Inej waits in the holding area. Another detained guest complains loudly to the guards. Inej begins to lose her nerve and demands to be taken to the checkpoint. Just as she does, Tante Heleen notices her and recognizes Inej. She tells the guard that Inej is an impostor who belongs to the Dregs, and that Kaz must be somewhere in the Ice Court too. Heleen grabs Inej by the shoulders and demands to know what she has done with her girl. Inej freezes momentarily but then seizes Heleen’s wrist, twisting it so hard that she falls her knees. The guards seize Inej and drag her through the courtyard as Heleen cackles and threatens to have Inej and Kaz hanged. The bells ring, signaling the initiation of Black Protocol.  


Unsure if Brum knows who she is, Nina works on seducing him into telling her where Bo Yul-Bayur is being kept. He begins talking to her about Grisha, feigning a titillated interest in their power. He takes her to the treasury, which contains cells constructed by Grisha. Brum shows her some cells where Grisha are held captive, suffering the ravages of jurda parem. Nina pretends to be fascinated and seductively asks Brum to take her someplace more private. Brum shows her a special cell and invites her inside, but as soon as she enters, he slams the door, locking her in. Matthias appears at the door with Brum. He tells Nina that he has sold her out to Brum, putting his country before himself.  

Chapter 35: Matthias: ELEVEN BELLS 

Brum shows Matthias the special cell block for holding Grisha. He explains that the facility has long been used to experiment on Grisha. The goal is to heighten their powers so they can become a powerful army for Fjerda. Jurda parem will help achieve this aim. Matthias expresses surprise because drüskelle are taught that all Grisha should be eradicated. Brum compliments Matthias on the purity of his faith but tells him that they can accomplish more by using Grisha than killing them. Matthias reflects on how Brum was a mentor to him, but he is beginning to realize the hatefulness of Brum’s ideology.  

Brum embraces Matthias and assures him that he will be welcomed back to the drüskelle. He says they will punish Nina by dosing her with jurda parem. Matthias returns Brum’s embrace but then suddenly puts Brum in a sleeper hold. As Brum loses consciousness, Matthias tells him he’s wrong about Nina. Just as Matthias had planned all along, he steals Brum’s master key and goes to save Nina.  

Chapter 36: Jesper: ELEVEN BELLS 

Wylan and Jesper are attacked by Tidemakers dosed with jurda parem who can pull people’s blood from their bodies. Jesper removes the tiny metal fragments stuck to his clothes and uses his Fabrikator power to attack the Tidemakers with the metal. As he and Wylan escape, he feels heavy with grief for harming his own kind. 


Matthias frees Nina from her cell, and they embrace. He recites the drüskelle oath but pledges to protect Nina, instead of Fjerda, until the day he dies. Together, they seek out Bo Yul-Bayur but instead find his son Kuwei in a lab. Kuwei explains that his father is dead and the Fjerdans are forcing him to try to replicate his father’s formula. Nina considers killing the boy, but Matthias stops her because he is too young. Kuwei reveals that jurda parem was developed by mistake. His father was attempting to make a substance that would hide Kuwei’s Grisha powers.  

Kuwei uses his Inferni powers to destroy the lab. The three of them flee, pursued by Lars, an old friend of Matthias, and other drüskelle. The drüskelle capture Nina, Matthias, and Kuwei using a tool Matthias once helped to create.  

Suddenly an explosion occurs at the sacred ash tree. A hooded drüskelle attacks Lars and reveals himself to be Kaz. Kaz gives everyone a piece of baleen, a substance that helps people breathe underwater. They all hold their breath and jump into the spring flowing beneath the sacred ash tree.  


Kaz struggles to hold his breath as he is pulled through the cold, dark waters flowing underneath the ice moat. Kaz reflects on his hunch that there was a river beneath the sacred ash. When Matthias had told him that the Fjerdans could hear the voice their god speaking by the ash tree, Kaz had figured there was a more logical explanation.  

As Kaz begins to run out of air, memories of his life flash before his eyes. He remembers the night he almost drowned with Jordie’s body and the first time he met Inej. He thinks about how much he loves her laugh and how he has so much he needs to tell her. He fights to stay alive for Inej, but he can’t hold his breath any longer. Water rushes into his lungs.  


As the heist proceeds, the main characters continue to battle the demons of their past in order succeed in the present. For Inej, this demon appears in the person of Tante Heleen, her former owner and tormentor from the Menagerie. In disguising herself as the Menagerie girl she used to be, Inej conquers the fears of her past and seizes the opportunity to rewrite her story. When Heleen recognizes Inej in the holding area and threatens to re-enslave her, Inej initially feels her old fears resurfacing, reminding her of the powerlessness she felt at the Menagerie. However, she digs deep, pushing back against her terror and physically overpowering Heleen. Of course, Inej’s aggression comes with a price, as the guards drag her away and Heleen predicts that she will be hanged. Yet Inej emerges from the scuffle triumphant in more ways than one. Not only has she frightened Heleen, she has also managed to steal Heleen’s massive diamond, which she will later use to aid in her escape.  

Nina and Matthias face their demons in the person of Jarl Brum, who embodies the drüskelle worldview that haunts them both. For Nina, Brum represents her fear of being hunted and killed simply for being a Grisha. When she first recognizes Brum, she feels shocked because she had assumed he died in the shipwreck. She demonstrates incredible bravery in confronting the man who abducted her and held her captive, especially since she is uncertain whether he recognizes her. In addition, she valiantly suppresses her revulsion and terror as Brum gives her a tour of the Grisha holding cells. Unfortunately, Nina’s worst fears are realized when Brum outwits her and locks her in one of the cells.  

Matthias, for his part, must also overcome his past association with Brum, who was his drüskelle mentor and a father figure. Clearly Brum bears a particular affection for Matthias, welcoming him back to the fold with open arms despite his dalliance with Nina. This homecoming would seem to fulfill the wish that Matthias has consistently expressed throughout the novel. But Matthias has come to recognize the insidious evil of Brum’s belief system, which Brum himself confirms by explaining the plan for jurda parem. When faced with the choice between Nina and his country, Matthias chooses Nina, rejecting Brum and ensuring that he will never be welcome in Fjerda again.  

Like Matthias’s rejection of Brum, the destruction of the sacred ash tree signals the repudiation of the Fjerdan religion. Throughout the novel, Matthias speaks reverently of the ash tree as a symbol of death and rebirth. He explains that when Fjerdan people die, they are believed to return to the ash tree. Moreover, the drüskelle believe they can hear the voice of their god speaking through the three, providing divine sanction for their holy mission of hunting the Grisha. By blowing up the sacred ash tree, Kaz destroys the mythology of the drüskelle and exposes the falseness at its roots. The sacred tree falls like any other, and the voice of god turns out to be merely the murmur of the spring that rushes beneath its roots. With the tree felled, the exposed spring offers a means of exit from the Ice Court. But it remains to be seen whether Kaz and his crew will survive to emerge from the other side.