As autumn turns to spring, three adventurers – Frida, Beran and The Bride – discover the bodies of two of Beorn’s thanes, murdered by orcs in a boat run aground on the Great River. It looks as if the two men were transporting a prisoner to face Beorn’s justice, and that the third man escaped in the ambush.
The adventurers bury the bodies and trek to Beorn’s Hall, where he receives their news with great anger and sadness. They sup with him and the local Beornings, and are awakened in the night by the sound of a great bear roaring in the distance. Come the morning, they find Beorn cheerier and surrounded by the helmets of dead orcs. He sets them a quest to track down the escaped prisoner, whoever he might be, and bring him back to face justice.
Mounted on Beorn’s horses, the adventurers search for signs of the escapee. They find the body of an orc, decapitated with a sword taken from one of the dead thanes, and follow this trail south to the Old Ford and beyond. Their journey is cold and difficult, with false leads and poor sleep, and they are weary when they find further sign of the fugitive just outside Stonyford – the village that hosted the Moon Festival two seasons earlier.
But when the adventurers attempt to enter the village, they receive a chilly reception from its leaders, who petition them to pass by and leave them to their sadness…