Even as Uhtred recovers, he continues to have hallucinations of Leofric, who tells him that he can’t escape who he is. Osferth offer his condolences to Uhtred for the loss of Gisela, who was often kind to him. Leofric then tells Uhtred that if he hadn’t killed Alfred’s monk, he would still be his oathmen.
Saltwic, Mercia; Aldhelm arrives at Æthelflæd’s estate and sneaks in through a window. He withdraws his blade and sneaks up behind her, though he assures Æthelflæd that he means her no harm. He warns her to leave Mercia because Æthelred wants her dead and will blame her demise on rouge Danes. He fears that they would be a poorer land without Æthelflæd, which is why he begs that she leave now to stay alive. However, she can’t tell her father because the alliance must hold. He also informs her that Uhtred has fled north. Aldhelm will remain at Æthelred’s side, but he is not the king that Aldhelm had hoped he would become.
Æthelflæd drags Godric and his men from their beds and heads for the nunnery at Wincelcumb. She claims they’re only going for a short period of time to pray for her father. Before leaving, Æthelflæd gives Sable several letters to deliver to Father Beocca. Sable tells Æthelflæd that she has the will of a queen.
Alfred continues to document his life as king. He tasks Beocca with looking into possible suitors for Edward. Ælswith tells Beocca that it is not the daughter they are choosing, but rather her father and their standing. She tells Beocca that he will choose Lord Æthelhelm.
Bishop Erkenwald alerts Beocca that Edward claims to already be married. Beocca reports to Alfred, and the two of them confront Edward. He admits that he is married to Ecgwynn. Alfred demands the name of the priest or he will send for the girl. Edward refuses to do either, adding that he also doesn’t wish to become king. Alfred exclaims that it’s his duty. He then orders Bishop Erkenwald to escort Edward to the nearest monastery.
Æthelred discovers that Æthelflæd has fled and that her estate is empty. He suspects that she was warned and kills one of his men. Aldhelm advises him against such actions. Æthelred tells Aldhelm to find Æthelflæd and give her location to the Danes.
Ragnar gets word that 40 or 50 men march towards them on horses. He orders they close the gate and wait for them to approach.
Bloodhair and Hæsten lead a group of soldiers to Dunholm, asking Ragnar and Brida for food, shelter, and negotiation. Bloodhair is willing to resolve his matter with Uhtred peacefully. Ragnar orders his men to open the gates and to allow them in. Uhtred is certain that they’ve come to speak of Alfred. Among the Danes is Æthelwold.
Alfred asks Beocca about Uhtred’s children. Beocca explains that Hild is proving for them. Alfred denounces Coccham as Uhtred’s estate and wants both children brought to Winchester, where they will receive education and knowledge of God.
Beocca returns home, where Thyra and Sable await. Sable informs them that King Æthelred has conspired to kill Lady Æthelflæd, and so she has hidden in a nunnery in Wincelcumb. She tells them that they can’t tell the king as Æthelflæd doesn’t want the bond between the two lands to break. Thyra agrees on Beocca’s behalf to help. In the second letter, Æthelflæd has a solution. She has arranged a ship that is waiting for them on the Temes, to Dunholm, in order to find Uhtred.
Uhtred enters Skade’s cell. He tells Jackdaw to leave them, but he cannot or else Brida will kill him. Uhtred approaches Skade and asks what she wants. Skade would like to be a part of his life. To live beside him and through him. Skade tells Uhtred that Alfred will die and with him his kingdom. And it is Uhtred who must rule when that happens. She merely wants to be his queen. Bloodhair enters the cell. He has come to reclaim Skade and is willing to kill Uhtred in order to take her. Rather than challenge him, Uhtred kisses Skade in front Bloodhair, who is defenseless as Jackdaw stands at his rear with a spear. Uhtred claims Skade as his own.
Bloodhair barges into the hall and demands that Ragnar and Brida allow him to fight Uhtred for Skade. He would accept a fight of skill, with staffs. Skade as the prize. Ragnar turns him down.
Beocca and Thyra travel by ship to Dunholm to retrieve Uhtred. Thyra tells him how she and her mother traveled by ship to get to the land.
Ragnar, Hæsten, Bloodhair, and Cnut join their four armies to make one great army, all led by Ragnar in effort to defeat Alfred and claim Wessex. While those around them cheer, Finan, Sihtric, and Osferth are reluctant to go to war with the men of Wessex.
Ælswith reluctantly helps Alfred prepare for battle, even as he’s barely able to stand. He wishes to quiet the rumors of his weakness. Should he die, Ælswith tells Alfred that he will never leave her.
Beocca worries that the memories of Dunholm will overwhelm Thyra, but she insists that she’ll be fine and that she’s a different woman now. They suddenly spot Hæsten and his men leaving Dunholm. Beocca and Thyra arrive and Ragnar greets them. Beocca informs Ragnar and Brida that he’s come to carry out the king’s order and formally banish Uhtred from Wessex.
Father Beocca informs Uhtred that he’s actually come on behalf of Æthelflæd, as Æthelred is planning to have her killed. Uhtred claims this is not his concern, but he is bothered by this news nonetheless. Beocca also reveals that before arriving here with Hæsten and Bloodhair, Æthelwold stopped in Merica to see Æthelred. He presumes that the plan is to make Æthelwold the next king of Wessex. And with Hæsten returning south, they soon he will know Æthelflæd is in hiding. Beocca reminds Uhtred of the promise he made to Æthelflæd that he would come to her aid when she called on him. Furthermore, he is the man she trusts most.
Finan, Sihtric, and Osferth reconvene with Uhtred. They all know the great army will never hold. Furthermore, they didn’t come north only to turn and march south. Not to mention that men like Hæsten and Bloodhair are no better than Kjartan. They have no desire to fight along side such men. Finan questions why they aren’t looking towards Bebbanburg. He begs Uhtred against marching to Wessex. However, Uhtred cannot dare abandon his brother.
Æthelwold tells stories to Cnut and the other Danes of Alfred in his youth. Uhtred then asks what Æthelwold said to Æthelred when he visited Merica. Æthelwold spoke of an opportunity to enrage Alfred and cause division, which included killing Æthelflæd. Uhtred tells Æthelwold to not sleep or else he might not awaken. Æthelwold questions why Uhtred cares. He surmises that the real reason Beocca came was to ask that Uhtred save her. Æthelwold predicts that Uhtred is about to desert them. Cnut reminds Uhtred that they’re supposed to be joined as one. Bloodhair agrees that Uhtred appears conflicted, and so Ragnar asks what side he is on. Uhtred replies that the army will never hold. They’re enemies bound only by greed. Ragnar tells Uhtred to choose to either stand with them or abandon them. Finan, Sihtric, and Osferth enter as he reveals that he will be leaving to save Æthelflæd. Brida calls Uhtred a whore to the crown of Alfred. Ragnar reminds Uhtred that he gave his word and he is going back on it by leaving them. And for this, Ragnar takes back his name from Uhtred. He is no longer Uhtred Ragnarson. Thyra pleads with him to no do this, but Ragnar’s decision is final. Lastly, Bloodhair challenges Uhtred to a fight to the death with Skade as the prize.
- Unnamed Mercian messenger - Stabbed by Æthelred, then stabbed in the throat by Aldhelm.