The celebration over the death of the Grendel was great, and went on all day and into the evening. In the tradition of the Danes, men came to the king’s hall and the king’s table to be feasted and such feasting went on around the clock. Blankets were available, and men generally curled up on the floor, the benches and the tables and slept until breakfast, when things started up all over again.
Beowulf was gifted beyond reason. The arm and hand of the Grendel got nailed to the wall, and the others could hardly stop singing Beowulf’s praises. They had an especially poignant moment when the sun went down and no one vacated the hall. A great cheer went up, and it lasted a good ten minutes, sort of like Times Square, New York on New Year’s Eve; but then Beowulf excused himself and went to the room prepared for him. He looked exhausted more than anything else.
Festuscato and his crew also left the hall at that point, having stayed up all night themselves; but before Festuscato could sleep, he took Mirowen to see the Geat.
“No, I can’t,” Mirowen said, and she pulled back a little, but not too hard. She feared what Beowulf would say if he really knew the truth. But then, she had already explained at least a little, so she did not resist too hard. “Can’t you just fix it?” she asked, knowing the answer full well.
Festuscato could not imagine how she spent enough time with the man to even tell him a little, but he knew that love had a way of bringing lovers together when no one knew.
“I could go invisible and he’ll not know I am there, and he will think you are crazy,” Mirowen threatened.
“I could scream,” Mirowen said.
“Scream all you like. I am sure he would find that picture most attractive,” Festuscato said.
“Oh! You’re impossible,” she pouted.
He dragged her the last couple of steps to Beowulf’s door where she yanked her hand free and stood with her arms folded while Festuscato knocked.
The door opened slowly and Beowulf stepped aside to invite them in without a word, as if he had been expecting them. Mirowen sat daintily on the couch, her hands folded and in her lap, her eyes closed as if she did not want to watch, only her red, pointed ears were wide open. She would have to translate.
“Noble Roman,” Beowulf began. “I see now your wisdom is far greater than I would have suspected.” He paused to rub his shoulder. Clearly his struggle with the beast had strained his muscles to the limit. “I do not feel the least hesitation now in asking your permission for my lady’s hand. I could search the world over and never find one so lovely and so worthy to someday be queen.”
Festuscato sat, though uninvited. He had a hard time keeping a straight face. “God!” He said to Mirowen. “I feel like your father. There’s a switch.” Mirowen did not translate. She gave him a nudge with her eyes. Beowulf waited.
“Tell me first what she has told you,” Festuscato said. Beowulf paused. He had not been expecting that question. Perhaps all he expected was a yes or no.
“She has told me she is not human, that she is an elf of the light, and that you are her Lord and might very well say no.” Beowulf spoke slowly. Mirowen wanted to correct him on one point, but Festuscato had her hold her tongue.
“I need to know what he heard, not what you said.” He told her, and turned again to Beowulf. “And do you believe this?” He asked.
“But do you believe this?” Festuscato asked again. Beowulf had not answered the question. “She may be mad you know.” Festuscato suggested and ducked in case Beowulf, or more likely, Mirowen chose to hit him.
Beowulf actually took courage from the suggestion. “Then I will have a mad wife,” he said rather loudly and went to stand beside Mirowen and held her hand before he continued. “I came here on the word of a water sprite, one who calls himself King of the Whale Road. Before then I thought such creatures were the ravings of men too long at sea. But when I arrived, I saw this king bow to you and call you Lord. However odd that may have seemed, I did not forget. Then I fought with a creature which if any man had told me, I would have proclaimed him mad, or at best beset by nightmares. And now, my Lady Mirowen has declared herself an elf. I am in no position to doubt her. What else can I do?”
“See with your own eyes and decide,” Festuscato said. Mirowen shouted “No!” without rendering the words for Beowulf, but it was too late. With a wave of Festuscato’s hand, the glamour around Mirowen fell away and she sat revealed a true elf, pointed ears and all, though the ears were a little red at the moment.
Mirowen dared not look at her man, but Festuscato saw the briefest moment of shock before the man fell to her feet. “Oh, my lady,” Beowulf said. “How I wondered in my mind and struggled against doubt with more trouble than ever with the Grendel. I am unworthy, but I beg you to marry me. You, alone, can teach my heart to believe.”
“I will, sir,” Mirowen said as the smile creased her lips. Then she abandoned herself to fling her arms around his neck. “I will, I will.” Festuscato understood what Mirowen said, of course. He would understand her words no matter what language she spoke. But then, he did not know what Beowulf said. That got told to him later.
Festuscato stood up. “One thing you must know,” he said, and watched them separate a little so Mirowen could translate. “And one thing you must do.” He paused and they pulled apart, but never let go of their hands. “It is likely that you may never have children.” He said it straight out, and Mirowen gasped and nearly cried as she translated.
“We have spoken of this,” Beowulf said. “I have brothers and soon enough there will be nephews. The throne will not want after our days. But for the lady, I will simply have to love her all the more, and surround her with children if this is her desire.” Mirowen did let a few tears fall, then, but they were happy tears. Then Beowulf stood like a man ready. “So what must I do?” He asked.
“You must finish your work here.” Festuscato said. “I will give you my answer only after the work is done.”
“But have I not defeated the beast? Is the work not done?” Beowulf did not understand.
“Not yet. I don’t think so.” Festuscato shook his head. “But at least sleep on it tonight, and then we will see.” Beowulf looked reluctant. Festuscato turned to Mirowen. “Make the fire dance in your hand,” he commanded. She held up her hand and a small flame came up to dance for a moment in the wind before Festuscato took her by the hand. “Sleep on it.” He spoke again to Beowulf. “There is much to consider. Do not let your youth drive you into the water even to save a friend. It is not a wrong thing to check the water first for monsters. Sleep.”
Beowulf took a step back and reluctantly nodded. “I will bow to the wisdom of age,” he said.
Mirowen and Festuscato were half way down the hall before Festuscato responded. “Hey. I’m not that old!”
Mirowen wanted to laugh, but found no laughter in her. He took her all the way to her room before he talked to her heart. “Well, it was bound to happen someday,” he said, with a grin and kissed her goodnight. She beamed when she shut the door.
“So now we see what mother will do.” Festuscato responded, before he went into his room.
Around three or four in the morning, the still of the night got interrupted by screams. A new and most grisly murder occurred in Heorot, the hall where Hrothgar was king.