We begin with Melnir the Skeptic's proposal to Silksif. He extols his virtues, but most importantly shows his wealth and respect, by offering to support her whole family: parents, siblings, and aunt. He says, "Let your great-uncle Ivar rot here in his lair, childless and friendless."
Silksif thinks for a while, and then explains to him that there are three conditions which she would demand. "First," she explains, "I am committed to my calling as a prophetess, and that will continue if I marries you. Second, I will have children if and when I desire it." "You are welcome to try," she says with a subtle wink, "but it will happen only at my choosing."
Melnir responds, "I have no qualm with the first, but I do want an heir at some point. That it will be at a time of your choosing I do not dispute." Silksif nods at this, and says "That is understandable, and I am still young. I agree." Melnir smiles.
She continues, "Third, I made a promise to my grandmother, and I must seek the permission before marrying." There is a long pause before Melnir responds. "But your grandmother is... dead." "Yes," Silksif says, "so it will take some time for me to ask her. You may wait here while I do so."
Melnir is stunned at this and doesn't know what to say. After recovering, he explains, "I am troubled by this, in that your grandmother does not know me. If she were alive, I would meet her myself and prove my worth. As it stands, I fear she may judge me more harshly." He goes on to give a message to Silksif for her grandmother. However, Silksif senses in him that he does not actually believe in this. Rather, he is trying to convince her of his worth, believing presumably that her journey is a cover for her own doubts.
Silksif then speaks with her family, and goes outside to a sheltered spot for her trance. She prepares for a long journey, which will take many hours. She is going to the land of the dead, which she (like all true shamans) has been to before -- but only at momentous occaisions. After a difficult journey, she finds her grandmother, and asks for her blessing. Herdis seems resentful of her, and rather sharply asks "Do you love him?" Silksif tries to explain her feelings, and says she thinks she could grow to love him, but Herdis interrupts "Actually, my question was more simple than that. Do you love him, yes or no?" Silksif answers "No." Herdis responds, "Then you have my blessing". Silksif returns with what she wanted, but feeling rather disturbed.
She speaks with her mother and father, who are clearly intimidated by Melnir. However, they agree with Silksif's decision to marry him. There is some tension, however, when she realizes that Melnir would like to marry her immediately. She puts Melnir off, saying that she would like a proper wedding with appropriate ceremony. Melnir then stays at Tjaraholt for several days as Silksif's family packs their belonging, after which they all leave for the Althing.
Meanwhile, at Grimholt, Skallagrim has noticed that Borgny has been especially moody. In an unusual moment of insight, he asks her if she is pregnant. She scowls, and says "Well, I'm late." -- only grudgingly admitting it. At dinner that evening, Hrapp tells his patron Skallagrim that their sheep had wandered into land which he learned is Tjaraholt's, but it was not being used. Matunaaga suggests buying the land. However, Borgny rather cruelly puts him down -- saying "Did I ask you for financial advice?" Matunaaga brings up a legend among his people -- the helpful servant Jeevass to his master Woostra (i.e. Jeeves and Wooster).
At Brygjafael, back at the start of the events, many had come out to watch across the river, talking about what was happening at Tjaraholt as the Raudarbank troops moved in. As they discuss, Poul cruelly taunts Kjartan, saying that he should go across to rescue Silksif. Kjartan says that he will do nothing of the kind, but Poul continues to press. Enraged, Kjartan strikes Poul. However, now Poul turns his back and walks away -- unwilling to engage in violence. His nephew Bjarni speaks up for Poul, and Poul tells him "Bjarni, pack your kit -- we're leaving."
Meanwhile, Thorgerd and Arnor close on their farm, with Arnor's uncle Sjolf. Sjolf is skeptical of Thorgerd's skill at raising horses, and suggests that they try something easier. Arnor is indignant at this, and eventually bets Sjolf a large sum that Thorgerd's horse would outmatch any horse that Sjolf had trained.
Soon after, the Althing begins. The day before the opening, the marriage of Silksif and Melnier is conducted. Silksif's mother Ingrid the Wise officiates, while Melnir's clan hosts the reception. Many families including Brygjafael and Syfjaourholur are invited, and all are impressed by the grace of the ceremony and the quality of the feast. Katrina, however, is bitter towards Silksif for taking the man she had designs on. 
At the Althing, the major talk is about the Earl's brother Hring. Last fall when he came to the island, he had less than 20 men. However, since the thaw more have arrived from Hvalrik, and now he has 50 men in his camp. There is much discussion of this. That first day, Silksif was walking through the market when she suddenly recognized that a common woman walking by is actually Marie Delort, the Earl's wife. Her appearance is glamoured, which Silksif's awakened sight sees through. Silksif motions to her, and Marie greets her warmly. They exchange news, and Marie congradulates her on her marriage -- saying that it was just what she had wished for Silksif. Marie says that she is in disguise to spy on Hring. Marie claims that he was forced out although not officially exiled, and Silksif believes her.
Later that day, Hring makes a public announcement at the Althing. He tells the assembled people that there are many who are worried that he will try to take over the Commonwealth, but that the opposite is true. Hring claims he came to the Commonwealth because of its freedom, and that the men who have joined him did so because they too were fed up with tyranny. He goes on that to prove his sincerity, he will offer half his men each summer to be directed as the Commonwealth sees fit.
As his speech goes on, though, the sky grows subtlely darker. After the punch of his speech, soon there are those who point to the Sun which is darkened by a black shadow.  Like all present, Hring is stunned. He soon rushes back to speak again, and shouts that he had held back the truth -- that there is in fact evil in Hvalrik. That a taint has crept into the house of his father, and that all should beware of what he has left. He emphasizes the danger, and promises two-thirds of his men to guard against it. Kjartan calls out from the crowd, snapping back in a clever phrase that they are ready to fight evil anywhere (implying a mistrust of him).