Beowulf: An Anglo-Saxon Epic Tale
Last Updated September 3, 2019 by Tim Trott. First Published in 2013.
Beowulf, the powerful warrior, battles the beast Grendel, who has been terrorising King Hrothgar's Palace, incurring the anger of the beast's vicious mother.
Beowulf and his fourteen riders rode fast towards King Hrothgar of Denmark's palace. It was already becoming dark outside. They must act quickly. They had to get to the palace before the monster Grendel arrived.
It was past time for someone to put a halt to this monster's heinous deeds and put an end to the terror he was causing. Grendel entered Hrothgar's feasting hall, Heorot, every night and kidnapped one of his men. These Danes were once the greatest and bravest warriors in Northern Europe. They were now terrified to return to Heorot after dark.
When Beowulf, a Geatas nobleman from Sweden, learned of this, he was furious.
"We are brothers with the Danes!" he exclaimed. "We cannot let the rest of the world mock them and brand them cowards. We must kill Grendel and liberate the Danes from his oppression. "Who will accompany me?"
Fourteen Geatas soldiers rushed forward, offering to assist Beowulf. That night, they set sail for Denmark.
They were speeding along the track leading to King Hrothgar's Palace by the next evening. They rode into the castle courtyard as the sun's last rays faded from the sky.
Beowulf and his warriors dismounted quickly and dashed inside the palace. King Hrothgar was expecting them.
"You are extremely welcome, Beowulf!" he exclaimed enthusiastically. "At long last, we can get rid of the dreadful Grendel!"
Beowulf got right to the point. "Is everything ready as I asked?" he inquired.
Hrothgar nodded and led him inside Heorot's hall, where the tables were set for a grand feast. A warm fire glowed in the centre of the hall. A sheep was turning on the spit that had been laid up over the fire. Beowulf peeked around the hall. "It's done really well," he remarked. "Leave Heorot in my hands tonight, Your Majesty, and I promise you a grand party tomorrow night. And Grendel will be dead by tomorrow night!"
Soon later, sounds of immense eating and revelry could be heard. Beowulf and his fourteen men were having a good time in Heorot's hall.
"This is royal food!" they exclaimed. "This is good-quality wine! Please bring us more!"
Though they appeared to be inebriated and careless, they were highly awake. They were all keeping a tight eye on the door where Grendel would soon appear.
"You know what you have to do," Beowulf had said. "The noise we produce will attract Grendel to the hall, where we shall strike."
Grendel was certainly drawn to Heorot by the noise. Grendel was approaching as Beowulf and his troops were dining.
He moistened his lips when he smelled the delectable odours of the meat and saw the bright light of the fire.
"There must be dozens of them inside!" Grendel laughed. "I'm going to have a big feast tonight - both the supper and the men who eat it!" Beowulf and his soldiers were startled to see a massive, black form filling the doorway.
Grendel had shown up. He was a big giant, as expected, with broad shoulders and thick, powerful arms. Grendel stormed into the hall, his every step shaking the ground.
"Let him get deeper in," Beowulf said quietly. He was keeping a tight eye on Grendel. Suddenly he cried, "Now! Get him quickly!"
Beowulf's soldiers drew their swords and raced towards Grendel, as their captain had directed. The creature was surrounded by a ring of swords pointed directly at him before he could move.
"There will be no feast for you tonight, Grendel!"
Beowulf yelled. "Your feasting evenings are finished!"
Grendel grew afraid. He struck out with both fists, knocking five or six of Beowulf's soldiers to the ground. When the others attempted to attack him, Grendel kicked them with his foot, and their swords flew out of their hands and spun across the hall. The hall was filled with the sound of groans from Beowulf's soldiers as they lay injured and suffering on the floor.
Grendel was now furious. He growled as he gazed at him. He noticed one of the men attempting to stand up. Grendel leapt on him and grabbed him, shrieking and struggling. Grendel opened his mouth and pushed his victim into it before anyone could intervene. Grendel's massive teeth killed him. It was a terrifying sight.
Beowulf jumped up and hurled himself at Grendel. Beowulf's hands gripped Grendel's wrist, his fingers closing round as if locked in place.
Grendel yanked and struggled, attempting to shrug Beowulf off. Beowulf would not let go. Grendel pulled himself back, intending to break free from Beowulf's hold in one fell swoop. Instead, there was a horrifying shredding noise. Grendel staggered towards the doorway, groaning and sobbing and grasping his shoulder as Beowulf fell to the floor. Beowulf was taken aback. It's no surprise! And Beowulf's hands were still wrapped around Grendel's wrist.
"I tore his arm off!" Beowulf exclaimed.
Meanwhile, Grendel had vanished through the doorway. Outside, his screams and cries could be heard as he stumbled away.
"Follow him!" cried Beowulf. "Quickly!"
Beowulf's men were too battered and dazed to rise swiftly. The monster had vanished by the time they set off after Grendel.
Then one of Beowulf's men said, "See! Here's Grendel's blood!"
"Here's some more!" exclaimed someone else. "The beast has left a blood trail."
Beowulf and his warriors followed the trail of blood out from Hrothgar's Palace by the light of the moon. It took me to the shore of a little lake.
"Have a look at the water!" Beowulf informed them. "It's bright red!"
The lake's water was a rich dark red. It had the appearance of having more blood than water in it.
"Grendel has perished!" Beowulf stated this. "He must have fallen into the lake and been unable to climb back out."
"We've defeated the beast! Our fallen buddy has been avenged! Let we return to Heorot and inform King Hrothgar of the news."
Grendel was indeed dead, as Beowulf and his companions believed. They were mistaken in believing he drowned in the water. Grendel realised he was dying as he staggered away from Heorot. All he wanted was to get to his home in the lake's depths. He had been successful. Grendel died as his mother mourned over him once he was inside.
"They will pay!" his mother exclaimed. "I'll kill them one by one, so the rest of them can live in fear and terror, anticipating my return!"
When King Hrothgar learned that Grendel had died and would no longer bother him, he planned a lavish party the next night. It was unquestionably a memorable occasion. The guests were entertained by jugglers, tumblers, and musicians. Poets recited poems in praise of Beowulf and his comrades. All the servants were kept busy filling and refilling the drinking horns with wine so that King Hrothgar and his guests could drink the health of the heroes who had defeated the dreadful Grendel.
"How can I ever thank you, Beowulf?" he exclaimed. "Half my kingdom - or all of it - would not be enough to express my gratitude."
Just then, everyone at the feast heard a terrible sound. It was a massive, angry roar. "That sounds like... but it can't be..." King Hrothgar screamed in terror.
"Grendel cannot be! You said he was dead!"
Beowulf, like the King, was taken aback. "Grendel is no longer alive!" he exclaimed.
"He couldn't have survived long after I severed his arm."
The booming reached their ears once more. It got closer and closer. Then, out of nowhere, a massive giantess rushed through the doorway. Grendel's mother was there.
"Who of you murdered my son? I will be repaid!" Snarling, she gazed around the hall. Some of the people at the tables became pale with dread and jumped from their seats, sprinting for the exits.
"I'll start with the person who ripped off his arm!" Grendel's mother screamed and shook her fists in rage. "What kind of person was it? Demonstrate yourself!"
Beowulf sprang to his feet. "That was my fault!" he exclaimed. "It was a well-done deed."
"This, too, is a well-done deed!" Grendel's mother reacted, leaping at Beowulf, grabbing his arm and dragging him across the floor.
Beowulf fought back, but her grip was too powerful. Grendel's mother carried Beowulf through the threshold and disappeared while King Hrothgar and his guests looked on in horror.
"After them!" exclaimed the King. "Go after them and save Beowulf!"
Everyone, including Beowulf's men, was too stunned and scared to move.
As Grendel's mother dragged him along the route, Beowulf felt the harsh ground scraping and hurting him. She was muttering and moaning to herself the entire time. Beowulf deduced from her words that she was escorting him to her house beneath the lake.
Beowulf acted swiftly. He had his sword, and Grendel's mother wasn't dragging him by his sword arm. When given the opportunity, he might fight for his life!
Grendel's mother arrived at the lake and, with a firm grip on Beowulf's arm, plunged into the water. As she arrived at her house, she dragged Beowulf through the door and into the room where Grendel lay slain.
Grendel's mother began to cry and lament. "See! "See what you've done!" she exclaimed, pointing to Grendel's body and the torn shoulder where his arm had previously been.
Beowulf felt sorrow for the bereaved mother, monster that she was. Yet the moment flew by. Grendel's mother became enraged and pushed Beowulf into a corner.
"Stay there!" she yelled. You can watch as I prepare the containers in which I will cook you alive!"
She turned away from Beowulf and grabbed for a massive pot that rested on a shelf above the fire. This was the opportunity Beowulf had been looking for. He leapt to his feet, pulled his sword, and charged towards Grendel's mother. Nevertheless, she heard him and turned around just as Beowulf was halfway across the room. Grendel's mother hurled the cauldron at him, yelling in rage. Beowulf ducked his head. The cauldron clattered on the floor and flew over his head. Grendel's mother then kicked out, knocking Beowulf's sword from his grasp.
She let out a triumphant yell and ran at Beowulf, her huge fists extended, ready to grab him. But Beowulf moved quickly out of the way. Grendel's mother stumbled and fell face down on the floor. Then Beowulf noticed a massive sword hanging against a wall in one area.
"Grendel's sword!" he said as he ran across the room and grasped its hilt. "Large enough, at the very least, to kill a giantess."
The sword was extremely heavy, but the peril he faced provided Beowulf with the extra power he required. Grendel's mother was just getting up off the floor when Beowulf swung the sword around in a powerful sweeping motion.
The blade slashed through her neck, severing her head. The blow was so powerful that the sword splintered, and Beowulf was left with only the hilt of the sword.
As Beowulf returned to Heorot, he found his allies sitting sadly at the tables where he had left them. They were convinced Beowulf had died and were taken aback when they heard his voice.
"Your Majesty, you may prepare for another celebration," Beowulf said as he entered the hall.
"You have fought and struggled hard," King Hrothgar exclaimed, staring at Beowulf's ripped garments and muddy face. "That doesn't matter," Beowulf responded. "Grendel is no longer alive, and I bring you presents that will make Your Majesty happy."
Beowulf proudly placed the broken sword hilt and Grendel's mother's head on the table before the King.
"What a wonderful day, Beowulf!" King Hrothgar issued a proclamation. "There will, undoubtedly, be a grand celebration. For you came to Heorot to kill one monster, but you ended up killing two!"
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