Divorce Rates between Tropical Fishes and Alpine Birds
Thor and company took to the road on foot. They stopped in camps while between towns, and Thor showed his daughter the many ways in which Asgard’s wild lands sustained them. They stopped at taverns and inns while in villages and hamlets, and Thor pointed out to his daughter how their people lived.
Past green pastures, past fertile farmlands, into the deep dense woods they went. Up bubbling stream, up rocky slopes, up the tall snowy mountains they went.
“Ah, I know this place!” Thor exclaimed as the troupe settled down to camp in the crack between two giant rocks. “My father took me here as a boy. We are in Þrymheimr, the holds of Lady Skaði, the goddess of snowshoes and the hunt, and her husband Njörðr, Vanir Lord of the great seas. Look at yonder snowdrifts. Her lodge should not be far away. We will make for it tomorrow. She would gladly welcome us there.”
Þrúðr huddled further into her fur-lined cloak, “It is freezing Daddy. Why would anyone want to live here?”
Like his dam, Váli was unaffected by the cold, and only donned a light jacket to shield from the wind. The name Njörðr sounded familiar to him. “Master, does not Lord Njörðr live in his dwellings at Nóatún? I faintly remember seeing him alone, when you took us there years before. The only lady in his house was his sister.”
Váli disliked the sister. She had slapped him and pushed him to the ground for taking a grape from the table when Thor and Þrúðr weren’t there, and sneered that the Asgardian Prince should have instilled more discipline in his pet beasts. Váli thought she was just jealous that the torc Thor gave to Loki was finer than hers. That or she must have really disliked the Jötnar.
“Which is part of the reason why Skaði refuses to go there,” Loki muttered under his breath.
“Well,” Thor gave an uncomfortable cough. “Sometimes husband and wife do not live together, Váli. You see, Skaði is of the mountains. The cry of the seagulls and the splashing of waves upon summer beaches pleased her not. And Njörðr is of the ocean. The howl of the wolves and the rustling of the pines in winter storms unnerved him. When they first wed, they would in Þrymheimr spend nine years, then alight to Nóatún for another nine1. When I came here as a boy with the AllFather, Njörðr was here to welcome us into his wife’s halls. The feast after was of most excellent quality, and the hosts looked happy together.”
“They grew apart after the years I suppose? Tiring of climes they disapproved of, or tiring of each other I wonder?” Loki interjected.
Þrúðr’s eyes grew huge and round, “Daddy, you won’t do this would you? Live far away from Loki and Váli? Can we not go to Jötunheimr? I heard it is even colder. What if they want to stay there?”
“Fear not dear Princess, ours is a completely different relationship. I couldn’t leave even if I wanted to. And Jötunheimr had cast me out, there is no place there for me.” Loki patted her hair and gave her the first potato from the batch he was roasting, buttered with goat cheese.
He then gave Thor the second one, because the Prince had looked at him so. “And fear not dear Prince, on the subject of leaving, I don’t want to.”
The doors to Skaði’s great lodge’s tall walls were left open a crack. Impatient and sure of their welcome, Thor led his company through it.
“Fair Skaði, goddess of snow shoes! Let us board within your halls for the night,” Thor called out in front of the lodge doors.
Strange that the windows were unlit, and no servant came to greet them. Perhaps the harsh climes drove away some of the hold’s inhabitants? Thor did not remember the towns of Þrymheimr so under-populated. Yet along the way, they saw many abandoned houses and empty homes. Perhaps there were some catastrophes? Avalanches or the plague maybe? But why had he not heard of them? Why had his father not sent aid?
Thor drew in a deep breath and tried again, “'Tis I, Thor, Prince of Asgard! We have met before, gracious lady, when I was but a boy.”
But no one answered.
Loki bundled up Þrúðr, and all of them settled to pitch a tent in the great arch of the lodge’s doors. Perhaps someone would come on the morrow? At the very least, they could walk back to the nearest town to seek answers.
While Thor was holding out their bedrolls to spread out over the ground, the hairs on the back of his neck rose, and a thrill raced down his spine. It was a familiar feeling that had saved him and his troops many times in the war, the feeling of sensing powerful frost giants about. (It had taken a while for his senses to tune out Loki. When he first started bedding his slave regularly, he had woken up sweat-drenched a few times in the dark of the night, panting with nervous breath, with Loki choking beneath him, desperately trying to pry his Master’s iron grip from his half-crushed neck. Váli never registered though, partially because Thor first met him when he was but a small bundle suckling hard at his dam’s milk-laden tits.)
Thor hushed the children, and bade Loki help hide them with an illusion. And not a moment too soon, for the great doors of the wooden wall slammed wide upon their hinges, and in strode a great frost giant, with a few smaller ones following after. The giant’s nostrils flared at the scent of Asgardians. Its great blood red eyes zoomed in onto Thor, who had already drawn his sword.
“Who dare pass through my halls unannounced?!” the giant roared as it hurled its burden, the carcass of a great boar half as tall as itself, at Thor. While the Thunderer dodged away, leaving the boar to smash through the snow and crash to a stop against the lodge’s wall, the giant snatched up its bow and fired in rapid succession. The arrows thudded one after another, as they embedded themselves in the grounds Thor had covered, with the last one nicking a strand of golden hair. Behind the great giant, its retinue also threw down their spoils, and drew bows long and short.
Thor steeled himself, preparing to put down the whole lot of them for defiling Skaði’s halls. Was the goddess murdered? Had her townspeople been living in fear and oppression under this giant’s glacial fist? He only hoped Loki had enough presence of mind to hurry the children away.
So when Loki stepped forward from the shadows, blue skinned and red eyed, Thor cursed out-loud. Was the seiðmaðr so overconfident in his newly unbound abilities, that he had lost all his self-preservation instincts? Or did the Jötunn seek to rejoin his own kind? Could Thor cut the legs out from under the giant and fend off Loki’s magic at the same time?
But Loki cast no spells and brokered no alliances. Instead he raised his hand and called out, “Dear cousin, I am Loki, bound servant and nurse of the child of this Asgardian before you. I would have your name!”
“I am Öndurguð of the hills and snow drifts, Lord of this keep. Unfortunate cousin, do you seek to protect your own oppressor?” the giant rumbled.
“I dare not presume to protect one so mighty. But he once saved my life, and has ever been fair to me and mine. I hope only to stay your hand, so that bloodshed may be avoided tonight. We have journeyed long, and I’d rather rest in a soft furred bed than clean blood and gore from the Thunderer’s blade.” Loki strode forward a few steps more, his arms spread open at his sides.
The giant looked surprised, “Thunderer? Could this be Thor before me? Small Prince, how you have grown.”
“You knew me?” Thor was caught off-guard as well.
He was even more shocked, so much so that his grip upon his sword slackened, when the giant murmured a spell, and shrank down into the figure of a tall sturdy woman with heavy freckles and long red braids falling past her hips.
“And this is my daughter, Þrúðr. Her mother passed in labour. May she feast and hunt in Valhalla now,” Thor brought Þrúðr forth to be introduced.
“Oh she is most precious. Let aunt Skaði hold you! Her features, her mannerisms! She is just like you when you were small, Thor.2” Skaði was delighted at the sight of the young Princess.
“Loki had already introduced himself. And here is little Váli.”
Skaði looked pointedly between her two adult guests.
“No, he is mine alone. And yes, other people have assumed the same before and assumed wrongly. Now run along children.” Loki quickly shooed the children away to play with the servants’ whelps down the hall.
“There used to be a portal to the land of the frost here, and through it, people came and went,” Skaði told her guests, as her servants set the table. The main course being the boar she had chucked at her current guest of honour.
“This was a prosperous hold. It did not live off farming or hunting, but crafts and trade. Such goods and gold and people used to flow through here. Some children of Jötunheimr thought sons and daughters of Asgard fair, and the two people intermarried frequently3.” Skaði raised her cup to Váli and nodded at the boy, “You would have been right at home here, son of two realms. But all good things must come to an end. Thor, you came to me as a boy when the hold had just started to enter its decline, as fear and suspicion grew between two once-allied realms.”
“Then the war came. To erase a point of vulnerability, the AllFather bade his brothers destroy the portal. I still remember the brilliant flash of light that lit up the sky as the ancient doorway shattered. Many of the giants who had not fled fast enough were put to death. I could only imagine that the same fate befell the Æsir stuck on the other side. I was protected by my station as the wife of Njörðr, and through my pleadings to Odin, my subjects with half Æsir-blood were mostly spared. I wonder if Laufey did the same, or if halfling bones litter Jötunheimr’s great canyons now. Though the bulk of the war did not rage here, slowly, the hold still died. What you see now is but a remnant of more glorious times. Most of the inhabitants left here are the halfblooded children from that time before, neither openly accepted in Asgard nor Jötunheimr.”
Þrúðr interjected before Loki could hush her, “Daddy said you don’t live together with Njörðr anymore.”
Skaði looked sad, “Aye. We are husband and wife in naught but name these days. He left the monster for a fairer bride most like himself4, and I have been unfaithful in return.”
That night, Skaði dreamed. It was a dream she had not had in a long time.
He was still young and carefree and known only by his given name Öndurguð, and Njörðr was just another handsome visitor to his town.
They were both bright and curious then. Öndurguð striding across the mountains, with Njörðr perched upon his shoulder to point at trees and birds and wave at the smaller people below.
The hold was bustling and so full of life, the portal a shining light across the lake. The grass was green with summer, and the air full of songs.
When Skaði woke, her pillow was wet with tears.
Thor spat out his drink one morning at an inn, when Loki merrily mentioned that Skaði had confided in him the identity of the man she was unfaithful to Njörðr with. Why he was none other than the great AllFather himself. No wonder Þrymheimr still stood despite the nature of its inhabitants. Skaði must have made a comely sight on her knees before Odin, with all that pretty red hair unbound around her5.
On the eve of the same day, Thor had to shut his mouthy thrall up by making him put that accursed silver tongue to better uses, after the little giant would not leave the topic alone, and on top of that, started to question the fertility of the line of Odin.
“Do you think your father still visits the snowy goddess even now? Strange you do not have a half-brother yet. You know Thor, we Jötnar are a fairly fertile race, able to intermingle with many others. Maybe there is something amiss with the line of Odin? After all, I am not yet with child despite all the seeds you’ve filled me with. And I do catch very easily, ever since my youth. Hmmmfff - !!!”
“- my Prince, if you want your sword attended to, you could have just said, instead of pressing my face so suddenly to- Ack! Ah, ahh! Oh Ymir’s bones. Don’t stop. Yes I promise to d-drop the matter! Ahgh. Ahh! Just don’t stop doing that!”
Thor pressed his slave’s head back down to his crotch again and moaned at the contact. His other hand fondled the blue upturned buttocks for a while longer just to spite Loki, and only resumed slapping and pinching his dripping folds and swollen dark clit when Loki broke down and begged most prettily.
Thor had not given much thought to children before, yet now he could not help but imagine a blue belly swelled by his own seed, and wonder if the milk produced for a Thorson would taste even sweeter.
NOTES (that you wish you didn't read):
1. They would have racked up quite a bit of airmiles, had they lived in our times, dear readers.
2. A brat.
3. And the sons and daughters of Asgard thought the sex was fantastic. But people usually leave that part out when there are children present.
4. Very like himself. Very very like himself. Váli had met her, and could attest.
5. She was on her back, but we can’t expect Loki to know everything now can we?