Returned to the waking world, Echo (who has been reborn as both a woman and a nightmare) calls an ambulance her dieing friend, Evangeline Arbogast. After getting to the hospital in time, Echo notifies Vangie's sister, Maddy Arbogast, of her sister's condition before going on the run.
The Corinthian and Matthew arrive in the waking world and attempt to hunt down Echo, though she has found a protector in Eblis O'Shaughnessy (who she'd previously encountered in The Girl Who Would Be Death). Eblis has been sent by Death of the Endless to protect Echo, for she felt it important to protect her for the sake of Dream's realm.
Meanwhile, Lucien has been unable to get the events of his pastout of his mind. At the end of the 1800s, Lucien was sent out by Morpheus to take inventory of magical books in the waking world. While in London, he encountered a beautiful woman named Christina Weston. Miss Weston was a mystic, able to channel visions of the future from a spirit named Epithumia (an alias of Desire of the Endless) and belonged to the same cult as Roderick Burgess. Lucien and Christina fell deeply in love, though tragedy struck when, during a seance, Epithumia possessed Christina and showed her a vision that drove her to the brink of insanity. She would spend the next year losing herself in Opium dens before cutting off all communication with Lucien, unwilling to share her horrible visions of the future with him. Upon her death, she left behind a poem and a scrap of paper for Lucien. He assumed the poem was the most important item, paying no attention to the scrap of paper with the words "Wych Cross, 1916" written on it (The year and location of Morpheus' capture by Burgess).
Still in love with Christina and now thinking that Echo could possibly actually be her, Lucien sets out to stop The Corinthian, armed with a gun capable of killing dreams.
The Corinthian, Eblis, and Lucien all meet in the waking world and find themselves in a mexican standoff over Echo. Though Matthew tries to talk them all down, a slip of the finger leads to Lucien firing his gun and accidentally hitting Matthew. Realizing the harm caused by her continued existence, Echo allows herself to be taken before the King Of Dreams.
To punish The Corinthian for leaving the Dreaming after being expressly told not to, Dream turns him into a human and exiles him to the waking world. In his stead, Echo is made into the new "dark mirror" for mankind.
At Matthew's funeral, the mourners each take responsibility for his death; Lucien feels directly responsible for accidentally pulling the trigger, Eve regrets not killing Echo when she had the chance, Abel feels that if he hadn't wished for Goldie's return then she couldn't have aided Echo's escape from Lucien, and Dream himself feels that this could have been avoided if he had been taking a more active role in ruling his realm. To represent this change of heart, Dream reincarnates Tethys as the first white raven since Lucien. Matthew is buried beneath two trees at a crossroads, and Lucien realizes that Christina's final poem (about ravens passing through two trees) was actually about Matthew's funeral.
Matthew's final request of Dream was that Lucien would forget that he was responsible for the shooting. Dream regretfully denies it on the grounds that he'd have to alter everyone's memories in order to make this effective, which is a very precarious thing to do. However, when a depressed Lucien asks to be released from his duties and sent to his death, Dream grants Matthew his wish, rewriting everyone's memories so everyone thinks Eblis fired the deadly shot while aiming for The Corinthian.
In a final act before his exile, The Corinthian visits Matthew's grave to thank him for taking the bullet for him. Echo, with teeth where her eyes used to be, smugly watches The Corinthian grieve.