Kimjay has done it. The seal on dragonkind's information about the strange, crystalline beings has been broken, and now the Council member knows the truth. Her plans have changed now; she cannot proceed with just conquering the realms. Now she must conquer... and prepare for what she expects to be an invasion, and destruction of the world as humankind knows it.
Ari has returned to Darren alone, searching for a mage to help her fix her magic. But she has run into Kim, who has already marked her as a person with a large part in events. Kim has taken Ari in as an apprentice and is manipulating her to be as useful and loyal as possible.
Luke has reached his brother and discovered a problem he didn't anticipate. He's been marked as a criminal, committing treason against the empire. Matt was the bait for the trap Luke fell into. Luke now has to deal with a deadly game with the empress and the silently approaching doom of the realms. Worse still, the Slenderman has tracked him and Ari down. Ari is close to meeting death... and Luke will be too late.
Meanwhile, the lab team watch and wait, mostly helpless to aide their subjects from the distance they are at. Johan is determined to watch and wait now that the secrets are out, for his team might gain important information to further their own plots. But Jethro is more attached to the people he watches over, and Annie has her own strange connections.
The crystalline Kyialia are now prepared to make their move. With the humans becoming aware of them, their time is running out, and they must scramble to execute their plan in time. And their success rests on whether Ari and Luke survive... or are captured.
A third group watch the destruction, looking for a chance to leap in, destroy the Kyialia, and take the realms as their own and use the humans for slave labor and food. Their eyes are set on Ari and Luke, since one of them has prophesied that the two are among those few who can stop them.
The realms are set to either draw together and save the human race or to explode into destruction and chaos. The road toward salvation is thinly balanced on Ari and Luke's fates.
Ari was trapped against a wall, several of the Slenderman’s limbs caging her in. Her sword was on the ground out of her reach, closer to me. The Slenderman turned and smiled at me.
Not in eternity. I grabbed Ari’s sword off the ground and then lunged, spinning both blades.
It twisted away and tried to snake an arm in to grab my by the throat. I yelled and brought one sword down, slicing the wrist as the arm jerked away. Five other arms darted out.
It wrapped a couple hands around my neck and managed to fight off my two blades. Then I was slowly lifted into the air. I could barely breathe. The Slenderman grinned and then turned back to Ari.
Her gaze flickered up to me, her eyes wide with fear. “Luke, I love you.”
No. No, you’re not going to die, you’re not going to die! NO! I struggled desperately, but the Slenderman merely pinioned my arms to my sides.
Two arms flickered forward, fast and efficient. Two others pinned Ari against the wall as they approached. The Slenderman grinned broadly. Ari glared it down, one last shred of angry courage in a sea of absolute terror.
“NO!” I screamed, thrashing against my bonds.
The Slenderman delicately gripped Ari’s head. It twisted. There was a snap and she suddenly went limp.
All color faded from my mind, empty and black.