Aegelesburg, Mercia; While the town is distracted by King Æthelred’s funeral, Pyrlig sneaks Uhtred, Finan, Stiorra, and Æthelstan inside. Pyrlig fears they are beyond getting Edward to listen. Aegelesburg is like a tinder waiting to spark.
The Mercian people have nothing but ill will towards Æthelred and show him no respect, much to Ælswith and Edward’s disapproval. Lord Æthelhelm explains that their defiance is due to hunger, fever, and lack of leadership. Edward fears that Burgred continues to speak against him, but Æthelhelm believes him to be no genuine threat. Cenric then informs Edward that the Ealdormen have called their Witan for after the funeral. Furthermore, Edward isn’t welcome to attend.
Burgred exclaims that the king cannot be trusted. He constantly schemes against them. The time has come to take a bolder step. However, Ludeca advises against separating from Wessex. Edward, Æthelhelm, and Cenric enter despite being unwelcome and the Witan proceeds. Burgred calls King Edward a liar. He accused Edward of orchestrating the sickness and closing off the city, leaving them without food or guards. Uhtred makes his presence known. He assures them that while Ælfwynn is safe, she will not be betrothed as Eardwulf has confessed to the murder of Æthelred and fled Mercia. He then presents Æthelred’s ring as proof, handing it over to Ludeca.
Wyre Forest, Mercia; Osferth and Eadith take Ælfwynn to a healer in the Wyre Forest. The woman offers them wormwood, which is known to kill men. Eadith feels they have no choice. Should Ælfwynn die, they’ll be to blame as it’s believed that only sinners catch the sickness. Eadith drinks the wormwood herself before giving it to Ælfwynn.
Aegelesburg, Mercia; Edward asks Uhtred where is Ælfwynn. Uhtred will only reveal her location if Edward promises that Ælfwynn and Æthelflæd will be protected. Edward threatens to have Uhtred seized, but he’s done nothing wrong. Nevertheless, Edward has him taken away and orders Æthelhelm to find out where Uhtred hides Ælfwynn. As for who to betroth her to, Edward thinks that instead of making a bond with the Ealdormen, they should find a way to break them.
Dinefwr, Deheubarth, Wealas; Rhodri demands to know why the Danes haven’t been slaughtered. He does not want this news to reach his brother while he’s on pilgrimage. Rhodri orders his men to keep their defeats secret. Brida chuckles from within the pit.
Aegelesburg, Mercia; Burgred takes a load of grains to the storage so that Wessex cannot steal it, but he is intercepted by Cenric and the Wessex Guard. The king demands that the grain be shared amongst the people. Cenric pushes Burgred to the ground and seizes the cart of grains.
Peckforton Hills, Mercia; Æthelflæd and Aldhelm travel through the Peckforton hills. She realises they’re being followed and they jump off their horses and hide.
Aegelesburg, Mercia; Burgred confronts Edward for impounding their grain and occupying their citadel. He reminds them that the hall is only for the lord of Mercia and his Ealdormen. He threatens that the Witan will separate from Wessex. Edward urges any of them with the audacity to lay hand on a king and remove him from the hall. So, Burgred draws his sword. However, Edward informs him that they’ve taken his son to Wessex for religious instruction.
Peckforton Hills, Mercia; Æthelflæd and Aldhelm realize that they were being followed by Sihtric and young Uhtred and come out of hiding. They inform her that Uhtred returned to Aegelesburg to bargain for her protection and Ælfwynn is stricken with the sickness. Æthelflæd asks to be taken to her daughter.
Aegelesburg, Mercia; Cenric chains up Uhtred, who recognizes him. He initially asks if Cenric was sworn to Alfred before realising that Cenric fought at Beamfleot. Æthelhelm pleads with Uhtred to tell him the location of Ælfwynn so that they don’t have to torture him, but he refuses. So, Cenric begins to punch him repeatedly.
Wyre Forest, Mercia; Eadith and Osferth check in on Ælfwynn but she won’t wake up and her breathing is weak. Eadith proposes they take her to a healer in Aegelesburg.
Aegelesburg, Mercia; Ælswith asks Edward about Burgred’s son. While it was a callous decision, it was also clever. It has diminished Burgred and they’ve averted a fight. For that, Ælswith is grateful. Now, her son can play peacemaker. She offers him some advice, telling Edward that forcing the people of Mercia to be Wessex will only result in them fighting back. She instructs him to continue to care for Mercia and find the right match for her granddaughter, and peace will come. She then asks about the children from Saltwic, but Uhtred refuses to talk, Æthelhelm explains.
Edward finds Uhtred and bloody and beaten in his cell. Edward explains that he made no such order. Uhtred tells him that Æthelhelm claims to act for the king. Edward opens Uhtred’s cage and tells the guard to fetch Uhtred food, water, and fur to keep him warm. Edward elaborates that he didn’t order the torture of Uhtred because he knew it wouldn’t have worked. Edward questions where Uhtred’s courage comes from. He realizes that Uhtred loves his sister. Edward always envied Uhtred’s ability to choose his own path, but now he wonders if Uhtred is as imprisoned as he is, unable to escape a life that was imposed upon him. Edward’s tried to find a solution for Mercia that respects them and keeps order, but events have turned against him. Now he’s questioning if God wants him to do this. He’s lived in his father’s shadow but now he sees the light. Perhaps Edward should be unifying the kingdoms himself instead of having a child do it for him. Edward tells Uhtred that he’s free to go. He wants Uhtred to return to Ælfwynn, reunite with his sister, and keep them safe until the conflict passes.
Dinefwr, Deheubarth, Wealas; Brida lies in the pit, weakened and dehydrated. Rhodri celebrates after a victory against the Danes. He and two of his men then proceed to pee on Brida, forcing her to cower in the corner.
Wyre Forest, Mercia; Sihtric, young Uhtred, Æthelflæd and Aldhelm arrive at Wyre Forest. The healer informs them that Ælfwynn passed away and that her body was taken to Aegelesburg.
Aegelesburg, Mercia; Edward tells Æthelhelm to leave Aegelesburg. More than once he has taken it upon himself to interpret Edward’s wishes in a way that he finds unchristian. Æthelhelm claims that he nearly placed himself between Edward and some necessary unpleasantness. Still, Edward orders him to return to Winchester.
Ælswith informs Edward that Ælfwynn is at the gate and orders that they be opened. Ælswith sees this as a reward for Edward denouncing his tyranny. Osferth and Eadith emerge from the crowd with an unconscious Ælfwynn in arms. Edward orders Cenric to find him every healer in town and not to speak a word of this to anyone.
Uhtred meets back up with Finan, who reveals that his daughter is insistent on helping Father Pyrlig, as she is as stubborn as her father.
Burgred and Ludeca watch as more grain is taken by the Wessex Guard. The King continues to take the town, Burgred fears, but Ludeca argues that he feeds the people.
Stiorra helps Father Pyrlig distribute the grain among the people, but the villagers become too unmanageable and start fighting over the grain. Stiorra is thrown to the ground and Uhtred and Finan intervene. Uhtred takes control of the situation. While they may have suffered, turning on each other won’t save them. He urges them to work together. He tells everyone to form a line and they will be given what is needed. All the while Edward, Ælswith, and Cenric watch from above. With Uhtred’s influence, Ælswith fears he will make the Mercians turn against Edward. As a result, Edwards orders Uhtred to be brought before him.
Dinefwr, Deheubarth, Wealas; Brida awakens to hear yelling in the distance. She manages to pull herself up on her feet. She realizes that the Danes have invaded Wales in the Sack of Dinefwr. Sigtryggr orders his men to kill anyone who looks like they can’t work. They can sell the others as slaves. Rhodri tries to attack, but he is greatly outnumbered and doesn’t fare well. They’ve come looking for Brida. Rhodri claims they killed her, but Brida shouts out from beneath the pit that she's very much alive.
Aegelesburg, Mercia; Uhtred is brought to Edward for his involvement in the riot over the grain. Uhtred simply wanted to bring peace to Aegelesburg rather than another battle, which will surely occur as the Ealdormen won’t back down, so Uhtred suspects Edward will finish the slaughter the Danes have started. Edward fears he is right. Edward wants to place Uhtred at Aegelesburg as he can forge a path to peace. While the Ealdormen may not be pleased with him, they’ll have to accept it given Uhtred's popularity with the people. Uhtred would be a lord and protector over Aegelesburg just until it becomes less volatile. Uhtred has the respect of the people and they can use that to their mutual advantage to bring peace. If Uhtred doesn’t accept, they will undoubtedly be slaughtered. If he accepts the offer, his reputation will be restored and his men given status and wealth. In a few years, he will be free to pursue whatever path he wishes. Edward could even give Uhtred the troops he needs to retake Bebbanburg. In return, Edward would be Uhtred’s king and expect his loyalty. He gives Uhtred a day to answer him.
Dinefwr, Deheubarth, Wealas; Brida is carried before Sigtryggr. He wants to be certain that she is in fact Brida. As proof, she states that she fought with Guthrum and followed Ragnar. However, he still doesn’t believe her. He realizes she’s pregnant and asks who the father is. Brida reveals that Cnut is the father. Sigtryggr then introduces himself to Brida as Cnut’s cousin. Brida claims she belongs to no man and is a warrior alone. He wants Brida to prove who she is and kicks a sword towards her. Brida lifts the sword and holds it to Rhodri. She tells him to prepare to be broken as he tried to do her. She then puts the collar on Rhodri’s neck and throws him in the pit.
Aegelesburg, Mercia; Uhtred informs Pyrlig of the offer made to him by King Edward to be the Lord of Mercia. While he’s right that Æthelflæd will be defended, Uhtred never sought such power. Pyrlig argues that this is perhaps what makes Uhtred the best man. He doesn’t have such ambition. Pyrlig questions what’s holding Uhtred back. Uhtred swore he would never give his loyalty to another Saxon king. Pyrlig advises Uhtred to take the offer as it is a path to peace.
Dinefwr, Deheubarth, Wealas; Sigtryggr asks Brida how Cnut fell. She reveals it was mainly by his betrayal. He murdered the man she loved and blamed another. Sigtryggr believes that he died with dishonor if he allows his woman to be enslaved. She replies that her enslavement was the doing of Uhtred the Dane Slayer, and it’s for this that Brida will have her revenge. Sigtryggr is familiar with the Dane Slayer and his reputation. He questions why Cnut never came when they signaled for help. Brida claims they had their own battles. She then reveals that the greatest riches are in Wessex.
Aegelesburg, Mercia; Father Pyrlig takes Æthelstan to hide with the other villagers. Unbeknownst to him, Ælswith follows. She demands that he show her the child. Tears of joy fill her eyes to know that Æthelstan is safe. It is for this that she’s grateful to Uhtred. Pyrlig then tells her about the offer Edward made to Uhtred to become Lord of Mercia.
Ælswith confronts Edward over the bargain he struck with Uhtred. While she doesn’t like Uhtred, it may be the only compromise. The Ealdormen may complain but this time, she tells Edward not to treat them too harshly. Then he will find some redemption. She presents Æthelstan to Edward as she hopes he is willing to reconcile with him. She admits that she was wrong to rip them apart, as well as separate him from his first wife. So, she asks for Edward’s forgiveness. However, Edward orders his mother to take Æthelstan back to where he came.
Holywel, Wealas; A Welsh guard travels to Holywell in search of King Hywel. He finds him at the cross and delivers him the head of another Welsh guard.
Aegelesburg, Mercia; Uhtred has made his choice. He tells Edward and Ælswith that he will accept the deal so long that he can rule as his own man. Edward explains that he never wanted to control Mercia. He only wanted peace, and so they come to an agreement.
Æthelflæd, Aldhelm, young Uhtred, and Sihtric arrive outside of Aegelesburg’s gates, where they are confronted by Cenric. Æthelflæd pleads with him to allow her in so that she may see her daughter, who she believes to be dead. Cenric concedes and allows them to enter. Ælswith reveals to Æthelflæd that Ælfwynn is very much alive. They enter Ælfwynn’s chamber to find Eadith watching over her. Ælfwynn awakens and gives her mother a hug. Ælswith informs Æthelflæd that Edward has restored peace and the people are being fed. Mostly, everyone now looks forward to the new Lord, that being Uhtred.
Osferth, Finan, Stiorra and Pyrlig celebrate after learning that Ælfwynn is recovering from her sickness and that Uhtred has accepted being Lord of Mercia.
- Many Welsh soldiers and villagers
- Hundreds due to sickness that's sweeping the land