The road lead straight to Heorot, which turned out to be circled by a wooden palisade that Zorikh hadn't seen from afar. They entered unchallenged at the gate. Within the walls lay two ploughed plots, somewhat smaller than the fields that they had passed on the way. A long, low structure stood to their left, which Zorikh took to be a stable judging from the bridles and harnesses hanging in open view. A few houses stood near the wall, larger than the huts of the farmsteads. Dominating the scene was Heorot hall. It was made of red stone, two stories tall with an arched walkway along the front of the ground floor and a great arched door leading to a terrace on the second. They passed what probably was once a rectangular water pool, now filled with sand and wooden posts hacked with sword strokes. At the head of the pool stood three statues of gowned women.
"Looks Roman," Zorikh said, "Old villa huh?"
"Yes." Theodora admired the statues, "There were a lot of these along the so-called Saxon Shore. Not many stand today."
"Heorot hall was an old Roman Villa." Zorikh mused. "Who woulda thunk it?"
A gray haired man emerged from a small structure beside the hall. He was dressed much like Osa had been except for a long leather glove on his right arm. Theodora called to him. "Bass! How have you been falconer?" The man stopped short, obviously not expecting to see visitors this close to midday. He squinted, then came towards them.
"Lady Sigilind?" he stepped a bit closer, then said, "So it is. How are you lady?" His tone was polite but reserved. "Back from the mist again. And with a husband it seems." He gave Zorikh a neutral glance.
"No sir, no." Zorikh said, coming forward. "I have a girlfriend in Pennsylvania. I'm Zorikh."
Bass accepted Zorikh's arm. "Zorikh, huh? Not a Saxon name."
Theodora put an arm around her companion. "I met Zorikh while I was visiting with the Franks." Bass scrutinized him, then nodded knowingly as if the Franks were responsible for every strange thing in the world.
"Ah yes, the Franks. A fine name, Zorikh." Seemingly satisfied, he introduced himself. "Forgive my earlier caution lady. Terrible things have been happening, and one canít have enough of itÖcaution that is. To be honest lady, I was afraid something might have harmed my birds."
Theodora patted the falconer's hand. "Oh, dear Bass. There is no need to apologize to me. Iíve heard from Guthild of the recent unfortunate events. I need to speak with the king. Is Hrothgar about?"
"The great lord's out on the moors, I think. Hunting for Grendel. He's been murdering folk. Tearing them apart."
"Now Bass, you know as well as I that Grendel is no murderer." Theodora said primly. "And how many times have I said to stop calling me lady. Sigilind is quite good enough, thank you. I shall have to wait for the great lord then. Where can my companion and I stay?"
Bass looked a bit contrite but not convinced. "I know he's an unlikely killer, that Grendel, but nothing else is strong enough to do whatís been done. Ripped a man apart with his mail on, he did!" Zorikh was beginning to feel uneasy. He had read the tales of Grendel, of course- what high school graduate hadn't? He knew of the tendon twisting, bone breaking, and meat munching that supposedly went on in the gloom of Heorot, and couldn't shake the sinking feeling that Theodora was about to drag him into that cuisinart of a hall. Bass must have seen him staring nervously at the great arched doorway of Heorot because he immediately said, "There is no danger in the day friend, but it would be wiser to await the king elsewhere. The great hall is no joyous place these days." He looked hopefully at the pair. "You are welcome to use my dwelling, though it may prove too humble for the great lady."
Ignoring his deference, she gave the great oak door a troubled stare. "Is not the Lady of Heorot home? I wouldn't take refuge with her loyal retainer and not beg her welcome. Where is Hrothgar's steward? Would you find him for us please falconer?" Bass gave a quick nod and disappeared through the doors to do as she bid. Zorikh stared after the fellow.
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The comic that started it all!
The Heorot Herald
Further Celebrations at Heorot
Heorot Hall: Player's source for Grendel's Cave
The Heorot, Muncie Indiana, on Halloween.
Top-Ten lists about life in Muncie, Indiana
Some thoughts on reading Beowulf
A Roman Villa dating from the 1st to the 3rd Century A.D.
The Villa of Brislington and the Brislington Massacre
The Largest Roman Villa in Hampshire
Chedworth Roman Villa
The Roman villa and typical Roman life
Practical Archaeology Training Courses at Barcombe Roman Villa, near Lewes, East Sussex
Meanings of Anglo-Saxon names
English, Welsh, and Saxon "magickal" names
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The Rise of the Franks
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