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Plot[edit | edit source]
Jackdaw returns to camp to report to Brida, Cnut, and Bloodhair that Alfred is dead. Brida rushes to inform Ragnar but discovers him dead in his tent. She cries over his body. She puts her blade in his hand and tells him to hold it but he is long gone. Cnut enters Ragnar’s tent and demands to know the man responsible. Brida exits the tent, suspecting that it was someone at the camp who took his life. When Bloodhair accuses Brida of killing Ragnar, she charges at him, but he knocks her to the ground. Despite Ragnar’s death, Cnut wants to go on. He and Bloodhair will march. Æthelwold watches silently as this unfolds. He gives his condolences to Brida.
Saltwic, Mercia; Æthelflæd finds Uhtred in the stable talking to his horse. She explains that he is a man who instills trust, which she finds admirable. She would like for him to kiss her, but he can’t. He tells Æthelflæd that much like Erik, he is someone who she can never be with. He fears that Skade will find out and destroy them both. And so, Uhtred has to save her as he promised he would. To fight Hæsten’s army, they will need an army. Alfred is to join the Mercians in Aegelesburg. Æthelflæd will meet with them and tell her father of Hæsten’s attack on her. She hopes Uhtred will come with her and use her father’s army to recover Skade.
Despite word going around of his demise, Alfred is very much so alive and plans to ride out to Aegelesburg to meet with the Mercians. Steapa helps him onto his horse and he and Beocca follow behind. Ælswith watches as they leave.
Brida and Cnut bury Ragnar. Some of his men believe this to be a sign. To die without his sword means they will lose the battle. Cnut states that Ragnar’s men are now Brida’s men, and together, they could lead. Brida fears that without Ragnar, they shall become separate tribes. Brida suspects that it was either Cnut or Bloodhair that killed him, but Cnut insists that Ragnar was killed by his whore. Brida hands Ragnar his sword and proceeds to bury him with rocks.
Brida finds Uhtred and informs him that Ragnar is dead. He doesn’t feast in Valhalla. Instead, he lies under a pile of stone. There was no honor in his death, and she blames Uhtred for leaving him. He chose Saxons over them, and so Brida will let him live with knowing that he’s the reason Ragnar is dead. Finan comforts Uhtred, who suspects that this is Skade’s doing. So, he plans to meet with Alfred and Æthelred and beg for an army.
Beamfleot, East Anglia; Hæsten brings Skade food, though she appears uninterested. She continues to carve sigils into the floor with her sword. He tells her they will march on Mercia and then Wessex. Hæsten is sure that Bloodhair will send for Skade, though she will choose who she sits with. She knows that Hæsten has only ever taken women. They’ve never given themselves to him. While he may take her body, he will not have her power. Hæsten replies that 1,000 men is power enough. The man she chooses will greatly benefit from Alfred’s death, but she will have to give herself to that man. She tells him to proves himself, and she will allow him her power. Uhtred will come for her, and if Hæsten is to take his place, he must first kill Uhtred. Skade then scratches the back of his neck and licks his blood.
Uhtred, Æthelflæd, Finan, Sihtric, and Osferth arrive in Aegelesburg to see Edward. They are greeted at the gate by Æthelred, Aldhelm, and Steapa. They claim that they only want to warn Alfred about Hæsten. Æthelred allows them in but without their weapons.
Æthelred fears that perhaps Æthelflæd got wind of the danger posed by him and fled to Uhtred. Aldhelm would rather discuss the pending battle, but Æthelred is far too worried about his wife and what she knows. He wants all of his men at the ready. If his wife has come to accuse him, then they must be ready.
Sigebriht informs Steapa that a Witan requests the presence of Uhtred, Æthelflæd, Finan, Sihtric, and Osferth. Edward has come in place of the king. Father Beocca and Pyrlig explain that Edward speaks and answers for Alfred. Æthelflæd claims that Danes are near and it was Hæsten who attacked her. Æthelred and Æthelhelm question how Uhtred knew where to find Æthelflæd. He accuses Uhtred of making a plan with Hæsten in order to gain Æthelflæd’s trust. Alfred joins them and demands the truth. Uhtred wants 1,000 men and he will give them Beamfleot and peace. He reveals that Ragnar is dead, meaning the Danes will have half their army and less leadership. Sigebriht argues that this is too great a risk to Wessex. Alfred denies Uhtred's proposal. He then tells Uhtred that while he remains an outlaw, he is under the protection of Lady Æthelflæd and free to leave when he is ready.
Edward and Father Pyrlig find Beocca and tell him that they’re willing to give Uhtred half of the men he asked for. He fears a great battle now will result in defeat. But if they were to weaken the Danes, as Uhtred suggested, they could stand a chance. Beocca and Pyrlig take Edward to find Uhtred and Æthelflæd as he has a proposition to offer. He needs to understand why Uhtred believes he can defeat Hæsten. Uhtred wishes to draw Hæsten out, as he will not be able to resist the chance to kill him. Men will die however this goes, but at least at Beamfleot, they stand a chance. Finan adds that it’s a plan that can work but Uhtred will need men. And so, Edward offers Uhtred 500 men or more. He tells Uhtred to set a day for the attack and he will be there.
Æthelflæd invites Æthelred to join her for dinner. She informs him that she has no plans of returning to Wincelcumb. She has assigned her guard to Uhtred and will remain in Merica until the battle. She then remarks that he didn’t appear concerned or surprised at Hæsten’s attempt to kill her. She wonders why Æthelred doesn’t kill him.
Edward tells Alfred that he’s given his word to Uhtred to expect an army at Beamfleot. Alfred wants Beocca to inform Uhtred that Edward has withdrawn his support. Edward refuses to back down and begs his father to listen to him. Should the Danes join armies, there will be a great battle, which Edward isn’t ready for. And he fears the aftermath of a great battle will be too much for him. Beocca agrees with Edward in delaying a greater battle. Alfred concedes, ordering his men to prepare for battle at Beamfleot.
Hæsten informs Skade that Uhtred has come to take her as she said he would. However, he has no more than 30-50 men. Skade encourages Hæsten to win her and bring her prisoners.
Uhtred, Finan, Sihtric, and Osferth lead a group of men to Beamfleot. Hæsten, Skade, and Dagfinn watch from the fortress as they approach. Uhtred goads Hæsten into the battle, reminding him of all the times he fled and how Skade will always be his woman. He challenges Hæsten to a fight, but he is certain he will be too cowardly to agree. Hæsten angrily agrees to a one on one fight, denouncing any cowardly ways.
Half a day has passed and Hæsten finally comes down to battle Uhtred in the Battle of Beamfleot (893), but he comes with Skade and an army. Uhtred orders Finan, Sihtric, and Osferth to form two lines and build a shield wall. However, the Danes proceed to surround them and attack. They are vastly outnumbered and picked off.
Off in the woods, Alfred, Edward, Steapa, Beocca, and the Wessex guard watch as Uhtred and his men are surrounded by Hæsten and an army of Danes. They do nothing as Uhtred and his men are attacked. Edward wishes to attack but Alfred insists that they hold their position.
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