Beowulf, why come so far to watch an old Thane die? You're nothing, Beowulf. Your father was nothing. Kill him. There'll be no more blood spilt in this hall while I'm Reeve. - I'm here to see Hrothgar. - Hrothgar is dead. One Thane must rule us all. Why not you? Would you rather it was someone else? I saw you. Talking to him? - You're different to the old healer. - I know. All yours. A Mudborn killed Bayen. If I'm not avenged I'll never enter the Halls of the Dead. I will avenge you. The wound wasn't from a beast. He was stabbed. You don't belong here. Never did. Slean is your half-brother. You're my blood. My son. Herot will need you, and you will come. Today Hrothgar, Thane of Herot, will enter the Halls of the Dead. But my husband is not lost to you. Take off your father's sword. Raise it. Higher. (cheering) (woman singing) Rate, the others might be at Herot already. Ride ahead and tell Rheda the Varni Thane will come in his own time. For now I feel like fishing. (both laugh) Hyar! What are you doing here? - These are the Reeve's quarters. - Now he's gone, what will you do? It's my responsibility to find Bayen's killer. I'll leave you to it. Bayen used to talk about you all the time. Mostly about how he thought Hrothgar wished YOU were his son, not Slean. (chuckles) Old men like to tell stories. When people stop listening, they tell them a little louder. Make them a little bigger. Beowulf I never thanked you. You saved my life. I wasn't there for you. I was there for the beast. Still thank you. - May I ask you a question? - Go ahead. Are you Slean's woman? Only, I saw him leave your home this morning. You did? I did. I don't belong to any man. Then We're close. - Is Breca awake? - He has company. - Wife? - Children. Quick, even for him. I'm feeling lucky. Feeling lucky. Oh, yes! Let me win back what I lost. - Won't happen. - Her parents'll beat her. Really? - It's character-building. - (door opens) Take what's yours and get out. And you. - (sighs) Children? - Find me a proper game. If you want a proper game, don't use loaded knuckles. I'm a married man. I've got responsibilities now. (laughs) Up. The healer said I have to rest. Up. I need the mind of a murderer. I told you - it was an accident. What? (shouts) You mean, the man you stuck a knife in ? All right! All right. (groans) That mark on Breca's throat - you know it's from a noose, don't you? Somebody had a reason to put it round his neck. - What do you think you're doing? - Living. Huh! Vishka, it's six years since your father died. Why now? Why this one? Er Vishka, we were going to the snares. They need checking. (sighs) Hrothgar wasn't only Thane of Herot. He was also Jarl, leader of all the tribes across the Shieldlands. And, to succeed him, you need a majority of the votes at the Gathering. I'm not a child. Then tell me how they'll vote. - The Thanes will be here by sunset. - (metal scraping) The Wisdeth are farmers. They need our iron, our warriors. Their vote can be counted on. Scorann is a good Thane and a friend of Herot, but nothing can be counted on. Go on. Bregan is Abrecan's. And my vote is yours. And the forest people? The Banning Thane has a weak spot for you but his vote is uncertain. Which leaves the Varni. Rate wishes to see himself made Jarl of the Shieldlands, instead of you. But, in order to do so, he'd have to convince the others you're weak. So you lose the vote. And if I do ? Rate could challenge you. You'd have to defeat him in single combat. Ah (wails) What was that? Bayen's body was here. Imagine you stabbed him. You make it sound like I'm an expert at this. (door opens) Varni. Varr. They said you were licking boots here, but I didn't believe that. Even of you. Take me to the woman who claims to be Thane. Rheda will see you when she's ready. You may wait in her chamber. You said Bayen was alive when you found him. If I was the killer, why would I leave him breathing, with my name on his tongue? - You were interrupted. - Or I was wounded. Then you'd have bled. (gasps) The black blood of a Mudborn. The one that killed Bayen? The beast carried no wound. I saw it. Then there were two Mudborn here. Leave us. Where's Rate? The Varni Thane will come when he's ready. I'm to see you're prepared for his arrival. Inspect his quarters. - Are you his handmaid? - (door slamming) I'll have you shown there, and you can turn down the bed. - You insult me. - As your presence here insults me. But that's the point, isn't it? There's only one thing that's blood can turn from black to red, that can shift from Mudborn to human. Tell him: if he wishes to be Jarl, he will have to do better than that. (grunts) - Rheda - I'm fine. - The thing that did this - was a Skinshifter. And it's living among us. How could you let this happen? Let this thing get into my sister's private chamber and threaten her life? Slean's Huskarla are responsible for the Thane's safety. (thud) If you'd done what I asked and found Bayen's killer, this Varni wouldn't be dead. How was I to know it was a Skinshifter? None have been found here for years. Leave us. Now. We're sure this Skinshifter killed Bayen? - ABRECAN: Well, if not - (door slams) who else? People fear Skinshifters more than any other Mudborn, because they can live amongst us undetected. The Thanes arrive here in a few hours for the Gathering. You'll never win their support if you can't even control Herot. Then we ride out to meet them. Delay their arrival. Slean, ride west to meet Scorann. You and I, brother, will ride north to meet the others. You swore you'd avenge Bayen's killer. Can you find this thing and kill it? If it's still here. - (sighs) - What happened to you? You expect me to run towards a Skinshifter? Give me a man to fight, or even a beast. But one that's both? What's that? It used it to kill the Varni. Maybe Bayen, too. It's been repaired. Dark edge on the solder. See? The only other place I've ever seen that is on this. (grunts) (groans) Your technique - you don't have any. (grunts) My leg - it still hurts. What's wrong with you? I'm better with a blade than you, but I can only make them. You get to use one in battle. You're not better than me. Well, not yet. And I didn't ask to be born a Huskarla. But you were, and I wasn't. An ancestor of mine saved some ancestor of Hrothgar's. You don't appreciate what you have. You don't want anything. What's the point of even being you? I'm sorry. It's not you I'm angry at. Vishka I do want things. Like what? Another chance to plant your backside in the mud. Show a woman has no place holding a sword. A woman? Come on. And this time, think. Don't just hack and slash. (groans) (moans) - Is this Vishka's work? - Yes, it's hers. But she's out, playing at being a Huskarla. As soon as she's back, I'll send her over. If it's Bayen's killer you're looking for, there was an argument at the feast the other night. Him and a smelter, Tarn. That's all I know. That's helpful. (clears throat) You go on. Look into it. I'll catch up. Take a cold bath first. (chuckles) - (door closes) - He likes to think he's funny. I thought that was you. If we work together, we've got a better chance of finding the Skinshifter. This thing murdered Bayen. A man I had worked alongside for seven years. Know a smelter called Tarn? He's their leader. - Are you going there alone? - No. You're coming. Life's hard here. People come and go. Some scrape together enough coin to buy a claim and move back to the mines. Others go back to the Farlands. Those that do stay - they don't see old age. - I take it you're lost. - We want to speak to Tarn. And I want to live up in that hall on the hill and drink wine whenever I like. Have some fine-boned Huskarla sit on my lap as I sip it. A woman like you can do better than those red-cloaked pretty boys. (chuckles) But I like them pretty. Beowulf right? I'd say you were pretty. Once. (chuckles) If only we'd met then. (chuckles) Will you take us to Tarn? (troll growling) (growling) Tarn! Feed them meat. They get a taste. They get a taste They can't get enough. What is it you want? The other night, you argued with Bayen. Did I? And how's that your business? You think, because you carved a couple of fingers off a Mudborn, you can come down here and accuse a man of murder? That is what you're doing? I'm just talking. (grunts) I haven't got time to watch you play the big man before your ugly friends. On Beowulf. (grunts) (troll growling) Huh? On the smelter. (grunts) (growling) - Pull me in! (groans) - The argument with Bayen! Coin! It was about coin. Talk to Rheda's steward. Talk to Varr. - Why? - I went to Bayen's place, and Varr was there already. (growling) Come on. Time is running out. BRECA: Pleasure doing business with you, gentlemen. Get back to work! (troll growling) Lagrathorn of the Banning. He's been in love with you since you - were a girl - (CHUCKLES) and he visited Bregan. You were always jealous of the way I distracted the boys from your war games. - I admit it. - And are you distracted now by this lover of yours back in Bregan? An older sister knows everything. She must be doing something for you. You smile more. Rheda. Abrecan. Lagrathorn. It's been too long. How are the forests? Full of trees. You could have waited for me by the fireside in Herot. My sister wanted to be sure she could count on the Banning vote. Now, if you'd excuse me Well? We've been raided this summer. Some of my people say Herot has not done enough to protect us. And the price of your iron always goes up and never down. Now that's out of the way, what price for your vote? Everything that was your husband's. The fireplace in his hall to warm his feet against, and you to warm my bed. Riders! Rate of the Varni. Rheda Making new friends? Learning more about some old ones. Shall we ? Lagrathorn Now, assuming you asked Rheda to marry you and she politely avoided answering what can she really do for the Banning? So, where's Slean? Sulking from not being made Thane? (creaking) Scorann? Scorann! Come on! The Thanes will be here soon. Varr - What do you want? - That can wait. The Thanes are already late. There's still work to be done. It can wait. The alliance must be led by a warrior. Its purpose is war. It's purpose is to hold the peace. Something its leader must understand. I know it's difficult for you to back down now, having voiced your opinion so openly. What if I created a new post? Something suitable for a great warrior? Say 'advisor on all matters military'. (chuckles) You think that's who I am? That I can be bought off with a title? Humans cannot live in peace alongside the Mudborn, and if we try, we'll all suffer the fate of the lost tribe. The Mere people were slaughtered 20 summers ago, precisely because they provoked the Mudborn I'll see you don't get the majority you need at the Gathering. Then I'll challenge you to hand-to-hand combat. You'll step aside. I'll become Jarl and lead the alliance. Huh! That is how it shall be. I would rather die by your blade than step aside and let you be Jarl. Well, if you're dead you won't be needing that golden hall of yours, either. After you greeted the Varni messenger, where did you go? Need to ask? This hall doesn't run itself. Tarn claims you were with Bayen late on the night he died. I'm the steward of Rheda's household. He was her Reeve. You want to know if I killed him? And the Varni messenger. I'm your Skinshifter. You could have just asked. He'd lie. I'm not only outnumbered, but outwitted. Make him put his hand in there. In the fire. A Skinshifter can't be burnt. You didn't think to mention this before? It didn't seem relevant. Not directly. I heard the same thing. (groans) Varr No need to apologise. It was my choice. What now? Burn everyone in order to find this thing? If we have to. VISHKA: Beowulf You wanted to know who I repaired this for. Elvina. (crow screeching) Scorann. (man shouting) Move! Now. Split up! (groans) MAN: Where are they? - Who are they? - Brigands. Caught us on the North Road. Must be after ransom. Are you alone? I'm sorry to hear about Hrothgar. Your father was (chuckles) I'm not sorry at all. I've hated him ever since he tricked me into taking that Wisdeth bride to bind his alliance. I told him so to his face. A Varni, married to a big-boned farmer's daughter? I've been a walking, talking dead man for 15 years. - What are you doing here? - Do I need a reason to meet the only man who told my father what he thought of him? - Yes, if it concerns your mother. - She needs your vote. - (screaming) - What is that? They must have taken my man alive. He risked his life to save me. If it's ransom they want, you're the prize, not him. They think you'll hand yourself in to save him. I wouldn't want to disappoint them. (gasps) You should have come in, made yourself at home. The clasp is mine. It was used to murder Bayen and a Varni messenger. The killer was Mudborn. A Skinshifter. Who are your people? Wanderers. People of the Mere, the few that escaped the slaughter in the Marshes. How did you come by a Banning warrior's clasp? It was a gift to my father. I lost it at the feast. You can't think it's me. The Skinshifter can't be burnt. And it's wounded. Then I'll show you I have no wound. Enough. (footsteps) (thud) Show yourself! (snarling) (roaring) (groans) (roars) (roars in pain) (grunts) It's a Skinshifter! (screaming) There it is! (roars) (shouting) Move! Move! (gasps) Get away! Get away! - Move! - Did you see it? MAN: Where's it gone? Tarn? Are you sure it's him? He has the wound I gave him. And another. That Bayen gave him. That's it? You found the Skinshifter? Are you sure? - We have to get it out of here. - Huh! Do you want to explain to the smelters that their leader is a Skinshifter? (horn blaring) - The Thanes. - Come on! We need to hide the body. Quickly. They're coming. (grunts) - (panting) - Shhh. I heard it breathe. It's air escaping the body. When I was a boy, my mother used to tell stories about Skinshifters. Horrible, horrible stories. At least, I think she was my mother. I didn't know her well. Summon Beowulf. My son - has he returned? Not yet. (man screaming) Axel! Let my man go and you can have me. We'll have you, anyway! Take him! (men shouting) (screaming) (groans) Wait! Catch him and cut him to pieces, boys! Leave that one. Don't you smell the coin? - Run! - Do that and this one's dead! (sighs) (talking softly) His man's missing, and if he doesn't know there's a Skinshifter on the loose, he will soon. - You found it? - And killed it. Rheda Rate I'm sorry, but your shieldsman is dead. He laid down his life to save mine. Who killed him? Not who, but what. A Skinshifter. - Where is it? - No! Rheda, let us be clear. You are telling us that the most reviled of all our enemies is running loose in Herot? As soon as it was discovered, I had it hunted down and killed. I favour peace but if we have enemies, they will be struck down without mercy. Show us the body. Bring it. It's in human form. There's no way of proving it's the Skinshifter. Well, find a way. - You murdered Tarn! - He was a Skinshifter. Tarn was a man! I'm his mother. Koll My son wasn't the best of men, but he was a man. (grunts) - It's you! You killed them. - I had no choice, but to protect my family. It's not Tarn! The doors! Close the doors! (roars) (clattering) See what that is. Let us all see. (growling) (roars) (groans) (roars) (panting) Koll. (pulls out sword) - Stand aside. - That thing killed Argat's brother. And Herot's Reeve! When the time comes, we'll toss a coin for the pleasure of cutting its throat, but not yet. I believe the Skinshifter was acting on someone else's part. Kill it, and we may never know who. What makes you say that? It said as much. And it used this to do its killing. Left it in the dead Varni, to be found. - A Banning clasp. - This wasn't about Bayen or the Varni. It was about killing your Reeve and stirring up the tribes. To make my sister look weak before the Gathering. (grunts) It makes no sense. He was a loving husband, father. He lived here in peace for years. He was a good man. Man? This thing was a murderer of men. Amongst them, Bayen, who it called a friend. All Mudborn are killers. It's in their blood. And what's in yours? Mmm. My wife can cook. Try. Hey we did a good job today. We? I was there, too. Hey Get your own wife. (gasps) (horse neighing) Whoa. Easy. (neighing) Easy. Easy. Shhh. Easy, boy. That's Slean's horse. My son. They will find Slean. Rate and Beowulf are looking for him now. There are no finer warriors. - What is he? - A filthy Mudborn! If Scorann doesn't arrive, your future is in my hands. - People don't want justice. - (roars) They want to see strength. I was born a warrior, and I'll die one. [1]


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