Abrecan would never betray me. I heard him call for his people to attack Herot. Beowulf has told your mother of Abrecan's betrayal. She's about to ride to Bregan. - Let me take your place. - Step aside! Whatever he's done, Abrecan won't harm her. I have a proposition for you from Abrecan, Bregan's Thane. Soon 200 Wulfing warriors will be ashore. They won't just plunder, they'll kill. Not only am I your sister, I am also your Jarl. For today. A decree stating you'll relinquish your claim to be both Jarl of the Shieldlands and Thane of Herot. I would never do that to my son. Of course, your son. He was the one who laid the false blame on the Varni even though he knew it was I who moved against you. - He is beyond saving. - But you're not. And Herot needs you. Destroy them! For glory! Charge! With that at your side, who could stand in your way? Skellan. Warfather of the Wulfing clans. Your man here promised us all the gold and iron my men could carry. You'll have more. But first, I must have your oath . . that you and your men will follow my leadership. We'll do what we want. That is the Wulfing way Hold your tongue. You have my oath. Then Herot will fall. In case we're attacked, we need Huskarla at every gatepost. Each in command of at least five men, be they townsfolk or smelters. And post sentries on each of the five surrounding hills. And they need to be able to see over the hori Mother. Rheda, stop. - What's going on? - Lock him up. Now! I need good reason. My brother has betrayed us. He has allied Bregan with the Wulfings and now an army marches on Herot all because of my son. Take his father's sword. Is this true? A traitor in league with traitors. I said, lock him up! An army marches on us, to seize our homes and steal our freedom. Why do you stand there? Come on, move! Abrecan was behind all this? Scorann's death? Bayen's murder? And he did it all with Slean's help? Beowulf. The Wulfing ships line our shores. Send riders to the Mere, the Banning, the Wisdeth. Tell them Herot is under attack. Tell them to send their men. We need them to stand with us. You must send word to the Varni. No, no, no. The other tribes won't make it in time. The Varni are closer. And the Varni aren't farmers or fishermen. You'd have me send to Rate? Have you lost your wits? I expelled him from this hall. I banished them from the alliance. Well, tell them you were mistaken. Don't let your people die because you are too proud to admit you are wrong! It's pointless! Any messenger I send to Rate will be sent back to us in pieces. Then I'll go. I'm the only one he'll listen to. - I need you here. - The defences are in hand. One man riding hard and fast, I can be back before the Wulfings get here. Two men. I am Varni, after all. I know their ways. We would at least stand a chance against Abrecan's army. I'll lead them to Herot. Go. Do as I have asked. - And then? - Return to Bregan. You're needed there. The next time we meet you'll be Jarl. Until Herot. So We follow the river until the pass. And then head for the Draca bridge. We'll scout the way first and then the army will follow. The bridge is the quickest route but they'll know that. We should take the forests. Surprise them. No. The forest is full of Barghest. And are the men of Bregan afraid of beasts? The men of Bregan had you on your knees. They could have spilled your guts onto the sand and left you for the crabs to eat. Don't you forget it. - We take the bridge. - We take the bridge. Get the dogs. He should learn some manners. Why? He's a Wulfing. Good work, lads. Abrecan and his Wulfing army will be here soon enough. So let's be ready for them. And back! Come on! The Wulfings won't care if you're tired! Come on! Put your backs in it! My son. I have something to give you. There. Don't measure yourself by me. You'll always be less. If you're here to say I disappoint you, join the queue. You'll find I'm just at the front. And my mother. And Beowulf. And the rest of Herot. You never judged me. How could I judge you? I slandered Rate banished the Varni. And now they're our only hope. Beowulf can appeal to his sense of honour, but he won't forgive. If he won't listen, give him this. Only if all else fails. Don't go anywhere. I'll be right back. I'm surprised you're still here. - So am I. - Why are you still with us? I thought it would be nice if the gates are finished before the Wulfing get here. Lila's working on them. So you could help. Talk to her. The way I see it, chances are we're all dead tomorrow in any case, so why have awkward conversations? If you're dead tomorrow, why not? You shouldn't be in here. Neither should you. It's not the marriage I dreamed of. Living a lie, sleeping alone. Now this. Perhaps you got yourself put in here on purpose. Some men don't like commitment. You can't help me, Kela. Even if I was free, the Wulfings are coming. Our allies won't make it in time. There is nothing that can be done. There's always something. And I won't let you give up. Find me Gil of the Huskarla. Bring him to me. I said no. Slean would do anything for the Huskarla, you know that. Do I? Do you? He betrayed us all. Stand and face me. I'm your Thane's daughter by law! My husband was your commander. It's just a title. And do you think he wore it lightly? I was there when he washed the body of your fallen comrade. Slean's scars were earned. In the same places as yours, at your side. If Beowulf fails to convince the Varni to join us, we'll all die anyway. All he asks is that you listen to what he has to say. Gil, I promise I knew nothing about the Wulfing army. What do you want from me, Slean? Has Rheda sent word to our allies? Yes. They'll not be here in time, though. If we buy them the time, the Banning might. How? Draca bridge. With a dozen Huskarla. We might be able to hold them off for at least a day. That might be just enough time for them to get here. Come on, Gil. The Huskarla's job is to protect Herot. Even if it means dying for it. This could be Herot's only chance. If I'd known you planned to die, I'd never have helped. Which is why I didn't tell you. Kela thank you. What are you doing here, Vishka? Coming with you to the bridge. - No. - You heard him. You know I can fight. Better than him, you said. All right. And you need someone to look out for you. You tell Lila about this? - She'd only worry. - You don't think she'd have a point? Well, this looks homely. The Varni prefer their creature comforts dead. No wonder you left. And swore I'd never return. Leave the horses. On foot, we look less of a threat. On foot, we are less of a threat. How do we find Rate? He'll find us. Stand still. Varr. You piece of filth. It's good to see you, too. Beowulf, you remember Argat? My only surviving half-brother. I'm not sensing much brotherly love. Beowulf. I promised the next time we met, I'd kill you. I thought of it more as a threat than a promise. You thought wrong, then. You've got rusty. I tripped. Right. The tent beat you. Exactly. Argat, get them water and then bring them to my tent. They can't flank us, they can't pass us. They'll have to fight. And for as long as we hold out, there's hope for our people. The middle of the bridge. That's where we make our stand. Check the end of the bridge. All clear! Did you know? Know what? About my son's betrayal. Tell me. Do you think you can choose to hold your tongue? - I am your Thane. - And Slean is my husband. What sort of wife would I be to turn on him so easily? The wife of a man in chains. And yet you send messengers to beg my tribe to aid you. Then I will ask him myself. You'll find that hard. He is no longer in chains. Slean has gone to stop the Wulfing, to cut them off. He and his Huskarla will buy you the time for help to reach us. If Herot still stands tomorrow it will be his doing. Where? Where has he gone? Draca bridge. And he will not come back alive. But he will die with honour. Charge! Reset! Hold! - Hold! - Hey! Come on. Come here! Vishka! Grab my hand. Come on, get up. Hold my hand! Where are you? You must stay away from Herot. It's dangerous. You followed me. I followed him. I knew he would lead me to you. Leave him alone. I mean neither of you harm. You and I, we are the same, Skinshifters. We shouldn't be strangers to each other. Or enemies. On that we agree. Then don't attack Herot. They're my people. Your people? What did Your people do when they found a Skinshifter in their midst? How long before they turn on you? That's my concern. Don't harm them. Please. I have no intention of attacking Herot. I have no need. The Redbloods are about to rip each other to pieces. And I have a future to build. You could be a part of that future. You will never need to lie, hide, or fear again. Or you can go back to Herot and wait for death. Don't be scared now. I'm not. Good. Your shaking's back. It's cold. Just worry about yourself, Slean. They're here. Abrecan! Slean. You already know how this ends. You have a dozen men? And I lead an army. If you think you're leading them then you really have lost your mind. The Wulfings will stab you in the back and walk right over your corpse the moment you're no use to them. But there is a way back, Uncle. Send your men home. Stay here and fight with us. Die with honour. Is that what you want? To die here? Then go to our ancestors. Archers! Shields! Loose! - Loose! - Open! Close! Rheda's troubles, whatever they may be are not mine. Rate, the survival of Herot is in your hands. Just listen to what we ask. But you are not the first. Two sets of messengers. One from Herot, one from Bregan. Both so eager to be heard, but which should I hear? This viper doesn't deserve to be in your presence. Join with us. Take Herot by force. When he rules, Abrecan will see you rewarded beyond your wildest dreams. Abrecan betrayed the alliance. Just as Rheda once claimed I had done. Because of his actions, your brother Scorann is dead! - That was never Abrecan's intention! - Enough! Why spill Varni blood in a feud that is not of our making and not in our interest? No, fight your battles yourselves. Prove yourselves. Whichever side wins this war shall have my support. Now leave. You're not welcome here. Get them out of my sight. Now! Wait! I am Varr of the Varni. And I claim my bloodright. Well, that changes things. Whatever you feel for him, don't let his sacrifice be for nothing. Slean isn't ready. You must be Thane until he is. You know that my brother is coming to visit us. Along with his friends. Some say that there's no bond stronger than blood, but I don't believe that. Iron and charcoal sweat brought us here. Opportunity. The chance to carve out a future. May the ancestors forgive me, but that's stronger than blood. Let's give Abrecan a welcome he can remember. Will the men hold? They'll hold! Why have they stopped? Break. We can cut the snake's head off before its army gets here. Come and fight me, Uncle! Or are your Wulfing friends afraid of a few Huskarla? Destroy them! Charge! Advance! Reform! Every moment we hold allows our people time to prepare. Allows time for our allies to ride. People will talk of the Huskarla who held the Draca bridge for 500 summers. We will not be forgotten. None of you will ever be forgotten! We hold our lines! For Herot! For Herot! Slean will make a great Thane one day. So I won't have him sacrificed at the hands of the Wulfing. That's my job. Now, Brinni, you take him back to Herot. He's best needed there. Vishka, you too. I want to fight. No. You're the youngest here with the most to live for. The both of you. And you're Huskarla. That's an order. You'll never be forgotten, Gil. Get out of here, go. Go! Vishka, help. Come on, Slean. Now, you think if Slean got killed on this bridge any of us would be remembered in any song? Huh? To your positions. Come on! Who wants to die first? The bloodright has been invoked. Two men, brothers. One man lives. No weapons. If that man is you, you may have your favour. Begin! Our mother should have left you on the plains for the crows to eat. Left, right Get up! More! Argh! Read this message from Rheda. Read it? That's all? You should have said. I would still have my champion. Beowulf, leave my land. Go back to your people. That's it? You call yourself a warrior? - Varr. - Oh, no. Varr stays here. The man who wins doesn't just take a life. He takes responsibility for the dead man's family. Therefore I must stay. You can't stay here. I must. Perhaps I'll enjoy life more here second time around. You won't change your mind? I have no choice. I've nobody to go back for. Unlike you. The message. What was in it? It doesn't matter now. Goodbye, Beowulf. Tell Rheda I failed her. Varr knew. He's condemned himself to a life he despises. For nothing. Rate did exactly what you said he would. He burned your message, told me to go home. That this battle was not the Varni's fight. So now our only hope is Slean. He's at the Draca bridge. If he can hold it long enough the Banning might get here in time. He'll die a hero instead of a traitor. What defences we have are ready. And so are the people. Slean's here. I bought you a day in the hope that the Banning will come and fight with us. Do you think that's enough? You betrayed me. You betrayed your people. You may fight with them if you wish, but you will never lead. You're not my son. Advance! Let's make camp here. Rest. We'll attack at first light. And tomorrow Herot is ours. And tomorrow you will hunt down Beowulf and avenge Jogan. Jogan was my brother. And Beowulf will die by my blade. I swear it. On the bones of the restless dead, I swear it. His Thane, Herot, everyone and everything in it. All that he holds precious to him shall burn. We're not fighting today for the iron they smelt in the pits. We're not fighting for a Thane or a Jarl. We're not fighting for the gold on the walls in Rheda's hall. We're fighting for family. We're fighting for friends. Come on! For those we care for. For those old piece of dirt we call home. For Herot! [1]


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