“You could always move on, Grendel,” Fara said softly after a moment of quiet thought. “Go northward, or perhaps westward past the sea. I’ve heard of a whole new land in the west, from gulls and geese. But I know better than to wholly trust a goose…” she trailed off and let her hair drop. Noticing neither Zorikh’s slightly confused expression nor Theodora’s quick sideways glance, she fanned her sheet of white-gold hair behind her shoulders, cupped her finely sculpted chin with a delicate hand and said to her son, “I suppose you want to stay.”
Grendel returned her stare. “I’m weary of moving around, mother. I’d like to stay in one place for more than two decades,” he said. Fara smiled somewhat sadly and leaned over to stroke her son’s hair with a pale hand.
“Then, my Grendel, I suggest doing as your friends say,” she said with a sigh. “If Hrothgar were your only foe, then you might have been able to wait him out, but with this- Theodora, what was his name?”
“Thank you child. With this Digo on your trail as well, you must make Hrothgar see that you aren’t his enemy.”
Grendel sighed. “All right Theodora, I’ll try it your way.” Theodora let out a breath of relief and Fara absently traced the water with her palm. Meanwhile, Grendel clapped his long arms over both Theodora and Zorikh. “Why don’t you both stay the night? I have plenty of room.”
Theodora beckoned for Zorikh to fetch his clothes. “What do you think Zorikh?” she said teasingly, “Should we stay in the house of Heorot’s curse?” She smiled at Grendel.
Zorikh shrugged. “Why the heck not?”
“I hope fighting in the mud has given you an appetite.” Said Grendel as he bundled his furs under his arm.
Theodora, having reached the shore, hunched over against the chill and sped to Grendel’s door. “Grendel likes to cook in big portions!” she called behind her.
Supper was a fish stew with leeks and wild mushrooms, served in bowls made from a hard brown bread. To Zorikh’s delight, there was also a large jug of hard apple cider, which turned out to be quite good. Grendel sat at his workbench, eating very little, intent on finishing the sheath while Theodora braided his hair. Fara hadn’t joined them for dinner.
“Zorikh, tomorrow would you go to Heorot hall and let Hrothgar know that I am coming with Grendel?” said Theodora.
“Huh?” Zorikh had been standing close, looking on as Grendel stitched the sheath together. “Uh, yeah! Sure. Any particular reason you two aren’t coming with me?”
Theodora tied off Grendel’s plait. She had given him one long braid that reached past the middle of his shoulders and he looked quite pleasant now that he had had a bath and trim. “Just in case Hrothgar is less than friendly,” she said, “You can send one of Beowulf’s men to warn us. He can meet us on the road near Osa’s farm. If everything is well, then send no one.”
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