Read Beowulf Online

Authors: Neil Gaiman

Beowulf (9 page)

 

Beowulf turns to the crowd, grinning -- then, suddenly serious, like a politician or a statesman.

BEOWULF

I find it hard to find in my heart the words I should say to thank you, great king. And all of you, I wish you could have been there last night, when I killed the monster. And I wish his whole body were nailed to this wall, not just his arm. I was asleep when he arrived, growling like a wild beast…

And as Beowulf tells them the story of his genius and ability we TRACK BACKWARDS down the hallway of Herot and

89 OUTSIDE IN THE STOCKADE

89

BEOWULF'S VOICE gets quieter and the sound of the CRACKLING OF THE BURNING PYRE gets louder, and the WOMEN QUIETLY SOBBING, and we end on Wiglaf…watching his friends' bodies burning up.

CUT TO:

90 INT. THE GREAT CAVE - GRENDEL'S MOTHER'S LAIR - NIGHT

90

CLOSE ON: Grendel's very dead body.

 

We can hear Grendel's mother, SINGING WORDLESSLY, a song of mourning, very gently and quietly.

 

Then she breaks off her song and she says to Grendel's dead body…

GRENDEL'S MOTHER (O.S.)

He must come here to me. If he has the courage, as well as the strength, he will come.

And with that she turns and walks into the pool, descending into its black depths…

CUT TO:

91 INT. HEROT - BEOWULF'S QUARTERS - NIGHT

91

Beowulf is looking at the treasure that he has been given. In the background we can hear a small amount of CELEBRATING from the hall. Beowulf is in his small room, though, examining his gold.

 

Queen Wealthow comes in. She stands in the open doorway, to avoid any appearance of impropriety, and says:

WEALTHOW

You are not celebrating?

BEOWULF

I am celebrating in my own way.

WEALTHOW

You will take our gold back to your own land. It does not matter. Nothing that is gold ever stays long.

BEOWULF

Steal away from your husband in the night. Come to me.

WEALTHOW

You are so beautiful, Lord Beowulf. But you are not meant for me. You have the mark on you

(she reaches out and touches his forehead, as if showing a mark we cannot see)

BEOWULF

What mark?

Wealthow does not answer. She touches her fingertips to her lips, and brushes her fingertips against Beowulf's lips, as she turns to leave.

CUT TO:

92 INT. HEROT - HROTHGAR'S QUARTERS - NIGHT

92

Hrothgar is lying on the bed. The door opens, and Wealthow comes in. She begins to undress. Hrothgar stares at her, grinning.

WEALTHOW

If you touch me tonight, I will kill you.

Her tone of voice tells us that she means it.

CUT TO:

93 INT. HEROT - BEOWULF'S QUARTERS - NIGHT

93

Beowulf is picking up handfuls of golden rings and chains and letting them fall, clinking, into the chest: they glitter in the candle-light.

CUT TO:

94 EXT. HEROT - MEAD HALL - NIGHT

94

The last lights go out in the hall. We hear a RUSTLING.

CUT TO BLACK:

95 INT. HEROT - BEOWULF'S QUARTERS - DAY

95

A WOMAN'S SCREAM shatters the stillness. Day shines in. Beowulf was asleep on the furs, fully dressed, surrounded by gold. He pushes himself up off the bed.

CUT TO:

96 INT. HEROT - MEAD HALL - DAY

96

Beowulf throws open a heavy carved door. His eyes open wide like saucers at the horror of what has become of the remaining Danes.

 

Behind him, other Thanes push their way into the room. Their eyes, like Beowulf's, betray the terror in their hearts.

 

The hall, once white wash over stone, has been stained with the blood of the South Danes. Great crimson splashes paint the ceiling. Golden tapestries have been speckled by the milk of slaughter.

 

TWENTY DEAD THANES in all, their bodies ripped into pieces, litter the soaked hall.

 

Thanes continue to push their way into the hall, trying to get a good look at the carnage. But as each man enters he becomes frozen, unable to move into the room filled with death.

 

It has become a feast for the flies. Their buzz adds a horrific edge to the already surreal bloodshed before them.

 

Beowulf steps slowly through the hall assessing the dead. Not a single man lays living. Beowulf draws his sword from his back and holds it in front of him, as if it might defend him from the invisible air of death in the hall.

 

WE TRACK BACKWARDS AND OUT of a huge hole which has been knocked through the far corner of the south hall. Great stones lay in rubble heaps outside the massive keep.

 

Beowulf jumps out of the keep onto the green glade beyond the rubble heap. He runs into an EXTREME CLOSE UP as he scans the horizon where

97 THE MOORS

97

leads beyond Herot and into a dark forest. Close to the rim of the tangled grove, at least a kilometer away, a SHADOWY FIGURE runs. After an instant the figure vanishes into the deep forest. For a moment, it seems as though it may have never been there at all.

98 BEOWULF

98

squints his eyes in the hope of getting another glimpse at the dark apparition.

BEOWULF

What monster is this!?

Behind him, the Thanes are coming out of the huge hole in the keep. No one can seem to answer him.

WIGLAF

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

Beowulf looks at him, afraid to answer.

 

Then, Hrothgar is there, pushing his way through the crowd of Thanes.

HROTHGAR

It's not Grendel.

WIGLAF

Not Grendel? Then who?

CUT TO:

99 INT. HEROT - THRONE ROOM - DAY

99

CLOSE ON: Hrothgar is sitting in his mighty (and portable) throne. He is in his full compliment of battle gear.

HROTHGAR

Grendel's mother. I had hoped that she had left the land long since. True you killed the son. Rid us of a terror like we have never known. But none of us were reckoning with the creature's foul mother.

Beowulf doesn't seem to happy about this.

BEOWULF

Another, then another, then another. How many monsters am I to slay? Grendel's father? Grendel's uncle? Grendel's cousin once removed? If there are more please tell me now, friend Hrothgar. For I would like to know if I will have to burn down an entire family tree of these demons.

HROTHGAR

There are no more…no more of her kind in
this
world. And without another she can not procreate. With her gone demonkind will slip into legend.

WIGLAF

(shaking his head aghast)

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

Grendel's father is dead, gone with a bygone age. Grendel's father can do no harm to man.

Beowulf nods, perhaps a little suspicious.

BEOWULF

Then let us destroy her.

HROTHGAR

Lay into your mind what has happened here!

Beowulf's eyes fix into a stare as he imagines the atrocity taking place.

FLASH TO:

UNFERTH

Beowulf.

Beowulf turns and looks at Unferth.

BEOWULF

Unferth. What is it?

UNFERTH

I was wrong to doubt you before. And I shall not doubt you again. The blood that flows in your veins is the blood of courage. I ask your forgiveness.

BEOWULF

(perhaps a little too abruptly, Beowulf is uncomfortable with Unferth's humility)

Forgiven.

He turns to leave.

UNFERTH

Take my father's sword.

Beowulf turns around and looks at him.

UNFERTH

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

BEOWULF

A sword is no match against demon magic.

Unferth looks at his father's sword which he's holding in his hands. He looks a little sad. Unferth begins sheathing it.

BEOWULF

But

Unferth stops short of sliding his sword into its casing.

BEOWULF

One never knows.

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

UNFERTH

Thank you, Beowulf. I'm sorry I ever doubted you.

BEOWULF

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

UNFERTH

I bid you well in killing the demon's mother.

Beowulf nods and turns to leave. He pauses and looks back at Unferth.

BEOWULF

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

UNFERTH

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

Beowulf nods and leaves.

CUT TO:

100 EXT. HEROT - STOCKADE - DAY 1

00

Beowulf comes out of the Hall to find Wiglaf, seven of his thanes, and their little horse, loaded high with provisions, waiting for him.

 

A funeral pyre is burning in the distance.

BEOWULF

(puzzled)

Where are the rest of the men?

WIGLAF

Dead.

(he points to the pyre)

That's the last of them, over there.

BEOWULF

I will kill the Monster's mother myself. You men will wait behind when we get there. We will need enough thanes to man the oars on the ship home. I do not want any more of you getting killed.

OLAF

(to himself)

How considerate.

Beowulf strides off, and his men follow him.

CUT TO:

101 EXT. DARK FOREST - DAY 1

01

It's a wild woodland. Flies and mosquitoes BUZZ around, and Beowulf's men, leading their little horse, are in an appalling mood, sweating and swatting at flies the whole time.

OLAF

Damn this forest. We're not in Geatland anymore, that much I'll tell you for nothing.

THANE #2

Aye. How many monsters do these bloody Danes have anyway? Where do they get them from?

OLAF

Same place they get these damned mosquitoes from. Isn't this glorious? Fight in Beowulf's army -- he gets the

(more)

OLAF (CONT'D)

gold and the glory and the girls, we get the mosqitoes…

WIGLAF

Quiet back there!

CUT TO

102 EXT. THE GREAT CAVE - DAY 1

02

The great dense weald opens into the rocky mouth of a gigantic cave made of quartz. Into the cave mouth a river runs, fed by hundreds of thousands of dewy drops fallen from the many ferns and leaves that make up the viridian tapestry surrounding it. Indeed, while not raining the air is thick with water.

 

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

 

Beowulf almost seems to be underwater already, yet he stands on a gray slate boulder
under which
glassy waters feed the cave.

 

In them, tangled in the rocks, is the HEADLESS CORPSE OF ESHER which Grendel's mother must have killed. The man's blood stains the crystal waters red.

 

Beowulf draws Unferth's sword, “Hrunting”, and looks to his men who stand not a hundred meters away in the foliage.

BEOWULF

Bring me some fire!

Wiglaf climbs down into the gorge with a fiery torch in his hand. He passes it to Beowulf.

BEOWULF (CONT'D)

Thank you.

WIGLAF

She's a water demon. Don't 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 to the others.

 

Beowulf turns and walks along the current and into the cave, the torch blazing in his right hand.

103 INT. THE GREAT CAVE - DAY 103

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.

 

Gauging each step, he slowly enters into the great chamber that hides an underground lake. It's waters are dark and placid.

 

Across the body of water, where the cave wall should meet the surface, a tunnel continues into darkness.

 

Beowulf, holding the blazing torch in his right hand and the sword Hrunting in the left, begins to wade into the still water.

 

Soon he is up to his waist in the black liquid, scaling each step with caution, he moves closer and closer to the narrowing end of the chamber.

 

The further Beowulf goes the deeper he gets, and the closer the cave ceiling comes to the placid surface of the water.

 

Soon Beowulf is up to his neck in the reservoir and the cave ceiling is no more than 25 centimeters from the surface of the water.

 

He has left the main chamber behind and now finds himself chin deep in a…

CHANNEL

of water with no more than 13 centimeters of air between it and the cave ceiling.

 

He still holds the torch in his right hand, it's flame so close to the water it could extinguish any second.

Other books

Stir Me by Crystal Kaswell
Galileo's Middle Finger by Alice Dreger
Witch Hunt by Ian Rankin
HIGH TIDE AT MIDNIGHT by Sara Craven, Mineko Yamada
Heloise and Bellinis by Harry Cipriani
La tercera puerta by Lincoln Child
The Dying Game by Beverly Barton
Rebuilding Forever by Natalie J. Damschroder


readsbookonline.com Copyright 2016 - 2021