When Ketil rallies all able-bodied men on the farm, bribing them by releasing them from their debts should they join him, he has about 350 men. Not bad, but not nearly good enough against what’s coming. Snake knows this, and makes sure his men know it too. If Ketil orders them to fight, they’ll fight. But if they fight, they’ll lose.
Leif and Thorfinn’s reunion was overshadowed by Arnheid being nearly killed by Ketil, but now that they’re together again, Thorfinn says he can’t leave when Arnheid is in this condition. Leif smiles, and is happy to see that Thorfinn is wearing “a better look on his face.” He’s changed, for the better. He’ll stay one more day, so see if Arnheid awakens.
The next morning, Canute’s ships launch some arrows at the ragtag soldiers on the beach, forcing a retreat before landing and setting up camp with the sea at their back. Canute sends a messenger with terms, not wanting to needlessly stain such good land with blood.
Snake has no compunctions about the men who serve under him. They’re all free to flee as they choose, only he, as the commander, is not able to run. He’ll fight, even in a losing effort, and give it his all. When they mention that not only do they have Thorgil, but Iron Fist Ketil, Snake smirks.
“Iron Fist Ketil” was his teacher and big brother figure who taught him how to be a warrior. Eventually they went their separate ways, but when Snake heard Ketil had bought a farm, the Ketil he met was a totally different person. This Ketil is nothing but a master bullshitter.
Even so, Snake’s men don’t feel right letting him go off into battle on his own, so they take up their arms and armor and follow him to the beach. Ketil may have begun to buy his own bullshit, because he thinks having more than a 3-to-1 edge in manpower matters.
It doesn’t, not when the 100 men are the Jomsvikings and the King’s Guard, any one of whom could probably kill 50-100 of Ketil’s amateurs. Thorgil, a former King’s Guard, knows this, and he takes Olmar aside for some strategizing.
With Ketil engaged with Canute’s soldiers on the beach, the rest of the farm is deserted. This allows Leif, “Thorfinn”, Thorfinn, and Einar to carefully load Arnheid onto a cart and escape. They go as slow as possible so as not to make Arnheid’s injuries worse. But if she stays, she dies, so they’re taking her.
As the cart inevitably hits some bumps, Arnheid experiences a dream. She’s on a cart in a dark, gloomy, spooky forest, but she has no worries. Both of her children are asleep in her arm and her lap, and Gardar is driving the cart.
Gardar tells her they’ve been through a lot, but soon they’ll be reunited and out of these dark woods. Arnheid smiles, then spots a deer and a wolf together in the forest, representing Einar and Thorfinn. She says that even though they’re leaving, others are surviving in this place.
Gardar tells Arnheid to say her goodbyes before they exit the forest and enter the hereafter. So she opens her eyes and is conscious again. Einar is overjoyed, but it’s reasonable to assume the joy won’t last long. Arnheid is too badly hurt and the closest thing to a doctor, Pater, is locked in battle. Even so, a goodbye is better than nothing.
As Snake and Thorgil predicted, Ketil’s ragtag “soldiers” are nothing but fodder for Canute’s professional battle-hardened men. But at least for Thorgil, they didn’t have to be anything more than a diversion, allowing him and Olmar to slip around the battle.
Olmar ends up on an entirely different part of the beach. He’s resigned to the fact he’ll never be his brother…and that’s probably a good thing, as trying would only put him in an early grave. As for Thorgil, well…he’s having an absolute blast doing whatever the fuck he wants, and has himself a pretty decent chance of killing Canute.