I’m working on a small collection of themed shorts. It was a little thin so I thought I’d fill it out with an adaptation of one of the Norse Myths, in this case, Thor’s Journey to Jotunheim.
It’s basically a retelling of the tale, fleshed out with detail and dialog, with a few additions of my own that I do not believe are inconsistent with the mythos but that serve to round out the tale and the characters. Here’s a brief snippet:
IN THE HALL OF THE GIANT
Sleet fell in slanting streams from the iron-gray sky. The barest hint of carmine indicated where the sun neared the western horizon.
The two-wheeled chariot, drawn by two enormous goats, rumbled to a stop in the lee of a hill. The larger of the chariot’s two occupants shifted the reins to one hand and twisted to look at the young man who trotted nimbly behind the chariot.
“Thjalfi,” the burly one said, “find us shelter. The weather is worsening.”
The young man stopped and bowed. “At once, master.”
As the young man dashed off, the smaller of the chariot’s occupants hopped to the ground. He stretched.
“Why do you insist on using that thing, Thor,” the smaller said. “A horse would be more comfortable.”
The burly one, Thor, laughed. “It is what people expect. I am the charioteer.”
“Yes, yes,” the other said. “And when the goat-drawn chariot approaches with hoof beats like thunder, all know it is Thor who rides. Have you thought that when you journey in Jotunheim, that perhaps it might be a good idea not to let everyone know that it is Thor who approaches? Could you find some wit in that skull of yours for once?”
“Why, Loki,” Thor said. “Do you fear your kin might give you cold reception?”
Loki snorted. “I have lived among the Aesir for how long now? I don’t think even my own mother would recognize me as Jotun now.”
Before Thor could respond, Thjalfi returned. “Master?”
“There is a cave to the left of our track but not far, large enough for us all, with enough overhang we can build a fire and…” He cast a sideways glance at the goats.
Thor chuckled. “Well done, lad. Lead on.” He looked down at Loki. “Will you ride or do you prefer to walk?”
“Fine. Fine.” Loki put a hand on the rail of the chariot and lightly vaulted up onto it.
“Lead, Thjalfi,” Thor said. “Tanngrisnir, Tanngnjóstr, on.”
Thjalfi was as good as his word. They soon came to the yawning entrance to a cave, barely visible in the gloom.
Thor pulled the chariot up to the entrance and stopped. The opening was low. Thor would need to stoop to enter. But it was large enough to hold the three of them and the interior was dry.
“This will do.” Thor hopped off the back of the chariot. He removed the massive hammer from where it hung at his belt. “Bring firewood.”
Thjalfi bowed before turning and speeding off into the gathering darkness.
With measured blows, Thor struck each of the goats once in the head. Long practice let him measure the force and location of the blow, just enough to kill the goat from shock without cracking bone.
By the time Thjalfi returned with an armload of wood Thor had the two goats dressed and skinned and was carving chunks of meat from the best parts.
“Uncle Fox,” Thor said with a grin up at Loki. Fire is your province, I believe.”
Loki snorted. “Just because the similarity of name does not mean that I am a fire god.”
Thor paused in his carving. “Can you start the fire or not?”
“Of course I can start the fire. I’m just saying…”
Thor held up his hands. “Peace. Peace.”
Loki closed his mouth and looked toward Thor, not directly into his eyes, but close. Thor followed the direction of his gaze to his own right hand, still holding the knife that dripped blood, spoiling the peaceful nature of his gesture. He laughed.
“Please, Uncle, if you would start the fire.”
“Very well, nephew.”
Thor flipped the knife in the air and caught it be the blade. He held the grip toward Thjalfi. “Continue the butchering while I inspect our shelter.”
Thor started to turn toward the mouth of the cave then paused and looked back. “And, Thjalfi?”
Thor tapped his thigh with one finger and cocked his head to the side.
“No, master. I will be careful.”
Thor grinned and turned back to the cave. It was, perhaps, unkind of him to continue to tease the boy for that long ago incident but Thjalfi took the teasing with a good heart. While Thjalfi’s effrontery of breaking the goat’s thighbone to get to the marrow had earned him much more severe punishment than being made Thor’s bond servant, Thor liked the lad. The arrangement had worked well for both of them. Bilskirnir was a far better dwelling than the peasants cottage and his work for Thor, relying mainly on his fleetness of foot, was far lighter than guiding a team of oxen plowing a field.
Then there were the apples, why Thjalfi remained but a lad after so many years.