We left our heroes in the middle of a rush to catch the miscreant who had just shot James. The archer has darted up past the cook fires, unknowingly straight towards Yachak who is dining at one of the picnic tables, having just entered the carnival a few minutes before. Yachak notices the fleeing man is being chased by several of his own party members who are taking various routes over and around the bar to gain on their quarry. Though he doesn’t have time to rise from the table and face the fugitive personally, it’s a simple thing to issue a command to the alert dog at his side. Nhymeri is just about to put an arrow into the fleeing man when Sy takes him down with a mighty leap. At the next moment, Kibu is also there and immobilizes him with a knife to the throat.
James arrives and finds that he is the only one who can understand the man’s babbling. He was a peasant from the area of Asterhelm, whose family had been killed by the marauding military forces of which James had once been a member. The archer had recognized the fighter in the ring as one of those same soldiers by the style of his swordsmanship. Enraged, the man had taken his pot shot, hoping to be lost in the crowd. In disgust, James strides forward and nicks the man in the arm with his sword in stubborn compliance with his grim soldierly code of honor.
By now the townsfolk are gathering, led by the chief judge of the sword contest, Sub-Magister Bukumar. Feeling sure that it would be a bad idea for his new friends to come to the attention of the authorities under such circumstances, Septimus springs into action and musters the full force of his charisma to charm, distract, and befuddle the impressionable official, who is only too happy to be convinced that the incident is well in hand and requires little further effort on his part. He pompously orders his flunkies to escort the foreign troublemaker to jail, and the party quietly lets this happen, even though there is some feeling among them that there is more they could learn from this unfortunate soul, and that he might even prove a useful ally.
The crowds disperse, and the group talks quietly for a while. The question is brought up whether James or Marina should opt out of the final bout between them, but Marina is keen to give it a go, and James’ new wound is bound up sufficiently for him to continue, albeit without a shield. The bell sounds, and the contest is quick and one-sided, though honorably fought by both. Marina gives it her all, and James doesn’t insult her by pulling any punches. When she comes to, Marina is helped off the field by her friends, while James is awarded the winner’s purse, and pays his respects to a now enthusiastic crowd of onlookers.
Marina’s stalwart bravery in the arena against formidable odds has not gone unnoticed. During the final bout, Kibu has slipped away and gone on a mission of his own. Taking advantage of the buzz generated by the final dramatic swordfight, he cases out the livestock pens watching for a moment when a certain cage is unattended. Later, as the party gathers by the fountain after the fight, he shows up with the lively fox kit in his satchel that Marina had admired earlier in the day. This inspires James to spend a bit of his winnings and the rest of his evening creating a gift of his own, a beautiful fox pendant to commemorate the adoption of her new pet.