It’s just another day in Katagia. The market square is bustling, gladiators are fighting in the arenas, and ships are docking in the harbor.
The next gladiator match pits The Bride of Tarhun, a popular female fighter, against the Northern White Shark, a mountain of a Nimothian who fights with trident and net. The Shark scores an early hit and entangles the Bride in his net, but she keeps fighting, ignoring the net. The Shark drops the net’s rope to focus on using his trident, but it doesn’t matter: she hits him once, then cuts herself free from the net to hit him again, then finishes him off with another strike. He is dragged out of the pit to the healers, while the Bride gets to walk off the field and meet her cheering fans in the via gloriae.
Meanwhile, Anotisa is selling herbs as usual in the marketplace. She sees a procession of Asuran priests winding their way through the marketplace. This is not unusual, but one of the priests is staring at her; with a start, she realizes that he is Calder Chalakon, the priest who led the witch hunt in her home town of Garrit, and the man who sentenced her to burn at the stake. She dashes back into an alley, abandoning her cart, but Calder sends the temple guards to chase her. She ducks through a tavern, tossing a handful of noxious herbs into the fire to distract pursuers. She proceeds to lead the guards on a wild chase through the town, ducking down alleys and over walls, until she finally runs into a baker carrying a batch of bread to the arena. She offers to help, and evades the guards while carrying an armload of bread.
The Bride is accosted by Juma Abasi, her cousin, as she exits the arena. He accuses her of abandoning her responsibilities to the family and disgracing their name with her gladiatorial antics. Insulted, she draws her weapon, still blunted for the battle with the Shark, and attacks. Her fans go wild, thinking that this was a part of the entertainment. Juma tries to beat her, but she blocks every attack while striking back with bloody precision. Finally, she pulls her last strike just before it slashes his throat. He threatens that he will be back after he informs her family of her whereabouts, then scurries off to the jeers of the crowd.
Sigrun has arrived at Katagia after being picked up by a merchant ship. The captain gives her a small pouch of coins and tells her he’s heard that a fellow guildmate, Zolor, is looking for guards for a caravan to an inland trading post.
Jenetta, Sigrun, and Anotisa all independently end up a Zolor’s caravan looking for passage out of Katagia. Zolor hires them as guards and plans to leave at first light the next day.
Before she leaves Katagia, Sigrun decides to ask a priest of Zolor about her vision. She first meets Calder forcing the guards who lost Anotisa to scrub the temple courtyard. Calder doesn’t care about her vision, but after pocketing a donation to the temple, he leads Sigrun to the temple library and Brother Ezequiel. The monk listens to her vision; unfortunately, he doesn’t know that it portends, but he promises to study it and send her any information he can find.
The caravan leaves, and the first few days are uneventful. They pass the village of Bluehaven, then their scouts report smoke ahead. The caravan finds the remains of another trade caravan, apparently wiped out by beastmen. The only living man is a Dhari shaman named Valan, who claims that he came upon the bodies himself earlier that day. It appears that the beastmen took anything of value (including several slaves), and Zolor is uninclined to pursue them, as the tracks suggest that the raiding party consisted of forty or fifty warriors. He instead hurries the caravan on its way, not even pausing to bury the victims of the beastman brutality. Valan decides to accompany the caravan on their travels.
Despite posting extra guards, beastman scouts managed to sneak into the camp that night, killing two slaves and carrying two more away. Valan, Sigrun, Anotisa, and Jenetta follow the tracks and would have stumbled into an ambush if it weren’t for Anotisa’s fox scenting the beastmen. Anotisa enlarges Jenetta, while Valan guts one of the beastmen with the odd, serpent-shaped, dagger he carries. Jenetta and Sigrun manage to finish off the beastmen, and the party returns the stolen slaves to the caravan. The rest of the night passes uneventfully, if sleeplessly.