Read Beowulf Online

Authors: Neil Gaiman

Beowulf (26 page)

Beowulf draws his sword and plants it in the sand, point down. He walks toward the Frisian.

OLD WIGLAF

Give the king a weapon!

THANE IN THE CROWD

Take mine!

ANOTHER THANE

No mine!

YET ANOTHER THANE

Kill him with my sword!

A number of swords are held out, but Beowulf turns down them all. As he approaches he keeps his eyes focused on the Frisian, who has an axe in his hands and a growing smile on his face.

 

Then, Beowulf does the most unexpected thing…he begins to strip himself of his armor, letting it drop to the sand as he approaches. His torso is horribly scarred and hacked, as if he's taken a thousand sword cuts in his time on this earth, and all of them have healed.

 

The Frisian's smile turns into an expression of confusion.

KING BEOWULF

You think you're the first to try to kill me? Or the hundredth? Let me tell you something, Frisian, the gods won't allow me death by your feeble blade. The gods won't let me die by a sword…or be taken by the sea. The gods won't allow me to pass in my sleep…ripe with age.

Beowulf has removed all of his armor, revealing his white tunic underneath. He rips it open, exposing his chest.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 84.

KING BEOWULF (CONT'D)

(cont'd)

Plant your axe here, Finn, of Frisia. Take my life.

Beowulf holds open the fabric as he approaches him. The Frisian, holding the axe up, begins to step backwards.

FRISIAN LEADER

Take a sword and fight me like a man.

KING BEOWULF

I don't need a sword. I don't need an axe. I need no weapon.

FRISIAN LEADER

(starting to really get intimidated and nervous)

Someone give him a sword…or I'll…

I'll--

KING BEOWULF

You'll what?! Kill me?

(suddenly Beowulf SCREAMS with rage)

Kill me! Kill me! Do it! Kill me!

Beowulf has pushed the Frisian back to the waterline. The man is standing ankle deep in the ocean.

 

The Frisian is holding the axe above his shoulders, shaking nervously. He tries to raise it further to strike the death blow…but fear holds him back. He drops it into the sand and then falls to his knees, defeated.

KING BEOWULF (CONT'D)

You know why you can't kill me, friend? Because I died years ago…when I was a young man.

Beowulf closes his tunic and looks at the man, piteously.

KING BEOWULF (CONT'D)

(to his war captain)

Give him a piece of gold and send him home…he has a story to tell.

CUT TO:

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 85.

65 EXT. CASTLE ARCH-BRIDGE DAY

65

Beowulf stands on top of a massive stone arch-bridge, rising 100 feet above Castle Herot, it spans two turrets, the large one is Beowulf's quarters.

 

He leans over the stone wall, looking out at the grey winter sea. Flakes of snow are dizzying down.

 

URSULA, King Beowulf's young mistress, comes up behind him. He does not register her presence.

URSULA

Your majesty? Are you hurt?

KING BEOWULF

Not a scratch.

he kisses her)

You know, Ursula. When I was young, I thought being King would be about battling every morning, counting the golden loot in the afternoon, and swiving beautiful women every night. And now…nothing's as good as it should have been.

URSULA

Not even the “swiving a beautiful woman every night” part, your majesty?

KING BEOWULF

(laughs)

Well, some nights, Ursula. Some nights.

URSULA

Perhaps tonight?

KING BEOWULF

No…

(a rueful laugh)

Tonight I feel my age upon me. Tomorrow. After the Celebration. We can't forget what tomorrow is? Can we now?

URSULA

(seriously)

Your Day. When the Saga of Beowulf is told…of how you lifted the darkness from the land. And the day after, we celebrate the birth of Christ Jesus.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 86.

He smiles, and tenderly strokes her face.

WEALTHOW (O.S.)

(icily)

I see you've survived.

Beowulf turns to find…

 

Queen Wealthow and a PRIEST (in long cardinal robes and a large gold cross) coming across the bridge…

KING BEOWULF

Alas, my queen. The Frisian invaders have been pushed into the sea. And you are not a widow…yet.

She smiles sweetly and says…

QUEEN WEALTHOW

How comforting, my husband.

WE HEAR A HORN BLOW…

CUT TO:

66 INT. HEROT VILLAGE -- MORNING

66

In the frosty cold, breath steaming, Old Wiglaf stands on a stone plinth calling out an announcement:

OLD WIGLAF

On this day…in honour of our glorious King…let us tell the saga of King Beowulf. How our fearless lord slew the demon Grendel, and the demon's hag mother…

THE CAMERA PULLS BACK, GLIDING HIGH ABOVE Castle Herot, it is Herot of Beowulf's era…larger, more fortified, impressive with it's two stone turrets.

 

In the distance King Beowulf stands alone on the arch-bridge.

 

WIGLAF'S VOICE ECHOES beyond the castle keep…

OLD WIGLAF (CONT'D)

Let his deeds of valor inspire us. On this day, let fires be lit and sagas told…

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 87.

About a half-mile from Herot…THE CAMERA FINDS the tall steeple of…

67 EXT. UNFERTH HALL -- SAME

67

Unferth hall is an impressive manor built of stone and timber. Its newest addition is the huge cross which adorns the steeple. THE CAMERA BOOMS down to find…

 

OLD UNFERTH hobbling out to his court yard.

OLD WIGLAF (O.S.)

I declare this day…BEOWULF'S DAY!

CLOSE ON OLD UNFERTH

OLD UNFERTH

Where the hell is that fool with the horses? Cain? Hurry it up!

Unferth's son, GUTHRIC (35) and LADY GUTHRIC, AND THEIR SIX CHILDREN are climbing into a primitive sled, waiting for their horses. It begins to snow.

 

Guthric bears the same cantankerous attitude as his father. He also wears a large cross.

GUTHRIC

Beowulf's Day. Bloody, stupid, old fools day more like. He's as senile as father.

LADY GUTHRIC

He is the king.

GUTHRIC

Do you know how bloody sick I am of hearing about bloody Grendel and bloody Grendel's bloody mother? What the hell was Grendel anyway? Some kind of giant dog, or something? And what was Grendel's mother? She doesn't even have a name!

LADY GUTHRIC

(wearily)

Can we just go.

OLD UNFERTH

(approaches the sled, yelling)

Cain! CAIN!!

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 88.

GUTHRIC

(taking up the cry)

CAIN! WHERE THE BLOODY CHRIST ARE Y…

WHACK! Unferth hits Guthric with his walking stick.

OLD UNFERTH

(now yelling at Guthric)

Don't you blaspheme in my presence!!

At that moment two of UNFERTH'S HOUSE GUARDS appear, dragging OLD CAIN through the snow.

GUARD

He ran off again, my lord.

OLD CAIN, ragged, shivering, wearing a tattered blanket to keep out the cold. He's dragged before old Unferth.

GUARD (CONT'D)

…we found him on the edge of the moors.

The two guards push Cain to the ground. As he falls, his blanket flips open…something golden GLINTS.

OLD UNFERTH

What have you got there?

Cain curls to try and hide his treasure, but it's too late.

OLD UNFERTH (CONT'D)

(raising his walking-stick, to strike)

Show me, damn you…

Cain holds up…the GOLDEN DRAGON HORN.

 

Old Unferth's eyes open wide as saucers…

 

CLOSE ON THE HORN. It glints and glitters in the light. And then the ENTIRE IMAGE surrounding the horn FADES TO BLACK…LEAVING ONLY THE HORN ON SCREEN…

 

WE HEAR Wealthow's voice, ghostlike, ECHOING in the darkness…

QUEEN WEALTHOW (O.C.)

(ethereal)

So it's come back to you, Beowulf…

Now the SURROUNDING IMAGE FADES IN…

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 89.

And we find…QUEEN WEALTHOW HOLDING THE GOLDEN HORN.

68 INT. ANTEROOM NIGHT

68

Wealthow stands at the foot of the stairs in the king's anteroom, along with King Beowulf, Wiglaf and Old Unferth.

 

This is where the first scene from the movie left off.

QUEEN WEALTHOW

…After all these years.

Wealthow hands the horn to Beowulf. He takes hold of the horn very gingerly, as if it where somehow tainted…

KING BEOWULF

Where is this slave who found it?

OLD CAIN is roughly thrown to the floor by Unferth's guards.

OLD CAIN

(trembling)

Please…please don't kill me?

KING BEOWULF

(shows Cain the horn)

Where did you find this treasure?

CAINI…I'm sorry I runned away, master. Please don't hurt me no more.

 

Old Unferth viciously kicks Cain…

OLD UNFERTH

(yells)

ANSWER YOUR KING!!!

KING BEOWULF

STOP!!!

Beowulf bends down and holds the golden horn before the terrified slave…

OLD CAIN

I…I didn't steal it…I swear.

KING BEOWULF

(quietly)

Where?

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 90.

OLD CAIN

U…up…on the moors…

69 EXT. THE MOORS - FLASHBACK NIGHT

69

Cain is running like hell across the moors. The SOUNDS OF A SEARCH PARTY are HEARD in the distance.

GUARD (O.C.)

Cain! Cain! Can you hear me! You don't want to stay out on the moors! There are things out here that'll eat your heart for breakfast!

Cain passes the rock shaped like a reptile skull, near Grendel's cave, when suddenly, the ground gives way beneath him and he is seemingly swallowed into the Earth.

70 INT. THE BARROW - NIGHT

70

Cain is under the ground. It's dark…but Cain realizes that we are somewhere that glimmers…. that glimmers…

GOLD!

It's a treasure horde: rings and bracelets, necklaces torques and plates, coins and statues and goblets, piled all around. Helmets and mail-shirts, swords, daggers and spears, shields and harps, statues of hawks and horses…the
world glows in gold.

 

Cain moves through the gold like a dark shadow….

CAIN

Such riches…

Then he sees something so wonderful that it takes his breath away…

 

CAIN reaches out, tentatively, for
THE GOLDEN HORN
.

 

END FLASHBACK…

71 INT. ANTEROOM - NIGHT

71

OLD CAIN…but I was going to bring it back…I swear.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 91.

KING BEOWULF

That's all? No demon? No witch?

Cain shakes his head.

KING BEOWULF (CONT'D)

…no woman?

Wealthow's eyes flash in Beowulf's direction.

 

Again, Cain shakes his head.

 

Beowulf stands…and walks away.

CUT TO:

72 INT. HEROT - BEOWULF'S CHAMBERS - NIGHT

72

CLOSE ON: King Beowulf, he stirs in his troubled sleep. He's tangled in his sheets, and in his hand he clutches the dragon horn.

 

Ursula is beside him, watching him toss and turn. Then she pulls on a robe of fur, and walks out onto…

72A EXT. THE ARCH-BRIDGE - NIGHT 72A

She steps out into the moonlight, but stops short…

 

Wealthow is standing in the middle of the bridge. She also wears a heavy fur cape.

QUEEN WEALTHOW

(looking at the stars)

Another restless night?

Ursula nods, terrified. Wealthow turns to her.

QUEEN WEALTHOW (CONT'D)

It's all right, girl. I'm not going to eat you.

URSULA

He has bad dreams…they've been coming more often.

WEALTHOW

He's a king. Kings have a lot on their conscience.

There's an awkward pause in the conversion. Ursula is frightened to actually look at the queen.

BLUE Rev. 2005-09-11 92.

URSULA

He calls your name in his sleep.

WEALTHOW

(unimpressed)

Does he?

URSULA

I believe he still holds you in his heart.

WEALTHOW

(condescending)

Do you?

Another long pause…

URSULA

I often wonder. What happened…

WEALTHOW

(finishes Ursula's question)…to us?

Ursula barely nods, suddenly dreading the answer.

WEALTHOW (CONT'D)

(turns back to the stars)

Too many secrets.

Then, as if on que, we hear a LOUD RUMBLE…and…

 

FIRE LIGHTS UP THE NIGHT SKY!!!

 

Ursula and Wealthow look to see…A STREAM OF FLAME!

In the distance, A GUSH OF FIRE…RAINING FROM THE SKY!!!

 

The flames hit the ground, and a village BURSTS INTO FLAMES.

WEALTHOW (CONT'D)

God helps us.

CUT TO:

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