Our protagonists made their way to the large city of Liguelen, along with Sophie's husband (Darwin) and his trade caravan. Bram looked to gain legitimacy from the priests here, in the seat of power. Sophie wanted to help sell her new military-style leathergoods to the generals, along with Darwin's other commodities. What they found was trouble and complication.
Bram's encounter with the local authorities, religious and political, was less than helpful. His brash demeanour and fervent devotion to building unity and faithfulness led him into arguments with the generals and priests. One general in particular was Sohpie's brother-in-law, married to Sophie's sister Gloriana. Gloriana was, we learned, the favourite child who was even more elegant and graceful than Sophie. She was married into nobility (the general) to help further the family name. This time around, it didn't help matters much that she invited Darwin, Sophie and Bram to stay with her without her husband's knowledge.
The tension in the house is palpable. Darwin and the general are engaged in trade talks in the palace while Bram and Sophie are pursuing the holy task given by Cambruach. After failing to contact Ithnel in the local temples, they decide to make pilgrimage to him in the nearby mountains. The day of the pilgrimage, however, Bram goes missing. Sophie searches the city for him and hears all kinds of rumours: Bram has been taken by the gods, has fled with people's money, has been imprisoned by the prince... Whatever's happened to him, the pilgrimage is cancelled. Sophie continues to search for him at the temple and discovers, to her astonishment, that the priests and sorcerers are researching all kinds of magic - magic that does not align with how people are born, magic that is dark and forbidden - in order to win the coming war. The holy men and wizards believe they are obedient to Ithnel's divine command to be industrious, learning about new magics and creating weapons of war from that new knowledge. Sophie talks with a young curate, learning that Ithnel is quite hostile to some of the schools of magic being used in this research. The two of them pray for forgiveness and receive a sign from the heavens, a powerful wind that swirls around the temple.
There is no sign of Bram, the city is unfaithful even to their own god, and Darwin's business has concluded. Sophie has had some good times with her sister, punctuated by tension over her religious devotion to Cambruach and being Bram's disciple. Now it is time to leave. Darwin has no time to wait for Bram, and the caravan sets off, leaving Bram to his uncertain fate.
Editorial: I hope Peter and David will embellish this in the comments with their own notes.