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Empire of Storms is the fifth and penultimate book in the Throne of Glass book series by Sarah J Maas.
The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don’t.
As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.
Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?
There’s a flashback to Elena and Gavin making a bold move to defeat Erawan for the time being.
Elide is trying to find Aelin and Celaena, for whom Kaltain has sent the mysterious stone. She is struggling, low on food and water. Lorcan spots her and tells what she is by her scent. He wants to question her but watches her first.
Aelin, Rowan, Aedion, and Lysandra have traveled to a secret meeting area of Aedion’s. He’s called the lords he trusts to gather for a meeting. The lords want to meet at a different location.
Manon is called to a meeting with Vernon and Duke Perrington. Erawan has shed the Duke’s body now and simply exists as himself. He gives Manon orders to attack Rifthold and bring Dorian to him if he survives.
Aelin and her crew grudgingly comply and meet the men at the inn. Lords Ren, Murtaugh, and Darrow are present. Darrow is the speaker, is not impressed with her court, and does not accept Aelin as leader of Terrasen. The lords signed a document before even meeting with her, saying they do not recognize Aelin as the Queen of Terrasen. If she defies this, it will be considered an act of war.
Aedion says The Bane (his army) will follow her into battle with Erawan. Darrow says The Bane are at the discretion of the lords of Terrasen. He asks her to find him allies, perhaps through marriage to foreign royalty.
A messenger arrives with news that the Ironteeth clan is flying to Rifthold to attack. The only one who might be able to make it in time to help is Rowan. Aelin tells him to rescue Dorian, get a boat, and go to Skull’s Bay.
Dorian sees the witches approaching on their wyverns. They are sacking the city. Several of them are headed straight for his tower. He fights several witches. Manon enters. She rescues him and helps him escape until Rowan arrives. He now owes her a life debt.
Rowan arrives, having flown two full days without food or rest. He’s too late to save Rifthold. He and Dorian leave. Manon killed one Yellowlegs witch and allowed Rowan to kill four others to save Dorian.
Lorcan sneaks up on Elide. The ilken are stilling following them. They run together since they have a common enemy. They get separated and each fight one separately, Lorcan with his sword and Elide with her mind. They find each other. Lorcan puts Elide over his shoulder, and they make a run for it with his demi-Fae speed.
Manon and her Thirteen return to Morath. The three clans conduct a small trial about Dorian’s escape. They decide Manon made mistakes. Her second (Asterin) is sentenced to death.
Aelin, Aedion, and Lysandra arrive in Illium, which is the home of a monumental temple dedicated to Brannon. Aelin reveals part of her plan to her companions. They secure passage on a ship. The captain tells them about Maeve’s fleet moving now. Lysandra has suspicions about the gods’ possible role in this and a use for Aelin and Dorian. Aelin, Aedion, and Lysandra defeat Illiyum soldiers at the temple. Aelin burns one of the men from the inside out by merely breathing on him.
Aelin brought them to Illium and raided the temple at Brannon’s request. He sent a private message to her through the Little Folk of the forest. Aelin asks Brannon’s ghost how to kill Maeve. He doesn’t know. Brannon tells her to find the Lock in the Stone Marshes to put the Wyrdkeys into the door and do away with Erawan and the Valg forever. Aedion eavesdrops.
A troop of men led by an Endovier guard appears. They battle. He says they were sent to show her what’s waiting should they make it to Morath. Erawan is hiding in him and speaks to Aelin. He knows Rowan rescued Dorian. His soldiers are tracking them. Aelin starts burning away the body Erawan is speaking from with her fire magic. He hits her but somehow misses the Amulet of Orynth around her neck by a few inches. He might’ve sensed its power had he landed a blow there. It’s the one piece of the puzzle he’s missing to open the doors to other worlds and rule.
Asterin arrives bloody and beaten to the morning of her execution. Manon’s grandmother is going to allow more beatings from the other clans before the execution. But Manon exercises the right of execution. Her grandmother is furious. She will kill Asterin herself to spare her the torture. Asterin could tell Manon’s secrets and be free. She remains silent. Asterin beseeches Manon to bring her body back to the cabin. Manon draws her sword, and tells her Thirteen to run.
Manon slashes at her grandmother. They fight with their iron nails and teeth. Her grandmother reveals Manon’s father was a rare-born Crochan prince. Manon is wounded and ends up intentionally falling over the side of the cliff, where Abraxos catches her. They fly off. Two of Manon’s Thirteen were waiting on their wyverns in case she got away. They take off, with Yellowlegs witches tailing close behind. They end up losing their followers through narrow rocky passes the Yellowlegs’ wyverns can’t navigate.
Elide and Lorcan arrive in a town and need to try to link up with a traveling group to navigate the next part of their journey. In a tavern, they find a group in need of money to continue their travel. They will help them pay the tolls if they can perform with them.
Rowan and Dorian arrive in Skull’s Bay and go to visit Captain Rolfe. Rolfe tells them what they have recently seen and heard from nearby Morath. Some of his men were captured and changed. Rowan tells Rolfe about Erawan and his plan. They ask Rolfe to join forces with him against Erawan. He doesn’t respond. He calls in two men, who happen to be Fae - and Rowan knows them. It is Gavriel (Aedion’s father) and Fenrys. They are still blood-sworn to Maeve. They ask if Aelin is in their company, and warn them that Maeve is sending her armada to Ellywe as they speak.
The men argue. Rolfe says he won’t talk to them until the queen arrives. Gavriel admits they’ve been sent by Maeve to kill Lorcan. Rowan ask his former cadre members to fight with him to defeat Erawan. He says it will be a battle talked about for years. And Lorcan will cross paths with them as he’s looking for Aelin. To really convince them to help, Rowan tells Gavriel that he has a son. Gavriel is speechless and intrigued. As they leave, Rowan warns that if Maeve hears of Gavriel’s son, their deal is off.
Aelin and Aedion are on a ship headed to Skull’s Bay. Lysandra is perched on a high mast in bird form.
Manon awakes in a forest. She’s injured. Only Abraxos is with her. One of Erawan’s minions - who introduces herself as his Bloodhound - appears across the stream from her. Manon tricks the Bloodhound and manages to escape.
Dorian is training (physically and magically) with Rowan as they wait in Skull’s Bay. They wait for news about Aelin or Dorian’s mother and brother, who Erawan has claimed is now Crown Prince of Adarlan now that Dorian has been branded a traitor. Dorian grows tired of waiting for real news. They make a fake letter that tells of big news. Rolfe’s spies see it. Mere hours later, they are called to speak to him again.
Aelin is in Rolfe’s office. She acts liked Celaena, flirts with Rowan and teases Rolfe. Rolfe commands the Fae to kill her to win his loyalty. Then Aelin introduces Rolfe to the Queen of Terrasen, which is Lysandra, who shape-shifted into Aelin herself.. She soon changes into her normal human form. Aelin challenges Rolfe to join them. If he does, she will make him a Pirate King.
Gavriel demands to see his son, if he’s there. Aelin refuses to reveal where he is. Aelin, Rowan, and Dorian meet to swap information. Aelin thinks they’ll need the map on Rolfe’s hands. She still needs to convince him to work with them.
Elide and Lorcan travel with their caravan, posing as newlyweds to sneak off to continue her descriptions of Morath to him. He asks why she wants to find Aelin. He shares a small piece of information - that Celaena Sardothien is in the employ of Aelin.
They are forced to sleep in the same place for the first time on this journey. Lorcan gets water for Elide’s bath and stands guard outside while she bathes. He washes her clothes. His Fae hearing picks up on the moment she stows the Wyrdkey under the hay mattress. Lorcan doesn't know that's what it is however, and wonders what she’s hiding.
In exchange for the bath, Elide shares another piece of information with Lorcan. Her uncle is Lord Vernon Lochan, a commander at Morath. He locked her in the dungeons when she is little and he is the reason why she is partially crippled. Lorcan asks if she wants him to kill her uncle. She asks him if it will cost anything, and he promises her it won't. Elide tells Lorcan of the breeding experiments and how Vernon was going to use her to see if his bloodline could mix with the Valg’s. Lorcan surmises the explosion was no accident. Elide confirms this but won’t say who did it.
Aelin and Rowan talk with Fenrys and Gavriel about Maeve, how their bond with her works, and what she might be planning. They don’t trust each other much at this point, so limited information is exchanged.
Aedion meets Gavriel at breakfast one morning. He is overcome by anger about what came of his mother when he sees his father. It doesn’t go well. Aedion and Lysandra leave to talk it over. Aedion’s afraid he may have ruined their chance to work with the two Fae. Lysandra assures him this is not the case.
Rolfe tells Aelin and Rowan that Morath’s fleet is sailing for Ellywe. Aelin knows it’s in retaliation for what she did at Illiyum. She’s knows he’s striking there because he knows of her love for Nehemia. Aelin asks Rolfe to send his Mycenian fleet to fight with Ellywe. She promises to give him back Illiyum if he complies.
A warning bell sounds. Rolfe looks at the maps on his hands, showing the Valg are approaching. Rolfe thinks they are coming because they are searching for Aelin after a surge of power she sent out a few minutes ago. She denies it and gathers her group to leave instead of help in this fight unless Rolfe agrees to her plan. He finally agrees to Aelin’s plan. He wants a lord title. She will only make him a lord of this area and recognize his heirs as such.
Dorian knows Aelin lied. Her power surge is what called the Valg to Skull’s Bay. They make plans to save it. Aelin will sail into the fleet’s centre. Lysandra shifts into a sea dragon. Aelin and Rowan join their power on the boat. She reaches so deep that she somehow changes into Mala through the Wyrdkey. Aelin throws her out of her mind and body. Fenrys rescues her from the water.
Lysandra fights off sea wyverns. The last one escapes and swims toward Aelin and the men. Lysandra gets a mental message from Aelin to swim away. Three adult sea wyverns are swimming toward her. Aedion kills the last one to save her life. Aedion makes it to her first and promises to marry her someday. She can’t respond because she’s still in her sea dragon form.
Aelin and Rowan meet with Rolfe. They discover the cost of the map tattoos was something he didn’t realize he was bargaining for - the lives of his mother and sister.
Aelin needs to get out of town for just a little while. Rowan follows her. They are intimate on the beach.
When the group is assembled together, Elena appears to them. She tells them the lock is in the center of a temple in a marsh. Her mother gave her life to preserve it. Gavin and Elena used it years ago to seal Erawan up (when they claimed they had killed him). Elena also shares who her mother (and thus Aelin’s relative) is…Mala Fire-Bringer. They take off on a ship, headed for the marsh. They see Manon riding toward them on Abraxos. She is unconscious and falls off the wyvern and into the sea.
Elide and Lorcan are performing now, fortune telling and sword play. Lorcan’s display is much more popular. They both realize they are attracted to the other. Demons attack their camp looking for Elide. They tell Lorcan her real name. He tells the demon she’s not there. He confronts Elide after the fight is over. They share some truths about their backgrounds.
Manon awakes on a ship with Aelin watching over her. Aelin warns her not to run away or hurt anyone. Dorian is there when she wakes up again days later. She tells him how and why her injuries happened and asks him to find her Thirteen.
Elide and Lorcan go to several taverns for news of Aelin. Some of their carnival companions give them away. Lorcan hears them coming. The two escape on a boat. Lorcan kills the captain, which makes Elide furious. Something triggers Lorcan, and he examines the amulet Aelin gave him. He realizes it’s a fake and roars in anger. He steers the shop towards Ellywe, the best lead they got at the taverns as to where Aelin is.
Aelin wakes up on fire. Rowan has to pull her back. He apologizes for panicking that Mala had taken her over again. They are intimate.
Dorian goes into Manon’s cabin late in the night. She wants them to trust her enough to unchain her. She wants Dorian, too. He gives her neither. The next day, Dorian asks Aelin to unchain her and let her roam free on the ship. They go down to unchain her. There is an imposter, one of Erawan’s minions sent for Manon. He reveals her as a Crochan queen. Dorian kills him.
Manon is furious but rushes up to the deck because they hear more demons landing. They’re attacking the other pirate ships. One of the creatures reveals to Aelin that Erawan knows she has a wyrdkey. Many of them are injured, Fenrys the worst. Aelin heals him.
Gavriel admits he only left Aedion and his mother at her request. He would’ve rather stayed but loved her enough to leave when she asked him. They are all trying to recover as they continue to travel.
Aelin asks Manon if some witches can see the future. Manon confirms some of the Ancients act as oracles. Baba Yellowlegs said something to Aelin before she killed her long ago that Aelin just now understands. Something Fenrys says sparks a memory. She runs away, locks herself in the bathroom, and is sick over and over again. Rowan is worried. Aelin asks him to get Lysandra.
Lorcan and Elide stop their journey for supplies. They separate to get different things. Elide is cornered by her uncle, Vernon. He takes her to a box to carry her to Morath in. Lorcan sees her grab her uncle’s knife and move to kill herself. He helps her fight her way out instead. They make it back to their ship and continue on.
The ship sails by Ellywe, which is burning. Aelin and Rowan try to put the fires out as they sail by. Rowan discovers she's not pregnant, which is what he was worried about when Aelin got sick.
The group has a day or two journey on foot to get to the marshes. Lorcan and Elide are getting close to the marshes, too. They kiss. They are interrupted when Lorcan senses an army of ilken, and he says they need to run.
Manon notices the eye of Elena charm on Aelin’s necklace. She says it has a different meaning to witches. She tells the story of the Crochan Wars and the resulting curse on witches. Gavriel and Fenrys warn Rowan they think Aelin and Manon have been pushed here together by some unknown force. They think he should take Aelin far away before it’s too late.
They then tell Rowan who Maeve replaced him with: Cairn, a cruel male Rowan was never able to train or control.
Aedion questions Aelin’s shows of power and lack of consultation with him and others. Rowan says they have to plan, so the Fae males begin. Aelin wants the first shot at their enemy, so she goes ahead of the others. When Lorcan and Elide arrive, he senses the immensity of Aelin’s power. He throws a magical shield over the two of them. Her power easily overwhelms the demons. Lorcan has never seen anything like it.
The Lion (Gavriel) and the White Wolf (Fenrys) attack Lorcan. Elide jumps in the way. The wolf accidentally rips into her arm. Gavriel says he can heal her if Lorcan takes the shield down. But then they’ll kill him because of Maeve’s order. He drops the shield. Rowan however stops the carnage, claiming it will be an act of war against Aelin if they continue their battle with Lorcan. They all comply. Lorcan runs to Elide’s side.
Elide gives Aelin the stone from Kaltain. Manon introduces Dorian as the King of Adarlan. Aelin thanks Lorcan for bringing Elide and tells Manon she claims her. Rowan notices a difference in Lorcan. Dorian wonders if the gods guided them all here for a reason. Aelin opens the chest. No lock is inside. It’s an ancient mirror with the eye of Elena on the corner. Manon tells them about witch mirrors’ powers and the witch towers, which use the mirror weapons and could destroy them in a couple of blasts.
The Fae males carry the mirror between them. Everyone is exhausted. When they return to the coast, they see hundreds of ships - it's Melisande’s fleet. Soldiers are already on shore. Aelin surprises everyone by striding directly toward them. The leader of the troops is Ansel of Briarcliff, who Aelin met years ago in the desert. Ansel brought these ships and warriors at Aelin’s request to repay the life debt she owes her. Ansel and her army from The Wastes sacked Melisande’s army and brought them to Aelin.
Aedion and Lysandra want to start a relationship and decide to begin at friendship. They will all sail north tomorrow to protect Terrasen. Ansel says it’s Maeve, not Erawan, who had been setting the fires, trying to make it look like it’s Aelin. Rowan talks about the armies Aelin’s assembled and how he loves it when she surprises him.
Dorian visits Manon in her room that same night. Lorcan and Elide talk quietly that night from their hammocks on the deck. Another armada is headed toward them. It’s Maeve. They know she will wait for daylight to ask for Aelin’s surrender so everyone can witness it. After Aelin is asleep, Rowan flies to many of Maeve’s ships one by one to make a request of his cousins aboard. They will each consider it.
Dorian takes Aelin and Manon down to the mirror stowed below deck to show them something. He thinks Deanna’s riddle about it suggests that Aelin and Manon can use it to see the future, determine how to defeat Maeve, and use the keys. The two join hands, press them to the mirror, and disappear.
Aedion is furious. Rowan says they’ll continue to ready for battle. Maeve sends messengers asking for their surrender. Rowan says the Queen is not on the ship to answer. He asks for safe passage for both fleets as they pass each other. Maeve answers with a barrage of arrows.
Aelin and Manon are in the past, seeing Gavin and Elena. They see Elena use the stone in the eye of Elena and know it’s the lock. She used it to seal Erawan in that mountain. She distracted Erawan with Gavin. He’s injured now. She knows the lock can only be used once. The gods tell Elena she was foolish to use the Lock to trap Erawan. Instead, it was supposed to be used to unite the keys and eventually send them all back home. She says she will give them anything to undo what she’s done, to give someone who’s more prepared someday to end this using the stone for the right purpose.
The demons look at Gavin. They say she will have to lead Mala’s bloodline to bleed again and use Mala’s gifts to forge the lock again, with Elena leading them. They will have to give every drop of their life force to do it, to send them home and eternally seal the lock between the worlds. Gavin only heard her words and ask what deal she struck when they are gone. Elena says the deal will be paid in the future.
Nehemia, the princess of Ellywe, approaches the chest. Elena greets her. Nehemia thinks she’s there to pay the price to save them. Elena says it’s not her. She says its Mala’s bloodline who must pay. She says it must be one of two…Dorian or Aelin. She tells her to go north because these two houses will converge there. Elena tells her it’s necessary, but the price will be her life.
While Aelin’s gone, the battle ensues. Lysandra fights in her modified sea dragon form, attacking the ships marked by Rowan. Some of Maeve’s ships are flying different flags, silver Whitethorn flags. These ships begin firing on their own fleet. Then Rowan asks his ships to open fire in full. Lorcan notices Maeve isn’t among her ships. He sees her ashore, near where he left Elide with a few guards for safety.
Aelin and Manon then see glimpses of what happened afterward: Elena’s fight with her father over what she had done, her choice to live out her life as a mortal with Gavin, and Brannon forging and hiding the three Wyrdkeys, labeling them and the room with Wyrdmarks, hiding the third and final Wyrdkey in Mala’s temple, and then descending into the fiery abyss for eternity. The last Crochan Queen helps, too, as she is a close friend of Brannon's.
Elena appears and apologizes to Aelin, as she is the one who must now pay for her mistakes. Aelin realizes Elena saved her that night when she should’ve died years ago so she could die later on. She had enough strength back then, but Elena couldn’t bear to let her die just yet. She revives Aelin and awakes Arobynn Hamel from his nearby home to come rescue her. Elena pays for this with her soul. She will not get to spend eternity with her husband or her children. Aelin asks why. Elena wanted her to grow up, be strong, and experience love, even briefly, with the man who had unknowingly been waiting for her for so long in Wendlyn. Elena says the mirror’s power and her power is almost expired, but she will tell them what they need to do and will be with them all the way to the end.
The battle is vicious despite the help from Rowan’s cousins. Manon’s Thirteen arrive, with Abraxos leading the way. They are a big help. Aelin and Manon crash back into the real world. They land near Maeve, who has Elide on her knees with a knife to her throat. Maeve reveals that she planned each thing Aelin has recently encountered to deplete her magic. She waited until it was on very low reserve to attack.
Fire explodes around them as Aelin attacks Maeve. Lorcan uses the opportunity to kill the guards and rescue Elide. He wants her to run. She doesn’t want to be a coward. Maeve’s darkness lashes at Aelin. Maeve only stands a chance because Aelin’s magic is depleted. Elide begs Manon to help Aelin as Maeve gains the upper hand. Fenrys and Gavriel arrive. All of Aelin’s magic is gone. The distant battle is quiet. Maeve tells Manon she’s free to go if she stays out of this fight.
Manon agrees. Gavriel begs Maeve to leave Aelin alone and let them return home. Maeve scolds him for not killing Lorcan on sight, as they were ordered to. Gavriel asks her to punish him instead of Aelin, but Maeve refuses. Elide wonders if the offer is to spare Aedion pain. Maeve severs his blood bond with Gavriel and strips him of his title.
Maeve tells Aelin she knew she would lead her to all three Wyrdkeys. She saw it all. She saw her mate, Rowan. She knew their children would be powerful enough to rule the world. She knew how to get her to hand over the keys when she was strong enough to get them all. Maeve tricked Rowan into believing Lyria was his true mate - she let him fall in love, let her get pregnant, and then killed her while she was with child. She ensured their paths would cross when Aelin was of age. She knew Aelin would give her whatever if she pulled the right strings.
Maeve explains that when they met, they were both so broken they didn’t immediately recognize each other as mates. Aelin has known it since the battle with Manon at Temis's temple months ago. She kept it from Rowan since then. She tells Aelin she would’ve had 1,000 years with him and she’s probably five years from settling into her immortal Fae form.
Maeve calls for Cairn. Maeve says Aelin must come willingly. If she struggles, she’ll bring Elide along with them, too. Maeve orders Lorcan and Fenrys to be perfectly still through the blood oath. Aelin surrenders. She gives Elide messages to give to Aedion and Rowan. Maeve makes Aelin bow before her and take off her shirt for Cairn to give her ten lashes. She orders Aelin to count each lash. Aelin refuses. Maeve starts the ten lashes over and over again. They hear others approaching, so they stop the beating to leave. The put Aelin in a metal box, chain her with iron, and put an iron mask over her face.
Aelin slipped the Wyrdkeys into Manon’s pocket as she walked past her. Manon knows she needed to get them and Elide far away from Maeve. They carry the box towards Maeve’s boat. Maeve orders Fenrys to follow them. Maeve releases Lorcan from the blood oat, and strips him of all of his titles and possessions. Maeve’s boat disappears. She has left without the Wyrdkeys, because she assume they are in Aelin's possession.
How did Empire of Storms end?
Rowan arrives and puts a knife to Lorcan’s throat and asks where his wife is. He’s furious Lorcan gave their location away to Maeve. Aelin knew all along. Elide tells Rowan that Aelin is his mate, and about the whipping and the box. They’re mad that Lysandra knew all along. But Aelin had asked for her help that day she was sick on the boat. She had told her that she suspected the price to seal the keys in the gate and banish Erawan forever. She asked Lysandra to shift into her after she dies and be married to Rowan, fathering the heirs with Aedion so they will be able to pass as royals.
Elide tells Lorcan she hopes he lives alone with guilt for all his life. She goes with Manon and the Thirteen. Manon asks if they heard what her grandmother said about being half Crochan, the last surviving Crochan Queen. Manon says they owe Aelin a life debt and it’s time to become better than their ancestors. They’re going to rally the Crochan army to fight for Aelin.
Manon tells the whole group about the two Wyrdkeys she has. She tells Dorian that Elena told them he also has the blood to use them. He keeps them now.
Rowan and Aelin married in secret two days previously. Rowan had known deep down that she was his mate. He knows she thinks they’ll make the wise choice and use the armies she assembled to win the war. Rowan refuses to accept her sacrifice or the fate she felt was dealt to her to save the world. He sends a message down their mating bond urging Aelin to fight.
They see their boats coming on the horizon now that the battle is over. Then a long boat they don’t recognize appears. A man Rowan doesn’t recognize hops out. It is Galan Ashryver, the Crown Prince of Wendlyn. He shows them a letter Aelin wrote him while she was in Illium. She asked him to return the favor for when she fought for his people at Mistward, and gave him coordinates to this spot. He claims his people have never forgotten Evalin Ashryver or Terrasen.
Hundreds of dark skinned, white clad people suddenly arrive, Illias leading them; they have come to pay their life debt to Aelin. They are the Silent Assassins of the Red Desert. Aelin has called in many old debts to rally this army. Lysandra transforms into Aelin to greet them. She says they’ll go north to Terrasen. She needs Rowan to "retrieve something" before he joins them in the North - referring to Aelin. She silently begs him to find her. She tells the other commanders they have matters to discuss with them before they start the fight with Morath. Gavriel, Lorcan, and Elide will join Rowan. They think Fenrys will help protect Aelin and drop clues about their whereabouts. Aedion will stay with Lysandra/Aelin. Dorian will fly north with the witches to convince the Crochan's to ally with them. They will all meet in Terrasen.