How does Crispin: The Cross of Lead end?
The story concludes with Crispin's confrontation with Aycliffe in his mission to rescue Bear.
As the story goes, Crispin reveals to Aycliffe the cross of lead with the inscription 'Crispin- son of Furnival,' in order to substantiate his claim to his paternal heritage. However, Aycliffe is enraged by Crispin's boldness and threatens to call the guards. Crispin leaps on Aycliffe's back when Aycliffe turns; this unexpectedly daring move catches Aycliffe off-guard. The young boy threatens Aycliffe with his knife, drawing blood, and makes Aycliffe promise on the cross of lead that he will let Bear and Crispin go in exchange for Crispin forfeiting any rights to the house of Furnival.
Aycliffe swears on the cross of lead, but he also wants the cross in his keeping. Crispin tells him that he will only hand over the cross once he and Bear are safely out of the city. Aycliffe takes Crispin to an underground room in the cellar regions where Bear has been imprisoned. The badly tortured Bear is weak and has to rely on Crispin's help to walk out.
However, on the way out of the room, Aycliffe's guards try to stop Bear and Crispin. Crispin threatens to tell everyone who he really is, and at this point, Aycliffe realizes that he has no choice but to let his prisoners go. He informs his guards that he will take Bear and Crispin to the city gates. Along the way, he continues demanding the cross of lead from Crispin.
The story concludes at the city gates when Aycliffe shouts out that Crispin is a 'wolf's head' and that anyone may kill him. Angered at his cowardice and treachery, Bear battles Aycliffe. The soldiers close in for the kill, but Bear is able to restrain Aycliffe physically and bodily throw Aycliffe at his guards. The guards, unprepared for such a maneuver, do not have time to react. Aycliffe is impaled upon their swords and dies.
Before Bear and Crispin leave the city gates, Crispin takes off his cross of lead and lays it on the dead Aycliffe's chest. With great joy, Bear dubs Crispin a 'full member of the guild of free men... free of all obligations save to his God.'