The Story So Far: Trading stories with a pair of fellow travelers, Loki takes a turn, using the alias Lopt as he describes his time among the elves of Alfheim. The story, which has mostly been his travels, has taken a turn when the enemies who were hunting Lopt — the vandr– unexpectedly show up.
They were a warband. Lopt had heard of them; once they had burned villages across the Jotunn lands, looking for a horse thief. Their war-leader was a rare thing, with hair finer than the gold in the mountains and a heart as cold as the colored stones dug from the deepest pits.
Her name meant Beauty and her war-hounds — her people — they fawned over her and worshiped her like an ancient god. Tawny cats the size of small cattle drew her chariot, fed on the meat of the people she preyed upon.
Riding to the gates of Nidaviellr itself, she asked for their metalsmiths to present themselves. And there, under the watchful eyes of all the archers of Alfheim, she waited until the smiths emerged.
“Weregild for Sviurr.” Virfir said. One of Lopt’s staunchest friends through the years.
“Sviurr?” The name meant ‘disappeared’
“When the alfr die, their name dies with them. We do not call their names so that we may not tempt attention from their shade. Only in stone are the names drawn. And from the stones, names for the new generation arise. It is considered… freeing if the shade visits his descendant’s birth. Few shade that do ever return again.”
Lopt thought of his turns with the dead. “I understand.”
“That one…” Virfir pointed to Beauty. “Killed one she called Vindalfr. Well… she started by calling him Eggnoinn — slain by the sword — before we could sort out who she killed. Her vindalfr was loved by his kin; we could have gone to war. So she is here to sue for peace. With gold for the smiths. Weregild. Perhaps more.”
The smiths looked over the gold, nodding their approval. Beauty returned each question as a smile and a steady gaze that made each smith blush in return. After some time and some quite heated discussion, they invited her into the mountain.
Immediately, her troop started to disembark from their mounts. One came up to her cart and took possession of her cats. The danger, for what it was, seemed to have passed.
“Looks like ‘more’.” Virfir grinned. Lopt raised an eyebrow. “One of the alfr has been lost. A child is requested.” Virfr skirted away and into the mountain. Lopt decided to get closer, to see the vandr.
The vandr were setting up camp directly there, in front of the entrance to the halls of the dwuergar. They pitched rounded tents, built a fire. Through it all, Lopt watched them.
“Maid, attend.” One of the vandr motioned towards Lopt, embarrassed to discover his surveillance wasn’t so secretive after all. And “maid”? It took him a moment to realize it was his dress; Lopt was clothed in the manner of the lottalfr, having spent three years among them and their garments always slid towards something delicate.
“We need water for our mounts and our Lady’s cats. Do you have a spring nearby?”
Of course there was a spring nearby. Several actually. And probably a couple of watering holes close that the vandr must have directly passed by.
It’s never wise to give an enemy details of the land.
So Lodurr deferred. “I can bring you water, your grace. If it pleases.” A sound came from inside the mountain. Lopt tensed. Was that rage? A death sound? Or…
The vandr were smirking. “Yes, bring us the water, fair maid. It appears we may be here for a while.”
It took four days and four nights. But on the second night, Brising’s makers–Norðri, Suðri, Austri and Vestri– called out for Lopt. The four mightest of the smiths, strong enough that some said when Ymir birthed the world, they held up the sky.”
“Was it?” asked Oske.
Hodurr nudged him. “Let the youth tell his story.”
Lodurr smiled. “I can only tell you what I heard.”
Oske settled back down.
“These are for the Brising” the dwuergar said. “Filigreed gold and silver entwined and set with these very gems, forged from the heart-blood of ancient trees.”
“These are from trees?” Lopt asked. “They look like drops of the sun.”
The dwuergar smiled. “They may as well be, for they are as old as Old Screamer herself.”
Now each of them were working on the Brising, weaving the gold and silver, working the stones, placing a heavy wyrd on each piece. And for that, they were amply compensated by Beauty. Or so they claimed. For they had turned down all manner of coin or treasure. Not a drop of reward could be seen, save for the smiles on two of the dwuergar and the anxious expressions on the last.
The Lady evidently had ample ways to motivate even the hardiest of spirits.
Or so I have heard.
But they had called in Lopt for another reason. The Lady had requested that locks be worked into the Brising so that no one could remove it from her neck, save if one separated her head from her body. And they knew that Lopt had been clever with locks back in Thorn’s hall. And he was new kin to them, bound to Ivaldi’s side of the family, through marriage. It would be a delight if he could help.
Lopt wondered if that would entitle him to a portion of the compensation.
The answer was no.
But Austri joked that he could help with Norðri and Vestri’s tension, if payment was what Lopt desired. And that got a laugh from both Lopt and Suðri, much to the younger dwuergars’ discomfort.
So Lopt got to work on the locks.
Four days, four nights.
The vandr rode out from Alfheim.