Saltwic, Mercia; Uhtred returns to Saltwic. He is welcomed by Finan and Osferth, who reveal that Sihtric has left with the prisoners. Uhtred now knows how to break the curse, but it’s a near impossible task to reach Skade. Finan informs Uhtred that Sihtric’s departure has disturbed the men. They feel as though Uhtred is the blame. Some may not want to go looking for her again.
Uhtred walks with Æthelflæd, who informs him that her husband will be coming to her estate soon. Now that she is wise to his tricks, she can defend herself. Uhtred suddenly realises that they’re being followed. They are being tracked by Offa, Beornheard, and a group of Danes. One by one, Uhtred and Æthelflæd kill their attackers. He recognises Offa from Winchester and takes him prisoner.
Uhtred knows Offa as Æthelwold’s man. Æthelflæd questions why he tried to kill Uhtred. Offa explains that Uhtred is Alfred’s sword and shield. Uhtred sends Offa back to Æthelwold to inform the Danes that he is coming as a shadow walker. And they will all die as his brother died. Uhtred then proceeds to assure his men that he will lead them down a path of reputation. His mind is clear of what must be done, but he needs their help to do it. With that, his men are back on his side.
Winchester, Wessex; Æthelwold returns and drinks a cup of ale before being snatched up by Father Pyrlig and the guard. They place Æthelwold in a cell, who claims that men are coming to do harm unto Alfred and Wessex.
Hunstanton, East Anglia; Bloodhair comes upon Skade and wants to know which one of them will earn glory during the attack. Skade saw the death of Alfred and said it was Bloodhair who killed him originally. Skade replies that each of them is unworthy as the next and that Bloodhair’s path changed when he abandoned her. He claims that he won’t abandon her again and that Hæsten can’t protect her like he can. As for Alfred, he’s now destined to die in his bed. Bloodhair claims that only he can defeat Uhtred. However, she tells him that what he wishes for can never be real for as long as Hæsten is alive. She encourages Bloodhair to kill him.
Sihtric has joined Brida, Cnut, Bloodhair, Hæsten, Dagfinn, and Skade. Brida believes that Skade is trouble and that they should do away with her. Skade asks Sihtric what Uhtred thinks of her. He replies that Uhtred doesn’t know whether to kill her or hump her. Because she’s poison. As Brida leaves, Cnut assures them that Brida will be his woman soon. Hæsten surprisingly reveals that Cnut already has a wife across the sea. Sihtric then informs them that Uhtred will certainly come for Skade.
Cnut asks Brida when will her men become their men. He doesn’t care about the seer or the others. And so, Brida invites him into her tent.
Edward prepares to meet Ælflæd. Ælswith tells him not to fret, and Beocca assures him she will be a fitting match. Æthelhelm then enters with his daughter Ælflæd. Ælswith advises Edward to show the girl the courtyard while Alfred and Æthelhelm negotiate.
It is Edward’s hope that he and Ælflæd can find happiness. She’s quiet, but it’s not because she is scared. Ælflæd explains that she’s nervous and doesn’t wish to say anything foolish, as often advised not to by her father. Edward too worries about the weight of his words.
Æthelhelm believes that the bride price offered by Alfred and Ælswith seemed low. As does Edward’s morning gift. Alfred argues both offers are generous. Edward offered his protection to Ælflæd, however, he is not yet king, and the time when power passes from an elder to a younger king is met with danger. Others might lay claim to the throne. Alfred insists that Edward will be king. His only challenger is Æthelwold, who Ælswith promises will be dealt with. Still, Æthelhelm argues there is a large risk. As a mark of goodwill, Alfred raises the bride price by a third, which Æthelhelm accepts.
Offa returns to the Dane’s camp and reports to Brida, Cnut, Bloodhair, and Hæsten that Uhtred will come for them all as a shadow walker and they all will die as Ragnar died. Bloodhair claims he will kill Uhtred himself. Hæsten remarks that he could've done that at Fearham. Instead, he ran away. He then goes on to challenge Bloodhair, who demands they make a square. Bloodhair kills Offa in a fit of rage and leaves.
Crowland, Mercia; Uhtred, Finan, and Osferth arrive at a village in the heart of Daneland. They are approached by Guthlac, thegn of the village. They’ve come for food, shelter, and ale. He allows them to stay but they must leave their weapons with their horses, however, the men refuse. Uhtred suspects that Guthlac will soon report their arrival to the Danes.
Æthelred and Aldhelm ride to Æthelflæd’s estate. He orders Aldhelm to bed his wife, so that Æthelred can then divorce her. They reach her estate and propose sending 30 men to guard her. However, Æthelflæd doesn’t want his help and is willing to absolve him of his responsibilities of her. She assures Æthelred that her guard is adequate. He then asks about her daughter, the half Dane. Æthelflæd replies that their daughter isn’t half Dane, but Æthelred only sees a Dane. Aldhelm jokes that Æthelred also looks like a Dane. When Æthelred leaves the table, Aldhelm warns her that he has been tasked with bedding her. Aldhelm admires Æthelflæd, and so he advises her to accept her husband’s offer of men but only half the number. And Aldhelm will choose them himself.
Skade brings Bloodhair a bowl of her blood and rubs it on his face, claiming that she only wants his victory. She tells him that Hæsten must not win. He then proceeds to suck the blood off her hands.
Cnut sanctions a fight to the death between Hæsten and Bloodhair. Brida asks Skade who she wants to see win. Skade answers that she is destined for neither. Just as it seems Bloodhair is about to kill Hæsten, he becomes disoriented, realizing that he’s been poisoned by Skade. Hæsten manages to gain control of the fight. Bloodhair is defeated, but he charges at Skade, who counters his attack and stabs him with a blade in each hand. Before he dies, Brida ensures that he’s holding his axe. Cnut then orders him to be buried.
Guthlac surrounds the ale house with Uhtred, Finan, and Osferth inside. Uhtred explains that Guthlac belongs to the Danes and when they get word that he’s trapped, the Danes will come for them, meaning less men at their camp. Guthlac claims that he only wishes to talk. He tells Uhtred to yield and his men will live. Uhtred refuses. He heads upstairs and smashes a hole in the roof. He then takes several torches and sets the village on fire. While the men are distracted and scrambling to save the village, Uhtred, Finan, and Osferth exit. Guthlac asks for mercy, but Uhtred kills him and leaves.
Cnut has learned of Uhtred’s capture and leaves camp to kill him.
Æthelwold is taken before the Witan. He is accused of conspiring with the Danes to ride against Mercia and Wessex. When Beocca traveled to Dunholm, it was Æthelwold who welcomed him. In East Anglia, he was seen with Dane leaders. They suspect that he’s made a deal with Danes in order to steal the throne. Æthelwold claims that he went to spy on the Danes. They brought him into their trust and told him their plans. Æthelwold claims it is Uhtred who betrayed them. However, Edward points out that it was Uhtred who served well in Beamfleot. Æthelhelm questions why they would simply allow Æthelwold to leave the camp. He explains that he lied and said he would kill Uhtred. Æthelhelm wants him executed for his actions. Alfred questions what secrets Æthelwold has discovered. He claims the Danes are waiting for Alfred’s death and the chaos to follow. Æthelwold then swears his allegiance to Edward. Alfred struggles to get up from his seat, but he does so and tells Æthelwold he should’ve remained with the Danes.
Alfred has asked God but found no answer in regards to Æthelwold's punishment. He blames himself for not doing more to stop Æthelwold from straying. Ælswith assures him that he’s done as much as he could. Ælswith claims that Æthelwold was rotten from the moment he was born and lacked purpose. However, Alfred sees Æthelwold as a reflection of his own failings. Ælswith urges Alfred to kill Æthelwold, otherwise he will be perceived as weak. However, Alfred is reluctant to kill his own brother’s son. He fears such action would be sinful. Ælswith reminds Alfred just how much of a danger Æthelwold is.
During the Witan, Æthelwold asks Sigebriht about the girl that he once loved, who Edward impregnated. Sigebriht reveals that she is confined to a nunnery. Æthelwold would understand if Sigebriht chose not to serve Edward, but they don’t have much of a choice.
Alfred resumes the Witan and calls Æthelwold forward. He has decided to accept Æthelwold’s word. Wessex is a sacred place of fairness. He offers Æthelwold his hand and reminds him of all they have built in Wessex. That is what Æthelwold has put in danger. And for his actions, Æthelwold will be blinded. Alfred is merciful. And so, only one eye on will be taken. Æthelwold begs for mercy, but Alfred orders Steapa to take him away.
Uhtred, Finan, and Osferth remain hidden in the nearby woods as the Danes arrive at the village. Sihtric finds them hidden among the trees and gives Uhtred a hug. As it turns out, they staged the entire fight in order for Sihtric to infiltrate the Danes. Sihtric informs them that Bloodhair is dead and only Hæsten remains at the camp. Bloodhair was killed by Skade, who knows of Uhtred’s promise to shadow walk, but there are too many guards. She is ,however, allowed to collect grass and herbs by a single tree on the other side of the camp. Uhtred orders Sihtric to tell Skade he is near and to take her by the tree.
Æthelwold is taken before the village to have a public blinding, sanctioned by Alfred, who watches on with Ælswith, Edward, Æthelhelm, Pyrlig, and Sigebriht. Æthelwold screams as a hot poker is jammed into his right eye.
Sihtric breaks Skade free of her chains and takes her to meet Uhtred at the tree with Finan and Osfeth. The five of them retreat as Hæsten gets word of their arrival. Sihtric leads them to the dock, where they kill the guards before jumping into the ship and sailing away. Hæsten watches as Uhtred sails away with Skade.
Æthelwold exits the fortress and removes the bandage covering his eye.
- Beornheard - Throat slit by Æthelflæd.
- Offa - Throat slit by Sigurd Bloodhair.
- Bloodhair - Stabbed in the chest by Skade.
- Guthlac - Stabbed in the chest by Uhtred.