It’s Rune’s 21st birthday. At sunset, Valheigh would officially be without a king, allowing any of the Lords to invoke the Lesser Challenge and claim the throne.

Neither Hawthorne nor Redley expected Rune to show up, so they’re pretty surprised in panel three.

Redley is particularly surprised because he had sentries watching out for Rune, as well as the Captain of the Guard out searching for him. The Captain, as I mentioned earlier, was intensely loyal to Rune’s father and so honored Rune’s orders to keep his presence secret. Rune and Justin know the castle inside and out, since they grew up there and had free reign of the place most of the time. They had no trouble sneaking in past Redley’s spies.

At this point, Rune doesn’t trust Redley. He expects Lord Redley to manipulate him, giving him limited information in order to influence his decisions. That was, in fact, pretty much Redley’s plan.