Our party sleeps through the thunderstorm with Ciar's army, taking advantage of the multitude of guards and not taking turns on watch. They have a space out of the rain for themselves, and as the thunderstorm continues through the next day and night they stay in their space and pass the day quietly—like many of the soldiers.
On the third day with the "army", Dru begins to search for old Nomad contacts and finds a few friends and previous lovers. Meanwhile Esben goes to speak to Ciar about some business. Sina, Walter and Declan enjoy breakfast until a crowd begins gathering and drawing attention. Propelled by curiosity, Walter and Declan investigate and find a Nomad and soldier fist-fighting in the center of the circle. Walter offers bacon to the two people standing near him and they explain that this is a blood duel—the way Nomads clear the air of grievances between them. Typically, they do it with knives, but Ciar has outlawed the use of knives when a Nomad is fighting a soldier as the soldiers are not as skilled in knife fighting and Ciar prefers to keep them uninjured.
Walter continues talking to the soldiers, who introduce themselves as Jocosa and Bjorn. They are from Garrison Purple, and joined the rebellion when their Captain gave his soldiers the option to choose their own sides in the war. Having had to be present for a couple of torture sessions, they decided to choose Ciar's side and appear to have parted on good terms with their Captain (whom, it is discovered, Walter actually went to fencing school. Their Captain was Silvain Battier).
Sina, having finished her breakfast before letting curiosity get the better of her, asks a soldier near her about the duel. She recognizes the Nomad in the fight as Isya, and gets nearly the same explanation that Walter and Declan did. She also asks if this happens often, and learns Isya doesn't often have duels with anyone. After the duel has concluded and Isya and the soldier have spoken a bit, Sina secretly follows Isya back to a camping area where a female soldier, upon seeing him, immediately jumps up and fusses over him. They appear very familiar as she cups his face in her hand and checks over his wounds, and Sina, heartbroken, turns away.
When Sina returns to the group's space, she finds a Nomad she doesn't recognize tending their abandoned fire in their absence. He introduces himself as Stas and tries to cheer Sina up with some success, and she tells him about her first encounter with Nomads (Isya) without giving any names, and then the second time they met a couple of years later. Stas entertains Sina until Walter and Declan return, and then Dru and Esben file in as well, Dru toting two Nomads who he introduces to the group as Zannochka and Miksa (Miksa looks about 12). Dru informs the group that he wants to have a party that night. Someone comes to tell Stas that Ciar needs him, and Dru tells Stas he is also invited and to bring friends.
Zannochka and Miksa leave the group to acquire alcohol and music in preparation for that night. Declan and Sina aren't in the mood to party, but Dru tries to make them promise they'll each dance with one Nomad at least. He also teaches the group the supposed Nomad signal for asking for a dance, which he explains as placing a kiss on someone's open palm. Unfortunately for Dru, Sina knows this signal actually means to declare romantic interest in the person whose hand you are kissing. She calls him out on it angrily, and the group tells Dru that they've learned they need to be honest with each other. Sina walks away from the little group and Declan follows as she is visibly upset. He asks if she is just as unsettled around the Nomads as he is, but she just doesn't want to party, and she tells Declan to be careful with Nomad alcohol.
Before the party, Dru had some arrangements to make. He went to speak to Ciar about food and Ciar assured Dru there would be enough as hunters had gone out. He also mentioned to Dru that he was commandeering the party a little, so the whole camp would celebrate Arka's return and blow off a little steam. Meanwhile Stas approached the campsite again to warn Declan and Sina that the party plans had grown larger. He was careful when approaching, having noticed how uncomfortable Declan can be around Nomads. Declan and Sina thanked him for the warning, and Walter decided to go have his own talk with Ciar.
Ciar was relaxing by Soreza as she checked on an injured soldier, and when Walter asked to speak to about how the war was going Ciar answered that he runs the rebellion with Grisha, who should join them. At Walter’s acceptance, Soreza fetched Grisha. As he spoke with Ciar, Walter learned that the leader had believed they could win the conflict before Artedin troops go involved, but he wasn’t so sure now. Nor would he press anyone into service unless they chose to pledge to him, so Walter’s party was free to go as they pleased. He does say he has some things up his sleeves and he would announce a couple before the army moved again—most likely tomorrow.
Walter told Ciar a little of his troubles and also offered his services as an inventor (disclosing his identity) and as someone teaching himself about engineering. Ciar thanked him for the offer.
When the time for the party came, Sina was surprised as Stas led Isya and the woman from earlier (introduced as Rohelia) over to their fire. Isya was stunned to see Sina, and hinted that they should dance. While initially very awkward with each other, Isya eventually renewed his declaration of interest in Sina and after dancing a bit the two snuck off with each other.
Walter, who had convinced Declan to dance with Jocosa, decided he didn’t’ need to keep an eye on Sina anymore when she and Isya started making out instead of dancing. Instead, Walter took cups of hot coffee to the perimeter guards on watch and passed his time chatting with them. He also found a few Nomads willing to teach him some of their crafts in bone jewelry.
Soreza cleared Esben for a couple of dances, so Dru and Esben share a few until Esben sits by the fire again to nurse his pneumonia. Dru dances with some Nomads before making Esben a plate of food and joining him to eat. Later, Dru sneaks off himself with a few Nomads, letting Esben know he’ll be back in the morning.
Declan keeps dancing, and ignores Sina’s warning about the alcohol. (Drunk Declan is best Declan.) When he spies Grisha, he asks where Inok is. Grisha tells him Inok is scouting, but should be back soon. Drunk Declan tells Grisha he’s pretty cool when he’s not cutting hands off of people and Grisha says “thanks” and moves on.
Grisha goes to check in with the soldiers on watch, running into Walter. Declan waits and sees Inok not too long after, asking her to dance. She agrees and they dance and then go eat together. While eating, Inok reports to Ciar that Urik has taking her place scouting and then makes to leave, suggesting to Declan that he should drink some water. Unfortunately, he goes for the alcohol, not being able to keep track really of which is which at this point. Grisha and Dima are both near the food at this point, and Grisha points out to Dima that Declan is going for more alcohol. Dima takes the cup from Declan and gives it to Grisha instead, supplying Declan with water. They see Declan wave enthusiastically at Inok and grin at each other.
Grisha doesn’t want to drink because he wants to stay vigilant, but Dima makes him down three drinks before he leaves him alone about relaxing. Grisha gets emotional, and Dima slings an arm around him. Ciar even comes up to rest a hand on Grisha’s shoulder. Declan tried to cheer Grisha up by telling him to have fun like him because it was a party. Soreza joins in and decides to escort Declan to bed.
Grisha decides to go check on the soldiers and Nomads on watch again, and Walter notices his face changed from crying. He asks Grisha if he’s okay and Grisha replies “I’ve been better”. Walter offers him a hug, surprising him, and Grisha accepts and thanks Walter. Grisha tells Walter about Declan’s drunken state and Walter returns to the group’s fire to check on him.
Esben is still awake when Walter returns, telling him that Declan is in bed thanks to Soreza and that Esben will watch a few more hours before turning in himself. Sina doesn’t return to camp, and eventually both Walter and Esben go to sleep. Dru rejoins a few hours later, snuggling up to Esben to sleep.