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I was about five feet away from the bathroom door when I heard violent coughing and gagging. I stepped inside the room and saw Mathias hunched over the toilet. His shoulders spasmed every now and again as he gagged out his dinner. I knelt down beside him and rubbed his back gently, waiting for him to finish.

Mathias coughed and grunted before spitting out a bit more saliva. He pushed himself away from the toilet and leaned back against the wall near him. He was panting, a cold sweat now covering his body. I rubbed his shoulder for a moment, then went through the cabinets for a washcloth and ran some water on it. I wiped the Dane’s mouth, then dabbed the cloth on his sweaty forehead.

Mathias smirked tiredly. “Tak, _____.”

I half-smiled. “I didn’t know you were this sick. You should’ve told somebody, y’know.”

“Yeah. I know.”

I lowered my hand and sighed. “Come on, Mat.” I stood up, slipping my arm around his torso. “Let’s get you back in bed.”

Slowly, I managed to haul Mathias back to his room, and dropped him onto his bed. He rolled onto his back and relaxed, letting out a loud sigh. “Well, that was fun,” he remarked, closing his eyes.

I placed the washcloth back on his forehead. Seeing that the glass of water on the nightstand was still almost full, I turned and headed for the door.

“Wait, where’re you going?” said Mathias. “Aren’t you gonna read some more?”

I looked back at him. “You still up for listening?”

He nodded, removing the washcloth. “I’m starting to feel a little better.”

I sighed and sat back down beside the bed. “Okay,” I said as I opened up the book.

And Beowulf uttered his final boast:
‘I’ve never known fear, as a youth I fought
In endless battles. I am old, now,
But I will fight again, seek fame still,
If the dragon hiding in his tower dares
To face me.’

“Alright,” I started. “So basically, there was a major fifty-year time-skip, and Beowulf’s old and gray now and king of the Geats. There was a dragon sleeping in a tower with a lot of treasure in it. A thief snuck in and tried to steal a cup, but he woke up the dragon. So now the dragon’s been terrorizing the kingdom.”

Then Beowulf rose, still brave, still strong,
And with his shield at his side, and a mail shirt on his breast,
Strode calmly, confidently, toward the tower, under
The rocky cliffs: no coward could have walked there!
And then who’d endured dozens of desperate
Battles, who’d stood boldly while swords and shields
Clashed, the best of kings, saw
Huge sone arches and felt the heat
Of the dragon’s breath, flooding down
Through the hidden entrance, too hot for anyone
To stand, a streaming current of fire
And smoke that blocked all passage. And the Geats’
Lord and leader, angry, lowered
His sword and roared out a battle cry,
A call so loud and clear that it reached through
The hoary rock, hung in the dragon’s
Eat. The beast rose, angry,
Knowing a man had come––and then nothing
But war could have followed. Its breath came first,
A steaming cloud pouring from the stone,
Then the earth itself shook.

“Notice anything different about this fight?” I said quizzically.

Mathias looked at me, then though for a moment. “He’s got a shield and stuff.”

I nodded. “Mm-hm.”

“But what does that mean?”

I didn’t answer, only adjusting the position of the book in my lap.

“_____! What’s gonna happen to Wolfie?!”

“Oh, chill. Just let me read.”

Quickly, the dragon came at him, encouraged
As Beowulf fell back; its breath flared,
And he suffered, wrapped around in swirling
Flames––a king, before, but now
A beaten warrior. None of his comrades
Came to him, helped him, his brave and noble
Followers; they ran for their lives, fled
Deep in a wood. And only one of them
Remained, stood there miserable, remembering,
As a good man must, what kinship should mean.

His name was Wiglaf, he was Wexstan’s son
And a good soldier; his family had been Swedish,
Once. Watching Beowulf, he could see
How his king was suffering, burning. Remebering
Everything his lord and cousin had given him,
Armor and gold and the great estates
Wexstan’s family enjoyed, Wiglaf’s
Mind was made up; he raised his yellow
Shield and drew his sword. . .

And Wiglaf, his heart heavy, uttered
The kind of words his comrades deserved:
‘I remember how we sat in the mead-hall, drinking
And boasting of how brave we’d be when Beowulf
Needed us, he who gave us these swords
And armor: all of us swore to repay him,
When the time came, kindness for kindness
––With our lives, if he needed them. He allowed us to join him,
Chose us from all his great army, thinking
Our boasting words had some weight, believing
Our promises, trusting our swords. He took us
For soldiers, for men. He meant to kill
This monster himself, our mighty king,
Fight this battle alone and unaided,
As in the days when his strength and daring dazzled
Men’s eyes. But those days are over and gone
And now our lord must lean on younger
Arms. And we must go to him, while angry
Flames burn at his flesh, help
Our glorious king! By almighty God,
I’d rather burn myself than see
Flames swirling around my lord.
And who are we to carry home
Our shields before we’ve slain his enemy
And ours, to run back to our homes with Beowulf
So hard-pressed here? I swear that nothing
He ever did deserved an end
Like this, dying miserably and alone,
Butchered by this savage beast: we swore
That these swords and armor were each for us all!'

I paused, looking up at Mathias expectantly. His eyes were brightly focused on me, and his brows furrowed slightly. I cleared my throat and flipped the page. “This version skips the fight––”

“Dammit!” the sick Dane blurted out.

“But I’ll read the description that tells you what happened,” I continued. “‘Wiglaf joins Beowulf, who again attacks the dragon single-handed; but remnant of his sword shatters, and the monster wounds him in the neck––’”

“No, Wolfie!”

“‘Wiglaf then strikes the dragon, and he and Beowulf succeed in killing the beast. Their triumph is short-lived, however, because Beowulf’s wound proves to be mortal.’”

Beowulf spoke, in spite of the swollen,
Livid wound, knowing he’d unwound
His string of days on earth, seen
As much as God would grant him; all worldly
Pleasure was gone, as life would go,

‘I’d leave my armor to my son,
Now, if God had given me an heir,
A child born of my body, his life
Created from mine. I’ve worn this crown
For fifty winters: no neighboring people
Have tried to threaten the Geats, sent soldiers
Against us or talked of terror. My days
Have gone by as fate willed, waiting
For its word to be spoken, ruling as well
As I knew how, swearing no unholy oaths,
Seeking no lying wars. I can leave
This life happy; I can die, here,
Knowing the Lord of all life has never
Watched me wash my sword in blood
Born of my own family. Belovèd
Wiglaf, go, quickly, find
The dragon’s treasure: we’ve taken its life,
But its gold is ours, too. Hurry,
Bring me ancient silver, precious
Jewels, shining armor and gems,
Before I die. Death will be softer,
Leaving life and this people I’ve ruled
So long, if I look at this last of all prizes.'

Mathias looked at me with a sad puppy-eyed face, muttering quietly, “Wolfie. . .”

“And then Wiglaf goes and gets some stuff from the tower for him to look at.” I looked down at the book. “If you ask me, that’s a terrible way die. I don’t mean the getting stabbed in the neck, but that would still suck. I mean. . .if your only love in life is money and fame, then what exactly do you have that you’d regret leaving? If I didn’t have anyone to leave. . .I’m not sure I’d want to live in the first place. . .”

Mathias was now staring at me in––awe? He looked at me intently, then slowly leaned toward me and smiled. He patted my knee, which was the closest part of me to him, and said, “Me, too.”

We looked at each other warmly for a moment, then I cleared my throat. “Well, um, how about we get back to the story?”

“Oh, yeah. Sure.” He removed his large hand from my knee, and the warmth it gave my leg vanished sadly. Nevertheless, I continued with the story.

Beholding the treasure Beowulf spoke, haltingly:

‘For this, this gold, these jewel, I thank
Our Father in Heaven, Ruler of the Earth––
For all of this, that His grace has given me,
Allowed me to bring to my people while breath
Still came to my lips. I sold my life
For this treasure, and I sold it well. Take
What I leave, Wiglaf, lead my people,
help them; my time is gone. Have
The brave Geats build me a tomb,
When the funeral flames have burned me, and build it
Here, at the water’s edge, high
On this spit of land, so sailors can see
This tower, and remember my name, and call it
Beowulf’s tower, and boats in the darkness
And mist, crossing the sea, will know it.’

Then that brave king gave the golden
Necklace from around his throat to Wiglaf,
gave him his gold-covered helmet, and his rings,
And his mail shirt, and ordered him to use them well:

‘You’re the last of all our far-flung family.
Fate has swept our race away,
Taken warriors in their strength and led them
To the death that was waiting. And now I follow them.'

The old man’s mouth was silent, spoke
No more, had said as much as it could;
He would sleep in the fire, soon. His soul
Left his flesh, flew to glory––

By this time, Mathias was all out bawling. Well, I wouldn’t exactly call it bawling––more like passionate whining. He rolled around on the bed, letting out noises you’d expect a baby with colic to make.

“Mat!” I shouted. “Calm down!”

Mathias instantly froze on his back. He moved his eyes to look at me, then directed them at the ceiling. “Ked af det,” he muttered. “Go ahead.”

I blinked at him, but looked back down at the book.

Then the Geats built the tower, as Beowulf
Had asked, strong and tall, so sailors
Could find it from far and wide; working
For ten long days they made his monument,
Sealed his ashes in walls as straight
And high as wise and willing hands
Could raise them. And the riches he and Wiglaf
Had won from the dragon, rings, necklaces,
Ancient, hammered armor––all
The treasures they’d taken were left there, too,
Silver and jewels buried in the sandy
Ground, back in the earth, again
And forever hidden and useless to men.
And then twelve of the bravest Geats
Rode their horses around the tower,
Telling their sorrow, telling stories
Of their dead king and his greatness, his glory,
Praising him for heroic deeds, for a life
As noble as his name. So should all men
Raise up words for their lords, warm
With love, when their shield and protector leaves
His body behind, sends his soul
On high. And so Beowulf’s followers
Rode, mourning their belovèd leader,
Crying that no better king had ever
Lived, no prince so mild, no man
So open to his people, so deserving of praise.

I looked up from the book, having finished the last verse of the story. Mathias sat crisscross on the bed, and he wore that puppy dog face again. He raised his arms and clapped slowly. “That. Was. Awesome.”

I laughed. “You really liked it, huh?”

He nodded emphatically. “Ja.”

“Hm.” I shut the book, putting the book back in my backpack.

“What’s with the ‘hm’?” he asked. “You didn’t like it?”

I breathed slowly as I thought, then, as I let out the breath, said, “No, not really.”

“Why?” he said, almost sounding offended.

I pulled up one of my legs onto the seat of the chair. “Well,” I started, “to me, Beowulf doesn’t really seem like a good hero. While he defeated the ‘evil’, he was very boastful and over-confident in himself and the things he did. Even when he was dying, he wanted people to know him and how great he was. And even when he was dying, he wanted to see the treasure he’d taken from the dragon.” I paused briefly. “Beowulf was an egotistical war-monger who wanted nothing more than fame.”

“That’s not true!” Mathias exclaimed immediately after I finished. “Beowulf was a warrior who wanted to save Herot and the Geats from the monsters. Sure, he wanted people to know all the good stuff he did, but doesn’t everybody? If you focus on just the bad stuff, then you’ll miss out on the good!”

I couldn’t help but stare at the Dane. My expression softened toward him, and I moved to sit beside him on the bed. “Mat. . .you may be an idiot. . .” I smiled gently and patted his messy hair. “But I don’t think you’re a fool.”

Mathias returned the smile, then planted a quick kiss on my forehead. I instantly jumped back.

“Mat!” I yelled. “Don’t do that! You’ll get me sick!”

He laughed. “Oh, come on, _____! You were totally asking for it!”
It's over now, loves. You can quit with the reading voice now. :heart:

Part One:…
Part Two:…
Part Three: :star:

Story © Me
Beowulf © That Dude That Wrote It Down It's kinda public domain now...
Picture © That Person That Isn't Me
Hetalia © That Hidekazu Dude
You © That Dude With The Face
JayDyerLightArt Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2013  Professional Photographer
I liked the story. Good job. 
SnowFox693 Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013
When you get to college, at least if you take British Literature, you read the whole story.
I really liked this story, good job.
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Submitted on
September 12, 2013
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