One Dark Window

What happened in One Dark Window

By Rachel Gillig

The book follows Elspeth, a 16-year-old girl who was infected as a child with a mysterious magical fever that granted her secret powers. She can hear a mysterious voice called the Nightmare in her mind and see the colors of rare magical cards called Providence Cards. Elspeth is taken in by her aunt and uncle after her father sends her away to hide her powers.

On her 16th birthday, Elspeth has a troubling interaction with her cold stepmother and visits her estranged father. She then gets accosted by thieves seeking her uncle's Providence Cards and discovers she can draw on the Nightmare's dark magic. At a royal celebration, Elspeth meets the intense Destrier Captain Ravyn Yew, who possesses a Nightmare Card and intrigues her.

Ravyn soon discovers Elspeth's powers and recruits her to help his family find the lost Providence Cards, as they need all twelve to try and cure Ravyn's infected cousin before the King sacrifices him. Though uncertain, Elspeth joins Ravyn's treasonous mission to find the missing Cards, including stealing her own father's valuable Well Card.

Along the way, Elspeth's feelings for Ravyn grow complicated even as her infection worsens from using the Nightmare's magic. After a dangerous truth game orchestrated by the cruel Prince Hauth leaves Elspeth poisoned, she finally admits to Ravyn that the voice of the Nightmare is actually the long dead Shepherd King, whose soul she accidentally absorbed as a child.

When Elspeth is captured and tortured by Hauth and the royal physician, the Shepherd King fully takes over her body, killing the physician. Elspeth fades away as the ancient Shepherd King makes a bargain with the King to secure the final missing Providence Card in exchange for releasing Ravyn's infected cousin. But Ravyn vows to somehow free Elspeth from the Shepherd King's control.

One Dark Window Chapter Summary

Chapter 1

The chapter introduces the main character, Elspeth, on her 16th birthday. She lives with her aunt and uncle after her father sent her away following her infection with a mysterious fever as a child. The fever gave her magic abilities which must be kept secret. On her birthday, Elspeth visits her father and stepmother Nerium, who treats her coldly. After a hurtful interaction, Elspeth leaves angrily before dinner. The chapter provides background on Elspeth's family relationships and hints at a troubled past. It also introduces the concept of Providence Cards, rare magical items, and the mysterious voice Elspeth hears in her mind she calls the Nightmare.

Chapter 2

In Chapter 2, the main character Elspeth is walking alone at night through the woods near her uncle's estate when she is accosted by two masked highwaymen. They threaten her with a dagger, demanding to know where her uncle keeps his rare Providence Cards. Elspeth lies that she is just a maid who knows nothing. When they don't believe her, she mentally calls on the mysterious voice in her head she calls the Nightmare for help. The Nightmare gives her a surge of strength and speed, allowing her to overpower the highwaymen. As she flees, Elspeth realizes the highwaymen must be dangerous Card thieves to risk stealing from her uncle. She makes it safely back to the estate, but her arms are left with a burning black pattern from using the Nightmare's magic. The Nightmare speaks cryptically of his great age and power before disappearing back into her mind.

Chapter 3

In Chapter 3, Elspeth finds her aunt Opal in the garden making a tincture. Opal encourages Elspeth to attend the upcoming Equinox celebration at the King's castle despite Elspeth's reservations. Elspeth receives a letter from her father inviting her as well. She is hesitant to go because of her past illness and magical abilities, which could lead to "degeneration" if revealed.

That night Elspeth has an unusual dream where she sees a mysterious armored man with yellow eyes seated on a stone in a vine-covered room. The scene shifts to a library where instead a dark furred creature with yellow eyes and claws sits at a desk. He seems upset that Elspeth has seen him and offers to tell her a cryptic story about a girl, a King, and "the monster they became." Elspeth wakes from the strange dream before hearing the full story.

Chapter 4

In Chapter 4, Elspeth attends the Equinox celebration at King Rowan's castle. She feels uneasy being around so many Destriers carrying Providence Cards. Elspeth tries to avoid Alyx Laburnum, with whom she has a complicated romantic history. She sits next to Emory Yew, the King's youngest nephew, who behaves erratically after drinking too much wine. Emory grabs Elspeth's arm forcefully on the stairs, frightening her. Before Elspeth can retaliate, Emory is pushed down the stairs by his older brother, Ravyn Yew, the new Captain of the Destriers. Ravyn escorts a shaken Elspeth to her room, introducing himself formally. Elspeth is unsettled by her encounters with both Yew brothers.

Chapter 5

In Chapter 5, Elspeth walks through the castle gardens with the other women after the men leave for a hunt. She looks for her cousin Ione to make amends after their argument, but cannot find her. Elspeth talks with her aunt about Emory Yew's strange behavior, wondering if he survived a magical fever like she did.

Ione appears suddenly, startling Elspeth and her aunt. Elspeth notices Ione has a Maiden Card, likely gifted by Prince Hauth. Upset, Elspeth pulls Ione aside and begs her not to use the Card or accept the Prince's proposal, fearing it will change her. Ione refuses, saying she can make her own choices.

Heartbroken, Elspeth runs into the gardens alone and cries. The Nightmare in her mind warns magic always comes at a cost. Elspeth is then startled by Ravyn Yew, the new Captain of the Destriers, who is in possession of the second Nightmare Card.

Chapter 6

In Chapter 6, Elspeth flees into the mist after Ravyn confronts her about their encounter on the forest road. Ravyn uses his Nightmare Card to speak into Elspeth's mind and tell her to stop running. Terrified, Elspeth screams and falls. Ravyn catches up to her and covers her mouth to keep them hidden, as the king and his hunting party are nearby.

Elspeth slaps Ravyn's hand away, angry he used the Nightmare Card on her. When she tries to run again, Ravyn grabs her leg and she kicks him in the face. Once the hunting party passes, Ravyn looks at the infection's black veins on Elspeth's arm but shows no fear, only curiosity. Elspeth expects him to arrest her but Ravyn says he won't tell anyone and just wants to understand her magic. Wary, Elspeth follows Ravyn back to the castle, avoiding the gardens and women with Providence Cards. She lies that she has no magic but Ravyn seems unconvinced.

Chapter 7

Elspeth is led through secret passages in the castle by Ravyn to a hidden cellar room with two guard dogs. Ravyn leaves briefly and returns with his sister Jespyr, a female Destrier, and Filick, a Physician. Filick questions Elspeth about her magic abilities from her childhood fever. Elspeth claims she can see the colors of Providence Cards through the mist. The others are shocked and intrigued. Prince Renelm, called Elm, then arrives with a Scythe Card. Elspeth recognizes him as the second highwayman who accosted her. Furious at the deception, she refuses to say more unless Elm leaves.

Chapter 8

In Chapter 8, Elspeth is blindfolded by Ravyn and asked to identify a series of Providence Cards he places on the table by their colors alone. Though skeptical at first, Elspeth passes Ravyn's test, even identifying one Card as a fake. She confronts Ravyn about the Nightmare Card he secretly possesses and uses.

Elspeth makes Ravyn an offer - she will help him find more Cards if he keeps her magic a secret and leaves her family alone. Ravyn agrees but says the decision is not his alone. Elspeth insists Ravyn swear to never use his Nightmare Card on her again. He seems impressed by her bravery in standing up to him. The chapter ends with a tense moment between Elspeth and Ravyn as she waits for his response.

Chapter 9

In Chapter 9, Elspeth attends the Equinox feast and is escorted by Prince Elm. She learns her cousin Ione has been given a Maiden Card, likely by Prince Hauth. Elspeth encounters Ravyn again and agrees to sit with his family, avoiding a pushy suitor named Alyx. At the feast, King Rowan and Prince Hauth make an announcement - Ione is engaged to marry Hauth after her father Tyrn gave the King his Nightmare Card. Elspeth is shocked and upset by the news. The chapter ends on a cliffhanger as Elspeth processes this development involving her cousin.

Chapter 10

In Chapter 10, Elspeth follows Ravyn to his chamber where he reveals he possesses two secret Providence Cards - the Nightmare and the Mirror. Ravyn uses the Mirror Card to become invisible so he can escort Elspeth through the castle unseen. On the way, they overhear two physicians discussing Emory's violent behavior and the need to control him.

Elspeth refuses to use the Mirror Card herself due to her fear of magic. Ravyn respects her wishes but uses the Card to remain unseen. In the hallway, Elspeth has a tense encounter with her stepmother Nerium, who refers to Elspeth's mother disdainfully and suggests Elspeth's magic makes her dangerous.

Elspeth stands up to Nerium, hinting she knows things that make Nerium's position precarious. Ravyn comforts Elspeth briefly after overhearing the exchange. He leads her to a hidden room where his family awaits, including his sister Jespyr, Prince Elm, and the royal physician Filick. Elspeth realizes she is about to undergo an intense interrogation by Ravyn's family about her magic as they seek to uncover the truth.

Chapter 11

In Chapter 11, Elspeth undergoes an interrogation by Ravyn Yew's family to determine if she can be trusted. She is presented with three Providence Cards - the Scythe, the Chalice, and the Nightmare - and chooses to submit to the Scythe wielded by Prince Elm. Though the Scythe sways her emotions, the Nightmare helps Elspeth resist total control. She convinces Ravyn and his family she only has the magic to see Card colors, not other abilities.

Ravyn's family reveals they aim to collect the full Deck of Cards to cure Ravyn's infected cousin Emory before the King can sacrifice him. They need Elspeth's help finding the long lost Twin Alders Card. In exchange, they promise to cure Elspeth's own infection. Though uncertain, she agrees to join them to find the missing Card that could lift the mist from Blunder.

Chapter 12

Elspeth eavesdrops on Ravyn and his family discussing her fate in the cellar. They decide she will stay with them at Castle Yew under the pretense that Ravyn is courting her. Though reluctant, Ravyn agrees to keep up the ruse. Elspeth is upset when Ravyn seems repulsed by the idea of courting her. After the others leave, Ravyn tells Elspeth of their plan to cure his infected cousin Emory using the full Deck of Cards before the Solstice. He takes Elspeth to see Emory, but finds his chambers empty - Emory has escaped.

Chapter 13

In Chapter 13, Elspeth and Ravyn search for Ravyn's infected cousin Emory, who has escaped his chambers during the Equinox festivities. They find Emory drunk and erratic in the gardens, where he has picked the pockets of two men and been beaten.

Ravyn fights and defeats the two men, who were emboldened by their White Eagle Cards. Meanwhile, Elspeth learns from Prince Elm that Ravyn is also infected. Shocked and hurt he hid this from her, she watches as Ravyn takes the men's White Eagles, which turn black when he touches them.

The chapter reveals more about the costs of magic and infection in this world, showing how Emory's mind has deteriorated. It also builds tension around Ravyn's secret infection and his growing power through collecting Cards. Elspeth must decide whether to continue helping him despite his deception.

Chapter 14

In Chapter 14, Elspeth confronts Ravyn about being infected like her. Ravyn admits he is infected but his magic makes Providence Cards lose power when he touches them. The only Cards that work for him are the Nightmare, Mirror and possibly Twin Alders. Ravyn avoids further questions from Elspeth as other people approach.

They pretend to be courting to maintain Ravyn's ruse and dance together, though Elspeth is angry at his deception. Afterward, a disturbed Emory seems to know Elspeth's secrets. He recites an ominous poem before coughing up blood, concerning Elspeth. The chapter reveals more about Ravyn's unique infection and the costs of magic in this world.

Chapter 15

In Chapter 15, Elspeth arrives at Castle Yew with Ravyn's family after leaving the Equinox celebrations. She receives a letter from her worried aunt Opal encouraging her to be careful at the castle. Elspeth's room has an ornate carpet depicting the Shepherd King, though she and the Nightmare don't recall him.

Jespyr visits Elspeth's room and invites her to tea with Sylvia Pine and her daughters, as the Pines may know the location of an Iron Gate Card. Though reluctant, Elspeth agrees to help charm the information out of the daughters. The chapter shows Elspeth settling into Castle Yew while grappling with doubts over her decision to help the Yews find the Cards. It also hints at building tension between Elspeth and Ravyn.

Chapter 16

Elspeth meets with Jespyr and Morette Yew to have tea with Lady Sylvia Pine and her daughters in order to charm information about Pine's Iron Gate Card out of them. Gerta Pine reveals her father keeps the Iron Gate and Prophet Cards always with him. The Yews decide Ravyn and Prince Elm should intercept Pine on his journey home to steal the Iron Gate.

Later, Fenir Yew shows Elspeth an ancient copy of The Old Book of Alders which describes how uniting all twelve Providence Cards with the blood of someone infected can lift the mist from Blunder. Fenir reveals the royal physician Orithe Willow is infected and uses a spiked device to test for infected blood.

Elspeth tells the Yews she knows someone in town who owns a Well Card, which they need to complete the deck. She agrees to help them steal it.

Chapter 17

In Chapter 17, Elspeth spends time with Ravyn in the castle gardens. He shows her the ruins of the original Castle Yew, including a mysterious stone chamber that intrigues the Nightmare in Elspeth's mind. She resists the Nightmare's urging to enter the chamber.

Ravyn reveals more about his experience using the Nightmare Card, saying the voice he hears is his own, taunting his deepest fears. Elspeth asks if using the Card has other ill effects.

Later, Ravyn takes Elspeth to the castle armory where his fellow thieves await, including Jespyr, Prince Elm, and Jon Thistle. Ravyn asks if Elspeth can use a blade, to which she replies no. He says she won't need to fight, but should have something to protect herself, hinting at the upcoming theft of the Iron Gate Card from Wayland Pine. Elspeth surveys the thieves, intimidated but resolute to follow through with stealing the Card to help complete the deck.

Chapter 18

Elspeth joins Ravyn and his band of thieves, including Prince Elm and Jespyr, to ambush Lord Pine's carriage and steal his Iron Gate Card. Though nervous about riding a horse, she agrees to ride with Elm. The horse panics when sensing Elspeth's magic, throwing her off and injuring her ribs. Ravyn comforts Elspeth and helps her back up.

The group travels on horseback into the Black Forest. Elspeth and Ravyn have a heartfelt conversation where he apologizes for frightening her when they first met. Elspeth forgives him and asks him to call her by her first name.

When the signal comes that Pine's carriage approaches, Ravyn and Elspeth put on masks. Elspeth is apprehensive but resolute about committing treason to help complete the deck of Cards and lift the mist. The chapter ends on a cliffhanger as the ambush is about to begin.

Chapter 19

In Chapter 19, Elspeth joins Ravyn and his band of thieves to ambush Lord Pine's carriage and steal his Iron Gate Card, one of the rare Providence Cards they need to complete the deck. Though nervous, Elspeth agrees to help identify the Card. However, the ambush goes awry when Prince Hauth appears with Destrier guards. A fight breaks out between the thieves and Destriers. During the fray, Elspeth's father Erik appears unexpectedly in the second carriage.

Seeing Prince Elm in danger, Elspeth throws a rock to stop her father from harming him. Her father turns on her angrily, but Elspeth draws on the Nightmare's dark magic to overpower him. She then flees into the mist-filled woods with Jespyr. But Jespyr loses her protective charm and becomes lost and delirious in the mist. Desperate, Elspeth searches for Ravyn to get his spare charm.

Elspeth encounters Prince Hauth again, who grabs and injures her wrist. In a burst of Nightmare-fueled rage, Elspeth slashes Hauth's face before escaping into the woods. She finds Ravyn, who helps Jespyr regain control. Though shaken, the thieves succeeded in stealing the Iron Gate. But the fight has left Elspeth uneasy about the costs of using the Nightmare's dangerous magic.

Chapter 20

In chapter 20, Elspeth has a disturbing dream where the mysterious armored man with yellow eyes tells her to "let him out." She wakes up frightened and sees a creature with yellow eyes and fur staring back at her in the mirror, making her question if it's the Nightmare or her own soul.

Elspeth meets Ravyn on the stairs and he examines her injured wrist gently. They briefly discuss their pretend courtship. In the parlor, Elspeth is shocked to see her cousin Ione, who has been transformed into an unearthly beauty by the Maiden Card. Ione's demeanor is cold and haughty now, which pains Elspeth.

Prince Elm interrupts rudely to ask why Ione is there. She says she came to speak with Ravyn as the Destriers are arriving that day to train. Elspeth realizes with dread that means Hauth Rowan, who injured her, will be there. She wonders nervously what Ione wants with Ravyn and the Destriers. The chapter ends tensely as Elspeth processes Ione's unsettling transformation and Hauth's imminent arrival.

Chapter 21

In Chapter 21, Elspeth walks with her cousin Ione and Prince Elm to the castle yard, where the Destrier guards have arrived for training. Elspeth sees that Prince Hauth has claw marks on his neck from her attack on him in the woods. Though Hauth does not recognize Elspeth as his attacker, she is uneasy being near him.

During training, Ravyn spars with Hauth and breaks his hand as retaliation for Hauth injuring Elspeth's wrist. Afterward, Elspeth overhears Ravyn and Elm discussing her abilities, with Elm cautioning Ravyn against fully trusting her.

Later that night, Ravyn comes to Elspeth's room and apologizes for the violent training. He opens up about his difficult relationship with Hauth. Ravyn says he wants to show Elspeth something, intriguing her. The chapter ends with Elspeth agreeing to go with Ravyn to see what he wants to show her.

Chapter 22

Elspeth follows Ravyn at night to a mysterious stone chamber from her dreams. Ravyn cuts his infected hand to reveal hidden Providence Cards inside the hollow stone. He explains only his infected blood can unlock the Cards. Elspeth cuts her own hand to try, sealing the Cards back inside. She realizes this chamber is where the Shepherd King bartered with the Spirit using blood. Ravyn reveals more about his infection and trust in Prince Elm. Drawn together in the magical chamber, Ravyn and Elspeth share an intense, passionate kiss. But Elspeth sees a vision of the armored knight from her dreams, calling for her to "let him out." She flees, disturbed. Back in her chamber, Elspeth realizes from the room's carpet that the knight is the Shepherd King, whose soul she absorbed when she first touched the Nightmare Card years ago.

Chapter 23

Elspeth wakes up outside near the stone chamber, having sleepwalked there. The royal physician Filick Willow finds her and takes her back to treat her injured wrist. He reveals more background about the Shepherd King's bargain with the Spirit and how King Brutus Rowan twisted the Old Book of Alders to persecute infected people.

Elspeth realizes her "degeneration" is the Nightmare growing stronger in her mind as she uses his power, meaning she is losing control. The Nightmare implies this was her choice. Angry, Elspeth vows to free herself by finding the last two Cards.

She overhears the Destrier guards below, including an injured Hauth. Prince Elm startles her on the stairs and tells her to get ready for Market Day and wear her family colors. Elspeth worries what the outing might bring.

Chapter 24

In Chapter 24, Elspeth attends Market Day in Blunder with Ravyn and his family. She wears her mother's old dress in her family's colors. Elspeth has an awkward encounter with her father Erik, who recognizes the dress. Her cruel stepmother Nerium and frivolous half-sisters Dimia and Nya accost Elspeth about her pretend courtship with Ravyn.

Elspeth slips away and finds Prince Elm, who uses his Scythe Card to distract her annoying sisters. Elm confronts Elspeth about her secret magic abilities, having noticed her yellow eyes. Before she can respond, they hear Destriers announcing an infected child has been found.

High Prince Hauth orders the child's parents arrested to make an example of them. Elspeth is disturbed witnessing the public arrests, remembering her own infection. The chapter ends tensely as the crowd awaits Hauth's punishment of the infected family.

Chapter 25

In Chapter 25, Elspeth attends a public execution with Prince Elm, where High Prince Hauth sentences a family to death for hiding their infected son. Elspeth is disturbed to see the infected boy brought out, along with the royal physician Orithe Willow. When the parents are forced into the mist, Elspeth convinces Elm to intervene. A confrontation ensues between the rival princes. In the chaos, Elspeth runs to the boy and attacks Orithe Willow. She flees into the mist with the boy, pursued by the Destrier Linden. Lost in the Nightmare's magic, Elspeth viciously wounds Linden before escaping back to Ravyn. Ravyn is shocked to see Elspeth's hands covered in Linden's blood, realizing she has lost control to the Nightmare.

Chapter 26

In Chapter 26, Elspeth returns from the chaos at the public execution with Ravyn and Prince Elm. Her hands are covered in blood from viciously wounding the Destrier Linden while under the influence of the Nightmare's rage. Ravyn helps hide what she's done and sends Destriers to search for the infected boy she freed and the injured Linden.

Back at the castle, Ravyn gets an urgent message that his infected cousin Emory has escaped confinement at Stone. Ravyn, Elspeth, Prince Elm, and Fenir Yew rush back to Castle Yew in a carriage to address this development. It's clear Emory's escape puts him in danger if discovered by the royal physician Orithe Willow. The chapter ends tensely as the group hurries to find Emory before others learn he is missing.

Chapter 27

In Chapter 27, Elspeth returns to Castle Yew with Ravyn, Prince Elm, and Fenir after hearing that Ravyn's infected cousin Emory has escaped from confinement. They find Emory in the library, cold and exhausted from walking all night to get home. Morette and Filick tend to Emory, who seems to have lost his memory of Elspeth due to his worsening infection.

Ravyn insists he must take Emory back to confinement at Stone Castle soon, which upsets Emory. Prince Elm confronts Ravyn about being distracted from their mission to find the Cards by Elspeth. Later, Elspeth tells Ravyn she is degenerating from using the Nightmare's magic, losing control of herself. Desperate, she kisses Ravyn passionately. They end up in his bedroom together, intimate for the first time. Afterward, they discuss their growing feelings for one another and determination to find the last two Cards to try and cure Elspeth.

Chapter 28

In Chapter 28, Elspeth sneaks out of Ravyn's bedroom at dawn after spending the night together, avoiding an awkward encounter with Jespyr in the hall. At breakfast, Elm realizes Elspeth and Ravyn's relationship has become intimate, much to his annoyance.

The group prepares to take Emory back to confinement at Stone Castle. In the garden, Emory seems increasingly unstable from his worsening infection. Elspeth asks him to use his magic to look into her mind and tell her about the Nightmare. Emory sees a dark creature woven into Elspeth and recites the unsettling children's rhyme about "the girl and the King."

Elspeth feels guilty for taking advantage of Emory's condition. As Emory is led away, he tells Elspeth to be wary and clever. Elspeth resolves to collect the last two Cards to try and save both Emory and herself from their infections.

Chapter 29

In Chapter 29, Elspeth wakes up covered in dirt in the stone chamber from her recurring dreams, having sleepwalked there overnight. The Nightmare implies he made her unearth a grave at the foot of the magical stone that hides Providence Cards. Disturbed, Elspeth returns to the castle and prepares to attend a party at Spindle House hosted by her father and stepfamily.

She travels there with Prince Elm, meeting up with Ravyn and Jespyr. At the party, Elspeth sees her cold stepmother Nerium and estranged half-sisters Nya and Dimia. She realizes her father likely keeps his valuable Well Card on him at all times. When the royal family arrives, Elspeth is disturbed to see her transformed cousin Ione accompanying Prince Hauth. She and Ravyn pretend to be a courting couple as they mingle at the party. Elspeth resolves to find a way to steal her father's Well Card, the second to last Card needed to complete the deck.

Chapter 30

In Chapter 30, Elspeth and Prince Elm search Spindle House for her father's Well Card during Nya and Dimia's nameday celebration, but are unable to find it. They meet up with Ravyn and Jespyr, who also failed to locate the Card in Erik's chambers. Desperate, Elspeth decides to keep searching while the others mingle at the party.

Elspeth's cousin Ione, transformed by the Maiden Card, finds them and leads them to an empty table. After a strange toast, Prince Elm realizes Ione is under the control of a Scythe Card. High Prince Hauth then appears and reveals he used a Chalice Card to drug Elspeth, Ravyn, Jespyr, Elm, and Ione, forcing them to tell the truth. The chapter ends tensely as Hauth awaits their confessions under the Chalice's power.

Chapter 31

In Chapter 31, Elspeth and the others are forced to play a dangerous game of truth under the influence of Hauth's Chalice Card. Each person can ask only one question that must be answered truthfully. Elspeth struggles to evade the Chalice's magic when asked if she loves Ravyn. When Hauth asks how she hurt her arm, implying he knows of her infection, Elspeth panics. Ravyn uses his Nightmare Card to help her think of a careful answer, but Elspeth angrily rejects his intrusion into her mind.

In the ensuing chaos, Ione secretly frees Elspeth from the Chalice's power. But as they try to leave, Elspeth collapses, vomiting blood. She realizes she tried to resist the Chalice's truth magic too much. The chapter ends tensely with Elspeth poisoned and the others shocked at this dangerous game's consequences.

Chapter 32

Elspeth wakes up in her childhood bedroom at Spindle House after being poisoned by Prince Hauth's Chalice Card. Ravyn is there and reveals he used his Nightmare Card to help her during the dangerous truth game, breaking his promise not to use it on her. Elspeth finally admits to Ravyn and Prince Elm that she absorbed the soul of the Shepherd King when she touched her uncle's Nightmare Card as a child - the voice in her head is the Shepherd King. Ravyn is disturbed and leaves to escort royal physicians with the other Destriers. Elspeth's father Erik visits and gifts her his valuable Well Card unexpectedly. After he leaves, Elspeth decides to sneak the Well Card to Ravyn's physician to take back to complete the deck. She says goodbye to Ravyn briefly as he leaves on patrol, both feeling the strain of recent revelations between them.

Chapter 33

In Chapter 33, Elspeth is betrayed by her uncle Tyrn, who brings her to her bedroom where High Prince Hauth is waiting. Hauth confronts Elspeth about her infection and attacks her, demanding she help him uncover what Ravyn and Prince Elm have been secretly plotting. Elspeth refuses to cooperate even when Hauth reveals her uncle told him about her infection.

Hauth ties Elspeth up and continues interrogating her about the night she attacked him in the woods. Elspeth spits at Hauth, enraging him further. Determined not to betray Ravyn, Elspeth calls on the Nightmare's dark magic to help free her hands from the bindings.

Just then, the royal physician Orithe Willow arrives, wearing his brutal metal claw device. The chapter ends tensely as Willow and Hauth close in on the now freed but still trapped Elspeth.

Chapter 34

In Chapter 34, Elspeth wakes up trapped in her childhood bedroom at Spindle House with High Prince Hauth and the royal physician Orithe. They know she is infected and have been waiting for Ravyn to return so they can interrogate and arrest him. Elspeth manages to break free but is quickly subdued.

Hauth and Orithe continue questioning Elspeth about her magic and involvement with Ravyn's treasonous activities. When she refuses to cooperate, Hauth slams her head against the wall, knocking her unconscious.

In her unconscious state, Elspeth's mind melds with the Nightmare. She sees ominous visions of the past and future. When she wakes, the Nightmare has taken control of her body. Elspeth and the Nightmare kill Orithe together in a rage.

They then attack Hauth, with the Nightmare fully consuming Elspeth's mind. As she fades away, Elspeth makes the Nightmare promise to help Ravyn and Emory. The Nightmare implies this was inevitable as Elspeth finally succumbs to the darkness.

Chapter 35

In Chapter 35, Ravyn and Prince Elm wait in the dungeons below the castle for King Rowan and the Destriers to arrive to interrogate Elspeth, who is possessed by the Shepherd King. They discuss how the Shepherd King took over Elspeth's body and killed the royal physician Orithe after Elspeth was captured.

When the King arrives, he is furious about Orithe's murder. Elspeth, controlled by the Shepherd King, taunts the King and refers to events from centuries past. She offers to find the long lost final Providence Card, the Twin Alders, in exchange for releasing Ravyn's infected cousin Emory. The King is skeptical but agrees once Elspeth implies her ancient knowledge of where the missing Card is hidden.

Ravyn desperately tries to reach Elspeth's consciousness, but the Shepherd King has blocked him out completely. Though disturbed by the possession, Ravyn and his family are relieved the Shepherd King is helping them secure Emory's release and locate the final Card needed to lift the mist. But they remain uncertain if Elspeth can ever be freed from the Shepherd King's control.