Ambrosius Aurelianus spent a generation pouring much of Britain’s considerable resources into fortifying Londinium against the Saxons. Arthur Pendragon may have defeated the Saxons at Badon, but those soldiers remain loyal to Ambrosius’s son, Ambrosius Aurelianus Britannicus, and they are now fighting off Arthur’s army as he closes in, slowly, on the capital.
Bedwyr is leading the Saxons from Ceint to attack Ambrosius from the south, opening up a second front and dividing the enemy’s forces. Anticipating that his forces will need to fight his own former countrymen living in Londinium, Bedwyr offers right of return to the exiled Cantiaci, offering free land to any who return home. Britannicus tells them that Bedwyr has betrayed them to the Saxons, and now, not content with seeing their homeland overrun, leads the pagans in an invasion of their new home. Bedwyr ends up leading a Saxon invasion, and fighting against largely Cantiaci forces.
Once Arthur’s army reaches Londinium, he sends the bulk of it to seige the fort while Bedwyr, Caius Hectorius, and Lugh Striking-Hand infiltrate the city. Londinium has walls on three sides, but no wall on the Thames, so the three knights paddle a small boat down the Thames under cover of darkness and hide near the front gate until dawn.
At dawn, Arthur’s army attacks the fort. Caius poses as a high-ranking soldier of Britannicus and orders the archers above the gate to go to the fort. Then he, Bedwyr, and Lugh kill the guards and open the gate. Once the gate is opened, the army pours in, quickly surrounding the fort’s garrison. The commander surrenders.
At the praetorium, they discover that Britannicus has fled the city with Osgar Ravenshield, to seek refuge from Icel in Icenia.
Gwenhwyfar and Myrddin agree that with Londinium taken, they should prepare a triumph in the Roman tradition to mark the end of the war. But Arthur doesn’t feel comfortable doing that until he’s gained the support of the town’s leaders and they’ve accepted him as more than a simple conquering warlord.
Lugh speaks to Servius Menius Libo, the bishop of Londinium. The bishop initially objects to lending his support to an open Palagian, but Lugh suggests holding an ecumenical council in Londinium, under the bishop’s leadership. This appeals to Libo’s pride, and he agrees to support Arthur.
Most of the soldiers remaining in the city listen to Lucius Vesnius Serranus, the fort’s commander. He’s bitter about Ambrosius Aurelianus Britannicus fleeing the city, and willing to listen, but he’s also bitter at Arthur for allowing his pride to drive the country to civil war. He’s familiar with Caius, though. Caius describes the round table and Arthur’s vision of a king that serves the ordinary people. Serranus is inspired, and convinced that Arthur really is worthy of his loyalty.
Meanwhile, Bedwyr turns his attention to the leaders of Londinium’s three most powerful collegia. Gallio Rusonius Scipio tries to convince the king to commit his Saxons to attacking Dumnonia, hoping it will drive more trade to Londinium, but Bedwyr will not agree to such a thing. Instead, he convinces Scipio that Arthur’s reign will be good for business.
Lucius Statius Catonius is Cantiaci, like many of the people in his neighborhood. Bedwyr receives a chilly welcome. He argues with Catonius, pointing out that the Jutes in Ceint are simple farmers who have lived and worked on that land for generations now, while the Franks are the barbarian warrior aristocracy that oppresses them. He says the exiled Cantiaci have more in common with the Jutes than not, and if they returned to their ancestral land, Bedwyr could unite Cantiaci and Jute against the Franks and create a kingdom of peace and equality. His argument resonates with the denizens of Catonius’s hall, forcing Catonius to agree or lose face in front of his men.
Lugh speaks to the last prominent collegia leader, Arruns Lusius Liberalis. In the basement of his hall, he holds gladiatorial fights between slaves, on which people bet. Lugh convinces him that non-deadly fights between skilled fighters are far more entertaining, and to prove it, challenges the toughest brute in the hall to single combat. He wins, of course, and Liberalis realizes that he can make more money bribing fighters to take a fall, which was significantly harder when “take a fall” meant “die.” Lugh wins Liberalis’s support for Arthur as well as ending the illegal slave fighting.
Having won the support of Londinium’s civil, military, and religious leaders, Arthur holds a triumph in the city. The festivities begin with his wedding to Gwenhwyfar, followed by the parade to the amphitheater, where Arthur addressed the people and laid out his vision for Camulod.
“Camulod’s strength is the strength of free people who understand the need for each of us to serve one another,” Arthur told them. “Kingship does not give one power, but calls us to serve others. As High King, I serve the kings of Britain, to help them preserve peace and justice among their people. To all of you here, kings and queens of Britain, whether you wear a crown, whether you live in a palace or a hovel: You have strength to protect the weak. You have tongues to speak the truth. You have courage to stand up for one another. No man is born better than another. God calls all of us to make his kingdom real on earth. Nothing less than heroism will do. This is the message of Camulod. These are the ideals of the Round Table.”