- "I have made my peace. I have made my request. I do not require an answer. (...) I should of closed my eyes and rattled at heaven's gates some time ago. It was the hope of this meeting that has kept me alive. To Uhtred, the true Lord of Bebbanburg... a man I have never understood, but without whom I would not die a king."
- —Alfred to Uhtred during their last conversation together[src]
Synopsis[edit | edit source]
Plot[edit | edit source]
Reading Room, Winchester, Wessex; Alfred explains to Uhtred that what he’s looking at is a chronicle of Wessex. From the moment of his brother’s death until now. None of which will mention Uhtred. Uhtred replies that men will remember what Uhtred did in the name of Wessex. Alfred retorts that men die, though the chronicle is permanent. People 100 years from now will know nothing of Uhtred, not his loyalty, advice, or bravery. He asks why Uhtred has come. Uhtred tells Alfred that he would have never killed him, not even when he held the knife to his throat; he wouldn't want to go down in history as the man who killed King Alfred. Uhtred understands his absence from Alfred’s chronicle, even though they both know he has helped him many times over. Alfred lifts his sword and points it towards Uhtred, though he struggles to keep it lifted, as he weakens with every moment. Uhtred tells Alfred that he cannot kill him because they are bonded. They proceed to talk about God and how he often works through Uhtred, such as when he broke the shield wall at Ethandun. The devil also works through men, and Alfred fears his death will bring the devil in some men to the forefront.
Winchester, Wessex; Æthelwold approaches Æthelhelm at the royal feast to congratulate him. Æthelhelm suggests that he cover his eye as it is off-putting. However, Æthelwold sees it as his loyalty to the crown, which may some day rest on his head, as the Witan and Ealdormen are known to be unpredictable. Æthelwold then informs Æthelhelm that he is not Edward’s first father-in-law. He claims his bastard children to be legitimate. Edward has been married once before. Æthelhelm distrusts Æthelwold and sees the children as nothing more than bastards. Ælswith overhears Æthelwold sewing seeds of doubt to Æthelhelm and instructs Steapa to escort Æthelwold away.
Reading Room, Winchester, Wessex; Alfred reveals that he had Uhtred’s children brought to Winchester and baptized just to damn him. He admits that taking Uhtred’s children was an irrational decision, though they have been taken care of in their father's absence. Alfred also admits that he was wrong in both his provocation and punishment of Uhtred for killing Godwin. Alfred was afraid of losing Wessex. His work must continue. England must emerge and God must be praised, otherwise his life and that of his father and brother would have been wasted. Ælswith barges in and demands to know why Uhtred has returned. Alfred explains that he invited Uhtred and asks if Ælswith keep this matter to herself. Ælswith pushes back, as she refuses to have Uhtred guide her son, but Alfred again tells her to leave. Alfred explains that Ælswith is simply upset that he’s dying. Like many in Wessex, his wife is afraid of the uncertainty that comes next. Uhtred tells Alfred that the gods will decide what comes next. Alfred’s last act is to ensure good men hold power. That is why he invited Uhtred.
Winchester, Wessex; Ælswith returns to the hall and tells Steapa that she would like guards at every corridor of the palace. Uhtred has come, and she wants him to leave the palace immediately following his meeting with the king. He will be dealt with in the days to come. Edward notes that his mother seems concerned and asks her what’s wrong. She tells him that they’re living in difficult times and he will need all his resolve.
Reading Room, Winchester, Wessex; To Alfred, it feels like just yesterday he was giving baby Edward over to Uhtred and Iseult when he was sickly and dying. Uhtred is surprised that Alfred remembers his pagan lover's name, to which Alfred replies that he will always remember her. Now as then, he wishes to give Edward over to Uhtred to ensure he lives. All he asks is that Uhtred remain in Winchester until he is crowned the King. Afterward, he can do as he pleases, to go north to Bebbanburg if he wishes. When Uhtred points out that he's still an outlaw in Wessex, Alfred then pardons Uhtred, insisting that if Alfred’s wife has summoned guards, which he suspects she has, Alfred will dismiss them. Alfred takes Uhtred’s hand and tells him that he’s made his Peace. And regardless of Uhtred’s answer, he is pardoned all the same. Uhtred thanks Alfred for correcting his mistake of banishing him and Alfred raises his cup to Uhtred, the true lord of Bebbanburg, a man whom he will never understand, but without whom, Alfred would not have died a king.
Winchester, Wessex; Aldhelm catches Æthelred in the act of humping another woman. Aldhelm explains that he did not dispatch the messenger to summon further guards as Æthelred requested. He believes the men among them are more than enough and sending more could suggest aggression. Æthelred accuses Aldhelm off disobeying him and it has become a habit. Æthelred warns Aldhelm from falling under his wife’s spell. He is to bed her and nothing more, so that he can then get divorced. On the day Alfred dies, Æthelred will become King of Mercia. He again demands that Aldhelm send for 50 or more guards as he was told.
Hunstanton, East Anglia; Cnut tells Brida to join him, however, all she can think about is how he sent Æthelwold to kill Uhtred. Cnut explains that he actually sent Æthelwold to raise a Saxon army and sow unrest. She informs Cnut that men are claiming that Æthelwold killed Ragnar. Cnut claims that he doesn’t know, but Æthelwold was in fear of Ragnar. Brida declares that Æthelwold is to be protected in battle because he is hers to kill.
Winchester, Wessex; Thyra is berated by Tidman, who refers to her as a Dane. Thyra replies that she is of two people and doesn’t wish to cause any trouble but Tidman persists. Æthelwold demands that he allow her to past and apologizes to Thyra. Æthelwold then tells Tidman that if he wishes to bother her, then do it where he cannot be seen.
Æthelwold informs Sigebriht that Uhtred is in Winchester and that he had been pardoned. Æthelwold wishes to kill both Edward and Uhtred, though the former is the easier target. If Edward dies, Æthelwold claims the throne and Sigebriht earns riches.
Father Beocca confronts Tidman after Thyra returns home in tears. He warns him to steer clear of his wife or else he will personally see to it that Tidman is no longer a concern. When Tidman continues, Beocca head butts him, knocking him to the ground and continuing his assault. He warns Tidman against crossing him ever again. It takes Uhtred, Finan, Sihtric, and Osferth to separate the two.
Æthelwold convinces Uhtred and Finan to join him inside for ale. Sigebriht awaits inside and shares that he stands for a strong Wessex and that his interest may align with Æthelwold’s at times. He then asks about Uhtred’s stance. Æthelwold insists that Edward is but a boy and not the man to follow. As for Uhtred, he’s not sure where he stands, or at least he doesn’t respond to Sigebriht.
Æthelhelm asks why was he not told about Edward being married previously and that his children were from this marriage. He also wonders if these children have standing. Ælswith insists that the marriage is the past and the children are bastards. Æthelhelm suggests that it may be better for all of the children didn’t exist. Ælswith grows uncomfortable with the notion and leaves.
Bishop Erkenwald struggles to understand why the king panders to Uhtred. He neither appreciates the king’s trust nor does he deserve it. Uhtred retorts that the king is a smarter man than the Bishop. Even if Uhtred isn’t an enemy, Erkenwalk remarks that he’s their most dangerous ally. And he will do his utmost to keep Uhtred far away from Edward. Hild joins Uhtred, who worries that he has no place in the world. Hild tells Uhtred that he'll only follows what he truly believes. He’s a free man and his path is his own. Uhtred reminds Hilda that she’s one of his greatest friends and that she’s too good a woman for God alone. Lastly, Hild tells Uhtred that Winchester is better when he’s around.
Uhtred awakens Alfred from his sleep and swears that he will remain in Winchester until Edward is crowned king. Ælswith comes into his room much later to ensure that he agrees with her showing Lord Æthelhelm the chronicle. Alfred wishes for him to be invested into the history of Wessex. The matter of Uhtred still concerns her greatly. By pardoning him, Uhtred can now become Edward’s advisor. Alfred argues that it’s necessary for England to strive. Ælswith doesn’t believe that England can be God’s king or country if it is a pagan that guides them. Ælswith retorts that Uhtred is an outlaw and that he should be treated as such. She asks Alfred to rescind what he has done, but Alfred passes on before he can do so. She takes his hand and cries over his body. Father Beocca arrives. Ælswith refuses to accept that he’s gone as he hasn’t yet united England. Ælswith wishes to withhold Alfred’s death from the public, but Beocca encourages her to tell the people so that they mourn as well. Moving forward, they will pray to Alfred and God. Beocca adjusts Alfred’s hair and kisses his forehead, telling Alfred that he loves him and that heaven is his reward.
Ælswith brings Edward and Æthelflæd to mourn their father’s death. Admittedly, Ælswith has not loved him for a long time. As a young man, he behaved as such. She could not forgive him for his infidelities. And then, without being aware why, she realized that she did in fact love him. She knew that without her, he couldn’t be the king she needed him to be. Ælswith then instructs Edward to fetch Beocca so that they may prepare for the first day in a new land.
With Alfred gone, Beocca no longer has a role. Bishop Erkenwald has agreed that Alfred may speak at the king’s service, but that must be his final duty within the palace, as Beocca is bonded with heathens such as Uhtred. And Edward must be God’s king. Despite having it in Alfred’s writing that Uhtred has been pardoned, Ælswith informs Beocca that it is to be rescinded. Beocca warns Ælswith that she’s making a mistake by rescinding a Royal pardon. The Danes will hear about it and it will embolden them.
Beocca informs Uhtred that Ælswith rescinds his pardon, but Uhtred refuses to leave before Edward’s crowning. Finan advises him to run, but Thyra argues that a battle is coming and Uhtred has to pick a side.
Alfred’s service is held in the hall. All of Wessex is in attendance. Despite his previous run-in Beocca, Tidman continues to torment Thyra, telling her that she has no place in the hall. Upset, Thyra abruptly leaves. Beocca announces that the king is dead. And so, they pray for his soul and his successor, Edward. Steapa approaches Uhtred to inform him that he’s been given orders to kill him should he not leave the hall quietly. And so, Uhtred leaves, with Finan not far behind, though he tells Finan to fall back. Steapa then places Uhtred in a cell.
Tidman follows Thyra out the hall, throwing apples at her as she returns home. Thyra runs into her house and locks the door. Tidman bangs on the door, asking if she’s enjoying the king’s death. Thyra pulls a knife from her boot, as he continues to kick in the door. Tidman kicks the front door open, but she is nowhere to be found, as Thyra lays hidden under the floorboards. He learns of where she’s hiding and sets the house on fire. He lays flat on his chest and peaks beneath the floorboards, allowing Thyra to stab him in the throat with her blade. Unfortunately, he dies laying on top of the floorboard, trapping her underneath as the fire burns.
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