|“||It's all of us together. Always has been, always will be.||”|
Rather than facing trial with the rest of their order, the friends and their spirit animals find themselves smuggled to a remote palace. There they discover that the plot against them runs deeper -- and is far more sinister -- than anyone realized. Someone has been manipulating both the Greencloaks and Erdas's leaders, all to uncover a powerful relic with the potential to flood the entire world.
To stop this conspiracy, the Heroes of Erdas will need absolute faith in their spirit animals. If they fail, all of Erdas will drown.
Rollan, Meilin, Abeke, Conor, and their spirit animals are captured by The Oathbound, and put on a boat, where they are forced to listen to the other prisoners and Cordelia the Kind's torture. However, they manage to send Essix with a note to Greenhaven. After being briefly visited by Kana the Honest, they eventually arrive to the Emperor's Summer Palace in Xin Kao Dai, Zhong.
While walking to the palace's entrance, the group sees a Zhongese Water Dragon with a collar. Soon after, Conor gets into an argument with Cordelia, and the two start fighting. Conor lures her into the water, knowing her armor was too heavy to allow her to float, but the fight is stopped by Kana before Cordelia can drown. Brushing off the quarrel, Kana tells the Heroes that they are visiting an "old friend", who turns out to be Princess Song, who is now the Empress of Zhong.
Initially Song treats the Heroes with friendliness, but she soon reveals she is allied with The Oathbound, and that her father's assassination was her own doing. In addition, she reveals that she has a spirit animal - the same Zhongese water dragon the group had seen earlier. His name is Seaspray, and Song intends to acquire The Dragon's Eye in order to make her spirit animal powerful. Meilin realizes that Song intends to use them to get The Dragon's Eye, since she could not do it herself. When Rollan begins to refuse and Song threatens him, the three other Greencloak prisoners from the Oathbound boat - Kofe, Lady Cranston, and Salaman - offer to find the relic first. The four Heroes are then imprisoned in the palace.Meanwhile, Song prepares to meet with a Niloan delegation. Chief Ugo, a Niloan delegate, tries to convince Song to allow the Greencloaks a fair trial. He gets into a spat with Cordelia which almost turns into a fight, with Ugo releasing his rhinoceros spirit animal. Song stops them, refusing Ugo's offer, and Ugo warns her that he will tell the High Chieftain of Nilo of her actions. He then leaves. Afterwards, Brunhild the Merry leads the four Heroes down to a cavern beneath the palace. At first they refuse to cooperate with Song's plan, but she reveals that she had trapped Essix in a cage, and would drop her into the sea if they did not come back with The Dragon's Eye in one hour. Not wanting Essix to be harmed, the Heroes enter the cavern.