(Catch up on previous episodes here)
When I left off, the new alliance between the two nations of Anatoray and Disith were preparing a surprise attack against the oppressive Guild, which controls all air travel and therefore is able to manipulate the two nations. Following another clever device in storytelling, the show has kept the Guild a shadowy institution until near the end of the series. Or rather, there was a shifting enemy that changed as the viewer gained information along with our hero Claus. At first, the enemy is the Disith...then the mysterious Alex Row...then the Emperor, but by episode 19, we know those forces are all united against an enemy far more dangerous and far more powerful. The build-up of this aspect of the story is a great example of how following a character through a story can aide plot development and create plot twists.
In these three episodes, we get another shift in the story, most likely the last one before the climax. Now Empress, Sophia returns to the Silvana, bringing with her the Urbanus (the Empire's best warship, which has tangled with the Silvana in previous episodes.) The two superior ships join forces to enter the Grand Stream. The Disith have provided them with a map of the Grand Stream and a recording of Exile's engines. It is still unknown what Exile is, either a ship or a life form, but in order to defeat the Guild, apparently they need to capture it.
Flying through the swift stream, which is essentially a powerful corridor of converging jet streams, the ships finally locate Exile and launch vanships that will attempt to connect Exile to the Silvana with cables. Once they do, one of the earlier story lines comes back into the play. The four poems known as the Mysteria supposedly have the power to unlock Exile and little Alvis is the key to opening them. Finally, all of the hints from earlier begin to converge.
As the vanships approach Exile, its defense system takes out all but the ship piloted by Claus and Dio. Using his exceptional skills, Claus is able to accomplish the mission. Meanwhile, back at the Guild palace, Maestro Delphine discovers that her brother, Dio, has been hiding on the Silvana and sets out to bring him back. When Claus and Dio dock again, they find the Silvana seemingly deserted only to discover it has been taken over by the Guild. Delphine is there in person and takes Claus, Alvis and Alex with her back to the Guild palace in the sky.
Claus and Alvis are treated as guests, though they are aware that they are truly prisoners. They are disgusted by the extravagance of the Guild when people on the surface starve. In another part of the palace, Dio is forced to undergo a mysterious Guild procedure that will make him an adult. When he next sees Alvis and Claus, he's completely changed. Everything seems to be going Delphine's way. Have the alliance's plans been ruined and is all hope of defeating the Guild lost? Another classic storytelling technique, stacking the odds even more against the heroes.