Nikki will do anything to save Jack from the Tunnels and she does. With the help of Cole and Max, she braces the dangerous Rings of Water, Wind and Fire in Everneath to get to Jack and save him from the Tunnels. In the Tunnels, Cole betrays her and sends her back to the Surface when she’s digging Jack out. Jack escapes the Tunnels on his own and gets bigger in the process. Nikki and Jack are reunited. However, Cole tells her that as she fed on him three times involuntarily, she is now half Everliving and takes off with her Surface heart. Nikki plans to take the Everneath down.
What went down
- It’s been two months since Jack took Nikki’s place in the Tunnels and Cole disappeared from her life. She has been tracking his band tours in order to find him to get to Everneath and save Jack.
- Cole comes back but refuses to help Nikki after which Nikki steals a strand of Cole’s hair and goes straight to Everneath.
- She arrives in a square in Everneath where weekly slaughters are going on with thousands of Everlivings in attendance. She witnesses the brutal way Shades blow a Wanderer apart, dissolving him into a red mist which then everyone feeds on.
- Right then Nikki’s heart splits, leaking emotions and everyone in the square notices her. Thankfully, Cole saves her by bringing her back to the Surface. They fight.
- In her dreams, Jack has started losing his memories and Nikki is frantic to save him. Especially after she discovers that escorts (re: Everlivings) can hide human energy in Everneath.
- After a couple of failed attempts, Nikki finally gets Cole’s attention and he agrees to escort her to Everneath.
- Max, Cole and Nikki arrive in the Ring of Earth, closer to the Ouros, in the space between the two Commons. The two Commons, Ouros and Limneo, are situated across from each other at a V-shaped angle to the other rings.
- No one knows the location of the Tunnels but as Nikki is Jack’s anchor, they need to make her tether to Jack visible. Nikki figures it out because of the myth of Ariadne who gives a ball of twine to Theseus to lead him out of the labyrinth.
- All Nikki has to do is focus on her memories of Jack for the tether to appear. Instead her memories literally floods the place with projections of Fiery Furnace’s red-rock walls and moving pictures of Jack.
- After a bit of trying, they finally settle on Nikki telling a specific memory of Jack. The tether appears.
- Instead of the Tunnels being in the void like Cole hoped, they’re possibly located in the opposite direction. Meaning that they have to cross the Ring of Water, the Ring of Wind, and the Ring of Fire at the dead center of which are the High Court and the Feed caverns are.
- They go to Ouros to seek Ashe’s help. Ashe has seen the maze and he owes Cole for finding Adonia’s location which he then revealed to the queen.
- In Ouros, wanted posters of Nikki promising time in the Elysian Fields are all over the place.
- They manage to hide out and arrive at Ashe’s house.
- Ashe has turned smoky grey. Whenever an Everliving miss a Feed, they start the process of becoming a Shade.
- They discuss tactics.
- As time in the labyrinth runs parallel to time on the Surface, they decide on kicking Nikki out every night so she can give her energy to Jack in her dreams.
- After the Blackout, they start their monumental journey to the Tunnels along with Ashe.
- The Rings have a narrow corridor running through them and they’re known to mess with the mind. Water draws out the worst emotions, air and fire brings out despair.
- In the Ring of Water, a Wanderer feeds on Nikki’s good emotions after which her tether splits into two directions, she follows one and jumps in the Lake of Blood and Guilt. Coles saves her and Max kicks her to the Surface.
- Nikki spends the night at Will’s but on her way to home in the morning, she comes across her father and subsequently lands in Dr. Hill’s office. Saved by Cole’s hand waving to her from the floor of Dr Hill’s office, Nikki gets back to the Ring of Water.
- They come across a huge dead-end-slash-waterfall obstacle and land in the Ring of Wind.
- Her tether vanishes so Nikki tells another Jack story. Torrents of wind lift Nikki up and in the whole process she loses her token.
- Then the Sirens appear masked as the person they desire the most. Nikki quickly discovers that her Siren is not Jack and is fine. But she has to convince Cole which she does by kissing him. This is the first time Nikki feeds on an Everliving. They lose Ashe.
- Back on the Surface, Jack doesn’t come in her dreams. Nikki visits Mrs. Jenkins who tells her that Ashe is the one who betrayed Adonia and turned her over to the queen when she refused to become an Everliving.
- Back in the Ring of Wind, some Wanderers chase them and eventually, fire in the Ring of Fire attracts their despair and they jump in.
- On the way, Max and Cole become entranced by food and Wanderers attack. Nikki diverts their attention and exits the maze but it doesn’t work because just ahead of her are Shades.
- The Wanderers catch up and start feeding on her. Max, Cole and Ashe, who’s back, save her from the Wanderers and decide to kick her to the Surface so that she can recover.
- Nikki opts to feed on Cole to replenish her energy. This is the second time she feeds on him.
- Ashe hands her her token and fight the Shades to make room for Cole and Nikki to get past them but then the queen arrives.
- The queen questions them but is not satisfied so she orders to throw them in the Tunnels but Nikki acts on a wild instinct.
- She pretends to know that the queen is really Adonia and that she has a message from Nathaniel, her anchor and true love.
- Ashe is in shock and quarrels with Adonia.
- Nikki distracts Adonia by projecting a real-life image of Nathaniel and she and Cole take off towards the lake where her tether is pointing. They send Max back to the Surface.
- The Tunnels are pitch dark and horrifying with hundreds hands sticking out from the sides and the ceiling.
- Nikki finds Jack and puts her note, the token, in his hand. Cole is broken. Knowing that Cole is hurting, Nikki kisses him. This is the third time she feeds on him.
- Then she starts digging.
- After awhile, Cole asks to take over and when Nikki turns around, he kicks her to the Surface.
How did it end?
On the Surface, Nikki is devastated. She spends two days wondering what happened, Cole is nowhere to be found and Mrs. Jenkins is dead. On the third night, Jack comes back by digging himself out of the Tunnels because of the note and then was in the air and back on the Surface. Strangely, Jack has gotten pretty big in size. Next night, Cole arrives and is surprised to see Jack. He confesses that he never wanted to save Jack but get Nikki to somehow to feed on an Everliving three times to become one herself. Nikki doesn’t have a heart anymore. She has two. One is a compass which Cole takes with him and another in the vault on Everneath. In the morning, Jack wakes up and Nikki tells him that they’re taking Everneath down.
One hundred Everneath years equals six months on Earth.
Akh ghost – Everliving.
Blackout – To conserve energy, the Shades periodically shut everything down and everybody stays inside.
Elysian Fields – An Everliving heaven of light, happiness, immortality, and where all the good emotions are expressed outwardly in the surroundings.
Everlivings – Beings who have discovered the secret to eternal life.
Everneath – A place in between Earth and hell for the Everliving and the Forfeits.
Forfeits – Humans who give up their lives on Earth to nourish the Everlivings.
Feed – An Everliving act of feeding on emotional energy of Forfeits for an Everneath century to extend their immortal life by a hundred years.
Return – A temporary Return to the Surface before the Forfeit is sent to the Tunnels forever.
River Styx – The layer between Everneath and the Surface.
Shades – Shadows that funnel energy from humans into the Everlivings.
Surface – Earth.
Tunnels – A long dark tunnel with walls of coal where humans go to become batteries to power the court of Everneath with their emotional energy.
Wanderers – Everlivings whose punishment is to starve on Everneath forever.