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Season 2, Episode 9: Daughter of the King

Writers: David Pursall and Jack Seddon


OPENING SCENE


It is winter. Arthur and Kai squelch through the flooded village to the longhouse. Arthur is carrying a sack of provisions; Kai has a dead stag slung across his shoulders. The sentry holds the door open for them.

Inside, Llud is draining some mead from the barrel, tilting it to get the last few drops. He raps on it; it sounds empty. He goes to sit down and smiles at Arthur and Kai as they come in.


Llud: The mead. You’ve forgotten the mead. The barrel’s almost empty.

Arthur and Kai put down their burdens.

Kai: Since you seem to be drinking it all, perhaps you’d like to get your feet wet, bringing it from the store hut.

Llud: A wager’s a wager.

Arthur: We gambled for one journey only. Fetching the mead is a separate wager.

Arthur swipes Llud’s goblet, takes a drink, then hands the goblet to Kai, who also drinks. Llud gets to his feet, smiling and nodding.

Llud: As you wish. Another wager! [he laughs smugly]



Kai aims at a target board on the wall, and throws a knife.

Llud: Your aim is off, Kai. I could do better with my silver hand.

Kai: We have three attempts.

Kai sits on the table as Arthur gets up to take his turn; Arthur’s knife lands a bit closer to the centre, but still in the outer ring.

Llud: Arthur’s rest did him good while you were womanising. To keep a steady hand, you need rest.

Arthur sits next to Kai. Llud prepares to throw.

Kai: Arthur grows old before his time.

Kai gives Arthur an affectionate nudge. Llud throws; his is the worst effort so far.

Llud: But his eye is keen.

Kai gets up to take another throw.

Kai: The keenest eye sent Arthur to his bed, whilst I was chosen to keep the young lady company. [Kai nudges Arthur with the handle of the knife] Leesa’s sparkling eye chose me, eh?

Arthur leans in and speaks softly.

Arthur: Which one of her three eyes did she use, eh?

Both smile. Kai nudges Arthur out of the way as he prepares to throw. His knife lands the closest yet.

Kai: Your pride was hurt more than I thought.

He goes to sit down. Llud steps up, but Arthur puts a hand out to stop him.

Arthur: It takes more than Leesa to touch my pride. The Celts get slaughtered by that murdering butcher Bavick. That’s when my pride is hurt as a leader.

Arthur aims and throws the knife with some venom; the knife hits quite near the middle of the target.

Arthur: Would the weather break, that it could have been for him.

Llud: You must hold your patience. The rains will at least keep Bavick close to his fire.

Llud throws, with a bit more accuracy than before, but still no match for Arthur’s best throw. Kai gets up to take his turn.

Kai: Until the first glimpse of sun through the storm clouds. Then he’ll rampage the country again, fighting his own kind, killing and pillaging.

Kai throws, still with not much luck. He goes to sit down and Arthur gets up.

Arthur: When he moves more than one league out of his own territory, I’ll split his head in two.

Arthur throws – this time wildly off-target. He goes to sit down again.

Llud: Your anger spoils your skill. I trust you will have better control when you come face-to-face with Bavick.

Arthur: When we ride out again, my anger will have calmed enough to come face-to-face with Bavick. In the meantime, I’m still nearest to the centre of that target.

Llud chuckles. He throws and hits the centre.

Llud: It seems the position has changed … and with Arthur in second place – [to Kai] you fetch the barrel of mead!

Llud laughs.

Kai: Mmm.

Kai heaves a sigh and gets to his feet.

Arthur: Don’t get waylaid by the fair Leesa. We’re thirsty.

Kai: Gaaah …

Kai gives Arthur a friendly shove. Llud laughs. Kai makes his way across the muddy yard to the store hut.

[OPENING CREDITS]



PART 1

It is midsummer. Arthur, Kai, Llud and some of their men are riding along when they spot a party of armed Celts under a big cedar tree, who get to their feet, ready for action.

Arthur: Bavick!

Arthur’s party start to ready their weapons. A white horse gallops, riderless, out into the open.

Arthur: That horse first. A man on a horse is worth ten on foot.

Arthur and Kai ride off in pursuit of the horse.

Arthur: Mine!

Arthur catches the stray horse’s bridle and scrambles from his own horse onto the new one.

Kai: Yar!

Kai rides over and catches Arthur’s horse. Another rider gallops towards them.

Arthur: Kai! Watch your back!

Kai turns and raises his axe. Arthur rides over to him.

Arthur: Wait! It’s Tugram.

Tugram: I thought you were Bavick’s men.

Arthur: And those men on the ridge are yours?

Tugram: What’s left of them. They attacked our villages. They burned them. They took our women away.

Kai: [to Arthur] So much for your peace and unity.

Tugram: I spoke of your peace to Bavick.

Arthur: And I.

Kai: Waste of time. Talking’s for women and old men. The only thing Bavick understands is this.

Kai brandishes his axe. They hear a crack and look round to see a girl, Eithna, jump down from the bough of a dead tree, and run off.

Tugram: That’s Bavick’s whelp!

Arthur: Kai – get her. Bring her back to the village.

Kai grins, and rides after her.

Kai: Yar!

Eithna runs in among some trees. Kai dismounts and chases her on foot.

Arthur: [smiling] Bavick’s daughter …

Kai chases Eithna through the forest. He traps her with her back against a tree. She gasps. He swaggers towards her, and goes to touch her face. She pulls a dagger, and yells defiantly. Kai grins and jumps backwards, but clearly her dagger is no match for his axe.



In Arthur’s longhouse. Kai, Llud, and some other Celts are feasting. Tugram sits with them but looks disconsolate. Kai is drunk.

Kai: Be happy, Tugram. Bavick’ll be enjoying himself, just as we are. Good meat … drink …

Tugram: [disgusted] You can wish pleasure for Bavick?

Kai: Why not? Every man should enjoy his last night alive. And every woman.

Kai looks towards the door to the sleeping chamber.



Inside the sleeping chamber, Arthur is sitting at a table laden with food, eating. Eithna is sitting primly on a stool, not eating with him.

Arthur: Food is there to be eaten.

Eithna: I don’t take food from my father’s enemies.

Eithna gets up and goes to sit on the bed, behind Arthur.

Arthur: It won’t be wasted. [Arthur bites into a fish] Horses are worth their weight in any metal. They’re for soldiers. Yet your father lets his children ride. Do all his daughters dress in the breeches of a man?

Eithna: He has only one child.

Arthur: None now … Tell me about your father.

Eithna: There’s nothing to tell. He acts while you talk.

Arthur: Do you love him?

Eithna: As you love your life.

Arthur: What’s your name?

Eithna: Eithna.

Arthur: Eithna … why do you love him? We don’t.

Eithna: Because he is stronger than you will ever know. More man than you will ever be.

Arthur gets up and comes over to her, sword in hand.

Arthur: And yet I tell you that this sword will sever his head from his body.

Arthur brings the sword down with a decisive sweep.

Arthur: This father you say you love – he is no better than an animal.

Eithna: No!

Arthur: He’s without honour.

Eithna: No!

Arthur: If he made a pledge it would disappear on the wind the moment your back was turned. He would never keep his word.

Eithna: Always! He could never break his word!

Arthur looks smug and goes back to the dinner table in the main room of the longhouse.

Kai: Keeping her to yourself, Arthur?

Arthur: She’s not for me.

Kai chuckles, slaps Arthur on the back and heads for the bedroom door.

Arthur: No, Kai.

Kai stops, looking a little annoyed.

Tugram: You’re being very protective with Bavick’s whelp. Is he being as tender with the women he took from our villages? I say her head on a spear leads our attack tomorrow morning, as we beat our way through the gates of his camp.

Kai laughs, and slaps Tugram on the back. Eithna is watching through the bedroom door.

Llud: No. We cannot take his camp that way. The ground outside the gates is vulnerable to attack from spears. I’ve scouted the area and I have a plan.

Arthur: There may be no need to attack.

Llud: Huh?

Arthur: We may not have to fight.

Tugram: I fight. With or without you.

Arthur: You’d have no chance, Tugram.

Tugram: I have every chance.

Arthur: Hear me out! Bavick is a doting father. He’d pay any price for the return of his daughter.

Tugram: I do not want his goods. I want his life!

Arthur: I shall ask a much bigger price than either.

Kai: What could be bigger?

Arthur: His pride. His word as a warrior that he will never take up arms against another Celt.

Kai: Why should Bavick keep his word?

Arthur: He will. With his daughter as our captive, we will teach him to be humble.

Eithna rushes in, and attacks Arthur with a knife, but he grabs her arm and she only manages to scratch his face. Kai restrains her; Arthur holds his dagger pointing threateningly at her, then cuts off a lock of her hair, and runs it over the blade.

Arthur: This hair is very soft. No doubt your father will recognize it. Messenger!

Eithna is still struggling. Kai wraps his arms round her more tightly.

Llud: I will go. Facing Bavick is no job for an ordinary messenger. Someone has to make him believe that there’ll be no treachery – that his daughter will be returned to him unharmed.

Llud glares at Kai, who takes his hands off Eithna and tries to look innocent.

Llud: It is a task for me. Send me.

Arthur gives Llud the lock of hair.

Arthur: [to Eithna] In there.

Eithna scoffs, and goes back into the bedroom.

Kai: A wildcat! I like that.



Llud rides out of the village, waving to Arthur, who waves back.



In Arthur’s bedroom. Eithan is asleep. Arthur comes in and the sound of the door wakes her. She sits up quickly. Arthur hands her a bowl of food, and she starts to eat hungrily. Arthur smiles.


Arthur: Ah … so we’re no longer enemies.

Eithna spits the food out.

Arthur: Do you ever dress like a woman?

Eithna: I dress as I please.

Arthur: Can you sew and cook?

Eithna: I can ride. I can hunt.

Arthur: And use a dagger.

Eithna: That too.

Arthur: You’ll need clean clothes after you’ve bathed. We’ve no breeches for you. Go down to the lake and wash, then put these on.

Arthur holds out a blue dress.

Eithna: I dress as I please and I do as I please.

Arthur puts the dress over his shoulders, then Eithna herself.

Eithna: Ah!

Arthur carries her outside.

Eithna: Don’t! No! No! No! No! No!

As Eithna protests, Arthur carries her down to the lake, and throws her in.

Eithna: Aaaagh!.

Arthur: If you should feel the need for dry clothes when you come out …

Arthur drops the blue dress on the ground. Eithna flounders.

Eithna: Oooh!



In Bavick’s camp. Bavick lights a torch and takes it over to Llud, who is tied to a post. He holds the torch near Llud’s face.

Bavick: Look at me! You will never see another face again.

Llud: If I don’t, you will never see your daughter’s face again.

Bavick: I will not be humbled!

Llud: You have no choice.

Bavick takes a few steps, pondering.

Bavick: Alright. You can keep your eyes. Go back to Arthur and tell him to return my daughter. Then I will consider his terms.

Llud: No! You cannot consider his terms – you can only accept them!

Bavick: Ach! Oh! [He runs round behind the post, then throws down the torch] I am Bavick! I will not bow my head to a petty chieftain, a … a mewling boy who whines of brotherhood.

Llud: Brotherhood against the Saxons!

Bavick: I need no man’s help to fight the Saxons!

Llud: No … but you do need persuasion to stop fighting the Celts!

Bavick laughs.

Bavick: You are a brave man to come to me here and say the things you are saying. You are no ordinary messenger. [laughs] No, no, no, no. You are the silver-handed, eh? I’ve – I’ve heard much of you. The warrior who is always at Arthur’s side, eh? I wonder how much value he puts on your life.

He walks over to where a servant is pouring him a drink.

Bavick: The monks say, ‘an eye for an eye.’ We shall see …

[INTERVAL]


PART 2


Eithna, now wearing the blue dress Arthur gave her, comes down to the lakeside. She goes past a Celt sentry, kneels on the ground, and starts arranging her hair.

Kai is leading a group of mounted warriors towards Arthur’s village. Catching sight of Eithna, he dismounts.


Kai: Carry on to the village.

Kai joins Eithna by the lakeside. The Celt sentry retreats to give them some privacy.

Kai: Arthur’s done well with you in my absence.

Eithna: Huh. Arthur. A dreamer.

Kai: A warrior.

Eithna: What kind of warrior snivels to my father for peace, with me as a captive? A warrior settles his arguments with the sword.

Kai: True.

Eithna raises herself to sit on a log.

Eithna: Then why do you stay with him?

Kai: Arthur doesn’t believe that. Perhaps I want to find out who’s right.

Eithna: I don’t understand you any more than I understand him. My father never has any doubts. You should know what you believe. You should know what you want, and take it.

Kai sits down beside her on the log, and raises her chin.

Kai: I agree with your father.

Kai kisses Eithna. She struggles a little.

Celt messenger: Kai! An answer from Bavick!

Eithna gets to her feet.



Arthur, Tugram, Eithna and Kai are on the platform outside the longhouse with some other Celts. Bavick’s messenger stands at the bottom of the steps.


Bavick’s messenger: Bavick is prepared to wager that Llud means as much to you as his daughter means to him. He proposes a fair exchange.

Kai: [to Arthur] Llud’s life for a dream? Why are you hesitating?

Arthur: I accept. A fair exchange.

Eithna: [to Arthur] Nobody humbles Bavick. Nobody!



Arthur strides along the path from the lakeside, with Eithna tagging along.

Eithna: How can you measure yourself against him? He would never use a woman as a hostage!

Arthur: No – he’d use her in another way, and then either enslave her or kill her.

Eithna: You’re talking like this because you’ve lost. In front of all your people, you’ve lost!

Arthur: I’m talking like this because I’m tired of the bloody business of Celt killing Celt!

Eithna: If my father had refused an exchange, you would have killed me, and I am a Celt.

Arthur: I would not have killed you.

Eithna: Then you are weak.

Arthur: No. Not weak – practical. If I’d killed you, your father would have sought vengeance. All your death would have achieved is more death. Are you so blind you cannot see that even if I despised and hated you, I would still have had to let you go?

Arthur walks off, leaving Eithna looking pensively after him.



Arthur, Kai, Eithna and some of Arthur’s men arrive at the place where Eithna was captured.

Bavick, Llud, and a group of Bavick’s men are waiting to make the exchange. Arthur rides forward a few paces, draws his sword and raises it in salute to Bavick, who does likewise.

Arthur gestures to Eithna, and she rides towards her father’s group. Bavick gestures to Llud, who sets off towards Arthur’s party. They meet halfway.


Llud: Hey!

Llud drags Eithna from her saddle, and rides with her, back to Arthur.

Eithna: No! No! No!

Bavick raises his sword to stop his warriors rushing forward.

Bavick: No! They will kill her!

Eithna: Aaargh! Ow!

Llud reaches Arthur and drops Eithna on the ground in front of him. Kai dismounts.

Arthur: [angrily] I promised a fair exchange!

Llud: [smug] You got one. I made a captive.



It is night. In Arthur’s village, Tugram dismounts and runs into the longhouse.

Tugram: Bavick has agreed!

Everyone cheers. Kai throws his knife in the air and catches it. Arthur gets to his feet.

Arthur: Tugram. I’ll give you a toast to peace.

Tugram: To blackmail.

Arthur: I’ll drink to anything that brings peace between the Celts without shedding a single drop of blood.

All toast to peace.

Tugram: Aye!

Arthur: I’ll tell the girl.

Arthur goes into the bedroom, where Eithna is sitting at the table, eating grapes. Arthur puts his foot on a bench, and looks at her. She puts down the grapes.

Eithna: When Llud passed me on his horse, I could easily have swayed out of his reach. So why didn’t I do that? [She looks at Arthur] Because I didn’t want to return to my father. When I was first brought here, I was convinced that my father was totally right and you were totally wrong. Now I’m not sure. I’m confused. So I’ve decided to take the same attitude as Kai. I intend to stay here with you and find out.

Arthur: Tomorrow morning at first light you will return to your home. That was the pact I made.

Eithna: But I made no such pact … so I shall stay here.

Arthur bangs on the table.

Arthur: You will return tomorrow even if I have to lash you to your horse and escort you there myself!



Back at the main room of the longhouse.

Minstrel: Let not a woman’s guiles and wiles, quiet smiles, blind your eyes. Hey woman …

The song is drowned out by Celts eating and drinking and having a good time. Eithna emerges from the sleeping chamber and sits at the table between Arthur and Kai. Arthur pours her a drink.

Arthur: To a happy reunion, between father and daughter.

Eithna: Whenever that shall be.

They both drink. Kai grips Eithna’s arm.

Kai: You must be impatient for tomorrow. I could assist you in passing the long, tedious night ahead.

Eithna: My thanks, but I should not want the night to be any longer, or more tedious, than necessary.

She pulls free. Kai laughs.

Llud: Wine! Wine! Wine! Wine! Wine!

Other revellers take up the chant, and bang on the table.

Eithna: [to Kai] You could be of service to me.

Kai: Simply name it.

Eithna: Later. We will talk together, later.



Next morning, outside the longhouse.

Arthur: Get on that horse!

Kai is standing with his arm around Eithna.

Kai: Eithna stays with me.

Arthur: She’s using you, Kai.

Kai: [scoffs] Using me?

Kai pulls Eithna closer.

Arthur: She’ll do anything not to have her father humbled. She failed with me, succeeded with you. [to Eithna] Get on that horse!

Kai: Arthur, if a man and a woman want to be together, they will be together. That’s the law.

Arthur: Fool! You’ll wreck everything I’ve worked for.

Arthur stalks towards Kai and Eithna.

Kai: It is the law!

Arthur: [to one of the bystanders] Get me some rope!

Arthur grabs Eithna’s arm and pulls her away from Kai.

Kai: Leave her.

Kai grabs Arthur’s arm. Arthur tries to pull away; Kai pulls him back.

Kai: I said, leave her!

Arthur pulls free, and guides Eithna towards the horse.

Arthur: On that horse.

Kai pulls Arthur back; Arthur hits him. They fight, knocking over wicker baskets, breaking tables, and rolling across the yard. Eithna watches avidly – as if this is just what she’d planned. Llud looks concerned. Arthur pins Kai down and draws his dagger. Kai grips his hand to stop it coming down on him.

Kai: You want her!

Arthur freezes. Eithna smiles, and mounts her horse. Arthur slowly shakes his head. Arthur and Kai very carefully release their hold on each other, and get to their feet. Arthur stands in front of Kai, his knife held behind his back. Eithna looks down at them from her horse. Arthur takes a step forward, and faces her.

Arthur: Games. A player of games.

Eithna: But a teller of lies. The reason I wanted to stay was simply because I care for you, and I wanted to be with you.

Kai turns his back, and drags a hand across his face.

Eithna: But that was impossible. So before I left I had to discover in truth, your feelings for me.

She rides past Arthur and Kai, then stops on the causeway leading out of village, and looks over her shoulder.

Eithna: You have your peace with my father, so next time we meet it will be as friends, not enemies.

She rides away. Arthur and Kai watch her go; neither of them appears to be harbouring any friendly feelings for her.



Inside the longhouse. Kai is repeatedly throwing a knife, and embedding the blade in the table. Llud brings him two full drinking horns.


Inside the sleeping chamber, Arthur is stabbing the bedpost with his sword. Kai enters, carrying the two horns, and kicks the door closed behind him.

Arthur gets abruptly to his feet. Kai comes over to him, throws the contents of one of the horns in Arthur’s face, then offers him the other horn. Arthur drops his sword, takes the horn, and throws the contents in Kai’s face. Kai grins, and then laughs. Arthur smiles back.


Kai: The next two horns, we drink.

Arthur: And the next, and the next, until the barrel’s dry!

They both laugh, put their arms around each other’s shoulders, and go out together.

[ROLL THE CREDITS]

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