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by J.D. Byrd
The child of Grendel wandered beside the northern sea,
then turned her face from whale-roads to seek the lore of Hrothgar’s time.
In cold, dark forests that guarded their secrets well, she strode
until she found a moss laden ruin… the place of Grendel’s doom.
The graven stone and runic beams of once great hall
made eldritch claim to the moon’s faint light.
Each worm-eaten word carved in graying oak was a trace
of the time when her father walked the fens and moors.
The ashes of fire-pits that had blazed when men sang
the lays of heroes and of their fearsome foes
were cold and wet under the silence of the years.
Yet, she scratched at the dead embers and tried to taste the words.
The crumbling stones and rotting logs of the mead-hall
whispered their secrets in the tongues of rain and wind.
But their thoughts were lost to her and she moved on,
seeking answers that were as the smoke of their fires.
Grendel’s child withdrew from the ruin and spat the ash-words.
For it was men who wrote their heroes’ tales
and it was they who told of their foes’ ill deeds.
No songs of the hall would name them as the monsters they could be.
She sat alone, facing the last image of the ancient king
to study the face of he who bartered her father’s death.
How else could she yet come to know her father’s life
When all who knew him and feared him were now dead?
She lay before the tomb of the Northlander chief
and slumbered through the passing of snows
until the final vestige of Hrothgar passed from this Earth
and the child of Grendel had turned to stone.