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.
Quick Summary of Underlord
The Dreadgods are stirring from their slumber. In preparation, the Monarchs of Cradle are preparing to hold a tournament designed to raise up a new generation of Sacred Artists: The Uncrowned King Tournament.
The Akura clan opens up one of their training grounds, Night Wheel Valley, to their two vassal states, the Blackflame Empire and the Seishen Kingdom. Inside, there are many sacred treasures to be found. After they’ve had a chance to train there, The Sage of the Silver Heart, Akura Charity, will choose the best three Underlords from both kingdoms to compete on behalf of the Akura clan. Due to Lindon causing Akura Harmony’s death in Ghostwater, she encourages the Seishen Kingdom Underlords to target him in particular.
In Night Wheel Valley, Seishen Kiro and his protector, Meira, go toe-to-toe with Lindon .With some training and the threat of Kiro and Meira looming, Lindon advances to Underlord. His insight is: “I fight so I won’t be worthless anymore. Meira is a Life artists, and takes a fatal chunk of Yerin’s lifeline. If Yerin cannot advance to Underlady, she will die.
The Seishen Kingdom launches a surprise attack on the Blackflame Empire, forcing them out of the Valley. However, they retaliate by attempting to break into one of the Akura vaults. While battle rages, Lindon, Yerin, and Mercy sneak into the vault. Yerin both manages to advance to Underlord during the battle, while Mercy is forced to break her bet with her mother and return to the family. Yerin’s Underlord insight: “I train in the sacred arts because… Because I don’t like people around me dying, and it hurts, and I’m afraid I’ll have to feel that again, so I try to get stronger so I won’t have to. And that’s all.”
Lindon kills Prince Kiro, causing Prince Daji to swear he will have revenge on Lindon. Daji, however, is defeated and disabled by Mercy.
After the battles conclude, Charity reveals her choices for the Uncrowned King Tournament. Yerin, Eithan, and Naru Saeya will fight as their vassal state team. Lindon is initially crushed… until Charity reveals that he will be repaying the debt he incurred by killing Akura Harmony by fighting as part of the Blackflame team.
Back in Sacred Valley, Wei Shi Kelsa hides from those hunting the Wei clan. She’s trying to steal food for her family. She’s forced to run… And gets away, but ends up face to face with a giant, flaming turtle. He says he’s come from her brother, Lindon. His name is Orthos.
The Abidan are fighting their own wars against the Vroshir, enemies of the Court of Seven. They are stretched too thin, and worlds are being lost.
Without Ozriel around to purge corruption, the Abidan are stretched thin. They’re vulnerable not only to corruption, but also to invasion. A one star Titan, Pariana discovers this firsthand. The iteration she’s stationed on is attacked by the Vroshir, a group dedicated to shattering the Eledari Pact and bringing down the Court of Seven. The four Vroshir who’ve arrived overpower her quickly, and order her to relinquish her Presence so that she can be taken as a prisoner of war. However, she orders her Presence to destroy itself first, and refuses to surrender.
Fortunately, just as she begins to drift off into death, Suriel, Sixth Judge of the Abidan Court, arrives.She reverses time and the destruction caused, and defeats the Vroshir. She speeds away after righting the damage; other worlds are also under attack.
Akura Charity, Sage of the Silver Heart, has sculpted a statue to memorialize Akura Harmony, who Lindon left to die in Ghostwater. Charity had attempted to save Harmony, but Northstrider locked down the pocket world before she was able to retrieve him. She knows Lindon is the one who destroyed the exit portal, and she has some ideas about how he might pay the family back. She chooses not to kill him or cut off his growth given his impressive showing within the pocket world, but she does decide to put a little extra pressure on him.
Lindon, Yerin, and Mercy are attempting to return to the Skysworn headquarters after having escaped with their lives from Ghoswater and the dragons. Unfortunately, the cloudship they’re on runs out of cloud madra, and they have no cloud Sacred Artists to refuel it. They’re forced to make a rough emergency landing. A silver-purple owl spirit watches them; it is subtle, quiet. Lindon wouldn’t have noticed it if not for Dross. Dross has also begun assisting in other ways – Lindon is beginning to understand some of Little Blue’s chiming as language with his assistance.
Now that they are on the ground, Lindon is dismayed to see a massive group of Skysworn approaching. The two Skysworn who were with them at the start of the mission, Bai Rou and Renfei, aren’t with them any longer. Renfei was killed in Ghostwater, and Bai Rou taken by the Akura. As Lindon feared and expected, Naru Gwei, Underlord and leader of the Skysworn, intends to take them into custody. Lindon, however, finds that’s he’s simply had enough of being a prisoner. He resists arrest, fighting. He defeats all the Truegolds Naru Gwei brought, fighting them alongside Yerin and Mercy. He relies on his Pure core, ensuring he does not kill them. After disabling the Truegolds, Naru Gwei himself spars briefly with him as a test. Naru Gwei reluctantly tells him that he can’t afford to lose powerful Truegolds, and that if they promise to help unravel this mess, he will treat them fairly.
Now traveling on the Skysworn cloudship, Lindon and Mercy have a brief chat. Mercy reveals that she used to stronger than a mere Lowgold. Further, she suspects that the owl Lindon has seen might be a “family thing,” as she puts it. Lindon is shocked to learn that she was previous engaged to Harmony, causing him a great deal of distress given his involvement in Harmony’s death. Fortunately, the engagement had been broken off some time ago.
Yerin, meanwhile, is dealing with anxiety and jealousy over Lindon’s opportunity to train in Ghoswater. She feels left out and left behind. Lindon, however, seeks her out to talk, and shows her his new void key. Additionally, all the water he collected from the Life, Dream, and Spirit Wells is for her since she didn’t get the chance inside. Yerin is both relieved and ashamed by her earlier thoughts, feeling reconnected once more.
The Sage of the Silver Heart pays a visit to the emperor of the Blackflame Empire, Naru Huan. A silver owl sits on her shoulder when she arrives. She tells him that the Uncrowned King Tournament is approaching, and that this will be the largest one in history. The Akura vassal states will be allowed to compete. The Dreadgods are stirring from their slumber, and they must raise up a new generation of Sacred Artists to defend them.
All competitors must be at Underlord stage and younger than thirty five. Given the difficulties in raising up Underlords in the Blackflame empire, the Akura family is opening up one of their training grounds Night Wheel Valley. The Blackflame Empire will compete with the Seishen Kingdom for resources there, and Charity will choose the three from both states to represent them. She also asks him for information on Lindon and Orthos, hoping to learn more about them. After she leaves, Naru Huan puts out a call to all Underlords to bring their disciples to Blackflame City.
As it turns out, Bai Rou was released from the Akura stronghold near Ghoswater. Lindon, Mercy, and Yerin are taken to see him. Argument breaks out, which Naru Gwei attempts to mediate. Eithan is up in the rafters, and Dross points him out to Lindon. When Eithan see Lindon watching him, he’s surprised; he hadn’t expected to be seen. Eithan drops down and convinces Naru Gwei to release all three into his custody.
Eithan tells them a little about the upcoming tournament. They ask him about what it takes to reach Underlord, and he explains that the first step is to open one’s soulspace. Then, you must weave soulfire and call on it to reforge your body. The last step is tricky, though, and requires a personal insight into your own identity that causes your soulfire to resonate with the aura around you. They do some light training on Skysworn missions, and begin working on advancement to Underlord. Eithan also provides Yerin with dream tablets and information on cultivating her Blood Shadow.
Due to the emperor’s earlier command, Blackflame City is packed with promising young Sacred Artists hoping to learn more about the tournament. The day of the announcement has arrived, and Eithan gives his disciples a cryptic set of instructions: when the massive pillar of darkness erupts in front them them, they need to run INTO it. And so, they do.
Outside the portal, Akura Charity is addressing the gathered masses. She explains it is an entrance to Night Wheel Valley, a training ground belonging to the Akura clan. She calls on the promising Truegolds of the Blackflame Empire to enter and grow – and perhaps earn a chance to represent them in the Uncrowned King Tournament.
In the Seishen Kingon, the Blackflame Empire’s rival state, a similar event is occurring. Prince Seishen Kiro is nervous about the Nightwheel Valley competition. His father, King Dakata, brags about him as being the strongest Underlord in Seishen Kingdom to Charity. Charity, however, sees through it quickly. Kiro’s sworn guardian, an Underlady named Meira, is a gardener and life artist whose power is severely underestimated by Dakata. Kiro’s younger project, Prince Daji, merely glowers at Charity.
Charity encourages the Seishen to clash with Lindon in particular. She also warns them: though he is a Truegold, if any there face him before Underlord they will surely die.
Thanks to Eithan, Lindon, Mercy, and Yerin are getting a head start in Night Wheel Valley. They split up to cover more ground. Lindon and Mercy are one team, while Yerin, Eithan, and Orthos make up the second. They gather as many natural treasures as they can before the main groups from the Blackflame Empire and Seishen Kingdom arrive. Lindon takes this chance to talk to Mercy a bit more. She reveals that she has a Puppeteer’s Iron Body, which gives her superior control over her limbs and muscles. The reason that she’s so clumsy now is because her power was sealed when she left home. Lindon hasn’t had a chance to explicitly tell her what happened to Harmony yet, as she tends to avoid the subject, but he opens his void key in a way that gives her a clear view of Harmoney’s axe.
While Yerin, Orthos, and Eithan are searching for treasures, Yerin overhears a conversation between Eithan and Orthos. After having drank from the life well, Orthos has a new lease on life. For Sacred Beasts, advancement tends to be a journey taken with family… and Eithan thinks Night Wheel Valley might be a good place for a dragon to find an adventure.
When they return to the portal, the area is bustling with Sacred Artists. Yerin takes some time to study the dream tablets Eithan gave her. The Sage of Red Faith had a special technique that raised his Blood Shadow to be a duplicate of himself that could fight alongside him. Most Redmoon Hall artists either make theirs into a weapon, leave it formless, or feed it beast blood to create a spirit that can fight for them.
Eithan also has had some pills made to strengthen their cycling. He reveals he knew about Lindon’s void key and the spirit well water, much to his disappointment… But, much to Lindon’s cheer, he hasn’t realized about Dross. Lindon gleefully reveals him to Eithan’s complete and utter shock. After he hears the story of Ghostwater, he’s thrilled by the possibilities that lay inside Dross.
The pills, a Heaven’s Drop, take Lindon’s Pure core to Truegold and gives Yerin two additional Goldsign blades. She has a total of four now. Orthos is reluctant to take his, but does. Mercy refuses to take one due to her family situation. Lindon manages to open his soulspace, just a little – the first step to Underlord. The fourth Drop, originally meant for Mercy, goes to Yerin for her Blood Shadow.
After taking the Heaven’s Drop, Orthos moves away from the main group. Eithan mentions that Lindon may wish to go check on him. When Lindon reaches him, he finds Orthos in a more melancholy mood than he’s ever seen him before. He is saying goodbye. Now that he has a chance to advance again, it’s time for him to go. Sacred Beasts advance differently from humans, and Lindon is rapidly outpacing him. Lindon is heartbroken, and sobs into Orthos. Yerin arrives and hugs Orthos as well. They say their farewells.
King Dakata hatches a plan to attack the Blackflame Empire and claim the whole valley for the Seishen Sacred Artists. Kiro is horrified by this plan, fearing the bloodshed involved and possible wrath of the Sage. Daji encourages it, but his opinion is nevertheless dismissed by Dakata. Dakata addresses Kiro’s concerns about Charity intervening as a sage, and intimidates him into obedience. Kiro has to call of Meira, who’d been posed to strike if Dakata had hurt Kiro. Though he’d have killed her as an Overlord, she’d have taken some of his lifespan with her. When the attack happens, he instructs Kiro and Meira to head off to the side and go after the Blackflame, Lindon.
To draw Lindon out, Kiro and Meira attack a group of Skysworn Lowgolds. When Lindon intervenes, Kiro is shocked by his strength. He’s convinced there’s some trick – he hits like an Underlord, not a Truegold. After allowing the Lowgolds a chance to escape, Lindon puts enough pressure on Kiro to gain enough space in the fight to muster his own retreat. When he runs into Mercy, he changes directions to lead Kiro away from her. Mercy is still only a Highgold.
Yerin and Mercy catch a message from Dross during the fight, and they try to head his way. However, Meira finds them first. They battle. She demands to know where Lindon is. When her scythe knicks Yerin, she feels it cut into her lifeline. The sliced life essence floats free in the air. While she can’t draw it back into her own spirit, she can use it to feed her Blood Shadow. With the additional strength, it manages to slip its leash and enter the fray in its own right. They escape Meira for the moment, but soon run into Lindon once again fighting Kiro. Yerin catches a piece of a message – Underlords are coming to save them if they can last. Yerin and her Blood Shadow move seamlessly, perfectly, fighting to buy them time. Lindon jumps in with Blackflame when an opening presents. Yerin wounds Kiro badly, and Meira uses a gatestone to escape. Yerin collapses, badly wounded.
Soon, Skysworn arrive to pick up Lindon and the rest. The main thrust of the Seishen Kingdom’s attack has caught the Blackflame Empire completely off guard. They are forced to retreat to the edge of the portal, and have many wounded. Lindon discovers that he’s been ranked amongst the top one hundred Truegolds of the Blackflame Empire; currently, he sits at 96. Yerin is ranked a bit higher at 87. Both receive special attention from the healers due to this. The moment he feels Yerin awaken, he goes to her despite the protests of the healers.
The healers tell him that her lifeline has been severely damaged by Meira’s attack. She has only two months to live unless she can advance to Underlord and reforge her body in soulfire. Lindon does his best to motivate her to at least try to advance. She truly does want to compete in the Uncrowned King Tournament; the prizes are incredible, once in a lifetime, but that’s not enough. She’s scared and lacks confidence. Lindon tells her how much she means to him, how empty a future would be without her. Eithan provides pills that will get her back into fighting shape so she can continue to train.
Outside the encampment, Mercy is taking some time to meditate when she’s interrupted by Charity. Charity tells her bluntly that Lindon and Orthos left Harmony to die, but she also says that the actions she’s taken against Lindon have truly been an attempt to push him. It may be harsh, but it also encourages him to advance to a level where he can repay his debt to the family in addition to sending a message to others who might move against them. That said, she acknowledges she owes Mercy a favor: she’s pushed harder than she might have otherwise because Mercy has always had the option to embrace her former power to save her friends in bad situations. Given this, she tells Mercy she owes her a favor. She also tries to convince Mercy to return to the fold, but Mercy is unwilling. She is still not ready to accept her Underlord revelation.
In camp, Lindon is keeping himself busy with Soulsmithing. Eithan gifted Dross with a dream tablet filled with Soulsmithing knowledge, allowing him to model all of Lindon’s projects. Lindon, knowing that he’ll need something more powerful for his hunger arm when he advances to Underlord, asks Eithan if it would be possible for him to get the Archstone back from Naru Huan for him. Eithan promises to get it.
Mercy drops in while Lindon is Soulsmithing. He confides his frustration that he hasn’t found his Underlord revelation yet. Mercy is sympathetic and gives him a piece of advice: follow your fear. He meditates with her, thinking about why he felt a need to leave his family, why he’s scared of people leaving him. He thinks to himself, “I fight so I won’t be worthless anymore.” And his soulfire quivers. Mercy stops him from beginning the advancement, however; the aura here is too weak, and he needs to go back into Night Wheel Valley so it will be instantaneous. Here it would take weeks.
They rush back to Yerin, who is still struggling, and see if the follow your fear technique works for her too. She drills into herself, fear of loss, fear of freedom, losing to the Blood Shadow. But one fear outshines the others. The fear of her lineline dying out. But that’s not her revelation.
Naru Gwei calls them in. He says they’re giving up on the tournament, showing them a map of the dangers they face. Lindon notices Sacred Valley on it it’s marked “Restricted Territory- dangerous and Forbidden” next to the seal of the Akura family, one big star and two smaller stars over a mountain range. Gwei asks their opinion on the troop movements; he’s on a tight bind and has been asking all the Truegolds the same thing. Lindon has an idea – and it involves Mercy.
There is a vault in Night Wheel Valley, and Mercy knows where it is. Charity owes her a favor. If she takes them… They’ll look the other way.
The Seishen are having a celebratory feast when Charity arrives. She reveals she has already picked a a BE Underlord, one from the Seishen Kingdom, and that the third is still not chosen as none yet meet the requirements. She reveals that the BE is planning to return, and gives them their plans. There are instructions for three of their Seishen Gold’s to follow. They are told to demonstrate their skills fairly and hold nothing back – and also told that they should not harm Akura Mercy. Then, she leaves. They begin preparations.
The BE is prepping their fastest cloudship. They’re going to blast through to the vault, empty it, and then run back. Lindon intends to begin advancing as soon as they’re through the portal. Eithan reveals he’s acquired the Archstone, and hands it to Lindon in front of everyone. He stores it in his soulspace.
They fly through to Night Wheel Valley. They reach the area the vault is in and head out. But then, a boundary field of dreams madra arises around them. Dross is able to keep Lindon conscious whole the others stumble and are unable to focus. Eithan is cycling, but still barely able to function though he’s better off than the others. Mercy and Yerin are entirely incapacitated. Lindon brings out Little Blue from his void key and has her cleanse the others’ spirits. They have about ten minutes before the field hits them again.
King Dakata confronts Naru Huan himself. He’s suspicious at the lack of impact on him from the dream madra.
Yerin takes the opportunity to head for the vault independently to try to advance outside it. Mercy and Lindon follow her. Mercy opens the vault, and they enter.
Kiro, Meira, and Daji saw them however and are in pursuit. Daji wants to rush in and destroy them, but Kiro cautions him, reminding him of the Sage’s words. They were a warning. She didn’t say do not or you will be punished if, but SHOULD NOT.
Inside, the vault is packed with aura and countless treasures. Lindon advances first, and Yerin hopes feeling his advancement will trigger something for her too. But before he can begin, Kiro and co arrive. Three enemy Underlords. Charity’s owl watches from behind them.
They fight. Lindon uses a cannon construct he’d made with Fisher Gesha.it has multiple gold level techniques resonating with one another to create greater impact. An updated version of the one used on Longhook.
Eithan reveals the type of Iron body he has: Raindrop Iron Body during the fight between Overlords. The fight between them begins properly as Underlords engage with one another.
Kiro survives the first cannon shot. Lindon pulls out a second cannon since they take a moment to recharge and he can’t afford that. Fires again. Next, he picks up the first cannon. A third blast.
He requests a battle plan from Dross. Kiro is still alive, but hurting.
Yerin fights Meira. She is reluctant to summon her Blood Shadow – it’s too strong, it can even speak now. It could kill HER. Meira is obsessive over Yerin having wounded Kiro. Kiro trained her at his own expense, and she’s sworn to protect him. And Yerin hurt him. She feels relief as Meira comes down in her – relief that by going first, she won’t have to feel the pain of losing Lindon and Mercy first.
Her soulfire stirs.
But then, her Blood Shadow blocks the attack. It’s the most fully formed she’s ever seen it. She can’t pull it back, but at least it’s attacking Meira. Whole it fights, she realizes her Underlord revelation. To avoid the pain of loss. I practice the sacred arts because I don’t want to hurt anymore.
She joins the fray with her Blood Shadow, and the tide of the battle turns.
Daji fights Mercy. He defeats her after some struggle, but makes the mistake of not accept her surrender. He breaks her arm and considers killing her. Then… She whispers out.. don’t kill them. Just leave. He’s furious and goes back to kill the others, knowing he could invite the wrath of the Sage. But Mercy throws herself into his swords. And darkness floods the vault.
Info on Mercy: children of Malice are given the chance to bond early with Divine Treasures. Malice’s Books. Mercy was a prodigy from a young age and always given special treatment. Only one Book had never been claimed, the one crafted by Malice for her successor. All of Malice’s children are given a chance to activate the book. For geniuses like Fury or Charity, it’s often the first taste of failure. The difference between a Monarch’s expectations and their own. Mercy falls into a trance at first sight. She bonds with it, and Malice proclaims her heir.
Mercy does not like the family structure. She wants kindness, not debasement. She thinks she’s escaped the trap of her family by not demeaning herself for approval or anything. She practices for others. Until she discovers her Underlord revelation, and begs to be let leave for a time to find an identity of her own. Malice agrees, with restrictions. Her body is sealed and advancement reverted. But… If she fails or dies, she must embrace her identity and become Akura heir again
Back to present. Mercy has lost her bet with Malice. Malice appears before them. Mercy admits her loss. She will miss Lindon and Yerin terribly, but this is the last thing she can do for them. Malice lifts the seal, and tells Mercy to advance immediately and prepare for the Uncrowned King Tournament.
Malice also gives one last gift: Mercy can save her friends before she goes.
Lindon leads Kiro away from the others. He waits in the center of a room filled with dream madra displays. Lindon breaks his hunger arm blocking an attack, draws him in… And Kiro breaks concentration, drawn into the dream madra. Lindon takes the chance to advance. He becomes an Underlord. He fuses the Archstone into his skeleton hunger arm, and it becomes a perfect replica of his original arm, only pure white. Sadly, the soulfire doesn’t impact Dross, as he was already born in NS Soulfire.
Daji attacks Mercy again. Now, however, she’s Truegold once more, and he’s no match even as an Underlord. He is easily overwhelmed and puts up a giant shield she can’t easily break through.
Yerin reaches the end of her lifeline while fighting Meira. But she can’t give up, the fights not over. Meira is distracted, and Yerin takes the chance for a final attack. Meira survives, but Yerin pushes herself a final time.
After his advancement, Lindon feels Yerin’s precarious situation and runs for her, ignoring Kiro. He’s forced to attack Kiro when he follows, using Harmony’s axe. He can activate it’s binding now that he’s strong enough, and Kiro falls to a single hit. His remnant wanders away.
Mercy advances: I walk my path so my mother will be proud of me. She advances in a breath. She’s now on Chapter Two of her Book of Eternal Night. She wraps Daji in Strings of Shadow, disabling him entirely. She runs to Yerin, but finds Lindon first. She’s startled by his change.
Yerin feels that Lindon is an Underlord. And based on the technique from the axe, she’s sure Kiro is dead. Meira attacks again. Yerin struggles to a sword madra display, cracks it open, and sizes the powers. She overwhelms Meira with an Endless Sword. Yerin collapses.
Lindon picks her up and asks if she’s ready. She is. “I train in the sacred arts because… Because I don’t like people around me dying, and it hurts, and I’m afraid I’ll have to feel that again, so I try to get stronger so I won’t have to. And that’s all.”
She advances, reborn on soulfire.
They have a good cry. Mercy explains her situation to them as well. Charity’s owl watches, and then Charity appears.
She says that Mercy has lost, though the others did win. She also gives them the opportunity to take all that they can carry from the vault. They have ten minutes, and then Charity must announce the results.
They take a carriage drawn by remnant horses to the site of the main battle between BE and SK, which stops at Charity’s arrival.
BE received scales and a defensive construct as they have provided all three Underlords. SK gets nothing other than an urn containing Kiros ashes, handmade and painted by Charity herself. Dakata wants revenge and is mad as hell.
Charity will deliver BE winnings and announce selections later in person.
Mercy can’t go with them. She’s an Akura again. The say very sad goodbyes.
Charity calls Lindon aside. She requests Harmony’s axe back. She also states that it’s time for Lindon to pay that debt. He won’t be a competitor for the BE. He’s horrified and sad at the loss of opportunity. Then… She says he’ll be competing on the Akura team. His training begins now. He only has time to share a glance with Yerin before he’s whisked away in shadow.
Eithan tells Yerin Charity has told the Emperor their team. It is Yerin, Naru Saeya… And Eithan. He’s a year younger than the cut off.
On the cosmic scale, the Vroshir are attacking in every front. They can’t maintain ling,.but they’ll outlast the Abidan. She finds a world that has been cut off entirely from the Way. She has to dig her way in… But finds a void. Not even the normal wild fragments of a broken world. It has been erased.
The only thing that could do this is the Reaper’s Scythe. Ozriel.
Back in Sacred Valley, Wei Shi Kelsa hides from those hunting the Wei clan. She’s trying to steal food for her family. She’s forced to run… And gets away, but ends up face to face with a giant, flaming turtle. He says he’s come from her brother, Lindon. His name is Orthos.