Ideally this should be declaimed in a dim hall to an appreciative audience relaxing tankard in hand.
Right! All have heard of the hero Beowulf,
who destroyed Grendel, dispatched his mother
and a dragon killed. Another danger too he mastered,
untold in verse 'til now.
Maximillian, mighty robot,
was his greatest foe. No fight has yet exceeded
that bout betwixt 'bot and man.
(To help my metre I may call him "Max" in future.)
Assembled among stars in space far distant
he served his creator, the scientist and madman
Reinhart, who fashioned him un-restrained by law.
Designed for mastery he had dominion in their vessel,
commanding robots, crushing dissent.
Killing, he put fear into the frame of his maker,
who was apprised too late how appalling was his creature.
Reinhart was captain of The Cygnus, fixed
at the Black Hole, a hell-mouth all-devouring.
Anchored by his skill, it sat unmoving
until he ordered "take the ship about."
While engines roared two robots grappled
and plucky Vincent was victorious; he braved
the might and malice of Max the bully.
Max held Vincent in a vice-grip charged
with electricity, but tricksy Vincent
bored through his armour and broke free unscathed.
Defeated Max drifted and plunged
into the stellar vortex, the consumer of worlds.
From the heavens dropping, he was a demon new arrived
in Hell. He stood upon a height above abysmal
fires, which Disney filmed for us to marvel.
Not long did Max delight in hellfire;
no fallen angel but an engine of metal,
he was expelled from Hell, his place denied.
From Hades' shores he was restored to Earth,
there to harass men and hasten their demise.
Thus spoke Satan, supreme in evil:
"Accept Our commission and be acclaimed in Hell;
revenge Grendel, Our well-regarded servant.
Kill Beowulf before his people
that mortal men shall mark Our reach."
Maximillian, malign and cruel,
silently signalled his swift agreement.
The maelstrom hurled Max twice
a thousand years through time
back from his present to before the age of
chivalry. The Devil directed Max
to the land of Geats where great Beowulf
was king. And Max caused fear
throughout the land. Thralls fled before him:
a silent ghoul which swept towards them,
never putting pad to ground,
his eye-slot glowing an evil red,
showing a burning and brutal contempt
for all mankind. Marked out for death by
Maximillian, no man survived.
News of this horror came to the hall of the king.
The ring-giver heard of the robot's deeds:
breaking into hall or homestead, delivering
death to a victim doomed and helpless.
Then leaving as it came: lightly as a bubble,
with weeping women and wreckage left behind.
Some with a touch it turned to corpses,
some it mangled by the might of its arms,
or cut to death with cruel blades.
One soul it dragged swiftly aloft
and dropped screaming into the sea beneath.
No weapon harmed it though wielded with strength:
heavy spears were hurled in vain;
its hide un-harmed by a host of arrows;
sharp swords were swung but did no hurt;
battle axes re-bounded and left little mark.
No cope-wearing priest with cross held high
or band of yokels with blazing torches
could trouble Max or turn his course.
Wise men agreed: this woe was a demon,
freed from Hades to harry mankind;
both pagan and pious it preyed on alike.
Its lair was unknown, for none could follow
as it sailed above water or swooped over trees,
no path or spoor to point to its home.
At the mead-hall of the Geats measures were taken.
Lookouts were posted, poised with horns
to sound out a signal on sight of the monster.
Buckets of water were waiting for hurling
to cool the fires of the fiend from the underworld.
Warriors had nets, weighted for throwing,
to entangle the demon and deny it escape.
Ready for battle, Beowulf waited;
the champion of his people, their cherished leader,
Hygelac's heir wore a helm of best steel,
hard and heavy for good head protection.
Glittering chainmail guarded his body -
Weland Smith wrought this heirloom.
His grip was encased in gauntlets of leather,
defence from the heat of the demon's touch.
(For it scorched the skin of some that it grasped.)
In the light of dawn the demon came,
silent and stately it strayed into view.
Horns sounded and the hall doors were opened;
great Beowulf, the Geatish hero,
strode forth in full armour;
a smithy hammer, heaviest in the forge,
his weapon of choice. He wielded it easily,
such was his strength. His shield was a buckler,
polished and burnished to blind his opponent
with sunlight reflected straight in the eyes.
In the morning mist Max floated
towards Beowulf, to war with his enemy;
the red robot recognised his foe.
As on a chess board the champions stood:
the piece from the future and the un-fearing king:
Hell's hireling and Heaven's supporter.
So began the duel of demon and human,
Reinhart's creature and the ruler of the Geats.
The Powers infernal, proud of their champion,
looked on with confidence, conquest assumed.
Noble Beowulf, though blessed with strength
beyond other mortals, no match they thought
for that mighty engine, the malign robot
Maximillian, a masterpiece
of man's genius for making evil.
Blades whirring, it wickedly approached
to mutilate and slaughter the slayer of monsters.
Watched by his people, his warriors and thanes,
Grendel's bane bided the onslaught,
cunningly feigning fear and paralysis.
As the combatants closed, the king acted:
he swung his hammer, smashing it down
on the head of his enemy, hoping to crush
his metal opponent. Miles distant,
birds took flight, frightened by the din.
Knocked downwards, the demon touched
God's earth, the Geatish land,
for the first time. Fiercely it rose,
dented and enraged; the red of its eye-slit
glowing brighter, a glower of hatred.
Twice more the monster advanced,
its evil knives ever closer.
Twice again Ecgtheow's son
struck the robot a resounding blow,
shattering the hush with a sound like thunder.
Then Beowulf dodged the demon's arms
and running behind it battered it further
with the smithy hammer. Smartly Max
turned to face him. Finally he used
his laser weapon: a lash of scarlet
struck the hero, his steel corselet
took the blow. Beowulf staggered
and raised his buckler to block and deflect
the red bolts rained upon him.
This demon fire was first seen now;
Beowulf had no warning of a weapon from the future.
Almighty God granted him protection;
for the polished buckler Providence handed him
the harassed king gave heartfelt thanks.
The Geats watched in gasping horror
as their lord strove to stave off death.
Men took buckets and bravely approaching
doused with water the demon attacker.
Loosing the power to prime his weapon
Max faltered in his murderous assault.
Beowulf daringly dropped his shield
and with all strength swung the hammer
two-handed into the robot,
shattering the laser and splitting
in two the shaft of the smithy tool:
with one blow both had lost
their finest weapons. Flinging aside
the hammer's handle the hero leaped
upon the back of the battered robot,
to avoid the blades viciously spinning.
The strongest man alive struggled to overpower
Maximillian, the mightiest of his kind.
Fiercely the robot fought to shake off
Beowulf's hold, to bring his knives
into deadly action. Evenly matched,
neither combatant could conquer the other.
Max's opponent matched him in strength,
but the grip that tore Grendel's arm
was unable to rend the robot apart.
Steel and water stymied Max from
electrically charging the champion of the Geats.
Unable to crush or kill his rider,
Max rose, rotating as he went.
Net-wielding warriors, waiting for a signal,
strode in too late to stay the manoeuvre.
Skywards went Max, spinning and twisting,
carrying the hero into the clouds above.
Though wet and dizzy, doughty Beowulf
kept his grip, clinging to his demon;
no gyration succeeded in unseating the hero.
Max, thwarted, thought of a ruse:
he plunged earthward, plummeting rapidly
to solid land. He sought to defeat
Grendel's killer, to crush him between
hard ground and his great weight:
the "anvil" and "hammer" of the apt saying.
The robot swooped towards a rocky outcrop
meaning to flatten the man on his back.
Beowulf's demise was moments away,
but the Good Lord's guidance and the surpassing
boldness of the hero brought his deliverance:
he loosed his grip and leapt clear;
in mid-air falling he fell into trees.
Battered but un-broken only bruises he suffered;
his steely raiment saving his life
as crashing through branches he careered to the ground.
Winded of breath, beneath a spruce
calmly he waited, watching for signs
of the monster's approach. Presently it came,
intent on his death, determined to kill
alone in the forest, overlooking the contract to
"Kill Beowulf before his people."
Red Max rotated his knives
and silent of voice he swiftly advanced,
aiming to bore into Beowulf's chest.
The renowned warrior knew death
was approaching him; he picked up a log,
refusing to flee, fighting on to the end.
But, as sunlight shone upon Max
the king saw hope: a hole in the demon,
drilled into its armour, an Achilles' heel.
Hope restored, the hero thrust
the huge log hard at the monster
temporarily jamming its turning blades.
Beowulf ran, racing to find
the weapon he needed, weaving among trees,
seeking huntsmen and their humble abodes.
Ever as he sped, aiming for smoke
seen on the skyline, a sign of habitation,
his attacker followed, fleet in pursuit.
"Your bow, your arrows," Beowulf commanded
on reaching a cottage, "Your king has need;
the fate of the kingdom falls on their use."
Poor in warfare are weapons for hunting:
too big for his target were the barbs of those arrows,
unable to enter the opening Vince made.
As the implacable monster appeared in full view,
the Geat leader looked for a weapon
strong and narrow, for his sword was too broad,
a stick too puny. A poker from the hearth,
strong iron, was an ideal choice.
Reinhart once looked from the robot's eye-slit,
trapped in his creature, 'til the Creator of All
mercifully accepted his soul into Heaven.
Now Satan himself saw from that vantage
the killer of Grendel coming to duel.
Undaunted was Beowulf by devil and robot
improbably combined: the poker went home,
thrust in straight by the strongest of arms.
Sparks flew, flames escaped
and the terror's eye-slit was extinguished.
Max's body they burned where it dropped:
kindling and wood cremated his innards,
a demon from hell demolished by fire!
The remains were dropped in deep water,
ending the career of the killer machine.
Praise was given to God and their king
for rescue from evil. That evening in hall
the bard sang of battle in Heaven,
how Lucifer rebelled and became Satan.
Beowulf wondered on the wounding of Satan
by Archangel Michael. What angel from Heaven
had speared his opponent? He pondered long
on divine protection, thanking his God.
The Devil below brooded his setback;
he thought to the future when throngs of machines,
soulless and silicon strutted the earth.
Satan smiled, satisfied to wait.
Triumph or travesty? Do type your review!
Author's Note: This story's many faults are all mine, but it was inspired by the story "Kurowulf" by Decadent Meerkat.