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Transformation

I could do nothing right. I did everything for him; I was a personal servant boy. I cleaned the mead hall, kept everything running in order. The only rewards I received were bruises and broken bones, hateful words and the knowledge of returning to my stinking pallet, threadbare blanket and cold nights in the stable.

"Get a meal ready, boy," my father shouted.

"Yes, Father," I muttered scurrying to do his bidding, trying to avoid a beating.

I hurried through the stinking hall to cook some meat for the next group of Thane's soldiers which were to arrive around sunset. After a long day's work for the evening meal, it was ready as the soldiers arrived.

I rushed to serve them in their merry making. They spoke of our new king, Hrothgar, King of the Danes. Why did they feel happiness? Especially when I felt none! They should not feel happiness. I rushed from the mead hall; I refused to serve those Danes any longer! I wandered the dirty streets of the villages. The harsh wind took the heat from me through thread bare clothes. Yearning for shelter, longing for its warmth, I searched for it.

"Come," a harsh voice beckoned.

I walked toward its source, down the central road out of town.

"Come."

I furthered my distance from that place, the home of my father, the place where they treated me less than a man. I continued toward the voice, shivering with extreme coldness.

"Come and you will be warm."

I walked on and arrived at a lake, "How will I be warm?"

"You will be warm. You will be loved. You will be free from you father… just jump into the lake," the voice replied.

"But what of my fath…"

"He does not love you. He won't remember."

I felt tears well up in my eyes.

"You are feeble and weak like your father. You will be strong if you jump into the lake."

I took a deep breath and dove into the freezing depths of the lake. Slowly I sank into the darkness, as I did, my lungs yearned for air; they burned in protest. Rough clawed hands grasped my legs. I struggled against them; then darkness over took me.

I was colder than I had ever been in my entire life. What had I done? Why had I followed that voice? Wait! I can breathe! I took great lungfuls of air.

"Why am I so cold?" I shouted.

"You are human," said a horrible, hideous demon, the source of the voice I had followed. "Become like me, give Hrothgar and his Thanes great sadness. Kill them… KILL THEM ALL!"

"It is not right!" I protested.

"Then you will die," the female demon hissed, approaching me, clicking her claws in anticipation of a kill.

"I don't want to die," I said softly.

"Then become a demon like me."

"Then I will… I will become like you."

"And you will call me mother."

"Yes… Mother."

Out of nowhere, she produced a golden goblet covered with endless knots, a goblet fit for the gods. It was filled with a thick, silver liquid.

She placed it in my hands, "Drink it."

I obeyed her; I drank the sweet, warming liquid. All coldness in my veins thawed. Then pain consumed me as I dropped the golden goblet. Ancient voices screamed in agony and my pain-filled yells joined their chorus. My fingers became clawed, my skin grew tough scaly armor, fangs that yearned for human blood grew in my mouth, a spiked tail grew, my nose shrank and my tongue became forked like that of a snake. Great horns sprouted near my new pointed ears. My feet stretched and horrible, sharp talons grew from my blunt, once human toes. Monster's screams erupted from my chest.

"You have done well, my son, Grendel," she crooned. "One last thing… Kill! Kill! Kill in Herot!"

"I am tired," I groaned.

"Rest, then kill."

I slipped into slumber. When I awoke my keen eyes noticed every detail of the underwater cavern. Blood… I need blood! I forced myself up on all fours then stood on two feet. I crept up a tunnel that I hadn't seen before; I crawled through for a long time; it could have been hours, days, weeks, months, or maybe even years. They won't feel happiness now! I'll kill them during a feast! I will cripple Hrothgar. He will pay by watching his men die!

When I reached the exit of the tunnel, a harsh, barren, winter landscape greeted my eyes as I spotted Herot in the distance. I lurked in the shadows of the snowy moor. By the time the sun had set the merry making was on the way. I crept toward the hall. The gate was rough with well hewn fresh pine logs. I ran my sharp claws along the logs. Easily, I could break them, like twigs in a broom. With my clawed-hands, I crushed the wood, splinters flew everywhere. I rushed into the hall and grabbed a man and ate him, his human blood ran down my scaled cheeks. I approached the young King upon the throne but it seemed forbidden. It would be more painful for the King to watch all his men suffer and die. I hurried away with more meat to satisfy my new-found hunger. Blood never was so sweet, so satisfying. I became Grendel.