Once upon a time, there was a frozen kingdom with many dead kings but never any queens (Or was it many dead queens and never any kings?). You could walk for hours in its snow-covered fields, your limbs numb, your ears and nose stiff to the touch, your breath frosting in front of you, and see naught but darkness, until the sun sluggishly peaks over the horizon, and casts its wean rays across the land. While the sun was weak, the average traveller may find instead the snow blinding in its reflected light. But the natives of the land had no such issues, for their eyes were adapted to both the dark and the snow. The cold that would drag many to frozen graves was like a comforting cradle to them, nourishing and brisk.
But even such a world would rotate, turn around its sun, and be circled by its moons. So that sometimes, the night would be shorter, and the day long.
The night was shorter, and the day was long, and Prince Þrúðr was bored. All the great ice beasts slumbered, hidden from the heat in their caves. All the great white bears were frolicking and raising their young, and the ban on their hunting in full effect. The seals were increasing their numbers by the multitude, but they were little more than walking meat. There was no glory to be had in hunting them, and their meat and fat disagreed strongly with Þrúðr’s stomach besides (It afflicted Þrúðr with such rashes and hives when he first ate it as a babe, that Angrboða had forbade Þrúðr from eating it again, and lashes to all who dared to feed the Prince any). Whales would have made great sports once upon a time, but their numbers were so decimated by the great scorching and the sizzling years before it, that to see one was considered a good omen, and to kill one without license a capital offense.
Prince Þrúðr looked at the basket in his hands and the few sad pieces of kelp and shell fish within, and sighed. His youngest brother Móði, while long weaned from their dam and King’s teats, was still too small to venture too far away from the palace (And by palace, Þrúðr meant an ice cave, not even a grand one, just a big one). His oldest brother was sitting at court. His older younger brother was further out in the waters, raking in kelp with the help of his magic.
“And this, this is edible?” asked the traveller as he stared at the plate of kelp, his face incredulous.
“Of course. It is a staple food around here. Be glad my partner has managed to forage enough of it, so eat up. You both look starved. Were you born in a hold far away? But your markings, they denoted you as a child hailing from these parts,” said the fisherman.
“Well, I was born here, but grew up elsewhere. This is a trip to ah, return to my roots, dear host. And again we thank you for your hospitality,” said the traveller, as he gave the last of his fish to the scruffy little boy sitting upon his knees.
“Well, never too late to come home, as they say. And how good of you to bring the little one back to show him his heritage!” the fisherman beamed. “Say, have you family around these parts still? Do you have any place to stay once evening comes? You could stay here. This cave has been empty ever since my sons died.”
“Ah, thank you for asking, kind host. We are here for a family visit of sorts. The boy’s uncle lives around these parts. My calling requires me to travel much, and my transient lifestyle no ideal environment to raise a child. I was hoping the uncle could take him in, care for him in my stead,” the traveller chewed tentatively on a piece of seaweed. The salty taste must have agreed with him, for he gulped it down and took another much larger piece.
The host beamed at his guest, glad to see that he found his cooking agreeable, “Well, that is good to hear. We’ve lost so many over the years, killed by that increasingly sweltering sun. And the great scorching by Asgard’s cursed bridge took away over half of those who were left. But are you sure you won’t stay? We could use the population boost.”
“Ah yes, the Bifröst incident… No, no I won’t be staying. There is no place here for me.”