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Z Lequidre and the Amazing Grendel Conspiracy

by Allain Atienza

Chapter 40

Beowulf drained his wine and nodded towards Zorikh’s sword. “So ho! That’s the Frisian’s sword eh? May I?” Zorikh drew the blade and handed it over. “Good balance!” Beowulf said as he turned the weapon over in his hands and swung it lightly about. “Good blade too! Trygil forged this blade, that’s his rune near the hilt. I’ve never met him, but I heard he’s Burgundian, settled just south of the Rhine, and lives like a prince from his craft. Wherever he is, he’s a master. You’ve got a good sword Zorikh.”

He returned Zorikh’s sword to him and got to his feet. “Well!” he said so suddenly and loudly that Zorikh started. “I’m ready for bed soon! But I’d like a shot at those sword stakes to get the edge off! What do you say friend, want to join me? Let’s try out your new Trygil!”

“Lead the way!” Eagerly, Zorikh followed him out to the sandpit and watched as Beowulf drew his fine sword and dug his heels into the sand before one of the posts. The big thane began with slow strokes across and downward, then upward, then parallel to the ground. After a minute or so, he squared off again and sent a series of faster cuts from the right and left. After another pause, he unleashed a blur of movement that flashed in the sunlight , sending shards of wood scattering around the warrior. Beowulf then paused once more. After a few deep breaths, he sent a mighty back hand stoke out in a wide arc that severed the top third of the post.

“Holy crap!” Zorikh exclaimed as he stooped to examine the severed piece. It had been cut cleanly most of the way, and broken off for the last two inches. “You’re plenty strong!”

Beowulf panted and pulled his mail and tunic off. Under his gear, his body was powerful but not bulky. His muscles were strong and thick, especially in the shoulders and forearms. He was also heavily scarred- his chest and arms bore the pale ghosts of old wounds, and the remains of a jagged gash tore across half his firm midsection. Beowulf saw Zorikh’s eyes on his belly and said cheerfully, “Frankish throwing spear right across the muscle. I swiveled just in time!” He pivoted on his feet for a visual aid, then said reassuringly, “I got him though. Try out your sword Zorikh!”

Zorikh drew the Trygil and swung it slowly about, testing its heft and balance. Beowulf was right, it was a well-balanced weapon and Zorikh hardly had to think to make the blade cut through an arc or change its line. A half-hearted stroke at one of the posts resulted in a deep cut into the wood. Beowulf whistled. “Good blade,” he said.

Zorikh did a few more slow strokes to warm up, then followed with some quicker, stronger blows. The sword’s balance and edge amazed him and he was able to score several deep cuts into the wooden post in quick succession. Beowulf made tactful suggestions with his form, which Zorikh found helpful. “You’ve handled a sword before, that’s good.” Beowulf said as he watched Zorikh swing away. “Try some combinations now. Hold up your left fist, we’ll go through some shield blows as well, if you wish.” Happily, Zorikh took in his advice, trying not to let himself be distracted by his unbelievable luck- Beowulf, one of the most famous warriors of the western world, was giving him pointers!

At first they went through stuff that Zorikh had been familiar with for some time- the standard thrust, parry, strike, parry, retreat, thrust kind of deal. Things got more interesting when Beowulf showed him how to use his shoulders and pommel to daze an opponent, and threw some shield strikes into the combinations. “When you feel his blade hit your shield, you ram it into him at about chin level, remember to use your hips. When he staggers back a bit, he’ll most likely be covering his head and body, it’s a natural instinct, so while you’re still weighed forward, get his ankles or knee. I call that one the Sly Boar. Be careful to not overextend your left arm when you’re on a shield wall, or someone will take your head.” Beowulf was quite animated now, all traces of inebriation had seemingly burned away as he stepped in to show Zorikh combinations and techniques and stepped away to allow him to try them. They went through several moves- the Happy Wolf, the Hare, Snow on the Roof, Dragon’s Tongue and the Wench Slap. All were good, simple moves that one could add to, Beowulf told him.

After watching Zorikh for a few minutes, the big thane yawned and gathered up his tunic and armor. “Well, I’m off to bed Zorikh the Traveler!” he said. Zorikh stopped and shook his big hand in gratitude.

“I can’t thank you enough Beowulf. I don’t know if you’ll understand what this means to me, but thank you!” Zorikh told him. The son of Ecgtheow clapped him on the shoulder and nodded cheerfully.

“It was my pleasure. Keep at it, remember your form. Better to do it slow and get it right for an hour or two! If you want some practical experience, I’d happily take you to the Frankish coast, there’s always good raiding in the summer!”

“Don’t tempt me!” Zorikh said as Beowulf waved good morning and disappeared into Heorot.

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