Shade’s First Rule Summary
Sixteen-year-old Ruwen goes to Uru’s Temple for his Ascension ceremony, where he will be granted one of six base classes (Fighter, Mage, Merchant, Worker, Order, Observer) and will, after the ceremony, revive anytime he dies. His high Intelligence makes Ascending as a Mage guaranteed. He goes to the temple alone, as his parents have been missing for a year.
The High Priest in charge of Ruwen’s Ascension believes Ruwen’s parents stole a massive shipment of precious terium and are murderers and thieves. He takes his anger out on Ruwen and instead of assigning him the Mage Class during Ascension, assigns him the Worker Class.
During Ruwen’s Ascension process he briefly meets the Goddess Uru, who asks him a few cryptic questions before throwing him off a cliff.
Ruwen wakes up from his first revival devastated at becoming Uru’s most common Class. Workers are a utility Class and his dreams of being a Mage are over. The Priestess in charge of his post-revival care, Hamma, helps Ruwen escape the temple.
Ruwen’s first quest leads him to the Worker Bliz, who convinces Ruwen he should take a Void Band. Void Bands are dimensional storage with 100% weight reduction and a flexible opening all controlled with his Energy pool. While a tremendous Inventory advantage, if Ruwen’s Energy drops to zero with the Void Band open, it kills him.
Ruwen figures out he has access to a second Class, one that he can pick himself. He immediately chooses Mage. While using his Mage magic for the first time, he causes an explosion, killing a man that had been following him.
The explosion reveals a group of assassins from the God Naktos who are trying to kill Ruwen. He flees only to get cornered by the library, where his mentor and friend, the Head Librarian Tremine, stabs Ruwen through the eye and kills him.
As Ruwen revives, the Goddess Uru speaks with him again. He learns Uru has chosen him as her Champion. This gives him the ability to choose a different second Class every time he revives but will make him the target of all the other gods.
When Ruwen revives at the temple, the Priestess Hamma helps him escape again, and they go to a nearby bar. While at the bar Kysandra joins them, a mysterious woman who fights off a Naktos assassin, allowing Ruwen to escape.
Ruwen’s flees to his room in the library where Tremine arrives and explains why he killed Ruwen earlier. Kysandra arrives as well and assures Ruwen that Hamma is safe. Ruwen learns Tremine and Kysandra have a long history, and they agree the only safe place for Ruwen is at Kysandra’s base of operations, the top floors of place called the Black Pyramid.
Ruwen goes through a Rune Gate for the first time and arrives at the Black Pyramid where he meets seventeen-year-old Sift. Sift is an expert in unarmed combat, and Kysandra assigns Sift the job of leveling Ruwen to level five. Kysandra tells Ruwen his only chance at surviving is to assign his second Class choice to Observer and use the spells and abilities of that Class to hide himself from the Naktos assassins.
Ruwen is overwhelmed by the physical combat and hampered by the debuffs to all his stats that the previous death caused. He struggles to survive in the Black Pyramid, forced to use his high Intelligence not to cast Mage spells, but to find clever ways to use his Worker and Observer capabilities to stay alive.
In the Black Pyramid, Ruwen meets Blapy, a seven-year-old girl with blond pigtails and a love of centipedes. He learns this “girl” is actually the creator of the Black Pyramid, and a being of enormous power.
Ruwen meets Sift’s parents, who agree to let Sift teach Ruwen the Bamboo Viper Clan Step forms. They also help Ruwen with a meditation issue which triggers an unexpected capability inside Ruwen. He discovers he can pull energy from his surroundings into his body, something only Cultivators should be capable of, and impossible for someone who had Ascended.
Ruwen makes it to level five and takes the Observer spells and abilities necessary to hide his identity. Sift is allowed to leave the Black Pyramid and travel with Ruwen back to his home. They meet up with Hamma and as the three of them travel to the Worker’s Lodge. On the way there, the three of them get ambushed and Sift is critically wounded.
The Second Betrayal Summary
Sift survives his injuries and along with Ruwen and Hamma arrives at the Worker’s Lodge. Ruwen learns how to control his Void Band better and loads his inventory with all the necessities for the new Ascendant camping trip. The City Council, including Hamma’s mother, believes the time spent together seeing Deepwell’s nearest dungeon and terium mine will help ease the growing tension between the Classes.
Big D, as head of the Worker’s Lodge, organizes and leads the excursion. During the visit to the terium mine, Ruwen figures out that the Spirit he Cultivated in the Black Pyramid, and which still sits hidden inside him, is identical to the terium that is being vaporized and hardened in the mine.
While the rest of the camp sleeps, Ruwen, Sift, and Hamma, take a Rune Gate to the Black Pyramid to gain some levels. All three of them trigger quests to become Custodians for the Black Pyramid. Ruwen starts an Ink Lord quest line to restore the libraries, and Hamma becomes a Chapel Priestess. Sift becomes the Black Pyramid’s Sisen and activates the Rings, where creatures from the dungeon can spar.
Hamma, as a Chapel Priestess, gains access to a powerful Prayer Book containing ten spells, and Ruwen bonds with a tiny bookwyrm named Rami. Rami loves knowledge, has millions of books stored in her memory, and can speak with Ruwen telepathically.
Ruwen explores his Cultivation abilities using a mysterious book he found in the library. Using the breathing techniques and forms from the book, he is able to Fortify his body using the Spirit he’d gathered, greatly strengthening it.
When they all return to camp, Sift sees Lylan. Lylan, a Shade that works for Kysandra, had dated Sift when she lived in the Black Pyramid. Lylan died in the Black Pyramid before she could return to Uru’s lands and have her memories synched, so when she revived, she had no memories of Sift. Sift follows Lylan to see what she is doing near the Ascendant’s camp and doesn’t return.
That night Ruwen leaves the camp and settles near the dungeon to use some knowledge gained from his Cultivation Book. He is unable to control the gathering form and learns the terrible difference between Harvesting and Cultivation. Instead of Cultivating the surrounding energy like light and heat, he Harvests the living entities in the dungeon, destroying them all, and almost killing the dungeon keeper.
Ruwen returns to camp and finds Sift has returned as well. Sift is desperate to find Lylan, and Ruwen reveals a ring Blapy had given him containing Lylan’s memories from the Black Pyramid. Using the ring, they locate Lylan and find her speaking with the Naktos assassin that had nearly killed Ruwen and Hamma in the bar on Ruwen’s Ascension Day.
Sift, upset at the Betrayal, throws the ring with Lylan’s memories into the brush. The Naktos assassin attacks them all and Ruwen saves everyone by trapping the assassin in his Void Band, killing him. Sift, after making sure the unconscious Lylan remained alive, leaves, and Ruwen and Hamma follow their despondent friend.
That night, Ruwen, Sift, and Hamma investigate the dungeon that Ruwen destroyed. He finds the dungeon keeper, a two-inch living crystal, and promises to fix the damage he’s done. To do this, Ruwen becomes the dungeon master to help the dungeon keeper recover, and names the crystal Fractal.
Lylan arrives pushing two ambushers she discovered in front of her. Sift doesn’t trust her, but she reveals she found the ring and regained her memories. Before they can leave the dungeon, Tremaine arrives and paralyzes them all.
The Naktos Mage that had tried to kill Ruwen on his Ascension Day arrives and gives Tremine a book for finding and trapping Ruwen and his friends. Tremine places a small piece of portal chalk, used to create Rune Gates, in Ruwen’s pocket and then leaves.
The Naktos Mage performs a powerful spell and moves Ruwen and his friends into the Spirit Realm, where they will remain trapped forever.
Uru’s Third Temple Summary
Trapped in the Spirit Realm, Ruwen and his friends quickly learn that death doesn’t exist there, but pain still does. For the first time, Ruwen can actually see his Center and the Core that resides there. Snaking out from his Center like roots are pathways that connect to his Meridians. All twelve of them.
Rami, the bookwyrm soulbound to Ruwen, tells him anything over six connections allows you to become a god. Having all twelve means he has the potential to become the most powerful being in the Universe Rami explains the Mana people use to power their spells is just a combination of all twelve Meridian essences given to them by the gods, and that Ruwen could cast any spell if he knew the proper combinations of essence to use.
Ruwen takes advantage of not dying by experimenting with his Harvesting risk free. He starts by taking the Spirit in his Core and routing it through each Meridian, extracting its particular essence. Using a handful of essences, he creates basic fire, ice, and healing spells.
Four strangers appear, and Ruwen learns they are the four Champions Naktos had successfully placed in the Spirit Realm before Ruwen. Three of them were previous Uru Champions, and their leader, Kaylin, believes Ruwen is their path to return home. Kaylin is an Observer and Order combination and the first Champion to be trapped in the Spirit Realm. Mica is a Mage and Merchant dual Class, and lastly Una, an Observer and Fighter combination. The last Champion is Jagen, the Champion of Izac, Uru’s divine brother. Jagen loves armor and is a Fighter and Healer combination.
Rami believes there might be a way out of the Spirit Realm to the south, so they leave the dungeon. They encounter a Plague Siren, an Infernal Realm demon currently at peak Diamond level, with a full Core, and almost ready to transition out of the Gem levels and into the Divine Harvesting levels. She attacks their group and Ruwen defeats her by shoving his Core into hers, shattering her Center because it couldn’t expand to hold both Cores.
Ruwen reabsorbs his Core as well as the Plague Siren’s and they investigate her lair. Sift finds a small thumb sized turtle he names Shelly and the others find a fortune in terium coins and bags of loot. They divide everything equally, leaving three Aspects, sets of armor that protect Spirit users, as the only remaining items. Ruwen forces Sift to wear an Aspect that looks like a Falcon, and Ruwen takes the one that looks like a Scarecrow because it has a hood and completely covers his body, hiding his glowing Meridians and Core.
Ruwen uses his newly discovered essence spells to create a raft of ice, which they use to float down the coast. During the trip, Ruwen uses Rami’s ability to speed his thoughts along with the Spirit Realm's inability to die, to condense four and a half years of constant Step training into a few hours. When Ruwen emerges from Rami’s time compression, he almost mirrors Sift’s abilities, and can now fight like a Step Master.
A miscalculation causes their raft to drift into an essence storm and Ruwen absorbs the entire storm, using the fact he has access to all twelve Meridians to survive. They move inland and soon encounter a group of Cultivators, who believe Ruwen, because he wears the Scarecrow Aspect, to be responsible for killing many of their Clan members. To pass safely, they only need to see Ruwen’s Core, and test it for Infernal Realm contamination. Ruwen can’t show them his Core because it would reveal he is an Axiom, a person with all twelve Meridians connected to his Center. In addition, he absorbed the Plague Siren’s Core which was full of Infernal Realm Spirit.
Because Ruwen refuses to reveal his Core, the Cultivators give him the choice to fight for his innocence. He accepts and battles Phoenix, a powerful Diamond level Cultivator. Blapy and Sift’s parents attend the match, along with thousands of other Cultivators. Ruwen uses every trick he can think of to survive the match. As he fights Phoenix, Ruwen realizes that portions of the Bamboo Viper Step forms are hiding another form. This hidden form appears to target the Meridians of Cultivators.
Ruwen survives the match only to face the greater danger of being interrogated by Sift’s parents, Madda and Padda. They want to know how Ruwen discovered the hidden form and make him swear a soul oath to not reveal or use it until the Bamboo Viper and Shadow Clan approve it.
After finishing with Madda and Padda, Ruwen thinks the worst is over, but Blapy grabs him. When Blapy had arrived at the match, Ruwen learned she was the One True God’s Companion, and a being of unbelievable power in her own right. Something she had seen here in the Spirit Realm had forced her into a decision on his fate. Blapy asks to see his memories and Ruwen agrees, knowing he has nothing to hide.
But this trip to the Spirit Realm had revealed other secrets about Ruwen, and he didn’t have any idea how Blapy would respond to them. He had learned Uru had brought his parents here, that she had operated on him while in his mother’s womb, and that he’d been born here. After viewing his memories, Blapy wanted to know why he’d mentioned protecting the harvest when speaking with Phoenix during the fight, and why he’d chosen to wear the Scarecrow Aspect. He answered honestly and Blapy spares his life, but it feels like Blapy decides something of even greater importance as well.
Blapy had given a Wyrm Coin to everyone at the match, allowing them to speak or request anything within reason of her. Rami uses her coin, and Ruwen uses Sift’s, who said he already sees the seven-year-old far too much, to gain two books from Blapy. When combined with the books in Rami’s memory already, they provide a way for them to get home.
Using this knowledge leads them to a lake surrounded by gigantic iris plants. After a battle with a giant squid, Ruwen figures out how to utilize the petals of the iris plant as a gate portal using the portal chalk Tremine had passed him during his betrayal. Ruwen uses the gate runes that Bliz had seen when he stuck his head inside his Void Band, killing himself for the view. The portal that opens leads them into Uru’s Divine Realm.
Everyone is overwhelmed to finally be free of the Spirit Realm, but the arrival of Jagen, Izac’s Champion, in Uru’s Divine Realm triggers a violation of the Pact and Blapy, as the adjudicator for the gods, arrives. Jagen and Una are in love, and Jagen doesn’t want to return to Izac, but Blapy tells him Izac has already sensed his return and it is impossible to hide. Uru is concerned about what Jagen saw in the Spirit Realm regarding Ruwen’s Spirit use and can’t let him live. Lylan uses her Wyrm Coin, requesting Blapy to remove Jagen’s memories of the Spirit Realm, and return them when it is safe for Jagen and Una to be together. Lylan tells Jagen he will feel empty and depressed until the memories return.
Blapy takes Jagen away and Uru tasks her four Champions with defending the country against an invasion. Uru assigns Ruwen to defend the southern border along with restoring Uru’s third temple. Ruwen, unaware that Uru had a third temple, is surprised, after Uru teleports him and his friends there, that the abandoned temple lies in the same valley his parents disappeared in a year ago.
After locating the temple and the ruined city that surrounds it, Ruwen and his friends fight one of Izac’s Bone Sculptors, who uses the immense number of skeletons surrounding the city to fuel his creations. After defeating him they explore the temple and discover over seven hundred thousand people are in queue to revive, all but three of them having died over ten thousand years ago. The three recent additions are both of Ruwen’s parents, and Hamma’s father, who disappeared when she was a baby.
Ruwen learns he needs the Architect Role and the only way to get it is to die. Ruwen kills himself, and Uru meets with him as his body revives. She transfers her Architect Role to him, making her a divine apostate, and giving Ruwen the power of a god. Ruwen uses the new Role to speak with the Temple, an entity that calls himself Lir, and together they restore the temple. Bringing the temple back into operation extends Uru’s Blessing, her area of control, for hundreds of miles in every direction.
They begin the revival process of Hamma’s dad and Ruwen’s parents. Blapy arrives and asks Ruwen where he wants his new portal to Fractal, and the book ends with Bliz and Tremine on their way to meet Ruwen in his new city.
The Fourth Secret Summary
The god Izac sends his Champion Jagen to the Infernal Realm because Izac believes the Infernal god Lalquinrial helped Jagen, along with four Champions of Uru, escape the Spirit Realm. Izac believes this because the Scarecrow Aspect was seen with Jagen and the other Champions, and the Scarecrow is one of Lalquinrial’s greatest warriors.
Ruwen discusses with Blapy the choices Fractal has to focus as a dungeon. Ruwen and Fractal decide to have the dungeon focus be Resources. This means the loot and levels will contain rare Resources, and eventually Fractal will be able to generate Essence for Cultivators. Ruwen also gives Fractal permission to expand and provides Blapy with additional space for her creatures to live. The new name of the dungeon is the Shattered Sun.
Ruwen had died to accept the Architect Role and this had reset his Root Class. With the imminent invasion, he researches different Fighter builds to see if any might help him defend the southern border. He chooses Fighter for a base Class, Commander for a Sub-Class, and Warlord for a Specialization.
The team learns that Shelly, the small turtle Sift saved from the Plague Siren’s lair, is actually an Elder Star Tortoise and can become very large. Sift gets Shelly to transform and they ride inside her shell to a nearby oil lake.
As Ruwen travels to the oil, he uses a Divine Fortification form he learned from the Cultivation book he found on his first trip to Blapy. With this advanced form he is able to increase his Fortification level throughout his whole body from Silver to Gold.
While retrieving oil, Ruwen discovers an underground Naktos temple. Naktos and the sea god Haffa, were currently marching northward, and Ruwen figures this location is an emergency fallback revival point. He destroys the underground temple and the revival baths there.
As Ruwen returns to New Eiru, he stops in the Cultivator camp that has been displaced by the invading armies. Ruwen offers them a permanent home near New Eiru in exchange for their help with the war.
Ruwen returns to the Black Pyramid and advances his Ink Lord quest by investing large sums of money into people and books. Before he can leave, Padda and Madda find Ruwen and tell him he must use a soul stone to travel to the Founders planet where he will be judged. If he fails, he will lose all his Bamboo and Viper Step knowledge.
On the Founders planet Ruwen learns he must reach the top of a mountain to pass the trial. As he starts, he meets an old man, Pine, who is looking for his grandson, and Ruwen decides to help. He also finds a young woman, named Echo, who is bound in trap. After he frees her, she writes her name in blood on his wrist, and vows to repay the debt. Eventually Ruwen reaches the peak, where he finds the old mans grandson. With great effort, Ruwen gets the boy to safety, and barely reaches the summit himself.
Ruwen meets the Shadow Step Grandmaster, Dusk, on the summit, and she agrees to train him in the Shadow Steps if he can find his soul, and complete the Master’s Trial successfully.
Ruwen returns to New Eiru as the six town elders are finishing their revival. He wants there help in organizing a defense of the southern border. They are more interested in fighting with each other than listening to Ruwen, so he kills them all using his Architect Role. After he revives them again, they listen to him.
During the time Ruwen was away, Hamma discovers the man she thought was her dad, Niall, denies having a family. Ruwen uses his access to the temple to confirm Niall is Hamma’s dad, and is confused on why the man would lie.
Ruwen learns his parents actually killed their party and stole the terium shipment, devastating him and his long-held belief of their innocence. His parents try and explain they did it under Uru’s orders as the terium is necessary for the revival of all the people queued up in the temple to be revived.
With the Elders help, Ruwen devises a plan to defend the city. On a scouting mission with his team, Ruwen discovers an underground chamber, and in the ensuing battle, cuts off the arm of an attacker with two Void Bands. He takes the Void Band and discovers a sculpture so beautiful it provides a buff just by viewing it. To his disappointment, he is unable to use his Void Band and the captured one at the same time.
As the Naktos army closes in on New Eiru, Ruwen and his team go out with part of their army to face them. During the battle, they face an elite squad of five that are all level 80+. In order to save them, Hamma uses the most powerful prayer from her Prayer Book, and turns Ruwen into a god for sixty seconds. The cost of the spell is her own life and Hamma dies as Ruwen destroys the elite squad.
As they take their army back to the city, Ruwen sees the temple disappear, as if it dropped into a hole. He learns the battle he fought was a distraction and the main enemy army had tunneled up from underground.
The enemy easily takes over New Eiru, locking Ruwen and his army outside. Worse, the temple is under attack and if it is breached, everyone in queue to revive will be lost forever. Over seven hundred thousand people, including Hamma.
Running out of time, Ruwen devises a plan to retake the city using concentrated light to cut through the gate and quickly destroy the enemy. With the help of the Cultivator leaders, they retake the city.
But even if they retake the city it won’t matter, as the temple has sunk into a two-thousand-foot water filled shaft and is under attack. Ruwen swims down to the temple and notices the creatures attacking the temple are from the Infernal Realm.
With no time to spare, Ruwen creates a gigantic fireball at the base of the temple. The resulting steam shoots the temple out of the shaft, saving it.
The concentrated light weapons devastate the invading army and they retreat, and Hamma, to Ruwen great relief, is revived.
As they recover from the battle, Ky arrives and tells them Lylan’s brother has run out of time and must be saved within the month. And that the only way into the city is to participate in the yearly Step Championship as cover.
Naktos meets with Echo, and she learns that the person she owes a blood debt too, is the same person that destroyed her father’s lucrative mining operation with Naktos. Now she is sworn to kill the person she can’t harm.