Episode 9, “Lies in our Stars” finds guest writer Paul Witcover taking the stage. He opens strong with fan favorite Micah, at home in Rafe’s quarters and being most thoroughly disturbed by the various scholars bumbling in and out and all around her. Her frustration at the constant interruptions is compounded by the fact that the numbers she is working on for the navigation problem are still coming out wrong.
She leaves, and on the busy streets, papers and turnips in hand, she is jostled to the point that everything goes flying – and in that moment, as turnips leap into the air over her head, she has a breakthrough.
The earth is round (not elliptical, as Kaab had said). This means she can finally make her numbers work – and all of Kaab’s family is in imminent danger if they keep using incorrect navigation charts. So, obviously the thing to do is to immediately start feverishly writing math on a nearby storefront.
This is where, sometime later, Rafe finds her. The swarming crowd, laughing at the raving young mathematician ranting that the port must be closed immediately, was enough to pull even the love-struck Rafe out of his William-full reverie.
After managing to save Micah from getting throwing in a loony bin, he gets the general idea from her….and immediately connects a few more dots: Kaab knew the world was a sphere and lied to them to protect her family’s trade monopoly. She used Tess to make (incorrectly) forged star charts. Micah’s breakthrough proves Rafe’s theories about the world – but they must keep them secret for now, or else risk the Balam’s taking violent action to protect their interests.
He explains the gist of this to Micah, and imparts upon her the importance of keeping their understanding a secret from Kaab until Rafe can figure some things out. This, of course, is therefore the perfect time for Kaab to show up for a surprise visit.
Likewise besotted by love (enough that Vincent sent her home early from Swordswoman Lessons), even Kaab can tell Rafe and Micah are hiding something. (Micah, for all that she is a great mathematician, is a rather terrible liar.) As they grab some drinks together at the Ink Pot, Kaab’s suspicions remain unconfirmed, but her unease is growing.
Rafe makes his best attempt at a bait and switch – grabbing some papers “surreptitiously” in front of Kaab, stuffing them in the turnip sack, and claiming he has to run to his family’s home. His aim to separate Kaab from Micah, who looks about a tomato-pie away from spilling the beans, works and Kaab follows him out. He manages to lose her at his family’s gates, which he goes through and immediately back out again. His destination is Tremontaine, and William, and telling the Duke of his (Micah’s) discovery.
Kaab’s destination is the Balam compound, and a confessional with her Aunt and Uncle. The strange behavior of Rafe and Micah is enough to force her hand and the time has come to come clean to her relatives.
Even after telling them an edited account (that likely left out just how much her own wagging tongue was at fault) Aunt Saabim and Uncle Chuleb are most displeased. But before panic sets in, their gears start whirling: Kaab tracked Rafe past the gates of his house and knows his true intent is to give the knowledge to Tremontaine (William – but Kaab knows Diane is the one actually capable of using the information). This gives them room to move – Diane is a crafty creature (a viper, according to Chuleb) and perhaps could be persuaded to keep their secret…if only they had the right leverage to force her hand.
Kaab thinks she knows a way: something about a locket, and Ben Hawke’s death – she is sure Diane is hiding something big. She promises her Aunt and Uncle she’ll “enter the spider’s web” (or is it the swan’s nest?) to find what they need.
Over in said web/nest/beautifully appointed manor, Diane is finishing up a tryst with the Dragon Chancellor, who is already starting to bore her. She’d determined to keep him around for a bit longer, however, until her need of him for council affairs is passed. As they share chocolate she focuses her thoughts on the Balams, and Kaab in particular. Once Gregory leaves, she pens a letter to Ahchuleb setting yet more wheels in motion – though what exactly, we’re left to wonder.
The final scene finds Diane alone at her dining table, waiting in vain for William. She ponders her loss of him to Rafe: body, will, and soul. The first and last she doesn’t mind – but his will is something she is determined to fight for.