The assassin commits magical suicide, but not before Trianna learns that he was part of a spy network for Galbatorix called the Black Hand. Nasuada assigns Trianna to use her magicians to try and eradicate these spies.
Nasuada brings Elva to a council with King Orrin and the elders of both Surda and the Varden. Orrin has learned Galbatorix’s army is much bigger than had been previously thought and has been massing for an invasion of Surda; a magical illusion had been concealing its activity, one so powerful that it suggests the hand of Galbatorix himself. The leaders debate military strategy, inconclusively; they have no way to contact Eragon, though he will be necessary if their forces must face Galbatorix, but they do send a message asking for reinforcements to Hrothgar and the dwarves.