One morning in March, Gruadh helps Drostan muck out the stables. As they work, Bodhe returns from a journey with several strangers. The group carries two banners. One is yellow with a black raven, the design of the Orkney Vikings. The other is blue with silver stars, and belongs to Gilcomgan mac Malbríd, mormaer of Moray. Drostan explains that Gilcomgan became mormaer only after killing the previous mormaer, Finlach, the father of his cousin Macbeth. Gruadh hopes she will not be wed to any of the men present.
Gruadh understands that she must marry whomever her father tells her to, but still hopes she can find love in her match. She dislikes the Vikings who kidnapped her as a child, and does not think she could forgive a man like Gilcomgan, who was guilty of murder.
Gruadh continues to muck the stables even after Aella comes out to fetch her on Bodhe’s behalf. Another group of men arrive, led by Macbeth. He does not recognize Gruadh as noble and has her take care of his horse. She passes the window of the great hall and sees from the beeswax candles that the guests are important. She finally goes inside and makes herself presentable with the help of her nurse, Maeve. As she arrives in the great hall a fight has just broken out—Macbeth and Gilcomgan have drawn their swords.
Beeswax candles were the best and most expensive, and Dolina only uses them when entertaining special guests. Although Gruadh doesn’t want to go inside and meet a man who might be her husband, she knows she must do her duty as Bodhe’s daughter. The fight between Macbeth and Gilcomgan has decade-old roots—Gilcomgan killed Macbeth’s father, and stole his land and title.