The Dark Secret is the fourth book of the New York Times bestselling Wings of Fire series, the fourth book in the first arc, and features Starflight, the NightWing dragonet of the prophecy, as the main protagonist. It follows The Hidden Kingdom and precedes The Brightest Night.
In the shadows . . . trouble is brewing
The mysterious NightWings keep everything hidden, from their home and their queen to their allegiance in the war. Now they've kidnapped their own dragonet of destiny, and Starflight is thrilled — and terrified — to finally meet the rest of his tribe.
The NightWings have also kidnapped several innocent RainWings, and Starflight is determined to convince his tribe to set them free. But the NightWing kingdom is a miserable place, full of secrets more terrible than anyone suspects, and all the scrolls in Pyrrhia couldn't help Starflight now. The fate of two kingdoms rests in his talons, and the other dragonets are too far away to help him. Starflight will have to find a way to be brave . . . before it's too late.
The prologue shows Reed and his siblings in a battle between the IceWings and the MudWings, where Marsh becomes terrified, after he saw his sister Crane die in front of him during their first battle. After the battle is over, Umber claims to have noticed a scavenger den the IceWings were after. Reed takes note but does not ponder on it any more. He then thinks about joining the Talons of Peace with his siblings. The prologue ends with him not wanting to lose anyone else in the war, having already lost their sister Crane.
Part One: The Secret PlanEdit
The book begins with Starflight unconscious and worrying where Sunny is. He remembers that when Clay left and was chasing a boar, NightWings came up out of the tunnel and abducted him. Starflight is awoken by his half-sister, Fierceteeth, who dumped salt water on him. He is introduced to all of the NightWing dragonets, however, the introduction is cut short when Morrowseer storms into the room, demanding that Starflight join him at the council. Starflight nervously comes along.
At the council, Starflight watches as they debate on attacking the RainWings. They ask Starflight what he knows and Morrowseer threatens to kill him if he didn't say anything, so he says that he thinks they are attacking. He witnesses Vengeance's death because he endangers the tribe for letting Glory escape so the guards throw him in the lava. When he tries to come up, the guards push him down. Deathbringer thanks the queen but Greatness orders him to the dungeon and plans to execute him for his crimes.
Morrowseer takes Starflight to an island to hunt, and, after listening to Starflight rant on and on about the strange hunting habits of NightWings, confirms who his father is. Morrowseer takes Starflight to the labs, but on the way, they meet Fatespeaker. Morrowseer agrees to take her to the labs if she promises to be quiet, and she happily agrees. When they meet Mastermind, Morrowseer goes away, leaving them for a father-son bonding moment.
At first, when Starflight meets his father, Mastermind, he is filled with elation at the prospect of having such a smart father, but when he is given a tour by Mastermind around the labs, he is sickened by the fact that his father is abducting and torturing RainWings without even caring. He says that they were doing it for "science" because he doesn't want his son to know the real reason. When Mastermind shows him a RainWing test subject - which turns out to be Orchid - Starflight says reassuring things to her, turning her a pink color. Mastermind marvels at this, wondering why and how she turned colors. When Starflight realizes that Fatespeaker is reading his mind, he momentarily panics, but then relaxes when Fatespeaker gives him a look that says, "We'll be talking about this later."
Morrowseer then comes back, saying that Starflight must be introduced to the "others". However, Starflight is not paying attention, but instead pondering why the NightWings would be abducting the RainWings. He figures out their plan, and part one ends with him thinking, "I've figured out the NightWings' plan. But now, what do I do about it?"
Part Two: The Queen's SecretEdit
Starflight is brought to meet the false dragonets, and almost immediately afterward, Morrowseer orders the dragonets to kill him. He runs away and hides in the RainWing prisons, where Fatespeaker finds him and brings him back. The other False Dragonets fail in killing him and they all soon go to sleep.
Fatespeaker wakes Starflight to explore the volcano. They find the old treasury and Starflight discovers a dreamvisitor. He attempts to contact the real dragonets with it but enters Kinkajou's dreams instead.
However, he successfully contacts Glory. He wakes and Morrowseer brings them to the mainland to try to convince the SkyWings to switch alliances to Blister. They fail and Morrowseer kills the SkyWings. Squid then says he doesn't want to do this any more and Morrowseer sends him away, saying he hopes Squid would die.
The next night Fatespeaker and Starflight wander off to meet the Queen. They meet her and find out she is forced to stay in a tub of lava because an IceWing shot its breath into her throat. The lava and ice cancel each other out. If she left the lava, the ice breath would finish its work and kill her. Starflight returns to his bed and manages to contact Glory with the dreamvisitor and tells her about everything.
The next day Morrowseer instructs them to do battle training and while attempting to kill Fatespeaker, Viper falls into the lava, but manages to accidentally scratch Flame with her venomous tail. Morrowseer attempts to save Flame and leaves Viper for dead. Starflight decides to escape with Fatespeaker and Flame to the rainforest, while Flame becomes very ill from the venom.
Part Three: The TruthEdit
Using Flame's scratch as an excuse, Starflight tricks the guards into letting them into the rainforest, claiming that they would find the antidote for the venom. The guards decide to let them in. Immediately after they come in, RainWings pin them down, as ordered by Tsunami. Starflight and Tsunami spot each other and Tsunami explains a bit and brings them to Glory, Sunny and Clay. Fatespeaker demands who Sunny is, and soon after finds they're a lot alike. They plan how they're going to do the battle and decide they will go in within a few hours. Sunny suggests a new way of fighting for RainWings: Sleeping darts. Soon all the RainWings are armed with their tranquilizer darts.
Starflight believes he might die in the fight, so he confesses to Sunny that he loves her. She says she loves him back but she doesn't share the same kind of affection for him. Starflight then goes into battle. Glory frees Orchid first and tells Liana and Grandeur how to free the RainWings with the spear. They then go to speak to Queen Battlewinner. As they are entering her chamber, Starflight notices the ground shaking, and realized the volcano is about to erupt. Glory demands that Battlewinner stop the battle but the NightWing Queen refuses. Starflight comes up with the idea for letting the NightWings come to the rainforest, as long as they accept Glory as their queen. Queen Battlewinner attempts to attack them, but having jumped out of her lava bath, the ice freezes her insides and kills her in a matter of seconds.
Then they free Splendor and Deathbringer and tell the NightWings their plan. Almost all the dragons enter the rainforest, except for Morrowseer. As they are about to leave, Morrowseer tells them the prophecy is false and made up, as part of an elaborate plan he and Battlewinner orchestrated to take over the rainforest. When the volcano erupts, the dragons race through the tunnel to the rainforest as the explosion consumes Morrowseer. Starflight then feels the blast on his scales and feels a stab of pain through his eyes (he is blinded by it). Clay brings him to the rainforest and Fatespeaker comes up to him (he was unsure whether or not it was Fatespeaker or Sunny at first) and he was then jabbed in the neck by a sleeping dart and is knocked unconscious.
Blaze is with Glacier, telling her about the dragonets. Glacier confirms that she only is supporting Blaze for the land. Glacier allows Blaze to go inside and thinks to herself about killing the dragonets if they don't choose Blaze.
Blister is with Nautilus and Squid who was found by the mountains after Morrowseer left him to fend for himself. Both Nautilus and Blister are wondering about Morrowseer's disappearance and why he sent Blister to a scavenger den. She realizes that the dragonets may be the reason of his disappearance and vows to kill them.
Burn is outside of her stronghold, with her brother, Smolder. They are talking about their prisoner, Ex-Queen Scarlet. Burn then tells him about how much a bore Queen Ruby is, and how she won't enter battle while her kingdom is in turmoil. Burn then states she will destroy the prophecy by killing the dragonets.
- The Dark Secret is the only book where the dragonet featured on the cover is fully depicted on the front panel, without part of the dragonet's wing or tail on the spine of the book.
- It was following the release of this book that Wings of Fire made the New York Times bestseller list.
- The Dark Secret, Winter Turning, Darkness of Dragons, and Darkstalker are the only covers to have the main dragonet not in flight.
- The Dark Secret and Winter Turning have the same number of pages: 295.
- It's the only book in the first series where the POV doesn't encounter a scavenger.
- On the cover, Starflight is missing his NightWing teardrop on his scales.
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