The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins that one must never succumb to, or else they will find themselves falling from the grace of god. There once was a man who did not heed this warning. He gave in to his festering dark inner urges and spilt the blood of his own brother. For committing such an unforgivable sin against humanity in the eyes of god, he was cursed with a mark to forever reflect and be shunned by all those that are around him. That mark, later became known as, "the mark of Cain."
Like any good mother, she weeps when her child is taken from her. To reflect the sorrow that now envelopes this poor soul, the heavens themselves cry a heavy rain as if the only way it could comfort her was to drown the world. Consumed by sadness, a lone figure stands in the forest and holds the body of her deceased son in her arms, uncaring that her hair and clothes are now plastered to her skin, completely drenched. Even in this heavy downpour, anyone could see the tiny streams that ran down her face as she cried silent tears. She opened her mouth to call her child's name but that was the pinnacle definition of futility, as no matter how hard she tried, not one sound escaped from her lips.
How long has it been? How long has she been here, crying, crippled with despair not fully believing that her own child was now dead in her arms. How, oh how she prayed in her own way to that loathsome being known as god, that this was nothing more than a hellish nightmare.
"Grendel…" she finally managed to call out in an almost inaudible whisper.
"Grendel…" she repeated, half expecting him to suddenly sit up and respond.
It was awhile before she finally un-rooted herself from that spot and took him back home and laid him to rest. Her sorrow, now replaced with unbridled anger as she recalled the image of finding her child crawling up to her, arm missing, and bleeding profusely. The only thing that he said prior to his death was the word "Heorot." She knew of the word, in fact it was the name of a great hall that the man, who dares elevate himself and calls himself the "king of the Danes" reside. It was obvious to her what she must do; she must avenge her only son as well as wreak havoc upon those who have taken from her, to inflict upon them the horrors in which they all deserved.
She made way, and travelled to where her son met his end. She journeyed through the thick forests, the grassy plains, the rocky cliffs and arduous mountain terrains until she finally reached the very last hill. It was in the dead of night when she reached her destination and yet she could see clear as if it was day. There were torches brightly burning, too many to count. They lined the outer walls of a massive construct that was as big as any mountain that she had to cross to get here, with gold and other shiny bobbles and trinkets that the humans loved so much embedded in its stonewalls. It towered so high that it looked as if it could reach god's gates itself. Only humans would be able to accomplish such a feat. It was an eyesore.
Grendel's mother cautiously made her way to the outer wall; she could hear the sounds of man. Voices could be heard just beyond the wall; one of these voices had, murdered her son. Even with her small frame she easily scaled the wall and dropped noiselessly to the ground; she hurried towards the great hall known as Heorot. The faint murmurs she heard earlier were now boisterous and loud, but nothing was louder than the sound of her own beating heart. It pumped furiously and the pounding was intense in her ears, she allowed the adrenaline that was coursing through her entire body to take over. She peered in through a window to see inside, she scanned the room until she found him, the self-proclaimed ruler of these insignificant insects, "King of the Danes" Hrothgar, adorned with his jeweled crown and polished mail. In the middle of this room, he stood with the air of superiority. She noticed that it appeared as if he was speaking to another male whom he seemed to be treating with his highest regards, Grendel's mother took a look at whom he was speaking to. She happened to catch the man's name as the king rambled on: Beowulf.
A young man, so it would seem. Handsome, but there was something about him that she noticed that no other person in Heorot could match, power basically oozed out of him, yet he was in no way flaunting it; instead he seemed to have simply accepted his God-given natural gifts. She will have some trouble killing him she noted to herself, but he is not whom she was after. As she coiled herself down, she knew that she could easily burst into the great hall and in a blink of an eye slaughter everything and everyone in it. She readied herself, but just before she was about to strike, off in the distance there was a faint sound of crying. She looked towards the direction of it, and allowed a cruel smile upon her face.
Inside the Great Hall Heorot
"They sang then and played to please the hero, words and music for their warrior prince, harp tunes and tales of adventure: there were high times on the hall benches and the king's poet performed his part with the sage of Finn and his sons, unfolding the tale of the fierce attack in Friesland where Hnaef, king of the Danes, met death…"
As the minstrel began another performance and was in the midst of singing the joyous occasion was silenced by the shrieking cry of a woman who soon later came bursting in, running into the great hall. She was of a familiar face, she was the queen, the woman whom the king of the Danes chose himself to be forever beside him, not more than just a little while ago she graced Beowulf and his men with her sharp wit, with a tongue to match, and her humor. But now all that grace has been stripped of her for she was now shrieking like she'd gone mad, she was as pale as the moon. The only color of her that was more noticeable was the crimson that stained her hands.
The King of Danes flashed through a wide range of emotions, from happiness that came from enjoying the festivities, to surprise upon hearing a blood curdling scream, fear for when a woman came bursting into the great hall, angered, and embarrassed for when he realized it was his queen making such noise, and finally settled upon fear when he realized and noticed the dark red upon her usually light-colored clothing. It rendered the great king speechless; when he finally was able to gather his thoughts it was Beowulf who spoke.
"I apologize for my actions." Beowulf said directed at the king. Beowulf then proceeded towards the queen and grasped her on her blood stained shoulders.
"Look… look at me!" Beowulf thundered. "Gather your thoughts and speak to us the events that took place."
The queen still in a trance-like state, quivered in the mighty grasp of Beowulf. Could this truly be the woman that exuded confidence that rivaled that of his earlier today? What has become of this woman? Beowulf thought to himself.
It was a long pause before a single word escapes her lips "Herold-gār." This single word echoed in the great hall, seeped into every pore and crevice within it. It was the King's turn to be thunderous.
"Herold-gār? What is to become of my son?" he stepped closer to where she and Beowulf stood. "My queen, my wife… explain yourself!"
Slowly but surely the queen spun her tale, depicting in great detail, to the best of her recollection of the events that have recently come to past. A grim tale of a child crying, and a mother tending to her child, a lovely image, to only be ruined by the sudden appearance of a woman at the window sill, her figure shadowed in contrast of the illumination of the full moon. The queen now finding more strength in her words, explained that the section of the castle in which the nursery resided, was in the tallest of all the spires, and made place at home with the stars and the sky, befitting of a prince; no man let alone a woman could manage such a feat of strength as to climb up the walls of the tower. The queen knew right away that the woman standing there was indeed a monster, in every possible sense of the word.
As she continued her tale, the grimmer the story became. As if to reward herself for her triumph for getting into the room unnoticed, the figure with a playful smile upon her face, simply pointed with one hand to the tiny body in the queen's arms, and with the other turned upwards with her palm showing for the gesture of "give it here."
After regaining her composure from the shock of the sudden appearance of the figure, the queen's body stiffened and she contorted her body so that her head was still facing while her body twisted away keeping the child as far away as possible from the intruder, with a defiant look upon her face that simply stated "no."
The woman at the sill cackled at this reaction. "If I wanted to, I could easily claim the lives of both mother and child, everyone here as a matter of fact, but I am not here on this moonlit night acting as the reaper of the Danes, I only came here tonight to claim that of your first born and only child." As she said this, she repeated the gesture of "give it here" once more to the queen.
"If." The queen responded defiantly. As if that one word was the only relevant word in everything intruder just said, challenging her to make good on her threat if she could. All while hiding the fact that she was now breaking into a cold sweat.
"Just three steps" the queen made a mental note, just three simple steps and she could reach the door behind her. Those few steps, seemed to stretch and become insurmountable vast distances she couldn't possibly cross, but she must. She steeled herself and fought off all her instincts to make a dash for the door, she must wait for the most opportune time, she encouraged herself by also noting that the intruder was more than five times the distance she was from the door; she just had to wait.
The intruder clearly not amused by the new turn of events lost all joy from her voice as she stepped off the window sill and took a step closer to the queen, resulting in the queen taking a step back herself.
"You're a strong woman I give you that, but think rationally here. The lives of all your people, your loyal subjects, your husband the king, and your very own life… you're going to risk all of that for the life of one small child?"
"Wouldn't any mother be willing to sacrifice everything and do anything for the sake of their own child?" the queen answered while taking another step backwards, and to her surprise, upon hearing this response the intruder froze in place as if she suddenly turned to stone.
An eerie silence passed until it was broken by a small almost inaudible laugh.
"You. Are. Correct." The intruder responded in a staunched way. "I have to thank you oh; 'Queen of the Danes,' for the love you show for your child might indeed rival that of my own. For it is the sake of my child, poor Grendel, that I am doing this."
"You… you're Grendel's mother?" The queen asked with real surprise, now truly understanding the situation at hand, now knowing that this woman, who claims to be the mother of Grendel, would indeed make truth of her what seemed at the time idle threats, for hell has no fury like a woman's scorn. She decided then and there that she must make a chance for her to run, and she must run now!
"You thanked me; why would that be the case?" the queen asked while taking that final step backwards, now within arm's length of the door.
"Why?" Grendel's mother spat.
"Because oh great 'Queen of Danes,' if you must know. Not only have you assured me that the little one in your arms is indeed the young prince to be, you have also given me great pleasure… in knowing that I shall be taking away from you the same thing that has been taken from me. A child blessed with unyielding love from a loving mother." The playful smile returned upon Grendel's mother's face.
With that, the queen spun around and grasped the handle and pulled. Try as she might to escape and deny the intruder she was far too strong and fast. Before she could even open the door more than a couple of inches Grendel's mother was already on her.
As the story nearly reached its conclusion, the queen stressed the part where she pleaded with Grendel's mother to return the child whom at the time she had in her arms, to the amazement and shock, she did as the queen asked and returned the child. Confused but without hesitation hugged Herold-gār and wept, she looked up and glared.
Grendel's mother didn't move towards the pair but instead just smiled. In that instant a sudden thought filled the queen's mind how can something so beautiful have such a cruel and soulless smile?
That smile, made her shiver down to her very core and the queen noticed she was now covered from head to toe in sweat, this is fear, for all her years watching her husband, her people fight countless denizens of Cain's brood not once was she afraid… but tonight was different, nobody was there to help, even when waging war with Cain's clan, her subjects had chainmail, weapons, and support of their fellow Danes. She was facing this monster alone. That was when she finally noticed something was wrong, why was it that her body was so cold, yet her hands so warm?
Against her better judgment she looked away from the intruder and gazed down at her child. Why has he become suddenly quiet? That's when she saw it, the crimson dark color soaking into her dress and staining her hands. To her horror she saw the reason; her child was missing his right arm and died in her arms. Either out of horror, or out of grief, possibly a mixture of both, the emotions that now flooded over the queen tortured her, and struck her all at once. She couldn't help but scream.
As the story came to an end a hushed silence blanketed the great hall to only be broken once again by Beowulf.
"My queen." Beowulf considered how to convey his words. "Are you yourself unharmed? For that is, if I may state, that is far too much for one child alone."
This was true, there was no way a small child could produce so much blood noted Hroðgar, the "King of Danes," and another wave of fear took over.
"Æschere, my most trusted advisor, he is assigned to tend to your needs whenever he is not in office with me, where is he in all of this?"
The queen did not respond in words to this inquiry, all she could do was cry.
The "King of Danes" let out an anguished howl, Grendel's mother accomplished what she came here to do tonight. Seek revenge on those who wronged her, and at this moment in place and time she succeeded… she had won.
Later that evening in the Great Hall of Heorot
It was later that evening after no more tears could be shed from the queen's eyes and she was led off to slumber did the King of Danes usher Beowulf and his men to assemble.
"I know you have done a great deal for me and my people. But I must ask of you once more Beowulf, to do me one more task, find this beast that takes form of a beautiful woman, be wary to not be seduced and tempted by it and bring me proof of her death." The king announced.
"For if you do this for me, great Beowulf, I shall reward you with riches that makes the previous reward for slaying Grendel pale in comparison."
To no one's surprise, Beowulf without hesitation immediately agreed to do one more favor for the king and set off to slay Grendel's mother as he did her son. Beowulf and his men set forth, they traveled over rocky terrain, high mountainous ranges, bodies of water, and great vast plains. Finally reaching the forest of Cain, where all of the devilish spawns of Cain resided in, standing at the mouth of the forest Beowulf and his men stumbled upon something, a severed head.
Beowulf recognized the head, the head of the immediate advisor of the king; he held it up and presented it to his men.
"Look upon his face, the fear that he must have met with upon the time of his death. The horror now permanently shows on his face. A man of great honor, a great warrior… reduced to this. Those who don't wish to venture onwards and end up like him, turn back for this is the point in time to do so. There is no shame for those who do, the promise of the favor was that I must slay the witch, there was of no promise that any of you were to accompany me to do so."
A long silence blew through before Beowulf spoke, with a smile in his voice, yet no apparent one on his face.
"As warriors we must fulfill all that we proclaim we would do, valiantly and heroically, for all of you my brother-in-arms, I, Beowulf swear that I shall fell the witch, but if I fail to do so and it is by divine will that I should be the one to fall, I shall at least clear the way for all of you to return to your riches, your homes, your loved ones. Treasure them in your minds and in your hearts, for this might be our last venture… now my brothers, onward!" Beowulf cried out as they entered the forest fully away that they might never leave.
The further in that they travelled, the more aware they were that they have indeed left the realm of man. The differences between the mortal realms were transparent; the world in which Beowulf resides in was modern, cultivated, and developed. This… this realm on the other hand was raw, savage, untouched… beautiful. The wild life although absent at the moment, the plant life; so bold and rich of green that if one were to crush a thousand emeralds, it would still pale in comparison, the streams and rivers that flowed through the forest's floor were so crisp, clean, and clear that one could sate their thirst upon just looking at it. Is this truly a world of monsters?
Admiration of their surroundings came to an abrupt end when the sound of startled steeds from the rear guard filled the air; Beowulf halted his Cavalry and took a look back. In the blink of an eye, two of his men were dismounted and knocked to the ground as beasts, wolf-like creatures, struck as if out of thin air and tore at the throats of both his men's horses. The sudden attack threw Beowulf for a loop, but he soon regained his senses and instructed all of his men to dismount and ready their arms.
One of the men that were dismounted rose up and cursed under his breath. Not only has he lost his dignity by being caught off guard, now he had to get a new mount. He unsheathed his one-handed axe and charged at the creature that knocked him off his horse. But before he could strike at the beast, blurring objects crossed his vision, two more of the beasts had pounced at him and massive jaws enclosed around his striking arm and another at his jugular, and that was all he saw before his world was filled with red, and finally settling in darkness.
Beowulf howled as he watched one of his brothers fall in battle, weapon at the ready he struck swiftly and efficiently with his sword cleaving the two beasts and cutting them down, he looked upon his fallen comrade's face and silently swore an oath to bury him a warrior's burial. But no time for sorrow, a battle was at hand, he looked around as he noticed that there were more of the beasts now, his men fending them off striking them down one by one.
A spine-chilling howl filled the air as the forest's ground begun to shake. Something was coming, whatever it is, and it was big.
Beowulf turned towards the direction of the howl; that's when he saw it. Two larger wolves, thrice the size of any of the ones he and his men were currently facing, bounding towards them at full speed, baring their teeth and snarling as they did so. Dire wolves? Here? But that wasn't the terrifying part, behind the two massive wolves, was an even larger creature. The creature's very steps caused the ground to shake and its killing intent, its thirst for blood was apparent.
Beowulf noticed that he was gripping his sword to the point that it pained him, as he feared that the outcome of this battle might not bode well for them. But he must still try, in order to fulfill his duty towards the king and his men, he gripped his sword and howled a guttural warrior's cry towards his new enemy and stood his ground. Some of his men took notice and quickly slayed the miniature versions that were in front of them and changed course to aid their leader. To their surprise however the two dire wolves and the biggest one, the alpha stopped in their tracks as they neared Beowulf and his men. The Alpha stood on his hind-legs and spoke in a gravelly voice.
"Why are you here, human? Did you come to wage war with Cain's brood?"
Beowulf responded. "I should be asking you the same thing. We were attacked by you, as we were in search a witch that calls herself the mother of Grendel. We have no quarrel with you, or your…brothers, we have not acted in any form or manner to show aggression towards you."
"The point of simply entering this forest is an act of aggression! You humans are trespassing on our territory riding your enslaved beasts, and armed to the teeth with your weapons and armor." The Alpha snarled.
"Well if I may, you're also in your own way armed to the teeth with just your…well teeth and arms; surely you don't believe mere humans by themselves could fare against a creature such as yourself."
The Alpha smiled.
"Don't insult me with your fake flattery, I know of you. The winds of the forest whispered to me the tales of a man, a 'mere human' with the strength that even we, Cain's children should be wary of. That you slayed Grendel by tearing the tendons and sinew that inflicted the mortal blow that killed him with your bare hands… that his mother claimed vengeance on the wrong being, that fool." The Alpha laughed at the events that took place.
"You laugh as if you don't care for the witch, if that is the case, why is it that you choose to impede our purpose? Why would you foolishly risk the bloodshed of your men and mine?"
"Although it is indeed true that I do not care for Grendel or for his mother, I can't waste an opportunity for when food presents itself. My pack hunger like any being of flesh and blood, just unfortunately for you, is that they hunger for yours."
With that, the Alpha with the slight movement of the hand signaled his pack to continue their attack. The blurring of movements resumed. The flashing of steel, the flurry of fang and claw, the grunts and snarls of effort as men and beast fight to claim the lives of their foes all the while trying to retain their own.
Twelve. That was the number of brothers that took up arms and honored themselves by volunteering to join Beowulf's conquest for glory, three now lain dead. Blood now stained the brown earth, bodies that were once full of life now just empty husks of what they once were, lying motionless on the ground. Beowulf was aware of this but could not mourn, for he had a more immediate task at hand.
Beowulf showed no sign of sadness or sorrow, just unnerving concentration at his enemy. He couldn't allow his anger and adrenaline to take over; he steeled himself. The Alpha however chose the other; it gave in to its bloodlust and lunged at Beowulf with claw and fang.
Beowulf side-stepped and barely dodged, he felt a number of chains on his mail snap and break. Beowulf thrust his sword into the side of the beast and it howled. The Alpha backhanded Beowulf and sent him flying into a tree knocking the wind out of him.
The Alpha stood on its hind legs and looked at the wound that it had just received. In one smooth and swift action, it pulled out the blade from its side and tossed it to the ground.
"Swords… how human." The Alpha got back on all fours and lunged at Beowulf.
Beowulf quickly unsheathed the battle axe on his back and brought it up in front of him. The Alpha crashed into him and they both ended on the ground, the Alpha on top snapping its massive jaws just inches from Beowulf's face. Beowulf straining with all his might pushed upwards to throw off the beast. The Alpha struck home and was rewarded with the color of red, as it drew blood from Beowulf's shoulder. The smell of its prey's blood caused the Alpha to go into a frenzy and became more ferocious as it thirsted for more.
Beowulf gritted his teeth through the pain, all of his muscles groaned from exertion, he drew a dirk from his waist and stabbed it into the arm pit of the Alpha, with that the Alpha withdrew a tiny bit, and lessened his weight just enough for Beowulf to be able to toss it off of himself.
It was Beowulf's turn to lunge; he closed the distance and swung his axe with great precision and efficiency. The Alpha on the defense weaved and bobbed out of the way, striking back whenever it could. They continued the dance, no wasted movements in any of their actions, striking at one another each blow if it were to hit would be a mortal one. They drew blood from one another, inflicting wounds ranging from minor scratches to deep gashes, but neither one faltered, neither one relented.
Even though the once green surroundings were now dyed in patches of their blood, those who looked upon their battle would not take notice, for they would be all fixed upon the monstrous smiles upon their faces. One wouldn't be able to tell anymore which was the man was and which was the beast; in their eyes it would only show two beings that have degraded to lesser animals entirely composed of pure instinct.
Beowulf and the Alpha came to a stalemate, both out of breath, but both ready for more. The massive grins they wore still plastered on their faces, it was then, a silver sheen of light caught Beowulf's attention, as he soon realized what it was when a silver colored object pierced through the Alpha's leg. It howled and got on bended knee.
Beowulf stunned, could only stare. He watched one of his own men withdrew his blade, flicked off the Alpha's blood, and was gesturing at him, inaudible.
"...Wulf! Beowulf!" his voice now clears
"We must fall back, we have dead and a number are wounded, we must regroup and…" Beowulf's man stopped talking, he froze in place and was crippled with fear and confusion, why is it that Beowulf now glared at him with a face full of rage and anger?
He willed himself to speak, "Beowulf, we have to regroup, we have slain one of the dire wolves but we need to go, now!"
Beowulf looked around to assess the situation; he then snapped out of his anger like trance and nodded. They battered off the immediate threat and started to retreat. The Alpha stumbled as he tried to get up, cursing god under his breath. His pack now at a loss at what to do, their supposed meal now eludes them and escapes, but their own pack leader now injured and could not give chase.
"After them!" the Alpha roared. And with that, they all howled in unison and followed Beowulf's group.
The Alpha went against his body, which now screamed for him to initiate the flight portion of the fight or flight response, willed it to stand, blood now streaming down his hind leg. It was no longer about satiating his hunger the Alpha knew, it was now killing for the sake of killing. To be reduced to this state that the Alpha was in was embarrassing, by a mere insect who denied him.
I will tear him limb from limb, I will pluck out his eyes, rip off his ears, and pull out his tongue, I will then devour him and defecate him out, so that when he reaches the gates of god, not even the almighty will be able to see his original form. That this, yes, this blind, deaf, and dumb, shapeless, and formless creature that stood before them was Beowulf.
Beowulf and his men after the battle with the wolves
Of the original thirteen that started this quest, Beowulf and his twelve best men, five now dead, two injured, and one critically wounded. They would need to send back the men who could no longer fight. Beowulf instructed three other men one for each injured to escort them back to Heorot, or at least out of this god forsaken forest, their wounds are the priority.
"Leave me here, Beowulf. I will only slow you down from here on." Spoke the critically injured warrior.
"I will not, I promised you all that I would protect you, I have failed but I will not abandon a warrior who fought so valiantly by my side, especially at their darkest hour." Beowulf reprimanded.
"Look at me, my insides join my outsides, I do not have much time. The big bastard managed to get a lucky shot on me before I plunged my sword home right between the bastard's eyes. Should have seen the look on the big pup's face when he knew I had bested it, in fact I'd say that one look was worth my share of the reward. So do with my share as you like."
"You did well brother, I could not have done such a feat alone." Beowulf smiled and placed his hand on the warrior's shoulder.
The warrior scoffed.
"What feat? Die in a hell hole? No, I'd never imagine you to be able to do that." The warrior chuckled.
"No, for you I imagine a more honorable death, not a warrior's one though, there would be too much mourning, too much sadness if you were to die before your time. No, for you, a death of ripe old age as king suits you better."
"I'm sure my father would enjoy hearing that for himself, you should tell him in person, and he always found your humor most entertaining Oläf"
"Stop this Beowulf. You are arrogant, bull-headed, overly self-righteous, overbearing, and the list continues on. But what you are not is stupid." Oläf spoke in between coughs. "You will not steal this honorable death away from me with your petty semantics."
Beowulf could only look onwards and nod.
Howls could be heard a little distance away; there was a silence that passed through Beowulf's group as they heard it.
"Good, now that you understand, I ask of you one more favor as a brother in arms, I seemed to have left my sword back in the dire wolf's skull, lend me your hatchets, all of you, for it seems that other weapons are beyond my weight bearing now."
They did as they were asked.
"Now, carry me to the base of that tree and face me in the direction of the enemy, I'll hold them off while you make your way to the witch. Do not forget why we are here, all of you must focus on the task at hand."
Beowulf and the rest of his men carried the noble warrior to the tree and planted him just as directed, facing the enemy. They all acknowledged his bravery and continued onwards, none of them looking back.
A soft breeze blew past
The lone warrior now sat up right, back against the tree. He removed his helm for it was far too cumbersome now; his breathing became ragged and shallow. His consciousness slipping in and out, his world traversing in between a world of life and light, and a world of total darkness, he forces himself awake. He will protect his brothers, he will protect Beowulf.
The howls were louder now, he was certain that they could smell fresh meat of a life about to expire. He gripped the small hatchet in his dominant hand, when the first of the scavengers appeared before him.
They circled around their prey but did not advance further, they simply waited. This caused Oläf to laugh.
"Are you dogs or mice? A fine meal sits before you and you just wait? Have you no pride at all now that your leader is hiding away licking at his wounds? You, gatherers, go and fetch me some real hunters for this kill."
The wolves snarled in protest at his statements
"That's more like it. Now…" Oläf feeling some life left in him.
"Come and have a go, if you think you're hard enough!"
In response, they attacked.
At the heart of the Forest of Cain
Beowulf and the last of his cohort finally reached their intended destination. What stood before them was a vast body of water, a pristine lake in the middle of the forest. Weary from their journey and battles, Beowulf and his men continued to push forward. They dismounted and upon approaching the edge of the lake, their horses neighed with great protest and desperately struggled, and fought against their reins.
"Something is scaring the horses Beowulf, I fear that we should listen to them and journey back, they're intelligent creatures, and they're wise enough to know when there is trouble," spoke one of the last two remaining men with Beowulf.
"I agree Beowulf. We lost more than half our group in the last skirmish and we, per your orders, sent back the two wounded with two healthy warriors to accompany them out of this forest. If the lot of us together won the previous battle by the skin of our teeth, what hope do we have against the mother of the monster that was Grendel, with just the three of us?" questioned the other.
"You have done well to follow me thus far, I acknowledge your worries and fears, but as warriors and men, we must follow through with our pledges as I have stated. You are more than welcome to turn back and end your journey here I will not label either one of you, I however will continue on."
"Damn it all Beowulf! This is not a question of loyalty, or disloyalty. Your pride and your belief in duty and honor are blinding your judgment. Many good men, our brothers! Have died and yet you do not mourn, you do not shed a single tear. No, I even recall the look of satisfaction upon your face when you were fighting the Alpha." yelled the first.
Beowulf said nothing.
"Satisfaction? What do you mean?" asked the second.
"I saw it upon Beowulf's face the grin of a man who was riddled with ecstasy and pleasure when fighting. Like a man possessed; grinning from ear to ear, happy that he can dance with the cloaked reaper this early in life. He lives for the battle not for our brothers!" The first accused.
"Is, is this true Beowulf? Have you forsaken us for your personal lust for glory?" stammered the second.
Beowulf again said nothing, only to break his silence after pondering how to answer the accusation that has been placed upon him.
"It's true" Beowulf admitted with sorrow in his voice.
"It's true that I was lost in rapture during the moment when I was fighting the beast, the feeling, the possibility of losing my life at any given moment and for that brief moment in time, I forgot my duty and my pledge to you all, and lost my humanity. But that was then, and this… this is now. I am now the good man I once was, and always will be."
"No. Not good. Never, good. After all, you're only human." A beautiful voice pointed out.
Beowulf and his men turned around to see what appeared to be a female figure standing atop the water's surface. The horses now protested much more now than they ever did before. The overwhelming presence this one creature that stood before them exuded was tremendous, as even Beowulf himself felt an instantaneously fear of death.
"You must be the mother of Grendel." Beowulf stated as calm as ice.
"Yes I am, and you are Beowulf. I have heard snippets about you during my last… 'Visit' to Heorot." Grendel's mother said with a smile.
There it was, the smile he heard so much about, it was indeed beautiful as was the witch herself, but it was cold and soulless as the queen had described.
"This saves me the trouble of finding you; I am here to proclaim that I have been sent by the king in order to right what was wrong. I have taken it upon myself to do the king one more favor and handle this issue in his stead. What I am here for, witch, is your life."
"Surely you don't believe I am the one in the wrong, your king has as they say, 'reaped what he has sowed' for it was his numerous campaigns against Cain's brood that has brought forth this turn of events upon him. This was simply equivalent retaliation, a 'tat for his tit.'"
Beowulf responded by unsheathing his sword, which caused Grendel's mother to sigh due to irritation.
"Seems like you're stubborn enough to see this through, if that is the case then, come with me to my place of residence, I detest being on land for, as you may know, I just recently travelled a long distance and was subjected to less than hospitable treatment by insufferable creatures."
With that Grendel's mother disappeared beneath the surface and a small traversable passage appeared, just wide enough for one person.
"I will go alone." Beowulf stated to his men.
"I know come recent events and my actions may disagree with you, but I believe what I am doing is just, and I also believe that the time we have spent together as brother-in-arms that when I return, you two will still stand at my side."
Without another word, Beowulf turned and followed the passage down deeper into the lake as it slowly closed behind him.
In Grendel's Mother's Lair
"Welcome to my humble home, please, make yourself at home. It's not much, but it doesn't differ that much from your own I believe. It's a place full of love and warmth, though recently there has been little of the latter, but a good home nonetheless."
Beowulf looked at his surroundings, he could see the "home" was a large spherical dome-like structure, not of solid walls of stone like the one constructed by man, but it seems as if all the air in the water around them had gathered together and formed the large bubble, in the middle of the lake.
"You're rather uncaring when it comes to serious matters." Beowulf elaborated the statement by pointing his sword at her.
"The word I'd like to use is nonchalant."
"Well whatever the word may be, it doesn't change the situation at hand."
"Oh? And what exactly is the situation at hand?" Grendel's mother responded with her usual playful smile.
"That you're moments away from losing your life."
This was responded to by Grendel's mother laughing.
"And why is it, if I may ask, would you want to take the life of a being so similar to yourself?"
"Don't be ridiculous, you and I have nothing in common. We are the antithesis of one another, I am all that is just and you are all that is unjust, I am the good, whereas you are the evil. Do not compare me with you." Beowulf retorted.
"My you humans are indeed foolish, do you honestly not see what is not within the grasp of your human fallacies? You and I are more than a little bit similar."
"Humor me; in what ways are we in anyway similar?"
"Surely you must know how my race came to be? How Cain slew his own brother and spilt Abel's blood upon the soil in which he tilled his crops to offer up to God."
"Yes, the feeble willed man that succumbed to his inner urges, the vile creature that begat the demon spawn that has come to be known as the 'denizens of Cain' or 'Cain's brood,' what of it witch?"
"Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster; and if you gaze into the abyss the abyss gazes into you."
"Are you actually trying to tell me that I'll become the very thing that I am fighting?" Beowulf scoffed.
"Warning you actually." Grendel's mother corrected.
Beowulf glowered at the witch.
"As I inquired of you earlier, are you humans truly that closed minded that you cannot see your own flaws? You hate us for the sole reason that we, being the ones that fell from the grace of God, that one of our ancestors succumbed to the capital vices that plagues every man, woman, and child? That we are to be punished by something we currently have no power over? Does that at all sound just to you?" Grendel's mother challenged.
"That may be true; I also believe that the actions of one's predecessors should in no way reflect our opinion or actions upon the current generation. However, that said, I also believe that they are to be judged by the actions they take in the present time. Meaning that your words hold much weight witch, but the actions you make weigh much more." Beowulf countered.
There was a moment of silence before Grendel's mother sighed and spoke.
"It seems that we have reached an impasse, we both believe that what we did or are doing is just, and the other is the one in the wrong. There is nothing more annoying than trying to convince another who is as head strong as themselves that we are right and they are wrong. Wouldn't you agree?" She spoke with a smile.
"I do, in fact, now that we understand one another and agree to disagree, why don't you be the mature one about it and admit that you're wrong?" Beowulf responded with a smile of his own.
"Now who is the one that is 'uncaring' about serious matters?"
"I believe the word is nonchalant, correct? That word has grown on me."
Grendel's mother laughed. "Although our time together was short, I must admit, I have grown fond of you Beowulf."
"And I you, mi 'lady." And with that said, Beowulf quickly slashed at the air between the witch and himself, only to watch the blade be caught in between her thumb and index finger with her right hand.
"Now, is that how you treat a woman?" Grendel's mother smiled her cruel smile.
She then placed her left hand gently onto Beowulf's chest, with a slight nudge and a flick of the wrist Beowulf was sent careening towards the dome's wall, and he crashed into it resulting in a deep loud thud upon collision. Beowulf looked up with real surprise as he racked his brain to what just happened.
"Leave now Beowulf, I was speaking the truth when I said I grew fond of you. It would be a shame to kill you now that you're aware of the difference in our strengths. You are indeed a worthy specimen, the pinnacle definition of man, but that's all you are… a single man." Grendel's mother spoke and turned to walk away.
"Do NOT turn from me!" Beowulf shouted with more anger than what he wanted to express.
Clearly not amused, Grendel's mother turned to face Beowulf. "My, did I hurt your pride in some way? I sincerely apologize. Now, off you go then."
"Do you run? Are you afraid of the actions of this single man that you are now putting your tail in between your legs? What kind of example would you set for your child if he were still alive today?"
There was a single blurring of movement, which was all Beowulf saw before he was a few feet off the ground with a slender hand tightly vice-gripped around his neck. He gagged and struggled to breathe.
Grendel's mother lost all beauty in her voice; instead it was now a threatening whisper as she stared straight into the eyes of Beowulf.
"You have an inflated sense of your importance. To a thing like me, a thing like you, well, think of how you would feel if a lesser being, a being that was equivalent to that of an insect came into your home and started to get snarky. You are but just one little species, on but one little planet, a planet that's barely out of its own infancy in comparison to the rest of God's creations. I'm old Beowulf, very old. So I invite you to contemplate just how insignificant I find you."
Beowulf now blue in the face desperately flailed about to free himself from her grasp, he finally managed to do so by planting his feet upon the dome's wall and kick off with all his might. This resulted in Grendel's mother losing her balance and falling backwards. Beowulf now released from her grip rolled and tumbled across the floor distancing him from her.
Grendel's mother stood back up and just stared at Beowulf. Beowulf could not help but feel a sense of pity as she looked upon his sniveling form as he desperately gasped and sucked in air. When he finally caught his breath, Beowulf grasped the handle of his sword, stood back up and showed an aggressive stance.
"Really, after all of that, you still believe in the delusion that you can win?"
"It's not delusion if it's a fact. I will win." Beowulf spoke as he readied his sword.
"I grow tired of this Beowulf, you no longer hold any merit and I find you no longer entertaining."
"I cannot withdraw at this point. I am committed in the act of avenging the son of the king whom you murdered in cold blood, to ensure no future heinous actions done by you will happen again."
"There is your ridiculous bravado again, you have no chance for victory Beowulf, so instead of fighting…" Grendel's mother did something that astonished Beowulf, she sat down. "I would rather convince you with reason and I implore you to listen and leave before I lose all my patience with you."
Anger completely flowed through all of Beowulf. This damn witch, does she mean for us to talk and resolve our differences peacefully? Is she honestly asking me to throw down my weapon and SIT? This. Is. Unacceptable!
Beowulf fueled with rage, cried out a warrior's cry. Yelled at the top of his lungs similar to the many times he did before to strike fear into the heart of his enemies, only this time, it was to quell the fear in his own. He rushed at full speed at the sitting woman, and faster than a blink of the eye Beowulf slashed swiftly and violently horizontally at her throat.
Beowulf knew he had her; there was simply no way she could have dodged, not even with her speed. Beowulf knew this, yet what was this feeling of insecurity… why did it seem like Grendel's mother lifted her head up ever so slightly so that he wouldn't miss?
The strike landed, the feeling of flesh being slit open could be felt and heard around the dome. The witch's body was tossed sideways by the force of the blow, the sound of liquid dropping from a height metonymically hitting the floor, Beowulf had drawn blood.
Why? Why is it happening? Why is it that my hand is the one bleeding? Beowulf was stunned to the point of almost no return. He stood there, his brain refusing to comprehend what had just happened. His mind replaying over and over again the event of his blade making contact but yet there is no evidence of her skin being cut for there was no blood on the blade. His sword's handle however, now soaked in crimson red, and the rest dripping to the floor.
"Do you understand now?" Grendel's mother asked as she got back up.
This snapped him back to reality; Beowulf took a few steps back and was at a lost to what to do. All he could do was stare at the being in front of him, and a single thought crossed and filled his mind. I can't win.
Grendel's mother walked towards Beowulf, this caused him to become alarmed and he took a defensive stance. But all she ended up doing was returning back to her original spot and sat down.
"Are you finished now?"
A moment passed before Beowulf understood what she was doing.
She is still asking me to sit? Beowulf in response to this restored some of his resolve. I won't say it again; I cannot withdraw at this point. He glared at her with defiance only to back down slightly when his glare was met with one of her own, that questioned "You want to die THAT much?"
Beowulf knew now, that the wrath in which he unleashed upon her was nothing more than the level a parent might feel when confronted by a petulant child. It was wounding to his spirit, as if his determination to not waver, to not withdraw had been brushed away with a laugh.
"Observe, my dear Beowulf. The only thing that you can hope to exchange with me is words, and nothing more."
If that were true; if that were simply enough, I would not be doing this. I will not be made out to be the one doing evil. I will not be the aggressor while you are the peacemaker. My entire life, my entire understanding of my life as well as the lives of all those around me, have shaped me and molded me into the man I am today. The ideals and hopes of my people, of the entire human race, that I have enforced my entire life. My beliefs, my entire BEING will not be deterred. I will NOT allow you to destroy all of that.
Beowulf pondered his next actions, to somehow force his opponent to fight, his entire resolve, his entire sense of purpose was riding on it. That was when he realized the crucial key.
"Witch, I will admit that I am in a disadvantaged position, but I cannot falter now that I have done and said so much. But I implore you, have you never wondered who was the one that slayed Grendel?"
This perked Grendel's mother's interest.
"Why would I? I have already sought revenge and it was upon the one that had wronged me. For Grendel spoke in his final dying breath the one who had slain him."
It would seem that the Alpha was not telling a lie, the witch does in fact believe that she has targeted the right man for the killing of her son.
"How exactly have you accomplished your revenge, by killing an innocent child of an innocent man?"
"I do not appreciate this round-about manner of speaking, there is a limit to my patience and it's wearing thin."
"If I were to tell you that you have indeed inflicted turmoil on the wrong soul, and that I, Beowulf, know who the true slayer of Grendel is, would that interest you?" Beowulf swallowed.
Grendel's mother finally stood up with clear distain for the game that Beowulf was playing on her face.
"I suppose you won't just simply tell me who it was?" asked Grendel's mother.
He had her… "Of course not." Beowulf smiled.
"What do you propose? A trade of some sort? I have rare antiques and heirlooms from various times long past, vast amounts of shiny bobbles in which you humans seem to cherish and use in the form of barter or currency. I have weapons and armors of ancient extinct races that make your own look like a child's play thing."
"None of them, the information in which I am willing to part with, shall only be yours if you convince me to submit and admit defeat."
Grendel's mother looked rather unconvinced. "That's it?" Was the look upon her face.
"Trust me witch, it will be much more difficult than you think."
"You humans sure do love wars and fighting, it's a miracle you all haven't killed each other yet and joined the ranks of all the other extinct races."
Grendel's mother accepted the conditions and soon after, Beowulf and her fought a very much one sided fight. Beowulf used his entire prowess to keep up with the woman as she batted him around the dome. Time and time again Beowulf saw the room spin in every which way while he sailed through the air before the inevitable jarring thud as he made contact with one of the dome's solid air walls.
On the Lake's surface on land
"I don't like it. Beowulf has been gone a long time." pointed out the first.
"Do you think… Do you think Beowulf is still alive?" stammered the second.
"I don't know. I just, honestly don't know. You and I both felt the overbearing presence that monster was putting out. I don't even think Beowulf with his blinders would be oblivious to the difference of power."
"Then… then we should have gone with him! He said he would go alone and we didn't stop him, he would need our help now more than ever."
"No, then that would defeat Beowulf's true reason for going in alone. He knew that we were overcome with fear and that we're more than useless for this fight, we would just be in the way."
"Is… is that why you haven't left yet, even though you were so inclined on doing so?"
"I hate to admit it, what I said was out of anger and love for our brothers especially those who have lost their lives, and I would not have us losing Beowulf, the man whom they lost their lives for."
"The… then are you staying?"
"Of course I'm staying you stammering twit. How will I look into my brother's eyes when I join them in the afterlife if I just abandoned our foolish leader to his watery grave?"
"So…what should we do now then? Should we go help?"
"No, as I've said. We would be powerless and get in Beowulf's way. No, all we can do now is wait and hope he pulls through like he normally does. I'm sure he'll come out of this unscathed and regale us with a tale of his heroic triumph over…"
Before the warrior could finish his words he was thrown into the lake. The second warrior watched, puzzled as his brother flew. He was about to call out to check his wellbeing but was interrupted when he heard the low growl that came from behind. He turned.
"I will only ask you once, meat. Where is, Beowulf?" The Alpha roared the last word in its question.
"I…. I… I…" was all the warrior who was famous for his stammering could muster out.
The Alpha growled. "Useless meat." It lifted up its massive claw and was about to strike, but was blinded by a gleaming light. It covered its eyes only to see the warrior he threw into the lake now charging at it with his sword angled.
"You… you're the one that wounded me." The Alpha ignored the meat in front of him and changed course, running towards the charging warrior.
The Alpha easily over powered the warrior, eventually pinning him down. It stared down at the warrior, saliva dripping off its teeth.
"I will enjoy devouring you." As the Alpha slowly brought his jaw around the pinned warrior's skull a shout was heard behind him.
The Alpha turned his head slightly.
"I will devour you next, so just stay there as you were, and try not to soil yourself. It'll leave a horrid after taste when I'm done with you."
"Beo…Beowulf is in the lake engaging the mother of Grendel."
The Alpha stopped and this time fully turned his head.
"Beowulf is where? With the bastard child's mother?" The Alpha looked towards the lake. It immediately got on all fours and galloped at full speed and dived beneath the water's surface.
"What have you done? Do you not understand what you have just done? You have just sent another monster to Beowulf, are you trying to ensure his demise? And for what, just to save my life?"
"What else could I have done? He would have slaughtered the both of us and then came to the conclusion that Beowulf was near due to the number of horses don't match the number of people. He would have waited to see if Beowulf had won before striking when he came up to land. It was unavoidable."
"I sure hope you know what you are doing… and may god save Beowulf's soul." The two warriors couldn't help and just peered off across the water.
Back in Grendel's Mother's Lair
"Do you admit defeat?" questioned the witch
"Does it look like I'm ready to admit defeat? I can still stand can't I? I can still grasp my weapon." Beowulf defied.
"If I were to disable you, it would not guarantee that you would submit, and the only reason why both of those are truths is because I do not want to accidentally kill you and thus I lose either way." Grendel's mother grabbed one of Beowulf's many blades off the ground and thrust it into his thigh, which resulted in Beowulf crying out in agony.
"Now, do you want to have another go? Or shall I torture you until you tell me what I desire to know. You can make this easy for yourself Beowulf, you do not have to die in such a horrible way, and I can kill you painlessly."
"Go to hell." Beowulf snarled.
"Ah, but I am, Beowulf. This is my hell, this is my eternal damnation. Not only am I a spawn of Cain, I lost the only one I would ever truly love. I am suffering, Beowulf, I am in a purgatory in which there is no end." Grendel's mother picked up another blade and thrust it into Beowulf shoulder. Beowulf once again cries out in pain and his body slackens, his back to the wall slides down and he plants himself on the ground.
"Do you know about the original sin, Beowulf? The one in which every creature God has ever created is born with? It is in accordance of religious doctrine that from the beginning of all time, all creatures given life have a tendency towards sin, yet without collective guilt. That we all descend from one man, and from the fall of that one man, we as his descendants inherit the fallen nature and are drawn to moral corruption. And these moral corruptions divided into seven categories. Do you know what they are?"
"Lust. Gluttony. Wrath. Greed. Sloth. Pride. Envy." Beowulf's breathing was labored and he paused in between each one.
Grendel's mother smiled; happy at the fact, that she had not killed Beowulf just yet.
"Correct. I'm sure I do not have to point out where I am going with this. That we are all bounded by the laws of God that we, as his creations, will be drawn towards committing these said vices and are bound to sin. We, the children of Cain are uninhibited and cannot help but to commit these sins. You however, as a human, the cherub of God's eye have the distinct choice of free will to stop acts that violate the sanctity of God's divine will. However you all choose to not heed your conscience and follow through anyway, and yes Beowulf, all of you. That includes you."
"I was partially incorrect when I stated that, you and I are not that much different. In fact the proper comparison is that you and Cain were not all that different."
"You dare compare me to that traitorous mongrel?" Beowulf said in between breaths.
"Watch your tongue before I remove it for you. You are talking about an ancestor of mine, of ours. You can at least show some respect."
"You have both looked into the abyss and in turn the abyss looked back into the both of you, Beowulf." She picked up a third weapon and crouched down, bringing the blade up to Beowulf's eye level. "Now, I repeat. Do we go another round, or do you admit defeat? Tell me who killed Grendel."
There was a long pause. Beowulf just stared at the weapon, but it wasn't an act of defiance, it was more of an act of acknowledgement. She controlled what happens here, she was in total dominance. Beowulf lost the will to fight and his spirit was now broken, and this hurt him more than any flesh wound she could inflict.
"The person who killed your son was…"
The walls tore open as a massive object crashed through, water from the lake flooded in from the hole. To Grendel's mother's surprise she quickly turned and immediately went into action mending the air pocket. Once she was done and drained the dome of any excess water she turned to see what had rudely barged its way into her home.
"You wet mongrel, what is the meaning of this?"
"Beowulf is my prey! I won't let some old hag take my kill away from me. Where is he?" The Alpha Snarled.
They continued to argue, both laid claims to Beowulf's life. One advocating his death and one advocating his life, Beowulf could only look onwards as even though the topic at hand was about him, he knew he had little say in the matter.
"I need him alive. I need some information that he is withholding from me."
"Information? INFORMATON? That is the reason why you stop me from killing him? What could be so important that this meat is withholding from you that would be worth that much?"
"It is of none of your concern. It's a matter between my bloodline not yours, so take your leave.
"I will not. I came here for the purpose of devouring that meat over there, and I will not have you take that away from me!" the Alpha roared and swiped his paw and threw the witch across the room. It took the opportunity and lunged for Beowulf; only saw blurred movement and the seemingly spontaneous materialization of the witch. It was the Alpha's turn to be thrown across the room.
The Alpha got up; it knew that in its current state it would not survive very long against the witch. He searched round and picked up a weapon with blood soaked into the handle. This got a laugh out of Grendel's mother.
"Honestly, that's what you're going to conclude with? How unsightly that one of my own would resort to using a human tool. You should know better than anyone that no mere mortal weapon can harm me. I am not like one of you degenerative lot, I am one of the elder members of Cain. Do not insult me with… that, you only end up insulting yourself."
The Alpha knew she was speaking the truth. But still he needed something in addition to what it normally had as a sense of security. It got on all fours, sword in grasp, bounded towards Grendel's mother; it leaped into the air and with a fierce howl pivoted its body striking with immeasurable amount of force with the sword.
Grendel's mother as to prove her point stood and took the full brunt of the attack. She got back up and dusted herself off. She was about to comment the Alpha on the futility of his actions when her eyes widened with sincere surprise.
"You're indeed right; a mere mortal's weapon cannot harm you." It brought up the now half broken weapon and tossed it aside. "But what if I were to use a weapon that was not crafted by mere mortals?" The Alpha hefted up a large broadsword, twice the size of any weapon Beowulf was armed with, and quadruple the weight.
"A sword forged for giants, some say by the gods themselves." The Alpha sneered. "Now, this would do some harm wouldn't it?"
Grendel's mother glared at the Alpha, knowing full well where it was going with this.
The Alpha resumed its attack, swinging the monstrous weapon from side to side, reaping anything and anyone that gets caught within the Alpha's crescent swing. It knew that the witch though smaller, was much quicker than it ever will be. But because of the Alpha's animalistic instincts and blood scent, it was able to keep up and eventually made contact. It had done what Beowulf couldn't. It had drawn the witch's blood. There was a light, but large horizontal cut that extended from the left side of her stomach to the right side. She screamed in pain and wrapped her arms around her wound.
"How pathetic, are those tears in your eyes? Does it hurt, you wretched hag? I suppose I can't blame you for being overly sensitive, I assume this is the first time in your life that actual physical pain was inflicted upon you. That burning sensation you're feeling now? That's pain. Remember it." The Alpha showed its massive teeth as it grinned. "And that feeling that you have deep down, that dark cold feeling that is now tugging at your heart? That's the feeling of fear."
"Nothing more than empty threats coming from such an uncouth, uneducated, and wet smelling mongrel."
The Alpha howled with anticipation. The feeling of ecstasy it was feeling was more than it could handle. He brought up the broadsword and once again swung down upon the witch.
"I'll devour you!"
The sound of metal clattered and slid across the floor.
"This is why you're just a low pedigree mongrel."
The Alpha's large body shuttered and twitched. It looked down as it could see only part of the old hag's shoulder and arm; the rest had lodged itself into the chest cavity of his body. He looked back up at her, unable to speak for blood had filled its lungs, resulting in blood being coughed up. All it could do was stare and the last thing it saw before its world blackened was seeing his still beating heart outside of his body and being crushed in her hand.
Grendel's mother looked down without any pity or remorse, just with a look of "another job well done." At her will, a large opening the size of the Alpha opened up in the dome's floor and the Alpha's body was dropped out and started to sink. It fell for some time but Grendel's mother could still see the body as it rested at the deepest reaches of the lake. She then wiped the mongrel's blood off on hands onto her clothes and proceeded with the final task of the day. She turned to face Beowulf.
Grendel's mother involuntarily gasped. Blood trickled down the edges of her mouth, as she stood there wide eyed and unable to comprehend.
"I know the reason why you didn't kill me right away; it was to satisfy your sadistic nature by breaking my spirit and will, and furthermore corrupting my thoughts before doing the deed. I will tell you now, you mostly succeeded." Beowulf whispered into her ear.
"But you were wrong about one thing."
Grendel's mother's head did not move, but her eyes followed Beowulf's words.
"There is a difference between Cain and me. We both looked into the abyss, but when it looked back at us, he blinked." Beowulf withdrew the giant's broadsword from her body and she gasped yet again, fell to the floor and then there was silence.
Beowulf dropped the brogbingnagian weapon and sank to his knees. He was only allowed a moment's rest before he heard the sound of water. He looked around and was aware that his surroundings were slowly being worn away and water was now seeping in. Apparently the witch was the construct of her presence and will. Now that she was vanquished same goes for her home. Beowulf searched and saw an opening wide enough for him to escape, and he resisted against the incoming water and swam out, heading to the surface.
The home once owned by a loving mother and her son, that was constructed beneath the lake's water to ensure the protection against all of those who wished to cause harm onto her and her child, slowly but surely filled with water. Grendel's mother, regaining conscious upon the water splashing her face, she looked down at her torso and saw the blood that was rushing out. She knew she was not long for this world. She turned onto her stomach, cringing as she did; she used whatever was left of her strength to drag her into an adjacent room. There upon his bed, laid Grendel. She pulled herself to the edge of it, and lifted herself up. She threw her body atop her only child and wept.
She could feel it, the life from her vessel would soon be depleted, but she was not scared nor was she saddened. She always challenged the words of God for her life was the pinnacle definition of what a life of injustice meant. But now she prayed that the talk of an afterlife was not a lie. She warmly stroked her hand upon his face, and placed her head atop his chest
"I'll be seeing you soon." Her eyes now grew heavy and her vision begun to fade. Her voice became almost inaudible.
As the dome continued to collapse, the beautiful final image will be left unseen. For there was no one around to witness the beautiful scene of true love, as Grendel's mother cradles her much larger child in her arms as she passes away, tears streaking down her eyes and staining her cheeks as they both are swallowed up by the lake.
On the Surface
Beowulf continue to swim and was able to reach the surface, he continued to swim towards the shore. He did everything in his power to stand, but his legs would not have it. He crawled like a newborn up the sandbank trying to reach land. He was on the verge of collapsing when mighty arms picked him up and dragged him the rest of the way.
Beowulf dazed took a moment to place the faces to the arms that were carrying him. His two men had stayed behind and stood beside him. Both questioned his wellbeing and asked of details of what happened. In time, he explained when he regained his strength he would tell the tale of the battle between him and the mother of the monster that terrorized of Heorot.
His men packed up and helped Beowulf onto his horse, and they departed back the way they came towards the entrance of the forest of Cain. They were wary and kept vigilant watch to their surroundings but luckily nothing was amiss. They returned back to the area with the lone warrior at the tree. They gazed upon the smile upon the warrior's face as they realized he came onto terms of his eminent demise. They had found Oläf propped up against the tree, facing his enemies, right where they had left him. The five hatchets they'd left him with meanwhile were now in the five dead wolves scattered before him.
They retrieved the body of their fallen brother and treated it with the utmost care as they continued out of the forest. Beowulf and his men returned to Heorot, the travel was not easy for the condition they were in but they succeeded. Beowulf was greeted upon his return by cheers and applause. He scouted around and was pleased to see that the men he sent away were recovered and awaiting his return.
Beowulf after resting for a short period of time was drowned with emphatic appreciation from his peers and his men as he regaled the entire court with the encounter. The crowd jeered and cheered as they listened intently at the death-defying antics of Beowulf. None however, realized the sorrow hidden beneath the words he was speaking. The entire ordeal had left a deep impression on him. The words of the woman still haunts him at night, "You and I are the same."
No. We are not. Beowulf told himself.
After a week of rest and relaxation Beowulf and his men decided it was time to return home. They had already done the funeral pyre for each of the bodies of their fallen brothers as they collected each one as they exited. It will be indeed difficult to inform their loved ones their fate, but that was the duty that fell upon his shoulders, and a hurdle he will overcome.
Before they set off the King of the Danes, and Beowulf expressed their deepest gratitude towards one another in the form of a hug. They embraced each other, full well knowing that they will no longer see one another again for there should be no more troubles in this land.
"There is one thing I would like to ask of you great king."
Taken aback he responded heartily.
"Anything for you Beowulf, no favor will be too large for what you have done for me."
Then be truthful of your words and obey this favor for it is indeed a large one. Get your men and gather Grendel's arm, and take this." Beowulf hands a locket to the king. "Bury it together and give them an honorable burial."
The king looked at Beowulf as if he had gone mad.
"That locket which you are now currently holding belonged to that of Grendel's mother, a name is etched onto it I would assume that was the witch's name."
"Bury them together? Honor them? Those monsters? Are you mad? After they slayed hundreds of my men and taken the lives of the innocent?"
"I have heard tales oh great king, from an… outside source, that you are not completely innocent, that you have also waged campaigns against Cain's brood on your own accord without prior aggression from their kind."
"They being alive are an act of aggression! Those vile creatures, living in hell on earth in that forest, sinning and going against all that is holy and righteous, I cannot believe my ears! Beowulf I have warned you not to fall prey to the temptations of that witch!"
"I did not fall prey to her, although I admit she was the most tempting of temptresses. But I choose to honor the beings that fought for what they believed in. Also I believed you agreed prior that you would do the task no matter how large. Are you not a man of your word? Will you degrade yourself to the level of the 'vile creatures you detest?'
The king was at a loss for words, his face flushed red with anger. But without a word he just nodded, and agreed to do what Beowulf had asked and sent him on his way. As Beowulf and his men boarded the ship and were about to set sail the King had one more thing to say.
"I don't know if you have been indeed seduced Beowulf, but I will not question for your loyalty to me nor to my people. You have done a great deed for us and I, although reluctant will do as you have asked of me. But heed my warning my friend, those who have been tempted no matter how short the duration will meet with the harbinger of death."
"Harbinger of death? You mean the creature of ancient lore?" inquired Beowulf
"Yes, it is said that the harbinger is an ancient creature covered in impenetrable scale, that it soars through the skies as easy as our ships cut through the water. That it is so massive that it can block out the sun with just its profile. The roar of the harbinger could be heard from village to village and rumored to even be heard over vast bodies of water. I warn you Beowulf, that if you are not careful and heed this warning that a harbinger will enter your life for your sins, and when it does, you better pray that it is not yours."
"I'll be ready to accept the end when the time comes, if I have indeed angered God I will be more than happy to accept the consequences. Now then, I bid you farewell my friend."
They both said their final goodbyes and Beowulf returned home.
Now this is where my story ends, though Beowulf's story continues. There are legends and stories to be heard as the herculean man continues. He takes it upon himself to seek out and justifies the wrong, to vanquish all evil that the devil would spawn. For he soon becomes king and is loved by one and all. There are those who claim that he should be happy, but that is not true at all. For he is a man, come one come all, fears what lurks within his darken halls. His fears are justified upon the call. As a loud roar screeched through his hall, the harbinger has come, come one come all, who shall be the one that falls?
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