Swemmel and Werbel ride out swiftly for Burgundy, arriving within 12 days. The minstrels are graciously welcomed by Gunther’s court, and they share good news of the Kriemhild’s health and well-wishes. Then they relay the invitation to the festival, and Gunther requests a week’s deliberation. When he asks his vassals their opinion, many desire to make the journey, but Hagen, unsurprisingly, is fiercely opposed. He tells the King, “You are bent on your own destruction.”
After all these years, Hagen is no less suspicious of Kriemhild than Kriemhild remains bent on bringing Hagen down; there is a quickened sense of the two figures’ fates advancing to a climax.
Gunther dismisses this, saying that Kriemhild had renounced her feud with him before she left for Hungary, though her quarrel with Hagen remains open. Hagen replies that Gunther is deceiving himself, because “in matters of revenge King Etzel’s queen has a long memory.” Seeing Hagen’s hesitation to go to Hungary, Giselher taunts him that “those that dare” should make the journey. At this, Hagen is determined to prove that no one on the journey has greater courage than he does.
Hagen shows again that he truly has the measure of Kriemhild’s personality, succinctly summing up her fixation on revenge. Gunther, by contrast, seems oblivious to the depths of his sister’s feelings. While Giselher’s taunt seems petty, it’s a genuine challenge to Hagen’s honor, which he would have considered it his duty to counter.
Hagen counsels that if Gunther is determined to go to Hungary, he must uphold his honor by traveling heavily armed, with the best of his vassals. Gunther agrees and goes about gathering knights for the State visit. One of these knights is Volker, a noble lord who also plays the viol and so is known as “The Minstrel.” Meanwhile, Hagen delays Etzel’s envoys so that they can’t arrive too far in advance of the Burgundians, lest Kriemhild have extra time to plot harm to her enemies.
Even though Gunther doesn’t fear Kriemhild’s intentions, Hagen talks him into traveling well-armed on the grounds of honor. And even though Hagen knows what’s coming, he won’t hand Kriemhild any additional advantages that would worsen the Burgundians’ fate.
At last, Swemmel and Werbel, laden with gifts, set out with speed for Hungary. Kriemhild is pleased to receive them and lavishes them with gifts as she’d promised. She questions them as to who exactly is coming and expresses particular pleasure at the prospect of seeing Hagen. Etzel’s court begins to make preparations for the State visit.
Like the messenger early in the story, Swemmel and Werbel enjoy the benefits of bringing happy news to a great lady. Kriemhild’s plans appear to be coming together, as both sides appreciate the magnitude of such a visit.