Rheda, you are Jarl of all the peoples and tribes. - Roth of the Mere. - Your husband promised us iron weapons. However, they must not be simply a gift, but a dowry. A marriage between my son and his daughter will make our alliance stronger. You'll go to Mere. And take Elvina with you. - Why? - She knows their ways, and you will forget her now. - Did you see something? - It's nothing. You're behind all this. You wanted to be Jarl, but you didn't want to be seen to betray your own sister. Vlade was your man. We'll see you on the road to Mere. Now all we do is give Gorrik the dowry and get Slean's bride safely back to Herot. What could possibly go wrong? Are you sure this is the right way? Roth said the Island of Dunes. That's it. I'm tired. We can eat and rest in Mere. Hurry - the tide's coming in. Hey! Hey! A little help? You know when you're drunk, and the ground moves? What if you're not drunk? Sandwyrm! Move! Quickly! Head to the dunes! Leave it, Beowulf! Leave it! Beowulf, hurry! We'll be safe on the dunes. Run! Sandwyrms? You didn't think to mention that? I'd heard stories. I didn't think they were real. I am Beowulf, Reeve of Herot, here at Gorrik's request to escort his daughter back to marry the son of our Thane. To bind our people. Yista erya kessu a! Yeh kuruyethu a! - W-What did he say? - How about some food and sleep? Quick as you can! Hey, out of the way! Coming through! That's it, boys. Well done! Mind your backs! Cart coming through! Come on, boys! That's it. Wheelbarrow just in there. Move it! You're blocking the way. - You said: dump it here. - I said: there. Do it yourself. Move it, or I'll smelt your feral bones to ash. I love it when you talk dirty. Right. What's going on? Tell this miner to move his grimy iron ore. It's a smelter's job. Do it. Now. Just once, can the miners not start a fight with the smelters? Well, where's the fun in that? Oi, beautiful! Warm your bed for later! - Where are the others? - I speak for them all now. We drew straws, and I lost. They're afraid. They've heard about the Skinshifter. And we're out of salt. It only arrived today from Bregan. Oi! Get that load up to the Hall. Then half a cart for the miners. Slean! I need to talk to you. - How much ore have you brought? - Only three carts. - You want payment in kind? - Yeah. We need new spikes, two dozen new ring-locks and pick-axe heads. Whatever's left we'll take in food and coin. See to it. What is it? The stuff he wants we don't have it, not even half of it. Vishka's been working on the weapons for the dowry. - How long will it take? - I don't know. She's not here. Find her! You look thirsty. Have a drink. I want the tools. Now. Or what? Or I might just take our ore to the Varni. Since Rheda banished their Thane from the Alliance, they've been poaching your smelters. So they can forge their own iron weapons. And they're paying more than you. A lot more. If you want to take your life in your own hands then go ahead and deal with the Varni. Otherwise, you'll be paid tonight. Tonight the price is double. I set the price. By law. The word is, Rheda's making new laws. You want to go and ask Rheda to - change the law? - Why not? Seems they have Warig problems of their own. What is it? Remember the time my father came back early from the hunt? - How could I forget? - I can see it now. Him peering into the tent to check that no man was with me. It's them. They've come for you. - It can't be. - Who else? You must go back. Play along. As soon as dark comes, slip away. I'll meet you here. I'd die before I'd be with another. Let me speak to your Thane. Gorrik. We're tired and hungry, and she's injured. Hesta askuya eklathuai ma, ni-hesse eklathuai reh? You speak the old tongue. Who are you? My parents were Mere. They fled the massacre. So, you've come back to your people. Untie us. Our business is with Gorrik, not his guard-dogs. What do you expect me to do with this? Have a little respect for your elders and betters. Gorrik. You're supposed to be the Reeve. Where have you been? Search them. Where's Roth? Where's the messenger I sent to Herot to guide you here? He died. - How? - We were attacked by Warig. I told you the Warig. They killed Roth. Where's the dowry? Where are my weapons? I don't see them. And you won't, until you feed us and show us the bride. - Father, you're needed. - Not now. It's Shay. You have to come now. Give them water. No food. Father, if Shay dies, the people may lose hope altogether. Where's your sister? Where's Mara? Is she safe? Is Mara safe? Move her. Was that the party from Herot? We need this alliance with them. If you injure them, all the work you've done to keep our people safe will have been for nothing. Come before me again for stealing, and I'll take your hands, not just your coin. He gets what he deserves! That's not right! Out of the way. Out of the way. We're being robbed! - Who's stealing from you? - He is. And you are. - Excuse me? - You're excused Thane Wait. I dealt with your father. I can deal with this much man. That's right. Say your piece. My name is Greff. I was born out there, in one of those pits, where we scrape together the ore that pays for all of this. The ore that makes you rich. So, in return, I and the others out there, we ask for a fair price for the blood and sweat we spill to bring it here. - We pay what the market will bear. - Not today, you didn't. Why not? Because the smithies were working on the weapons for the Mere dowry. The tools will be ready this evening, yet he is demanding that we pay him double, if he has to wait. Or make a new law. Say what each cart is worth until next winter. Give us fair prices that don't go up and down like the temper of a Wulfing wench. That or I will take our ore to the Varni. Don't mistake laughter for support, Greff. They'll be cheering if I order you hanged for insolence. But you're right. The work the risks you take out there in the forest should be fairly rewarded. You will have your law. But only if you earn it by showing loyalty. Award Herot sole rights to any ore that you mine. No more talk of the Varni. And you'll wait until this evening to be paid. If I have the law, you have my word. We will reconvene shortly. You yield to every demand that's made of you. Are you talking about my laws or your marriage? Both. You should have asked. Marriage should have been my choice. I said the same thing to my father when I was told to marry Hrothgar. - You said you loved him. - I did. After a time. You were with someone before Father? Erm He married another girl from Bregan. He was a terrible fisherman. And he grew very, very, very fat. It was a lucky escape. I loved your father as I never thought I would. Sometimes choices made for us are the best, without emotions clouding judgment. I was angry with the miner, but he was right and our power rests on their hard work and co-operation. He'll have his payment before sunset. Slean, I'll need you to set the price. - He's growing up. - And when he's full-grown will you step aside? Away you go. These people - they're scared. We've not had visitors for a long time. You must eat. The alley. Now. - Go ahead. - Vlade You're alive? What do you want? Abrecan wants to know if you'll help him become Jarl of the Shieldlands in Rheda's place. Betray my mother to further his ambition? And your own. Your reward will be to take her place as Thane of Herot. As Abrecan's vassal? We all serve somebody or something. I leave for Bregan before nightfall. You have your answer ready. It's good of you to have come all this way. Be seated, guests. Daughters Sit. And the prize you are here to take from us Mara, my first-born. It is an It is an honour to bind our tribes in marriage. For our honoured guests. What is that? Sandwyrm. This one's a year old. We preserved it for a special occasion. - It's a year old? - Eat. The longer it's kept, the better it tastes. Hmm. I've had worse. Lila, the miners must have their payment by tonight. I can't do this without Vishka. Nobody's seen her. What are you doing? If you can do better, help yourself. Give me that. Don't just stand there. Bellows. Brinni, come on. We've got to get this done. Mmm. Maybe we got off on the wrong foot with Gorrik. Some Sandwyrm, and you're anybody's. How did you hurt your arm? Warig arrow. The man who brought us here, Roth, had a daughter, who was a healer. Is she here? Shay? No. She's not here. This Slean must count himself the luckiest man in the Shieldlands, to be married to my daughter. Then why doesn't he come here to fetch her himself? Slean had duties in Herot. It's not as if that is the only insult. They let Roth give his life to protect the dowry, and then refuse to present it Enough! He's right, though, isn't he? I see no dowry, no groom. All you have to give me are words, words, words that twist and writhe like eels in my head. You've seen the bride. You've eaten at my table. Where are my iron weapons? Mara?! - Mara? - She's burning up. What's wrong with her? Sea fever. Get me liquor. We need to bring down her fever. Ah, it's not the food. - Why should I trust you? - I'm a healer. Give her whatever she needs! Rub her limbs with it. If it's sea fever, there must be others that are sick. Take me to them now. This is where we care for our sick. - Your healer? - You're looking at her. - She's a child. - The children of Mere grow up fast. You should have told us. And have you tell Rheda the Mere are feeble and sick? - Would you prefer proud and dead? - I'd prefer to have Roth here alive. Instead, I'm to tell his daughter, if she survives, that she's an orphan. If this marriage doesn't happen, we won't have Rheda's iron weapons to defend ourselves and we'll all die. Where did you learn to do this? Right here. The old smith, Marton, taught me. He was a good man. Kind. I used to come down here when my father when I didn't want to have to think any more about who I was or what my duties were. We all have to hide away sometimes. It's just a shame we have to go back out there. Can you save her? So she can be forced to marry a man who doesn't want her? If I was her, I'd be glad to get out of here. It's not 'here' it's 'who'. She's in love with the Reeve. Sounds familiar. Oh, don't flatter yourself! She's very weak but there might be a way we can help her and these others. My father said the Warig believe a gland in the Sandwyrm's neck could be used to fight the fever. What would Mudborn know of such things? It's her only hope. But, anyway, there's only so long before you have to tell Gorrik the dowry's lost. So, we have to hunt a Sandwyrm? I'll speak to him. Beautiful. It's for Mara. For the wedding. My father would rather it was I who was sick. No father would ever wish that. Do you want to try? She has an old soul, that one. And her mother's mind. Where's my dowry? You can't fight illness with iron. You don't need weapons. You need medicine. Swords may not fight the fever, but they can cut down Mudborn. As a warrior, you understand that. Old as I am, I put you in the dirt, didn't I? Why reach out to Herot now? The Warig. Their war bands are coming together. This time, they mean to destroy us. All of us. - How do you know? - That dead Warig we hung up above the dunes talked before it died. There's a prophet moving through the Edgelands, stirring them up. They call him Red Tongue. They say he drinks human blood. The days of peace are over. As sure as the tide, war is coming. You'll give me my weapons at first light, or I'll keep your healer, cut your throats and tell Rheda the Sandwyrm swallowed the lot of you. The Wyrms may be your daughter's only chance. Elvina believes there's a gland in the beast's neck that can be used against the fever. If we kill one of them We don't hunt them any more. It's too dangerous. Then I'll go alone. And die for your trouble. The Wyrms are territorial. They never stray across each other's boundaries. Only we know the paths that lie between them. That's why we're safe here. But you'll go, anyway. Won't you? It's harder than it looks. My father said all the women in Herot have beautiful gowns of gold. And there's a great hall for feasting, food all year round You're laughing at me. Why? Do I look like I wear gowns? Herot is Well, I used to think it was boring. - But now - You miss it? I wouldn't miss it here, if I left ever. - Mara - Rowan? I'll never let them take you away from me. You won't have to. They don't have the dowry. It is lost. Are you sure? I overheard them. Tell my father. Without the weapons, he'll never agree to them taking me. Which one is Shay, Roth's daughter? Vishka, please, go back to the settlement. I'm the reason her father's dead. If I can survive the Warig, I think I can fight a fever. I'll string them up with the Warig! No dowry. No weapons. Damn them. Nobody cheats me and lives. We survived out here for years because we trusted no-one. Cared only for each other. Speak plainly. If Beowulf wishes to hunt the Wyrm for the gland that can save Mara, let him. I will help him. Why? What's in it for you? If she lives she'll be mine. I knew it. Yes or no? Save Mara kill Beowulf, and we have a deal. Over there. - What do I do with this? - Try not to miss. Bring it to us, Beowulf. Hold. Hold. Hold. Hold! Aaaarghh! Aim for the neck! Now! Rowan, throw it! I can't hold it. Help me. We've got it now! Finish it! Where's the gland? It looked better on a plate. Got it. Wishing you hadn't eaten all that Sandwyrm? Hey! How are we supposed to find our way back? Gorrik knows there's no dowry. Return, and he will kill you. Beowulf Looks like we've bagged ourselves a bride. Gorrik, I have the gland. - And Beowulf? - Will not return. Take it to the healer. See that Mara is treated first. She's mine now. Here. Keep up. We don't have to go back. Without somebody who knows the path, we'll probably be eaten before we get there. If we leave and don't deliver the dowry, Gorrik will kill Elvina and Vishka. We just need to follow his footsteps back. They got the gland from a Wyrm, didn't they? You can save Mara, can't you? She has a chance now. How many more to go? That's it. Done. Rheda will be grateful. You saved her from looking a fool in front of the miners. Fixed prices, to be reviewed at the agreed time, in return for Herot's exclusive rights to the mines. - The law you asked for. - Make your mark. I'm a miner. My word's stronger than any parchment. Let's leave it at that, shall we? Brinni, help him load this onto his cart. The smith girl. She did well considering no-one could find her. Even as a boy, you always had the capacity to surprise me. Just like your father. He would be proud of you. I don't understand. Everyone else is responding but your sister. It's the dowry. Here's your dowry. Once Slean's wed to your daughter, there'll be more. As much as Herot can spare. We leave as soon as Mara's fit to travel. See how my daughter is. Where's Rowan? Why hasn't he come for me? I'm here. She's dying. Did you tell my father? Am I yours? Yes, my love. We'll be together. And we'll have six children. More, if you'd like. Mara Mara's dead. I'm so sorry. Gorrik I have a daughter to bury. Tell Rheda I withdraw my vote. If war is coming, you need us. He's right. You were wise to reach out to Herot. Without these weapons and the support of the Alliance, our people will wither away and die here. We must keep our word to Rheda. My daughter is dead. You have another. I forbid it. Kela, I I need you here. But you will release me. So I can be Slean's bride, for the Mere. And my sister's memory. You have your weapons. I'm sorry. It's the only way. Take her. Does your support for Rheda stand? It does. Thank you. You can tell Abrecan my answer is no. Then you are a fool. Your father was right to pass you over and your mother to make you her smith. Well, tell my uncle I'll choose my destiny. And his. Go! Take care over the sands and on your journey home. These men will escort you. Watch over her. The Mere are no longer alone, Gorrik. If you need us, send word. All the tribes will have need of each other, as the tides of blood that are coming wash over us. War is coming. They have a leader. A prophet, they call him. He tells them the time has come to wash the Shieldlands clean with - red blood. - You're safe here. - You're not prepared for an attack. - Then fix it. Herot needs a real Thane. And the Shieldlands need a true Jarl to lead its tribes. You could be one and I the other. It's real! Troll! [1]


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