Synopsis[edit | edit source]
Plot[edit | edit source]
The Sea; Uhtred, Beocca, young Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric continue on their journey to Bebbanburg. Uhtred cuts his arm and bleeds into the water to hopefully settle the sea goddess Rán. Young Uhtred is unconvinced, writing her off as pagan lies. Young Uhtred suspects that he’s the bait in the plan that his father is hiding from him. Uhtred explains that they’re tracking monks who have entry to Bebbanburg. It’s young Uhtred’s job to befriend them and gain access to Bebbanburg and then open the sea gates for them. However, young Uhtred still suspects that something is being hidden from him. He then begins to pray for the men that his father will undoubtedly slaughter. He asks that Uhtred at least show mercy and forgive his uncle. However, Uhtred will do no such thing.
Winchester, Wessex; King Edward, Pyrlig, Lord Æthelhelm, and Æthelflæd discuss Lord Æthelred and the troop of soldiers he’s led from Aegelesburg. All Æthelflæd knows for certain is that he is seeking the bones of St. Oswald. Ælswith warns them that If Æthelred is seeking St. Oswald, he means to break from Wessex. Many Mercians believe that uniting the body of the saint will restore their land to greatness. This is a signal of intention. Or to Æthelhelm’s point, a ploy to pander to the simple folk of Mercia. Pyrlig and Lord Æthelhelm advise King Edward from being drawn in. They are then joined by Steapa, Ælflæd, and Ælfweard, though Edward doesn’t appear interested in eithe rof them. Æthelhelm tells Ælfweard that the men of Wessex are fighters. Rule the sword, and rule the land.
Æthelflæd and Ælswith worry about the negative influence Æthelhelm may have on Ælfweard. It’s troubling, as are Æthelred’s intentions. Æthelflæd will ask Aldhelm to make inquiries. Admittedly, she was unjust with him, so Ælswith asks Pyrlig to bring Beocca to her, but he has left Winchester. He thought there was nothing left there for him. Pyrlig reminds Ælswith that it was she who asked that he be removed. She admits this is true. Just as she asked her son to be married to that vain, silly girl. Any path Ælswith chose was to secure the country her husband loved.
Bebbanburg, Northumbria; Ælfric is unimpressed with the warriors Aidan managed to wrangle up. Aidan tells Ælfric that the slaver can get them more trained men, but he wants 10,000, which they don’t have to offer. Aidan again proposes that the sell the heart of St. Oswald. The monks that Æthelred dispatched to will arrive soon.
Grimsby, Northumbria; Uhtred, young Uhtred, Beocca, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric arrive in Grimsby. Young Uhtred wants to stay on the boat, so Beocca stays behind with him while the others search for the monks.
Beocca tells young Uhtred that he misjudges his father. He explains that sometimes, one must do wrong in order to do right. Beocca recalls how Ælfric tried to kill a child for no gain but wooden walls. And for that, he wrenched a boy from his Christian life, delivered him to the heathens and damned his soul to all eternity. Uhtred is avenging a great wrong done to him. Beocca urges young Uhtred to understand that.
Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric enter a tavern. They claim that they’re simply traders taking pelts to Frankia. They're in search of women companionship. They are taken down into the dungeon, where the women are. There, they find the monks, Brother Oswi and Brother Iestyn receiving sexual favors. Afterward, Uhtred, Finan, and Osferth follow them out. It takes six days to get to Bebbanburg on the coast road. They’ll get there just before ascension. Uhtred reconvenes with Beocca and his son. He instructs young Uhtred to follow the monks to Bebbanburg. However, he is no warrior and questions why his father has such faith in him. Uhtred explains that he has the spirit of their family within him. It’ll give him a strength that he does not know yet. He instructs young Uhtred to take a horse and ride the road north, close to the shore, where he’ll find the monks and join them. Uhtred, Beocca, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric suddenly find themselves being confronted by the villagers, who are less than welcoming.
East Anglia; King Æthelred has made settlement at the Kingdom of East Anglia. Inside his tent, he encourages Eadith to try on the dress he had made for her, but she refuses to get dressed in front of him. He questions why she continues to deny him. She claims that she acts solely for the good of his soul, as he has a wife. And so, Æthelred plans to make himself a widower, so he can then marry Eadith.
Eadith exits her tent, where she is immediately asked by Eardwulf if she gave herself to Æthelred, which she didn’t. Eardwulf fears that the king may lose interest if his sister continues to deny him. However, Æthelred’s willingness to kill his own wife would suggest otherwise. Eadith doesn’t want anyone else’s blood on her hands nor does she want to be married to a man who kills so frivolously. Eadith makes Eardwulf promise her that if Æthelred asks him to attack Lady Æthelflæd that he will refuse. However, Eardwulf won’t deny the wishes of the king.
Tetsworth, Mercia; Hæsten, Brida, and Cnut leade their army into Tetsworth. They’ll rest there for the night and attack at first light. Catch the Mercians sleeping in their beds. Hæsten asks how far Aegelesburg is. "Close enough to surprise them." Brida replies. And with that said, Hæsten plans to part ways. He has no interest in war; only women and silver. Brida warns Hæsten that he’ll miss a great gathering of armies. Edward is honor-bound to defend the land of his sister and mother. Æthelred's death will force swift retaliation. They will ride into Mercia in a fury and will force Mercia to a battle place where they won’t have the advantage. Cnut calls young Cnut and Esgar over. He wants them to leave with Hæsten, who will take them north until the campaign is over. Hæsten wonders how Cnut was able to draw Brida to him. She replies they made a bond in blood. Hæsten then reveals that he knows Brida is pregnant with Cnut’s child. He can tell by her breasts. Brida threatens to cut off Hæsten’s balls and feed them to him if he tells Cnut. Cnut then calls Brida over as he rallies the men. He tells them to rest well because at day break, they’ll strike and Mercia will burn.
Avlesburv: Mercia; Just as planned, Cnut and Brida lead an army into Avlesburv the following morning during the Sack of Aegelesburg, where they slaughter the unsuspecting Mercians. They search for Æthelred but he is nowhere to be found.
Bebbanburg, Northumbria; Ælfric and Aidan watch as ships near the kingdom. They don’t know whether it’s mercenaries coming to help defend them or a donation from the slaver. They could possibly even be Scots returning for a fight. Aidan suggests that they pay the Scots to go away, but Ælfric refuses. Instead, he orders Aidan to send men out to speak with them. If they return with heads on their shoulders, then they know the Scots are willing to negotiate.
Rather than sending men out, Aidan goes to investigate on his own. He orders the guard to alert Lord Ælfric, who comes down just in time to see his son, Wihtgar get off the boat. He was believed to have drowned, but he is very much alive. When he got word that Bebbanburg was under attacked, he seized the moment and brought strong and loyal warriors.
As they near Bebbanburg, Beocca remarks that it is as magnificent as it has ever been. He then tells Finan to drop the sail as they need not get any closer.
Winchester, Wessex; Æthelflæd, Ælswith, and Hild watch as Ælflæd prepares for the royal coronation. Lord Æthelhelm and Ælfweard watch from the crowd. Hild remarks that while he’s quiet, his ambitions for his family grow. He obsesses over the aetheling and pushes Ælswith aside. Had she known what sort of man he was, Ælswith would've selected a different bride for Edward, who cherishes peace both within Wessex and within the palace. As Ælswith leaves, Æthelflæd tells Hild how her mother feels her father’s loss.
Ælswith instructs the nuns to light 17 candles on her behalf. One at each shrine and no mumbling in the prayers. Hild wonders if something is on Ælswith’s conscience. Ælswith fears that she’s allowed too much to change in the palace. Ælswith asks about Ecgwynn, the girl who married Edward in secret. She took holy orders when her marriage was forcibly annulled. And, she's very unhappy. She was forbidden from seeing the two children she bore to Ælswith’s son. Her daughter she sees occasionally, but her son, she's not looked on since he was taken from her arms. Ælswith admits that seems a cruel punishment and that Hild and Beocca are right to question her mistreatment of Ecgwynn. So, Ælswith would like to make amends, in a small way. She asks where is Ecgwynn’s son now. He lives in a monastery. Ælswith would like to see them both, but wants to keep the arrangement secret.
Avlesburv, Mercia; Brida instructs the men to send scouts and scavenge for food. She finds Cnut in Æthelred’s room. Cnut asks if she's seen the Ealdormen, who he tortured. And while they didn't find Æthelred, they make the most of their time together; the two of them have sex on King Æthelred’s bed.
Wessex; Ælswith finds Æthelstan, the first King of all England and the English. Ælswith asks Æthelstan what he is reading. She then asks who his family is, but he’s been told not to answer that. She tells Æthelstan to come with her and points out a window, telling him that Ecgwynn, his birth mother, wants to meet him. The two reunite in the garden as Ælswith watches from the window.
Northumbria; Young Uhtred lays and waits for the monks, Brother Oswi and Brother Iestyn. He warns them that the road is full of murderous thieves and then explains that he’s one of their number; a deacon cruelly kidnapped from his church. He asks to ride with them. Alone, he shall perish. He pleads with them and even threatens to reveal their sins in Grimsby. He asks for nothing but travelling companions. They reluctantly accept him.
Wessex; Ecgwynn puts Æthelstan to bed and thanks Ælswith for arranging the meeting. Ælswith simply explains that she is a mother who feels for Ecgwynn’s plight. To see her son even briefly heals a wounded heart. Ecgwynn then asks if she’s still out of favor with Lady Ælswith, completely unaware that she is in fact talking to her. Still acting under the ruse that she’s merely a sympathetic mother, she replies that Ælswith disfavored no one and simply chose what was best for her own son. It would be foolish for Æthelstan to be raised without a woman’s nurture. So, they must ensure there is always a lady to guide him when he is permanently moved to somewhere more secure. Ælswith assures Ecgwynn that her son will be well-protected, though she won’t be able to see him again. Ecgwynn questions why she’s being punished when all she wanted was a husband and family. To which Ælswith replies her desires is why she would’ve been unsuited for life in Winchester, and why this has all come to pass.
Avlesburv, Mercia; Jackdaw informs Cnut and Brida that they found Æthelred. He’s in East Anglia, where he’s attacked farms and killed many Danish settlers. Jackdaw surmises that they’ve been outwitted. However, Brida realizes that this is their own doing. Æthelred thought they were in Irland, that there would be no reprisals. Cnut decides to continue their efforts. Æthelred has left his people undefended, making them easier to slaughter, which will bring King Edward.
Winchester, Wessex; Ælswith, Æthelflæd, Pyrlig, King Edward, Aldhelm, and Æthelhelm attend Ælflæd’s coronation. Steapa interrupts to inform Pyrlig that the Danes have attacked Mercia. Pyrlig then relays this to the king. As for Lord Æthelred, no one knows if he’s dead or alive. Ælswith and Æthelflæd suggest calling off the coronation and sending men to Aegelesburg to retake it. However, Æthelhelm disagrees with calling off the ceremony. King Edward explains that he will set the terms, not anyone else. And so, they return to the coronation for it to resume Ælflæd is coronated.
Bebbanburg's waters, Northumbria; Uhtred, Beocca, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric scout out Bebbanburg from afar. Ælfric supposedly only has 40 men, but that’s twice as many as them. Uhtred looks to Beocca to answer if he’s leading men to their deaths. Beocca admits that while the fight will be furious and men will fall, he’s certain Uhtred will win.
Bebbanburg, Northumbria; Young Uhtred, Brother Oswi, and Brother Iestyn arrive just outside Bebbanburg. They warn Uhtred that the lord is merciless. Ælfric and Aidan greet them as they approach. Ælfric tells them to turn back as he has no desires to sell the heart of St. Oswald. Young Uhtred pleads with him, claiming that if nothing else, he wishes to see Bebbanburg. Ælfric welcomes them inside but tells Aidan to put them in the slave quarters.
Whilst everyone sleeps, young Uhtred sneaks out to signal the others. He takes two fire torches and throws them over the barricade.
Bebbanburg's waters, Northumbria; Uhtred and Finan spot the signal from the boat.
Bebbanburg, Northumbria; Uhtred and Finan move in to start the Siege of Bebbanburg (910) , along with Beocca, Osferth, and Sihtric. Uhtred and Finan take out the two guards by the gate and wait for young Uhtred to open the gate. When young Uhtred never shows, they’re forced to pry the gate up. Uhtred manages to slip under and raise the gate from inside. They proceed into the fort and kill every guard they cross.
Meanwhile, young Uhtred has been captured by Wihtgar. He suspects that young Uhtred was trying to steal away and demands to know why. Wihtgar orders all his men to the yard. Brother Oswi and Brother Iestyn are awakened from their sleep and held at knife point while Wihtgar tortures young Uhtred for answers. When he can’t get the answers out of him, Wihtgar kills both monks. Ælfric joins them. He remarks that young Uhtred’s face is familiar somehow. When Ælfric demands to know who he is, young Uhtred replies that he’s Uhtred of Bebbanburg. Ælfric isn’t convinced and orders for young Uhtred to be executed. When one of Ælfric's men attempts to kill him, Uhtred tackles his attacker to the ground and nearly chokes the life out of him before Uhtred, Beocca, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric arrive. Uhtred holds a blade to Ælfric’s throat. Uhtred explains that no one else has to die save for his uncle. As Lord of Bebbanburg, he swears to provide for and protect them. Uhtred then looks to Aidan and asks where his allegiance lies. Aidan replies that he’s loyal to the true heir of Bebbanburg and points up to Wihtgar, who’s pointing a crossbow at Uhtred. He demands that Wihtgar put down the bow. Instead, he fires it, striking Ælfric in the eye, killing him instantly. The men of Bebbanburg then pledge their allegiance to Wihtgar.
Appearances[edit | edit source]
First[edit | edit source]
Deaths[edit | edit source]
- Brother Iestyn - Stabbed in the stomach by Wihtgar.
- Brother Oswi - Stabbed in the throat by Wihtgar.
- Ælfric - Shot in the eye with an arrow by Wihtgar.
- Several unnamed Mercian villagers
- 8 unnamed Bebbanburg soldiers