The prologue was set up much the same as the Song of Ice & Fire books started. Each prologue gave the reader a taste of something that would later become significant to the series as a whole.
The prologue began with two nobles boys sneaking away from the Refort at night seeking a bit of fun and a hint of danger. Jon Redfort, the fourth born son of Lord Horton Redfoot had the bright idea to investigate a peculiar sight he noticed earlier that day. They were traveling out in the woodlands on hunting lessons when he spotted a series of what looked like various items hanging from trees. His instructor thought it not wice to pursue this further, and so they returned home. Jon laid in bed for hours trying to ignore his urges of curiosity until these urges overcame him.
Realizing that he was not wise to travel alone, he took his friend Bran Coldwater along with him. While fleeing the city, the Redfort Guard at Post; Nolin, noticed the two boys sneaking out and took the free rider, Tom ‘Clubfoot’ along with him. They opted not to alert others that they were abandoning post.
The boys were well ahead of those who were in pursuit, and reached the sight Jon originally found peculiar. Jon led Bran closer to the sight, though the moonlight made it hard to see. Stumbling in the dark, Bran touched something cold that seemed to swing in the trees from the force of his arm. Positioning the light for better view, they saw it was half of a man’s corpse hanged by a rope. The other parts were missing as if torn off. As their eyes gazed around the sight, the boys realized this was not the only body hanging from the trees. There were another thirty or so. And then there was sound ahead.
Jon’s curiosity got the best of him and he thought it wise to get a better look. They found clansmen with red paint across their face. Turning to flee, they were sighted by the clansmen and pursued as they mounted up on steeds and took off. Fortunately the two hired guard of House Redfort had caught up by this point and through cooperation of all four they were able to flee the clansmen. They opted to ride the main road in hope that they would be free of any further situations.
Roughly a mile from the Redfort, they encountered three travelers on horseback. Two wore cloaks and the third wore armor. A knight, they considered for a moment. They chose to simply ride past, but they were halted by the Knight’s hail which proved to be an ambush.
As Jon explained the dangers ahead, the Knight smirked and revealed his appearance in the light. This was enough to make Jon’s eyes widen. “It’s you…” he said with bewilderment in his voice. At this point, Nolin was slaughtered by the two in cloaks and an injured Tom Clubfoot seemingly escaped. But the boy’s fates were now in the hands of the strange Knight and his murderous companions.