The episode begins with a repeat of the last few minutes of the previous episode. The leader of the imperial agents calls out Balsa. The one who answers however is Torogai, who tells the agent that Balsa and the prince are in a safe location, and if they want to talk to anyone, it should be her. Torogai goes over to Shuga and the imperial agents.
The star reader and the spell weaver interrogate each other and bring each other up to speed. Torogai explains things that Shuga’s archives could not tell him and he ends up being very impressed by the depth of Torogai’s knowledge. (He is also dismayed to discover that the people who can best take care of Chagum right now are probably Torogai and Balsa.) Shuga agrees to let Torogai and Balsa continue to protect the prince, while he spends the winter organizing a research team to read the secret archives and hopefully find a way to defeat the Rarunga. The imperial agents are not very happy about letting Chagum stay in Balsa’s custody.
There is some saber rattling that continues even after Torogai points out that the Rarunga is a creature that is intangible to everyone except the person bearing the egg. (Our friend Jin of reckless and occasionally just plain stupid stunts is particularly vehement about insisting that Chagum be turned over to Shuga and the agents.) The argument finally ends with Shuga telling the imperial agents that they are going to leave Chagum with Torogai and Balsa. (The leader of the agents reluctantly agrees because after all, Balsa has managed to evade and outwit them every step of the way.)
Before Shuga leaves, he thanks Tanda for helping him with his research. Tanda is a little surprised that Shuga even remembers him.
When Shuga gets back to the palace, he recruits Master Gakai, prince Sagum’s former tutor. Gakai is extremely depressed and really does not want to work on this project. (He is miserable and has some resentment toward Shuga, who has been given a great deal of authority.) Shuga eventually manages to convince Gakai to be the head of the research team. It is interesting that he phrases the need to do research as a competition of sorts between the knowledge of the star readers and the knowledge possessed by the spell weavers. (It is interesting because you would think that someone who deliberately consulted with a Yakoo spell weaver, when consulting with Yakoo is not a thing star readers do would not phrase it as a competition between two different fields of study.)
Next, we see Balsa, Torogai and Tanda, who are heading deep into the mountains. Chagum is quiet and obviously unhappy about this situation. (There is a lot of pretty fall scenery and sad music at this point.) After some more travel, they finally reach their destination, a cavern they refer to as “Hunter’s Hole.” (If it is a hole, it is more like hobbit hole than a real hole, because it is a snug little lodge in a large cave system.) It turns out that this “hole” was something of a childhood home for Balsa and her mysterious foster parent, Jiguro. Balsa is very nostalgic as she wanders around the place.
Everyone gets ready for winter. Balsa gets Chagum to help her with the hunting, fishing and preserving of food for the winter. As he works, Chagum slowly recovers from his depression and becomes more lively and curious. One of the things Chagum becomes curious about is the man who raised Balsa, Jiguro. We end this episode with Balsa getting ready to tell the story of the political situation that led to her and Jiguro’s exile from the kingdom of Kanbal.