Read Beowulf Online

Authors: Neil Gaiman

Beowulf (20 page)

WIGLAF

It is no shame to accept aid that is freely giv…

BEOWULF

(cutting off Wiglaf)

I am Beowulf, and I have come to kill your monster.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 26.

The Watch lifts his spear, he looks over Beowulf's men with questioning eyes.

SCYLDINGS' WATCH

You'll need horses.

CUT TO:

23 EXT. KING'S ROAD/BRIDGE/RAVINE DAY

23

The storm has subsided, but the sky is still very dark and ominous.

 

Leading from the massive wooden bridge is a rocky road of shale stones, perhaps recycled tombstones, set into the mud and lined by large stone monoliths. The lone turret of Castle Herot can be seen in the distance.

 

BEOWULF'S MEN are riding along on shaggy ponies, following the Scyldings' Watch.

 

SCYLDING'S WATCH reins his horse at the threshold of the bridge…

SCYLDINGS' WATCH

This is as far as I go. I must return to the cliffs. The sea must not be left unguarded. The stone path is the king's road.

(with a smile)

It was built in better times. Follow it to great Herot, where my King waits.

BEOWULF

I thank you for your aid.

SCYLDINGS' WATCH

Our monster is fast and strong.

BEOWULF

I too am fast and strong.

SCYLDINGS' WATCH

So were the others who came here to fight it. They're all dead. I thought no more heroes were foolish enough to come here and die for our gold.

BEOWULF

If we die, it shall be for glory, not for gold.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 27.

The watch kicks his horse, and heads back the way they came. And then he reins in his horse and calls--

SCYLDINGS' WATCH

Beowulf?

Beowulf turns, and looks back at him.

SCYLDINGS' WATCH (CONT'D)

The creature took my brother. Kill the bastard for me.

CUT TO:

24 INT. HROTHGAR'S ANTEROOM/OFFICE DAY

24

HROTHGAR stares out the window at the angry sea. He looks even older and grayer than he did when last we saw him. Unferth sits at the desk organizing treasure.

 

WULFGAR enters…

WULFGAR

My lord? My lord?

HROTHGAR

Huh?

WULFGAR

My lord. There are warriors outside, Geats. They are no beggars -- and their leader, Beowulf, is a--

HROTHGAR

(interrupting)

Beowulf? Edgethow's little boy?

UNFERTH'S eyes narrow at the mention of Beowulf's name.

HROTHGAR (CONT'D)

Not a boy any longer…but I knew him when he was a boy. Strong as a grown man he was, back then. Yes! Beowulf is here! Send him to me! Bring him in!

CUT TO:

25 EXT. HEROT - STOCKADE - DAY

25

There is a stir inside the village stockade, as the VILLAGERS gather around Beowulf and his 14 thanes.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 28.

BEOWULF AND HIS MEN sit astride their mounts…perfectly still…hands hovering near their sword hilts…their eyes scanning the crowd.

 

YRSA is eating a large plum, letting its juice run down her chin and cleavage. She has her eye on…

 

HONDSHEW, an ornery Thane, and almost as big as Beowulf himself. He wears a large winged helm and has an oversized broadsword slung over his back.

 

He stares at Yrsa and her plum, and licks his lips..

 

WULFGAR appears, also on a horse…

WULFGAR

Hrothgar, Master of Battles, Lord of the North Danes, bids me say that he knows you, Beowulf son of Edgethow. Knows your ancestry, and bids you welcome. You, and your men, will follow me…your helmets and armor are approved…but your shields and weapons will remain here until further notice.

WIGLAF gives Beowulf a look…he doesn't like this.

WULFGAR (CONT'D)

I assure you…they won't be disturbed.

Hondshew and the others look at Beowulf for guidance.

 

CLANK! Beowulf's sword and spear hit the ground. He pulls a dagger from his belt and throws it so the blade sticks in the ground.

 

His men copy him. Their weapons fall to the ground.

 

HONDSHEW'S giant broadsword CLATTERS to the ground…

YRSA

My…that's a big one you've got there, outlander.

Hondshew swallows with an almost audible GULP.

 

Wiglaf pulls his horse up and glares at Yrsa…

WIGLAF

Woman! Have you nothing better to be doing?

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 29.

She makes no reply, but with her little finger, wipes the drip of plum-juice from her breast, and licks it from her finger.

HROTHGAR (O.S.)

Beowulf!!

CUT TO:

26 EXT. MEAD HALL CLOSE HROTHGAR DAY

26

The WHOLE COURT assembled on the stone steps in front of the shuttered and barred mead hall. Queen Wealthow and THE QUEEN'S WOMEN, GUARDS and COURTIERS. Unferth is there, but he is standing in the shadows. RAYS OF SUNLIGHT briefly appear streaming though the clouds

 

Hrothgar hugs Beowulf to him, proudly.

HROTHGAR

Beowulf! How is your father?

BEOWULF

He died in battle with sea-raiders, two winters back.

HROTHGAR

He was a brave man. Need I ask why have you come to us?

BEOWULF

I've come to kill your monster.

The sheer arrogance of this statement sends a LOUD MURMUR through the crowd. Even Hrothgar is taken aback.

 

Beowulf smiles, having stirred things up.

BEOWULF (CONT'D)

…and taste that famous mead of yours.

Hrothgar LAUGHS with a hearty ROAR. The tension in the crowd is eased.

 

Now Wealthow steps forward…

WEALTHOW

And there have been many brave men who have come here, and have drunk too much of my Lord's mead, and have sworn to rid his hall of our nightmare.

(more)

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 30.

WEALTHOW (CONT'D) (MORE)

And the next morning, there was nothing left of any of them but blood to be cleaned from the floor…and the benches…and walls.

Beowulf and Wealthow lock eyes…a long, penetrating look.

BEOWULF

I have drunk nothing. Yet. But I
will
kill your monster.

HROTHGAR

(overly enthusiastic)

He will kill the monster! Did you hear that? Grendel will die!

BEOWULF

Grendel?

HROTHGAR

The monster is called Grendel.

BEOWULF

Then I shall kill your Grendel. I, Beowulf, killed a tribe of giants in the Orkneys. I have crushed the skulls of sea-serpents. And this…this troll of yours shall trouble you no longer.

The Queen is about to say something, but Hrothgar announces to the assemblage…

HROTHGAR

A hero! I knew that the sea would bring us a hero!

A weary, half-hearted CHEER comes from the crowd. They heard all this before. Wealthow looks doubtful. Unferth glares.

 

Then, Hrothgar raises an eyebrow…

HROTHGAR (CONT'D)

Will you go up to the moors, then, to the cave by the dark pool, and fight the monster in its den?

Beowulf steps forward and waves his hand.

BEOWULF

I have fourteen brave Thanes with me. We have been long at sea.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 31.

BEOWULF (CONT'D)

I think it is high time, mighty Hrothgar, to break open your golden mead, famed across the world; and to feast in your legendary mead hall.

Unferth steps forward…

UNFERTH

The mead hall has been sealed…by his lord's order. Merry-making in the hall brings the devil Grendel.

Beowulf gives Unferth a long, cold look. Then like a politician on a soapbox…

BEOWULF

(loudly, to the multitude)

Has closing this hall
stopped
the slaughter?

HROTHGAR

Nay, the demon-murderer killed three horses and a slave in the stable a fortnight ago.

Beowulf says nothing, but a huge Cheshire smile spreads across his face. A smile that's much too huge.

BEOWULF

Well then…

Hrothgar nods and smiles back. He raises his arms in a dramatic gesture…

HROTHGAR

OPEN THE MEAD HALL!!!

CUT TO:

27 INT. HEROT - MEAD HALL - DAY

27

CLACK! CLACK!! TWO THANES turn a large crank, pulling a chain to lift the huge timber that bars the mead hall door.

 

SPLASH!! Water is poured over one of the long feasting tables.

 

SLAVE BOYS lay fresh straw on the floor.

 

AN OLD WOMAN blows on some embers to start a fire in the great fire-pit.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 32.

BEOWULF'S 14 THANES are gathered around a table in the corner, strapping on their weapons and adjusting their gear.

 

BEOWULF wanders though the hall, checking it out. He sizes up the huge entrance door with its complicated security bar and heavy iron strapping

 

HONDSHEW is staring at Yrsa, the plum girl. She bends over a table, scrubbing it. Her breasts straining her halter.

 

WIGLAF kicks Hondshew in the ass…

WIGLAF

(lecturing his thanes)

We don't want any trouble with the locals. So, just for tonight, no fighting, and no swifan. Okay?

OLAF, a hulking, muscle-bound thane with a speech impediment, draws his dagger and strikes a combat stance…

OLAF

I wa…wa…wasn't p…p.. planning on doing any swi…swi…swi…swifan.

Hondshew flashes a lascivious, yellow-toothed smile at Yrsa…

HONDSHEW

(mimicking Olaf)

I wa…wa…was!

WIGLAF

Hondshew. Make me feel like you're pretending to listen to me. It's only been five days since you waved your wife goodbye.

HONDSHEW

Five days!! In the name of Odin…no wonder my loins are burning!!

Yrsa sticks her tongue out at Hondshew. The thanes ROAR with laughter.

CUT TO:

28 INT. THE GREAT CAVE - GRENDEL'S LAIR -- SAME

28

CLOSE ON A LAMPREY SUCKING MOUTH

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 33.

As it grabs a chunk of flesh…

 

GRENDEL is feeding bits of a dead thane to a school of blind white MORAY EELS. The horrible sea snakes teem in the cave's black pool.

 

Grendel SINGS to itself, a slow, sad, tuneless sort of noise. It holds a spike topped with a decapitated warrior's head, playing with it as if it were a puppet.

GRENDEL

(pretending he's the voice of the Thane's head)

Da-dee-da! Da-dee-da! Who's laughing now?!

If Grendel were human, it would be considered retarded, perhaps brain-damaged…it's actually sweet and gentle…except in the matter of eating people, and then only when driven mad with noise.

 

AN EEL leaps out of the water striking the warrior's head, tearing off an earlobe…

 

GRENDEL LAUGHS delightedly at the eels.

GRENDEL (CONT'D)

No more. You get fat! Fat fish! More tomorrow.

A LOUD HISS burbles from somewhere in the pool…

 

GRENDEL is alarmed; It jumps up. Its fingernails shoot out and become sharp claws. Its deformed torso begins to expand and enlarge. Its eyes narrow.

 

EXTREME CLOSE ON: GRENDEL'S MOTHER'S LIPS…wet, full, with golden scales…cold-blooded.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER

(a bodiless whisper)

Grrrrendelllllll.

GRENDEL soothes a little, its nails recess back into its fingers. Its torso begins to shrink back to “normal” size.

GRENDEL

Modor?

GRENDEL'S MOTHER'S POV: The CAMERA emerges from the water and slowly floats toward Grendel. Grendel's mother WHISPERS.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 34.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER

I had an evil dream, my son. You were hurt. I dreamed that you were calling out for me, and I could not come to you. And then they butchered you.

GRENDEL

I am not dead. I am happy. Look, happy Grendel.

Grendel does an awkward, shuffling dance around the cave, SINGING as he does.

GRENDEL (CONT'D)

(singing, tunelessly)

Happy happy, happy happy, happy happy, happy happy…

GRENDEL'S MOTHER

You must not go to them tonight. You have killed too many of them.

GRENDEL

Grendel strong. Grendel big. Grendel will eat their flesh and drink their blood and break their bones.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER

Please, my son. Do not go to them.

GRENDEL

(makes a whining sound)

Ohhhh…

GRENDEL'S MOTHER

Please. Promise me this.

Grendel sulks, defeated.

GRENDEL

I swear. I shall not go to them.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER

Even if they make the noises?

Grendel hesitates, then nods, reluctantly, as if it's being jerked out of him, an awkward little boy promising his mother something.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER (CONT'D)

Gut. Man medo.

CUT TO

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 35.

29 INT. HEROT - MEAD HALL - SUNSET

29

A giant copper vat, brimming with golden mead is carried into the hall. BEOWULF'S THANES CHEER!!

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