Each of the members of the Circle overcome adversity while being drawn towards the Blessed Isle.
Separated from the Bright Bulls, Vedon plans on returning to where he last saw them. Along the way, he comes across a group of peasants fleeing their village. Upon inquiry, he learns that they are running from a slowly approaching hoard of undead. Though they are technically under the protection of Chiarcoscuro and the Tri-Khan, they do not think the Tri-Khan will send a response force in time to save their homes. Vedon runs through the night to the Bright Bulls, brings back an elite force, and confronts the undead army: 100 skeletons, a Bone Chain, and a War Ghost. With the help of Tetsu, an itinerant Immaculate monk,Vedon defeats the undead and sends the ghost fleeing into the deep desert. He is not able to savor his victory, though, as a Wyld Hunt which has been tracking him arrives and forces him and the Bright Bulls to escape onto a trading vessel bound for the Blessed Isle.
While in Gem, Andross Niketan the Unbinder comes across a gang known as the Firehawks. The Firehawks are in the sex-slave trade. Andross Niketan the Unbinder chases down some gangsters and presses them for information. He tracks down the leader of the Firehawks, Randa, and convinces her to give up the business of sex-trade. She thinks it over and agrees. She immediately changed the group into a street gang based on extortion, mugging, and theft instead. Randa tells Andross Niketan the Unbinder that their main customer was a Zinni, a terrible man who tortures and kills slaves. Andross Niketan the Unbinder learns that Zinni is on the Blessed Isle and immediately sets off to confront this demon of a man.
Wandering the frozen wastes of the Great Ice, Benjen comes across a tribe of Icewalkers. They are initially cold to him, but he helps them by repairing their harpoons, knives, and nets. They tell him that an insane member of their tribe named Dro-dana kidnapped a boy named Ebell and took him South in one of the tribe’s rowboats. Dro-dana recently began ranting about “walking metal.” Benjen followed Dro-dana to the Fair Isle, where he was attacked by an ancient automaton. He defeated the automaton and explored the area. He found a severed hand and a trail of blood leading to a dock. From there, he sailed further South in hopes of catching up with the injured Dro-dana. Eventually, he came across a rowboat floating in the sea. Dro-dana bled to death, and Ebell did not have the strength to row all the way to the Tuskstad. Benjen took Ebell aboard his boat, and they finished the journey to Tuskstad. When Ebell recovered, he told Benjen that Dro-dana had ranted about boats flying through the air, over the White Sea to the Imperial Mountain on the Blessed Isle. Benjen was intrigued by what he saw on the Fair Isle and followed the air ship route South to the Blessed Isle.
East of the Neck relaxing between raids, Raven is approached by a representative of the Guild. The Guild factor informs Raven that a tribe of pelagathropes have choked off the trade route between the Neck and the Blessed Isle. If Raven can blaze a new trail, the factor will pay handsomely and call off the bounty on Raven for piracy. Raven accepts and sets off East with her crew. They decide to go straight through the pelagathrope blockades. Raven avoids most of the traps through deft piloting, and she fights off the boarding parties with flourish. Raven breaks the blockade and makes it through to the Blessed Isle. Now she needs to establish a port for the Guild.
In Whitewall, Shinsuke Iwato asks Elrik for a favor. Iwato needs the help of a local elemental named Pillars of Copper and Salt to help with the reconstruction of a dilapidated portion of the city. Elrik accepts and speaks with Pillars of Copper and Salt. He is willing to help in the reconstruction, but in exchange he wants the walls of Whitewall stripped of the white paint covering them. Elrik accepts these terms and reports back to Iwato. Iwato does not have the authority to authorize the stripping of the walls, so he ask Elrik to help him approach the Syndics and convince them to allow the walls to be stripped. They request an audience with Yo-Ping, the Syndic most in touch with the every day administration of the city. The evening before the meeting, during the full moon, a strange androgynous figure wearing white traveler’s garb approaches Elrik and tells him to point out Yo-Ping‘s shoes if the meeting goes poorly. With this odd piece of advice, the stranger departs. The next morning at the meeting, Yo-Ping flatly refuses the request. Elrik knocks over a cup of tea intentionally, but masks it as a clumsy mistake. The tea spills close to Yo-Ping, and Elrik points to the god’s shoes and warns that the tea may stain them. Yo-Ping glances down at the tea, catches sight of his shoes, and becomes entranced. Elrik seizes the moment by reaching over the god’s table, grabbing his seal, and stamping the order to strip the walls. Elrik quickly departs once he has the authorized order papers. With the papers in hand, Iwato and his crew begin stripping the walls. Under the thick white paint, they discover breathtaking ancient paintings and carvings in bright colors. The carvings depict events from the First Age, including Celestial Exalted fighting alongside the gods to defeat the Primordials. Upon seeing the imagery, Elrik sees a vision of the First Age where Tenrae and Den’Rahin, the ancient rulers of the city, which was known as Ondar Shambal at the time. He sees them traveling South along the Holy Road to the Solar Deliberative at Meru. Inspired by his vision, Elrik sets off immediately to see Meru with his own eyes.
While following Lyonne to the Scavenger Lands, Teeli comes close to Sal-Maneth. She comes across a camp of academics on the outskirts of the city and chats with them. They tell her that they are there to study the ancient secrets locked away in the dangerous city. They are distressed because Tark, one of their members, had a strange impulse to go into the city looking for an ancient book that would protect them from the influences of the Wyld. Tark ran off into the city before anyone could stop her, and now no one is brave enough to rescue her. Rex-anu, the leader of the camp, wants to help, but he thinks it would be suicide to go in unprepared. Teeli offers to help, and Rex-anu gladly accepts. She heads off into the city, easily following Tark’s frantic tracks. The tracks end suddenly in the intersection of numerous crumbling bridges intertwined with massive trees. Teeli finds Tark unconscious strung up under one of the bridges in a strange cocoon. When Teeli scrambles up the branches of a nearby tree to get Tark down, a shashashashashaw attacks her! Teeli has heard of these Wyld beasts before, and confronts it head-on with courage and no hint of fear. They battle in the trees and crumbling bridges, but Teeli gets the upper hand by shapeshifting into War Form, grabbing the shashashashashaw out of the sky, pinning its wings, and pile-driving it into the stone below. With the beast defeated, Teeli collects the nearly scared to death Tark and returns her to the camp safely. Rex-anu is grateful, but has nothing to give as a reward except the gratitude of his scholarly order and the promise to repay this debt someday. With the problem solved, Teeli continues her journey West to the Scavenger Lands.