- There's no turning you, is there? - No. Then I'll take you as you are. You, my friend, don't know who I am. Never come back to Herot. You're dead to me. Play the part your mother has set for you. She'll not be expecting when we take power from her. Do you want to be Thane? Tell my uncle I am done with him. You have hid in the shadows for too long. If you want power, take it. If I tell my mother the truth, I'll lose her trust. And with it, any chance of ever ruling. But if Abrecan attacks, Herot could fall. I have a vision for us to be the greatest tribe. Abrecan is going to attack Herot. I won't let anyone hurt you. Ever again. Abrecan would never betray me. I speak only the truth. I heard him call for his people to attack Herot. He's building an army. This man is a thief and a murderer. I believe him. Our enemy are the Warig. This prophet Razzak, not my brother. Ready my horse. You come to me and tell me that Abrecan is a traitor? Well, I will ask him to his face. Rheda, you can't! Wait! Beowulf has told your mother of Abrecan's betrayal. How does he know? Does it matter? She's about to ride to Bregan. I have to go. I have to tell her. That it was you that made her believe the Varni was Herot's enemy, plotted with Abrecan to overthrow her? No, she can't go. If she doesn't come back you will be Thane. Rheda, you can't go to Bregan. If it's true and Abrecan is a traitor, then you're riding straight into the arms of your enemy. You're speaking of my brother. - Let me take your place. - No. At least take an escort of Slean's Huskarla. The men are needed here should the Warig attack. - Now step aside, both of you. - Mother. Prepare the people to fight our real enemy, the Mudborn. Go! Abrecan won't harm her. Whatever he's done or he's planning, he would never harm his sister. Let's hope you're right. I see a land. A land where the Mudborn roam freely amongst the broken stones and empty halls that were once our homes. Where we are no more than a memory. Like the giants that ruled here before us. This is our future. Unless we are strong. Some doubted that I cared for the people of Bregan. My people doubted me their rightful Thane. I was once taught that a good man forgives those with the courage to admit they are at fault. With the courage to ask for that forgiveness. I also taught you that a good man should have the courage to stand by what he believes. Your plans to attack your own sister offend me. Thank you for teaching me this last lesson. That a good man and a good leader are not the same. Argh! If the Shieldlands are to remain, we must be strong! And I must be Jarl! Greetings, Skellen, Warfather of the Wulfing. I have a proposition for you from Abrecan, Bregan's Thane. Further to the one the Wulfing boy delivered. It's one you'll want to hear rather than kill me. Good work. Your sister will hear what you're planning. I know. And she will come. When she does, will you string her up alongside Harken? You were the one who said, "Be bold. " You spent time in Bregan. How many warriors can they field if Abrecan wages war? No more than 50. But they're no match for ours. And the Huskarla are training the people. Every person who can lift a sword. Apart from the smelters. They don't appreciate being told what to do. Maybe not by the Huskarla. Leave them to to me. If there is war, all our people must be ready to fight. Right! You are all here to learn to fight like Huskarla. You townspeople are going to fight with us to protect Herot. Lila, you're with me. Everybody, grab yourselves a weapon. Let's go! What kind of favour is this? Well, if you're right about Abrecan, we're going to need all the help we can get. So the favour teach them to fight. Fight dirty. Smelters! Like you, they ignore authority. That's why you're gonna teach them. This is Breca. Some of you know him. Some of you are owed money by him. He's here to share a few things with you. Wait. Beowulf Come on! Sweat, blister, bleed if you have to! It's not Herot or a Thane you'll be fighting for when those Mudborn break through those walls. When they're in here among us, you'll be all that stands between those you love and the Warig. Stand strong together and we shall win! Right, you heard him! Back to it. Rargh! Wood splinters. It's no good to you, not in a real fight. Iron. This is the perfect weapon. And it won't just kill a man, it'll bury him too. Better. Better. - Bah! - Don't tell me you're not tempted. You strike first, you live. You don't, you die. See, I told you. Let them come at you. If you're running at them, you're not thinking. If you're not thinking, bad things happen. Yah! Harder! Gil, the troll is hungry! I told you, you have to clear out. We have to bring the troll back, it should have been fed hours ago. When we're done. They could do with a break. Clear out, now! - Have you ever seen an angry troll? - I'm looking at one. - Gil! - It needs its salt! Back down. Breca! Argh! He's dead. You see? It was only a matter of time before the Mudborn killed somebody. It's killed a human. It's angry, it could kill again. We have to hunt it down. Gil, go with him. You, get back in there. Everybody back to your training. I'll come. All right. Don't let him kill it. Bring it back alive. What are you doing? Elvina's gone, I thought I would erm I'm being insensitive. Of course you cared for her deeply. I loved her. It must have been hard for you, to see her so happy with Beowulf. But we must be practical. Herot needs a Healer. Never more than at this time, when we have enemies on all sides. You think you can replace her? Replace her? No, I just want to help. I'm not seeking your permission to do this, but I'd rather it was with your blessing. All right. Just don't poison anyone. Elvina. Beowulf said Said what? That you were dead. I'm sorry, I Does Slean know you're alive? Kela, whatever was between Slean and me, it's in the past. You've nothing to fear from me. Perhaps you could help me? - What are you making? - It's for the treating of wounds. - Is that wormwood? - The healer in Mere used it. Yes. And celladine? Yes. I'd like it if we could be friends. Aren't we? Of course. What you're using won't seal the wound, but this will numb the pain. Beowulf said the Warig killed you. I escaped through the forest. Kela. You're telling me to leave? Please. Beowulf knows the truth. What truth? He knows what I am. You told him? He saw. I had no choice, it was that or let him die. A skinshifter saved his life. He must have choked on that. I won't let him harm you. I won't. Sister, this is an unexpected pleasure. It has been too long since you have been home. I'm not here for pleasure. I've been hearing things. About Bregan. About you. Rumours. Why does the body of one of Bregan's most loyal and wise councillors hang at the city walls? - Rheda. - Saray. You must be tired after your journey. Let me take you to wash. Thank you, Saray, but I need to speak with my brother. Leave us. Of course. Run. Maybe Kendra has a point. The troll does the work of 20 men men who could be preparing to fight. We could take it back alive. It killed a man. The Mudborn have no place among us. I only asked. Like you said, it killed because it was hungry, frightened. We know the reason it acted the way it did. No! They don't reason. They just hate. That's why the Warig killed the Huskarla in the forest, that's why the troll killed today. Even if that were true, where does hating them back get us? With a little sense, to the point where we find every one of them and cut their throats. Right, Beowulf, you understand. Mudborn scum have killed people I care about. There are two sets of tracks here. Gil, take Vishka. Boy! Bring us some more firewood. Firewood is hard to come by here at the coast. So your gift of the pillar was most welcome. Those laws were meant to unite us. So they will in warmth. You forget yourself. Not only am I your sister, I am also your Jarl. Oh, yes, so you are. For today. And who will be Jarl tomorrow, you? If you're going to end my life, do it now. I never wanted to harm you. Things would have gone a lot easier for me if I had. A ship leaves for the Farlands on the next tide. Give me what I want and you will sail with it. Refuse Beowulf, no! Look, it's calmer. Let's take it back. It doesn't belong here. Please don't kill it. Beowulf, he's gonna kill it! Hey! Yaaaaargh! - What's that? - A decree. Stating you relinquish your claim to be both Jarl of the Shieldlands and Thane of Herot. Huh. Even if I sign, you need the other Thanes to vote for you at a Gathering. You threw Rate out. And the others I can deal with. And what is your answer? Will you sign it? I would never do that to my son. Of course, your son. Even without knowing it, you prove I'm right that you are the wrong choice to lead us. Because I care for my family? Because you let your heart rule your head. Your son, your wonderful, loyal son, he was the one who laid the false blame on the Varni, even though he knew it was I who moved against you. You're lying. Slean would never do that. Just as he'd never have told my men not to light the warning pyre to alert Herot of the Wulfing raid? You have no idea, do you? You have absolutely no idea what it's like to be related to you. Sign, or I will do what must be done. Thank you for bringing it back alive. Thank Vishka. - What are you doing here? - I'm not gonna let you hurt her. - Stay out of this, Slean. - You think I don't know? How long have you known she was a skinshifter? Years. It's never made a difference to me. We need to talk. The three of us. You knew she was a skinshifter? You put everyone in Herot at risk. - She's no threat. - I saw what she did to the Warig. Which she did to save your life. I'm a healer. I help people, I don't harm them. You think they'll care? You saw what they did to the skinshifter they found here. They'll just drag you out into the street and finish you. - I won't let them. - You won't have a choice. Thane's son or not. It was an open secret that she was your woman. She's a skinshifter, she can take care of herself. But you they'll have your life. That's the law, that's what they do to those who lie with the Mudborn. Who's gonna tell them? You? You do that and I will make sure you are cut down with us. Why did you come back? Because this is my home. You, as much as anyone, know what that means. Stay if you wish. But this is on you. Rheda would die before she yields, you know that. She has your strength. You said you would stand by me. This is not standing by me! I have given her her chance. A sister's blood will not wash away. Then I will wear it with honour. As I will have spilt it for my people. We must prepare for what is coming. You're burning up. Your wound You saved me from my darkness. I will not stand by and let that same darkness take you. Let your sister go. If you love me, if you ever loved me, let her go. You are nothing. A body to warm my bed with. Abrecan? What's he doing here? I thought you sent him away. Well? Their flags unfurl and their sails catch the wind. They will be here before nightfall. They agreed to your terms. You have done well. Who will be here by nightfall? What have you done? Leave. Now. If I require your services, I will send for you. As you will. Bring me my sister! Leave us. I've considered everything you've had to say. That is your answer, then. It is. I won't enjoy this. What happened to you? What had to. Argh! I am glad you put up a fight. He's alive. We don't have long. Follow me. Whoa, whoa, whoa. - You go. - What about you? - I'll follow. - If they catch you Saray, he is beyond saving. But you're not and Herot needs you. - Over there! Stop her! - Go! Yaaah! She got away. It doesn't matter. Soon, 200 Wulfing warriors will be ashore. You've allied yourself to the Wulfing? They'll plunder Herot and then sail back across the Whale Road. They won't just plunder, they'll kill. A few lives, some gold. A small price to pay compared to what they'll get in return. A leader who can save the Shieldlands. I should have taken your life the night we met. And to think I almost left with you. I came this close to missing what fate has in store to me. See that her body is burned with the other traitors. After that, there will be time enough or me to rest in Herot's Golden Hall. Once the Wulfing dogs have landed on our shores. Stop. My brother has betrayed us. All because of my son. He has allied Bregan with the Wulfings. And now an army marches on Herot. At the Draca Bridge, with a dozen Huskarla, we might be able to hold them off for at least a day. This could be Herot's only chance. You must send word to the Varni. I banished them from the Alliance. Any messenger I send to Rate will be sent back to us in pieces. For glory! Slean has gone to stop the Wulfings. He and his Huskarla will buy you the time for help to reach us. And he will not come back alive. But he will die with honour. Charge! [1]


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