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Excerpt from Z Lequidre and the Amazing Grendel Conspiracy, page 32, by Allain Atienza

Z Lequidre and the Amazing Grendel Conspiracy

By Allain Atienza

Page 32

Grendel and Theodora

After half a minute of jarring and splashing, Grendel set them down in the hollow of a large thicket, then closed off the entrance with more bracken and crouched as they began to hear the pounding of hooves. Theodora sat up and examined her knuckles. “Hello Grendel.” She said.

Zorikh had suspected that this could only be Grendel. Now that all was still, he saw that the gigantic creature was indeed a man, albeit a huge one- Zorikh figured him to be about eight feet tall. His alarmingly bestial image came from his tangled black hair and beard, and his clothing, which was made almost entirely of animal skins and furs. Green-gray eyes shone from under his shaggy bangs.

“Hello Theodora,” Grendel said in a deep voice without looking at her. “Why have you come?”

Theodora scowled and said, “I’m well, thank you Grendel, and you?” Grendel turned and allowed himself a slight smile.

“How are you Theodora? Did you know that there are Frisians in the wood, searching for me? They’ve been here for three days.”

“I’m fine Grendel. You’re looking well and healthy. I know there are people hunting for you, I tracked their leader here, I don’t know why he wants you.” Suddenly she rushed forward and threw her arms around his massive shaggy shoulders. “You great hairy oaf! I’ve been so worried about you!”

“I’ve missed you Theodora Haze.” He mumbled. “Thank you for coming to help me.” He held her in his great arms for what seemed to Zorikh to be a long time. “I think we’re being rude to your friend.” He turned his green-gray eyes to Zorikh. “I’m Grendel. I see congratulations are in order.”

Zorikh blinked twice. “I don’t understand. I mean- I’m Zorikh, and I’m glad to meet you. And I still don’t understand what you mean.”

Grendel nodded towards the sword still in Zorikh’s grip. “You’ve captured a sword from an enemy. A great feat, is it not?”

“Only because you warmed him up for me,’ Zorikh said. “I just didn’t want it in my ribs.”

Grendel’s eyes crinkled in a smile at this. “You’re not a warrior? You don’t boast like one.”

“Not that I know of, just a traveler. Theodora’s friend, who’s trying to make sense of what hopefully is a new and lasting career.” Zorikh shook Grendel’s gigantic hand. The giant’s grip was surprisingly gentle.

“It is very nice to meet you Zorikh,” said Grendel in his deep rumble. “Very nice to meet a brave man who’s content to be just that- a brave man. The world needs more brave men and less warriors-" he stopped abruptly as the sound of horses grew and Hrothgar’s hunting party broke suddenly into a small clearing a stone’s throw away. For a moment, Zorikh, Theodora and Grendel lay still and listened to the shouts of Hrothgar’s warriors as they debated which way to search next. Then Hrothgar himself put and end to it and barked at them all to follow him eastward. With more shouts and whoops, the retinue sped eastward and the thunder of hooves faded away. Grendel sat up and sighed.

“Hrothgar’s still a pleasant ruffian, isn’t he? He’s been searching for the last three weeks or so. At first I thought those Frisians were his huntsmen, but yesterday I saw them hide when Heorot’s party came. It seems I’m suddenly popular.”

"Grendel, something has been killing Hrothgar’s people, tearing them limb from limb I hear.” Theodora told him. “You’re the number one suspect. I know I don’t have to ask…” she trailed off.

“You don’t have to ask. I chose a hermit’s life to a killing life, Theodora. I still haven’t changed, but I don’t understand why there are two men hunting for me. Who was the leader of those Frisians?”

Theodora explained who Digo was, and what he wanted with Grendel. This all seemed to baffle the giant. “Use me as a weapon? That’s absurd,” he said, pushing his matted hair from his face. Theodora agreed.

“Yet here he is,” she said, “and with help. We need to take you somewhere safe Grendel. I’m afraid it will have to be Heorot.”

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