Corryn lets Felayne and Rowenna take Berchan Wulff to the shrine where the wounded are being tended. Now that the boy is safely out of Armon’s reach, Corryn heads back into the cave to meet his cohorts and discuss what might be done about the potential threat tunneling in. Glad to have an excuse to leave the battleground cleanup effort, Tyree, Marius, and Broga soon arrive. Corryn leads the group through the tunnels to the dead end where the incessant tapping can still be heard. Using his fondness for architecture Marius estimates the thickness of the wall based on the sound and guesses that it would take a man four hours to dig through, but also notes that Darkspawn dig faster than men. The walls and floors show no sign of the corruption that usually precedes a Darkspawn hoard, which he takes as a sign that they have some time to prepare. They decide that catching the intruders in a cave-in is the best coarse of action. Tyree, Armon, and Broga head back to gather the explosive barrels that the Avar had placed in order to cover their escape. As always, Marius offers his superior supervising skills. Corryn uncharacteristicly excuses himself and leaves the caves alone on a mysterious errand.
After about a half-hour of slowly rolling the heavy barrels down the rough, winding tunnels, the wall comes in sight. The familiar glow of Corryn’s light wisp overtakes Broga’s torchlight, as he and the visibly nervous dog breeder, Felayne, walk past the barrels and up to the wall. She places her hand on the rough stone and closes her eyes. Corryn watches her expectantly, they exchange some quiet words, then she shakes her head. Disappointed in his experiment’s results, Corryn leads the girl away from the wall. After only a few yards, a small piece of rock falls to the floor behind them and a glint of metal reflects the wisp’s light through the tiny hole. Tyree orders them to run, an order which they gladly obey.
Once Felayne and Corryn are far enough back, Tyree shoves the volatile barrel of black powder forward, hoping for it to roll to the stone wall where Broga will puncture it with a flaming arrow, burying the Darkspawn in a shower of falling stone. The stubborn barrel only makes it half-way though, ruining his grand plan. As he moves forward to help it along, streaks of blue light lance through the small opening, striking him in the chest. This makes him pause, since he has never seen or heard of Darkspawn performing magic. To get a better look at what has actually entered the Avar’s territory without putting himself in more danger, Tyree throws his torch forward to shed it’s light on the opening. Not being proficient in torches, his throw falls well short of it’s destination, landing precariously close to the explosive barrel.
Broga gives up on waiting for Tyree to move out of the blast radius and retreats back to the rest of the group, leaving the Avar alone in the tunnel. Everyone waits anxiously for the explosion, but nothing happens. Marius cautiously peeks around the corner and watches as Tyree hastily snatches the torch away from the black powder, and moves up to the wall. He seems to have a conversation with whatever is on the other side, then backs away and watches as the hole is widened. Seeing Tyree’s annoyed but unthreatened posture, Marius senses there is no threat and moves up.
The face showing through the small but ever widening hole appears thoroughly angry, but entirely human. He barks angrily at the heroes of Redhold, demanding to know who they are and why they are in his territory. Tyree explains in short measured words to the Thane’s son that they have just saved his town. Recognizing the impetuous runaway, Treon dismisses him, leaving the opening to let his companions continue their labor. Armon is unanimously elected to deliver the news of his hunters returned to the Thane, and he leaves the caves, grumbling the whole way.
Owyne sends a few of his people back with Armon to help the hunters clear more stone. With the combined effort from both sides, the hole is widened enough to let the sixty Avar through one at a time. Though the immediate danger seems passed, the injured Berchan weighs heavily on Corryn’s conscious. He and his fellow mage Marius leave the tunnels to seek the eccentric shaman Elorn, hoping that he could offer some advice or treatment.
At the shrine where the injured are being treated, Felayne sits next to the cot where Berchan lies with an elderly Avar woman. Corryn questions her on Elorn’s whereabouts, but the severe woman chastises him instead, ordering him to bring the absent mage to help these injured people as soon as they find him. They agree and quickly leave to avoid further tongue lashings. The searches at the sacred animal pit and the site of the ongoing cleanup effort at the front gate are fruitless as well.
Still fearing another assault, Tyree leaves the tunnels alone and plants himself on the wall near the broken gate. Eventually he falls into a uneasy sleep that is punctuated by the macabre sounds of the intense Avar burial ritual and the acrid smell of burning Darkspawn flesh.
While contemplating where to go next, Marius suddenly realizes that he saw no Avar infected with the same sickness Berchan seems to be suffering from. They return to the shrine to investigate further, where thankf. Observing the Avar treating the injured doesn’t reveal any magical treatments or miracle salves being employed, leading Marius to suspect that they are either immune or, more likely, have isolated or dispatched those patients. In the attempt to leave the shrine, exhaustion gets the better of Corryn, who misses the doorway. Deciding he better get some rest, he takes a spot in the corner near Berchan’s cot and quickly succumbs to sleep, leaving Marius on his own.
With no more clear threat to defend against, Armon asks a random passing Avar where he can be the most helpful. First verifying that he has a sharp sword, the young Avar leads him to the shrine where the wounded lie moaning in pain. Instead of taking him inside, the boy leads him around back where the more gravely injured are being treated. Another Avar, a young woman, puts him to work removing mangled legs and arms that have no hope of healing. Blood soaked and sleep deprived, he only makes it through five patients before collapsing on the spot.
Leaving Corryn snoring in the corner of the shrine, Marius leaves to continue the search for the elusive shaman on his own. While wandering the grounds of Redhold, he questions a passing Avar, who informs him of the location of Elorn’s dwelling. His visit to the dark and empty building reveals no leads on either Elorn or the disease. Exhausted and empty handed, Marius heads back to the longhouse to retire for the night, where he finds the dwarf Broga already snoring away.
The sound of knocking brings Marius out of his dreams too early. He reluctantly gets up and answers the door to find blinding daylight and Elorn’s young page. The boy declares that Marius must gather his friends and attend the ceremony at noon, then darts away without waiting for questions or offering any further explanation. He notes that it’s only two hours until the appointed time, so he wakes Broga, who somehow slept through the noise, and leaves the longhouse to begin the task of gathering his scattered companions.
Their first stop is the shrine where he left Corryn sleeping on the floor. Though Felayne is still there, sleeping in a chair next to Berchan’s bed, Corryn is nowhere to be found. Neither Marius nor Broga wish to disturb Felayne to ask where he has gone, so they quietly leave the shrine. Remembering seeing Tyree on the wall during last night’s goose chase for Elorn, the two head there and are easily able to find the big Avar dutifully sleeping at his post. Having no idea where Armon might have run off to, they ask the few Avar they see, eventually finding a young woman that remembers the Nevarrian helping her behind the shrine. Locating the stubborn warrior proves as difficult as waking him, but they are eventually successful. Wanting to be presentable for the ceremony, Armon takes some time to clean off most of the blood before rejoining the group. Tyree guesses that the most likely place for this ceremony is near the sacred animal pit, since the shrine is already occupied. Having no leads on Corryn’s whereabouts and running short on time, the crew heads there, hoping their missing mage finds his own way.
Arriving at the pit, it’s easy to discern that Tyree’s guess was right. A single line of Avar stand with their backs to the pit. Some are familiar; the elusive Elorn, the haggard Thane Owyne, but some are new; the abrupt young hunter Treon, and a young man with a staff, presumably Elorn’s apprentice. The old woman that scolded Corryn earlier stands off to the side with a tired looking Rowenna. Their missing companion Corryn waits, facing the line of Avar men, to the relief of all. Armon and Tyree take their perceived places next to Corryn, but Broga and Marius follow no such protocol. The curious dwarf walks up to the edge of the pit to peer in, wondering if the lion was reimprisoned after its part in the battle. Elorn’s young page sneaks up behind him, pretends to push him in, then runs away laughing at the startled dwarf. Receiving a glare from Elorn, Broga sulks up to his position. The page then shoves Marius until he takes his place in line. Marius then breaks the uncomfortable silence, addressing Elorn, but before he can finish his question, the shaman makes a gesture with his hands, telling Marius in no uncertain terms to be quiet. Rowenna steps forward and takes her place in line facing Corryn. Elorn takes a step forward to Broga, and presents him with a white bow, then steps back into position. Marius receives the young apprentice’s staff, Treon presents a viridium maul to Tyree and Corryn receives a pair of bracers covered in silver scales from Rowenna. Finally, Thane Owyne steps forward to present Armon with the ancient sword, Aamar Fin. He takes it solemnly, and does his best to try not to hear it’s singing.
After the presentation of the gifts, Rowenna leaves the line and returns to the old woman. Elorn finally breaks the silence, proclaiming gratitude towards the lowlander saviors of Redhold. However, his tone takes an unexpected and threatening turn as he shifts his remarks from the heroes to Thane Owyne. He proclaims their leader has failed them, that the gods have visited this misfortune on his people due to his incompetence. Owyne listens to the comments with resigned silence, offering no excuses nor resistance. When Elorn finishes, Owyne unseaths his sword, hands it to his son Treon, then turns to face the sacred animal pit. Without prodding or provocation, he walks forward right off the edge and disappears. The stunned onlookers listen for the sounds of tearing flesh and rending bones, as they expect Vron to tear the man to pieces, but are only treated with a thump as the Avar hits the sandy floor of the pit.