This quest begins once you have pledged to Essexe from the Alliance Map in your longhouse at Ravensthorpe. You should begin by travelling to Essexe to find and speak with Birstan in the town of Colcestre. When you arrive, you’ll need to travel to the ealdorman’s house, located in the western part of the town. If you don’t want to cause a scene, keep your cloak on.
Travel to Colcestre
Once you find the Ealdorman’s House in the west of Colcestre, you’ll note that Birstan is absent. Instead, you’ll need to speak with a man named Wyatt. He won’t have much to say, and will instead direct you to Birstan’s wife, Estrid, who can be found upstairs in a room on the northwestern side of the house.
Did You Know? You’ll notice an abundance of Roman ruins in Colcestre, especially when compared with other towns in England. These ruins comprise the remains of Camulodunum, what is thought to be the oldest Roman town in England. Whether or not the Roman ruins were this well preserved during the 9th century is debatable, but Colchester (modern Colcestre) remains one of the best places for sight seeing Roman architecture in England.
When you enter the room a cutscene will begin, during which you’ll have a few dialogue options. Go through them as you will; they don’t have any significant impact on the story. The scene won’t last long, and at the end of it you’ll be tasked with finding Birstan in a camp to the southwest.
Find Birstan at the Camp
When you reach the camp, you’ll find a bloody scene and will need to investigate what has happened by examining four things:
- The corpse of a soldier on the edge of the camp as you approach
- A disturbed pot in the centre of the camp
- The remains of a horse to the south
- Tracks of an animal in a blood pool beside another corpse further south
Once you’ve examined each item, use your raven to scout the area further southeast. This is where you’ll find Birstan, fighting off two bears. You’ll need to help him here by killing the two bears. Whatever you do, as Birstain suggests, avoid succumbing to a charge from the bears, as this will inflict the most damage. You can dodge or roll out of the way, or you can parry and block basic attacks. You won’t be able to parry any attacks initiated by a red rune aura, however, so it’s probably best to rely on dodges here. When the bears are dead, Birstan will speak with you. It doesn’t matter what you say here, the outcome will be the same.
Follow Birstan back to Colcestre
After the conversation with Birstan, you’ll need to follow him back to Colcestre. When you arrive, follow Birstan to the Ealdorman’s House to initiate a cutscene. During the scene, you’ll have to make a few quick decisions between three dialogue options, which for some reason have been given a timer. For your convenience, they are listed below:
First dialogue choices:
- “Send them back to Aelfred.”
- “They will soon grow bored of meddling.”
- “Full-grown in strength, the mistletoe stood…”
Second dialogue choices:
- “Wine and song is the answer to any problem.”
- “You should contribute to the festivities.”
- “Nor fasting come to the feast…”
Third dialogue choices:
- “Keep your men here, in the fields.”
- “Fields will mean nothing if your land is taken.”
- “Beware of sleep on a witch’s bosom.”
Note: In truth, it doesn’t matter which you choose, as the outcome will be the same. As you may have guessed, the third option in each case provides a more poetic response, and a humorous display.
When you’re done with the scene, follow Birstan upstairs to his wife, Estrid. You’ll have a few more dialogue options here, but none with a time limited. Choose as you wish. When the scene ends, the quest will complete.