Bedwyr, Caius, and Peredur serve the pirate Bellinios for a month while Lugh checks in on his Saxon Shore forts. They train his men, help him hijack a few ships coming in from Byzantium, and discover that he has a massive spy network stretching across all of Britain — and beyond.
They return to the hermit Petiacos, who tells them that the bishop in Isca has been shirking his duty to care for the city’s widows and orphans, so they must prepare a feast for the needy. That this will publicly shame the bishop is an additional benefit. On the walk to Isca, they run into an old man struggling to carry a bundle of firewood. Peredur agrees to carry the wood back to his home, in the opposite direction from Isca. Bedwyr and Caius head to the city. They throw the feast and Caius gets the bishop to bless it, and to pledge to take care of Dumnonia’s neediest.
When they return again to Petiacos, he tells them that the old man with the firewood was the third test, and they have proven their worth to his satisfaction. He gives them the mantle of Joseph of Arimathea, which he’d kept hidden under his floorboards the entire time.
The three knights leave the cloak with Myrddin in Camulod, then meet up with Lugh and Arthur at Camulodunum in the kingdom of Londinium. Lugh tells them that the Saxon Shore fort Dommoc has been taken over by Saxons loyal to Icel, and they may risk war to get it back.
Before they leave for Dommoc, they talk to Batraz about the whetstone of Lucius Artorius Castus. He tells them they might want to start looking in Bremetennacum, a Sarmatian community in Pagensia. He tells them it’s not a physical object — the story hides the truth about an old Sarmatian custom. The whetstone is said to be poisoned, but there’s no poison that can be transferred to a sword from a whetstone.
The four knights arrive at Dommoc with kegs of ale as a peace offering. Wulfric, the new commander, comes out to meet them. With Bedwyr translating, Lugh talks to the men and finds out that they’re resentful of Britain and Arthur, and they love Wulfric and want him left in command. Meanwhile, Caius talks to the quartermaster, who reveals that Caius personally killed his cousin at Badon Hill. He’s been plotting revenge ever since. Caius challenges him to a duel and knocks him down, but does not kill him.
At the feast that night, Wulfric tells Lugh that Dommoc has been purposefully filled with Icel’s most loyal followers, and that Wulfric’s mission is to force Lugh into killing him and routing his men, thereby giving Icel the excuse he needs to start a war. Lugh refuses to fight him, instead offering three things:
- He will allow the worship of Saxon gods in the shore forts, though he fully admits that he cannot speak for the rest of the island.
- Every Briton stationed at the forts will be made to learn some Saxon, if every Saxon will learn some Latin.
- Lugh will put his trust in Wulfric personally.
Wulfric is shocked and impressed, especially when Lugh tells him the story of how he and Bedwyr burned down a church. He isn’t supportive of Arthur by any means, but Lugh seems to have quelled the mutiny — at least for now.
The knights continue on to the city of Londinium. The bishop, Libo, tells them about a Pelagian woman named Illica who is writing theology just outside the city. He wants them to humiliate this heretic, but Bedwyr outright refuses. Lugh vaguely promises they’ll “look into it” and breaks the news about Saxon worship at his forts as gently as he can. Libo is not happy, to say the least.
Liberalus, on the other hand, is enormously grateful to Lugh for all the money his idea has made him. He’s planning a huge celebration for the one-year anniversary of the battle of Badon Hill, and needs help recruiting skilled fighters. He also asks Lugh and the other knights to participate. Lugh, Bedwyr, and Peredur readily agree, but Caius holds the traditional Roman belief that gladiatorial combat is no better from prostitution, and refuses to take part.
The garrison commander Serranus tells Caius that his old friend Cenacus Dog-Head has returned to banditry. Peredur goes undercover as a down-on-his-luck war veteran to infiltrate Cenacus’s bandit band. He recruits all forty of them to the army Arthur’s building against Icel — and to “fight” in Liberalus’s mock battle of Badon Hill.
Lugh plans the show, casting himself as King Arthur and Cenacus as Ælle. He uses the battle recreation to further ease tensions between Saxons and Britons by presenting the Saxons as good people poisoned by Ælle’s lies. Bedwyr has a scene where he loudly declares that “All Saxons who love this land should join with Arthur to fight the evil Bretwalda!” at which point, one group of “Saxons” turns against another group.
Towards the end of the show, Lugh is supposed to take a dive and be rescued by Peredur. Liberalus urged him to do this so he could make money from all the people who bet on Arthur. However, as Peredur sees Cenacus-as-Ælle pretending to kill Lugh-as-Arthur, he has a flashback to the actual battle and nearly kills Cenacus for real. Lugh sees it happening and manages to deflect the blade so that Cenacus only gets knocked down. The crowd goes wild.
Caius, disgusted with the whole affair, goes to speak with the merchant Gallio Scipio, whose new trade alliance with Francia is doing poorly for some strange reason. He wants a new trading partner for Londinium, maybe with Pictland. Caius promises to make some inquiries. Scipio notices that Caius seems unhappy and offers him a job “doing what you feel is right.” Caius notes that it seems odd to pay someone just to ride around doing good for people, but Scipio compares it to patronizing the arts. Caius is tempted, but ultimately turns him down.
Bedwyr speaks to Catonius, who still doesn’t like him but realizes that so many Cantiaci refugees are excited about returning home that he needs to get in front of the movement in order to maintain his power. He and his men have been reviewing old property maps, trying to see where families came from, where Jutish farmers have resettled, and where to fit everyone without causing a civil war. He asks Bedwyr for his help in this, and Bedwyr instantly agrees.
Lugh leaves the city to ask Illica for her help in this. She is impressed by what she hears of Bedwyr, contributes her scholarship to the project, and even moves to Durovernum. Bedwyr successfully leads a number of Cantiaci back to Cantium.