A forest. Dappled sunlight. Trees bursting with new growth. Two young lads, bloodstained and sheened in sweat, stand before a violet-eyed woman. Behind the lads, men drag away two corpses. The woman smiles at the two bloodied lads and bids them welcome to her banner…
Ser Curnden pays a farmer for the use of his barn, in order to conceal the small force of soldiers that will attack Thalia’s bandits as they head to Hart House. Meanwhile, Willam acts as bait, walking openly through the forest, in the direction of Thalia’s camp. Ralhallan shadows at a distance. Eventually the pair are met by two of Thalia’s scouts and escorted to her camp. At the camp, they find themselves stood in a circle of desperate, rough-looking men. Willam, Ral and Thalia discuss the plan to sack Hart House, after which Thalia explains that all new recruits must kill a standing member of her band, in single combat. Ral persuades the bandit leader to let him fight two men at once, in order that Willam need not fight. The ensuing combat is as brutal as it is swift.
Curnden’s battle plan proves effective as the men from Bloodwater Keep and Hart House fall upon the bandits with speed and ferocity. Curnden and Harlan give excellent account of themselves, slaying several bandits before crippling the two leaders of the band. The survivors are given the choice of a swift death or taking the black. Most choose the latter and are taken back to Bloodwater Keep, where they will languish in the dungeon until a recruiter from the Night’s Watch arrives to take them away.
Durgan’s men attack Thalia’s camp, killing all the men who stayed behind, whist releasing the women and children. Thalia begs Ralhallan not to hand her over to Durgan. Ral promises that nothing of the sort will happen, and promptly kills the violet-eyed beauty.