Kika was taken by the Rook to the top of the Imperial Mountain, the axis mundi upon which both heaven and earth turn. There she looked out and saw the wars that were consuming creation: the deathlords rising from their shallow graves, the yozis ravaging the heavens, and men turning against men as they had been turned against the gods.

In order to restore balance she made the Rook the gameskeeper, the pivot point that could guard against either heaven or earth outweighing the other. In return he would learn to care, for Kika had discovered in herself that you cannot remain apart and understand the story at the same time. To give him his ladder she gathered the fraying songlines of reality and wove them through her. She took all those of heaven and put them in her heart, and then all those of earth and put them there as well. Thus she became the center of all things, and the Rook went through her to take up his place.

As Kika pulled the islands in the void down into creation to crush the deathlords - all of them, once and for all - Jerzom, the Knight of the Black Rose, felt what she had done and came to force her to let him into heaven so that he could bring about the destruction of all the gods and all the yozis as well. But Kika would not let this be, for she saw that men needed gods and gods needed men, and balance must be maintained. So she sent out to Taree and Dae to let them know the time had come, and that she trusted them to see it through, and then turned her face to the man who had tortured her, raped her, and murdered her lover in front of her before murdering her so terribly it would alter the very nature of her soul.

She put aside her weapons, she put aside her tricks, she put aside her charms. She faced him as nothing more than a woman, and asked only that he listen to a tiny voice in a little bottle before he killed her. He mocked her for thinking a little voice could stop him, but he listened to it anyway.

The voice was that of Amara, the woman she had been and that he had murdered. The voice said that she loved him, and was sad she could not be worthy of him. The bottle fell from his fingers and shattered on the stone of the Imperial Mountain. As it fell she kneeled before him and told him all he had to do to get to heaven was to kill her, but in so doing he would make himself into everything he hated - everything he blamed the gods for making him.

In fury he screamed at her, but she would not back down nor fight back. In rage he cut off her hand, but as the blood streamed red and silver she would not back down nor fight back. In apoplexy he seized her and bent her neck until it almost broke and placed the great black sword against her belly and told her that she would die if she did not let him pass. But even then she would not back down nor fight back, because she had learned from Dae that sometimes you have to gamble life in order to protect others, and from Taree that sometimes the only life you can gamble is your own. The puppeteer put away her strings, and gave herself over to faith.

He killed her then. His sword pierced her heart. He dropped her body onto the cold rock. She died there, her heartsblood upon the stone.

All he had to do was step over her dead body and he would claim everything he had worked, and bleed, and murdered for a thousand years to attain. But when he lifted his foot and looked down at the broken body and the broken bottle, the voices he had silenced, he could not do it. In rage he screamed at her body. In fury he hacked her limb from limb and roared his spite into her severed face. But still she would not back down, and still she would not fight back.

Finally his rage turned in upon himself, and his heart, so mighty it could have killed the gods, imploded. He fell to his knees and wept, alive only because his spirit was not alone in his body. The great black sword was a soul-drinker, and it had brought Kika's soul into his own.

In the silence of their souls, shackled as she had been shackled to the wall, he asked her how this could be. She said it did not matter, he just had to let it go. He asked how, and she told him he must let it fall from him. But even with her temperance touching him, he could not. He could not let go of the hatred, and the evil and the shame and the horror. They consumed him in the end.

But the lesson Kika taught him had issue. As he fell, heavy as a black stone into the oblivion where the demons had been consigned, he did what he never could do in life - he let her go. He unshackled her from his soul, releasing his hate and love and so setting her free. He fell, damned, into the darkness and she flew light as a feather towards moksha, or rebirth, or whatever fate it is that awaits the saints.

For she died a saint, and all knew it. She died having come full circle, having fulfilled her life. She died complete unto herself, and knowing that she had walked her final path. She died whole, and pure. And at her memorial, when Akivasha carried her body through the streets, everyone watched and went silent from that place, for they knew the look of a god released that shone from her dead face. Demitry went silent to, far to the West, where souls go to see if he could find her and join her in that undiscovered country.

The world came back into balance. The gods drove back the yozis, the falling islands crushed the death realms, and men felt morality come back into their hearts. The world had a chance to heal, a chance to rebalance, as men and gods came closer to each other than they had ever been. The story of the old world was over, and the story of a new world now had a chance to be told.