordinary circumstances. He keeps to himself that they may well change drastically, with entirely different personalities. nothing is a guarantee, but Eithan has high hopes that Dross will come back as he was before. Eithan encourages Yerin to give Lindon some space.
Jai Chen finds herself leading several hundred sacred artists. Mercy gave her a pill to heal Jai Long, but he hasn’t woken yet though he is healing. She’s met by some of the Jai clan, and she doesn’t tell them their real identity. She tells them instead that they were sent by the Sage of Twin Stars. The Jai clan gasp, asking if they are the honorable Twin Star sect. Jai Chen agrees that they are. Sometimes during the conversation, Eithan has appeared behind Jai Chen. He says he’s another representative of the Twin Star sect and unveils their banner: a blank, gray banner. Some of the Jai clan believes him to be an Underlord and bows. He says they’re close enough. The others are unhappy, knowing who he is. He says he’s no longer with the Arelius and is now a personal acolyte to the Sage of Twin Stars and a fojndin member of the Twin Star sect.
The Jai clan reluctantly agrees to allow them a place to rest, though they cannot share good. Eithan, however, tells Jai Chen he intends to prepare them better accomodations than this. His new sect can’t die out in the cold after all. He DID just commission an entire flying farmland of her and spirit fruits to support a small sect, after all, and it was very kind of Jai Chen to found one for him like this.
NS is conferring with Malice along the coastline. The Bleeding Phoenix is flying into the Trackless Sea – not fleeing, but with a goal. They’re unsure what it is doing. They know it’s Reigan Shen’s doing.
Reigan Shen has unearthed the entrance to the place Subject One is held, a Dreadgod and the origin of their bloodline. He opens the door, the Nethergate, to the western labyrinth. He enters, carrying the key, and strides in to get his new weapon.
London faces the Ancestors Tomb. He’s learned much from the Titan’s memories. The Titan sensed the source of hunger madra here. London believes it to be locked away and buried here – and given that his arm has been strained and cracked form Consuming the Titan, he needs more hunger madra weapons to rebuild it. Just as he moves towards the door, he notices a bump in space. He wishes he had Dross in case he needs to call for help.
He can still feel Dross a little at the base of his skull. he’s diffuse, unformed. Lindon knows he may or may not be himself even if he returns. He still has some advantages, though.
He investigates the bump. He tells it too open and discovers that this was the void key of the Sword Sage, Yerin’s old master. He’s shocked – this should have degraded by now. Unless someone kept it open. He speaks over his shoulder, saying “I’m talking to you,” and Elder Whisper makes his appearance. Lindon notes that Whisper has gone quite far down his Path. Whisper reveals he had no way to open the void key even if he was able to maintain it. He says that the Sword Sage was asking forbidden questions when he was here last. In the corner, there is a cylinder with a purple and white flame above it wrapped in scripts. He opens it. Inside, there is a cube the size of a head pulsing with hunger madra. The Arelius moon crest is on top of it. Inside is a chalk white, mummified left hand. It is a key to the depths of the labyrinth. London slams the box shut, fearing he’ll drawn the Dreadgods back. Elder Whisper asks if he’d like to know how to kill the Dreadgods.