After searching both Ledecestre and Templebrough for Burgred of Mercia and finding only food stores and his wife, Eivor returned to Tamworth to see if Ubba and Sigurd had had any luck getting information out of Aethelswith. She found the two standing before a pig sty.
- Ubba: Your turn. She won't talk to me.
- Sigurd: Eivor will handle it. Go on.
Eivor entered the building where Aethelswith and her handmaidens were being kept.
- Eivor: You've exhausted my friend Ubba here, but I'm wide awake. Maybe tell me where Burgred's hiding and let him rest happy.
Aethelswith turned up her nose and looked away.
- Aethelswith: Never.
- Eivor: Stone-faced and tight-lipped, all for a king who hides like a cowardly vole, too scared to protect his family and his people.
Aethelswith side-eyed Eivor, but couldn't keep from glancing at the waterskin on her hip.
- Eivor: Thirsty?
She took the skin from her belt and held it out to Aethelswith, who smacked it out of her hand.
- Aethelswith: My husband does what he must for Mercia. How could he do otherwise, knowing that even his closest friends could betray him?
Aethelwith looked over Eivor's shoulder, out past the sty, where warriors cheered as Ubba and Sigurd greeted a newly-returned Ivarr.
- Aethelswith: Give that traitor, Ceolwulf my message... he may win this earthly battle, but the Devil has won the war for his soul.
- Eivor: Ceolwulf is a Mercian doing his best to find common footing in this new land. Seems to be the only true Mercian by my reckoning.
- Aethelswith: I spit on him. Whatever life he makes in Mercia will be built on the graves of the nobles who gave their lives to defend it.
- Eivor: The longer you drag this out, the truer that becomes.
Aethelswith's handmaidens looked at each other with worry.
- Eivor: With each victory, your hope for peace recedes.
- Aethelswith: Yet Burgred has what you do not. The loyalty of his people. Good men. Faithful men.
- Eivor: Who? The thegns and ceorls of Mercia? No, No. Only Leofrith remains loyal. And he too will fall.
Rather than discouraged by Eivor's words, Aethelswith seemed emboldened by the mention of Leofrith.
- Aethelswith: Yes, goodly Leofrith. He will die defending his king. And win or lose, he will send a hundred more of you to Hell!
Ivarr strolled into the building, with two severed heads under one arm and a third gripped by the hair in his other hand, swinging casually while blood dripped from the neck.
- Ivarr: Eivor... Your Ladyship... do not mind me. Only here to count my spoils.
He tossed the heads to the floor and Aethelswith and her maids flinched away in horror.
- Aethelswith: O, God!
She turned away, eyes tightly closed, as a couple pig surged eagerly forward to feast on the heads.
- Eivor: Pigs have to eat, my lady. The trouble is, it takes a lot to sate their hunger.
Ivarr grinned behind her, looking proudly on his work.
- Eivor: Only a matter of time before they finish those and sniff around for fresher meat.
- Ivarr: And the smell of pig shit after this? Hoo!
She pointed away behind her.
- Ivarr: All right, all right. But if you mean to stay, mind the smell after they finish this.
Ivarr turned and walked away with a smirk.
- Aethelswith: M-my God! Get me out of here! Please!
- Eivor: Talk now and we'll draw you a nice, warm bath.
- Aethelswith: You... you are asking me to betray my husband! How can I do that?
She looked away in indecision.
- Eivor: If you don't, you will betray countless others. In legend, you may be remembered as the king and queen who abandoned their kingdom in its darkest hour. But there will be peace. This is Ceolwulf's promise, and it will be honored. You have my word.
Finally, Aethelswith looked up and nodded, resigned. Eivor left the building and returned to Ubba, Sigurd, and Ivarr, waiting outside the sty fence.
- Sigurd: Does the caged bird sing?
- Eivor: Burgred is hiding in an old crypt to the south, where the Alne and Arwy rivers join.
- Ivarr: A crypt... now tell me this is not a sign from the gods.
- Eivor: It's a long way to carry a king. The three of you must clear a path back to Tamworth. Where can me meet?
- Ubba: Bring him to the bridge at Venonis. It's a straight line through. We'll deal with any trouble there.
Ubba and Sigurd walked away, and Eivor turned to speak to Ivarr.
- Eivor: The heads were a nice touch. I'm not one for spectacle, but it got her talking.
- Ivarr: Spectacle? That's just me.
- Eivor: Heavy guard for a musty crypt. It cannot be the dead they're protecting.
Either fighting the guards or sneaking in, Eivor made her way to the church in the center of the area, and down the stairs within to the crypt.
- Eivor: He's got to be down here. Where are you hiding, Burgred?
She searched through the crypt tunnels, killing the soldiers she ran into, and eventually came to a large room where a single soldier guarded a pair of locked doors. He spotted her and called out a warning. Burgred could be heard responding from the locked room.
- Anglo-Saxon Soldier: My lord! Intruders!
- King Burgred: What's going on out there!
Eivor killed the guard and took the key from his body, entering the room where Burgred hid. He startled as she entered, and began backing away with his hands up.
- King Burgred: No... no no no! It can't be. Stay back!
Reaching the back of the room, his retreat halted and he drew his sword. Eivor smirked.
- Eivor: That's a bread knife, my lord. Do you mean to butter me?
She stepped closer and Burgred pointed the sword at her.
- King Burgred: Stay back! Back, I say! I'll fight you!
Eivor raised an eyebrow and shrugged.
- Eivor: If you insist.
The two fought, Burgred with sword and shield, Eivor bare-handed.
- King Burgred: You'll have to kill me!
- Eivor: Luckily for you, it won't come to that.
- King Burgred: This kingdom is mine! Mine!
After a short fight, Eivor defeated Burgred and tied him up.
- King Burgred: [groaning]
- Eivor: Time to go, my lord. We're late for the crowning ceremony.
Before leaving, she searched the room and found a letter.
- Letter From Burgred
The situation has turned dire. The filthy Danes have taken Tamworth from me! I am trapped, hiding in a muggy crypt with no telling when I may resurface. This is unacceptable! The fate of Mercia now lies in the hands of my thegn, Leofrith, but I have no faith that he can succeed. He is a loyal rat, nothing more, and is now best served as my human shield.
And so, for this matter that must be resolved with the utmost urgency, I am writing to inform you that I have called upon your loyal hunters. And rest assured, you have my promise that this favor will not be forgotten.
The Lord King of Mercia
In a chest in the corner, she found an axe and a letter to Leofrith.
- Leofrith's Reprisal
As per your request, I made some alterations to the Dane axe you brought me. You will notice the grip, throat, and belly have all been tailored to a man of your stature. Wielding it will require a bit more effort, but I am sure you will get used to it quickly. And, as always, I've given it a proper sharpening. You'll split hairs with it, so do mind your fingers.
I hear this is the same axe they pulled from your shoulder. Fancy that. Give my regards to every Dane you cleave with it.
Eivor then picked Burgred up and carried him out of the crypt.
Eivor left the crypt, only to be met by Tonna and two of her men.
- Tonna: There! I want that Dane cleaved and butchered!
- Eivor: Tonna..."
- King Burgred: Help!
- Tonna: You crossed me, lovely dove. Did you think I wouldn't find out?
Eivor put Burgred down as Tonna and her warriors attacked.
- Tonna: I'll send you back to the Ragnarssons in pieces.
Our fates are weaved together, lovely dove!
Let's finish this now! You and me!
Eivor killed her attackers.
- Eivor: Hel watches over you now, lovely dove. That settles that.
Eivor picked Burgred up again and loaded him on the back of a horse, mounting to take him to Venonis.
- King Burgred: Agh! Get me off this thing!
Eivor left the crypt without issue, placing Burgred on the back of a nearby horse and mounting to take him to Venonis.
- King Burgred: Agh! Get me off this thing!
You're a blight on this world! The whole lot of you! A rancid disease! You don't deserve Mercia.
As they finally approached the bridge to Venonis, they found Sigard and the Ragnarssons being attacked by Mercian soldiers.
- Sigurd: Eivor! This way!
- Eivor: We need to go. Fast!
- Sigurd: Right behind you.
As more soldiers drew close, the group mounted, following Eivor north toward Tamworth.
- Ivarr: Burgred, you old beauty! I hardly recognized you there.
- King Burgred: Agh! Put me down!
- Ivarr: The only way you go down is with a rope around your neck.
- Sigurd: They'll be coming for him. Stay alert.
Along the road, they were met by more soldiers.
- Ubba: Trouble ahead. Go, we'll cover you.
- Burgred: Help!
- Ivarr: Eivor, stick his face in the horse's ass.
They continued on, running into even more mounted soldiers.
- Sigurd: More of them.
- King Burgred: To me, my soldiers! I'm here!
- Anglo-Saxon Soldier: They've got the king! Don't let them get past us!
Unable to fight the oncoming waves, Eivor road through with the king, her allies close behind. As they drew near the walls of Tamworth, an answering wave of mounted Norsemen came from the fort to hold off the enemy soldiers while Eivor and companions continued on through the gates.
- Eivor: Here we are. Look familiar?
- King Burgred: No... no... you, you Godless slugs. You won't get away with this.
They led Burgred through the fort, toward the longhouse, as the citizens lined the streets, glaring and spitting at him.
- Ubba: Change has come, Burgred. All that remains is a coronation. A witan with the lords of Mercia.
Burgred shook his head. As they passed the sty where Aethelswith was being held, she ran out after them.
- Aethelswith: Burgred, my love!
Burgred froze, then turned and ran to her.
- King Burgred: My lady! Are you injured? Did they hurt you?
- Aethelswith: No, no. I'm fine.
- Eivor: Move along, lord. Your king awaits.
- King Burgred: Your death will come, Danes. Your end was writ the moment you came for me. I have made damned sure of that!
He turned from his wife, angry, getting into Eivor's face.
- King Burgred: The Zealots will know your names soon enough. No matter where you are, or how far you travel, they will hunt you down!
- Sigurd: Enough of that, you squeaking sparrow.
Sigurd punched Burgred aside the head and caught the king over his shoulder as he fell, preparing to carry Burgred the rest of the way. Aethelswith shouted in shock.
- Ubba: Let my brother be the lunatic of Tamworth.
Ubba put his hand on Aethelswith's shoulder and led her after Sigurd to the longhouse. Once they'd passed, Ivarr walked up beside Eivor.
- Ivarr: Zealots... what does he mean?
- Eivor: Ignore him. Desperate pleas and prophecies, nothing more.
Ivarr nodded, accepting her answer.
- Ivarr: Walk with me, Wolf-kissed. We have some time before the ceremony.
Eivor convinced Lady Æthelswith to give up the location of her husband, allowing her to capture the king and bring him back to Tamworth.
Behind the Scenes
- Both after capturing Burgred in Offchurch and after meeting the others at the bridge in Venonis, Eivor can load Burgred onto her longship and transport him that way. Dialogue between Eivor and Burgred prior to Venonis will still be triggered. Dialogue after Venonis, until approaching Tamworth, will be skipped, but the attacks by Mercian soldiers will be bypassed.