In late Storm season, Dara challenges Branduan Hodirson to a duel for the sword Wrath. Eager to avenge his last defeat at her hands, Branduan accepts.
The location for the duel will be high on the Starfire Ridges on the border between the Orlmarth and Greydog lands. Knowing that Branduan will be armed with Wrath and that he is already an accomplished duellist, the heroes enact the Arming of Orlanth heroquest to earn Daranestra the favour of the Gods. The ritual is a moderate success and Dara feels that she is blessed by Orlanth and Vinga.
On the day of the duel, the weather is cold and the winds whip across the moors atop the Ridges. The duel commences and it is clear that Branduan is the most skilled of the combatants. Dara is forced to dig deep to hold her own in the duel, but then fortune turns its face away from Branduan. Twice he is cursed by terrible luck, perhaps Orlanth himself is displeased with him. When Branduan slips on some ice, Dara seizes her chance and drives her sword though his breast. Branduan is dead.
Aghast, the Greydogs retrieve the body of Branduan and leave the Ridge, muttering about revenge. The heroes are able to retrieve Wrath and return to their stead.
A few days later, they travel to the Greenstone Earth temple to present the sword to Ernalsulva Entariosdottir and so complete the second task. When she learns that Branduan was killed for the sword she seems displeased and there is a noticeable coolness to her manner.
The next morning Ernalsulva presents the heroes with their third and final task. She reminds them of the fate of her father Hofstaring Treeleaper and how he languishs in a Lunar hell.
“Without his hands, he is unable to free himself. So here is my third and final challenge: free my father from hell”
She then presents three gifts to the heroes to aid them. First, the great sword Wrath is given to Zara, it is only fitting that a sword sacred to Humakt should be wielded by an initiate of that dread God. Secondly, Esra is presented with the Hawthorn Bough, it is always in flower and is a bond to the land of the living. Lastly, Kronin agrees to be the one that carries the Red Hands of Hofstaring into the Underworld.
Upon their return to Orlmarth lands, the heroes must decide how they will travel to the Underworld and how much support they will ask their clan for. Weighing their options they decide that they will travel Ernalda’s path to the land of the dead. This must be done during the Sacred time which is approaching soon and they will be led by Esra, an initiate of Ernalda.
Late one evening, as they ponder the task before them, the heroes are disturbed by a visitor to their stead. He is Dunorl Ring-Guarder a well known and influential member of the Ernaldor clan. After checking that the heroes have trust in each other, he informs Daranestra and Zara about the truth of their heritage and their mysterious tattoos.
They are both distant members of the Royal House of Sartar! Zara is descended from the last members of the Household of Death, who all died when Boldhome fell in 1602. Daranestra can trace her lineage back to Dorasar, the founder of the city of New Pavis, far to the East. Dunorl urges them to fight for the Freedom of Sartar.