A team of excavators returns to Zezefeni with a thrilling discovery: fragments of an ancient song found in the Ekwukwe caves (or on Orino-Rin), believed to date all the way back to the original race. The fragments appear to challenge the long-held belief that the people of Zezefeni are descended from the original race. The Order, the elite organization tasked with interpreting the lost language, is thrown into turmoil. Some take the fragments literally and fear that they will undermine Zezefeni’s power, some feel that the meaning is unclear and requires further investigation, while others panic, convinced that there is a conspiracy at work.
As the elders struggle to reach a consensus, a group of initiates embark on their final test before taking their vows and joining the Order: pilgrimage to the treacherous Zezefeni coast. One of them, A, is going through a crisis of faith. She has spent all her life working towards initiation, yet her own mentor spreads rumours of cover-ups and conspiracies. When A is separated from the other initiates during a storm, an elderly outcast saves her life. The outcast is one of the few who choose to live outside the safety of the biome, subject to the dangerous, ever-changing elements.
There’s something familiar about the outcast – she bears a resemblance to the leader of the excavation team that discovered the fragments. Troubled by this sinister fact, and by the outcast’s irreverent attitude, A decides to stand up for her beliefs and falls back on her sense of duty. Upon returning home, she finds that her mentor has slipped into delirium, driven mad by the mere possibility of change. A tries to stay firm in her faith, telling herself that no matter what the fragments say, Zezefeni’s role is to guide the other planets. They are descendants of the original race spiritually, if not biologically. Yet doubt continues to plague her. The vows are for life – if she takes them there’s no turning back. She must hear the fragments for herself and know the truth.
The Order releases the interpretation of the fragments, deciding to give the public a verbatim translation. To A’s dismay, the fragments turn out to be just that – fragments. They provide no solace, no clarity, only more questions. She realizes at last that there can be no certainty – that is the point of faith. This realization frees her to take her vows and devote herself to a life of service.