Enormously complicated. But simple, too.
Nolan's approach registers as an affront, and the Spirit Riders pull guns immediately, even after he greets them in Irath. But when they see the Little Wolf, they are both surprised and unsurprised at once: Sukar is dead. He holds her so tightly, and she presses her face against her father's chest.
Rider: "The sky opened, and took him. We are preparing the Sinking ritual. You are welcome to attend, Little Wolf... But your human must go."
He's stuck between sympathy for his daughter's grief, and knowing full well he has no place here. When Irisa finds a chunk of Ark on the ground, they both immediately know what's happened, and what's coming. He chooses Defiance, again: "We gotta warn them. Let's go."
But she can't go: The sky took him. He resists, but they promise she'll be safe, and she tells him to return for her once the storm has passed. He goes, hurting more for not being there with her, in her pain, but he knows it's right. Sukar's last little burn from beyond the grave, he thinks; it's a thought unworthy of him, so he goes.
The ritual itself is beautiful, and harsh, and doused in mud, like the Irath. You gather up the deceased and plunge it into an acid bath, so that only the bones remain, "to adorn this place." She washes him clean, caresses his face and covers it. She joins the shaman and sings with her.
First his belongings, so he leaves no trace on the land -- even this strange one -- and then the body, carried by pallbearers, returned to nature. The "three elements of his body" --gyabire, gyagbe, gyargye, the brain and heart and stomach -- are the ways we touch God, the mind, life itself and the seat of emotion. They're returned to nature when we're done with them, but it also means he'll never be defiled. You make a religion of what's at hand.
She sings, finally, alone, and doesn't cry. When they bring him to the bath, the song changes key -- triumphant, still sad -- and the body begins to smoke. The Little Wolf sings alone.
When he stands up, suddenly, naked and unharmed, they are shocked a moment. But when he speaks, when he screams to the sky -- "Through this body flows the path to Irzu!" -- they fall onto their knees. All except for the Little Wolf, who can't look away.
Alak: "Are we seriously still talking about this?"
Christie: "We are not leaving this Arch until we're done talking about this."