We begin by picking up with Skallagrim, who was at Grjotvogur visiting his wife after she had given birth to a daughter. With the help of Matunaaga's spirit guide, she was doing better. A few days after her fever breaks, she and Skallagrim talk business.
After two weeks stay, Skallagrim and Matunaaga prepare to Grimholt. Borgny plans to stay nursing until the spring. Skallagrim is concerned about what to do about Ivar. As he puts it, either (1) Ivar is directly behind the intruder in his barn, or (2) an evil spirit connected with Tjaraholt was responsible. In both cases something has to be done about Ivar. Borgny says that if he is going to attack Ivar, it should be done carefully with an intelligent plan -- and she adds "so don't do it until I get back!"
Meanwhile, at Brygjafael, the aftermath of the spirit test is being sorted out. All of those who took part in the ritual feel some part of the mustang spirit's power. They are faster and feel reserves of strength to them. Poul discovers his useless hand, and comes to grips with being an invalid. He speaks to Maushop. Maushop apologizes profusely for failing his test and thus causing Poul's injury. Poul somewhat painfully says that it is up to him to carry on the work since he can no longer work the forge as he did before.
Poul decides to give the second of the prophesized axes to Melnir, made with his new forging technique. Since his loss, these will probably be the last weapons he will forge with his own hands. As Silksif had originally prophesized earlier that winter:
You are to forge three axes.As Poul gives the axe to Melnir, he gives a speech about the importance of the smithing work and the high regard he has for Melnir and his men. Silksif prophesizes that despite Poul's disablement, there is still one blow which he must give. Curious, he finds that if he puts his now-useless right hand on his prophecy-axe, the fingers grasp it and lift it unbidden. This happens for nothing else, however.
One axe for yourself.
One axe you will know who to give it to.
The third axe should be double-headed, and a person will come for it.
When Skallagrim and Matunaaga arrive back at Grimholt, they find that Eldgrim and two carls are gone. Busla is there and stumblingly explains to Skallagrim that Atli had come to visit -- but that two days after he arrived, he and Vagnhild disappeared, taking only clothes and some personal belongings of Vagnhild.  They had disappeared nine days earlier, skiing off to the East somewhere. Eldgrim is currently out searching. He had searched for three days at first, then reported back that they had followed the tracks east -- but none of the farms in that direction had seen them (including that of Arnor and Thorgerd, and that of Vignir the Bald). He left again three days later to continue the search.
Skallagrim and Matunaaga guardedly discuss where they think Atli would go, or what his plan was. He had come out from Hvalrik around a year ago, so it doesn't seem as though he would have connections in the area. They would have expected him to return to his foster-father Hring's stronghold on Manhattan. Instead, he seemed to be headed East. More to the point, they wondered if this was an abduction or an elopement. Busla sais that the two had argued frequently during Atli's visit. She hedged by saying that she was sure that Vagnhild had been abducted, but that perhaps she did not resist as whole-heartedly as she could have.
Skallagrim stayed at home to wait for further news from Eldgrim, while his carls Matunaaga and Gudmund visit the Wappinger, the nearest Lagakin tribe who live north of Hvitavellir (White Plains). Gudmund is the huscarl of Tjaraholt who defected to Skallagrim's service a few months earlier, after Silksif's visit. He had apparently stabbed Ivar when Ivar attempted to stop him from leaving, and then met up with Melnir and Silksif while leaving. The two travel to the Wappinger winter camp without incident. The Wappinger say that a man and woman had been there the past week and had traded for food and shelter. They had headed out Southeast.
Not having any track to go on, they head for the nearest settlements to the Southeast. This is Nyr Reykjavik (modern-day New Rochelle) where Sigrid's family is. After the death of her husband Bront a year ago, Sigrid eventually left Tjaraholt to return to her family.  It is a collection of four settlements each an arrow's shot away from each other, but none of them are very wealthy (all less so than Skallagrim, for example).
Matunaaga and Gudmund first visit with Sigrid's family, where Sigrid has been staying since this fall. Matunaaga tells Sigrid the full truth about the abduction. Sigrid clearly wants to avoid trouble. She says that her neighbor Valgard has had visitors in the winter, but she knows nothing about who they are.
Matunaaga and Gudmund go to see Valgard the next morning, where Atli openly greets them. Vagnhild is surprised to see them, and actually welcomes them happily -- at first hitting Atli on the back of the head saying "See! I told you they'd find us." then smiling and saying "Guys! How's it going?"). Matunaaga is conflicted at this point, because he has been attracted to Vagnhild ever since he came to work for Skallagrim. Atli explains that one of Valgard's sons had joined with Hring's men and was a friend of his. He was staying here the winter and paying his way with work and silver. At first, Atli tries to bribe them with a bag of hack-silver (roughly-cut chunks of silver), asking them to simply report back to Skallagrim that they found nothing. Gudmund is immediately interested, but Matunaaga will have none of it.
Later, she and Atli argue some more over what to do. She comes to talk to Matunaaga and Gudmund some more after this.  Matunaaga attempts to explain what is wrong with what she has done, but she suddenly sees through his behavior and declares: "Wait a minute. This is all because you have a crush on me." Matunaaga explains that he was attracted to her, but that he wanted to make his fortune before asking for her hand. He counters to ask what Atli has to offer her. She tears into him after that, finally saying "What, so if I sleep with you will you let us go?" Matunaaga is mortified, and he and and Gudmund return to Sigrid's family home to wait for Skallagrim. They quietly keep tabs on Valgard and his family for the next two days.
Two days later, Skallagrim arrives. He had made good time coming out since his brother Eldgrim returned back from the search. Eldgrim had seen the Wappinger and reported back the news of both Atli and Matunaaga's passing through there. Skallagrim is privately somewhat relieved to be rid of Vagnhild, but he cannot openly show this out of honor. He also is pondering about whether he can profit out of this by a lawsuit against Atli's foster-father Hring for the crime of abduction. He is thus determined to make a big show about being offended, but privately seek any excuse to let her go.
After arriving at Sigrid's family, he first greets and thanks Sigrid and her father. He then speaks with his carls, who fill him in on the rough situation. His first question is "How many men do they have?" The carls had not thought in those terms, but they know there are about four fighting-age men among Valgard's family, and two huscarls. Skallagrim makes a show of assessing the odds, but decides to not use force "because he doesn't have enough men". Sigrid then asks him to please not make trouble, saying that she has already had enough trouble in her life. This refers to the incident a year ago which Skallagrim had a part in, ending in the fight where her husband Bront was killed by her son Brom as they fought in the Tjaraholt hall. He reassures her that he expects no trouble.
Skallagrim goes the next day to visit Valgard's home by himself, as a sign of not making trouble but also being unafraid. He confronts Atli, but has few harsh words for him. Atli explains that he intended to wait out a season here at Nyr Reykjavik, then go back to his father with the match already true. He is prepared to change this plan, but Skallagrim actually concurs with his original logic, noting "It is easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission." Skallagrim then talks to Vagnhild, saying that she could have chosen to have the same match arranged if she just waited longer. She counters, "This way it was my choice."