A powerful storm rages above Chalcedon, and Captain Valakar Doel steers his ship into the thick of it. He shouts orders at his crew to get the vanes ready before the lightning strikes. As he rides the winds into the heart of the electrical activity, a lookout spies someone approaching — a hawkwoman, braving the tempest to reach his ship. He calls for his men to prepare for a visitor, but continues the process of catching the lightning to feed his tree. His raven-colored visitor watches the bolts strike. Once the tree is fed, she announces her purpose, and asks the captain to set course for Diamond — Captain Doel has been chosen by the Tablets of Courage.
Elsewhere, Dr. Alec Lupine runs for his life, ahead of an isolationist tribe of angry Hanumen. He manages to reach the velox-pulled cart and his hired guide, and the velox races away from the furious tribesmen at top speed. Lupine recounts that the tribe got very upset when he took their sacred plant, only to find out that the explanation he’d given them apparently translated as something pants-related.
They reach town before long, and Lupine returns to the room he’s rented and filled with all manner of plants. There he finds another hawkwoman waiting for him. She explains that he has been chosen to wear the white star. Listening to something unseen, she says that their ride to Diamond is arriving. She opens the window, and Captain Doel’s arboreal sky ship can be seen descending. Dr. Lupine is fascinated at once, and excitedly accepts. Doel and the hawkwoman Gin descend to meet Lupine and Gin’s sister Nin. The crew begins bringing Lupine’s things aboard as the twins explain there’s one more person to collect.
On the Thunder Plains, Gemma Fleetwind races ahead of a storm and the knave directing it, Shango the Stormbinder. When the arboreal skyship of Captain Doel descends along the path, she puts on a burst of speed and accelerates well ahead of the distracted Shango. The storm wizard directs a thunderbolt at the ship, only to see it absorbed — and decides discretion is the better part of valor. As he retreats, Gemma races back from the town, her message delivered. She doesn’t wait for the lift, leaping from root to root until she stands on the ship’s deck. Gin and Nin make introductions, and extend the call to her as well.
On the trip to Diamond, the hawkwoman twins explain more. Three Tiger Generals recently fell all at once, giving their lives to defeat a colossal wind-Terror from Erebus. Now their stars seek new bearers. The conversation spills over to the flying tavern The Fifth Wind during a quick break for resupplies and drinks.
While at the Fifth Wind, though, the conversation is interrupted by a trio of bounty hunters. Kaska Thornlasher, Vald Blazewing and Tibo the Drunkard call out Captain Doel, aiming for the price on his head placed by Lord Accumulo. The hawkman accepts their challenge, and Dr. Lupine and Gemma Fleetwind stand alongside him. The skirmish is embarrassingly brief: Blazewing falls to Fleetwind’s unblockable flurry, Tibo is overborne by the sudden massive form of Dr. Lupine’s werewolf form, and Kaska eats a quick thunderbolt from Doel. The Strato-Warden offers them a chance to retreat, and she accepts.
They reach Diamond, and are guided to the Tiger Palace. There they are greeted by Sirius Invictus of the Magnificent Twelve, the lamia Seraphina who acts as adjutant to the Diamond Throne, and the seneschal Minister Jagatai. The newcomers go below to the cavern where the Tablets of Courage await, with Bouda Khan, Mamont Trigontherii and Shieldmaiden as witnesses to their oaths. Each one touches the Tablets without hesitation, and receives the white star — hovering between Doel’s wings, upon Lupine’s breast, and between Fleetwind’s horns. The initiation complete, the ranks of Chalcedon’s 108 are complete once more.