VIKING: THE THRONE OF BEOWULF: The Killing Beast Was Released (Viking, Throne, Legend, Thriller, Beowulf, Murder, Gotland Saga), page 1
THE THRONE OF BEOWULF
The Killing Beast Was Released
I want to thank you and congratulate you for downloading the book, THE THRONE OF BEOWULF.
As one of the oldest epics ever to be written, Beowulf remains a classic tale of adventure, fantasy, and heroism that has amused people all over the world for centuries together. Written sometime between the early 8th and 11th century, it is today, accepted as the oldest surviving epic in Old English Literature and has been translated into a number of languages and published a number of times.
This book is a rewriting, a reinterpretation of the epic fantasy tale that follows a young warrior through his adventures against fearsome monsters. The struggles of a young man who transitions from a simple soldier to a ruler are not to be taken lightly – follow Beowulf and his men as they fight against a fearsome monster, in the process, fighting their own demons and overcoming them!
Thanks again for downloading this book, I hope you enjoy it!
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Prolog – A Deal Made
“What do you want, my King? What is it that your heart desires?”
The whisper was as soft as a woman’s caress, the voice husky and gentle at the same time. Hrothgar shivered – how could this voice belong to that of a monster, so sweet and enchanting? How could anyone who offered such glory and such wonder be a monster?!
Drawing his sword from within its scabbard, he pointed it at the woman who stood in front of him. In the frail moonlight, she was absolutely beautiful. She was dressed rather indecently, in a long, white chemise that dripped down to reveal the creamy tips of her breasts, the long plait her hair had been woven into falling down the side of a single, smooth shoulder. Hrothgar was mesmerized – she was a vision, lovely as his own wife, Wealhtheow.
How could a visage as beautiful as hers belong to that of a hag? How was he to believe the tall tales of his childhood, when his sire had warned him about the swamp hag who lived in the Germanian woods, ready to snare unsuspecting men in her trap and then make deals with them?
“A hag is she,” Father had once told him, “Not to be trusted or to be believed. She will not harm those who do not cause harm to her, but beware my son! No monster can resist the temptation of ruining a human life. To kill and to maim is their edict – the swamp is her domain, do not venture close to it.”
Clearly, the tales he had heard as a boy were tall ones; she was beautiful and she was offering him the world. His heart stirred in its old breast – would she finally give him what he so greatly desired? Was glory in the bards’ tales just beyond his reach?
He was not here to harm her.
She would not cause him harm.
“Tell me, my King,” she whispered, walking closer to him. Her chemise trailed on the ground behind her, the pure white color of her gown sullied by the muddy swamp they were standing in.
“What did you seek me out for?” she leaned in close, pressed her blood red lips to his cheek, pulling on his beard. Hrothgar’s breath hitched in his chest; her feminine wiles were working their magic on him and he felt his gut stir in interest. But no – he was not here to lay with her. He was here to ask her what he dearly wished.
He had no heir; he wanted his tale to continue on among his people.
“I sought you ought, Milady,” he answered slowly, closing his eyes and fighting against his growing arousal. She pressed herself into him, wrapping smooth arms around his back and trapping him against her sinuous body. He shuddered, drawing in a deep breath before he continued.
“I have no heir,” he muttered and she drew back, smirking brightly at him, tilting her head, her hands moving down to the front of her chemise to undo the laces holding the flimsy garment together.
“Would you like me to give you an heir, then?” she purred softly, stroking her own skin through the sheer material of her gown. His eyes were drawn to the movement of her hands and he shook his head mutely, struggling with all his might to resist the temptation she offered.
“No thank you, Milady,” he said stiffly. It was not that he wouldn’t bed a woman as beautiful as her; as a young warrior, he’d had his fair share of women who had vied for his attention – he was fierce, strong and the King. Who would refuse him? Even now, he had a harem full of willing woman, ready to satisfy his needs when he wanted it, not the least of which was Wealhtheow herself, a queen amongst womankind, both literally and figuratively.
But he would not stoop so low as to lay with a hag. Even if she was as lovely as she looked right now.
“Then what do you desire, Milord?” she kissed him then, square on the mouth, pressing her lips to his.
For all that she was a tempting she-wench, she was truly a hag – her lips were rough, dirty and they smelled of the swamp, her skin no longer as soft as it had appeared but a moment ago.
The arousal vanished instantly and Hrothgar staggered back, pushing her away and spitting on the ground, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.
“No,” he growled, “Not that, wench. Never that.”
A flash of anger lit her face – it made her look like the ugly hag his sire had sworn she was, and she stepped away from him with a frown.
“Then what can I do for you?” she hissed, “Tell me, Hrothgar of Daner, who once slayed a dragon! What can a lowly swamp hag do for you, if not give you the heir you do not possess? Are you worried that your kingdom will pass into the hands of a stranger? One whose own glory and strength will far surpass your own?”
She laughed; it was a cold, cruel sound. Hrothgar winced, for it was his gr
That was what he was here to prevent.
“I should run you through right now,” he muttered, pointing the tip of his sword against the curve of her pale throat. A single push and she would be dead, the blood dripping hot out of her body even as it coursed hot within her veins in front of him right now.
“But I shall not,” he thrust his sword back into its scabbard and turned to her, lips pursed.
“I am here to make a deal with you, hag,” he said, “I hear you are the one to make things happen.”
A deal with the devil, his sire had said. The swamp hag would give you your heart’s desire, but it would be a deal with the devil that would take everything from you.
It would not harm him, he was sure – he had nothing to give. He cared not for his throne; everything that was his belonged to the people of Daner. He was King, yes, but only to serve them. He had no material possessions of his own and the women in his harem were there of their own volition and did not belong to him.
He had nothing to give to the devil that was capable of taking everything.
And so, he had sought her out.
“What do you want, my King?” she repeated softly, her tone guarded as she watched him carefully.
“Glory,” he murmured, “To be remembered, long after I fall, long after the eternal sleep takes me. To live on, in the bards’ tales and in the stories wives and grandmothers tell the children around the campfire.”
He looked straight at her, refusing to look away from her piercing gaze even it turned to mischief.
“Can you give me glory such as this, hag?” he asked, “What will you ask of me in return?”
She smiled, a wicked curve of her lips that set his heart racing with anxiety.
“Glory such as what you wish for does not come without a price, Milord,” she said silkily, her hands playing with her hair. “Are you willing to pay it?”
“I will do anything,” he said desperately, letting the ache in his heart become visible. How he had longed for this, how he had prayed for someone to help! He would not be forgotten, he would be remembered – this was not a deal with the devil.
It was hope.
She laughed softly, the sound resounding in a strange echo that magnified the silence they stood within.
“Well then, Milord,” she murmured, her voice amused, “I shall give you your heart’s desire. Your name will forever be remembered. Bards shall sing tall tales of your bravery and you shall never be forgotten.”
She smirked at him, “But you must pay the price.”
“As you wish,” his heart thundered against his ribcage in anticipation. “What must I do?”
“Simple, really,” she smiled, “Release my son from his prison. And I shall give you what you seek.”
A son – the swamp hag had a son. Hrothgar frowned; little was actually known about her, except that she had shown up close to five centuries previous. In fact, her very existence was a closely guarded secret of the state; when she first arrived in Daner, the then-King, Hrothgar’s ancestor had gone to fight her. Not a soul knew what had transpired between lord and hag, but at the end of it, he had declared that she not be disturbed and left to her own devices.
Perhaps his great-grandfather had known even then that she was not truly a hag, only a mother whose son had been imprisoned.
“Why was he imprisoned?” he asked, still suspicious and not fully ready to trust her. The look on her face wrenched at his heart – it was clearly that of a mother in anguish, her child lost to a world that had not been fair.
“He…” she sighed, “He made a mistake, once. And he was punished for it, but that was a fair judgment. ‘Twasn’t until later that he was unfairly imprisoned, this time for a sin that was not his own.”
Truly, she was a mother – not a complete hag or monster. Hrothgar may be a warrior, but he was also a man. He would help her, even as she offered to make his tale a glorious one.
“I shall help you then, Milady,” he said quietly, “If you will do the same.”
Her smile was beautiful; it made her eyes shine and her entire countenance light up with warmth. It was hard to see the monster within her then.
“Well, then, Milord,” she whispered, “You shall have your heart’s desire.”
If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is, his sire also used to say.
If only he had remembered that when he made the deal with the she-devil.
Chapter 1 – In the Sights of a Monster
“He once saved our lands, in his name we shall dance – Hrothgar, Hrothgar! Again will he save our lands, in his name we will dance, all hail King Hrothgar!”
The chant came from farther and farther away as the old king quietly withdrew from Heorot. He sighed to himself softly, his heart sitting heavy in his chest. Certainly, he had gone out and saved his lands from the monstrous beasts that had once threatened it, but now… now, he was helpless – he was nowhere near worthy of the praise his subjects were heaping upon him. He was failing; he could not protect them the way a king ought to.
He was old and ailing – he couldn’t take on Grendel and win against the beast. He would only be killed and leave his people behind without a leader of any sort.
His heart ached as he walked up the stairs of the castle, leading straight to the watcher’s tower. In the distance, he could hear the merry making from Heorot grow louder and louder; a part of him worried that the noise would awaken the killing beast he knew was sleeping deep in the woods of Germania. But he trusted that Wealhtheow would keep things under control; his queen was only a woman, but she was fierce and she knew how to run the state – it was how he had survived all these years.
Once, Heorot had been his crowning glory; once, he had been a powerful and fierce warrior, ready to take on the most powerful of beasts. Once, he had even been capable of defeating them. Now, he was old and he was king – he had to protect his people, but he knew not how.
Bitterness welled up within him as he trudged up the stairs. His old knees ached and he found it hard to breathe as he climbed step after step. How easily he used to race up these very stairs in his youth! Sighing a third time, he finally huffed his way on to the final step, breathing in deeply as the cold night air whipped across his face and lifted his long beard.
The world was finally quiet.
Swallowing hard, Hrothgar walked towards the wall, looking over his kingdom – from up here, he could see every inch of his lands, spread out in front of him. The lands of which he was ruler… the lands he sought to keep safe from the beast that dwelt in the woods that bordered Daner. His people knew nothing of Grendel yet, but it would not be long before they discovered the truth.
Grendel was deep asleep within the woods even now, he knew. Guilt swelled bitter on his tongue; what had he done? In an attempt to bring prosperity to his people, in his attempt to ensure that his name lived on in the bards’ glory forever, he had doomed his people to an eternity of suffering.
He had no heirs; he had only wanted his name to continue. Was he so very wrong?
“The feast is to honor your strength, Milord,” Wealhtheow’s voice from behind him was soft and he turned around in surprise, fists automatically raised to punch the throat of whoever had snuck up on him. His queen simply raised her eyebrow and he dropped his arms instantly, shaking his head mutely.
“What strength do you speak of, Milady?” he asked hoarsely, “Even now, the people face the horror of my ‘strength’. I made a deal with the Devil and our kingdom suffers for it.”
“Then why do you stand here and do nothing about it?” she asked softly, “You are a hero, a warrior. You have been, all your life. You saved us from the dragons that threatened our lands and you have protected us all through these years. Why do your hands hesitate now to w
She moved in closer, her hand trailing over the hilt of his sword, her body curving into his. The years had been kind to her; she was still as beautiful as the day they had wed. But more than that, she had grown stronger, capable of commanding and leading their people without him by her side, as she had done in all the years he was out defending their borders from the monsters that attacked Daner.
She would do it again if he but asked.
“I am no longer a young man, Milady,” he whispered, allowing himself to be weak in front of her. He couldn’t show vulnerability to his people; he was a man and he was a king – he must be strong. But this was his woman and she was gentleness personified. She could soothe the hurt in his heart.
“I am growing older and I cannot defeat Grendel,” he mourned. Wealhtheow pulled him close, holding him to her breast and stroking his hair.
“Then you should not have released him in the first place,” her voice was accusatory but her hands remained gentle as they caressed his back, moving further and further down. She pressed herself closer to him, the tips of her breasts grazing against his chest, their hips aligning and he felt the beginnings of arousal stir within his gut.
He maybe old but he was still only a man. And he had his woman in his arms, warm and willing – how could he resist?
But her words rang clear in his mind and he looked at her sorrowfully.
“’Twas my mistake, Wealhtheow,” he muttered, his fingers moving over her gown and undoing the laces on her back. The softness of her skin soothed him as always and he sighed, rubbing his beard against her neck, hoping for absolution from her at least.
She did not give it to him, remaining quiet even as titled her head and offered him her neck and skin.