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Z Lequidre and the Amazing Grendel Conspiracy

by Allain Atienza

Chapter 46

They hurried back to the hall. As Beowulf called his men to readiness, Wyglaf presented Zorikh with a shield and helmet. “Take this shield, Traveler, it’s one of mine,” the young thane said. Like all the others, it was round with an iron boss, made of flat wood and rimmed with leather. Wyglaf grinned as Zorikh accepted it. “The helmet is one we took during a raid, on the north of the mainland.” It was iron and fashioned from several pieces that formed a round conical shape, with a guard for the nose and hinged cheek pieces. It was a magnificent piece of work, yet quite plain compared to the exquisite equipment of Beowulf and his men.

“Thank you Wyglaf, you’re very kind.” Zorikh said as he tested the shield’s weight and balance, then secured the helmet onto his head.

“You’re welcome to them, and they’re yours to keep if you live through the night.” Wyglaf called back cheerfully as he went to gather up his throwing spears.

“Form up!” Beowulf bellowed, “We can’t wait for Winstan and Cynric. They’ll have to take positions when they return!” They gathered about the throne in two groups of six, one facing the archway, and one facing the garden. Zorikh had been placed next to Wyglaf in the band that faced the garden. Beowulf stood in the center of the other.

For a few moments, nothing happened. Beowulf’s men waited patiently and so silently that Zorikh could hear the creak of the leather hinges in his cheek guards.

The silence didn’t last however. After what seemed to Zorikh like a week of waiting, his heart jumped as heavy footfalls echoed from the corridor. They were slow and deliberate and made their way to the great hall. Zorikh’s band turned as one to stand shoulder to shoulder with Beowulf’s. He drew his sword and held his shield close. Wyglaf raised his throwing spear.

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