Easton Lennox is walking home. Queen Alma takes over his mind. This establishes one of the book's (and series' in total) main conflicts -- corrupted queen -- as well as Easton's formula (freedom+fear of evil+all good things are evil) and the theme of the story -- corruption.
Act 3 -- "Climax"
Amplifier wakes up to find his parents taken. Fearful for their safety, he looks for help in the desolate town -- where his parents forbade him from going alone for his safety. Amplifier comes to bargain with Fitzroy, who is in debt and will loose his beloved tavern if he doesn't pay up. Fitz is anxious to find Amplifier's parents quickly, or else his tavern will be closed by the Order (hint on why he dislikes Easton).
Act 4 -- "Falling Action & Force of Suspense"
Zahn and Reeti experiment with the corruption, a serum-cure Reeti made. Zahn is nervous because the next test subjects are Seamstress and Voltage, his brother and his brother's wife. Reeti talks of all past prototypes being failures and completely changing test subjects. He hints at Einar Joq, his past partner.In an branch-off scene, Malachite is questioned for his failures by Easton. When the corruption (Alma) takes over Easton's mind, he tortures Malachite.
Act 5 -- "Falling Action & Resolution"
Amplifier and the gang set up a mission to free Voltage, Seamstress and Malachite as well as halt the production of the corruption. They sneak into the Order base and begin pocketing the production vials when Faith calls to Rosemary and the guards where they are. They try to fight but are quickly outnumbered. They (especially mage-borne Louis and Dragdon Redpoll) are taken to be tested by Reeti and Zahn.
Easton is praised for his duties. The group is successfully tested upon, but nothing happens to Amplifier. Upon noticing that Amplifier is immune, Zahn is furious with himself because Amplifier is his nephew. He refuses to test the gang further. Alma, angered, has the guards attack and severely injure Voltage; he was immune, too. Zahn tries to help Voltage, but Voltage refuses help from him because of their past as brothers and who Zahn has become.
The gang + Zahn + Seamstress and a wounded Voltage ankle from the Order base to the forest. They find Nehin, who begins yelling at Molly for leaving him. In private, he kisses her. Easton, after a lot of convincing, joins the gang. Voltage is nursed to health (broken leg). Zahn and Gearshift train the gang. They set up camp way deep in the forest and stay there until the series's second installment.