Verne tries once again to win Petra but Petra is angry and says she has no objections to the queen’s plan to invite Whyte soldiers into Tibuta as, “Only one boat will enter Tibuta. A mere two hundred men.” It is clear Petra is scared and Verne asks if the queen has threatened her. Petra is defensive and threatens to reveal Verne to her mother.
Verne realises it is no longer safe for her in the palace and asks Ried to help get her out. Verne struggles with her two sides: “she who would be craven and she who must be brave for the people.” She tells Harryet she plans to send away to Caspius to warn King Jace of her mother’s betrayal.
Later that night she walks through the palace grounds with Drayk. Drayk is on the brink of a confession which he cannot bring himself to say. He explaining that Verne’s mother manipulated him when he was younger and made him believe he needed her. He begs Verne to trust that he would never to anything to harm her. He says he is deeply in love with her and gives her his serpent stone. After acknowledging that “on the mainland a woman is expected to wait. She is expected to feign chastity and deny herself pleasure for the sake of…I am not entirely sure what. A man’s pleasure, perhaps? To maintain a contradiction?” Verne explains that in Tibuta a woman is entitled to do just about whatever she pleases and they make love.
Chase returns after spying on Verne’s mother and confirms that she has no intention of relinquishing the throne. Harryet leaves. Verne joins her mother and Adelpha and they travel to Lizard Island to meet Prince Satah and his soldiers. Ried, who is disguised as a soldier, says she will get Verne out of the palace as soon as she can.
Using the reserves of airs stored in air pockets in their lungs, they swim beneath the surface to Lizard Island. They meet the disfigured prince and his five orca, shapeshifters and deadly assassins who take the form of both humans and killer whales. They discover that instead of sending one boat, Satah has arrived with eight, which is over two thousand men. Verne realises her nation has been sacrificed for a promise of peace and a loaf of bread.
Queen Ashaylah publicly humiliates Petra which is the final straw for the strategos.
The royal family is attacked on Tibuta’s Seawall. With Ried’s help, Verne escapes to the temple leaving Drayk behind. Her cousin Chase is injured and she carries him with her. He dies in her lap having failed to achieve his dream of becoming the first male district leader.
The temple grounds have been transformed into a battle camp and there are tents everywhere. Verne is tested by Demostrate, the leader of the Shark’s Teeth, and is found to be loyal to their cause. Verne makes a speech to win the Shark’s Teeth’s trust: “There comes a time in every nation’s history when she must wake from stupor, throw off her shackles and demand freedom.”
Demostrate attacks Verne and Verne is forced to humiliate her in order to win the Shark’s Teeth’s support. The animosity between the two women is palpable.