Last time, finally some damn charm use.
This chapter, back to Wren!
This is actually a pretty good chapter. Wren is dreaming, and we flick between his dreams and random notes about other characters. It’s not clear if he’s dreaming of them or if it’s what’s going on while he dreams. We start off with him dreaming he’s not cold and in pain and all that.
He dreamed that he was whole and strong, and cloaked only in golden light.
You can guess where this is going.
The various creepy species of animals, and it’s a surprising lot given it’s a shadowland, quietly freak out.
Wren remembers his idyllic childhood and warm days by the creek full of fat fish he could catch barehanded. He remembers getting sold to the Guild because they like clever kids.
Ratcatcher’s pacing around anxiously, worried Shamblemerry will return and the Prince will go back to preferring her. Pelesh gave him some poisoned wine, presumably not having read the poison rules for exalts in the setting, and he’s plotting if there’s some way to pass it on to her and make it look like it came straight from Pelesh so she’ll drink it. None of them seem to have realized that the Prince probably will be pissed off at whatever servant manages to kill another of his servants.
Wren dreams of his rise in the Guild, of amassing wealth.
This was not meant to be, he heard a voice say, and in agreement he nodded.
Again, you can guess where this is going.
Meanwhile, Pelesh is freaking out about sending the wine and oh god oh god any second Ratcatcher will come down to kill him. For some reason, he sees fit to tell us this was OOC of him and normally he’s far more cautious and he doesn’t know why he did it because he’s been treated worse and never even considered doing something like this and he has no idea what’s going on with him. Why do you invent plot holes, book? Why?
Wren then dreams of his next life, in the Immaculate temples.
Kejak had honed him into a blade and told him that he was to be used to excise the cancers of the world. He was made a monk, but in name only.
But the problem is, he actually wants to be a monk. But instead he’s always dragged off to do something for Ketchup. The voice repeats.
Next we check in on Unforgiven Blossom, where the orrery is acting weird. She’s stewing over how she doesn’t like binding wounds. I know, Blossom, it’s unfair. And she can’t seem to find the problem with her orrey either.
Wren dreams of his trip with Ratcatcher.
This is not meant to be, the voice said, commanding now.
“What is?” asked Wren in his dream, and heard nothing.
I guess the Unconquered Sun is particularly touchy about Abyssals.
Then it’s Shamblemerry, who apparently? isn’t dead. Or maybe she already was. Look, point is Holok should have made sure she was for-real dead instead of wandering off and then being all well that’s just what happens when the body disappeared. She’s still got her throat cut, although it isn’t stopping her from nomming on rats. She’s presumably trying to regain essence, as this isn’t a shadowland so she can’t get it back naturally.
Second edition removes the ability of Abyssals to regain essence from animals! Because second edition hates Abyssals.
It was cold in the ossuary, and she shivered. Cold had never bothered her before. This was another indignity to lay at the feet of the man who had defeated her, another item to be added to his bill. He would pay, she vowed. She sat and hugged herself in the dark, and swore vengeance. She would seek him now, she told herself, if only it were not so cold…
This is part of why it’s confusing what’s actually happened to her. Is she severely injured but capable of recovering, or has she been turned from one thing to another? The fact she’s bothered by something that previously didn’t affect her at all seems to suggest that, and cold is something associated with dying. It’s only more confusing by the question of if the author meant for her to be alive to begin with, as aside from being presumably exalted, she seems like she’s the same as Sandheart, who was a nemissary.
The slit throat doesn’t clear things up in the slightest, some Abyssals end up looking like skeletons without ill effect.
But we have to go back to Wren after that intriguing glimpse. He’s dreaming of saying FUCK YOU to everyone in his life and going back to hang out at the creek. The voice says maybe, but not right now.
Soon, the voice replied. Behold, I take you from the house of my enemies and I Exalt you. I raise you up from the dust and loose the prisoner from his bonds. Go forth and do my bidding.
“No!” Wren cried. “Not anymore!”
This is actually a nice exchange. The Sun’s playing the same game with him as Chejop did – saying oh, you want to just live a simple life pursuing enlightenment and goodness? Okay, but first could you just murder a few people over there? Oh, and…
Of course, I’m not sure why the Sun’s saying the stuff about doing his bidding when it’s exactly what’d get Wren’s hackles up, especially since exalting is more “go forth and do, I don’t know, something, look it’s almost my turn on the x-box have some power bye”. Only usually without the Sun even bothering to show up.
That’s why Lunars are better. Luna shows up to every single one of them, because she’s cool like that. <3 Luna.
Anyway, so, Wren opens his eyes and finds that the cell bars have melted. And his head hurts. And he’s got a voice echoing in his head saying something about exalt- “Oh, no.” Wren shook his head, tears pooling in the corner of his eyes. “This can’t be.”
Wren wins the quickest on the uptake award and the most reasonable response award in one beautiful go.
The voice doesn’t give a fuck and just repeats itself.
“You make me an abomination!” Wren cried out.
As you understand things now. Your understanding will change. I Exalt you.
“No!” Wren shouted, and stumbled off into the dark as fast as he could.
One does have to wonder at the Sun’s judgement here, in that the Prince has already converted at least one Solar. Either Wren might consider that he’s already a demon so he might as well skip the torture and go along with the inevitable or Wren could just get recaptured and forced into a monstrance. It’s not like anyone would come get him and he’ll go crazy eventually. Normally just being a Solar is enough to give you a really good chance of escaping, but not when you’re surrounded by other Solar tier exalts.
Of course, canonically the Sun is absent and arguably even the thing people occasionally hear is just some sort of smart version of a recorded message stuck in the exaltation, in which case the answer about the Sun’s judgement is, as it usually is, “Can’t talk! X-box!” So there’s no actual plot hole here.
Anyway, so, it took most of the book but Wren finally isn’t a mortal any more! The next time he does something impossible, it’ll just be proper exalt behavior.