I guess I want to start with a quick ‘why am I doing this’. Norse Mythology is absolutely amazing and so very different from other mythologies out there. And unlike the others, it seems like it’s almost encouraged for you to retell them in your own way. As Neil Gaiman says in the introduction of his Norse Mythology: “That’s the joy of myths, the fun comes in telling them yourself, something I warmly encourage you to do”. So, Mr Gaiman, I’m taking your encouragement and I’m going to run with it, ‘cause why not. Below is a retelling of one of the tales Gaiman covers – Freya’s Unusual Wedding, the 8th story in his collection. Seriously, go check it out, it is a fantastic book and his take on the Myths he covers is so refreshing.
The one where Thor nearly married an Ogre – Part 1
The sun shone through the windows as it slowly peaked over the horizon, its rays caressing the sleeping forms of Thor and his beautiful wife Sif. Thor rolled over, burying his head in his pillows as he grumbled. “I forgot to close the curtains again..” He sighed, and after a few more moments, he swung his legs out of bed and blinked a few times as his eyes adjusted to the bright light. He pulled on his trousers and looked to the floor by his bed, blinking again.
“Sif…” He said, shaking his wifes shoulder to rouse her. “Sif.. Where did I leave my hammer last night..?” He let the question linger as he thought over the events of the night before, feasting and singing, and drinking, lots of drinking, but he remembered making it to his room and he remembered putting his hammer down beside him as he fell into bed.
Thor’s hammer was special. It was forged for him by the brothers Brokkr and Eitri in their workshop in Svartalfheim, the world of Dark Fields, and is perfect in every way but one. Due to a slight mishap during the forging of the weapon (no thanks to Loki), the handle is a little short, meaning Thor can only wield it with one hand. It can shrink it down to fit it in his pocket, and no matter how hard and far he throws it, it will always come back to his hand. It can level mountains and kill a giant in a single hit. It’s name is Mjolnir, and it was missing.
“Loki…” He growled as he pushed himself to his feet. When things went wrong in Asgard, the easiest thing, and usually the correct assumption, was to blame Loki, but even at his worst, Thor doubted even Loki would do this. If, as in with this case, it is something you don’t think Loki is likely to have done, the second step is to assume Loki either knows something about it, or will figure out a way to fix it. So this is what Thor did. He stormed out of his room, leaving Sif staring after him, a look of confusion on her face as the door slammed behind him.
He stalked through the halls, eventually making it to Loki’s room. Boom, boom boom Thor hammered on the door. “Loki!” He shouted. “Loki!!”
“I’m coming!” Loki’s voice could be heard, and after a few moments, as Thor lifted his hand to knock again, the hinges squeaked and the door was unlocked and opened. “Good morning, Thor! I hope you had a fantastic evening last night, though I’m surprised to see you up so early” Loki’s voice soft and gentle, a smile on his face as he knew he had done nothing to arouse Thor’s wrath, so what did Thor need him to fix this time?
“My hammer. Mjolnir. It’s… it’s missing.” Thor replied as he lowered his hand. “And I need you to go find it.”
“Good morning to you too, Loki, yes, last night was fine indeed, it’s a shame I didn’t see you there” Loki said in a surprisingly accurate mimicry of Thor’s voice as he stepped aside to let the Aesir enter. “What do you mean it’s missing?” He eventually continued.
“I put it by my bed when I went to sleep and when I woke up, it was gone.”
“And.. what exactly do you want me to do about it?” Loki asks again.
“I want you to find it, Loki.” Thor replied without hesitation. “I need my hammer back. Without it, how am I meant to protect Asgard and Midgard? How am I meant to kill Giants?”
Loki sighed with resignation. “Fine. Follow me”
Loki led them through the halls and corridors to Freya’s chambers and before he had the chance to knock Thor burst through the door. “Freya! Loki wants…” He turns to Loki stepping in behind him. “Why are we here, Loki? Does Freya have -”
“Shut up, Thor.” Loki interrupted before lowering himself in a bow to the goddess before him. “My beautiful Frey-”
“What do you want, Loki?” She asked, her eyes as cold as ice as she stared at the two of them.
Loki straightened “I need to borrow your cloak, the one that lets you fly like a bird”
Her laugh was musical as it echoed around the hall before she looked back to him, deadpan. “No.” she says simply.
“But Freya” Thor whined.
“You think I’m going to lend one of my prize possessions to you two? Really?” She asks with a raised eyebrow. “After the incident with my necklace of the Brisings, you really think I would trust you, Loki, with my cloak?”
“Thor’s hammer has been stolen and I need to go find it. Once again, Freya, may I please borrow your cloak?”
She looks to him, her eyes tracking over him for any hint of mischief, but seeing the clear worry of Thor, she nods. “I’ll go get it.”
Thor and Freya watched as Loki took to the skies like an Eagle and soared through the clouds until he disappeared from sight.
He soared across the worlds, from Asgard, over Midgard, towards Jotunheim, also called Udgård. It was as he crossed the borders of Jotunheim he spotted a large figure sat upon a hill weaving what appeared to be dog collars. He circled around the figure for some time before settling on the ground before it.
“Loki!” The figure bellowed. “It is very good to see you out this way, what brings you to the Land of the Giants on this fine morning?”
Loki tilted his head. He did not know this figure, though could now identify him as an Ogre. “How do you know me?” He asked.
“How are things back in Asgard?” He asks, choosing not to respond to the one Loki had asked “How is Thor and how is Freya?”
Something at that moment clicked in Loki’s mind. “Thor’s Hammer, Mjolnir, has been stolen, you wouldn’t happen to know anything about that now, would you?”
“Of course I do!” The Ogre roared with a laugh. “I took it from his bedside in the early hours this morning, why else would I be sitting here waiting for you, Loki?”
“Don’t get me wrong sir, sorry, what was your name again?”
“I am Thrym” The Ogre declared with triumph, “Lord of all the Ogres”
Loki nods and continues. “Now Thrym, Lord of all the Ogres, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate your pranks, the Asgardians on the other hand… don’t. I need to take Thor’s hammer home and return this cloak to Freya before she has the Dwarves make my hide into a cloak.”
“You can have Mjolnir back,” Thrym said with a smile, but he held a hand up to stop Loki before he could thank him. “on one condition”
“That will be no problem!” Cried Loki in relief. “I can arrange a ransom for the Hammer, Gold, Gems, Treasures, whatever you could dream of, just return the hammer and whatever it is will be yours!”
“I want Freya. The beautiful Freya. I want her to be my wife and in return I shall present Mjolnir as a bridal gift. That is all I ask, simply her hand in marriage”
Loki did not like the sound of this. Freya would never agree to such a thing, though in return for the hammer, surely even Freya could make a sacrifice to retrieve the weapon, Thor did need it to protect them, and Midgard from the Giants…
“She will come to my halls in eight days time” Thrym continued. “Shrouded in her bridal veil how beautiful she will look…” Then Thrym became silent, his eyes unfocusing as he fell into daydreams of the life ahead of him with Freya.
Loki landed before Thor, who unlike Freya had stayed to wait for his return. “You know something.” Thor said, narrowing his eyes in accusation. “Tell me what it is you know before you… do what you always do and cause more trouble”
Loki stood there, a look of mock offence on his face. “I’m hurt that you would think such a thing of me, Thor, am I not the reason you have your hammer in the first place?” Loki was correct, as he usually was. It was in fact he that set the brothers Brokkr and Eitri against the sons of Ivaldi and had them produce the treasures of the gods, Mjolnir included – but that is a tale for another time. “Though you are correct in your assumption that I know something. I have found your hammer, I have found Mjolnir”
Thor’s face lit up “Do you have it? Where is it?”
Loki’s lips pursed. “Thrym, Lord of all the Ogres has it.” He stated “And he is willing to ransom it back to us”
“So what does he want, gold, gems, treasure?”
“He wants Freya”
Loki and Thor kneeled before the beautiful Freya and she took her folded cloak from Loki’s outstretched hand. “I trust you found Mjolnir?” She asked as she retook her seat upon the dias.
Loki lowered his arms and raised his gaze to the Goddess. “I was not in a position to retrieve it, but I have located it and it is retrievable.” He said.
“That is good! I wish you all the luck in the nine realms, now both of you, kindly leave”
Thor opened his mouth and was about to speak, stopped in his tracks with a cold glare from Loki, who pushes himself to his feet. “Unfortunately, it’s not going to be that simple.” He said with a soft sigh. “Do you know of Thrym, Lord of all the Ogres?”
She inclined her head. “I have heard of him. A nasty piece of work on all accounts” She said. “If he has your hammer, Thor, then you will be lucky to get it back”
Thor pushed himself to his feet as he was addressed and once again went to speak, but Loki stopped him with a raised hand and spoke in his place.
“Thrym has agreed to ransom Mjolnir back to us, and asks for simply one thing to guarantee it’s safe return to us” Loki said as he took a small step forward. Freya raised an eyebrow but nodded to him to continue. “Thrym has simply asked to wed the most beautiful of those who reside in Asgard”
Thor looked to Loki in outrage. “You told me it was Freya he wanted to marry, not Sif!”
She pointedly ignored Thor and continued to look at Loki, even for him, her face was unreadable.
“Yes, it is you, Freya, most beautiful of all, who’s hand Thrym wishes to have in marriage.”
She inclines her head
“In eight days time,” Loki continued, “You shall be presented to Thrym as his bride, and in return, as a Bridal Gift, he shall give you Mjolnir”
Her icy visage remained unchanging. “If you think I, Freya of the Vanir, most beautiful of all those who reside in Asgard, will allow you send me off to live the rest of my life in Jotunheim, if you think I will allow you to sell me off to an Ogre in return for Mjolnir, you truly are idiots, Loki, I thought so much better of you than this.”
“But Freya!” Thor whined. “What about my hammer? What about Mjolnir?”
“That” Freya said as she rose to her feet, “Is for you two lackwits to figure out. I am going to go enjoy my evening and forget this exchange ever happened. Now if you don’t mind” She motioned to the door.
“But Freya!” Thor continued to whine as Loki dragged him from the hall.
To Be Continued…
Part II can be found here