The morning after Oswald's feast, Eivor woke with the dawn and left the longhouse.
- Eivor: Seems Oswald has set out for the day. I should have a word with him.
A little further down the path, she found Valdis speaking with someone.
- Valdis: Clear the mess in the longhouse. And wake my brothers with the coldest water you can find. Eivor, good to see you.
- Eivor: You are Oswald's powerful bride-to-be, Valdis.
- Valdis: I'm not his. This marriage is to be an alliance. Nothing more. Besides, the man can barely carry a sword or speak with conviction.
- Eivor: Oswald is many things, but a gifted leader he is not. Still, of everyone I have met here, he is the only one willing to be responsible for the place.
- Valdis: I will leave you to your day. You can find Oswald by the docks. Watching the river calms him, apparently.
Eivor continued on to the docks of Elmenham, where she found Oswald sweeping hay.
- Oswald: Ah! Good morning. Up bright and early.
- Eivor: You can labor like a thrall (slave), but you're no good with feasts. Not a good start for a king.
- Oswald: No, indeed. I find a solitary comfort in my menial labors. Not something a king should admit to, I suppose.
Eivor sat at a nearby table while Oswald continued sweeping.
- Eivor: The brothers shamed you at dinner. It's your duty to answer their insults. Don't let the matter lay unresolved.
Oswald set the broom aside, frowning for a moment before gathering himself.
- Oswald: O, it was a petty row with hen-house wolves. I'd sooner answer the moo of a cow than worry about their insults.
Eivor nodded as Oswald leaned against a hay trough and crossed his arms.
- Oswald: I have a wedding to plan and a Kingdom to save. I haven't time to suffer fools.
- Eivor: They betrayed your hospitality, Oswald. Where I'm from, that's a grave insult.
- Finnr: Well well, here's the mud-soaked Saxon who's been taxing my patience.
Oswald groaned as Finnr approached.
- Oswald: Steward Finnr... I know I failed to impress at dinner yestereve, but fear not. The Danes will come around in time.
- Finnr: You stake claim to the throne, you dazed dog with no bone. If Lord Halfdan were here, he'd squeeze Ale from a stone...
Eivor shook her head and stood.
- Finnr: ... yelling "Finnr, my drengr, stick this cur in the ground!"
- Eivor: All mewling and spitting, here's Finnr, the hound.
He has bark but no bite, just a puppy, I've found.
- Finnr: (laugh)
Oswald looked between the two, confused.
- Oswald: What just happened?
- Eivor: That's flyting, Oswald. Using rhythm and rhyme to lay a man flat. Try it, match his verse.
- Finnr: There's no man you can lead, you dunce of the fyrds...
- Oswald: Uh... em... a glutton you are, just stop eating your words!
- Finnr: Not bad, not bad...
(If "Make fun of his looks..." is chosen.)
- Eivor: He's an ugly puss, so when he brags, hit him back with something about his looks.
- Finnr: I hail from the North where the winter's our season...
- Oswald: But you're foul, you're a blister, you're a... a...
- Eivor: ... plague-ridden lesion.
- Oswald: O, yes! That's very good. Plague ridden lesion.
(If "Attack his lack of wit..." is chosen.)
- Eivor: He's got the wit of a boar, so when he insults you, make him feel stupid.
- Finnr: When I'm done with you, cur, you'll be raven-flock food...
- Oswald: But your brain's soaked in mead and your...
- Eivor: ... head's made of wood!
- Oswald: Wood! Head's made of wood.
(If "Laugh at his manhood..." is chosen)
- Eivor: Under all that posturing is a sniveling boy, so dig deep. When he brags, take a jab at his manhood.
- Finnr: I've sailed squalls and north winds. You? Not even a breeze.
- Oswald: But the winds that you sail...
- Eivor: ... blow between both your knees.
- Oswald: Blow between both your... O! You mean farting! Ha!
- Finnr: Oswald, my boy. You're useless without your raven. This one's wrong for the throne! He's too soft and too tame...
- Eivor: Hit him back and make it personal. Attack his mother.
- Oswald: When you crawled from the womb, you were ugly and lame! Your poor mother, she fainted away from the shame.
Finnr looked distraught, at a loss for words.
- Eivor: Well spoken. Before sword clash and blood flow, we destroy our enemies with well-timed words.
- Finnr: You have a talent for verse, I'll give you that. But how long will that silver tongue hold up against an iron axe?
Oswald considered for a moment, then stepped up to Finnr.
- Oswald: Let's find out, Finnr. I challenge you to a holmgang!
- Finnr: You don't mean that, Oswald.
- Oswald: That's a fight to settle disputes, no? A holmgang?
Eivor walked up to the pair.
- Eivor: A fight to the death, yes.
Oswald stopped to think and reassess his words.
- Oswald: Let's talk it out, then.
Finnr shook his head, laughing.
- Eivor: Too late, the challenge has been made. But a fight against Finnr wouldn't be anything to boast about. You'll fight me.
Oswald put up his hands in shock, attempting in vain to dissuade Eivor from continuing to talk.
- Oswald: Hold on, this is—
- Eivor: That said, I shouldn't be seen killing a Saxon in the streets of Elmenham.
Finnr nodded, catching on to Eivor's plan.
- Finnr: There's a nice islet downriver, near Seahenge. The water will wash the blood clean away.
- Eivor: Prepare the square and we'll meet you there. I hope you're ready.
- Oswald: I have to be. Just give me a moment to mentally prepare.
- Eivor: Do not make us wait long, it would not be kingly.
Finnr left and Eivor spoke to Oswald once more.
- Eivor: Are you ready for the holmgang?
- Oswald: I hope so. I just need to prepare. I'll meet you at the islet.
Eivor left Oswald in Elmenham and made her way north to the meeting place. When she arrived, only Finnr was there, marking out a large square in the sand.
- Finnr: You made it. Now tussle with care, and go easy on our future king. He is the only man left who can claim the crown.
- Eivor: Kings are made, not born, Finnr. So let us see what we can make of Oswald.
- Finnr: Done.
He completed the square and stood.
- Eivor: You've still got the touch for drawing a square.
- Finnr: I've been in East Anglia many summers now, but I'll always be a Dane.
Oswald arrived, walking up to join them.
- Oswald: Must we do this, Eivor?
- Eivor: Strength and courage are always a boon, Oswald. You'll need both if you want the Danes to accept you as a king.
- Oswald: True strength comes from resolve, Eivor. It speaks to us, a stern voice from within.
- Eivor: I have never heard of talking guts. But a swift axe would silence that inner voice in seconds. You must be prepared.
She walked to the other side of the square and took a stance, cracking her knuckles.
- Oswald: Wait. You're unarmed.
- Eivor: Just do your best. I'll be fine.
Oswald hesitated for another moment more before growing determined and drawing his sword.
- Oswald: Aaaah!
- Eivor: We will forge a king out of you yet.
The two faced off.
- Eivor: Don't hold back.
She hit him and he stumbled back.
- Eivor: You felt that one.
- Oswald: I'm still here.
- Finnr: Hard to believe this one will marry Valdis, don't you think?
Eivor broke Oswald's shield and knocked him back.
- Finnr: Ha! You expect the Danes to follow this pork belly?
- Oswald: I'm... I'm still breathing, aren't I?
- Eivor: Show me what you can do, Saxon.
Oswald attacked her again.
- Finnr: Come now! Inspire us, king!
Eivor knocked Oswald down.
- Finnr: You'll never be king at this rate. Is this the best East Anglia has to offer?
- Oswald: Yes, and I'll... I'll prove it!
Oswald stood to fight again.
- Eivor: Come on! Fight!
- Finnr: Finish this, Eivor. It pains me to watch!
Eivor knocked Oswald down yet again.
- Finnr: Eivor is the victor. But you've shown us something, Oswald.
- Eivor: Stay down, Oswald. That's enough.
Breathing hard and clutching his side, Oswald pushed himself to his feet again.
- Oswald: I will... I will not stay down.
- Eivor: You fought bravely. Not with great skill, but with spirit. And courage. Always push back with everything you have, even if you have to get dirty, even if you must break the rules. Because there are no rules, not if you answer a challenge head-on. That's where honor lies.
Oswald considered her words.
- Oswald: Not winning the fight, but living through it.
- Finnr: A seaside brawl won't change the brothers' minds. Oswald must show results. Redress old wrongs. Fight back against Rued and his men.
- Oswald: The raiders who attacked Beteleah have a camp down the coast. The sooner we remove them, the better.
- Finnr: That would go a long way to building you up. And if you brought gifts for the brothers, spoils from the raid, they'd be in your debt.
- Eivor: Time to wet your blade, Oswald.
She waved him and Finnr to follow her.
- Finnr: Eivor, I expect your longship crew could help with this attack.
The three of them boarded Eivor's longship and sailed for Serpent's Landing.
- Oswald: No one has been willing to take a stand against Rued's clan before. We're a kingdom of farmers and merchants.
- Eivor: Even farmers and merchants can fight when led by the right person.
- Finnr: I hope your faith in pig farmers is not misplaced, Eivor.
- Oswald: There is work to do, yes. But we will rise to meet Rued's clan. God will make certain of it.
Landing the boat, Eivor called her crew to raid the camp.
- Finnr: They've left none alive!
- Eivor: Neither will we.
- Oswald: There may be prisoners here. Keep an eye out for them.
- Eivor: If I see any, I'll let you know. You fight well, Oswald! Does the threat of death drive your blade further? Whatever compels you, hang onto it.
- Finnr: I've not tasted battle in years! There is still vigor in these bones. Come on you filthy whoresons, there is iron to be kissed!
Together with her crew, Eivor, Finnr, and Oswald burned the carts of supplies, freed all the prisoners, and killed the last of Rued's men in the camp. Afterward, Eivor regrouped with Finnr to look over their spoils.
- Finnr: Ah, that'll do nicely.
- Eivor: Find something?
- Finnr: There's a crate of hacksilver here. More than enough to make everyone happy.
- Eivor: We'll take it to the ship.
Oswald approached them.
- Oswald: A hard won fight.
- Eivor: The first of many, Oswald. Have you the will to keep it up?
Oswald nodded, determined, then looked around. Finally, he spotted something. Eivor and Finnr followed him to a pile of armor, on top of which lay a shield.
- Oswald: This is my gift to the brothers. I have more than enough wealth in Elmenham to widen their eyes. But this will be a symbol of my commitment to our fight.
- Eivor: It's a good start.
Oswald walked off and Eivor addressed Finnr again.
- Eivor: Take what riches you find to Northwic. Then send for the brothers. I'll meet you there.
Before leaving, Eivor took another look around the camp, looting what she could. In one of the tents, she found a letter.
- Mead-Stained Letter
We have taken Serpent's Landing. The road to victory is clear for Rued Jarl. We have broken this kingdom, their warriors are like headless fowl with no king to lead them in battle. East Anglia is ours this day.
Eivor and Finnr first instructed Oswald on the ways of flyting, after which Oswald challenged Finnr to a holmgang without understanding the consequences. Eivor said Oswald would fight her instead. They all gathered on a small, remote islet where Eivor fought bare-handed against Oswald with his sword and shield and defeated him soundly. After getting his measure, they boarded Eivor's longship and raided a camp taken by Rued's men to find a gift for Valdis's brothers and show them Oswald's resolve.
- The memory is a reference to the 2018 American film, Measure of a Man, which follows a bullied teen learning to stand up for himself.