With High King Arthur Pendragon’s throne secure, and his wedding to High Queen Guenever complete, it was time for the King to return the many gifts he had received from abroad in a show of largess. Practically speaking, this was primarily to show off his own force of arms, and cement relationships with foreign courts. Though King Ban and King Bors were already solid allies of his court, Arthur wanted to ensure as many alliances as possible. To that end, Sir Aquila led a party consisting of Sir Aethswild, Sir Peregrine, Sir Matthaus, and Sir Collete Magnus Pullo to the kingdom of Zealand.
King Hrothgar of Zealand was renowned for his hospitality, and the knights were greeted with open arms by the Danes. Though they greatly resembled the Saxons that had plagued them, these warriors were noble and hospitable, and brotherhood was easily found. Sirs Aethswild and Matthaus accompanied the Danes on a hunt, capturing a fine red deer for the feast that evening. Sir Peregrine demonstrated horse combat from Britain compared to the animals there, and Sir Collete flirted with the handsome Danish men, securing herself a husband to bring home.
That night much partying and drinking was had, and the knights retired inside the mighty hall with a hundred warriors in seeming comfort. The peace was shattered by a mighty blow to the heavy doors, flinging them open, revealing a hideous monster beyond. Sir Aquila was torn to pieces before he could wake up, and though dozens charged at the creature their blades were turned away by its skin, and it slew many before retreating into the gloom.
The knights gave pursuit, but the creature was soon lost in the woods. Horrified, King Hrothgar swore to track down the beast and bade the knights wait so no more harm would come to them. Furious at the death of Sir Aquila, the four knights joined in the hunt and tracked the beast in the morning. They came to a series of shallow lakes and ponds, but lost the trail there. They did however witness a golden deer harassed by a dark wolf that Sir Matthaus recognised as a sign. Testing it, the beast could not be harmed by sharpened sticks, but was driven off by blunt stones.
That evening, the knights blunted their weapons at a blacksmith, and waited for the creature with Beowulf, the mightiest warrior that Hrothgar had. Again Grendel burst into the hall, but Beowulf’s strong arms held the beast in place while the Knights attacked, heavily wounding the creature. With a furious roar, Beowulf ripped Grendel’s arm off, and again it ran off. The group set off in pursuit, finding themselves at the lakes they were at in the morning, but now could see a small hall under the water, magically lit from below.
Sir Collete waited above, but Beowulf and the other three knights dove below into the stronghold, where they confronted Grendel’s Mother who had brought the corpse of her son back to her hall. Using her horrific magic, she summoned skeletons to fight the Knights, while Beowulf grappled with the hag. Sir Matthaus found a great sword on the wall that caught his eye, and as Sir Peregrine and Aethswild held off the skeletons, he retrieved it and used it to slay Grendel’s Mother in a single stroke.
King Hrothgar and Beowulf both pledged their friendship to the foreign knights, and pledged to honour them as the King would his own vassals. Though the quest was a success, their hearts were still heavy as what was left of Sir Aquila’s body was borne back to Britain, the first Round Table knight to fall…