Frida secures their prisoner while Beran and the Bride move quietly through the forest to the camp of the Southron outlaws – fifty or more cruel, ill-favoured men in the service of their warlord Valter. The outlaw chief seems to be hosting the runaway Oderic as an honoured guest, but Beran can see that the boy is being constantly watched and guarded.
When Oderic goes for a walk in the woods, the two adventurers overpower his guard and confront him, demanding he return to face Beorn’s justice – but Oderic is defiant, saying he deserves a chance to find his own way in life, just as the adventurers have, and that the Southrons only seek a place to call their own. Beran can see that the young man is willfully ignoring the truth, and eventually leads Orderic to admit to himself that the southerners plan to sack the villagers of the Wilderlands, starting with Stonyford, and that he must help stop them.
Orderic proposes a plan – he will lead the Southrons to the Gloomy Ford, a day’s march from Beorn’s house. If the adventurers can get to Beorn ahead of the southerners, they can rally the Beorning forces and ambush the invaders. Beran and the Bride rejoin Frida and the three push themselves day and night, reaching Stonyford in two days and Beorn’s house two days after that. While they rest, Beorn gathers a force of thirty warriors from the local villagers, then sets off on his own.
The Beorning forces lay in wait at the Gloomy Ford, then strike the Southron horde as they pass! They have surprise on their side but are outnumbered, and the three adventurers find themselves in the thick of the fighting. Hard pressed and injured, they manage to break through the enemy lines to reach the rear, to see Oderic doing his best to fight Valtar. The warlord almost kills the young man, but is waylaid by the adventurers and brought down by a mighty blow from Beran – just as the giant bear that is Beorn appears and tears through the rest of the routed invaders.
Two days later, at the Carrock, Oderic is finally put on trial for the murder of his brother-in-law Rathfic. While no-one disputes that he did kill Rathfic, the adventurers speak on behalf of the young warrior, who did his best to defend his homelands despite his crimes. In the end Beorn decides that Oderic has suffered enough, and lets him go free. He goes off to seek his fortune, while the adventurers are feted (again) as heroes of the Beornings.
As winter approaches, the three heroes take their rest, waiting for spring and the chance for new adventure.