Read Beowulf Online

Authors: Neil Gaiman

Beowulf (24 page)

GRENDEL'S MOTHER (O.S.)

He will come to me. I will see to it my son. He will come and I will turn his own strength against him. He will pay…

She begins SOBBING, then WAILING!!

 

Now THE CAMERA (Grendel's Mother's POV) begins to RISE hurdling up to the cave ceiling. Her golden tail/talon whipping and slashing as she ascends!!

 

He WAILING becomes a terrifying SCREECHING!! Like a banshee!!!

CUT TO:

50 EXT. SEA SHORE NIGHT

50

 

THE MOURNFUL BAYING from Grendel's Mother mixes with the HOWL of the wind and the ROAR of the sea.

 

Wiglaf sits at the boat mooring next to a small campfire.

 

He HEARS the WAILING. He shudders.

 

51 EXT./INT. HEROT - MEAD HALL - DEEP NIGHT

51

 

Black night, spangled with countless stars.

 

MOVING P.O.V…We (THE CAMERA) descend to the mead hall roof, as if flapping on huge wings.

 

We glide down the chimney of Herot, past the embers of the fire, and into the main room…

 

The lamps are out. Beowulf's men, SNORING in the background…

 

A WOMAN SIGHS…and THE CAMERA finds Yrsa and Olaf, asleep, cuddling together under a fur blanket…THE CAMERA PANS the room and finds BEOWULF, sleeping in the dim firelight…WE PUSH IN VERY CLOSE…

 

A FEMALE FINGER enters frame and gently strokes his cheek…Beowulf opens his eyes to find…

 

WEALTHOW standing over him, her perfect form silhouetted through her sheer night dress…

BEOWULF

My Que…

WEALTHOW

Shhhhhh…

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 66.

She presses her finger against Beowulf's lips. When she speaks her VOICE has a DREAMY SOUND, with Old English ECHOING in the background.

WEALTHOW (CONT'D)

(dream voice)

I love you, I want you, only you, my king, my hero, my love…

Wealthow embraces him…kisses his cheek.

BEOWULF

I don't understand…where is your husband?

WEALTHOW

Dead.

BEOWULF

Dead?! This is a dream. It's not happening. You're just a dream.

She pulls his tunic off…. feeling his body.

WEALTHOW

Me, darling? A dream?

She is on him…straddling him…lustfully and urgently kissing him.

WEALTHOW (CONT'D)

Give me a child. Enter me and give me a son.

She smiles a smile that SUDDENLY MORPHS INTO A HIDEOUS SEA DEMON!!!!

HARD CUT TO:

52 INT. MEAD HALL - MORNING

52

BEOWULF JOLTS AWAKE…sucking in air as if he'd been underwater. Panicked, he looks around.

 

He's safe. It's early morning. But there's a LOUD BUZZING SOUND. The DEEP BUZZING of flies. And a slow DRIP. DRIP. DRIP.

 

Then, a PIERCING SCREAM!!! It's YRSA. She lifts her trembling hand and points to the ceiling…

 

Beowulf looks up and GASPS!!!

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 67.

All of Beowulf's men are HANGING FROM THE RAFTERS…DEAD!

 

Their bodies, limp and ragged, are dark silhouettes. The DRIP noise is their black blood. A feast for the flies, their BUZZ adds a horrific edge to the already surreal scene of slaughter.

 

Beowulf jumps to his feet and draws his sword. He steps slowly through the hall assessing the dead. Not a single man is living. He alone was spared.

WIGLAF (O.S.)

IN THE NAME OF ODIN!!!

Beowulf swings around to see…

 

WIGLAF, standing in the doorway, his sword drawn…looking at the horrible butchery.

WIGLAF (CONT'D)

Is Grendel not dead? Has he grown his arm anew?!!?

Beowulf looks at him, trembling, afraid to answer.

 

CUT TO:

53 INT. HEROT - HROTHGAR'S QUARTERS - DAY

53

CLOSE ON: HROTHGAR.

HROTHGAR

It's not Grendel.

He's sitting on his bed, a deer skin wrapped around his shoulders, his sword in his hand.

 

A contingent of guards stand inside the door. Wealthow is at the window. Below, the bodies of Beowulf's thanes are being carried out of the mead hall.

WIGLAF

Not Grendel? Then who?

HROTHGAR

Grendel's mother. It was the son you killed…I had hoped that she had left the land long ago.

Beowulf isn't happy about this.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 68.

BEOWULF

How many monsters am I to slay? Grendel's mother? Father? Grendel's uncle? Will I have to hack down an entire family tree of these demons?

HROTHGAR

She is the last. With her gone demonkind will slip into legend.

WIGLAF

(with disgust)

Where they belong.

BEOWULF

And what of her mate? Where is Grendel's father?

Wealthow looks at Hrothgar with an expression that says “yes, Hrothgar, where is Grendel's father?”

HROTHGAR

Gone. Grendel's father can do no harm to man.

Beowulf nods, suspicious.

UNFERTH

Beowulf.

Unferth steps out of the shadows…

UNFERTH (CONT'D)

…I was wrong to doubt you before. And I shall not again. Yours is the blood of courage. I beg your forgiveness.

BEOWULF

(uncomfortable with Unferth's sudden humility)

Uh…Granted.

He turns to leave, but is stopped by Unferth's shout.

UNFERTH

(shouting)

Cain! CAIN!!

Little Cain comes running in. Dragging the sword, he trips and drops the it. Unferth cuffs him, and takes the Sword.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 69.

UNFERTH (CONT'D)

Take my sword. It's called “Hrunting”. It belonged to my father's father.

BEOWULF

A sword like this will be no match for demon magic.

Unferth looks sadly at his father's sword. He begins sheathing it.

BEOWULF (CONT'D)

Even so

Unferth stops short of sliding his sword into its casing.

BEOWULF (CONT'D)

Something given with a good heart…that has its own magic.

Unferth smiles and holds the sword out for Beowulf. Beowulf takes it and feels its weight.

UNFERTH

I'm sorry I ever doubted you.

BEOWULF

And I'm sorry I mentioned that you murdered your brothers…they were hasty words.

Beowulf pauses and regards the sword.

BEOWULF (CONT'D)

You know, Unferth…I may not return. Your ancestral sword might be lost with me.

UNFERTH

As long as it is with you, it will never be lost.

Beowulf turns to Wiglaf…

BEOWULF

And you, mighty Wiglaf. Are you still with me?

WIGLAF

To the end.

CUT TO:

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 70.

54 EXT. THE GREAT CAVE - DUSK

54

A cave mouth, into which a river runs.

 

It is a bizarre space, the last birds of twilight soaring about like fish in the sky. Their SCREECHES echo in spirals upward like whale song.

 

Beowulf and Wiglaf, both holding flaming torches, pick their way across the rocks…

WIGLAF

Look.

We follow his glance: at the entrance to the cave, abandoned and forgotten in the rocks, is a dried CORPSE.

 

FROZEN BLOOD, blackens the snow. The corpse was abandoned by Grendel or its mother.

BEOWULF

This must be the place.

Beowulf draws Unferth's sword, “Hrunting”.

WIGLAF

She's probably a water demon. You don't want to meet her in her element.

BEOWULF

I know.

WIGLAF

Do you want me to go in with you?

BEOWULF

No.

WIGLAF

Good. I'll wait up there.

Wiglaf nods and heads back up the hill.

 

Beowulf turns and walks into the cave, the torch blazing in his hand. The royal goblet hangs at his side.

 

55 INT. THE GREAT CAVE

55

The inside of the cave is like some great cathedral of gray slate, stalagmites, and stalactites. Pools of minerals, millions of years in silent creation, become dazzling color shows in the light of Beowulf's torch.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 71.

He slowly enters into the great chamber that contains an underground lake. Its waters are dark and placid.

 

Beowulf takes a step into the cave. His torch FLICKERS OUT as if blown by an unseen, unfelt breath. He looks at the golden horn on his belt -- it faintly glows. Beowulf begins to disrobe…

TIME CUT:

56 INT. THE GREAT CAVE - POOL

56

 

Beowulf wades in the water carrying only Hrunting and the glowing, golden horn. Moving closer and closer to the narrowing end of the chamber. The water gets deeper, and gets closer to the cave ceiling.

 

Soon Beowulf is chin deep in the reservoir and the cave ceiling is no more than a foot from the surface of the water.

 

He breathes in, submerges…

57 INT. THE GREAT CAVE - UNDERWATER

57

It is dark and blue. Beowulf begins to swim down the channel of stone, using the glow of the horn as a torch to guide his way.

 

Through the murky water Beowulf sees the bones of many a Thane dragged into this liquid crypt and left to be picked by the eels living here.

 

His breastplate has become an encumbrance in the tight crawl-space. Beowulf claws at the straps, it falls behind him as he advances.

 

His lungs are bursting now, his heart POUNDING in his ears…He squeezes his way through. Birthing through stone…and then, comes out in…

 

58 INT. THE GREAT CAVE - GRENDEL'S MOTHER'S LAIR

58

 

The lair of the mother seems to be within the belly of a colossal prehistoric creature. Its calcium covered ribs have long since become part of the stone. An ancient treasure, much of it encrusted into the walls of this cavern, glows with an unearthly phosphorescence.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 72.

From the shadows something that might be a giant gold lizard slips up one of the walls of the ruin.

 

Beowulf steps up from the water. He pulls his sword.

 

The BODIES OF DEAD THANES are scattered in one corner, their armor ripped open like sardine cans. On the ancient slab, in a place of honour, lies GRENDEL'S BODY, one arm missing…quite dead.

 

Beowulf HEARS SCRATCHING on the heavy stone walls. He spins to face the sounds, holding Hrunting before him. Using the glowing horn as a torch.

 

A VOICE from above him says…

GRENDEL'S MOTHER (O.S.)

I see you brought me treasure.

Beowulf looks up: there's nothing there but a golden statue of a reptilian creature, inlaid with lapis lazuli and woven golden thread.

 

Beowulf turns back to the other wonders of the cave when he again hears a SCURRYING SOUND behind him.

 

He quickly turns -- the statue of the reptile seems to be in a different position…but he can't be sure. Is it just a trick of the light?

 

Then, ECHOING from the opposite side of the cave…

GRENDEL'S MOTHER (O.S.)

(CONT'D)

What a beautiful golden horn. It glows so…delightfully.

BEOWULF

Show yourself! What are you?

Crack!! Beowulf turns to see a FLASH of golden light sever Grendel's huge head from its body…

 

As Grendel's head rolls to a stop, behind Beowulf, something gold drops from the ceiling and SPLASHES into the water.

 

Beowulf whips around and extends his sword toward the pool…waiting. The water shimmers with a phosphorescent glow. Then…

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 73.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER rises from the pool. But she's no monster, more like an ethereal Venus with glittering skin and an aura of golden light. She's beautiful…a goddess.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER

Are you the one they call Beowulf? The Bee-Wolf. The bear. Such a strong man you are. With the strength of a king. The king you will one day become.

BEOWULF

What do you know of me, demon?

She moves toward Beowulf…walking on the surface of the water…the long braid of her golden hair snakes undulates like, well…a tail.

GRENDEL'S MOTHER

I know that underneath your glamour you're as much a monster as my son Grendel. Perhaps more.

BEOWULF

My glamour?

He strikes at her with his sword -- and in a blink of an eye, she's GONE. Grendel's mother moves as fast as thought…

GRENDEL'S MOTHER

One needs glamour to become a king…

Now she's standing on the ruined stairs, and again, walking towards him, and she keeps talking without missing a beat…

GRENDEL'S MOTHER

And I know…a man like you could own the greatest tale ever sung. Your story would live on when everything now alive is dust.

Beowulf is intrigued. And -- she's gone. Now she's just behind him, whispering into his ear, like Mephistopheles…

GRENDEL'S MOTHER

Beowulf. It has been a long time since a man has come to visit me.

She approaches Beowulf like a cat descending on its prey. Her long fingers caress the sides of Beowulf's face as she did when he was sleeping.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 74.

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