Summary:Tress of the Emerald Sea

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Summary pages have spoilers through the end of the book they summarize. However, they also have links to the rest of the Coppermind, which has full spoilers. To safely browse non-summary pages, consider using the Time Machine.

This page contains a chapter by chapter summary of Tress of the Emerald Sea. We hope this summary will make it easier to find specific areas of the book, as well as providing a quick plot refresher for anyone who doesn't want to take the time to reread the entire book.

Note that Hoid is the narrator of this story and thus "appears" in that capacity in every chapter. He has been excluded from the character lists below unless he appears or is mentioned within the context of the story itself.

Part 1[edit]

Chapter 1: The Girl[edit]

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Plot Summary

Hoid introduces the subject of his story, a girl named Glorf whom everyone calls Tress. He describes her home island, Diggen's Point, as a dismal place, and tells of the dangers of the spores that fall from the Verdant Lunagree. Despite her surroundings, Tress likes it there on the island, and is happy there.

Chapter 2: The Groundskeeper[edit]

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Plot Summary

Hoid continues to describe Tress as completely ordinary, but thoughtful and polite. She loves cups, and enjoys the story that each cup seems to tell. Tress goes up to the duke's mansion to visit Charlie, the duke's son. Charlie pretends to be a simple groundskeeper, but as always, does an unconvincing job of it. Tress gives him a pie, and shows him her newest cup. He entertains her with his stories and ideas, and in turn asks her about her day, wanting to know every detail.

Chapter 3: The Duke[edit]

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Plot Summary

Charlie rests his hand on Tress's hand. Tress wants to say something romantic, but fumbles with her words. He smiles at her, but Tress glimpses his father watching through the window. She leaves shortly thereafter. The next morning, she hears news that the duke and his son are leaving the island that very day.

Chapter 4: The Son[edit]

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Plot Summary

Tress learns that Charlie is to be married off to a princess on a distant island. She doesn't act out, but instead goes about her daily business, distracted by her thoughts of Charlie. Charlie finds her and speaks to her, and Tress says she wishes he didn't have to go marry someone else. Charlie promises her that he won't marry any of the princesses, that he'll be so boring that none of them can stand him. He promises to send her a cup at every stop, after he gets the resident princess to reject him. Charlie is summoned by his father, and he gets on a ship with his family and departs. In the following months, Tress receives several cups and letters from Charlie, describing how he offended or grossed out various marriage candidates. But eventually, the cups stop coming. A year after Charlie's departure, word arrives at Diggen's Point that the duke is returning with his wife, heir, and daughter-in-law.

Chapter 5: The Bride[edit]

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Plot Summary

Tress sits on her porch, crying and regretting not having said more to Charlie before he left. The duke and his family arrive, but his heir is clearly not Charlie. He announces that due to an unfortunate accident, he had to adopt his nephew Dirk as his heir. The duke announces a party, and Tress finds Flik, one of the duke's servants. Flik explains that Charlie tried hard to put off all the princesses, but the duke figured out what he was doing and sent him to the Midnight Sea, where he was captured by the Sorceress. Tress learns from the duke's steward, Brunswick, that they'd received a ransom letter from the Sorceress, which the duke declared to be a trick. After two months of lethargically going about her daily tasks, Tress decides to go out and save Charlie on her own.

Part 2[edit]

Chapter 6: The Inspector[edit]

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Plot Summary

Tress tells her parents that she plans to rescue Charlie. Lem agrees to let her go and convinces Ulba that Tress is practical and smart enough that her rescue mission must be necessary. Tress and Ulba then observe how the docks and the Inspector operate. After two weeks of reconnaissance, Tress comes up with a plan that could work if not for Brick, Gremmy, and Sor.

Chapter 7: The Father[edit]

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Plot Summary

Lem goes to Brick's Tavern and plays darts with Jule, Rod, and others. While playing darts, he asks questions that subtly indicate he needs the help of Brick, Gremmy, and Sor. Word gets around, and the next day the three show up to help Tress.

Around a week later, the Oot's Dream docks at Diggen's Point and the captain demands an inspection of the cargo he's buying. Disguised as an inspector, Tress examines the barrels of ale. She finds Gret hiding in a barrel and demands passage on the Oot's Dream, telling the captain she needs to report the attempted escape to the Verdant King.

Chapter 8: The Stowaway[edit]

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Plot Summary

As the Oot's Dream sails away from Diggen's Point, Tress reflects on how her escape succeeded. The captain joins her on the quarterdeck as she watches the sea. Tress excuses herself to her cabin to get away from the captain and drinks some water that had been poisoned by his order. She begins to hallucinate as she falls unconscious.

Chapter 9: The Rat[edit]

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Plot Summary

Tress wakes up locked in a cage in the hold of the Oot's Dream. She meets Huck, who tells her that the crew are smugglers and had poisoned her because they thought she was trying to turn them in. Huck reveals that he is a talking rat. He explains that was caught eating rations and had to show that he could talk to not be killed. As Tress tells him that she left Diggen's Point to rescue someone, a cannonball is shot through the hull of the ship.

Chapter 10: The Sprouter[edit]

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Verdant spores slowly begin to flow through the hole and contact the water the cannonball delivered, exploding into a mass of vines. Dorp comes down to patch the hole with roseite spores then kills any remaining spores with silver. Tress calls for him to bring her above deck, thinking that the attacking ship must be a royal ship and so would stop firing if they see her dressed as a royal inspector.

Chapter 11: The Thief[edit]

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Tress is led up above and sees the Crow's Song firing on them. Dorp gets permission from the captain to try Tress's plan, claiming it was his own. Tress tries to get the attention of the Crow's Song, but they keep attacking. Tress is taken back to the hold because of this failing. As the seethe stops, another cannonball goes straight through the hull, not exploding its payload of water. Tress tries to leave through the new hole, but Dorp tackles her and tries to take her jacket. Tress knocks him out with her pewter cup. She then frees Huck, who now gives his name, and brings him along as she exits the Oot's Dream to walk across the spores to the attacking ship.

Chapter 12: The Crow[edit]

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Plot Summary

Tress, carrying Huck, walks cautiously across the stilled spores to the Crow's Song. Other sailors from the Oot's Dream also try, but die midway either due to haste or being shot by Captain Crow. Upon reaching the Crow's Song, Tress tries to climb it but fails. She then flings a bit of saliva onto the spores to grow some vines. She climbs the vines up to a porthole and watches the Oot's Dream sink as the seethe starts again. Crow shoots two of the three survivors.

After fifteen minutes of clinging to the side of the ship, Tress is thrown a rope and pulled up. She is told that the Crow's Song is a pirate ship. Crow threatens to throw her overboard as they have no use for an inspector. Tress begins scrubbing the deck to prove that she is useful and continues scrubbing until she eventually falls asleep.

Part 3[edit]

Chapter 13: The Cabin Boy[edit]

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Plot Summary

Tress wakes, and her first thought is of Charlie; she rues how naive she was to undertake this quest, but she still thinks of him trapped and alone somewhere. First watch mess is announced, and Laggart explains second watch will be next. The captain declares that Tress is third watch. When this is never called, Tress suspects this was a kind of joke. She notes the crew is somber. She recognizes Hoid after he helps her with a bucket of water for the deck, but he talks nonsense. The crew looks normal enough based on her experience that she wonders how they wound up as pirates. Hoid reveals to the reader that he was cursed by the Sorceress and lost his senses. Huck returns and confirms that they are sewing their first pirate flag and are new at it. She wonders if this is why they are cheerless.

Chapter 14: The Dougs[edit]

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Plot Summary

The narrator explains that the Crow's Song is roughly twice the size and crew capacity of the Oot's Dream and has two guns rather than one. The convention of referring to most crew as Doug is established. She asks Doug where the toilet is and otherwise explores the ship. She comes upon Fort (the quartermaster) and Ann (the carpenter) inspecting a cannonball and whether any other defective ones were found. Fort communicates through a board in which words appear. They describe the destruction of the Oot's Dream as an accident, and "not the kind of piracy we signed up for." Ann says at least they aren't being conscripted.

Huck explains that the whole crew is culpable of murders committed during piracy due to the felony murder law. He also overheard that the quartermaster is deaf. Huck starts telling her about a deaf human he once met, but Tress reminds him that the crew on the last ship caged him after learning he could talk. Fort notices them sneaking around, and he calls her over.

Chapter 15: The Quartermaster[edit]

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Fort and Tress are introduced to each other and discuss the fact that Tress is now a pirate, or at least shouldn't say she's not if she doesn't want to get thrown overboard. Fort offers her food, and she eats what he gives her (though it is not very good). She asks about his communication board and he explains he traded for it from a wizard (who the narrator explains was an off-worlder from Nalthis). He cautions that it only works for him so she shouldn't even think about stealing it. She protests he's been so kind. He responds that it's not kindness, but a trade. Salay arrives and gives Fort four gold earrings she'd won at cards in trade for a pocket watch she'd wanted for a while. Fort tells Tress to come back after dinner for more scraps. Hoid arrives and also has some scraps. He clarifies for the reader the senses the Sorceress cursed away are taste (in the abstract), decorum, purpose, and self and that the important crew members to remember are Crow, Laggart, Fort, Ann, Salay, and Ulaam.

Chapter 16: The Corpse[edit]

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Tress returns to deck scrubbing and talks to Huck about some of the things she learned from ships visiting the Rock. As her work brings her near the cannon, a Doug asks her to help him carry what turns out to be zephyr spores. He mentions that Weev used to do all spore work, as ship's sprouter, but he was "let off" because he wouldn't agree to become a pirate. Tress is tasked with putting the zephyr spores, which produce bursts of air when activated, into charge-sized pouches. Tress accepts, since she's new on the ship, and dons the goggles and mask.

Chapter 17: The Carpenter[edit]

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Plot Summary

The blue zephyr spores fascinate Tress, particularly because they could kill her. She dismisses Huck so he won't be in danger and thinks of how facing these hazards and drudgery will help her help Charlie. She notices the large barrel has a false bottom (from her weeks figuring a way to be smuggled off the Rock.) Inside she finds a hidden cannonball. She realizes this is how Laggart hid the "defective" cannonball that sank the Oot's Dream, and is chilled to realize he hid this from the crew.

Ann arrives, and Tress notes how she is besotted with the cannon and wonders if she's in cahoots with Laggart. Ann explains that in addition to ship's carpenter, she's assistant cannon master. Tress comments the crew seems to be adjusting well to being pirates. Ann tells how Crow said with the war coming, they'd either all wind up fighting for the king or they could strike out on their own doing an "noble and important duty" of stealing from the rich and selling to the poor. Ann expresses regret over becoming deadrunners on their first outing. Tress is not familiar with this term, so Ann explains it. Tress believes that Ann was not part of Laggart's plot. However, the captain probably was, because she left that survivor in the lifeboat to spread the word of their battle. Absorbed in thought, Tress accidentally scratches her nose and feels her face explode.

Chapter 18: The Other Corpse[edit]

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Tress comes to to find Ann laughing at her. The speck that got under her goggles blew them off, but only made her face sore. Ann takes her to Dr. Ulaam, who is a sharp-dressed, gray-skinned fellow with red eyes. They joke about him buying Tress's eyes. Ann calls Ulaam a zombie, and he explains that he has gotten rid of his heartbeat for efficiency. He gives Tress a salve for her face. Through additional banter, Ann mentions Ulaam eats corpses, and he tells of mimicking their forms. However, his salve works miraculously. When he joined the crew, Crow shot him a few times to no effect. Since he required no pay beyond the occasional useless corpse, they kept him around. Tress returns to her work, and Huck tells her he saw Laggart sneaking around with some cannonballs. She sets to scrubbing near the cannon.

Chapter 19: The Cannonmaster[edit]

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Plot Summary

As she scrubs, Tress spies on Laggart, who is cleaning the cannon and surreptitiously concealing cannonballs in the false-bottomed barrel. She concludes his deadrunner plot continues. When he goes into Captain Crow's cabin, she asks Huck to eavesdrop on them. Huck returns and tries to reenact the conversation with Tress playing Laggart's part. Crow had received a messenger raven from Kingsport that the man in the lifeboat they spared did not survive to report the sinking of the Oot's Dream. They will have to sink another ship, though Crow worries that the crew is agitated. Laggart agrees they need blood binding the crew to the ship if they're going to do what the Captain wants. Huck thinks this refers to some kind of curse, but Tress explains the deadrunner plot to him. Then Tress says she's thought of a way for them to escape the ship.

Chapter 20: The Helmswoman[edit]

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Plot Summary

Scrubbing by the helm, Tress is entranced by the sea. Tress allows the captain to overhear her muttering about the crew that was killed. The Captain confronts Tress, and Tress says that crew was like her family, and she was only dressed as a royal inspector to entertain them. She allows the captain to realize that if Tress were to be let off the boat, their reputation as deadrunners could be secured. The Captain orders Salay to steer the boat to port for more water (which Crow is always drinking) and maybe pick up a cat, as she's seen some rats.

Tress is delighted with this turn, and Crow, who can sense this on some level, kicks her in the stomach. The helmswoman attends to Tress and finds nothing broken. To cheer Tress up, Salay lets her try the ship's wheel. She instructs her on what to expect and not to make sudden moves. Holding the wheel connects Tress with the sea and the ship. She is afraid the captain would be angry to see her steering, but Salay explains that her privilege as helmswoman is absolute. Salay says it's her job to protect the ship and the crew, as she glares down at the captain. Tress explores whether the captain might be a danger, but Salay states they all agreed to try piracy and are accountable as deadrunners. Tress asks why they agreed, and Salay says she didn't want to give up sailing. Salay is searching for her father at each of the ports they visit, and she will redeem his debts so he can come home. Tress is moved by Salay's quest but is interrupted by the wheel shuddering as the seethe stills.

Chapter 21: The Pirate[edit]

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Tress is pulled in two directions as she keeps working and overhears Ann give Tress credit for loading the zephyr spores, which makes Tress feel more guilty. Hoid lets her know Fort has more food for her, and Huck joins her. Fort again won't accept thanks, but Tress notices he is attentive. Tress starts to feel like it would be a betrayal for her to escape. As Ulaam arrives, she sees that the crew is a family. Tress mentions to Fort that she worries Crow doesn't have the crew's best interests at heart. Fort responds that he'll hear no mutiny talk, and she realizes he is terrified. His board writes that the captain is too dangerous and could easily kill every one of them. That night, Laggart pretends to guard Tress but stomps when he goes to use the privy. Huck, who never got caught up on the escape plan asks why they left a gangplank out. Tress explains that her escape would secure their reputation as deadrunners, binding them to the ship and captain. Tress hesitates. Huck argues that she barely knows the crew, and Tress responds that the same could be said for her and Huck. He has no response. Even though she worries about Charlie, she knows she can't immediately prevent his pain, whereas the crew was in immediate peril. She decides to do what she can for them and hope they might be able to help her find Charlie. She tells Huck she wouldn't blame him if he left, but he says he has a good feeling about her.

Captain Crow reveals herself and encourages Tress to run. Tress says she wants to stay, which Crow questions, and Tress says her earlier complaints were to get pity. Crow says there's no place for her, and Tress asks about the sprouter post. Crow asks if she's not afraid of spores, and Tress says it's a healthy respect. Crow mulls this and then agrees to take Tress on as ship's sprouter. Alone again, Tress is overwhelmed despite her conviction that she's doing right in accepting a post as a pirate.

Part 4[edit]

Chapter 22: The Idiot[edit]

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Plot Summary

In the morning, Crow gives Tress the key to the sprouter's cabin (Tress notes the captain also has a copy). Crow shows her around the worktable and basin and explains that the room is lined with aluminum to protect the spores from the silver that protects the crew. Tress is delighted to sleep in the private bunk. Huck wakes her complaining that the ship did acquire a cat. She tells him to stick with her for protection, then gets her cups to arrange in the cabin. She hopes that even if this crew doesn't wind up getting her to Charlie, maybe she can at least gather a ransom with them. As she looks at the butterfly cup, she decides she will have to find some other way to free him besides robbery.

Ulaam drops in, and they talk about Weev's experiments and how verdant can be cultivated as emergency food. She asks the doctor what's wrong with Hoid. He explains that Hoid was cursed by the Sorceress, and Ulaam traveled to this planet at his request. She is both excited to learn this and panicked to realize how close she came to leaving without knowing that this crew really could be the key to saving Charlie.

Chapter 23: The Assistant Cannonmaster[edit]

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Working on deck, Tress asks Ann about how many seas she has sailed. Ann sailed three, Fort ten: all except the Midnight and the Crimson. Tress is confirming there are twelve spore types and twelve seas, just to make sure she knows what she thinks she knows. She asks why people don't just sail around the Midnight, and Fort explains it's bounded by mountain ranges; the only way to avoid the mountains and the Midnight is to sail through nine other seas. This gives the Sorceress a stranglehold on trade, which is why the king is moving toward war. Between her aluminum box and the barrel, Tress swaps normal cannonballs for the ones Laggart hid. Ann asks Tress if she can have some practice charges, and Tress says of course, as long as the Captain doesn't have a problem with it. Ann crumbles slightly, making Tress curious. After Ann leaves, Tress asks Fort why Ann isn't allowed to fire cannons. Fort requests a trade for the information, and Tress explains more about wanting to reach the Sorceress to save someone. Fort shares that Ann "has worse aim than a drunk man riding a three-legged llama." Fort says some things just aren't meant to be, meaning both Ann's and Tress's dreams. He mentions that even if she can find Charlie, he'll be cursed like Hoid. Then he mentions the captain specifically traded to get Hoid on the ship. Tress finds this curious in combination with the plot to make deadrunners of the crew, though she restrains herself (heroically, in the narrator's opinion) from jumping to conclusions.

Chapter 24: The Cursed Man[edit]

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Tress finds Hoid and tries to ask about his curse. He struggles to blurt out something about six stars. She goes back to her cabin, to find the cat menacing Huck. She chases off the cat. She lays in her bunk and notices whittled lines on the ceiling. She mentions there are no cats on the Rock where she came from. Huck says it sounds great. He talks about where he came from. As she listens, some of the lines on the ceiling cross like stars. Huck asks her what she's looking at, and she tells him about the six stars. He tells her the stars are under the bed; when she looks, she finds a small tin of midnight-black spores.

Chapter 25: The Prey[edit]

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Huck pleads with Tress to kill the midnight spores. She asks what makes them so dangerous. He doesn't know but doesn't like how she's getting used to danger. She puts them back in the hiding place and considers asking Ulaam. Then the warning bell for sighting a vessel is rung. They pursue the ship for five hours. On final approach, a warning shot is ordered. A normal shot traps the ship rather than sinking it. The crew cheers, but Tress observes Laggart curse. The captain decides to proceed with a standard act of piracy, and the prey shoots a flare of surrender. However, the seethe stills. With both ships trapped, the prey shoots a cannonball at the sporeline of the Crow's Song.

Chapter 26: The Sharpshooter[edit]

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The Crow's Song crew scrambles to respond to the strike from the pursued ship. Crow is able to snipe the man loading the cannon, and she commands Ann and Tress to get below and repair the hull. Tress has to locate her rose spores and the iron and steel tools which she learns through experimentation pull and push the roseite crystals. She is able to plug the hole adequately when the seethe returns. They report back to the deck.

Chapter 27: The Spore Eater[edit]

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Crow has shot two more of the enemy crew members and orders sabers out for the boarding crew. Salay confronts Crow over this order, claiming the right to engage the enemy, and pointing out there were in this for freedom, not murder. After a tense moment, Crow assents. A companion of one of those Crow killed raises a weapon toward her. Crow responds by shooting herself in the head, and green vines emerge from her face, stopping her own bullet. She boasts of the sinking of the Oot's Dream. The other crew tackles the man who threatened her, and she heads below deck.

Chapter 28: The Extra Good Listener[edit]

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Tress asks Dr. Ulaam how Crow was protected by the vines, and if that's why the crew is so afraid of her. He theorizes that as a spore eater, Crow is host to a rogue verdant essence which protects her but should have killed her some time ago. He guesses she only has weeks left based on how much water she drinks. Tress puzzles over how this fits in with the plot to become deadrunners. She then asks Ulaam (contrary to her presumed nature) about Midnight Essence, which Hoid gave to Weev. She tries to ask Hoid about the Sorceress, and then is able to decode that a familiar or talking animal might be able to mediate a discussion of the curse.

Chapter 29: The Familiar[edit]

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Tress interrogates Huck about being a familiar and the Sorceress. He tells her he is kind of but not exactly a familiar, and gives tips on finding loopholes on the secrecy surrounding curses by the Sorceress. He points out that Crow's interest in Tress is likely not good. Tress asks him to spy on Crow again, but the closure of his previous access point and the cat indicate Crow is on to them. Tress recalls Ulaam saying the Midnight Essence can be used for spying. Just then, Salay enters and says they must discuss who Tress really is.

Chapter 30: The King's Mask[edit]

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Tress has also been grappling with who she really is, but lets Salay in to talk. Salay says she knows Crow meant for Tress to leave at the last port but that Tress chose not to. Tress decides to trust Salay with the facts, such as how she swapped Laggart's ordnance. But the more she says, the more convinced Salay is that Tress is some kind of elite and secretive royal assassin. Salay reveals that Fort and Ann are meeting her later that night, then ascribes this revelation to Tress' wily skills. After Salay exits, Huck offers to spy on Crow, but Tress feels bad since he said it would be dangerous. She retrieves the midnight spores and prepares to water them.

Chapter 31: The Midnight Essence[edit]

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The narrator offers an overview of the Luhel bond. Midnight spores differ from other colors of Lumar's rogue aethers in utilizing the Luhel bond, which is close to how aethers are supposed to work, symbiotically. It is not like the Nahel bond, which exchanges "consciousness and anchoring to reality;" rather, there is an exchange of physical matter.

Tress feels water leaving her body as the Midnight Essence grows and coalesces into a face which requests more water. Tress agrees, and the Midnight Essence adopts a simulacrum of Huck from her mind. Giving it more water, she controls and then inhabits the Midnight Essence. In Crow's quarters, they read Crow's research about possible cures from the verdant aether spores by something or someone named Xisis. She discovers that Crow had secret meetings with Weev about locating Xisis, but he turned to blackmail, which is why she killed him. Further reading reveals Xisis to be a dragon living under the Crimson Sea, though reports are apocryphal due to the dangers of the Crimson. The Midnight Essence fights Tress on reading further, and then approaching footsteps coincide with Huck severing the tie to the Midnight Essence. He had acted on Tress' increasing dehydration. She recuperates and plans to meet with the other officers.

Chapter 32: The Liberator[edit]

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Entering the secret meeting, Tress is introduced as a King's Mask by Salay. Fort and Ann aren't so sure. They point out that if she were a royal agent, they'd be in trouble for being deadrunners. Salay doubles down on her rationale. Tress considers saying she is a Mask to prove she's not but cannot bring herself to extinguish their hopes. She brings out the deadrunner cannonballs and explains how Crow wanted to bind them to her will. Fort suggests persuading Crow to sail a less populated sea, like the Crimson. Tress knows that this is exactly why Crow came up with the deadrunner plot, but she avoids disclosing the depth of her knowledge lest it further confirm their King's Mask theory.

Chapter 33: The Liar[edit]

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Tress approaches Crow, who asks her why she's really there. Tress says it's to see the world and meet people, and she worries about how much she's needing to lie. She decides to share that she hopes to save someone from the Sorceress. Crow laughs at the idea of Tress sailing the Midnight Sea but says she'll sail the Crimson Sea if Tress can get the crew "on board" with it.

Chapter 34: The Tosher[edit]

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The narrator relates a local tale of the tosher. The tosher started requesting two potatoes, and then they switched to cornbread instead of potatoes for servants. He asked why and was referred up the chain of command to the king, who said there were no potatoes due to a blight. But even before the blight, they had stopped buying potatoes because when the tosher asked for two, then all the servants wanted two and the potato bill had doubled. The tosher learned that while he is free to make choices, he is not free to determine the consequences.

Tress feels discomfited by her discussion with Crow. She asks Ulaam if midnight spores leave any residue. Ulaam reassures her on this point, and Tress describes how she thinks she got the better of Crow but now wonders if she were being manipulated. Ulaam explains that the dragon will require a trade for curing Crow. The dragon is known for acquiring slaves who are able to work with spores. Tress realizes her choices are propelling her toward a consequence not of her choosing.

Part 5[edit]

Chapter 35: The Lover of Tea[edit]

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Tress contemplates escaping when the Crow's Song stops to supply before attempting the Crimson Sea. However, she remains determined to rescue Charlie, Hoid is the only lead she has, and her current crew is committed to sail the Crimson Sea. Also, if she left, Crow would probably resume the deadrunner agenda.

At port, she thinks about what Charlie means to her and struggles to picture him in her mind. Before she can decide whether to leave, Crow sends for her and informs her that Tress won't be allowed to go ashore. Crow offers Tress an opulent tea and reflects on how most people never really live, not knowing how it is to be one step from death. Tress wonders how this life is changing her. They discuss ethics versus fate, and Crow reveals she knows Tress changed the cannonballs, but that Laggart probably hasn't caught on. Tress states she is as interested in protecting the crew from becoming deadrunners as she is in her quest to rescue her friend. The captain is amused by the irony of saving them just to then expose them to the dangers of the Crimson Sea. It is the only place on Lumar where rainfall is unpredictable as to time or place, activating red spikes. Tress asks if the Midnight Sea also has these rains. It doesn't, but the Sorceress's monsters can attack without any water from their prey or the sky. The crew returns, and Crow dismisses Tress.

Chapter 36: The Explorer[edit]

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Tress returns to her cabin and can't help crying. She is trapped on the ship, possibly to be traded to a dragon, and Charlie is still out there; even if he gets away, he would never know what happened to her. Huck returns and tries to console her. She tells him he should leave and go home, and he says his home is gone. He starts to tell her about things he saw on shore, particularly children, and they discuss whether life was really better when they were younger or if it only seems that way. She realizes she feels a bit better and starts to ask what she might be able to do about her situation. She decides to look at her five varieties of spores.

Chapter 37: The Scholar[edit]

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Tress had looked Weev's things over when she started as sprouter, but now she looked at them with a new determination. His notes are disorganized, but she finds diagrams of cannonballs and instructions from the captain to figure out how to make their own. The normal cannonballs are made from three kinds of spores to create the timed burst of water over the spores. Tress comes up with an innovation of bullets with interior structures. She is interrupted by Fort, who brings her the dinner she never showed up for and wants to see if she's alright. She asks if now that she's the sprouter, could she have non leftovers. Fort awkwardly reveals the food she has been getting is the first servings, not scraps. Everyone on the crew tried cooking after Weev died, and Fort was the least bad at it. Tress decides it's time for Fort to collect on his trades. Just then, a bell alerts them the border between seas is approaching.

Chapter 38: The Apprentice[edit]

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The Crimson being the first sea Tress has seen that wasn't the Verdant, Tress is startled and a little superstitious to see it. Fort notes that she is grinning. She says it is terrifying, and he notes that she smiles when things are terrifying. She tries to rationalize it, but she suspects he is considering this with the King's Mask theory. She starts to consider her daring a talent being unlocked. One of the random rain squalls skirts nearby, sending up thirty-foot red spikes out of the spores. The ship tacks away to await calmer weather, and Fort goes back to the kitchen.

Laggart grabs Tress to learn cannon firing. She struggles to remain impassive as he handles the cannonballs, but Laggard does not appear to notice her nerves. He walks her through the mechanics of loading, and then tells her to practice by taking five shots a day at a target buoy. She asks if that's all the training there is, and he says to come bother him again when she can hit the buoy in two shots. She thinks of the flare gun and asks him if she can practice on that, but he dismisses the idea, stalking off. Tress is annoyed, as she had planned to study, but then she thinks of engaging Ann in her training. Ann pops up with the first cannon shot.

Chapter 39: The Chicken Keeper[edit]

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Ann shows Tress the aiming cranks and explains how to aim. She talks of fuse lengths, and Tress gains more insight into some of the diagrams she was studying. Ann is enraptured looking at the cannon. Tress asks about her obsession with guns, and Ann wants to hear the crew's theories. Tress shares the others' ideas, and Ann laughs at them. Ann tells her she just thinks guns are "nifty." Ann goes on about how "culture" is really just what people are into. She describes more about how she and cannons became a thing, up through a mishap in the militia when she shot her own sergeant, who was behind her and inside the barracks. She encourages Tress to practice like Laggart said, that honing in over two shots is actually a good method. Tress encourages Ann to take a shot. At first Ann thinks she's kidding, but then realizes Tress doesn't seem afraid (which Ann takes as evidence of the King's Mask theory). Ann starts to take aim, but even Tress can tell she's significantly sideways from the target buoy. She takes the feedback and fires the cannon. Ann is deeply grateful, because she had started to believe the way everyone was afraid for her to make any shots was something like a curse, when all this time she just had really bad aim. Tress assures Ann she can take a practice shot with her each day. Ann tells Tress how to get a flare gun from quartermaster Fort. Tress reflects on how the holes in people can be filled by simple things. As she continues to practice, the ship re-approaches the border with the Crimson.

Chapter 40: The Chef[edit]

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Next evening, Tress takes stock of the galley. She comes up with a combination of foods to work around the shortcomings. Fort cries when he tastes it and takes another bite. Tress talks to him about its value in trade. She feels a little guilty but recognizes trades are how he relates to friends. He offers to trade one meal of hers for two of his, she counters with a dozen, and they wind up settling at six. They negotiate a system that will prevent her being overextended between her duties. Tress then asks about a flare gun, and Fort makes her agree to come up with some desserts. He thanks her for trading. Fort explains how he grew up a hunter, and hunting for great trades is something he writes home to his family about. Tress hopes someday he will be able to share this story with Charlie.

Chapter 41: The Philosopher[edit]

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While Tress dissects the spore flare she traded from Fort, she thinks about religious services she experienced growing up, and the diverse answers to the meaning of life. Her new friends were motivated by different things. She reassembles the flare so it will release water instead of sunlight, with a thought of trapping Crow the way one traps a ship. She puzzles over how to test it, though, and looks sad. Huck tells her she is good and smart and will make it. The reason she's sad is because if she succeeds, Crow will die from the infestation. She knows Crow isn't deserving of sympathy but can't help it.

She starts playing with one of the little vine fuses and finds she is able to attract it and guide it into shapes, almost like with her connection to the Midnight Essence. She's driven in some sense by saving Charlie, but she realizes this is a goal, not a purpose. She think of her cups, but they only remain her thing because they remind her of Charlie. As she nurtures the little vine, she contemplates whether spores are fearsome or misunderstood.

Chapter 42: The Guide[edit]

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The narrator talks about the role of memories in the construction of self, with a caution that they are harsh masters. As Hoid, he talks about how amazing the views are in the vocabulary of a prepubescent boy, as Tress tries to extract information on his curse. He is literally unable to tell her things she doesn't already know. She tries using written words, but he suddenly can't read. She tries one letter at a time, but the Sorceress had also thought of this method. Finally, she figures out a way to have him talk to her about things she does know, and in pointed silences they are able to create a map to the Sorceress' island. He also mentions that Sazed released all of Ulaam's kind, and they've been getting weirder and weirder. Tress's excitement is broken by an alert of rain sighted.

Chapter 43: The Musician[edit]

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The narrator discusses whether storms have intentions, or if it's humans imposing meaning on things, especially where death may be involved. The walls of crimson spikes produce wave-like disturbances, and Salay's skill handling the ship is tested, to where it seems she's playing an instrument. Even the captain helps carry out Salay's commands. A final wave breaks onto the deck in quantities that overwhelm the silver, and people have been sick in the waves. A crew member is pierced with red spikes. Emergency towels are employed to control the spikes, and the silver counteracts the remaining spores. The seethe stops, trapping the ship, and the rainstorm seems to turn and take another run at them, but it misses them.

Chapter 44: The Fallen[edit]

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The narrator describes the fallen crew member, Pakson, who had helped haul Tress on deck the first day. He was kind and grateful, even for Fort's cooking. He had a sister among the crew. Tress wonders if some small shift in her choices might have spared his life. She retreats to her cabin. Huck talks about his adventures and she is somewhat soothed. She also works on her flare designs. With four ready to try, she and Huck go to the hold to test them. The first one activates short, trapping her, but she is able to laugh it off and realizes she really isn't afraid of them anymore. One is a dud, but the last two work as planned. She will need to refine them more, but she feels like she might be able to surprise Crow.

Chapter 45: The Protector[edit]

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Crow gives the crew a barrel of booze, which Tress skips due to her history of it making her extra chatty. Salay doesn't appear for dinner, so Tress takes it to her. She finds Salay distraught over the loss of Pakson. Salay feels that the responsibility for protecting the crew falls to her, since the captain and Laggard seem to have their own agenda. Salay talks about her frustrations trying to find her father. She expresses hope that as a King's Mask, Tress has a hidden way to protect them, but she also acknowledges the duty might be to protect the kingdom from the ship of deadrunners. Salay wishes she even knew where they were headed. This Tress can help with, so she tells Salay of the dragon. Tress discloses that her own agenda is to reach the Sorceress. Salay takes heart in this and looks forward to Crow's overthrow. Tress feels desperate to reassure Salay, and this drives her to try something crazy.

Chapter 46: The Informant[edit]

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The crazy plan starts with Tress developing her connection to the verdant aether. It will even mimic her knee jerk reactions. Huck helps her, having gotten increasingly adept at standing on his hind legs and handling tools. She discusses figuring out how to sail a smaller vessel solo so she doesn't endanger others. Huck asks if she shouldn't accept that rescuing her friend is out of reach. He tells her he met another rat who had been to see the Sorceress. Tress is mad and insulted that he wasn't intending to tell her. He explains there are three trials: dozens of Midnight Essence sea monsters, an invincible army, and the fortress itself. The Sorceress doesn't ever meet with most of her captives. Tress counters that Hoid and Charlie have met with her. Tress considers this new information but determines her priority remains practicing with the vines.

Chapter 47: The Poet[edit]

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Ulaam serves as a test subject for Tress's vine capture flares. He asks where she got them, and when she says she developed them, he asks to buy her brain. The current design has fired ten times without a dud. She tells him she doesn't ever want to sell him parts (even if not collected till after death) and he observes that she's more forceful than when she first came to the ship. She says she's only more desperate. When he asks how she's going to get the crew to go along, she explains how they think she's a King's Mask. Ulaaam is delighted by this, with all her protesting she can't lie. Hoid shares a "poem," and Ulaam turns his ears off, while Tress is able to pull a white lie for him. Tress asks Ulaam if he'll assist in the mutiny, and he says he's bound by an ethic of non-interference. She appeals to his self interest, and he explains he could survive the Crimson Sea, even if it wouldn't be pleasant. He also explains that Hoid is immortal. Tress is discouraged, and Hoid manages to say to her "you have everything you need." The seethe stills, and there is a rain alert.

Chapter 48: The Nightmare[edit]

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Hoid explains that his recurring nightmare is repeating himself, so he declines to point out the malevolence of not one, but two rainstorms approaching. He narrates that heroic acts arise from preparation, not spontaneity, and that heroes are often simply motivated to help their friends. Tress runs to get supplies, has the crew lower a barrel of water over the side, and then follows it over the side with a large verdant charge. She is able to get the mass of vines lift the ship above the surface of the sea and the crimson spikes that the rains raise. The crew cheers Tress, who is raised back up to the ship by Fort's rope. Crow takes it in stony silence. She has spent her life instilling fear to wrest obedience from others, and she knows the love Tress inspires is a threat.

Chapter 49: The Martyr[edit]

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Fort, Ann, and Salay discuss what to do next. Tress is present, but exhausted and uncertain if mutiny is the right course. She asks if it wouldn't be better for the crew if she were traded to the dragon, and down the line Tress might escape or buy her freedom. Healed of the spores, the captain might be less desperate. Fort points out they must not follow Crow, knowing she's willing to kill. Tress senses a Luhel bond nearby and finds a Midnight Essence spying on them for Crow.

Chapter 50: The Murderer[edit]

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Laggart meets the officers with pistol in hand. He shoots Salay in the thigh to show he's serious. On the deck, Crow challenges them, placing their weapons on a table. If they can shoot Laggart, she'll step down. (She threatens Laggart to keep put.) Fort is dealt with first with a bone-crunching blow to the face. Tress is immobilized with one gut punch. Salay finally understands Tress is not a King's Mask. Ann fires one shot but misses by half a ship's length. Salay even reaches for a gun but is neutralized. The narrator describes her as a sadist and practiced killer. Lest any argue Crow did nothing wrong, she destroys Fort's communication device.

Crow orders a halt, saying she told them longer due to suspected mutiny. She throws a letter to the dragon into the spores. A tunnel opens, and she takes Tress to go see the dragon.

Chapter 51: The Dragon[edit]

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As they walk to the seafloor, Tress wonders if the spores forming the tunnel wall would still react to water and thinks of licking them. She thinks about her impending servitude and not only how she failed Charlie, but how she will miss the sky and the moon.

They arrive in a great chamber, and the dragon approaches. Crow formally requests the pact of promise. Tress recalls Hoid's statement that she has everything she needs. Drawing up her courage (and whimsy) she likewise declares Crow to be an offering.

Chapter 52: The Sacrifice[edit]

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The dragon and Crow are both astonished, and Tress explains that Crow is strong and unafraid of spores. Crow moves to silence her, but the dragon intervenes. Crow asserts her authority, and Tress points out that this only makes Crow appear the greater prize. Crow says that Tress is young; Tress says that Crow is a challenge. The dragon does not favor a challenge. Crow adds in Tress's accomplishments with spores. Tress tries to be humble, which the Captain also marks for an advantage. Crow announces that her crew hates her, and how Tress considered offering herself freely for the crew. Tress appeals to his magnanimity with Crow's need for healing. Crow says she'd take the healing as a boon and go free.

The Tress that boarded Crow's ship would have accepted this fate, but Tress now announced she'd never stop trying to leave. He'd have to kill her to stop her. She is determined to face the Sorceress. The Dragon says he should keep Tress to spare her this fate, but he can see she will not make a good servant. When Crow tries to pipe up, he has her gagged by magic cloths. He decides on keeping Crow, since he needs a new floor scrubber. He asks Tress her boon. At first she doesn't want to accept payment for a slave. He says his cure for the spores would only be temporary so by selling Crow, Tress is saving her life. Tress asks three small things rather than a great one.

Chapter 53: The Survivor[edit]

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Tress emerges from the tunnel. Laggart is alarmed, then backs away. She has three wrapped items. The first is corrective glasses to help Ann. The second is a new communication board for Fort. The third is a letter with the location of Salay's father.

Tress tries to persuade Salay to be captain, and then to not follow Tress to the sorceress. Salay says part of the helm's job is to stop the captain from making bad decisions. Salay asks if they will set out for the Midnight Sea now, or in the morning. Tress acknowledges this is what she wants. She then says not to wake her except if Death shows up, and maybe not even then.

Part 6[edit]

Chapter 54: The Valet[edit]

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The Crow's Song continues toward the Midnight Sea. Tress reveals Huck to Ann, Salay, and Fort. She tells them why she left home, and that she wants to rescue Charlie from the Sorceress. She tries to come up with ideas for how to protect the ship in the Midnight Sea, but she is too tired to come up with anything. Ann, Salay, and Fort enter her quarters and tell her about their ideas they had. Fort suggests that they modify the spore gun Tress had created into a spore cannonball so that they can immobilize the machine men. He also says that while the window at the top of the tower is too small for humans, Huck would be able to fit through by climbing up a verdant vine. However, Huck reveals that this wouldn't work, as the tower is coated in silver. But he says that there is a way he can get her through the door. He then points out that they still need a way to survive the Midnight Sea, and Tress gets an idea.

Chapter 55: The Hypocrite[edit]

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Tress places two midnight spores on the table. She explains to the officers how they work and drops water with an eyedropper onto them. The Midnight Essence bonds to Fort, but Tress offers it more water as a bribe. It then bonds to her, and she dismisses it. She thinks that she'll be able to do this to the Midnight Essence in the Midnight Sea. Laggart then shows up and asks to speak with Tress in private. Tress agrees, and Laggart demands that she shoot him. He thinks that the reason she hasn't killed him yet is because she's waiting until he's comfortable in order to kill him when he doesn't expect it. So he asks for her to get it over with and just shoot him. Tress tells him that she isn't going to shoot him, but if he wants she can throw him in the brig. Laggart realizes that there are generous people in the world, and he stumbles out the room, shocked.

Chapter 56: The Traitor[edit]

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Tress feels relief due to the fact that they had a solution to all the major problems involved with defeating The Sorceress. This feeling doesn't last long, however, due to the fact that Hoid has been throwing the food and water overboard, leaving them with only enough to make it to the Verdant Sea. Hoid accidentally reveals that Huck told him to do it. Tress confronts Huck, and he tells her that he had to do it for her own good. This causes Hoid to remember when he said those words to sixteen other people. Tress finds a cage for Huck and worries about what she'll do next. She wonders if they will be able to restock and how she would pay the Dougs. However, the Dougs agree to keep going and to eat Verdant vines. Huck realizes that in the end his betrayal didn't affect anything.

Chapter 57: The Maligned Fashion Expert[edit]

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Tress realizes that her plan hitched on Huck letting her into the Sorceresses tower. Now that that is no longer an option, she starts to doubt if her plan ever could work. Tress asks Salay if she'd ever heard of a ship coming back from the Midnight Sea. Salay says that she hadn't. Tress goes to Ulaam and tells him that she can't defeat the Sorceress, and that she is worried about disappointing everyone who expects her too. Ulaam jokes that no one expects her to beat the Sorceress, so they won't be disappointed when she loses and the Sorceress kills them all. Tress snaps at him and asks how he can not care. Ulaam then apologizes and eases her worries about whether or not she's forcing the crew to join her. Ulaam tells her that they want to help her because they blame themselves for the deaths Crow caused, and that she's offering them a chance at redemption. Ulaam tells her that her best chance at beating the Sorceress is Hoid. Tress asks how the Sorceress cursed him if he was so powerful, and Ulaam responds that he thinks he got cursed on purpose. Tress decides to get Hoid to defeat the Sorceress, and tells Salay to prepare a boat for her to go alone in.

Chapter 58: The Monster[edit]

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The officers all object to letting Tress go on her own. Tress explains that she wants to test whether or not she can take control of the Midnight Essence, and she tells them that she cannot make more hardship for them. Salay suggests that they lure a Midnight Essence to the edge of the Crimson Sea and test it that way. Tress refuses, as it would put the crew in danger. Salay says that the crew wants to help her and asks Tress to let them do it. Tress refuses and asks for a boat. Huck asks for her to take him with her and something in his voice convinces her to do so. Tress rows out into the Midnight Sea, and after a few hours a Midnight Essence that looks like a giant snake approaches her. Tress tries to take control of it but fails. Just when the creature looks as it is about to attack her, Huck tells it to stop and take him to the Sorceress. The Midnight Essence obeys.

Chapter 59: The Prisoner[edit]

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Tress arrives at the Sorceress's island, and Huck refuses to answer why the Midnight Essence listened to him. Tress pushes him, and he admits that he belonged to the Sorceress. Tress sees the Awakened metal men on the island. As she stares up at the tower, she notes that it has more silver than she'd ever seen before. Huck asks for the door to open saying that he has brought a captive for the Sorceress, and it does. Tress walks in, and the door locks behind her.

Chapter 60: The Sorceress[edit]

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Tress enters the tower and sees an aonic symbol on the ground. She walks up the stairs and enters a circular room with a map of Lumar on the ground. She sees the Sorceress looking through her laptop. The Sorceress turns around and insults Tress's hair. Tress demands for her to return Charlie. The Sorceress dismisses her. Surprisingly she changes her mind offers to releases Charlie in exchange for Tress's cups. Tress is happy to have Charlie back but is suspicious of why the Sorceress changed her mind. Tress realizes that it is not actually Charlie. She runs up the stairs and realizes that the Sorceress turned Charlie into a rat, and that Huck was actually Charlie the entire time.

Chapter 61: The Man[edit]

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Tress points out that Huck stammered whenever she tried to get him to talk about the island, because he was cursed. She realizes that the only way to break the curse would be for her to come to the island, but Charlie still tried to keep her away. He tried to tell her he was Charlie, but the curse wouldn't let him. Then he tried Chuck but all that came out was Huck. Charlie apologizes for bringing her here, and he tried to stop her because he knew the Sorceress would curse her. The Sorceress then explains that the only way for the curse to be broken is for her to curse Tress. Then the Crow's Song arrives into the Midnight Sea.

Chapter 62: The Hunter[edit]

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The story goes back a day to the perspective of the crew of the Crow's Song. A Doug sees the Midnight Essence capturing Tress, and Fort proposes an idea. The ship sails into the Midnight Sea, and three Midnight Essences slither on board. They find Fort standing in the middle of the ship surrounded by barrels of water each with a keg of spores suspended above them. Fort tells them that if they protect them through the Midnight Sea he'll give them the barrels of water. But if they don't, he'll give the water to the other spores instead. The Essences agree, and the Crow's Song sails toward the Sorceress's island. Tress sees this and manages to speak to Fort through the board (due to the fact that the Sorceress had hacked it) and warns them about the rocks surrounding the Sorceress's island. Tress realizes that if Hoid couldn't talk about the Sorceress's island, it must be because breaking the curse involves him getting there. Tress asks for the officers to get Hoid to the Sorceress's island, and they agree. The Sorceress realizes what Tress is doing and cuts off the communication. She then traps Tress against the wall. Charlie tries to free her, but to no avail. Charlie realizes that he can open the door and leaps down to do it.

Chapter 63: The Pilot[edit]

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Salay sails the ship past the stones and asks Hoid why Tress thinks that he can save her; however, the curse stops him from answering. They reach the bay, and the Sorceress sends the metal men forward to stop them. Ann shoots a spore cannonball at them and misses. Laggart then comes and gives her the positions, and they manage to hit them.

Chapter 64: The Hero[edit]

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While being held captive in the tower, Tress reflects on the fact that this is what she really expected. She never thought she would be able to defeat the Sorceress, and she had found her repeated success unnerving. Tress sees the metal men being trapped with vines through the screen and feels pride at her design. However, Charlie is still unable to get past the cat and open the door. Charlie tells Tress to distract the Sorceress, and he runs for the pewter cup. He enters the cup and rolls down the stairs while Tress distracts the Sorceress. Tress tells the Sorceress that being captured and powerless isn't really so bad, because everyone needs help sometimes. As long as you live your life as the kind of person who deserves help, it's alright. The Sorceress tries to curse Tress, but just then Charlie opens the door and Hoid enters. He creates an Invested shield out of Aons to block the curse. It turns out that Hoid and the Sorceress had made a bet. She would curse him, and if he could enter the tower, the curse would be lifted and he would become an Elantrian. The Sorceress releases Tress, and Tress demands that she leave the planet. The Sorceress asks who she was to demand things of her, and in response the crew pulls out pistols and Hoid raises his hands. The Sorceress leaves in the tower (which was actually a spaceship), and Hoid changes the parameters of Charlie's curse.

Epilogue[edit]

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Five months later the crew's new ship, the Two Cups, arrives at Diggen's Point. Defeating the Sorceress and being able to trade through the Crimson and Midnight Seas gave the crew a lot of influence with the king. Tress used this to make it so that anyone can leave Diggen's Point whenever they want, but if they stay for twenty years they get a lot of money. Hoid had modified Charlie's curse so that instead of having to bring the person he loved to the Sorceress' home to be cursed, he had to bring her to her home to be versed. Charlie makes a poem for Tress, and he turns back into a human. The ship sails away, carrying the crew and Tress' family.

Notes[edit]

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