Drayk regenerates in her room after being killed by the orca during the battle on the wall. He describes the brutality of the battle — “I was possessed with lust for survival and I chopped through them like a deranged demon. The last boy, I drew a line from his groin to his chin.” — and his reluctance to fight. He discusses the nature of death saying, “You hear only the ocean roaring in your ears.”
Verne is almost a witness to their love-making, acknowledging that his violence, which seems to be directed at her, is in fact directed at himself as he punishes himself for falling short of perfection.
Petra arrives and pledges allegiance to Verne and they plan their attack on the queen.
During the funeral for the Tibutan soldiers who died on the wall, Verne and her soldiers attack the queen. Unfortunately, Adelpha notices the archers in the windows and the royals bring them down using their gifts. Drayk and the Queen’s Guard fail to open the gate and the queen gets away. Petra uses her gift to cause an earthquake and they retreat back to the temple, defeated.
Verne despairs at the many deaths she has caused but Ried encourages her, saying, “From one who has studied the ways of leadership in the hope of one day becoming high priestess…I must advise you to hold your tongue. Do not show your weakness. They will not forgive it.” Though she is still haunted by the men and women she sent to die, she pushes her demons aside with intention of reigniting her soldiers’ courage.
Petra returns from the failed assassination attempt to reveal that the rebel forces are outnumbered. The queen has two thousand armed hoplites and another seventeen thousand helot infantry, plus the Whyte soldiers and the orca. Not to mention the gifted royals.
The rebels are joined by other defectors like Gelesia, Chase’s mother, who blames the queen for her son’s death, Drayk’s friends from the Queen’s Guard and Hero, who has never felt he belonged in his family and wants Verne’s bravery.
Drayk returns and they make love. After Verne wakes, she remembers a dream in which she saw how she would kill her mother.
The leaders of the various factions—Petra, Demostrate, the high priestess, Drayk, Verne—meet to discuss the impending battle and Verne states that “Strategy by committee can never work…yet it is so tempting, that pretence of collaboration, that spreading of blame like disease, coughing, spluttering.” They agree to defend the temple while sending rebels to attack the other districts in an attempt to split up the queen’s forces.
The enemy arrives from both the east and the west while Verne, Petra and the high priestess give orders from their observation post at the top of the temple. Verne admits she feels like a goddess burning ants with a magnifying glass. The enemy attacks the wall on one side and arrives via the water on the other. Some are killed in the traps laid by Petra and the Shark’s Teeth but not enough of them. Still they come.
The high priestess sends messages between Verne’s forces and tries to hold the enemy back by using her staff to throw fire at them, but her flames are met by streams of water which Berenice shoots through the air.
Ried and the red priestesses take the enemy by surprise and attack from the rear, riding through the water on argutan, but they barely make a dint in the enemy’s numbers. Verne’s soldiers are pushed back. Verne sees Hero appear from behind some burning tents even though he was supposed to go with Demostrate. His brother Odell attacks him, sending him to the ground. He then kicks Hero to death and finishes off by shooting him through the chest with ice. Verne describes him as an eaglet, “that much closer to a monopoly of his mother’s love.”
Eventually both sides of Verne’s forces are overpowered and they retreat into the temple.