Chapter 15: The guards bring Deniel to Kincaid, who questions him about his intentions. Deniel does not reveal much, but Valery walks in and asks what happened. She reveals that she had brought Deniel here. When Kincaid tells Valery to leave, he kisses her. After she leaves, Kincaid asks Dante to kill Deniel. When Dante refuses, another one of the guards pulls out the golden strand in Deniel, and Deniel disintegrates.
Chapter 16: Adelice awakes the next morning to a knock from a valet, who carries a note from Kincaid that apologizes for what happened the previous day and invites her to a play that he has arranged for. He sends a formal dress for her to come in. Jost knocks a short while later, and also says that he received a note and a tuxedo. As they begin to make love, Valery knocks on the door. She offers to get Adelice ready, and Jost heads out. Valery says that she is not offering her services because she is required to, but because she wants to and also because Kincaid expects a certain level of aestheticism from his guests. As Valery dresses and gets Adelice ready, Adelice asks Valery if she misses her dead lover, Enora. Valery reacts viscerally, and says that it was Adelice’s fault that Enora died (because Enora helped Adelice get a digifile). Adelice observes that Valery is different than before. The lilac scar that she sees on Valery’s shoulder reveals to Adelice that Valery has not altered.
Chapter 17: The play, in which Kincaid performs, is Shakespeare’s Hamlet. To Adelice’s surprise, Erik and Jost leave the play, talking to one another. She finds herself backstage, and sees Jax attending to the actors. The violence in the play was realistic, as Adelice finds out: in fact, it was real, looking at what had happened to the actors. Adelice deduces that whatever Kincaid offers these actors must be substantial for them to endure to so much pain. Their faces are altered, which is one of the benefits of Tailoring that Kincaid wanted to show Adelice. Kincaid catches Adelice spying backstage. Her anger blurs her vision, and reveals Kincaid’s strands: his central time strand glimmers, but it is tarnished with age – though there is a thin fiber braided through the central portion. Kincaid prompts Jax, who is revealed to be both a Tailor and a Sunrunner, to fix a problem with the estate’s electrical system. Dinner is more pleasant than the play, but just as superficial, with Kincaid exclaiming his intentions for performing other plays. His actual feelings are masked behind his unwavering eyes and face – which reveals to Adelice that Kincaid can actually act.
Chapter 18: After waking from a dream and thinking about her father, Adelice finds Dante piling large glass panels and coiled wire into the back of a crawler. Adelice convinces Dante to allow her to come along for his Sunrunning stint. Jost and Erik come along as well, and the stop at the Interface, where there is a nearby Guild mining operation. Dante parks the crawler in a patch of grass, and he explains the process of solar energy collection, with Jost and Erik helping him set up the equipment. Erik and Adelice, driven by curiosity, go closer and closer to the Guild’s mining operations. They come to see that the Guild has mined all the resources and left an irregularity in space-time in the abandoned parts of the operation. The area that they explore is outside of the mountain range, hours from the crawler and solar equipment. They spot a small creek from which Dante fills up water bottles, as the water near the mines is pure. As Jost and Dante go to fill up the bottles, Erik and Adelice go towards the fence that encloses the active mining operation. As they get closer, they see a group moving closer to the actual drills. They spot Cormac, and eavesdrop on the group’s conversation. Cormac plans on expanding the mining site, and reveals that Sunrunners have had picked fights with miners in the past few weeks. Cormac plans on sending more Remnants in after them. He also says that Pryana is slated to the new Creweler. Adelice expresses ambivalence at this news: though Pryana is talented she has never been wise enough to be Creweler. Cormac also reveals that he knows Adelice is with Kincaid, but he has not received word from his spies for a few weeks. After they return, Dante and Jost throw a fit. Dante says they need to get back to the crawler, and that there is an old ammo factory where new Remnants are weaponized and released. He expects there to be some sort of transportation there.
Chapter 19: Adelice, Jost, Erik, and Dante enter the factory and find it seemingly empty. As they grab motorcycles and rifles, Jost, Erik, and Adelice realize that Dante is missing. They find Dante throwing an old stool at a Remnant – they were not alone in the factory. They begin to fight the Remnants, but an acrid odor is replaced by smoke, and then eventually a blazing fire starts. When a Remnant lunges at Adelice, she panics and yanks the wrong strand, amplifying the already raging fire. The factory eventually shatters into smoke and debris. Dante angrily throws insults at Adelice, accusing her of not knowing what to do and calling her stupid. As they reach the crawler, pack up the equipment, and head out, Dante asks Adelice to sit up front. He says that he brought her along because he did not want to leave her at the estate with Kincaid. He apologizes for attacking her, and says that they can work on cultivating her talent.
Chapter 20: When the group gets back to the estate, Kincaid scolds Dante for taking Adelice off the estate. Later, Adelice eavesdrops on a conversation between Dante and Jax, in which Dante reveals his desire to know Adelice better. Jost and Adelice go back upstairs and, after washing up, begin to make love. However, Jost stops Adelice, as he has done before, to Adelice’s vexation. He says that he does not want to have sex with Adelice because he thinks it will risk her losing her Spinster skills – which would mean that they would be unable to save Sebrina and Amie. Adelice refutes this by asking him why, if that were true, Cormac would marry her if he wanted to use her powers. Jost answers that Cormac could remap her or give her skills to someone else. Just as Jost skirts around the topic of sex, Adelice skirts around the topic of family. She does not want to be a mother, but Jost does want to be a father. Jost takes issue with Adelice’s stance on the issue. Though Adelice wants to focus on their relationship, Jost says that it is not the same as it was back in Arras. He leaves the room, with Adelice in tears and taking issue with the fact that Jost sees their relationship as a problem.
Chapter 21: Adelice does not leave her room the next morning. As she is dressing, Dante knocks on the door and takes her out the front door to the outer road of the estate, where a group of crawlers are parked. It turns out that a group of Sunrunners, Kincaid, and Jost are going on a mission because they have found information on the Whorl – specifically in the Heart, or the middle of former America. Kincaid does not allow Adelice to go on the mission, and prevents her from leaving the estate in the meantime, leaving in place heavy security. Dante also remains behind. Jost and Adelice argue with one another, particularly about Adelice’s lack of care for Sebrina and Jost’s prioritization of her. He is going on the mission because he believes finding the Whorl will help him get his daughter – and also because he does not think Adelice will cooperate in helping him achieve his goal.
The most important recurrence here is the ever-deepening divide between Jost and Adelice. Their priorities and desires, as is made more explicit in this section, are quite different. Jost insists on saving his daughter and, at the end of Chapter 21, not using the help of Adelice to retrieve his daughter. The ongoing struggle between the two characters shows the larger contention between goals and priorities that Adelice herself experiences: helping her loved ones or sacrificing their well-being for the greater well-being.
Dante too struggles to keep Kincaid at bay and simultaneously prevent him from meddling too much with Adelice. His anger at Adelice also inadvertently express his own frustrations and shortcomings: that he should have been there for Adelice since the very beginning, and that he does not know how to mend and build a stronger relationship with his daughter.
Moreover, Kincaid is becoming increasingly aggressive and protective about his interests, and his desire to find a way to counteract and trump the Guild. His increasing frustration and lack of control (over something like the debacle with Deniel) and rather facetious and pathological behavior (such as the alteration and violence committed against the actors in his play) reveal a deeper psychologically disturbing personality whose intentions are far more nefarious than they appear to be. The degree to which these intentions are nefarious is yet to be seen.
In some sense, risk becomes more evident in these past few chapters: Adelice’s spying backstage and in the Guild’s mining operation on Cormac; Dante’s decision to bring Adelice along when he goes Sunrunning; Jost’s decision to go with Kincaid on the Whorl mission. They all reveal the extent to which the characters are becoming more desperate and paranoid. The desperation had led to fights and the dissolving of some relationships, but also to the strengthening of some relationships (specially between Dante and Adelice, though certainly after a low point at the ammo factory).
Secrets are also opening up: the difference in goals between Kincaid and Dante is becoming more evident. They are becoming antagonistic towards each other, but Dante is keeping back – there certainly seems to be a subtle, yet-to-be-revealed agendum that Dante is pursuing. Jost on the other hand has become much clearer as to what his goals are, and has spared no relationship or cordiality, including that which has with Adelice, in his effort to get closer to it.