Theodora and Grendel had not yet arrived.
This gnawed at Zorikh to no end, and his edginess was obviously apparent. As he stared out into the moonlit garden from his place at the mead bench, Zorikh felt a light touch on his shoulder and heard Beowulf’s voice.
“Try to relax friend,” Beowulf said as he took a seat next to Zorikh, “tests of courage and skill come soon enough, no need to work ourselves into a knot waiting for it.”
Zorikh’s concern for Theodora and Grendel had eaten up so much of his attention that it took a second for him to realize that Beowulf was referring to the murderer. Tonight was the full moon, the time when the monster, or whatever it was, came to Heorot. Beowulf’s thanes all wore mail tonight, and kept their helmets and shields close at hand. Spears for thrusting and throwing leaned against the walls near the mead tables. There was a definite tension among the warriors, even Beowulf seemed a bit on the edge, despite his words of reassurance. The big thane held a cup of mead, but drank only a sip at a time. He smiled tightly at Zorikh, the corners of his eyes crinkling as he did so.
“I’m just wondering where Theodora and Grendel are.” Zorikh said. “They were supposed to be here by now.”
“Theodora’s fine,” Beowulf answered almost automatically, “She’s craftier than an otter, that one. I’d not worry on it. If she told you she’d come, then she’ll come.” Zorikh nodded mutely, somewhat thankful that Beowulf took time to offer him comfort. “Have some mead Zorikh,” Beowulf insisted, “but not too much at a time eh?”
Wyglaf returned from patrolling the grounds and joined them to report. “I’ve seen nothing within the palisade, nor anything from the walls. Winstan and Cynric are taking their rounds now.”
Beowulf offered his cup to the young warrior and bade him to sit. “I’ll take my rounds now, I think.” He rose and donned his helmet.
Zorikh got up as well. “I’ll join you if you don’t mind,” he said. “Might as well kick in my share.”
They swept from the hall, through the great doors and into the courtyard. The grounds were bright with moonlight. Everything Zorikh could see- the palisade walls, the houses, the stable and the mews- glowed silver white and cast deep blue shadows. They climbed onto turf slope before the wooden wall and Zorikh peered out into the pale landscape. The road to Heorot was a dim ribbon that stretched away into the darkness.
“Do you hear that?” Beowulf whispered.
“Hear what? It’s quiet.” Zorikh answered, lowering his voice to match Beowulf’s.
Beowulf backed away from the palisade and leapt lightly from their perch..
“I know,” he said, leading them back indoors, “there’s no noise whatsoever… no crickets or frogs or birds, nothing. Something has frightened them. I think our visitor is here, Zorikh.”
“It’s too quiet.” Zorikh said dramatically, then added when he saw Beowulf’s stare, “I always wanted to say that.”
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