Plot Summary Edit
Deep in a cave underneath the Red Mountains, a small copper hatchling breaks free of his egg, to the delight of his mother. Not long afterwards, another egg hatches, and a red hatchling emerges. Instinctively, the two hatchlings are drawn to battle with one another, and the Red ends up crippling the left forelimb of the Copper. The Red then abandons the Copper to attack a recently-hatched Gray, which allows the Copper to kill it as it struggles with his other brother. However, the Gray then turns on him and forces him from the egg shelf.
Drawn by the smell of the blood of his dead Red brother, the Copper climbs back up, and finds two female hatchlings devouring the corpse. Confronting them and taking a scrap of meat, the Copper flees as the Gray spots him. After a while, the Copper feels lonely and attempts to ascend to the egg shelf once more, only for his mother to force him down - as the Gray - Auron - will kill him if he encounters him again - and tell him he is now an outcast. The Copper attempts to appeal to his father when he returns, but is ignored.
Dwelling on the floor of the cave, the Copper learns to survive by hunting the cave slugs. On one occasion, he encounters his father and asks what his name is, only to be told that he doesn't need one since he's not a part of their nest. However, his father takes pity on him after seeing the condition of his scales, and takes him to his hoard to give him a small amount of metal to replenish them with - despite the Copper briefly becoming aggressive in the process.
As time passes, the Copper hunts for food in the cave - avoiding Auron, who does the same. One day, while washing after hunting rats in a garbage pile, the Copper hears a voice singing, and ascends the egg shelf to find his younger sister Jizara singing while his mother and other siblings sleep. He asks her to sing to him, and falls asleep as she does; waking to find her curled around him. He is forced to leave as the others wake, but he returns several times to hear her sing again. The fourth time he goes to her, Jizara tells him she's been told not to sing to him anymore, so that he will leave the cave and grow strong on his own - and even establish an entirely new family line of dragons.
In time, food becomes hard to find in the cave. While searching for food by a small pool at the edge of the cave, the Copper finds his way into a chamber that contains metal. Despite his instincts telling him to leave, his hunger for the metal makes him stay, and he eventually finds a garbage pile. After eating metal and scraps, the Copper realises he can smell dwarves. He returns to the home cave, but makes several trips back to the other chamber to eat; on one occasion, being ambushed by Auron as he returns. After escaping him, the Copper realises that he could kill him and reclaim the egg shelf if he uses the metal and food scraps to build up his strength, and so returns to the chamber where he discovers a large bag of coins. However, this turns out to have been a trap set by dwarves, who capture him and begin beating his tail with iron bars.
After three beatings, the Copper is approached by a female elf - accompanied by a tall man who smells of dogs - who comforts him, preventing others from attacking him any further, and reveals that the dwarves are taking out their anger on him as they were wronged by his parents. His parents made a deal with them for dragon eggs in return for riches. The elf makes him a deal; if he leads her to his family so she can capture his siblings, she will give him enough metal to last a year. The Copper agrees, after first ensuring that Jizara will not be captured.
The Copper and the dwarves make a plan, and eventually storm the cave when the Copper's father is out hunting. The Copper heads in first, and attacks Auron in an attempt to get him to cry out and alert his mother; however, he doesn't, and manages to escape. The Copper then sees the dwarves arrive along with the tall man - who wears armour made from dragonscale - but finds that instead of bringing the equipment they told him they would restrain his mother with, they have brought weaponry. On the egg shelf, the Copper witnesses his mother moving Auron and his other sister Wistala to safety, but not Jizara, who remains by her side and calls for the Copper to join her.
As the Copper calls for them to spare Jizara, the dwarves manage to severely injure his mother, who is then killed by Gobold; the lead dwarf. A restrained Jizara begs for mercy, but is also killed by the tall man, who remarks that "nits make lice". The dwarves then restrain the Copper and go to work on the dead bodies of his family. As the dwarves go to leave, the Copper expects them to kill him too, but Gobold spares him; stating that not keeping bargains is how his feud with the Copper's parents began. The dwarves leave him bound in the cavern, and the tall man approaches him; telling him that he is called "the Dragonblade". However, he doesn't kill him; instead he stabs the Copper in the back before leaving; crippling his dormant right wing.
The Copper soon manages to break free from his bindings, and later hears his father's cries when he returns to the cave. His father leaves, but the Copper decides to wait for him. Some time later, the Copper hears another voice, and finds Wistala on the egg shelf. He tries to tell her that the dwarves tricked him, but she turns on him and attacks him; slashing his eye before he escapes her and dives into a whirlpool - created by the dwarves - in the pool of water at the edge of the cave, which deposits him into an underground river. Eventually fetching up against a chain and pulling himself out of the water, the Copper rests, and wakes to find himself being examined by a family of bats, who clean his wounds before he sleeps once more.
The Copper spends some time in the caverns, gradually joined by more and more bats - all members of the same family who appeal to the Copper for permission to feed on him, and ends up besting the snake King Gan when he encounters him. Eventually, the Copper decides to head for a location called "the Lavadome", which one of the bats mentioned was full of dragons. As the Copper manages to convince the bats to lead him there - offering to let them feed on him along the way - King Gan returns with a large number of snakes and attempts to kill him, prompting the Copper to leap into the river and start swimming downstream while the bats fly overhead. After some time travelling this way, the Copper hears the sound of an approaching dwarf boat, and decides to cling to the side and ride it some of the way.
After some time travelling across both land and water - during which time one bat dies from an encounter with bad air - the Copper and the bats arrive in a cavern with two dead demen - "Deep Men" - inside. They rest there, but when the Copper wakes he finds that some bats have sneakily fed on him. One of the bats attempts to apologise, and the Copper goes to eat as the bats argue with one another. As he goes over the bodies of the Demen, the Copper encounters a cave scorpion, which he eventually manages to kill with a Demen helmet. In time, one of the bats tells the Copper that they are nearing the river that leads to the Lavadome, and they reach it after hiding from a group of dwarves - presumably searching for demen - and manage to travel downstream after the bats create a distraction to allow the Copper to swim past a dwarf boat.
After much time travelling south - during which time one of the bats gives birth, and the Copper finds a wrecked boat that he is able to paddle downstream while the bats float on it - the Copper witnesses a group of demen attempting to flee from attacking dwarves. One of the demen drops an egg into the river as the dwarves kill him, and the Copper retrieves it and devours it.
In time, the Copper and the bats reach the final river before the Lavadome; located in an area where sunlight illuminates the cavern. Since the river is guarded by flying griffaran, they decide to cross the river at night. As they do this, the Copper witnesses three demen travelling across the water with several eggs, and he attempts to steal one from them. This fails, and the three demen pull the Copper from the water and attempt to hold him still. One of the demen tries to shoot the Copper with darts, which the bats prevent, so the deman goes after the Copper with a blade and slashes his chest, only for this to cause fire to erupt from the Copper's firebladder.
In the chaos, the Copper manages to escape his restraints and get to the egg, at which point griffaran arrive and attack the demen, before carrying the Copper away with them; depositing him and the eggs amidst a large group of griffaran, who shout for "death to all egg thieves", before an elder griffaran tells the Copper that they "will see justice done".
The griffaran take the Copper to the Black Rock at the heart of the Lavadome, where they are met by the dragon FeHazathant; the Tyr of the Lavadome. The Griffaran tell him that the Copper saved six eggs from demen, and the Tyr asks the Copper where he came from. The Copper tells his story, being mostly truthful, and the Tyr decides to take him as his ward - despite his mate Tighlia immediately guessing that he's an outcast - and naming him "Rugaard", after his own grandfather; also wounded as a hatchling, before decides to make him a part of the Drakwatch.
Tyr FeHazathant's majordomo NoSohoth leads Rugaard to the chambers occupied by the orphaned members of the Drakwatch, and grants him a thrall; Harf, to be his servant. Rugaard rests in the chambers, and finds when he wakes that eight bats have managed to follow him. Not long afterwards, a dragon - NeStirrath - and several drakes arrive in the chamber. Thinking him an intruder, NeStirrath orders the drakes to attack Rugaard; resulting in Rugaard losing a toe before Harf's arrival alerts his attackers to Rugaard's status as a member of the Imperial Family.
As time goes on, Rugaard learns his duties as a member of the Drakwatch, being treated no differently from any other drake, on the orders of the Tyr himself. However, he feels outcast amongst the other three drakes, who call him "Batty" behind his back. In the end, he attacks one of the drakes; Nivom, after a particularly humiliating failure during training, only for the other two drakes - Aubalagrave and Krthonius - to join in. Despite the numbers, Rugaard wins the fight; the others surrendering after Rugaard mistakenly grabs Aubalagrave's "dragonhood" during the battle and "goes dark". The next day, the Tyr visits the Drakwatch; joined by SiDrakkon; the leader of the Drakwatch and the brother of Tighlia, and Simevolant, the Tyr's rude grandson, with the intention of finding a drake to become a messenger. After a brief discussion of the skills of each - NeStirrath remarking that he'd choose Rugaard before the other drakes for a battle due to the way he fought the others - Nivom is chosen.
As time passes, Aubalagrave and Krthonius also are moved to new positions, and new drakes come in and out of the Drakwatch caves, with Rugaard acting as an assistant to NeStirrath. Rugaard uses this position to ask NeStirrath various questions about the Lavadome and its history, and eventually NeStirrath gives his own account of the formation of the Lavadome for Rugaard to deliver to a dragon writing a history; three clans of dragons - the Anklenes, the Skotls and the Wyrrs - fought for control of the Lavadome, but were united by FeHazathant when an alliance of hominids attempted to claim the Lavadome. With this information, Rugaard travels to Rethoanna - an Anklene - only to find that she has finished her history and is to present it at the upcoming Imperial banquet. Noting that Rugaard should be present as a member of the Imperial family, Rethoanna summons her thralls to tidy up Rugaard's appearance, while getting him to retell NeStirrath's account of events; having decided to place it in a revised edition.
Afterwards, Rethoanna and Rugaard head to the banquet - which nearly becomes disorderly when Simevolant attempts to eat a serving thrall out of hunger - where she recounts her history while Rugaard talks with Simevolant. After Rethoanna finishes, Tyr FeHazathant announces that he is sending SiDrakkon to an Uphold in Bant - an important source of food for the Lavadome - to assist the hominid tribes in the area who are being set upon. SiDrakkon demands he be given full powers and begins making arrangements with the Tyr as to which drakes and dragons will accompany him. Tyr FeHazathant suggests sending Simevolant as a courier, only for him to volunteer Rugaard, who accepts.
As Rugaard prepares to leave, NeStirrath and Rethoanna both gift him with travel thralls; the blighter Fourfang and the human Rhea, who helped Rugaard prepare for the banquet. Rugaard asks NeStirrath about Bant, and is told that hominids often fight each other for control of the three rivers in the area, along which are located forests full of trade goods and spices. Several days later, Rugaard meets with SiDrakkon and the others who are accompanying him - three Skotl dragons, Nivom and two "sissa" of Drakwatch, and one of Firemaidens; the female equivalent of the Drakwatch - and after their preparations are complete, the dragons begin their journey to Bant. After crossing a river, the group reaches a set of wheeled contraptions, which Nivom gets them to load their luggage and thralls into, before getting the drakes to pull them for part of the journey.
Upon reaching Bant and seeing the state of the livestock there, SiDrakkon decides to relieve the present Upholder - NiThonius - and plans to send Rugaard back to the Lavadome with this news, but Nivom convinces him to wait until they have good news; which could result in SiDrakkon being made the new Upholder. The group set up camp near the Mud City, before heading to it to meet with NiThonius - unprepared for their large group - who talks with SiDrakkon about how they will deal with the invading Ghi men. Upon learning that there is an fort of theirs still under construction, SiDrakkon decides to attack them there. In the aftermath of the resulting battle, he sends Rugaard back to the Lavadome to report their victory.
At the Lavadome, Rugaard informs the Tyr of the victory, and after some thought on the matter, Tyr FeHazathant decides to allow SiDrakkon to continue fighting the Ghi men. The Tyr tells Rugaard to rest for three days before returning, and during this time, Tighlia approaches him and tells him to ensure SiDrakkon inspire their hominid forces by getting them to blame the Ghi men for all their troubles. Rugaard then returns to Bant - taking several bats and Harf with him, although Harf escapes along the journey - where he learns that SiDrakkon has already taken all his forces to attack a fort along the Black River. Rugaard travels to this location, and finds that their forces are losing to the Ghi men.
In the aftermath of the battle, SiDrakkon and one of the dragons decide to return to the Lavadome to get more dragons to help fight; leaving the surviving drakes - the Firemaidens having all been lost in a failed assault - with an injured dragon; HeBellereth. Nivom notes as he leaves that the dragons he brings back will dwindle fast; either by abandoning him in some way or by getting killed. In anger at their losses, Rugaard musters the survivors to ascend a nearby hill instead of retreating, before sending Fourfang to nearby villages to seek aid and getting his bats to tend to HeBellereth's wounds. Rugaard then talks with Nivom, and they decide to set an ambush for the Ghi men as they approach. The ambush manages to repel the Ghi men back to their fort, but Rugaard discovers in the battle that he is unable to spit fire properly - a result of his injury from the demen.
Following this victory, Nivom, Rugaard and Nilrasha - a Firemaiden who survived the attack and escaped from the fort through an old drain - discuss their next move; Nilrasha thinks they should lay siege to the fort while Nivom thinks they should arrange a peace, but Rugaard feels that hominids need to be made to fear dragons, and convinces them to continue fighting. Rugaard notes that they could easily win if they had war machines to take down the fort walls, and Nivom begins coming up with a plan to get HeBellereth to take down the walls using boulders; eventually becoming inspired by the sight of Rhea throwing a skipping stone across water.
Not long afterwards, SiDrakkon returns with three dragons - the rest of his forces having scattered as Nivom predicted - and the others show him their plan to take down the walls. SiDrakkon is unconvinced, and orders another assault on the city, which fails, and results in the death of two dragons. Nivom then convinces SiDrakkon to let HeBellereth try his idea, which eventually succeeds in bringing down the gates to the fort. The next day, the arrival of hominid forces allied with the dragons results in the defeat of the Ghi men.
The surviving dragons return triumphant to the Lavadome, where a banquet is held to celebrate - although Rugaard is secretly annoyed at how the dragons at the banquet don't seem to realise their safety might not last. During the banquet, NoSohoth summons Rugaard to speak with the Tyr and Tighlia, who want to know exactly how the walls were destroyed. Rugaard truthfully tells them that Nivom had the idea to bring it down with boulders, and SiDrakkon attempts to claim credit by merit of being in command, but Tyr FeHazathant notes that the boulders were used after two failed assaults. Calling for silence, Tyr FeHazathant announces that Nivom will become his adopted son, and will take over some of his duties, before offering his granddaughters as possible mates to him. Afterwards, Tighlia takes Rugaard to one side and warns him that Nivom may not be what he seems. After a brief conversation where she belittles each of the traditional "virtues" of a dragon, Tighlia tells Rugaard that the Tyr will summon him tomorrow to reward him with a new position, and she instructs him not to mess it up, and to refrain from slandering SiDrakkon's name.
The next day, Rugaard goes to see the Tyr, who tells him he will travel to the UpHold in Anaea - the Lavadome's main source of kern, a plant that allows dragons to live underground healthily - to aid UpHolder FeLissarath and his mate with their duties. Before he leaves, the Tyr asks about SiDrakkon's exact role in the fighting; noting that he lacked any injuries, but Rugaard hides the truth from him, despite the Tyr telling him not to fear Tighlia and inviting him to visit him whenever he desires. Upon return to his cave, Rugaard learns from Fourfang that SiDrakkon has abducted Rhea, prompting him to travel to SiDrakkon's cave - populated by a number of female thralls - to demand her return. SiDrakkon states he's sent Rugaard a replacement, but he eventually gives her back to Rugaard after he threatens to reveal his exact role in the battle at Bant.
Some time later, Rugaard sets off for Anaea, after figuring out what to do with the bats - allowing them to leave unless they want to follow him and make themselves useful - and mercifully killing the now-elderly bat who originally found him. Rugaard finds that the guide who will lead him to Anaea is none other than Nilrasha, who reveals she bribed NoSohoth to gain the opportunity. Over the course of their journey - on which they are joined by a mule train and an escort from the Drakwatch - Nilrasha talks with Rugaard about taking a mate; both revealing they have feelings for one another.
Rugaard and Nilrasha soon arrive at Anaea, where they remain for several years - Nilrasha working with Angalia; the Firemaid at Anaea. During this time, Rugaard colonises several caves with bats, and teaches the Drakwatch and Firemaids how to use their services. Eventually, when Rugaard's wings begin to come in, FeLissarath and his mate offer to let him and Nilrasha return to the Lavadome for a proper celebration, but he declines.
Not long afterwards, NiVom - his wings having emerged - arrives in the night; claiming that he has become a fugitive; he was to be betrothed to Imfamnia, but she claimed to have been assaulted by him, which led to him being forced to challenge her words in a duel which he fled from. NiVom reveals that Tighlia has been trying to ensure that SiDrakkon becomes Tyr when FeHazathant dies, and is also responsible for the death of AgGriffopse; the Tyr's son, who died long ago. Rugaard helps arrange NiVom's escape, and comes up with a way to signal him when it's safe to return. After he leaves, Rugaard tears open his back and releases his wings, only to find that his right wing is indeed crippled from the Dragonblade's sword.
After waiting two days to check on a delivery train of kern, RuGaard, Nilrasha and his thralls head off to the Lavadome, along the way diverting the dragons searching for NiVom. Upon arrival, RuGaard meets with a griffaran to arrange a meeting with the Tyr in secret, while Nilrasha and his thralls go to wait elsewhere. When the Tyr arrives to meet with him, RuGaard insists upon NiVom's innocence and suggests that he has been framed with Imfamnia's aid to ensure the throne passes to SiDrakkon. Tyr FeHazathant disagrees - noting that SiMevolant is now of age and would take the throne - but decides to question Imfamnia with her mother present. He leaves, and RuGaard discovers the next day that Tyr FeHazathant has died, and SiDrakkon has become Tyr.
After hearing this, RuGaard goes to Black Rock in search of Tighlia, and finds her with SiDrakkon and the other members of the Imperial Family discussing his succession. SiDrakkon and the others go to calm the massing dragons outside, while Ibidio takes RuGaard to one side and tells him that FeHazathant visited her with the news he had selected a new heir, and told her to "ask RuGaard" if anything happened to him. She also reveals that she found FeHazathant dead in Tighlia's chamber, and later saw that Tighlia had deep claw marks on her neck.
Not long afterwards, Tighlia approaches RuGaard and tells him to come to her chambers the next day; RuGaard does, and finds that she plans to betrothe him to Halaflora; the sickly sister of SiMevolant. RuGaard tells her he has already met a dragonelle, and Tighlia guesses that it is Nilrasha. She tells him that Nilrasha is likely after his position, but fails to convince RuGaard and so sends him away. RuGaard then goes to Nilrasha, and finds that she no longer plans to be his mate; instead she will remain with the Firemaids. When asked, Nilrasha denies that she has been threatened, and claims that she was seeking his position just as Tighlia said - something RuGaard notes she would have had no way of knowing about - before leaving. Following this, RuGaard consents to be mated to Halaflora, and the ceremony is conducted at a shaft called the Wind Tunnel. Although their mating flight lasts only ten seconds, Halaflora tells RuGaard it is the happiest day of her life.
Following this, RuGaard and Halaflora return to Anaea, where he finds Nilrasha has resumed her duties as a Firemaiden. Some time later, while surveying a recent bridge collapse at the Tooth Cavern, RuGaard is approached by a thrall - Rayg - who tells him he has been trained by dwarves and could thus build a safer bridge for them in return for his freedom. RuGaard manages to have him brought into his household and Rayg begins work on the bridge.
Not long afterwards, RuGaard and Halaflora return to the Lavadome for SiDrakkon's mating to Imfamnia. In the aftermath, Imfamnia reveals she plans to trade dragonscale directly to surface merchants in return for body paints; stating they are now powerful enough that they have nothing to fear from being discovered. RuGaard notices that Tighlia is absent and seeks her out; finding her drunk in her chambers. After briefly musing about killing her in this state, RuGaard instead listens to her ramblings, and finds that SiDrakkon has effectively abandoned her now that he has become Tyr.
After getting Tighlia's aid in finding thralls to work on the bridge in the Tooth Cavern, RuGaard and Halaflora return to Anaea. While at work, Rayg learns of RuGaard's inability to fly, and tells him that he might be able to fix his wing with a brace. Rayg manages to construct a working model after several weeks, which RuGaard is able to fly with, despite the first model breaking and causing him to fall from the sky. RuGaard subsequently shows his no-longer-crippled wings to Halaflora and Nilrasha; who notes they could now mate in secret, but RuGaard refuses to be unfaithful to Halaflora, who has only been kind to him.
Later, RuGaard tells FeLissarath and his mate that they will be able to leave Anaea once he is done with the bridge and able to assume their duties, but they decide to stay in the area, and end up talking with him about news in the Lavadome - killings and duels have increased, and SiDrakkon's first clutchwinner SiBayereth has been found dead in his bath. After they leave, RuGaard flies out and searches the area for NiVom, only to witness a dragon with a human rider. RuGaard promptly returns to Anaea, only for the dragon to follow him and request he be allowed to land. The rider states that he comes in peace, seeking allies against a common enemy, but RuGaard refuses; wanting nothing to do with the men - and also being disgusted by the way the dragon is being used by the human rider.
At dinner, RuGaard debates the event with Halaflora and Nilrasha, and ultimately decides to return to the Lavadome to inform SiDrakkon. That night, as he and Halaflora go to their sleeping chamber, Halaflora reveals she thought he'd "take up his jade" - mate with Nilrasha. RuGaard is shocked at this statement and affirms his oath to her, only for her to remark that she was aware their mating wasn't a real one. Out of kindness, RuGaard tells her that they will renew their mateship.
The next morning, RuGaard discovers from FeLissarath that the dragon riders are raiding nearby cities. He and his mate decide to try and capture a rider to learn where they are coming from, and RuGaard follows after them; only to witness them both being killed by the dragon riders, who then follow after him. RuGaard flees east and leads them to the Tooth Cavern bridge, where he manages to dismount one of the riders; who falls to his death. After the dragon riders flee, RuGaard gets one of the Firemaidens guarding the bridge to retreive the dead rider. Rayg goes over the dead man's weapons and finds they are imbued with a deadly toxin; which RuGaard believes contributed to the quick death of FeLissarath. After they send word to Drakwatch patrols to aid at Anaea, Rayg shows RuGaard another object in the dead rider's possession; a pendant with a figure in a circle on it, which Rayg states represents man's supposed destiny to rule the Upper and Lower worlds and rid them of all but them.
Following this, RuGaard heads to the Lavadome, where he encounters NoSohoth, who claims the empire is cracking, and dragons are dying every day in duels. After managing to make his way into the Imperial Resort on the Black Rock, RuGaard finds SiDrakkon; bathing around human females and demanding the "purity of silver". RuGaard informs SiDrakkon of the attack by the dragon riders, and SiDrakkon makes him host commander; giving him his flying guard - led by AuBalagrave - as a fighting force. Following a brief rest, RuGaard and his new forces return to Anaea, where he sees his home has been attacked, but he finds that all inside have survived; having fled to the lower chambers as he advised them to before leaving.
At dinner, Halaflora reveals that Rayg and Rhea are "mated" and are expecting a child, and adds that she may be having hatchlings herself soon. Some time afterwards, their watchdragon reports the arrival of a griffaran, and RuGaard goes outside to meet it; learning from the message it carries that SiDrakkon is dead and SiMevolant is now Tyr, but peace has been restored and he is to return to the Lavadome at once. As RuGaard reads this, he hears an alarm horn sounding from inside his home, and rushes back inside to find Halaflora dead with Nilrasha standing over her, while Rhea holds an alarm horn. Nilrasha tells him that Halaflora choked on a large piece of meat, and suffocated before she was able to save her. RuGaard promptly sends her away - along with the other dragons who arrive in response to the alarm horn - and then attempts to learn from Rhea what happened, but she faints. RuGaard later buries Halaflora and then goes to see Nilrasha, who professes her innocence - pointing out that had she wanted Halaflora dead, she could have killed her while they were hiding from the dragon riders - but also notes that they can now be together.
After talking with Nilrasha about the message he received, RuGaard returns to the Lavadome; briefly stopping at the Tooth Cavern bridge to warn the Firemaidens on duty to remain on guard, and also talking with Rayg; offering Rhea's freedom in return for him using his skills to design and create a camouflaged armour that a dragon can wear on their underside. At the Black Rock, RuGaard learns that SiMevolant was named SiDrakkon's heir in the past - something most assumed was a joke, although NoSohoth thinks it was intentionally done as a safeguard against an assassination attempt - and that Imfamnia - who is now SiMevolant's mate - found SiDrakkon dead in his bath.
Eventually, SiMevolant summons an audience and gives a speech where he announces his intention to put a stop to the infighting and duelling, and also expresses a desire to stop "skulking" underground. He then reveals he has been given advice to dismiss the griffaran; noting that they eat more food than dragons, and Tighlia protests his actions, before storming out. Following this, SiMevolant introduces his wise counsel; an ally from the "Alliance of the Golden Circle", who RuGaard instantly recognises as the Dragonblade. Seeing this, Tighlia returns and promptly challenges him, only to quickly fall. As the Dragonblade drinks her blood, SiMevolant announces the beginning of a new era. As he does, Ibidio sneaks over to RuGaard, and secretly tells him to go to the hill of the Anklenes the next day, if he still lives by that point. Not long afterwards, a large group of dragon riders are guided into the Lavadome, and all the dragons who attempt to fight them are killed.
The next day, RuGaard goes to the Anklene hill and is led to a secret chamber where he finds Ibidio and Rethoanna who are joined by several other dragons - including NeStirrath - that are all part of the "Immortal Memory" group; founded following the sudden death of AgGriffopse. Ibidio tells RuGaard that Tighlia revealed shortly before her death that FeHazathant was planning to make RuGaard Tyr - realising also that his message to "Ask RuGaard" referred to this; to ask him to be Tyr. Noting that their only hope to regain the Lavadome is to strike while the dragon riders aren't properly organised, they each begin listing the dragons that they know they can rely on to aid them. Afterwards, as RuGaard returns to the Imperial Resort, he encounters a grown Uthaned - still alive due to his regular diet of dragon blood - and forms a plan to be carried out with the aid of the various bats.
Later, while walking in the Imperial Gardens, RuGaard finds SiMevolant. After making a statement about SiDrakkon that implies he may have been present for his death, SiMevolant praises RuGaard about the "accident" that caused Halaflora's death, and then requests he continue such work and murder NeStirrath with a special dwarven weapon - which RuGaard notes bears a similarity to the tubes SiDrakkon kept oils in. RuGaard instead aims it at SiMevolant, who warns the weapon could be faulty or even booby-trapped. RuGaard then hurls it away.
Some time later, after the final details of the plans are worked out and the bats and dragons arrive, RuGaard goes to the Imperial Resort and challenges SiMevolant to a duel; revealing he was Tyr FeHazathant's intended heir. SiMevolant names the Dragonblade as his duelist - despite the man's brief protests that he's had enough of fighting - and RuGaard requests they fight at the "deepest hour of the night". At the allotted time, RuGaard and the Dragonblade meet in the Black Rock's duelling pit; the Dragonblade quickly recognising RuGaard from his past. As they fight - the Dragonblade attempting to kill RuGaard by inflicting multiple minor injuries - RuGaard hears sounds of a commotion and sees the dragon riders fleeing from the duelling pit, and realises that the dragons summoned by the Immortal Memory group have arrived. As he watches, the Dragonblade knocks him to the ground. RuGaard attempts to beg for mercy and is ignored. As the Dragonblade asks for his last words, RuGaard spits liquid from his firebladder; a small gob of the liquid hitting the Dragonblade's foot and igniting his body.
As the Dragonblade dies, SiMevolant leaps into the pit to do battle, but is prevented from attacking RuGaard when Nilrasha arrives and fights him; killing SiMevolant with RuGaard's aid. RuGaard and Nilrasha leave the duelling pits to find the dragon riders weakened; the bats subtly drained the blood of their dragon mounts and prevented them from taking flight. After the fighting comes to an end - during which time Imfamnia flees - the remaining dragon riders and their families are made thralls.
Some time later, Tyr RuGaard appears before the newest members of the Drakwatch and Firemaidens - and their "free thrall" riders who they treat as their equals - and proclaims the beginning of the "Age of Fire"; in which the hominid races will be "subdued and tamed", so that dragons can master the world.