The party finds themselves back in Sharaqi territory and attempt to find a solution to the village's food shortage and get them to stop raiding Vesimer's farmsteads. After brief deliberation, the group decides to kill Polani to overthrow the power structure the Sharaqi observe, and force their warriors to stop raiding. Meanwhile, Old Mildred decides to try to hunt Siege Beetles in order to attract a Rok with their corpses and use its storm ability to wash away the remaining poisons from Lake Ziggard and the fields so that crops can be grown more quickly, as well as providing an ample supply of meat for the villagers to eat while they wait for the crops to mature.
Honsu challenges Polani to combat in order to determine who is the best warrior, and Polani accepts. At sundown, the challenge begins – Polani wields two blades while Honsu chooses to fight unarmed. Sevatar gathers a crowd of villagers to watch the fight and places bets with them, while Idrius gambles both his swords in return for a new weapon.
A great battle ensues, with the near-evenly matched Polani and Honsu fighting vigorously to the death, while the rest of the party eagerly watches on and Sevatar shouts vague but helpful advice to his red friend. After losing one of his swords, Polani reveals that his black hand is magical, introducing to the group the first magical inhabitant of Hemas – so far. Eventually Honsu is victorious, but gets wounded in the process. He takes Polani's black hand and tattoos runes into his own hand using Polani's blood, absorbing the basics of Polani's magic.
After the fight is over, Sevatar speaks to the assembled group of Sharaqi, convincing them to work together to plant new crops, and convinces the warriors of the village to stop raiding foreign farmsteads. He also rakes in one gold from the bets that the villagers lost, since they all stupidly bet on Polani's success. Idrius returns to the blacksmith who originally tried to melt him down for scraps to retrieve his swords and place an order for a new weapon – a gladiator's net that double functions as a cloak, while Edgar places an order for lightning rods in preparation for the party's fight with the Rok. Idrius also talks with one of the village's most travelled men in order to find out just how deeply magic has penetrated the humans of Hemas.
While the majority of the party remains in Sharaqi territory, Sevatar returns with Judy-Anne to Vesimer to speak to the Mayor about the party's success down south, and is promoted to Vice-Mayor of Vesimer. He also makes plans with the Mayor to invade and take over the Sharaqi village, and agrees to return to Vesimer in one week once the Mayor has assembled fifty men to fight, unbeknownst to the rest of the party.
Back at the village, Mildred goes out to find hunters and speaks to them about Siege Beetle hunting, and ends up hunting rabbits for leather with them in order to befriend them. Edgar and Idrius set up six lightning rods in a large circle in the field where Edgar has decided they will attract and fight the Rok, while Honsu meditates to discover the power behind Polani's hand and harness it for himself. Tylar stumbles upon a massive vein of silver and splits it with the villagers, keeping two kilograms of the raw metal for himself.
Before returning to the Sharaqi village, Sevatar sells two cyphers for a total of forty-six gold and buys a magical hat, which he discovers to be the Amenable Hat. Whoever he gifts it to will immediately become very friendly towards him. He also spends more time decoding the written language of Hemas, and learns more words.
With the help of Honsu, Tylar discovers what the coin from the smashed glass box does – it is actually a Coin Beetle, which disguises itself as a coin and comes out at night to eat gold. After cutting it down to one of three possible coins, Tylar tosses the bag containing them into the lake, ridding himself of the cursed bug.
Though eager to begin the hunt for Siege Beetles, Mildred is forced to wait until Idrius' new weapon can be completed, and in that time Sevatar returns. The party, as a whole once more, moves toward the forest to hunt, and Sevatar shares his secret deal with Honsu while Idrius asks Edgar to scan his heart, which reveals to them that it is a strange computer of sorts, beyond the scope of knowledge of either of them.
In the forest, the party comes across a clearing which has three Siege Beetles in it, scouted out previously by the Sharaqi hunters. The party encircles them and fights them, defeating the vehicle sized bugs in a haze of blood, guts and glory (and a little bit of brain). With the aid of some Sharaqi emplyed by Mildred, the party drags the carcasses out of the clearing and makes camp, to recover their strength and await the next day.