Chapter Five

Verne recovers from the grief of losing her nanny. She discusses her growing pessimism about the human condition, suggesting that people are not blind to suffering but embarrassed by it. “They convinced themselves it was wrong to draw attention to any disparity between people so rather than acknowledge [those less fortunate] they feigned apathy and in doing so were collectively guilty,” she says.

She learns how Harryet’s parents died—her birth mother from a terrible cough, her second mother from sudden heart failure—and how the death of Harryet’s brother forced her to take refuge in the palace. Verne recounts saving Harryet from her cousin, Odell, who is predatory in his pursuit of Verne’s lady-in-waiting.

In this chapter Verne realises she is in love with Drayk the immortal. She makes him swear he will come back for her in his next life then recounts the embarrassing ways she tries to win his attention. Her awkward behaviour comes to an abrupt end when she witnesses Drayk with another woman.

Chapter Six

In this chapter Verne gains proof that her mother is stealing her gift. She competes in a tournament in the un-gifted category in three disciplines – manna, spear and shield, and double-sword fighting — and goes through to the final rounds as favourite. But just as she is about to beat Odell in manna, her mother leaves the stadium, a whistle blows and the judge disqualifies her for using her gift sending the people into an uproar. Verne is confused because as far as she is aware she doesn’t have a gift. As Verne leaves, Odell attacks her and she falls unconscious. Afterwards, she realises that when her mother left the stadium her gift was visible to the judge proving her mother had been stealing it. It is clear Drayk no longer sees Verne as a child and the tension between them grows.

Chapter Seven

Verne wants to speak to the high priestess, Maud Lias, about her gift but her mother has increased security around the palace making it impossible to leave. Her first opportunity to escape comes when the Shark’s Teeth attack.  With her guard, Bolt, a war-wit (a mute albino slave from Isbis) she sneaks out.

In the temple of the First Mother we meet Ried, Maud’s apprentice. The high priestess tells the story of the appearance of Typhon’s tempest saying, “In the beginning the gate between our world and the next was open” and “all number of creatures, both good and bad, walked freely on the earth” but because the men of Longfield misbehaved, the gods shut the Elysian Gate, trapping all sorts of evil on this side.

She tells Verne the story of the First Mother’s birth. An angel of Ooruk called Shea copulated with a demon called the Fire thus unifying good with evil. Shea died giving birth to a daughter of balance known as Ayfra or the First Mother, who went on to found Tibuta. The high priestess explains that Verne is the descendent of Ayfra, come to save them from the tempest.

Verne admits that she believes her mother has been stealing her gift and the high priestess offers to test if this is true. After spending a night beneath a protective fire, three specks of blood appear on Verne’s sheets confirming her mother is stealing her gift. The chapter (and section) closes with the high priestess making this observation: “While your mother lives you will not get your gift.”

Verne then tells of the three boys who made her give up on love: Elef, a blind homeless boy who teaches her to see Tibuta in a new perspective but suddenly disappears, Ruben, the son of a distant cousin from one of the remote Tibutan islands who is no substitute for the immortal, and Friance, an attendant from the palace who has no self-control.