“There is a story told in Asgard,” said Thor after a deep gulp of drink.
“Only one?” said Tony. “I took you guys to be all about some power ballads.”
“We do indeed possess many treasured sagas, though I have not the talent to recite them with due justice. This story is more akin to a child’s tale, if you would care to hear it.”
“Knock yourself out.”
Thor looked at him.
“It means ‘proceed.’”
“The tale is of a Jotun and an Asgardian prince.”
“What’s a yotin?”
“A frost giant.”
“Both Jotun and Asgardian were princes of their realm, born of highest standing and destined to inherit the throne of their people. Their realms had long been at war, but in the generation of their fathers an uneasy peace had been established. It lay tenuous, often tested by skirmishes near the border where the realms met.
When the Asgardian prince neared the age of manhood, he thought himself ready to ride out and see these enemies of which he had always heard tell. He was young and brash of action, and fascinated by the stories of old telling of great battles between Asgard and Jotunheim. He wished to test himself.
The Jotun prince was not so reckless. His was a quiet and more thoughtful way. He practiced magic, but also enjoyed the solitude of the wilderness, where he would often go to hunt the great beasts that wandered the frozen plains between the realms.”
“Let me guess.” Tony ordered another beer. “They ran into each other?”
“How did you know?”
“Wouldn’t be much of a story otherwise.”
Thor bowed his head, conceding the point.
“They did happen to meet by chance. They were immediately hostile to one another. The Jotun prince thought to use magic and tricks in an attempt to humiliate the Asgardian and run away, and the Asgardian gave chase. He would not relent. Finally they came to blows.”
“Neither. It was an even match. They fought for the whole of a day, but neither would yield. It was only exhaustion that caused them to part, and they agreed to meet the next day to finish the battle.”
“Not very good tactics for avoiding a war, princes killing each other,” said Tony.
“Indeed not. But neither knew the other was prince. The Asgardian wore armor like that of every other warrior in the realm, and the Jotun prince had dressed himself as a hunter.”
“But they kept their word and met in the same location the next day for their match. And the day after that. And the day after that.”
“They fell in love.”
Tony paused mid-sip. He put his drink down, and wiped his mouth on a bar napkin.
“Well, that’s…abrupt.” He frowned. “Wouldn’t Chilly Billy’s size give him a major advantage?”
Thor looked down at his drink. He rotated the glass slowly between his fingers.
His eyes were distant.
“The Jotun was…small,” he said. “For a frost giant.”
“Just like that, huh?”
“It is not so unreasonable to consider. With no knowledge of the other’s rank, they treated each other with a genuine respect earned through skill. They did not share with the other who they truly were. They enjoyed too much being accepted as themselves, rather than their titles.
It did not happen quickly, but it did happen. They would meet. They would battle. Then when it was proved once more the match could not be decided, they would yield together, their bodies as one upon the snow.”
“And what’s a fairy tale without a gay sex scene,” Tony mumbled over his hand.
Thor bowed his head. He scratched his hair a little. Sheepish.
“I am sorry. That particular detail was unnecessary.”
“Nah. I’m drunk enough. Keep going. How long before their dads found out?”
“It did not feel long at all for them. Of course both kings demanded they cease consorting with the enemy immediately. With heavy hearts they set out to their place of meeting, but the Asgardian prince happened upon an idea. Instead of common armor he dressed himself to full, shining regalia, and put his winged helm upon his head, and set out upon a royal warhorse.
When the Jotun prince saw him dressed so, he could scarcely look upon him, so bright shone his glory. The Jotun prince had come as he always did: in hunter’s furs and leathers. He demanded to know who it was whose grand visage stood before him.
The Asgardian prince revealed himself by name, and the Jotun knew him instantly.
‘What do you come here for?’ said the Jotun.
‘I bring a message from he who would have met you here,’ answered the Asgardian. ‘I am to tell you your lover will not be coming. He is banished, never to see you again.’
Hearing this, the Jotun flew into despair. He would scarcely listen to anything else the Asgardian said.
But the Asgardian prince spoke on.
‘However, I see you are as lovely as ever described. I will extend my hand to you, and allow you to return to Asgard at my side. I will give you riches and comfort beyond any that common fool could offer.’
The Jotun would not hear him.
‘I have no need nor care for your riches,’ he bristled. ‘I would have his smile before all the glittering gold in your city. Now get thee gone!’
‘But I offer you everything,’ said the Asgardian.
‘I already have everything I could want,’ answered the Jotun, ‘save the one thing I desire.’
Then the Jotun prince revealed himself by name, and the Asgardian was astonished. He could not bear the sight of his love in such distress any longer, and climbed down from his horse. He removed his helm and cloak, and stripped the more gleaming parts of his armor, that the Jotun could see him.
‘Dear heart,’ he said at last. ‘I am your desire.’”
“And they ran into each other’s arms and lived happily ever after,” Tony mumbled.
Thor tilted his head.
“Not as such. The Jotun prince was quite cross at having been deceived. I believe he threw a ball of snow at him.”
Tony snorted. He sank down lower against the bar and lifted his beer to toast.
“That’s the best ending to a fairy tale I’ve ever heard.” He drank to it. “So did Asgard go to war? Seems like that would be the happy ending.”
Thor looked down to his drink. A fondness lay in his smile.
“Almost. But with their union, the two princes forged a stronger and better peace for both realms.”
“And then they lived happily ever after?”
“I like to believe they did.”