The Avar shaman Elorn follows the horrific death of Thane Owyne with the statement that the lowlanders business in Redhold is now concluded. He refuses to answer any questions until they are at the gate ready to depart. Tyree leaves his place to greet his mother, the cheeky old Avar woman that scolded Corryn. He speaks to her quietly, and they leave the grounds in the direction of the Avar dwellings. Their faithful guide Rowenna leads the stunned foreigners bearing their new gifts back to their lodging to gather their things. Marius attempts to make sense of the events he just witnessed by questioning Rowenna, but she seems at peace with the decision, stating simply that Owyne failed in his duty to his people. Realizing just how out of his element he is, the Tevinter mage stops trying to understand the superstitious barbarians and focuses on leaving. Rowenna offers further that though they were successful in fighting off the horde and saving the tribe, the location of Redhold is lost, the farmland tainted beyond use. Clan Redhold will be packing what they can salvage and leave in search of a new home.
Corryn collects Felayne and Berchan, carrying the injured boy with him on his horse. Tyree rejoins the group carrying an uncomfortable looking suit of dark chain mail. At the front gate, an honor guard of the returned hunters lines the road as the procession of outcast, lowlanders and their animals leave Redhold. Hoping to hear an entertaining story, Corryn takes the Avar at their word that they would answer any questions at the gate and asks the newly crowned Thane Treon about how he ended up in the tunnels. He disappoints the mage though, saying only that a Darkspawn force five-hundred strong cut off his route home. When they tried to take the tunnels to avoid the creatures, a cave-in trapped them, forcing them to dig their way through. Marius also stops to have his conversation with Elorn at long last, but it is not as enlightening as he had hoped. Elorn has no miracle cure for the boy Berchan, nor does he know of one. To his knowledge, only the Grey Wardens can survive the blight sickness, but none are in these parts that he knows of. The only help he can offer the boy is a quick death. Passing on that offer, Marius concludes his business with the Avar, leaves the hold with his company and doesn’t look back.
The return journey to the imperial highway is surprisingly peaceful, with no marauding bears or Darkspawn in sight. Once back on the highway, Tyree is surprised to find Felayne’s wagon undisturbed in the brush where it was hidden. The exhausted group, unsure of where to turn next, decides to make camp early and procrastinate the decision until the morning. Marius takes the opportunity to check on Berchan’s wounds, beginning his observation journal by noting the beginnings of putrefaction at both the shoulder and abdomen wounds. He judges the boy has between ten and twenty days before he fully turns into a ghoul. Still conscious, Berchan responds lucidly to Marius’ questions, and states that maybe he doesn’t want to be a warrior anymore.
Morning arrives all too soon, and the now rested adventurers proceed to discuss where to go next. Armon insists that the boy is a lost cause, and the only sensible courses of action are to go after his sister Izot or desert the Wulff family entirely and continue on their original course to Ventiver. Dismissing Armon’s objections, Corryn recalls that Empress Celene’s caravan that left Val Reaiux the same day they did most certainly had a few Grey Warden honor guards. Although Tyree and Broga are indifferent to Berchan’s fate, neither minds retracing their steps or paying a visit to the Empress. Marius agrees to delay their search for Johannas’ ruined keep and seek the Empress’ caravan, if only to annoy Armon. They load up the wagon with the puppies and the boy, hitch up the horses and the donkeys, turn the wagon around and head back the way they came, abandoning Berchan’s sister Izot to her fate for the time being.
That evening while setting up camp, a noise to the north leads Corryn, Armon, and Tyree to investigate, leaving Marius, Felayne and a sleeping Broga on their own. A few minutes later another noise to the south puts Marius on his guard. Felayne clutches at her battered old short sword, prepared to defend herself if necessary. Luckily she doesn’t have to do so. An Avar hunter that Marius recognizes from Redhold steps out of the shadows and introduces herself as Cathal, sister to Azur. She has come on behalf of the battered lovesick boy to make sure they intend to fulfill their promise to retrieve Izot from the clutches of the renegade Avar Banur. Marius explains that they are first trying to save the girl’s brother who contracted blight disease during the siege of Redhold. Seeming indifferent to the girl’s fate, but concerned for her brother, she tells Marius the boy will go after his love on his own, a death sentence in his condition. Her brother is a strong-willed idiot, but he is blood and she is obligated to help him. Marius tells her to deliver a message to Azur, that once the fate of the boy is determined, they will return to this spot to meet Azur and go after Izot. Skeptical of this arrangement, she nevertheless bids the mage goodnight and heads back south to deliver the news.
The rest of the company returns shortly from their encounter with an overly friendly dwarf salesman and his wide eyed, silent companion. Despite the dwarf’s best effort, they manage to retain Corryn’s bracers and refuse a fire-enhancing magical staff. After Marius relates Cathal’s visit to his compatriots, Tyree mysteriously disappears. No one pays much attention to it, until he sneaks up on Armon during his watch with an unconscious injured Avar lashed to a horse followed by an amused looking Avar warrior woman.
The warm sun and gentle rocking motion of the wagon brings Azur slowly back to consciousness. Not recognizing where he is, he begins to panic. Hearing the commotion, Marius calls Tyree to calm his prisoner. Tyree obliges, coming up next to the wagon and ironically lectures the older Avar on the dangers of running off on his own. Azur gives up on trying to get away or arguing on their path, hoping the outcast and the lowlanders will be true to their word and help rescue Izot after they are done with their fool’s errand to save her brother.
The next peacefully day is interrupted by some commotion from the back of the wagon. Berchan thrashes around in his sleep so much that he kicks Azur’s injured leg, causing him to cry out. Tyree is called in to settle down the passengers, once again having to threaten Azur into submission. The traffic on the Imperial Highway picks up, and the strange caravan passes an increasing number of humans, elves and dwarves. Tyree’s sharp eyes pick out a familiar face in the crowd, the crossbow stealing would-be separatist Linda, heading east right into the Darkspawn infested area of Ferelden. Taking pity on the lone traveler, he decides to warn her of the danger she is walking into. The woman claims she doesn’t know who he is, and continues on her way. Armon breathes a sigh of relief that they didn’t pick up yet another stray, and longs to be rid of the ones they have.
Civilization welcomes the travellers back to Orlais in the form of the little border town of Jadur. They decide it best to keep Berchan out of sight, and so set up their camp a ways off the road away from the general population. Feeling unusually hungry, Armon volunteers to make a supply run, accompanied by Broga and one of the donkeys. A fishmonger relieves Armon’s purse of a tidy sum, sending the confused warrior on his way with enough of the freshest, most extravagant catches for a fine meal for each of their nine human members and their four dogs. After loading up the donkey with their haul, the trio make their way back to camp as the sun sets over the much more civilized country of Orlais. As Armon is salivating over the thought of fried fish, a skeletal hand reaches up from the ground and grabs his ankle, stopping him in his tracks.