Somewhere on the Western Front.
The mud had grown thick with slurry and gore, turning the twisted mess of metal into malignant mire. Beneath its surface sat an entrenched encampment, buried and bound by those barbs. Men say it was the sturdiest structure since the hardy hall of Heorot stood, this camp cached full with arms as is cargo for a ship, yet
I have never heard of a ship so well furbished
War waged wearily through wet winter, while warriors wrought waste with wicked weapons. The gain was far from great, destruction drowned the dead. Bleeding from the beast of the Boche battlements, the tide of battle turned slowly to stalemate.
During the day came the din of gunfire, with night came noisesome gallantry. Sound seeped through shadow, to the Special Unit Grun Dahl.
It harrowed him
to hear the din of the loud banquet
every day in the hall, the harp being struck
and the clear song of a skilled poet
Those hardy men who held Heorot let sound succumb to subtle sleep. Through dead of night, despicable devilry of Grun Dahl did creep.
The silence was eerie; by day the soldiers were used to the chatter of machineguns and the crash of mines, at night they had been accustomed to the rowdy humours of a safely entrenched home. The men of Grun Dahl made their silent way across no-man’s land, towered above the trench of Heorot. This tight unit of four bloodthirsty brutes wrenched back the corrugated iron that hid the entrance to the trench, dropped down. In the darkness, no man was prepared as
the God-cursed brute was creating havoc:
greedy and grim, he grabbed thirty men
from their resting places and rushed to his lair.
Daybreak dawned upon the desecration of holy Heorot; hard did the heroic commanders survey that scene. Word winged far and fast and wild, how Heorot had suffered serious hardship, to men from afar who held high orders.
830 Company was dispatched, taking the long and arduous journey from Geat reserves to the site of hideous brutality. As these fresh troops were hurried towards Heorot, moving by night and by day,
the viscious raids and ravages of Grendel,
his long and unrelenting feud,
nothing but war
continued at their target. The men of Heorot, tired by the days of trench warfare, had no respite in the evening from Grun Dahl. The men could not pull back, they could not fight back, andGrun Dahl struck with subhuman aggression.
We welcomed well those saviours sent, spent the sunlit day with smiles. The company claimed as its commander a man of much might, well versed in the way of war he was.
Nor have I seen
a mightier man-at-arms on this earth
than the one standing here: unless I am mistaken
he is truly noble.
As if a king among the combatants, calmly in his courage did he proclaim:
So tell us if what we have heard is true
about this threat, whatever it is.
This danger abroad in the dark nights,
this corpse-maker mongering death
in the Shieldings’ country.
We told of the terrible tragedy, of terror taunting thick through night. Thick-set was his resolve, coupled with his company roused.
Descending darkness deepened our dread, with willingness we withdrew. The fresh fortune from fearless fighters found places to perch, to prepare for perilous practices. The silence of the sky settled slowly, men of the company calmly slept, save for their courageous commander.
Then out of the night
came the shadow-stalker, stealthy and swift.
In the darkness, the men of 830 Company slept on unaware of the danger that faced them. Grun Dahl quickly dispatched a man near the entrance to the trench. The bloody knifeblade gouging a chunk from the man’s throat, disabling his voice-box and severing the major arteries. In a sickening mess, with a hideous gurgle of mud and blood and gore through the corpse’s mouth he slumped to the floor, painting the air with his blood.
The company’s commander held fast as the brutish unit approached him, murder in its eyes. As the viscous blade descended towards him, he leaped aside and spun on the spot. The commander set his body against the man who had attacked him, gripping hard and tight. His arms were set about the knife-wielder’s and the commander lunged, deflecting the gunfire ofGrun Dahl’s officer with the body he held. The commander stabbed at the others with the knife-arm held rigid, flecking blood and armour about the trench. In a tortured attempt to recover their man, Grun Dahl only succeeded in wounding him further, falling on his knifeblade as they did.
The monster’s whole
body was in pain, a tremendous wound
appeared on his shoulder. Sinews split
and bone-lappings burst.
The panicked unit sent a last frenzied attack against the commander, a flurry of knives and bullets. Grit and determination were with the commander that night, and the deadly cargo he carried received the brunt of these attacks.
Abandoning their man, Grun Dahl fled from the trench, dripping with their own blood and sweat. The commander remained where he fought, dropping the mutilated body of the soldier who had so grievously wounded his comrades.
As Grun Dahl fled the scene, traipsing crimson blood across the sickening mud, all sense of regimen was lost. One man in his frenzy strayed from the path, tripped over a trail of barbed wire which clawed at his shins as he tumbled face first into the obliteration of a landmine.
Stumbling from the blast behind them, the remaining men of Grun Dahl dived into the nauseating pond that concealed their base.
The bloodshot water wallowed and surged,
there were loathsome upthrows and overturnings
of waves and gore and wound-slurry.
Daybreak dawned upon the destruction at holy Heorot, the shine of the sun showed the wreckage wrought. The valour of the courageous company was verified, the vital vein of the commander shone true as he showed the corpse of his conquest. The victory of his vanquish was viewed by all.
With that he warned us of the wounds he had dealt, the wondrous damage he had done toGrun Dahl, while Death dutifully descends upon their doom. Yet determined for their destruction, the commander clamoured for their den. The host of Heorot made it known:
A few miles from here
a frost-stiffened wood waits and keeps watch
above a mere; the overhanging bank
is a maze of tree-roots mirrored in its surface.
At night there, something uncanny happens:
the water burns. And the mere-bottom
has never been sounded by the sons of men.
On its bank, the heather-stepper halts:
the hart in flight from pursuing hounds
will turn to face them with firm-set horns
and die in the wood rather than dive
beneath its surface. That is no good place.
The commander of that company proclaimed that he would proceed to that place. With that they waited for the wilting of the warming sun, and as day drew to a close the company began winding its way through the wilderness.
The brave host of Heorot brought with them the hallowed helmet, begat unto the brawny grasp of the commander. Helped by this helmet, he said, I will defeat those who deigned destruction upon us all.
The brave host of Heorot brought with them the holy bayonet-spere, begat unto the brawny grasp of the commander. By this bayonet-spere, he said, I will lay low those Boche b******s! These wise words brought barbarous bravery among his warriors.
The commander stood above the waterlogged trench, knowing that the remnant of Grun Dahllay there waiting for him. The faint smell of mustard gas seeped through the gasmask and set his stomach churning. Grasping the rifle across his chest, he jumped into the foetid mire.
He could see little through the murky water, past his dim visor, but a faint hint of light from ahead. Wading through the mess towards it, his lungs burning with a lack of air, eventually he burst into the cavernous dug-out; the metallic taint of the purified air through his mask washed with the sickly taste of that depraved water.
On the floor in front of him sat the two remaining soldiers of Grun Dahl, their faces disguised behind their masks, their wounds and welts angry sore in the acidic air. As they saw the commander enter, the officer scrambled to his feet and fumbled for his pistol. The commander took aim with his rifle, and cursed as the soaked firing mechanism jammed.
It had gone through many
a hand-to-hand fight, had hewed the armour
and helmets of the doomed, but here at last
the fabulous powers of that heirloom failed.
Instead, the commander lunged forward with the bayonet-blade; the officer loosed off a shot from his pistol, its bullet smashing into the commander’s shoulder. He was thrown off balance, and far from impaling the German officer merely knocked him to the floor.
Both men struggled to get up, and as the officer readied another shot, the commander fell into a dangerous arc, bringing up the butt of his rifle against the underside of the officer’s chin. The rifle-butt struck squarely, and dislodged the officer’s gasmask.
The commander stared into those bloodshot angry eyes as the officer fell to the floor, gasping and choking on the poisoned air. He stepped forward as the officer fell beside him, and drew the officer’s sword from its scabbard, tossing aside his rifle.
The commander stood over the final member of Grun Dahl, who was too weak to lift his head to face his antagonist.
The commander readied the sword above the man.
The sword plunged through the man’s throat.
A bloodied rasping sound issued forth, the blood mixing with the mustard gas; the soldier writhed and contorted on the floor – as his mask fell off the commander saw the mask of terror and pain painted across his face.
Bloodied and battered, bravely through the brine burst that commander to confront his company. From his hand hung the hefty head of Grun Dahl’s officer, hewn from the haggard corpse, and to Heorot they headed.
It was a happy gathering. In my whole life
I have never seen mead enjoyed more
in any hall on earth.