Roran faces an audience with Nasuada, who asks him what she's to do with him in regards to his insubordination. "Whatever you wish, My Lady," replies Roran, which she considers admirable, but doesn't resolve her quandary. She notes his great success during the battle, but says that she still has to punish him. She asks him if he wishes to continue to fight with the Varden, and he agrees that he does. She explains that there are three choices: she can kill him (but won't for a number of reasons), she can give him thirty lashes and discharge him, or she can give him fifty lashes and allow him to remain with the Varden. He asks if he would be flogged for everyone to see and she tells him that his pride has no part in this. He agrees to the fifty lashes, saying that it could not possibly be more painful than losing his home and family. She tells him that a magician of Du Vrangr Gata will oversee things to assure that he bears no permanent damage, but he is not allowed to entirely have his wounds healed, nor seek out a magician to mend them. Until everything can be readied, he is to remain under guard.
Roran is dismissed, relieved that he doesn't have to labor under the shadow of his punishment for days. He is led to a small tent nearby the whipping post, and sits down to wait. After about a half hour, the sorceress Trianna pays him a visit. She has him strip down, causing him embarrassment, then casts a spell of healing on his left shoulder. She certifies him as fit to continue and gives him a shirt of sackcloth to wear. Just as he is pulling on the shirt, Katrina comes rushing in. She asks Trianna if she may speak with Roran alone, which Trianna consents to. She leaves and Katrina tells Roran that she's missed him. She says that what is happening is wrong and she begged Nasuada to not go through with it, but she refused. Roran tells her that he wishes she hadn't, as he won't go back on his word. Katrina protests that what is happening is wrong, but Roran tells her that it does not matter and he would have given the same order himself. Katrina replies that men have died from being whipped so many times, but Roran says that was only because they had weak hearts. He tells her it will take more than this to kill him. He asks her to go to her tent until after the flogging is over. She protests, saying that she will not leave him, but he tells her that she should not have to see it. He explains that he can bear it better if he knows that she is not watching. She tells him that she will be pained no matter what, but agrees to his request.
Jörmundur and two Nighthawks arrive and Katrina leaves. Jörmundur extends his hand and tells Roran that it's time. He is led past a group of onlookers to the whipping post and the punishment begins. It feels like a rod of hot metal and he emits an involuntary groan, but remains silent the remainder of the time. After reaching thirty, he wonders how he can endure more, but then thinks of Katrina and her unborn child and finds the resolve within him. He passes out eventually and awakes to find Katrina stroking his hair and somebody poking at him. Trianna comments that it is not how she would treat a patient of hers and the other person replies that if she treated all of her patients as she was treating Roran, she's surprised that they survived. Roran identifies her voice as belonging to Angela. Angela and Trianna continue to quarrel until Trianna gives up and leaves in disgust. Katrina asks Roran if he understands her and he acknowledges her, his voice very raspy. Angela finishes her ministrations and Roran is surprised that she and Angela did so much. Angela says that it was on Nasuada's orders, but refuses to explain further. Roran thanks her and she says to think nothing of it, but then changes her mind and comments that "Or rather, think something of it, but do not consider it overly important. Besides, it amuses me to have tended injuries on both your back and Eragon's. Right, then, I'll be off. Watch out for ferrets!" Katrina tells him that he was very brave and that he never cried out or begged. She tells him that with a bit of luck, he won't scar too badly. She offers him a pot of yarrow tea, which he accepts, but then he spots Nasuada just outside the tent.
He starts to stand, but Nasuada says she doesn't want to cause him any more pain. Katrina asks why she's come, as Roran needs rest. Roran says that he can talk if he must and Nasuada tells him that she has another mission for him, a small raid. He asks when he would leave, puzzled that she's informing him of this in person. "Tomorrow," she explains, which sends Katrina into a fit. Katrina says that she can and must order Roran to do this, explaining that the Varden's alliance with the Urgals is on the verge of collapsing, following Othmund's unprovoked slaughter of one of their number while Roran was serving with Captain Edric, who is no longer a captain. Though Othmund was executed, Garzhvog's rams are still restless. To this end, she is sending a group of Men and Urgals on a mission and placing Roran in command of them. Roran is stunned, asking why, and Nasuada explains that that she knows he will do whatever it takes. Additionally, she cannot afford to risk him committing insubordination again, no matter what the cause, so she is giving him his own command so that the only person he can disobey will be her. Only killing Galbatorix would save him should he choose to disobey her orders. She asks if she can count on him, and Roran, knowing how much it pains Katrina, whispers hoarsely that Nasuada may count on him.