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Invitation

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The Children of Ýmir: A Compendium
By Voðen Bestla-Childe

 

Carefully, oh so carefully, I pry the thick, huge, heavy-looking tome out of its nook on the highly warded shelf. It is nestled among a score and more of other tightly restricted manuscripts. However, those other topics do not interest – and appall – me as much as this one does.

 

Then again, throughout the centuries, I have managed to sneak a read on those other wells of knowledge, and yet not this one. The temptation of a new, rare type of knowledge compells me onward, even as revulsion of what the knowledge pertains to makes me act slower than I ought to.

 

The slowness and distraction were always my bane in past attempts, when it came to sneaking this tome off the restricted section of Father’s private library. But today Father is busy with his advisors and lords and generals, even more than the usual; too busy to catch me trying to spirit this tome away, hopefully. I do not know why I keep doing this, risking an ever-more-serious, ever-more-inventive punishment from Father each time….

 

Well, at least, this day I apparently need not risk such punishment.

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The information packed inside my pilfered tome has been… well… informative. Indirectly, it touts the “Children of Ýmir” – the frost giants – as people, instead of the monstrous, slavering beasts that I have heard of thus far. I have not managed to read much, for various reasons, but from what I have read in these three days….

 

I purse my lips, as I find yet again that my eyes have strayed from the tome laid open on my lap to the side-table. There, I have accumulated piles of notes, from just the handful of sections that I have read. – Notes that give me more questions instead of answers. Notes that would have meant the beginning of a serious project for any other topic in this universe but frost giants. Notes that have been hounding me with the vague start of quite an extremely foolish, insane, bold, suicidal, horrible idea….

 

Well, everyone is always complaining about my lack of “warrior traits,” no? It may be time to prove them all wrong. And even if I got killed in the process, people here would not mourn me, anyway, save for my family – or rather, specifically, my mother.

 

Hmm. Time to really take notes in earnest, if so.

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“Child….” Mother is anxious. With reason, and I do agree with the reason, myself. But my heart is set, and my curiosity has been well ignited by now, trumping all concerns.

 

Father just looks at me thoughtfully, even as Thor joins in the protestation and insists that he accompany me in my quest, should I persist to embark on it. I stare back at him – Father, that is, not the ranting Thor – and refrain from raising an eyebrow in challenge. I do need his permission, and being considered insolent to him will not get me that permission. Unless… well… there is indeed another way… hmm.

 

Regardless, this new look of his does merit some digging. It is… odd, to sum it all in one definable word. Father is unreadable in most times, almost flat, and I have long made it a challenge and a game to define his moods and thoughts from the few signs he exudes; but this one…. There is remembrance lurking deep in his gaze, tinged with pain and sorrow and even longing, and I cannot fathom why – the longing, that is.

 

The time to wheedle the reason from him is not now, though. Not when Thor is mentally and verbally – almost physically, too – taking all the space at the family dining table, declaiming passionately about the monstrous barbarism and violence of the jötnar. Not when a permission from the King for this quest of mine would mean an easier, safer time for me, either.

 

I do not even get any chance yet to put a word in edgewise to replead my case, as it is! The situation will just deteriorate – fast – if I shut Thor up now, I know that well, but… but… but…!

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Father, Mother and Thor,
My apologies for leaving so suddenly and without prior notification. Wanderlust seized me, and I chose to heed it. I wish to update our knowledge about the herb lore from all over the Nine Realms, and maybe outside of it. I have temporarily assigned the execution of my duties to a few trusted assistants and postponed others until I return. I may be out of contact for a while, since some of the places that I am going to visit are secluded or even secretive, but please rest your minds that I shall take all due caution and safety. Until I return, warmest regard from your son and brother,
Loki Odinson

 

And that is the shield that I need to save myself from at least most of the future remonstrations and punishments dealt out by my family.

 

I hope so, in any case.

 

All the same, the note is resting on the middle of the family breakfast table, now, and I am already far away from home.

 

Far, far away.

 

In fact, I am presently on Midgard, doing what I was supposed to do, for the sake of both genuine curiosity and validation of my claim in the note.

 

Specifically, I am now crouched on a sheltered spot – a cave-like overhang – somewhere on Midgard’s southern pole, ostensibly observing, cataloguing and gathering the soft greenish purple moss that thickly carpets this place.

 

It was supposed to be a genuine act. However, a damp wind is blowing from the sea, now, and snow is falling gently, and everything reminds me of… something; something that triggers a phantom ache of hunger in my stomach and loss in my chest.

 

This situation, this environment, is familiar, for some reason. But how? This place is colder than the coldest part on Asgard! And, to my knowledge, I was never brought anywhere else – not even to vanaheim – when I was too little for proper recollection, which must have triggered this déjà vu moment.

 

Well, I would rather not dwell on the conclusion I have just come to, which has sent me into this stupour.

 

Because, why in the universe would my parents have brought sickly little me to Jötunheim?