Resumen:Arena Blanca

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Las páginas de resumen tienen spoilers hasta el final del libro que analizan. Sin embargo, también tienen enlaces al resto de la Coppermind, que tiene spoilers completos. Para navegar de forma segura por las páginas que no son resúmenes, considere la posibilidad de utilizar la opción Máquina del Tiempo.

This page contains a chapter by chapter summary of White Sand. We hope this summary will make it easier to find specific areas of the graphic novel, as well as providing a quick plot refresher for anyone who doesn't want to take the time to reread the entire volume.

Prologue: Connections

Characters
Plot Summary
Khriss
Day 29—On a ship

Somewhere in the Border Ocean's terminal storm, Duchess Khrissalla is repairing a Dayside pocket watch to prove that the Dayside timekeeping differs from Darkside hours and minutes. As the storm abates and the seas calm, she and Baon venture on deck and into unfiltered sunlight for the first time. They find that Professor Allstren Cynder and Professor Jon Acron have already come on deck. Baon admonishes Flennid and his soldiers for failing to hide their pistols, as ordered. Khriss takes some time alone to reread the letter that informed her of Prince Gevalden's death. Baon joins her and they discuss the purpose of their mission—to find the Sand Mages that Prince Gevalden sought and gain their aid against Emperor Skathan.

Kenton
Ten days later—Mount KraeDa

Kenton and Traiben approach the Diem's meeting area near Mount KraeDa and use their sand mastery to sandboard down the dune approaching the tents. Kenton attempts to match Traiben's speed, despite only having access to a single sand ribbon; while Traiben is a Mastrell and able to control over 15 ribbons of mastered sand.

Over lunch Acolent Kenton, mockingly nicknamed Lonsha (Darksider), is challenged by Lestrell Yeeden and Underlestrell Moril to a round of Zo'Ken because Dirin had claimed that nobody could move sand faster than Kenton. Kenton mocks Yeeden for only selecting one target per ribbon that he can control, so Yeeden adds one more target and successfully destroys all ten targets. Kenton asks the Zo'Ken administrator to launch all 25 red lak in the bet, telling Yeeden that he can keep any lak that survive the round. Kenton then destroys all 25 with his single, very fast ribbon.

Mastrell Drile then arrives from his travels and scolds Lestrell Yeeden for sparring against lowly acolents. He then mocks Kenton for believing that an acolent can survive running the Mastrell's Path.

Khriss
Day 39—Dayside

Duchess Khrissalla and company have arrived at the port of Dosha-Har'Ken. They leave Private Torth to watch the luggage, while Baon, Flennid and the Professors join Khrissalla in searching for supplies. They find that every time their linguist, Professor Cynder, tries speaking "Daysider language" to somebody, they scream and run away. Professor Acron notices a merchant with a sign in Dynastic and the group begins purchasing supplies. The merchant also offers his nephew Daazk as a guide for them to travel to Lossand. In the distance, they hear some Daysider language that they can understand and come upon the A'kar preaching in a public square. Professor Cynder attempts to talk to the speaker, who denounces them for using the holy language—as they retreat they realize the reason that nobody would talk to them was because they had learned the language of the clergy.

Part One

Chapter 1: Relentless

Characters
Plot Summary
Kenton
The Kerla

Kenton, a weak but skilled sand master, is determined to run the Mastrell's Path in order to prove that sand master ranks should be based on ability, not just raw power. Despite only being able to control only one ribbon, he believes that he can accomplish any task a Mastrell can accomplish with their greater number of ribbons; only the technique differs. His father, Lord Mastrell Praxton, objects strongly due to Kenton's lack of strength, and the two argue bitterly. Lord Mastrell Praxton tries to bribe Acolent Kenton with advancement to Fen if he will rescind his request to run the Path. Kenton, knowing that once a sand master accepts a rank they can no longer advance to new ranks, has refused 'advancement' to Underfen in the past. He believes that anything less than the gold sash of a Mastrell will just allow Diem leadership to ignore his ideas. Kenton declines the "offer" because he does not want to settle for a rank that will prevent him from inciting change in the Diem.

Undermastrell Elorin warns Kenton of the danger, again, but permits him to test himself against the Path. Elorin explains how the challenge works: Kenton must make his way across the Kerla in a limited time and collect five red spheres along the way. He may bring only one qido of water with him. Praxton complains that Kenton should not be allowed to bring a sword, but Elorin allows it as it is not explicitly forbidden by the rules.

As Kenton begins the Mastrell's Path, he reflects on the day he was admitted into the Diem.

Flashback—Eight Years ago

Recruit Traiben displays potential and Recruit Drile, son of Mastrell Rile, is mentioned as showing the most potential seen in years. Lord Mastrell Praxton and Elorin discuss that it was a strong year of recruits—until it is Kenton's turn to be tested for sand mastery. He displays only the smallest measure of potential in sand mastery, a fact which embarrasses his father. He joins despite protests from his father that he should pursue another profession; as Kenton argues that the law says he cannot be prohibited from entering the Diem as an Acolent.

Now—The Kerla

On the Mastrell's Path, Kenton collects the first two spheres quickly (off screen), and is ridiculed by the watching Mastrells when he has to improvise climbing a cliff instead of soaring on the sand—a technique that helps him find the third, and most often missed, sphere. Kenton notices the discoloration of previously mastered sand to quickly locate the fourth sphere while he thinks about how he makes up for his lack of power with his skill, precision, and speed.

When he approaches the fifth and final sphere he discovers that it is guarded by a terken Marken which emerges from the deep sand. Kenton realizes that the final sphere was a test of preparation and endurance. Kenton was supposed to ration his qido so that he would have water to drive off the creature, whose shell normally could only be damaged by water. While dodging the creature's attacks and collecting the fifth sphere, Kenton notices a sixth sphere under the Marken and is determined to collect it. He is ultimately able to cut into the sandling's carapace with his sword and uses his sand mastery to attack it from the inside to kill the massive beast. Kenton collects the sixth sphere, then promptly passes out from dehydration.

Khriss
Day 43—The Kerla

Duchess Khrissalla and company have learned they were overcharged for their guide, as the only word Daazk knows in Dynastic is "ahoy." She tries asking him how to find water for their dwindling supplies, but panics when he tries to dump a canteen of water onto the sand. They approach a village on the outskirts of Esh'Ker'Losh but do not stop to ask questions or find supplies because of the aggressive stares and brandished weapons (zinkallin) they see. While Baon and the professors debate the type of weapons they are and their level of technology, Flennid admonishes Torth to stay alert to the hostile nature of the locals and keeps his hand on his hidden pistol as they pass.

Checking the map, Khriss decides the most likely place to find a spring to refill their water is where the rocks break the surface of the desert. Using the map she convinces Daazk to lead them toward Mount KraeDa.

Chapter 2: Advance

Characters
Plot Summary
Kenton
The Next Day—The Kerla

Kenton is woken by Mastrell Traiben, who he initially mistakes for Aarik, and discovers it is the next day. Kenton also learns that the sixth sphere was not part of the test—it must have been left over from a previous test run. In fact, few sand masters are even able to obtain all five spheres. Mastrell Traiben admits he only collected three of the five. Traiben then voices his opinion that Praxton will have no choice but to advance Kenton to Mastrell. Kenton disagrees. Undermastrell Elorin informs Kenton that he is considered to have ruined the test by killing the deep sandling which was always made to guard the final sphere.

On his way to the ceremonies where the Lord Mastrell will present new ranks and sashes before the entire Diem, Kenton hears rumors from Acolent Dirin that Mastrell Drile and a group of his followers have hired themselves out as mercenaries. Praxton expresses his disapproval to Drile. The ceremonies begin as Undermastrell Elorin passes the cermonial bowl to Lord Mastrell Praxton, from which all of the sand masters share a drink of water, though Drile refuses to partake. Lord Mastrell Praxton opens the ceremony by offering the rank of Lestrell to Reendel.

After most of new ranks and sashes have been bestowed, Drile is called before the Lord Mastrell and, for the first time in Diem history, demoted to Diemfen, which he angrily accepts. Kenton is then presented with an Underfen sash, the lowest rank, because he disobeyed his father's orders by taking the test. Kenton refuses the sash. His father then indicates Drile's former Mastrell's sash on the ground and advances Kenton to Mastrell, but remarks that the other sand masters will always hate him for apparent nepotism and will never believe that he deserves the rank.

The Lord Mastrell is suddenly struck with an arrow, and a battle ensues. Kerztian warriors attack by surprise, in great numbers, and the sand masters are unprepared. Kenton notices that the warriors bear the 'X' of the warrior DaiKeen, but as a scar instead of the traditional tattoo. Kenton also notices that the sand masters seem to be overmastering and dehydrating remarkably fast. Kenton tries to rally the sand masters and help the wounded, but they are unable to stop the hordes of warriors who have come against them.

The Lord Mastrell screams loudly and begins glowing with power. Kenton wonders if his father is trying to protect him by drawing attention of the warriors. As his final act, Praxton Overburns by releasing a tremendous barrage of power that leaves himself struck by numerous arrows while giving his life to his final mastery. Kenton and most of the remaining Kerztian warriors are buried beneath the huge wave of sand that Praxton Masters.

Chapter 3: Currencies

Characters
Plot Summary
Kenton
The Kerla

Kenton awakens and emerges from the sand some time after the battle has ended. The Kerztians are gone and only dead sand masters remain. He crawls to a nearby tent and passes out again.

Khriss
Day 47—The Kerla

Duchess Krissalla spots tents from a distance using her telescope. Excited to find water, Flennid and Torth ride ahead to find a sand field with everybody dead. When the rest of the party arrives, Daazk identifies the dead sand masters by their sashes and, crying Ry'Kensha, flees in a panic. Believing that their guide is calling for an ambush, Flennid shoots Daazk, for which Baon admonishes him for killing thier chance to survive traveling the Kerla. While Khriss, Baon and the professors take stock of supplies in an empty tent, Flennid and Torth steal the remaining water and abandon them, presumably to ride back toward port.

Kenton
The Kerla

While searching the other tents for additional supplies, Kenton is found and awakened by Baon and Professor Cynder. Cynder departs to bring the Duchess Khrissalla and Professor Acron while Baon gives Kenton some of their remaining water. At first Khrissalla believes he cannot understand them, and is trying to figure out how to ask where they can find water; but Baon recognizes that Kenton thanked him in Dynastic while he was recovering. Kenton is puzzled that they can be low on water when they are not in the desert yet, and he explains how to find dorim vines. While saying his farewells to the field of the dead, Kenton realizes Drile never drank the water and thinks it means Drile must have betrayed the Diem.

Kenton agrees to lead Khriss's party to a village for supplies and then on to Lossand. Khriss reveals along the way that she is searching for the "sand mages", though Kenton does not know the word "mage." When Khriss elaborates and says that "they rule Lossand" he believes that she means the Taishin.

Two Days Later—The Border

They arrive in a village and, as they restock on supplies, Kenton discovers that sand masters are not well liked in the area because of recent political pressure from the Kerztians. The A'kar has claimed to have wiped out the Ry'Kensha in an effort to become king in the upcoming Choosing. He also learns that he is not the only sand master to have survived the battle. Kenton explains how the religious schism in worshipping the Sand Lord between Kerzt and Lossa is believed to have begun, separating the nations of Kerzta and Lossand. Before leaving, a young pickpocket accidentally reveals Kenton's Mastrell's sash; which is noticed by some local Kerztian warriors.

Two Days Later—The Desert

After leaving the village, Kenton trades questions with Khriss, explaining that the start of the desert (a lack of dorim vines) marks the border of Lossand. She, in turn, explains who Gevin was and his search for "Sand Mages." Baon notes that Kenton continues to watch for "followers." Just as Kenton believes he is mistaken, since they have officially entered the Desert without incident, they are ambushed by Kerztian warriors. Most of them attack Kenton who tries to defend himself with his sand mastery, but he finds that his powers are not working.

Chapter 4: Divides

Characters


Plot Summary
Kenton
Lossand Desert

Kenton defends himself with his sword while trying to master sand. Baon kills two of the warriors with his firearm then threatens another. The remaining warriors retreat. Upon inspecting the dead warriors, Kenton notes that they bear the marks of both warrior and priest DaiKeen on their foreheads. He remarks that their shaved heads and lack of armor are an oddity. During the attack, the others in the group had remained on their tonks, which burrowed into the sand at the first sign of trouble. Kenton notices that Cynder was hit with an arrow and shows Baon how to dissolve the carapace arrowhead with water. Kenton then teaches them the tap commands to convince the tonks to rise from the sand while Khriss explains the pistol to Kenton and wonders aloud why he was the apparent target of the attack. Kenton angrily evades her questioning.

Two Days Later—Kezare

Duchess Khrissalla examines a zinkall they removed from one of the dead kerztians. They arrive to the Ry'Do Ali river with the city of Kezare on an island in the middle. Kenton arranges to sell their tonks while explaining why they can't cross the river without panicking. He uses the money to arrange a ferry and translator to help them travel to the Darksider enclave of Lonzare. Kenton and the party part ways, since Kenton has business on that side of the river.

The Diem

Kenton arrives at the Diem which appears to be empty until Dirin appears. Dirin explains that everyone is at the Hall of Judgement, as the Taishin are going to choose Drile as the new Lord Mastrell. Suspecting that Drile was behind the Kerztian attack and knowing that he now outranks Drile, Kenton hurries to the Hall of Judgement with Dirin.

Hall of Judgement

Outside the Hall, Kenton dons his Mastrell's sash and discovers that his powers are not only back; but are now stronger than ever as he can now command three sand ribbons. Kenton enters the Taishin meeting chamber, interrupting the meeting, and explains that he outranks Drile. Lord Merchant Vey contests Kenton's rank and Kenton explains how his father's appointing of Kenton to Mastrell was Praxton's last act before the Kerztian attack. High Lady Judge Heelis tells Kenton that the Taishin are actually meeting to dissolve the Diem, not to ratify a new Lord Mastrell.

Chapter 5: Compromises

Characters
Plot Summary
Kenton
The Hall

Kenton argues his case before the Taishin Council, reminding them to mourn those who have died and asking to be allowed time to change the Diem for the good of Lossand. The Taishin ignore his pleas and hold the dissolution vote—voting six-to-one to dissolve the Diem. Kenton invokes an obscure combination of rules to have the vote declared void on the basis that at the death of the Lord Mastrell, he became the Acting Lord Mastrell as the highest ranked remaining sand master, and any council vote that would remove a Taisha from service requires two weeks' prior notification. High Judge Heelis corroborates the law, and informs Acting Lord Mastrell Kenton that he is notified and that to overturn the prelimary descision he will need a unanimous vote to retain the Diem in two weeks.

Khriss
Day 53—Lonzare

N'Teese leads Khriss and her group of Darksiders to Lonzare—the Darkside Quarter. The existence of this part of the city surprises the group, as the Dynasty doesn't want people to know that there is traffic between Dayside and Darkside. They pay their guide to lead them to someone in charge, who turns out to be a Darksider named Loaten, a man branded a traitor to the Dynasty who was supposedly executed for attempting to murder Emperor Skathan. Loaten was expecting Khriss's arrival and seems to know a great many things, but he does not answer many of Khriss's questions concerning her fiance and the "sand mages" he sought. Khriss calls him out as having met Gevin, since he used the nickname instead of his given name, Gevalden. Laoten admits to having met with Gevin and Wilheln before Gevin was shot by Dynastic assassins. Loaten reveals that N'Teese works for him and asks her to continue to work with Khriss.

At the end of the meeting, Nilto, the Lord Beggar enters the room with his face wrapped and orders Laoten to get rid of "that woman" in Lossandin. Laoten explains that Nilto is an unofficial Taisha due to his influence among the lower classes, and that he asks for her to leave for now. As Khriss exits the room, Baon recognizes Loaten and draws his gun before Khriss orders him to stand down. The guards are revealed to also carry guns.

Kenton
The Hall

Judge Heelis explains that she cannot allow personal preference to affect the way she handles official business. She explains that the sand masters are seen as arrogant and unproductive, and are overloaded with debt. She tells Kenton that to win the Hall's vote he will have to unify leadership of the Diem, resolve the Diem's debts, and restore the nation's faith in sand mastery.

The Diem

Drile contends for the loyalty of select sand masters and Acolents and is apportioning the now-vacant rooms to his followers. After rejecting Kenton's authority on the basis of his greater strength, Drile attempts to humiliate Kenton by "suggesting" a more private conversation in the Lord Mastrell's quarters (which he assumes Kenton cannot reach with only one ribbon). Kenton reveals his newfound powers and follows him to the third floor. Drile claims Kenton betrayed the Diem and Kenton provokes Drile into attacking, against Diem Law, in full view of the remaining Diem. Underestimated, Kenton manages to knock Drile out of the air while recognizing that the trick he used won't work a second time.

Chapter 6: Challenges

Characters
Plot Summary
Ais
Kezare

At the site of a raid that was conducted earlier, Senior Trackt Ais, with Trackt Tain and her team, discovers a man kept prisoner behind a hidden door. The man, Lord Torkel, was an advisor to the Lord Merchant who had gone missing last year. While questioning Torkel, Ais reflects on her warring emotions and her difficulty in controlling her anger when innocents are harmed. Torkel reveals that he was kidnapped, imprisoned, and tortured by being kept in a closet with the remains of his murdered wife and children, retribution for trying to go back on an agreement with Sharezan. Tain reports that Lokmlen, Sharezan's second, was seen fleeing to the Portside Market.

Portside Market

Ais chases down Lokmlen, who also murdered six trackts during that raid. Lokmlen accuses her of being zensha, a traitor to her people and the Ker'reen faith, as she herself is Kerztian. Ais reflects that since justice belongs to the Sand Lord, she supports the Sand Lord by supporting justice—there is no conflict. Lokmlen lures her into a deserted alley and strikes, deliberately goading her anger. As Ais loses control of her emotions, her fighting degrades and she is bested. However, as Lokmlen is about to strike Ais down, Aarik arrives and interrupts them. Lokmlen challenges the stranger and tosses Ais' sword to him. Aarik refuses the weapon; and, in a replay of what just occured, mocks Lokmlen while dodging all of his attacks so he fights sloppy with anger. Aarik then stomps on his foot, dropping the criminal; who Ais promptly apprehends. Ais reflects that the Sand Lord must have shown her this stranger to teach her a better path.

Kenton
The Diem

Kenton struggles with self doubt in his father's old rooms, reflecting on just how much like his father he is. Aarik arrives outside the Diem and joins Kenton—the two have not seen one another in three years. They spend the rest of the day catching up.

Ais
The Hall

The Lady Judge pays a visit to Ais and asks her to spy on Kenton for the next two weeks under the pretense of guarding his safety since the sand masters of the Diem were attacked. Judge Heelis acknowledges that Ais will be biased against the Diem because she is Kerztian, but asks her to observe impartially as a trackt, not a follower of Ker'reen. Ais returns home for the evening, bitter about her new assignment and it's impact on her investigatin of Sharezan.

Home

She admonishes her daughter, Melloni for waiting up and sends her to bed. She tells Mellis, her husband, about the deaths of her second, Trackt Jedan, and the other trackts. Mellis expresses concern for her and the family's safety as they have received a threatening letter from Sharezan. Ais assures him that criminals still refrain from targeting the families of trackts, but she privately worries that Sharezan is not so limited.

Kenton
The Diem

The next morning, Dirin brings breakfast while Kenton is working on how to overcome the Diem's elitism. Kenton asks Dirin to find some ladders so that everybody can access all floors of the Diem. As Aarik arrives, they see Drile and his followers arrive wearing black belts over their sashes as a statement against Kenton's leadership. Kenton expresses to Aarik his suspicion that Drile was the traitor. He and Dirin wonder if Drile poisoned the water that the Mastrells drank.

Khriss
Day 54—Kezare

Assuming that Gevalden would have spoken with the Taishin, Khriss has N'Teese arrange meetings with all of the Profession leaders. Khriss works on fixing the lock on the case that Cynder borrowed from Acron each time they wait while N'teese coordinates appoinments. Over the course of the day they are turned away from The Hall of Judgement (Lady Judge), The Tower Garrison (Lord General), Helm's Rest (Lord Admiral), The Guild (Lord Merchant), The Congress (Lord Farmer), The Central Studio (Lord Artisan), and Mason Headquarters (Lady Mason). Khriss asks N'Teese to take them to see The Lord Mastrell.

The Diem

Upon arriving at the Diem, N'Teese points out the Lord Mastrell by his distinctive Golden Sash. Khriss accuses Kenton of lying to her and won't allow him to explain how new he is to the position of Lord Mastrell. Kenton tells her he is too busy to be scolded, summons his ribbons, and retreats to his rooms.

Khriss asks if it is a trick done with wires while Baon remarks that they seem to have found the "Sand Mages."


Part Two

Chapter 7: Honor Bound

Characters
Plot Summary
Khriss
The Diem

Duchess Khrissalla marks which balcony Kenton has landed on then angrily climbs the inconvenient ladders of the Diem to reach Kenton's floor. She enters his chambers asking to talk; then slaps him while yelling at him for not telling her that he was a "Sand Mage." They clear up why Kenton did not understand her use of the word "mage" to mean sand mastery (to Kenton, "mages" use party tricks or are charlatans that prey on the foolish). Kenton also confirms that he wasn't lying when they met, as he has only been the Lord Mastrell for two days and was "unimportant" when they met. Khrisalla asks if sand mastery can be used against the bullet proof soldiers of the Dynasty. Aarik arrives while Kenton is trying to explain the Diem's crisis and Khriss blows up (again) then storms out. Khrissalla and Baon begin to leave, but the ladder breaks. Kenton masters sand to lower himself, holding Khrissalla, to the courtyard; he then lowers Baon down on his own. Khriss blows up a third time and storms away. As they get in the ferry returning to Kezare, Baon tells Khriss that she needs to learn to judge people, not just faces and titles.

Kenton

As Kenton returns above to meet with Aarik, Senior Trackt Ais arrives, informing Kenton that High Judge Heelis has assigned her to be his bodyguard. Kenton blows her off and departs—immediately realizing he has just acted exactly as Drile did the day before—he quickly returns to apologize and asks her to use the ladders if that is her preference.

Khriss
Day 55—Lonzare

N'Teese tells Khrissalla about how all of the powerful sand masters, including their leaders, were killed in the Kerla. Khriss realizes that even if Gevin had met with the sand masters before he died, those sand masters are now also dead; so she will have to start from the beginning. Khrissalla realizes, at Professor Cynder's suggestion, that what the Diem needs is a skilled diplomat to win over the Taishin, and she is perfectly suited to play that part.

Kenton
The Diem

Meanwhile, Aarik and Kenton review the Diem's finance records and realize that the Diem owes 7,000,000 lak, an insurmountably colossal amount. The conversation switches to how they will convince the Taishin to vote to keep the Diem, and they decide to visit Delius, the Lord Admiral.

Delius
Helm's Rest

Lord Admiral Delius is dropping half-drunk glasses of wine from his balcony while goading the Kelzin that are petitioning him to curb his drinking. They depart as Kenton, Aarik, and Ais arrive. Delius's Steward shows them in. The Lord Admiral assures Kenton that he will vote for him, because he always votes the opposite of Lord Merchant Vey; and, as a Kerztian, Vey is sure to oppose the Diem. As Kenton's party departs, Delius asks his Steward what he thinks the Kelzin's opinion of the sand masters would be. The Steward explains that most Kelzin are Kerztian, or at least Ker'reen, and will therefore hate the sand masters. Delius agrees with a very malicious gleam of the eye.

Kenton
Central Studio

Kenton's party arrives at the Artisan's Central Studio and find Khrissalla there waiting to help as his new "diplomat." They enter to speak with the Lord Artisan. Kenton translates for Khrisalla to Lord Rite, but N'Teese translates the Lossandin into Dynastic for Khriss. Lord Rite is mostly upset about the unpaid debts and the possibility of future theft. Khrissalla, appalled by Kenton's lack of tact and compromise, provides a solution quickly: sand masters will help the Lord Artisan on a percentage basis to keep them incentivized; and, in return, the Lord Artisan will vote for the Diem. To show good faith, The Lord Mastrell must pay the debt, but Rite clarifies that he only owes 1,500,000 lak to the Draft. He also knows that the Farmers Congress is owed another 500,000 lak. As they depart, Kenton wonders to whom the other 5,000,000 lak is owed.

Khriss wants to join Kenton for his next appointment, but Kenton notes that by Taishin Standard time all of the Taishin will have closed their offices at twelfth hour. When he mentions that he intends to see Lord Raagent, Khriss mentions that she was turned away from the Tower because the {{Lord General]] had left on a Deep Sand hunt. Aarik mentions that his father—the Lord General—uses hunting trips to avoid people. Kenton resolves to go find him, but he convinces Khriss that joining him on a trip to the Deep Sand is an order of magnitude more dangerous than their trip across the Kerla.

The Diem

They return to Dirin's news that staircases are being built in every corner so that anyone can access all levels of the Diem. Kenton goes to review more financial records to try and find out who is owed the other 5,000,000 lak.

Chapter 8: My Assassins

Characters


Plot Summary
Kenton—Ais
The Diem

Kenton, checking the Diem's records to try and trace the cause of the remaining debt, is attacked by assassins—the assassins and their zinkallin bolts are somehow terken, and therefore impervious to sand mastery. Kenton, draws his sword and, taking advantage of the smaller rooms, prevents being overwhelmed by too many opponents at one time. He then realizes that even if sand cannot affect the assassins, it can certainly wield other things that can. In the courtyard, Dirin hears noises from above and another acolent quips that it is probably Kenton trying to figure out his father's filing system.

Kenton uses his sand mastery to lift the desk and attack them with it, knocking one of the assassins off of the balcony and alerting the Diem to the attack. Ais, after a brief morality struggle, realizes she cannot let her beliefs interfere with duty and rushes to help Kenton. Kenton escapes through the hole made by the falling assassin to go to the roof and buy time for reinforcements; but finds more assassins already waiting there with rappelling ropes meant to lower them to his rooms.

Ais gains the roof by climbing from the balcony, she then pulls an assassin over the edge from behind, then shoots the final assassin with her zinkall. Ais verifies that eight assassins have been defeated and informs Kenton that according to Ker'reen law he will be safe for one day. She points out the two new scars on the forehead of one of the assassins, identifying them as assassin’s marks. Ais tells Kenton that he has been targeted as an enemy of the Kerztian peoples and that by Ker'reen law a specific family has been tasked with killing him. They may send up to eight warriors every other day until they succeed in killing him unless he can find and defeat their leader first—usually the family head—who must be nearby to direct the assassin teams.

While explaining this, Ais is studying the attack for forensic evidence and discovers the assassins' bodies and weapons are coated in a clear paste. Kenton theorizes that it could be the dissolved carapace of a terken Deep Sandling, and Ais confirms that the process is only known to the A'kar and the King of Kerzta. When Kenton tries to thank her, Ais makes sure he knows that she still hates him. Internally, Ais begins wondering if she really is zensha for saving the Lord Mastrell.

Later

Tain informs Kenton that the investigation is complete and the trackts who had been summoned after the fight will be returning to The Hall. Kenton notices an approaching figure in Diem robes pass the departing trackts and descends to the courtyard to find Elorin, who was in charge of Acolents before being becoming a Diem administrator. Elorin explains that he overmastered and has lost his ability to master sand, which is why he did not return the Diem. However, after going to his home village he found he did not fit there either, since that was the first time he had returned after leaving at ten years old. He felt guilty about abandoning the Diem, and returned to see if there was a place for him since he heard some sand masters had survived. Kenton welcomes him back enthusiastically.

Khriss
Day 56, Sixth Hour—The Hall

Khrissalla, with N'Teese and Baon, wait to meet the High Judge since a letter from the Lord Mastrell has now allowed her to get appointments with some Taishin. Khriss speculates about how sand mastery could work, wondering where the energy comes from and what the practical limits may be. She resolves to try being nice to Kenton in the hopes that he will share the secrets with her. When their party is admitted to meet the Lady Judge, Heelis tells her that the city's perception of sand mastery must change, so if she can convince Nilto to support sand mastery then the populace may give the Diem a chance to improve.

Kezare Slums

N'Teese arranges a meeting, so Khriss, appalled at the conditions, meets with the Lord Beggar in a filthy alley of the slums. Nilto takes a moment to send a young boy on an errand while Khiss is explaining how she would like him to support the Diem, because Gevin had come looking for support from the Diem for Darkside and the Diem must survive for her to fulfill his wishes. Nilto tells her "never to beg a beggar" because he does not believe a Mastrell can actually help the poor of Lossand instead of serving only thier own bloated egos. The boy returns with a small parcel, which Nilto gives to Duchess Khrissalla; it has Prince Gevalden's pistol and signet ring. Nilto refuses to explain how and why he has them, informing her that nobility in all forms makes him sick. Khrissalla calls him a "horrible man," which Nilto takes as a compliment. The Lord Beggar leaves and, while they return to the Lonzare, Baon questions the wisdom of allowing Cynder to lock the pistol and ring in his repaired trunk until they can be returned to Gevin's parents.

Eleventh Hour—Lonzare

Later, at their accomodations, Professor Acron asks to speak in private with Khrissalla. He says that the day Captain Deral died, he had heard only two gunshots. When Baon returned and claimed the border patrol had been chasing them and had shot the Captain in the back, Acron thought that there should have been more gunshots and that if the patrol had been that close the rest of the party would have seen or heard something. He thinks Baon killed Captain Deral. Khrissalla rationalizes that the most likely occurance was that Captain Deral was shot further away and the shots that Acron heard were the patrol chasing Baon. Internally she notes that there are still inconsistencies to this theory.

Chapter 9: The Catch

Characters
Plot Summary
Kenton
Day 56 (very late)—Deep Sand Border

The Lord General, Raagent, expresses surprise that Kenton would travel more than a day to the border of the deep sand to meet with him. Raagent proceeds to make small talk with Kenton while completely ignoring Aarik, his (disinherited) son. The Lord General insists that Kenton observe the deep sand hunt. Raagent allows Kenton to ride one of the Tower's terha and leads him out to the deep sand while explaining how the tower uses DoKall to make them impervious to water. The Lord General explains how the lack of dorim vines allow deep sandlings to grow unchecked, but not always in the expected ways.

Raagent first shows Kenton a place where the surface of the deep sand is disturbed in a wide radius, but points out that there is also a small variety of deep sandling that feeds in schools with up to over a thousand creatures, but can be dispersed by disturbing the sand upon which they are feeding. He then points out the DelRak Naisha, who are ambush predators that hide below the sand and only allow a small fin of carapace to project above and lure prey. Raagent then switches gears, asking what King Reven of the Rim Kingdom Seevis has offered the Diem. Kenton surmises that was the cause of Drile's previous mysterious "travels." Kenton tries to convince the Lord General to aid him in his cause, but the Lord General wants nothing except to "hire" sand masters. Raagent explains he's destroying the Diem so that the Tower can add thier reputation to its own; though he personally thinks sand mastery is useless and only good for tricks and shows. Kenton will not agree to his conditions and the Lord General storms off.

His men have taunted and wounded a small KaRak to the point of its death, leaving Lord Raagent to come in and deliver the final blow. Kenton begins to leave, but then quickly turns back as a soldier is thrown, screaming, high into the air and falls in his path. The KaRak Lord Raagent killed was apparently just a baby, and now its mother has arrived.

Kenton returns to the site of the hunt to find that the soldiers are in peril and the Lord General is half buried in sand and screaming for help. Kenton dodges the KaRak's claws, teeth, and tail to arrive at the General's side and masters the sand pinning him to push him out of harm's way. As Aarik rides in with his tonk to get Lord Raagent, Kenton returns to attack the KaRak and save the soldiers. After dodging several more attacks, he realizes how stupid he is to have forgotten that being terken is rare.

Kenton sends his ribbon through the beast's eye to slice its brain from the inside until it dies. As Lord General Raagent remarks on how incredibly Kenton fought, Kenton reminds him that he is one of the weakest sand masters.

Day 57 (very early)

Kenton reminds Raagent that he had thought sand mastery was useless, but it saved his life and most of his soldiers that day (only twelve dead). As the Lord General continues to prevaricate, Kenton calls him out on his hypocrisy and offers to allocate two dozen sand masters, with at least one of each rank, to the Tower to use as they see fit as long as the Diem is reinstated. Lord Raagent agrees to give him his vote, and offers them food before they return to Kezare.

Kenton departs the tent as Raagent finally recognizes his son due to his assistance in rescuing the soldiers. As Kenton approaches the flags marking the beginning of deep sand, he is attacked by another assassin.

Chapter 10: Rising Challenges

Characters
Plot Summary
Kenton
Day 57—Deep Sand Border

Kenton and the assassin fight. Realizing that he lost his sword, Kenton holds off the assassin's dagger with both hands while maneuvering to kick her off. When Kenton attempts to push the assassin with mastered sand, he realizes that she has greased herself in Terken oil, which negates his sand. When he tries to lift them both to gain leverage, she swings her terken leg through the ribbon dropping them both with the asassin landing on top. Kenton notes they are learning how to fight sand masters. As Kenton starts to dehydrate, he notices one of the DelRak that Raagent had pointed out previously between the dunes. She nearly manages to beat Kenton, but he rolls them both down the dune toward the deep sandling, then flings himself backward with sand so the assassin triggers the ambush predator.

He meets back with Aarik and Ais at the Lord General's tent and they mount their Rezalin to travel back to the Diem. Kenton notes that even if the assassin had followed them to the Deep Sand Border, she specifically waited for First Hour to attack so that it was the next day. Aarik notes that while his father finally spoke with him, he was still angry and tried to convince Aarik to carry a sword again.

The Next Day—The Diem

Upon entering the Diem, they see Drile trying to take control of the remaining sand masters by claiming that the Lord Mastrell ran away into the Kerla to save himself. He tells the crowd that he already has promises of protection and wealth. Kenton confronts Drile (again) about disobeying express orders; when Drile asks how Kenton intends to enforce those orders, Kenton challenges him to a duel to be held as soon as the council makes their decision—because he will save the Diem. Drile says that he will only accept the challenge if it happens before the council's ruling so that Kenton is never ratified as a true Lord Mastrell.

Later, Kenton returns to his rooms and has Dirin help him do an experiment. They discover that when a sand master strikes another's ribbon from the side, they stricken ribbon falls dead, but when opposing ribbons stike head-on they will both fall dead. He theorizes the latter was why more ribbons implied a stronger sand master, because if one sand master used their ribbons to negate both, but still had at least one ribbon left they could deliver an uncountered attack. Kenton theorizes that Overmastery is actually just like pushing one's muscles when working out—you've stretched your ability, but may also expand it.

Ais
The Hall

Ais talks to Tain about the boat races, which she thinks are being manipulated by Sharezan and whom she thinks is really Nilto. Tain says it's not possible, they had already scanned that data for manipulation. Ais points out that Nilto is too clever to rig specific boats to win, but the data shows that the outside race lanes are rigged to win more often. She suspects Sharezan's profits comes from betting on those lanes. Tain says he will set up observation of the races and expresses distress that she is away so often now. She assures Tain it is only nine more days and will have been worth it to close the Diem for good.

She meets back with Kenton and Aarik outside of the Hall, and they go to see the Lord Merchant.

Golden Market

Lord Merchant Vey, in a bid to prove his superior importance, makes them wait for two hours. Kenton, fed up with waiting decides to bait a response and starts practing making sand artwork in the air. The Lord Merchant bursts out of his office, yelling about the "unholy art" but Kenton replies it is hardly illegal and that he gets bored waiting. Vey calls them into his office to get the meeting over with. Kenton asks the Lord Merchant what he wants in payment for his vote. The Lord Merchant refuses to side with the sand masters because he would never side with something so unholy.

He also claims that since most Kelzin are Kerztian, he would be viewed as a traitor if he voted for the Diem; then asks Ais if she has begun to regret betraying their people. Kenton defends her, threatening Lord Vey with mastered sand for daring to insult a guest. They are kicked out of his office. Ais gets mad at Kenton for defending her and assures Kenton that she doesn't want his help—ever.

Kenton
The Diem

Upon arriving back at the Diem, Kenton receives an invitation from the Lord Admiral to a ball thrown in his honor, requesting that he bring his "darkside beauty," Duchess Khrissalla. Kenton asks if the messenger also brought the note that was found earlier at the gates when they returned from the Deep Sand. Ais recognizes it as a letter for her from Sharezan and tells Kenton it is none of the Diem's business.

Khriss
Day 59—Lonzare

Kenton goes to find Khrissalla in the Darkside quarter of Kezare at the new house they are renting. Kenton informs her of the invitation, and summarizes his progress with the Taisha. Khriss tells him that she has made a deal on the Diem's behalf with the Lord Beggar: that if Kenton can prove the Diem can benefit the lower classes, Nilto will help sway public opinion for the Diem. Kenton notes that nothing will matter unless he can find a way to get everyone on his side. Upon Khrissalla asking if the Diem has any money, Kenton mentions that the Merchant Guild still pays their quarterly tribute to the Diem. In talking, they realize that if the Mastrells never paid for anything, the tribute money must still be out there somewhere. If they can find it, it will help them gather the finances they need.

Chapter 11: Party Politics

Characters


Plot Summary
Kenton
Lonzare

Kenton runs off in the middle of lunch, intending to start looking for the missing money. He is followed by Ais, Khrissalla, and Baon. As they move through the Lonzare market, Khrissalla is bumped by a person in overly concealing robes and notices that something is wrong. Kenton realizes it's been long enough for another attack just as more robed figures step forward from the crowds. Kenton masters sand to lift Khriss and himself over the first volley of zinkallin bolts. Kenton hands Khriss over to Baon for protection as he and Ais engage the assassins. As Baon is drawing his pistols, Kenton notices an assassin come from the alley and tries to yell a warning. Too late, the assassin blindslides Baon and knocks him out.

Before the assassin can finish Baon or retrive the pistols, Kenton forms a sand dummy approximating his form at the mouth of the alley, drawing all attacks to the diversion and highlighting the locations of the other assassins. While they are distracted he uses another ribbon to throw vases at the heads of the attackers, hitting two but the third sees it coming and punches his terken fist through the mastered sand. Now back-to-back with Ais in full view, Kenton waits for the assassins to turn toward him, then sends a ribbon to each of Baon's pistols, lifting them and pulling the triggers from behind the attackers. While another assassin is startled at the noise of the gunshots, Ais shoots her zinkall. The recovering Baon, appears behind the assassin who blindsided him and "returns the favor" by spinning him from the shoulder and into his waiting knife.

Scanning the bodies, Kenton notes that some of the attackers were Lossandin. Ais relates that she had heard rumors that the A'kar was going to allow non-Kerztian Ker'reen followers to start being adopted into the DaiKeen families. Ais also explains that the likely reason the A'kar wants him dead so badly is because he was made to look foolish by announcing he had destroyed the sand masters before Kenton and others were found to have survived. Khriss says that if she is to be in danger when she is with Kenton then she deserves to know why.

Later—Lonzare

In another part of the market, while Baon and Ais check the other bodies, Kenton explains to Khrissalla that his mother was a Darksider and his father was a Mastrell. He tells her how everyone thought that his older brothers failed the test for sand mastery because they were half-breeds. Kenton confesses how he struggled to get into the Diem despite his low potential and worked to make his solitary ribbon as versatile as possible

Kenton then tells her how the Diem was ambushed, and that he never reconciled with Praxton before everybody was killed in the Kerla. He also explains how the Taishin were using it as an excuse to disband the sand master profession, and about his two week deadline.

Kenton—Khriss
The Diem

Kenton, with Khriss and Baon, return to the Diem to look for the missing lak. Aarik mentions how he found some on his first day, and shows them the secret of the hidden compartment in the desk in his room. They split up to check the rest of the former Mastrell's rooms, discovering each desk has a hidden stash of Lak. They explore the rest of the building, but only find 5,000 lak in total—a substantial amount but nowhere near what they need. Khriss and Baon take the ferry back to Kezare and return to Lonzare.

Ais
The Next Day, Fifth Hour—Home

The next morning, we see Ais on the roof of her house performing a cleansing ceremony and praying to the Sand Lord. She continues to be conflicted that her duties might be against the Sand Lord's will. Her husband, Mellis, comes up and they talk. Ais tells him to take Melly and go south to another city (of which he should not tell her so that she cannot reveal their location), and go to that Hall of Judgement to receive sanctuary. She explains why she thinks she is close to catching Sharezan—but she does now believe there is a threat to her family.

Aarik
The Diem

Aarik argues with his reflection, talking out both sides of his internal struggle to stay and help Kenton, or leave before he can be trapped by a responsibility he does not want that may force him to kill or order others to their deaths. Aarik finds a worn scabbard in his pack and flashes back to when Kenton gave him a valuable sword when they were young. He had thrown the sword away when he ran from home and gave up fighting, but kept the scabbard out of sentimentality. He then convinces himself to stay because Kenton may need him.

Khriss
Lonzare

Khrissalla has turned her bedroom suite into a laboratory and is performing experiments. Cynder and Baon arrive and she shows them her findings: the microscope shows that sand and sandling carapace have the same structure. She continues to ask Cynder to idenify the contents of three tubes; which he thinks are Dayside white sand, wet Dayside black sand and normal Darkside sand. Khriss corrects him that the third tube is Dayside sand that has been consumed and excreted by a sandling. They conclude that the sand itself is the same on both sides of Taldain, but Dayside sand is covered with a thin film of lichen that appears white normally, and black when exposed to moisture.

Finally, she shows them how, in a dark room, they can see that white sand gives off a full-sprectrum opalescent burst of light when dabbed with water—the same color of glow displayed by mastered sand ribbons. She and Cynder conclude that while they don't yet know much, it is encouraging that they might find a way to use the sand to fight Skathan. As Cynder departs, she asks Baon if he had ever witnessed any of Skathan's "magic." He confesses he has seen inexplicable events, but the most telling evidence is that Skathan looks the same now as the first time Baon saw him as a child. Khriss privately notices that Baon was still hiding something.

Ais
Thirteenth Hour—Helm's Rest

Khrissalla and Kenton go to the ball. When the footman tries to send their "attendants" to the servent's tents, Baon departs but Ais provides the Hall's invitation and states that she is there in place of the High Lady Judge. As they enter, Ais notes that Nilto is departing the party; she wonders why he was there at all. The Lord Admiral announces his formal support of Kenton and the Diem in the upcoming vote—then passes out. As the Stewert helps Delius to a chair, Kenton wonders what made him change his mind from simply voting against the Lord Merchant. Khriss drags Kenton to go "mingle" with the other guests, and he accuses her of actually enjoying herself.

Chapter 12: About Turn

Characters
Plot Summary
Kenton
Helm's Rest

As the party winds down, food is served. Kenton and Khrissalla prepare plates and take them to sit by the fountain. Khrissalla asks Kenton to tell and show her how sand mastery works, but Kenton says he cannot reveal the secrets of his trade and that Khrissalla is a Darksider and cannot manipulate sand anyway. The Lord Admiral comes over to them asking to meet Khrissalla and eat with them. He tells them that the A'kar plans to embargo trade between Kertza and Lossand once he wins the Choosing—unless Lossand gets rid of all sand masters. Rumors also indicate that if Lossand renounces its "unholy past" then he will lift the Ker'reen tabboo on goods that have travelled over water—which is the reason that many of the Helm's Kelzin do not want to support the Diem, as the tabboo immediately excludes all of their goods.

When Kenton asks why Lord Delius professed support for the Diem, he enigmatically says that Kenton must not know how a Lord Admiral is chosen in the Helm's Charter. The Lord Admiral leaves and Khrissalla again pressures Kenton more about learning about sand mastery while they return to the party to say their farewells. While passing through, Khriss notices Nilto, the Lord Beggar, and Kenton wonders if he's just late. Ais mentions that she saw him duck out when they first arrived and he only returned minutes ago.

Kezare

As they are leaving in a carriage, Kenton looks ahead after hearing a commotion. He departs the carriage, asking his companions to wait there. Baon takes the opportinuty to check his pistols in case it's a trap. A building is collapsing, and Kenton uses a sand-assisted sprint to get close enough to help. When he arrives and asks what has happened, the workman notices Kenton's sash and stutters apologies while claiming the situation is nothing 'my lord' should be concerned about. The Foreman stumbles out of the dust cloud and Kenton asks if there are people trapped under the rubble. The Foreman ignores the question and asks Kenton not to punish the workers for interrupting him, because it is his fault that the accident happened. Kenton masters sand and the workers scramble (thinking he's about to attack them), but Kenton splits the sand into three ribbons, using one on top to keep the wreckage in one piece, while the other two lift up the nearest corners revealing the trapped workers, who are helped out of the wreckage. As soon as Kenton releases the sand, the wall finishes collapsing and breaks apart.

Kenton nearly collapses from overmastery dehydration and rests by a cart to guzzle his qido while ruminating on why he risked his life for people that fear and hate him. The Foreman, Trell, comes over to thank him; and Kenton tells him to call for a sand master any time anything like that happens. Khrissalla compliments Kenton and tries to coerce him into telling her more about sand mastery so that "the rest of the world can benefit." Kenton hears Trell command the workers to start clearing the wreckage, so he turns back to tell Trell that his men deserve to have the rest of the day off. When the Foreman says he would, but Kelzi Karmat would not allow it, Kenton interrupts to say that if the 'good kelzi' has a problem with it, she can contact the Lord Mastrell.

Khriss
Day 61—Lonzare

Duchess Khrissalla talks with Baon about needing saltpeter to make more gunpowder as they are running out of charges for the pistols. She says that she wants to return to Darkside as soon as she unlocks the "secret of sand mastery," but laments the language barrier. She experiments with carapace and different liquids, finding that carapace soaked in alcohol no longer dissolves in water. She then notices that his pistols are specifically Elisian officer pistols. She asks outright if they belonged to Captain Deral and if Baon killed the captain and lieutenant. He admits straightforwardly that he killed them and was sent to Elis by the Dynasty. Professors Cynder and Acron walk in with saltpeter for Baon (which is dropped and breaks), to see Baon holding a gun while standing in front of Khrissalla. Baon holsters and walks out calmly, his cover exposed. Khrissalla becomes distraught and decides she needs to talk to Kenton.

Kenton
The Diem

Aarik is ribbing Kenton about the Diem starting a construction business because of his actions the night before. Kenton is surprised the rumors have already spread, and decides to address the assembled sand masters in the entranceway. Kenton tells them that since times are changing, the Diem must change with them and that the sand masters will now focus on serving the people. He's interrupted by the main door slamming open as Khrissalla bursts into the Diem and proclaims that she has decided that she is to ready to become a sand master.


Part Three

Chapter 13: Delegate to Accumulate

Characters
Plot Summary
Ais
The Hall

Senior Trackt Ais goes to visit Lady Judge Heelis at the Hall of Judgement to give a report about Kenton and his leadership of the Diem. On her way there, she reminisces about her previous visit with Trackt Tain when the investigation into Sharezan had reached a critical stage. Ais tells Heelis that it is a pity that she is required to hate Kenton because she has started to like him.

Flashback—The Diem

She reports that under Kenton's leadership, the Diem is changing, to the point that Duchess Khrissalla, a noblewoman from Darkside, was allowed to petition to become a sand master. She also reports that Kenton allowed her party to take rooms at the Diem until they could be tested.

The Hall

The High Judge asks if Ais believes that the new Lord Mastrell is open to change. Ais states that Kenton is either maturing or thrashing like a man drowning in deep sand. She then tells Heelis about her internal moral conflict about protecting the Lord Mastrell; Heelis responds that she judges the law, not morality, then asks for an update on the Sharezan investitgation. Ais tells Heelis that one of Sharezan's dens was raided the day before and that they've heard that one of his main allies is looking to defect. She tells Heelis that her best man, Tain, is leading the investigation in her absence.

Tain
Kezare-Alley off of a Market Square

Tain arrives at the scene of Tarn the Tonk's death. Trackt Tain notes that the skull is caved in. As Tain examines the body he reads a warning note from Sharezan and shows it to the other trackt, who says they should show it to Senior Trackt Ais. Tain agrees, but notes they will have to travel to the Diem, since Ais was returning there.

Ais
The Diem

Ais arrives at the Diem and relieves Vennin from his post watching Kenton. Kenton is sitting at his desk, reading up on the other Taishin and how their positions work, using the reference books his father kept in his library. Ais notes his determination, and wonders if it can be called nobility when it is not appled to a noble cause. Kenton starts reviewing each profession's charter looking for ways to work with the other Taishin.

Kenton
Later

Kenton tells Ais how the Lord Admiral's position works and that he is bewildered by it. He notes that the Lord Admiral, by Charter, is allowed an unlimited food and drink budget and speculates that maybe Delius was elected against his will and uses his drunkeness as a means for revenge.

Khriss

Khriss, Acron, and Cynder arrive at the Diem with N'Teese. Professor Cynder notes how all rooms are open to the elements, and Professor Acron considers it 'uncivilized.' Undermastrell Elorin shows them to their rooms. The group discuss Baon's betrayal, and Cynder says that any of them could also be a spy. Acron laughs at this, saying they should not dwell on it until they have a chance to hear Baon's explanation. Khriss gives Cynder Gevin's pistol and asks him to be her guard in Baon's absence. Cynder notes that Baon took all of the charges, but Khriss reminds them that they found saltpeter and she brought her lab equipment.

After Khriss has made some gunpowder, she realizes she does want to find Baon before he can leave the area. Khriss asks N'Teese to arrange a meeting with Nilto to see if his contacts can locate their former bodyguard, and she runs off to find him.

Kenton

Kenton notices N'Teese departing while he and Ais discuss the chances of the assassins attacking that day. Ais says it is unlikely and that he should be safe until the day after tomorrow because, by Ker'reen law, the assassins must wait an entire cycle if they miss a day of attacks. Tain arrives at the Diem and Ais excuses herself to consult her trackts. Tain gives the note to Ais, while in the background Kenton uses the opportunity to slip over the balustrade and find Khriss so he can administer her sand mastery test.

Kenton comes to get Khriss and reminds her that she will not need her notebook to take the test. On their way, they are interrupted by an unnamed Underfen asking which room he should use for teaching his group of Acolents; they are then interrupted by Underfen Doril asking about a shipment of zaidon. As Khriss is explaining her suggestions for delegation, they are again interrupted by an unnamed Fen asking about the ladder make-up and positioning. Kenton asks Elorin if he would be willing to handle some of the smaller issues so Kenton can focus on saving the Diem, and Elorin agrees.

As they move to the Pit, he directs another Acolent trying to ask questions to see Undermastrell Elorin. Kenton asks about Baon, but is brushed off as Khriss tries to say that Kenton promised to teach her sand mastery; Kenton retorts he promised to test her, not train her unless she passes. Khriss tries to forge a bond with the sand, but is unable to do it. She tells him that she isn't disappointed since all she really wanted to know is how to test for the ability. Kenton shows Khriss the dueling pit where he and Drile will fight each other. Drile comes to taunt him, but Kenton brushes him off. Kenton asks if Khriss will walk with him to the Golden Market, since he is late for his appointment with Lord Merchant Vey. Khriss mentions how their situations are similar since the Dynasty's ambassadors imply that if Elis does not join willingly, they will be invaded. Khriss explains that some Elisian nobles are considering surrender to the Dynasty—and only the dead Prince Gevalden denounced them because he held the rights of all people sacred while the Dynasty witholds rights from most people.

Golden Market

Kenton goes to visit Vey, with Aarik, Khriss, and the two professors accompanying him. Grelin makes them wait for a long time, and Kenton, frustrated, stands up and declares loudly that he expects Vey to continue paying tribute to the Diem for the same reason as always. Upon hearing this, Vey invites him in for a private chat. Vey calls Kenton's bluff, and Kenton is forced to admit that he does not know the secret.

Restaurant

The group goes to a restaurant and is discussing Vey when Kenton mentions that there is no way a Kerztian would continue paying the tribute when it violates Ker'reen law unless there was a powerful motive. Kenton explains that the reason Ker'reen preaches against sand mastery is that they believe the sand is the Sand Lord's body and that mankind was never meant to wield powere reserved for the Sand Lord. Aarik interrupts to mention he's noticed that assassins have surrounded them.

Chapter 14: These Lost Causes

Characters


Plot Summary
Kenton—Khriss—Ais
The Restaurant

Kenton and Ais fight the assassins, Ais with her zinkall and Kenton masters sand to throw tables. Aarik calmly sits through the battle, eating his food, until a "waiter" walks in front of him and raises his zinkall toward Kenton's back. Aarik grabs the man by his firing arm and hauls him over the table. The fight is winding down when one of the assassins runs over to Khrissalla, grabs her, and raises his zinkall to her head, threatening to kill her if anyone moves. Suddenly, Acron appears and shoots the man in the chest with a pistol. Khriss first thinks that Baon has returned, then notices Professor Acron with Gevin's old pistol that she had given to Professor Cynder. Acron, out of sorts from the noise and having killed a person, says that somebody had to carry it for her safekeeping.

Aarik and Khriss go over to him to help him calm down. Kenton considers it his fault for endangering his friends and allies, and notes that the assassins are getting sneakier, and some of the disguised assassins hadn't even worn the assassins mark with their DaiKeen symbol. He then asks why Ais had been so sure that there woud be no attempt that day. Ais remarks that she is surprised that assassins would attack in violation of the rules written in the KerKor, and that attacks may only happen on odd-numbered days in the Kerztian calendar. She mentions only somebody who has not read KerKor closely could make such a mistake. She tells Kenton she must stay to supervise the crime scene, but privately thinks that she wants a closer look at the damage done by the device used by the professor to kill the last assassin. While looking over the scene she finds a note to her that had been missed in the ruckus—an anonymous informer wants to meet her at the warehouse where she raided Lokmlen and will testify in exchange for protection.

Kenton
Kezare Streets

As the remaining party gathers outside to return to the Diem, Kenton ruminates on how resposibility weighs on his morality and that he was considering blackmail, even though that is counter to his goals of helping the Diem change so that it can help the people of Lossand. He wonders if Aarik originally left because of the weight of responsibility he felt as the Lord General's heir. N'Teese arrives, saying that the Lord Beggar, Nilto, is ready to see Khriss, and the two of them go to meet with him. Acron abruptly breaks off from Aarik and Kenton and runs after Khriss to protect her.

Khriss
Slums

With N'Teese translating, Khriss asks Nilto to find Baon for her. Nilto asks Khriss if this person is so important to her because he is a lover. She says that he is just a friend. Nilto says that he is very busy but if he hears anything he will let her know and expects a reward.

Kenton
The Diem

Kenton wonders if using overmastery to further increase his power is worth the risk of burning out. Ais arrives to tell Kenton that she has to leave for Hall duties. When Kenton asks which Hall duties, she confesses that she is to meet with a former associate of Sharezan's who wants to defect. Kenton manipulates Ais into allowing him to accompany her. She mentions that he may come if he promises not to embarass her.

Ais
Home—Warehouse

On their way, they make a stop at Ais's house so she can leave a note for her husband since she will be in harm's way. Kenton waits outside while Ais is inside. Kenton realizes he never considered if she had a family and Ais confesses that she tried to send them away for protection, but her husband would not listen. When Kenton tries to offer reassurances, she admonishes him that he has no idea how dangerous the criminal underground can be.

While they are inside the meeting place, Ais hears someone with a limp climbing the stairs, and assumes it to be Nilto. Realizing the meeting may be a trap, she and Kenton jump out the window to safety as the building explodes behind them. Ais says the building must have been rigged with napthani flame, and Kenton remarks they have more in common then they thought, since somebody must want Ais dead too.

Khriss
Lonzare—The Docks

N'Teese brings Khriss a message from Nilto, saying that he is leaving town and won't be able to look for Baon. Khriss chases down Nilto at the docks of Kezare, accompanied by Acron and N'Teese. Upon seeing him, she calls out to him with the name "Gevin." Nilto begrudgingly admits that he is indeed Prince Gevaldin. Khiss mentions that when Wilheln wrote to say that he had 'died,' he hadn't mentioned where the prince had been shot. When Gevin asks what gave him away, Khriss tells him that even though he was speaking Lossandin, she recognized that he called her "Khriss" the last time they met. Gevin explains that he is hiding from Skathan's assassins and is no longer interested in returning to Darkside.

Acron pushes past Khriss and raises his pistol to point at Gevin, saying that he is completing his mission of killing Gevin. Suddenly, a crate of fruit falls onto Acron, and Baon reveals himself. During the ensuing conversation, Acron, who is still lying on the ground, raises his gun again and fires—grazing Baon and knocking him over. Khriss and Gevin run away through the maze of shipping crates, each of them going in a different direction. Acron, not realizing they had separated, chases after Khriss. She climbs up to the control station of the dock's crane and uses it to knock Acron off of the pier and into the water. Gevin approaches and remarks that Khriss protected him after what he had said, but she is also the one to lead Skathan's assassins to him. He reiterates that he plans to stay on Dayside where is he is both wanted and useful.

Khriss returns to N'Teese and Baon, where he explains that while he was indeed an agent of Skathan, he was also hired to protect Khriss and his two missions were not incompatible. For the Dynasty he was supposed to report on if sand mastery was a threat to them. However, he was also hired to protect her—and he takes both oaths seriously. So he continued to watch her group because he could not be sure if Acron or Cynder was the other Dynastic spy. With the loss of Acron, she asks Baon if he is willing to resume his old post. He is.

Kenton
The Diem

Kenton is meeting with Dirin, who was told that the Lady Mason is willing to vote for the Diem because of Kenton's actions in saving her workers on the construction site, as well as caring for their well-being. Khrissalla arrives and tells Kenton what happened with Gevin, Baon, and Acron. Baon and Cynder arrive, and Cynder asks if what happened with Jon is true. Baon explains the situation, including why he killed Captain Deral and the lieutenant: who were planning to sell their party to the Dynasty patrol. He was forced to act to protect both of their missions.

Aarik arrives bearing the news that the Lord General and the Lord Merchant are both missing. Ais confirms that because Kenton needs a unanimous vote that if there is even one abstained vote due to nonattendance, then his case to save the Diem will fail. Kenton asks Khriss if she would like to provide diplomatic support when he visits the Lord Farmer the next day.

Chapter 15: Waves and Ripples

Characters


Plot Summary
Kenton—Khriss
Farmer's Congress

Kenton and his party go to visit the Lord Farmer, Gennel. Kenton has mastered sand and is holding Gennel's steward off of the ground because The Lord Farmer tried to hide when Kenton was announced. Kenton advises that Gennel tell him where to find Lord Vey, or he will have to use his sand on him instead. Gennel (who obviously fears for his life) says that he does know where Lord Vey is hiding, but he was sworn not to tell anybody. Kenton realizes he is being a hypocrit while saying the Diem can change, but still using force when people won't comply. He lets Gennel's servant free, then tries to ask nicely, but Gennel is too scared of Vey to answer him.

Khriss
Kezare

Khriss deduces that if The Lord Farmer cannot tell Kenton, he might be able to tell somebody else. She and Baon track down Gevin in the streets. She calls him openly by his name, knowing that his fear of further Dynasty assassins will make him pliable. When he asks if she is trying to get him killed, she reminds him that she no longer has any reason to protect him. However, if he wants to earn her silence, then he has one hour to get the information they need from the Lord Farmer, or whatever source he chooses.

Over an hour later—The Diem

Khriss arrives at the Lord Mastrell's apartments as they are discussing possible places Lord Vey may be hiding. She informs him that her sources indicate that Lord Vey has fled to Lraezare.

Kenton
The Docks

The group goes to the port, and Kenton tries asking Dockmaster NaiMeer for a ship to Lraezare. NaiMeer refuses him passage, stressing that while there are ships heading toward Lraezare, none have space for a sand master—and ships are the one transportation that sand masters cannot commandeer. Delius arrives and greets "Lord Vey's favorite nephew" while informing him that he has business with the Shipowners' Circle in Lraezare and reminds him that the Lord Admiral absolutely can commandeer any ship. Delius then 'innocently' asks if the Lord Mastrell's party would like to accompany him. Kenton takes him up on the offer.

As the ship leaves port, Kenton considers if the Lord Admiral's drunkeness is an act and whether he is a reliable ally.

Khriss
That afternoon—Southbound Boat

Kenton decides to try overmastering while they are safe on the ship in an attempt to increase his power. He explains to Khriss that when they first met, it was after he had overmastered during the attack on the Diem and that was why his sand mastery was not working while they crossed the Kerla. However, his ability was stronger when it returned. Kenton masters his sand for more than fifteen minutes and then collapses to the deck. Khriss panics, thinking he may be dead, but within a few minutes he regains consciousness and weakly tells her that she can stop shouting now, because he's awake.

Kenton
Later

Kenton and Delius discuss the position of Lord Admiral. Kenton admits to attempting to read the Helm's Charter after their last discussion, but could not parse the jargon. Delius relates how the position of Lord Admiral has become a political tool because the true power lies with the Shipowners' Circle. Because they wrote the law to imply that everything in the Helm belongs to the Lord Admiral, which is why he has unlimited food budgets and can commandeer any ship, they strip all of his other possessions so the Lord Admiral can 'focus on duty.' The Circle then "gives" the position to anybody they find threatening to their position.

Delius continues, telling Kenton how he started in the Guild and was a successful enough merchant to become one of few candidates for Lord Merchant; until Vey convinced him to become a partner in a mining venture. Vey then sabotaged the operation until Delius had lost almost all of his wealth; bought Delius' share as a "favor;" and suddenly found lakstone and became rich enough to win the Lord Merchant position. Delius quit the Guild in disgust and joined the Helm. Within a decade he had rebuilt his fortune and had one of the largest fleets on Dayside, so the Circle "promoted" him to Lord Admiral so they could commit "legal theft through the bestowal of honor."

Delius then explains that grapes are a Darkside import and growing them to make wine on Dayside is prohibitively expensive in both money and water; that is why he drinks so much and always opposes Vey on the Council.

Khriss
On the other side of the ship

Khriss and Aarik discuss Kenton's overmastery. Aarik tells her that Kenton should never have accepted the Lord Mastrell position, because responsibility will suck the soul from a person and prevent them from ever reaching their potential. Khriss argues that somebody must bear responsibility. Aarik does not seem to be hearing her anymore as he continues to state that Kenton should have been free after the attack on the Diem, and that nothing is worth having responsibility over the lives and deaths of people; much less having to kill so the people you lead do not bear that cost. Aarik quickly departs hoping that Kenton can escape responsibility before it destroys him.

Kenton
Below Deck

Kenton speaks with Ais about KerKor law. Ais relates how it specifically states that assassins may attack on every odd day; but a cursory read might lead somebody to belive it meant "must wait at least one day." Kenton explains his theory on how maybe the assassins are being led by someone who isn't Kerztian and perhaps that is why they violated the rules of the KerKor—they recently converted and have not been reading the holy text all of their lives. Kenton continues and asks what if the "new and progressive" A'kar made a deal with Drile to help end the Diem, then Drile could lead his followers away from Lossand to the Rim Kingdons. Ais scoffs at the possibility because no Kerztian, especially the A'kar would make a deal with a sand master—even to achieve that end.

Kenton then takes a rest to try to recover more quickly from his overmastering.

Lraezare

Kenton awakes after they have arrived in Lraezare. As Kenton gains the deck, he hears Delius telling the pier steward that they won't stay too long, because they have to return in time for the Coucil meeting. As Aarik and the others return from scouting the town, the steward sprints away. Aarik explains that they have gone to town and found breakfast. They also found where Vey is hiding: at the house of Lokkall. Delius says that's fortunate because Lokkall is the head of the Shipowners' Circle.

Shipowner's Circle

The group arrives at Lokkall's house, and he tries to deny knowing where Vey is. Kenton, frustrated, announces loudly that if Vey won't speak with him, he will turn over his father's ledger to the Lady Judge. Vey appears from a room upstairs and asks Kenton to come speak with him privately. Kenton asks Ais to come with him to act as a witness.

Private Office

Kenton guesses that Vey owes the 5,000,000 lak to the Diem and not vice versa; because when a person becomes Lord Merchant they inherit the wealth of the previous Lord Merchant, and likely their predecessor's debt as well. Vey tells Kenton the story of Hennin, an idiot who only became Lord Merchant because he inherited fortunes from both of his parents despite having no sense for business. A previous Lord Mastrell used the tribute money to open a savings account, but Hennin squandered the principal sum on bad investments. The Lord Judge at the time ruled that all monies and interest were owed to the Diem from the office of the Lord Merchant. Since the sums are so high—no Lord Merchant has ever been able to pay down the debt and every Lord Mastrell has since used that debt as blackmail.

Kenton forgives the debt without any strings attached and asks for a 2,000,000 lak loan to pay off the Diem's other debts. The Diem will begin earning income working with the other professions for the good of Lossand. The Lord Merchant notes that if he does not vote for the Diem, then he can never make money from such a loan. Kenton realizes that his combined Kerztian and business sensibilities won't allow Vey to consider a "gift," but a trade both mollifies Vey's conscience and gives him a way to account for his actions to the Kelzin. Vey notes that he will continue to curse the Diem in public, until he votes to reinstate the Diem.

As they depart, Kenton asks Vey where the Lord General is staying in Lraezare. Lord Vey says they did not travel together, and he didn't know Raagent was in Lraezare.

Delius—Kenton
Shipowner's Circle

Meanwhile Lokkall tells Delius that the Circle had "need" of his ship, and it has already set sail without them: leaving their possessions on the docks. Delius responds that he'll simply commandeer another ship as is his right as Lord Admiral. Lokkall says that the Circle has unanimously decided to remove him from his position as Taisha of the Helm both because of his drunkeness and because of his professed support for the Diem. As Kenton, Ais, and Vey return, Delius manipulates Lokkall into repeating (in front of a Hall witness) that he has been released from the position of Lord Admiral. Lokkall gloats and says that it also means they are all stranded in Lraezare.

Delius, suddenly sober, immediately asks his "steward" for the "documents." While Lokkall continues to mock him, Delius signs the documents, then asks Ais , in her position as a representative of the Hall, to verify their legality. Lokkall repeatedly questions why the contents of the documents would need ratification. Delius reminds him that while the Charter forbids the Lord Admiral from owning any property, it never forbade his servants anything. Since his son was also his steward, the documents Delius signed transferred ownership of an entire fleet of ships to him from his son, twelve of which are currently docked in Lraezare. He then tells his son to order the entire fleet (not just the twelve at Lraezare) to blockade the port of Kezare for the "foreseeable future"—at least a month.

The Circle goes into a panic upon hearing this. Delius reminds Lokkall that when you steal a man's fortune and place him in a figurehead position that is mocked by all, you should not give him five years to plan then provide a chance for revenge. Delius then addresses the rest of the Circle and nominates Lokkall as new Lord Admiral, reminding them that he may rescind his "hasty" orders if they agree. It's unanimous. Delius then tells Lokkall that he will hold all of his ships on his behalf. If he votes for the Diem, he will return them to him and vote a new Lord Admiral in his place. Delius notes that it is more mercy than the Circle ever gave to him.

Kenton
Lraezare

As everybody returns to the port, Kenton tells Khriss about the deal with Lord Vey, explaining that the debt was accrued dishonestly and the Diem never should have received tribute in the first place. The group then boards Delius's fastest ship, the Kalgin, and starts back toward Kezare to find the missing Lord General before it's too late.


Chapter 16: The Cruel Potentials

Characters
Plot Summary
Kenton—Ais
Northbound Boat

The ship is boarded by Kerztian assassins who immediately start attacking the crew. Ais sees the assassin's boat pull up next to their ship through the porthole, and she and Baon try to get to the deck, but find the attackers have barred the door to prevent reinforcements. Lord Vey asks Professor Cynder why Kenton isn't mastering sand, and Cynder replies in halting Lossandin that Kenton is recovering. Kenton throws some sand in the eyes of some attackers, which is not repelled because it was not being mastered. Aarik has taken cover behind some cargo, and listens to the fighting with a pained expression; Delius, his son, and Khiss, are nearby behind another group of boxes. Khriss is talking at Aarik in Dynastic, while Delius thinks she is talking to him and explains that he can't understand her. Khriss pointedly notes that without Baon and Ais, there is nobody to help Kenton against the assassins, While Kenton is thinking about how he expected that overmastering on this trip should have been "safe."

Aarik tackles one of the assassins from behind, grabs his spear and throws it through another assassin and into the bulkhead, pinning the corpse. He then picks up that assassin's sword and dispatches two more, giving another sword to Kenton and they fight back-to-back. Kenton is considering the changes in Aarik once he touched a sword again, and notes that the "carefree wanderer" is gone and only the "Tower trained warrior" remains. The assassins are finished.

Baon and Ais are released. Ais argues with Delius when he suggests the Kerztian Warrior bodies should just be burned. Kenton compromises and says they can place the bodies on their own boat and tow it back to Kezare. Baon doubts Aarik could have been that good of a fighter since he didn't previously show any of the tells of a trained warrior. Aarik keeps the sword and stows it through his belt, then very formally asks how long the remaining trip will take. Kenton tries to tell his friend he doesn't have to be so formal again, but Aarik just replies with one of his father's favorite aphorisms. Aarik apologizes to Khrissalla for any impropriety he may have shown her before then excuses himself to return to his rooms. Khriss is baffled at the changes in Aarik's demeanor, and Kenton speculates that is part of the reason he fled Dayside.

As Baon and Ais load the bodies onto the assassins' boat, Ais is consumed by her own thoughts. She recalls Aarik's fight with Lokmlen and how she had thought the Sand Lord was showing her a way to fight without giving in to her rage. Seeing the change in Aarik disturbs her because she fears falling to his fate as well.

Kenton
The Next Morning

Kenton wakes up and finds that his mastery has returned to him and that he can now control five ribbons, not just three. Kenton also notes that he now understands the effects other sand masters had discussed that come with controlling more ribbons, heightened senses and a mental expansion allowing control of many simultaneous actions. But he notes that doing more things at once uses his water faster than combining multiple ribbons to do fewer tasks with more sand behind each task. Kenton finally realizes that five ribbons are still a pittance to Drile's 25 ribbons.

Kezare

Delius tells Kenton they might not have finished the journey without Baon's help at sailing since so many crew were killed. Khriss pesters Kenton about his sand mastery, and he admits that it has returned and his deductions were correct. Kenton laments that he has to find the Lord General in one day and Khriss suggests that they ask Ais to help them find the missing Taisha.

Ais initially refuses until Khriss, though Kenton's translation, reminds her that as a trackt the wellbeing of a missing Taisha should be her top priority, even over guarding Kenton. Leaving Cynder, Delius, and his son behind, the group goes to the Tower.

Ais—Kenton
The Tower

Gremt greets Kenton and initially tries the cover story that Lord Raagent went south with Lord Vey, until Kenton tells him that they have just returned from Lraezar with Lord Vey, who had not seen the Lord General. Gremt says that they don't know where Raagent is and they didn't want to get the trackts involved. Kenton reminds him that a missing Taisha should be above inter-profession rivalry. Ais suggests they start at the Lord General's rooms.

Gremt tells everybody that Raagent was, impatiently, resting from his wounds but was prone to sneaking out to go wandering when he could ditch the guards. They go to Raagent's room, where Ais finds spots of blood on the floor and sees that his bed is missing its sheet. Ais infers that moving a body past the guards would be very difficult and believes that Raagent is still in the Tower. She asks after a basement, but Gremt says they only have a Wine Cellar.

The Cellar

Kenton ponders on how the darkness of the stairwell seems to affect Ais more than most daysiders, who tend to fear the dark, but that Baon and Khriss seem unaffected at all. Since the single lantern is inadequate illumination for a party of six, Kenton calls sand to his hand to make another light source. As they reach the bottom of the stairs, something is noticed against the far wall and the group speeds up to bring the light closer and see what it is.

Ais notes that Lord Raagent's eyelids have been cut off and that he was tied to the wall with his shalrim bedsheets. She speculates that the wax mounds were candles of different lengths and his eyelids were removed so he could not hide from the ever-decreasing light as each candle burned out. Ais finds traces of Kamo on Raagent's lips and infers that it was used to make the Lord General die from fright.

Privately, Ais notes that this has all of the elements of Sharezan's tortures. She then makes the connection that if Raagent would have walked with a limp, he may have been her anonymous informant that was due to meet them at the warehouse the other night. She voices her suspicion to Kenton that Sharezan most likley killed Raagent personally.

Afterwards, reluctantly, Kenton asks Aarik to take his father's place so he can vote for the Diem. Aarik, resigned to his fate, says yes.

Chapter 17: The Impossible Choice

Characters


Plot Summary
Kenton
Ferry to the Diem

On the trip back to the Diem from the Tower, Kenton discusses his regret for ruining Aarik's life. Khriss tells him that no matter how hard the choice was, regrets and all, he did make the best choice for his people. Baon theorizes that Raagent was killed to sabotage the Diem's chances at winning the vote of the Taishin. Or, at least, if the assassins truly want the Diem to fail, then Ais and the other Taishin are likely to be in danger as well. Kenton leaves them to return to the Diem and takes the ferry back to Kezare.

Ais
The Hall

Ais gives the Lady Judge a report on Raagent's murder, and Judge Heelis asks Ais to return to her duties with the Lord Mastrell while a team is assigned to the murder investigation. On her way out, Tain intercepts her, saying that they found Sharezan. He invites her to join him on the raid. Tain hands Ais a zinkall while explaining that Lokmlen finally broke under questioning and revealed the safehouse location. They go off together.

Kezare

When they arrive at the location, Ais notes it is a nondescript building hidden in plain sight. Movement is heard as they enter and Tain reminds her that his team is already inside. Lokmlen steps out of the shadows and Ais warns Tain they have been betrayed. Tain replies that she has. She asks Tain if he was bought, and he replies in the negative. Ais quickly realizes that Tain is Sharezan, though she had suspected Nilto. Tain tells her that there was no better cover than as a trackt, and he used that to feed her suspicions about the Lord Beggar and regrets not having enough time to frame him properly. He whines about how even getting assigned to her team was not enough to stay ahead of her progress in dismantling his organization.

She attempts to shoot Tain, only to find the zinkall was sabotaged, about which Tain laughs that she should only accept gear from people she trusts. As his "team" knock Ais to her knees, he informs her about his plan to hide out for a few years then return under a new name and in new locations. But he wants to conclude his unfinished business with her first. Tain explains his "hobby" is finding how to break his target—and Ais is so easy. He starts by revealing her "secret" and claims that the entire Hall knows that she is so obsessed with control that she bottles her emotions until they explode uncontrolled. Tain claims this arises from the conflict inside her: trackt or Kerztian, cold-hearted warrior or loving mother, pious or traitor. Tain will make her chose duty or family.

Tain tells her that he has had Lokmlen plant a firetrap in the orphanage she grew up in, and he is going to go to her house to kill her family, but she won't have time to save them both. He then instructs his men to hold her for one minute and then let her go. Tain and Lokmlen leave in opposite directions and his men start the countdown. As soon as they release her, Ais follows Lokmlen and desperately searches for another trackt. She is out of breath and panicking when she finds one, but manages, between gasps, to tell him about the fire trap at the orphanage. She then heads for home thinking she has condemned her family.

Home

Praying and out of breath, she stumbles toward her house. When she nears the house, she hears a loud banging sound coming from inside. In a panic, and afraid of what she will find, Ais runs upstairs to the unsecured door. When she gets inside, she sees Tain, holding a sword, being thrown through a wall by Kenton. Ais asks after her family and Kenton, as he uses ribbons to lift Tain into the air by his throat, says they are safe in the next room because he interrupted the assassin. Ais tells him that Tain is not a Kerztian assassin, but is the criminal Sharezan she has been investigating. Kenton offers to finish snapping his neck and Ais asks him to bind him instead so he can face justice.

Ais then runs to her family and weeps with them. Mellis comments that it was lucky her friend came to visit, and she realizes her husband understands the situation better than she does. Ais thanks Kenton and asks why he came. Kenton relates the theory that she and the Taishin may be in danger from the assassins.

The Next Day—The Hall

Ais goes to High Judge Heelis to resign her position. Heelis asks her to keep her job for at least one more day, and Ais agrees. Heelis then asks Ais to accompany her to the duel at the Diem, because it will be important for the leaders of Lossand to understand what sand masters may be capable of doing when threatened.

Kenton—Khriss
The Diem's Pit

All of the Taishin and a large crowd gather in the Diem to watch the fight between Kenton and Drile. Kenton points out each Taisha, as Khriss has not yet met them all. She marvels at the change in Aarik, now that he is garbed in the Lord General's uniform. Drile makes a grand entrance from over the seating and Khriss wishes Kenton good luck as he heads toward the pit. Elorin gives each of them a drink from different ceremonial bowls, and both sand masters remove their sashes as the fight begins.

Drile notes that Kenton now controls five ribbons, but quickly smashes them aside with less than half of his ribbons, while driving Kenton back with the other half. Renewing the attack, Kenton's ribbons surge forward, only to have Drile intercept each one with three ribbons of his own. Kenton notes that his eyes are already burning, like they had at the attack in the Kerla; just before being thrown to the ground by Drile's remaining ribbons. Kenton realizes that Drile is toying with him to make a spectacle.

Khriss moves toward the guard rail at her seat, and Baon intercepts her, telling her that no matter how horrible the fight is, it is Kenton's choice to defend his people and she has no right to rob him of his choice by interfering.

Kenton thinks about how this isn't a fight, but an execution as he ends up on the ground again, with Drile standing over and saying they both want change but Kenton is too much like Praxton and refuses to listen to others. Kenton asks him to shut up and finish it.

Chapter 18: Time, Like Sand ...

Characters


Plot Summary
Kenton
Flashback Vision—The Kerla

Kenton sees a vision of the day he tested to enter the Diem and considers if it is a dream or a hallucination. Instead of the words spoken then, the vision Kenton and Praxton are discussing the fight with Drile. Vision Kenton says he now agrees with Praxton that he never belonged in the Diem. Vision Praxton reminds Kenton that he claimed to be as good as any Mastrell with only one ribbon and that he is losing not because he is weaker, but because he is trying to be something he is not. Kenton himself thinks about how that optimistic boy really believed he could be as good as any Mastrell with one ribbon. Kenton realizes that it is not how much power you have—it is how you use what power you have.

The Diem's Pit

Kenton stands back up thinking on how he doesn't need more ribbons—he only needs one. On the sidelines, Elorin and Dirin discuss how Kenton is lasting so long while Kenton's single ribbons darts quickly through all of Drile's ribbons, cutting them down. Drile falls and begins to lose his temper. As Drile attacks again, Kenton notes that intercepting ribbons is just like Zo'Ken and that Drile already looks dangerously dehydrated, while his single ribbons uses far less water.

In a move of seeming desperation, Drile attempts to do what Praxton did in the Kerla, and create an explosion of sand to overpower Kenton. Kenton tries warning him that it is too dangerous and he shouldn't do it. Kenton then covers his arm with sand and tackles Drile, causing all of the mastered sand to go stale. Kenton calls for water and a stetcher while Drile asks why and how Kenton saved him. Kenton explains that, just like two ribbons colliding head-on, by tackling him while they were both mastering sand it cancelled all of the ribbons. Kenton them helps Drile to stand and tells him he is ready to listen and work together. Then Drile is carried away on a stretcher, extremely dehydrated.

Khriss makes her way to the sand floor to congratulate him, but Kenton says one battle remains, Kenton turns to the watching Lady Judge and requests that the Taishin hold their vote immediately in the Diem. Heelis agrees after confirming that Kenton will not be able to "quibble technicalities" and if they vote now the decision will be final. High Judge Heelis begins taking the votes. Aarik, Vey, Gennel, Rite, The Lady Mason, and Lokkall all vote in favor of the Diem leaving only one vote.

Kenton relates that he has met her conditions, the Diem's debts are paid (by the Lord Merchant), and the Diem has a single leader. Heelis says there was a third condition, that of gaining the support of the people of Lossand. Heelis says that since she is biased in favor of the Diem, she chose the person in the Hall most opposed to the Diem to be his guard. The Hall's vote will be cast by Senior Trackt Ais, because if Kenton could win her over, then Kenton could convince other citizens.

Ais
The Diem's Pit

Ais recalls telling Kenton how he would try to win her favor or build comraderie with her. How, even if he saved her life she would not be blinded to his blasphemies. She then recalls how he saved something far more important. She tells the Judge (and audience) how Kenton not only aided her, but did so while abiding by her terms, so she votes in favor of the Diem. Khriss runs out, telling Kenton how N'Teese had been translating everything for them and congratulates him on saving the Diem.

As Ais walks away thinking she had betrayed her family the day prior and has now betrayed her god, Dirin comes to get Kenton, saying that Drile wants to speak with him.

Kenton
The Diem's Infirmary

Drile congratulates Kenton on securing his position as Lord Mastrell and the Diem's future as a whole. Kenton tells Drile that he has good ideas and that serving the people and charging for services helps hold the Diem accountable for their actions. Drile relates that he dehydrated too quickly during their fight—the same effects that killed the Mastrells in the Kerla. Kenton admits that he felt the effects as well. Together, they theorize that someone must have sabotaged their fight so they would kill each other, or possibly overburn and kill the Taishin as well. Kenton realizes that it must have been Elorin, who presented the water at both the promtion cermony and the fight.

Elorin's Chambers

Kenton goes to confront Elorin about the matter. Elorin admits that he poisoned the bowl with KaDo, a Kerztian spice that accelerates dehydration and lowers inhibitions making it more likely for them to act rashly. Kenton asks if he has been the one coordinating the assassins. Then asks why he betrayed the Diem. Elorin says that the Sand Lord appeared to him and he realized that the Ker'reen faith is true.

Elorin relates how he converted six months ago and that was why he gave up the position as head of the Acolents. He stopped mastering sand and allowed people to assume he had burnt out. He says that the A'kar told him to remain in the Diem so he could orchestrate its downfall from within. He then says that because it is a new day, he is allowed to try assassinating Kenton again. Eloring pulls out a zinkall and shoots a terken arrow at Kenton. Kenton dodges while sending a ribbon of sand through Elorin's heart, killing him; but takes a grazing wound to the arm. Ais comes in saying she heard the end of the conversation, to include Kenton's pleas to not attack. In her judgement it was self defense. She then adds that since the head of the assassins is now dead, Kenton should be safe until he makes another powerful enemy. He asks if she would return if the assassins do, but Ais, thinking of spending time with family, tells him she has other important tasks.

Epilogue

Characters


Plot Summary
Kenton—Khriss
Two weeks later—The Docks

Kenton is preparing to say goodbye to Khriss, Baon, and Cynder, who are boarding a ship back to Darkside. They are also taking several large barrels of charged sand and a few sand masters so that Khriss can further experiment and try to find a way to recharge sand on Darkside. They also intend to test people to see if the myth that Darksiders cannot master sand is true. Kenton promises to visit sometime because he has always wanted to see his mother's heritage and discover if he has family on Darkside. Kenton will also need to bring the sand masters back after their contract is complete.

As the boat leaves the dock, Khriss remarks to Baon that she was surprised that Kenton chose Drile to be the Diem's Second, but Baon replies that it is not surprising since having leaders that disagree but can work togther is stronger than having somebody who will never challenge your decisions.

On shore, Kenton tells Drile that he worries he made the wrong descision to not go now; since, he may be good in a crisis, but he makes a poor politician. However, Drile reminds him that he is needed where he is, for now.

Ais
Home

Ais is on the roof of her house, praying, and Mellis joins her. She tells him that she plans to travel, alone, to Ker Kedasha to meet with the A'kar and seek her answers from the Sand Lord. Mellis insists that they go together, telling Ais she never has to do anything alone. When she protests that Lossandins are not treated well in Kerzta's capital, Mellis responds that they can handle it, together. Ais prays a thank you to her god for blessing her with a family she does not deserve.

Kenton
The Diem

Kenton and Drile stand together on a balcony, overlooking some of the families of sand masters that are moving into the Diem now that they are allowed to do so. Drile quips that the previous mastrells would not recognize the place anymore, and Kenton tells him that it's not "their" Diem anymore and their insistance on remaining separate from society is what caused most of the problems they faced.

Heelis
The Hall

Serin reports to Heelis that after the Diem's reinstatement, the A'kar's support has crumbled. Heelis remarks that the A'kar is resolute and will likely find a method to come back to power before too long. She remarks that they should be grateful that an unknown greater crisis was somehow averted.

Khriss
Border Ocean

On the ship to Darkside Hoid is playing a song about how great achievements can be made by small actions. As an unnamed Lestrell puts sand in Baon's hand, Khriss recites what Kenton told her of the test for sand mastery—to feel every grain of sand and offer it the water of your body. Baon indicates his hesitence, only to set off a reaction stronger than anybody has seen so far.

Khriss asks if he is all right, and he responds that he is merely surprised.

Notes

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