It is twilight in the fens. A family huddles, scared shaking, watched over by a crossbowman. Two rough-looking men leer and laugh as another man drags a young girl by the hair, out of the family’s shack, his other hand unlacing his breeches…
Ser Curnden handpicks twenty soldiers to travel north to Hart House. These men will accompany Ser Harlan to Durain’s Forest in an attempt to find and parley with Durgan.
At Hart House Lord Davain is disappointed to learn that his men will not have opportunity to train at Bloodwater Keep, following a refusal by Lady Nymeria. Over dinner, Ralhallan fools Ser Corbin into joining the foray into Durain’s Forest. Twenty men of Hart House also join the band, with each partnered to a Bloodwater Keep man.
Ralhallan successfully relocates Durgan’s Camp. The initial meeting is cordial but without immediate result, other than an invitation from Durgan to partake of his hospitality. A discussion over beer yields an agreement whereby Durgan and his remaining men will join forces with Ser Harlan in order to destroy Thalia. In return, Durgan will be allowed to remain in the forest unmolested, providing he commits no further acts of banditry. Durgan also agrees to post a token force at Riverthorn to dissuade squatters. Ser Harlan offers Durgan and his men the position of forest rangers at such time as House Fisher retakes Riverthorn and lays claim to Durain’s Forest.