“Odin!” Loptr says, grinning and leading a rather clumsy horse through Valaskjálf. Loptr spreads an arm open in greeting. Odin rolls his eyes sarcastically before smiling and accepting Loptr’s offer of embrace.
“What brings you, Loptr?” Odin asks, one hand still resting on Loptr’s bicep.
“I want to introduce you to my son, Sleipnir.” Loptr gestures to the horse, which, Odin now notices, has eight whole ass legs.
Odin looks at Loptr, looks at the horse, and looks back at Loptr. “I don’t mean to be insensitive, but… why is he a horse?”
“Well.” Loptr grimaces, and Odin braces himself for whatever story is coming. “You remember that builder with the really strong horse?”
Odin bites his lip and nods. “The stallion Svaðilfari, right?”
“Right. So, Svaðilfari and I, let’s say, ‘had dealings’ that led to Sleipnir here!”
A brief and silent pause stretches between them as Odin absorbs Loptr’s sentence.
“He’s also the fastest horse in all the nine realms!” Loptr adds.
“With his parentage, I’m not surprised,” Odin laughs.
Sleipnir whinnies, and the two turn to look at him. Odin slaps Sleipnir’s neck, and Sleipnir dances his four front hooves energetically.
“And, about that,” Loptr begins. “He wants to be your steed. Wanna take him for a run?”
Odin looks up to make eye contact with Sleipnir, who throws his head back happily. Odin has to admit, Sleipnir is impressive. Standing nearly a hand above Odin's head, Sleipnir is strong and agile-looking, not to mention the vitality in his movements. Odin can easily imagine riding him to battle.
Loptr gives a knowing smile and offers Odin Sleipnir’s lead. Odin takes it, and guides Sleipnir into a courtyard that’s rather on the larger side, as courtyards go. Odin mounts Sleipnir and Loptr takes a step back, laughing.
“You two strike quite the intimidating figure!” Loptr yells up at Odin.
Odin laughs and steers Sleipnir in wide semi-circle to stand near Loptr again. “He handles well,” Odin says.
“I should hope so,” Loptr retorts in mock indignance. “Do you know how much work went into raising this boy?”
Sleipnir whinnies and bounces impatiently.
“Alright, go on, show Odin how fast you are.” Loptr pats Sleipnir encouragingly.
Before Odin can protest, Sleipnir is tearing across the courtyard, and Odin is holding two fistfulls of Sleipnir’s mane, trying desperately not to fall. Sleipnir makes it around the courtyard four times before Odin can regain his balance. Thrilled by Sleipnir’s speed, Odin whoops and steers Sleipnir towards Loptr, getting dangerously close before veering away at the last second. Loptr yells after them, telling Odin to keep Sleipnir to the farther ends of the courtyard, thank you, but Odin isn’t paying Loptr much attention.
Riding Sleipnir feels like slipping through air; this is by far the fastest horse Odin has ever known. All eight of Sleipnir’s legs pound rhythmically against the earth, and Odin loses himself in the noise and the speed, buildings and trees whizzing past so fast that they are almost incomprehensible colors.
Eventually, Odin slows Sleipnir and brings him to a halt before Loptr. Exhausted, Odin slumps forward onto Sleipnir’s neck.
“Isn’t he incredible?” Loptr says.
“Absolutely,” Odin says, still catching his breath from the adrenaline rush. “He’s well deserving of his name.”
“So will you take him? From the way you rode him out there, he’s a perfect match for you.”
“...Yes, he certainly is a fine horse. I’ll take good care of him, Loptr.”