Thursday, October 6, 2011

Of Wyrms and Women pt 16

[part 1] [part 2] [part 3][part 4][part 5][part 6][part 7][part 8][part 9][part 10][part 11][part 12][part 13][part 14][part 15]

The women wail. The King of the Danes is dead. The women wail, keening for the king. The men frame a fire around Halfdane’s stately body. Hrothgar places a jewelled sword wyrm-slayer in his father’s hand. The blaze begins. Gold glints beneath the body. The heat heightens. Metal melts. The Shieldings stand back. Wealhtheow weeps with the women. This funeral feels foreign; there are no chants, no songs of sorrow to sing. Here, the grief is wordless. Here, they howl into the heat, into the darkness. They open their throats, and sound pours over the pyre. The fire grows feverish. It roars, rearing over the crowd. The mourners return the roar. The stench of sweat and wood and flesh fill the air.

The conflagration calms. The activity abates. The men bury the smouldering rubble, stifling the remaining flames. The women wait, wilted. The smell of smoke hangs heavy. Grey grit covers clothes, makes eyes itch. Wealhtheow prays let my husband be regal, a renowned ring-giver. Hrothgar’s kingship has commenced.

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