As the ferns grow in size and number and the room of light becomes brighter, Arlat awakens. Vladimir von de Veld finds that he is drawn to the room of light and that he is spending all his time there instead of paying attention to his duties. One day while he is in the room of light a rhizome grows out of the sand and covers his face, filling his mouth and lungs with trehalose syrup. Although he is frightened, Vladimir realizes that he is able to communicate with Arlat.
He learns that Arlat is lonely. The four wards were designed to stay in contact with one another. In fact, each ward has a consort. Arlat (female) is bonded with Birrigat (male) and Chalcis (female) is bonded with Los Lewr (male). However, with the fleeing of the pallbearers and the oppression of the Teilarata, the wards have been forgotten and their ability to communicate with one another has been lost. Arlat desires the wards to be connected once again. She tells Vladimir to rebuild her fortress and allow the yellow hands, the servants of Arlat, to live unmolested inside the walls. Then she tells Vladimir that she will genetically modify an army for him, creating the scaalites, unkillable soldiers who will allow him to take over the Teilarata and unite the four wards.