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Thread: He Was a Good King ("Fate/Stay Night" one-shot)

  1. #1
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors SpoonyViking's Avatar
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    He Was a Good King ("Fate/Stay Night" one-shot)

    The land was dead.

    Only a few hours ago, it had been alive and well, covered in houses of wood and turf, grazed by sheep and cattle, and nurturing a sea of crops such as hay, barley, rye, and oats; but now it was dead. The fires had already been put out, but the ground still smoldered from the wyrm’s rampage. Houses, animals and people, everything that couldn’t escape or hide from the winged terror had been reduced to little more than ruins and corpses – some burned by flame, others poisoned by noxious smoke –, its fiery wrath like a new sun illuminating the night sky in fits and bursts until true dawn sent it back to its lair.

    The king’s heart was pounding.

    His name was Beowulf, son of Edgetho. By the whims of fate and the acclaim of the people, he ascended to the throne of Geatland many winters ago, and though he hadn’t sought the crown for himself, he now served his people in his twilight years as faithfully as he once did his late kings. With him sitting on the chieftain’s chair, the Geats’ prowess was praised throughout the northlands, and they suffered no woes other than those of their own making. Generous to his subjects, terrifying to his enemies, he was a good king.

    He looked over the devastation once more. His sworn warriors had brought much-needed supplies to the survivors and were leading them away in an orderly fashion, but there was still much to be done. The pitiful moans of the dying had finally quieted, his men having offered them the only succor they could, but the living still needed aid, and would need even more in the coming days: even if there had been any homes left, the region would still have to be evacuated, for it seemed the beast’s fell flames had seeped into the very ground and a sickly vapor was now coming off it. The Geats knew it, too: the sadness over losing their lands rivalled their grief over the dead, and some were just staring dead-eyed at the horizon even as they were led away. The dead were silent, but the lamentations of the living were loud enough.

    Beowulf saw it all, and could not stand it.

    “Heed me, my people!” he shouted at them, garbing himself in kingly manners and tone, a well-worn cloak. “Hard was the blow we were dealt by the venomous sky-worm, but it must not break us! We are Geats! Carved from the mighty oak, tempered in the icy flames of the northern twilight! Breathe life into the embers of your souls and stand proud by my side, for we... Will... Triumph!”

    His words, more than the strength of his voice, thundered in their ears. The king had always been more than their ruler, even more than a hero: he was legend made flesh. That he now spoke to them as if they were equals bestowed them the ultimate honour, one they couldn’t betray. Those who had been moments away from the abyss were shocked back into vigour, while others started cheering with fire in their hearts and tongues.

    Beowulf looked over his people with a self-satisfied smile, proud that he had brought them back from the brink of despair. He basked in the Geats’ strength, their reawakened spirit; if nothing else, at least the crown gave him that. His smile turned fierce as he noticed that of those who cheered, none were louder than his sworn warriors, brave and loyal like few (even young Wiglaf, still untested by the storm of swords, had more heart than many battle-hardened veterans).

    The king’s heart was pounding. (Loud. Why so loud? Muscles trembling, insides coiled like a snake. Don’t let them hear, don’t let them see!)

    As soon as the clamor started to quiet, he carried on, undeterred:

    “Many were the battles I have fought since my golden-haired days and never did my courage fail; since the fell worm now comes to plague us with fire and claw and poisonous breath, I will seek its lair and once again again I will defend you, my people, as is my duty as your king! Once again, I will seek battle and perform deeds which are worthy of your praise! For am I not the one who grappled with the loathsome Grendel, spawn of the monstrous races of old, and won? The one who went on to slay the fearsome hag who begat him in turn? Did I not avenge my lord and king Hygelac by slaying Daegreven, greatest fighter of the Franks, not with the steel of a sword, but with the heart-bursting strength of my bare hands?”

    Such was the pride of a hero! It shone through Beowulf’s words so strongly that where before it was the force of his majesty that reached the Geats, they were now nodding along at the simple honesty in what he said.

    The king’s heart was pounding. (Too loud. No – deafening. He was strung so tightly! Where were the looks of disgust? Didn’t they hear it, didn’t they see him?)

    Even the soldiers, who had witnessed many of the hero’s deeds firsthand and were used to his prowess, could only look on reverently (although, strangely, young Wiglaf seemed uneasy with something). Beowulf loved them, for they were the ones who braved the storm of swords beside him, the ones who shed their blood and sweat and tears to lay feasts for wolves and ravens. He smiled warmly as he continued talking, looking directly at each one of those loyal fighters as he did:

    “My comrades, my brothers in arms! It would be to our shame to pursue the firedrake with all our number; we do not fear its cunning or battle-craft, for we have faced many perils with our might and valour. Twelve of you, my faithful champions, must follow me, bearing your tools of war; the others will stay here carrying on my will and wait for our return.”

    He then spoke once more to all the Geats present:

    “I will bear neither sword nor shield, neither axe nor spear, against this new enemy we face, nor will I wear helmet or mail; instead, I will fight it clad only in my fighting spirit, just as once I did fight the troll that haunted Heorot Hall. I will not fear claw nor fang, fire nor poison; I will not turn back even a single footstep. Instead, I... Will... Triumph! This do I proclaim to the fates which rule over our lives!”

    At that, the people cheered once more, even louder than before – for now they were burning with more than just hope, they had the king’s battle-lust fanning the flames in their hearts. The peasants sang his name, their love and devotion flowing freely alongside their tears, even as the warriors struck their weapons against their shields in cadence with the song. And if one among them did neither, it went unnoticed, for Wiglaf, untested by the storm of swords, was still little more than a boy. Already in Beowulf’s mind there was a new idea forming, that twelve of his warriors would follow, but not fight beside him. After all, it was only fitting that he would test his might against the monster alone, for wasn’t he their king? Wasn’t it his duty to bear the burdens of battle in their place?

    The king’s heart was pounding.

    With joy.

  2. #2
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six RoydGolden's Avatar
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    Pretty cool stuff. I like the insinuations that Beowulf is actually way more scared of the dragon then he's letting on, but hiding his fear behind a valorous façade to inspire his people.

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    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors SpoonyViking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoydGolden View Post
    Pretty cool stuff. I like the insinuations that Beowulf is actually way more scared of the dragon then he's letting on, but hiding his fear behind a valorous façade to inspire his people.
    Thanks! That's not what's going on, though; the ambiguity was deliberate, but the final lines reveal his heart is beating out of joy, not fear. :-)
    Last edited by SpoonyViking; May 2nd, 2017 at 08:08 PM.

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    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six RoydGolden's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpoonyViking View Post
    Thanks! That's not what's going on, though; his heart is beating out of joy, after all. :-)
    You're welcome. I wasn't quite sure about that actually, since the way it was described ("not wanting people to see" and all) sounded more like fear to me. Though now that I think of it, it also makes sense that Beowulf would want to hide his immense joy for battle when he's surrounded by people who have pretty much lost everything because of it.

  5. #5
    Climb The Tower Bird of Hermes's Avatar
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    It's always nice to read fics on Servants backgrounds and I think you have Beowulf nailed here. The ambiguity of his heart worked well given the fight was his swan song and all - which suits the tone well.

  6. #6
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors SpoonyViking's Avatar
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    Thanks! :-)

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