Hagen asks Volker to accompany him as a comrade-in-arms. As the two sit in the palace courtyard, many of the Huns stare at them as though they are strange beasts. Kriemhild looks on from a window and weeps, puzzling her vassals, who have only recently seen her happy. They ask how they might avenge whatever wrongs she has suffered. Kriemhild begs them to kill Hagen.
The Burgundians seem just as strangely foreign to the Huns as the Huns do to them. Kriemhild’s emotions, meanwhile, are becoming more transparent to her men, as the veil of the “ideal” queen increasingly slips away to reveal her underlying character.
Kriemhild summons 400 knights who are eager to slay Hagen. She tells them to wait until she publicly upbraids him. When he sees the Queen approaching with armed men, Volker promises Hagen his aid. Hagen then insists that the two remain seated when Kriemhild passes, even laying Siegfried’s sword provocatively across his lap. Volker does the same with his sword-like fiddle-bow. When the Queen sees Siegfried’s sword, she begins to weep.
Kriemhild wants to make her charges public before carrying out her vengeance. Knowing they’re already doomed, Hagen provokes Kriemhild with the very weapon he’d taken away from Siegfried before slaying him.
Kriemhild demands to know why Hagen slew Siegfried. Hagen admits his responsibility for the deed, and says that Siegfried had to pay for Kriemhild’s maligning of Brunhild. He challenges anyone to avenge the wrong he has done. Kriemhild calls on her knights, but they are cowed by the sight of the warriors. Several of them declare that they would not fight these two in exchange for any riches. The men from Burgundy retreat to the court, where Etzel greets them amicably and presides over a feast in their honor.
Hagen continues to maintain that he was right to act as he did, for the sake of Brunhild’s honor. He and Volker present such formidable figures that nobody is yet willing to take them on, so they escape with their lives for the time being.