During his training for the pit, Whitestaff trained with nobles and those able to afford tutelage at School of the Paths. While most students walked the Stone Path or the Iron Path, a few walked the Dark Path. One of those walking the Dark Path, was Balen Durin, a branch clan member of the founding clan of Baen Durin. During an exercise, Balen struck a servant of the house, Catreya who Whitestaff fancied. He attacked Balen in a rage and beat him into unconsciousness. Master Copperkettle sent Whitestaff to the surface with some money and clothes and a warning that Balen would not suffer to be humiliated by a servant, especially one who was human. Copperkettle’s last words were to seek the edge of civilization and then disappear.