After Trennan betrayed both the Sect and his empress by revealing the presence of Herrick at the temple conference, he is doubly in danger, but also doubly useful: Amara, realizing the Sect has a design on her throne, decides to use Trennan as best she can to glean information about the Sect's true agenda. The Sect Priestess, meanwhile, still believing that Amara trusts Trennan, orders him to keep close and ensure that her focus remains trained on the red herring of Riese.

The lost princess, meanwhile, has been bound in the abandoned academy town, and is learning of a deep betrayal. Ormond, the headmaster, reveals that Riese's very brother, a boy whom she thought long dead, was in fact recruited by the Sect to be their Anointed One, their perfect follower who would call all the subjects of the land to follow the Sect. His "training" was to have been accelerated, but Ormond was careful, and knew that the methods should be tested on a prototype - in this case, a subject named Mahren, an academy boy with an obsession for Arkin.

When Mahren was complete and the methods applied to Arkin, the latter was ready to be released. But when the teachers took Arkin away, Mahren went on such a rampage that the Sect abandoned their project in Vidar, leaving Ormond yearning for a way to complete his work and set Mahren to rights. When Ormond learned that he had the sister of Mahren's obsessions in his grasp, he thanked the Goddess, struck Riese out cold and tied her up as bait, hoping that her presence would appease Mahren and balance would be restored.

But Ormond's torture was not soon forgotten, and as soon as Mahren laid eyes on the headmaster, his focus shifted from the familiar Riese to the nightmarish Ormond. With this window of distraction, Riese made her escape from the academy.