The Short Version

Episodes 12-13: Eguzki backstory is discussed in detail for the first time, Hadil expounds on her theories about the malfunctioning Dolls, and there’s a peculiar rebel attack on the palace right before the renewal ceremony, which is fortunately thwarted. The renewal ceremony itself, however, goes very badly indeed.

Episodes 14-16: In the aftermath of the botched rites, Intan recovers, at least physically, and heads off on another mission to a secret village, where we receive some clues to her heritage, and our first hints of the rebels’ true motives.

Episodes 17-19: Hadil does some investigation of her own while everyone else is gone and ends up teaming up with Kikue. Intan, meanwhile, experiences a series of dreamlike encounters at the palace that culminates in further complications. Hadil and Kikue, in their quest for the truth, experience a considerably more nightmarish confrontation.

Episodes 20-22: The Kasih subplot draws to a close, Intan begins stepping into her true role, and all or most of the key players gather, awakening something they perhaps shouldn’t have…

The Long Version

Following her and Eguzki’s encounter with the sickened mountain Guardian, Intan confronts Rusli about Eguzki’s past and the boy Eguzki claims to have killed. Rusli admits to knowing more about the incident than he originally revealed, but insists Eguzki was not at fault for the boy’s death.

Intan continues to be preoccupied by this matter while she and her fellow Dragons report to the Headmistress, who takes apparent interest in Hadil’s theories about the malfunctioning Dolls. In the process, Kikue mentions that her clan funded some of the experimental models, but have not had issues with them since some early mishaps. The conversation doesn’t get much further, however, and the Dragons are sent off to their assigned duties in preparation for the renewal ceremonies.

Though Intan is excited at first about exploring the royal palace, where she’s been assigned with Hadil and Kikue, she soon grows bored. The Guardian’s illness continues to trouble her, as well as the seeming absence of the palace’s own guardian spirits. In the middle of her fretting, she witnesses a peculiar confrontation between Eguzki and his fellow attendant, Rusli’s friend Yusaku.

But their exchange is left unexplained when the drums are sounded, alerting everyone of an attack. Intan hijacks one of the old palace Dolls, much to Kikue’s dismay, and the two of them join in on the fight outside. The enemies’ Dolls display unnatural speed, and equally unnatural behavior — barely making any serious attempts to kill or destroy, nor even bothering to flee when they are at last outnumbered. Instead, they surrender, and demand an audience with the king.

Their timing is unfortunate, considering the fact that the rites are scheduled to begin soon. Intan, troubled by the rebels’ behavior in addition to her concern over the Guardian now, sneaks out to find a tree sprite to question, but instead runs into an equally sneaky Eguzki. Intan happily drags him off to help her on her search, and teaches him how to listen to the voices of the trees. Alas, no sprites are to be found — because of their hatred of him, according to Eguzki — but Intan, who knows better, realizes what an ominous omen their absence is, and despairs.

Still, there is nothing to be done, and perhaps the renewal rites will work as intended and cleanse all sickness and defilement from the land and its Guardian. So the two of them return to the palace, Eguzki to finish preparing for his role in the ceremony alongside the king and the other three chosen attendants, and Intan to rejoin her post as a guard. Though not for long. Still upset about the missing sprites, she decides to sneak off and witness the ritual herself — and is followed by a rather nosy Kikue.

The ceremony begins without a hitch. The Guardian arrives at the banks of the spring in the sacred grove, only for the rites to be interrupted by one of the attendants unveiling himself as a rebel mole. Kikue acts immediately to protect the king, but Intan’s concern is with the Guardian, and the impurity she has sensed in the ritual. She spots a stake buried in its flank, and with Eguzki’s help, attempts to pull it out.

They succeed, but apparently it is not enough. The Guardian topples to the ground, dead.

The failed effort takes its toll on Intan. She spends an entire week recovering, during which the military doctors run tests on her in secret, evidently at the orders of Brigadier General Irina Hsiung. Meanwhile, Intan’s dreams are haunted by vague recollections of an incident from five years ago: a dying visitor to her village who disappeared not long after running into Intan. Whether because of the botched rites or because of the tests run on her, her memories are in a complete mess.

The Dragons are soon enough assigned a new mission, however. Intan, Kikue, and the final first year Dragon, Marius Trieu, are sent to infiltrate an isolated mining village said to be hiding important information on the rebels’ plans. On the train there, Intan meets a white-haired woman who is surprised to see her — especially when she realizes Intan is fluent in what she refers to as the “old tongue.”

Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately, Intan’s new friend Shulinaq turns out to be from the village the Dragons have been sent to infiltrate. And Shulinaq does indeed seem to be affiliated with the rebels, as she and her allies blow up the train despite her horror when she learns that Intan is not the only child on board. Nonetheless, Intan escapes with Shulinaq, who takes her to the village — an insular community Shulinaq claims to be the last descendants of the moon tribes, who were subjugated long ago by the legendary Sun King from whom the current royal family is descended. She also claims that Intan is one of them as well.

And that is far from the only secret the village seems to harbor. In an old storage shed, Intan finds several old articles of clothing, along with the same photograph she first noticed at the capital with the rebels. Shulinaq soon reveals also that Sita, the girl who died at the beginning of the school year as a result of the rogue Doll incident, was originally from this very village. She further explains that the moon tribes once struck a deal of some sort with the current king, and speaks of an abomination that was created as the result of said deal.

Intan doesn’t have a chance to learn much more. The rebel leader Mok arrives to demand files of information, and it turns out that the villagers aren’t quite working with the rebels despite their shared sympathies. A maskless Doll appears as if summoned by Shulinaq, who explains that what everyone is really after is some sort of stolen key. In the middle of the ensuing skirmish, Kikue and Marius show up — along with Eguzki. Shulinaq, having saved Intan from a stray shot, is stunned at seeing Eguzki, and appears to come to an unknown decision before retreating to the underground tunnels.

Meanwhile, Hadil does some investigation of her own, driven by some dark incident in her past involving her family and her village. Fellow villager Gisela passes her blueprints of the school campus, the old capital upon which the school was constructed, and the secret maze buried beneath it. With this information in hand, Hadil decides to team up with Kikue, who is also frustrated by her own family’s political machinations.

Intan, still having nightmares about the promise she made (and which she insists brought her to the school), wakes to find herself at the palace in a room with Kasih Park. Kasih, surprisingly knowledgeable, unloads on Intan, snarking about the political situation, the tension between the Ruslis and the Gushikens, and the king’s nephew and heir. Their conversation is cut short, however, when Kashi makes a connection between the Sita incident and an innocuous comment by Intan about “Ausos,” and a pair of servants suddenly summon Intan to see the king.

Oddly, the servants disappear before she reaches the king’s private chamber, and she’s turned away instead by three masked figures who correspond to three key figures upon the shadowy council. Intan realizes that the servants were actually the palace spirits she thought missing all this time. While wondering why they wanted her to see the king so urgently, she runs into Eguzki again, who seems really upset for some unknown reason, along with Rusli and Yusaku. Rusli barely has time to comment on the king’s nephew, and his possible connection to Kasih, when the drums announce the king’s death.

As well as the theft of a royal Doll. Tuyet, who’s shown up at this point as well, having been up to something at the palace too, directs the Dragons to pursue, with Intan taking Eguzki along on her Doll. The pursuit leads them to Hadil’s village, where Intan realizes the pilot is Kasih…

Unknown to Intan and co., Kikue and Hadil have also sneaked away from school to head to her village. Hadil admits that her entire village was involved in the mysterious Project AUSOS, and hints at the relationship between her village and Shulinaq’s hidden village. Her older brother died in some sort of accident while exploring the mines during a tragic maskless Doll attack on the village five years ago that also took the lives of her parents. From Hadil’s mother’s confessions in the months before her death from her injuries, it seems AUSOS was a project established with the cooperation of one of the Clans in order to create a secret weapon even more powerful than the Dolls. Supposedly, they failed.

In the middle of Kikue and Hadil’s investigations, however, they meet a nightmare in the mines that seems to indicate the project had at least made significant progress…

In the meantime, Intan and the others try to stop Kasih, who seems intent on destroying Hadil’s village. Nothing seems to work, until the Doll starts malfunctioning like Sita’s — Eguzki apparently sees the sprites at work, but Intan cannot see anything, though she’s presented with another vision of Eguzki’s past.

Back in the mines, a sprite guides Kikue and Hadil to safety even as they piece together a new theory about AUSOS: that it wasn’t about creating a Doll, but a super pilot.

Intan and Eguzki confront Kasih, who hints that the modern day experiments are about reproducing the “Goddess’s compability.” Intan seems to channel some greater power and forgives Kasih, setting her free from the hold of whatever drugs she has administered to herself. Eguzki, troubled by what he’s learning about Intan, explains his relationship with Kasih before they reunite with Rusli and Marius. The sprites show up again, perhaps to aid them in their search for the still missing Tuyet and Yusaku, but end up trapping them underground. On the other hand, they do find the missing two, although Tuyet seems to be hurt from the earlier battle.

Little do they realize that the rebels have been hiding underground all along. Mok tells the rebel encampment the old legend of the monster under the lake and Brother Ka and Sister Yu… which may or may not have anything to do with current events.

The kids argue about how to proceed. Yusaku decides to go get help while the others push on. During their trek, Marius hints that he and Eguzki were acquainted in the past.

Kikue and Hadil, also stuck underground, witness a confrontation between Tuyet and Mok, but end up getting caught themselves. Mok claims the jade pendant that has been in Tuyet’s safekeeping.

Tuyet, according to Rusli, who apologizes for being unable to hold her back, apparently rushed ahead. He, Intan, Marius and Eguzki stumble upon a strange cavern and witness Mok awakening a giant Doll with Tuyet’s pendant. The rebels seem to think it’s AUSOS, but Intan says it’s “distorted”, which seems to upset Rusli. Intan tries to summon the gods to counter it, but fails. Marius, who seems to have a vague understanding of Intan’s intentions, tries to convince her to flee. But it is Rusli’s panic that shakes her back to her senses. She and the three boys escape via a transport piloted by Yusaku as chaos erupts…

ON TO EPISODE 23

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