The Story So Far: With the war between the aesir and vanir long over, the sole threat comes from the raids of the jotunn. A threat that might be addressed by a stranger offering to build a very special wall.
Loki looked to see the marble-black eye of a raven looking at him.
“Laufeyson” croaked a second raven.
He stretched and stared at the two. “And what does the Lord of the Aes want from me?”
The last season had been a quiet one. The thunder god had been off with his merry band of followers fighting jotunn in the south. The gods had busied themselves with their own devices, Odin most of us all. Loki would have thought, for as little as he saw him that Odin was avoiding him. That led to a small shake of the head and a smile. Of course Odin was avoiding him. Still processing the fact that his son had come to call.
And now this.
“Come” said one.
“See” said the other.
Loki rose up, threw on the barest necessity needed to cover him and went out to see what the fuss was about.
In the center of the stronghold of the aes, apparently a market had sprung up. Various carts and wagons had been dragged up and a number of tinkerers and craftsmen seemed to be hawking their wares. Loki spotted Bragi at the edge of the excitement, impeccably dressed, bearing a cup of some musty drink or another. Bragi saw Loki and raised one eyebrow at the lack of dress.
Loki smiled and scratched his testicles. “What’s all the fuss?”
Bragi smiled back and nodded his head at the gathering. “All-father has declared that since peace has been maintained with the vanir, it’s time for the wall around the asgard to be rebuilt. And all these fine folks have shown up to bid on the task.”
“Oh, I know little of these things, but the most entertaining is that one over there.”
The stonewright in question was as big as any of the largest aes, with a well-oiled and well muscled body. The skin was tanned and tight from work in the sun and his smile was broad and toothsome. A pleasant face with well-humored eyes and just the twinkle of mischief for the women. Loki heard him brag that he was called Fjölverkr–one who does much work–by the men, but, as a sly aside, he was called Gneip–protruding “rock”–by the women. That was followed by much laughter.
What was also notable was that Mimir’s brewmaster, Idunn, was also there, accompanied by one of the her brothers. Alviss, Loki thought, though he wasn’t sure. That made sense. Bargaining on behalf of the dwarven crafters for the job. Though, at the same point, it didn’t make much sense. Idunn had to have been missing Mimir, whose body, as far as Loki knew, still hadn’t been returned. Perhaps something had been worked out behind the scenes.
Loki patting Bragi on the shoulder as thanks and went to find the All-father. His appearance got disapproving looks from the other gods. Even Odin raised an eye. Loki shrugged. “Too much drink and a fierce need to piss. Someone needed me?”
“The builder of the Hall of Thorn may be interested in what that one has to say.”
“Oh would he?” Loki smiled and ambled over to the stonewright.
He was in the middle of describing a tower he had built.
So Loki stood next to him, turned his back, and started to pee.
There was a collective gasp and some snickers from the collected aes.
The stonewright glanced over, then recoiled back a couple of steps to avoid any splashes. Loki shrugged but didn’t stop. “Forgive me.” He said. “I am cutting a river so that the people of this place and the Midgard bear the gift of my flowing water.”
Loki finally stopped after what seemed an eternity, shaked his dick, and then re-covered himself. “Now what were you promising?”
The stonewright glared at him for just a moment and then recovered his composure. “Nothing much, little lord.” He placed his teeth in a grin. “Just the finest wall the aes have ever seen. Higher than the tallest risi[ Giant]. Sturdy enough to face the thunder itself and still stand.”
“Strong words. But do you have the stones to build it?”
“My wares are for the aes to see, proof of my skill. But even if proof is not enough, I promise this. If by three seasons, the wall is in any way incomplete, the price I ask is forfeit.”
“Forfeit? A bold gesture. What is this price?”
“Nothing less than to hold the hand of beauty. To have her as my own.”
The gathering got quiet. Loki was confused. “To have her…” It took him a moment to unravel it. “To have Beauty?”
The stonewright looked at Loki’s expression and nodded. “Ah, I see the issue. You are correct: to gaze on Beauty is too overwhelming for any of us. I would need special eyes to do such. Thus, to add to my price, I would require the eyes of Brimir as well.”
Loki scratched the side of his nose. “You would require the sun and the moon. And the hand of Freyja in marriage.”
The stonewright copied the gesture. “A small price to pay for the eternal protection of Asgard.”
“Attend to me.” Odin said, motioning for the aes to join him in their hall.
The Althing began immediately when he took the high seat.
“We cannot do this.”
“They ask for our Lady.”
“The sun and the moon.”
Odin looked to Loki. “He is jotunn?”
Loki nodded. “Without a doubt.” The confidence in which the stonewright presented his proposal and his reference to Brimir made that certain.
“Can he do it?”
“In three seasons?” Loki contemplated. “It would be difficult but possible. The winter would making getting stone here easier, but the footing of the one dragging it difficult. So fifty-fifty. And the melt would stop work completely, but in the summer he could lay foundations so that by the second winter it would just be finishing work. Bad luck, bad storms might put it off, but good fortune…”
“Winter is the jotunn’s time of power.”
Loki nodded. So did a number of the court.
“We can’t do it.” Heimdall added. “We can’t risk the peace.”
Odin frowned. “We can’t risk the safety of the aes, either. We need a wall.”
Loki felt an idea bubbling up inside him. It felt stupid, like he was missing something, but there was also something glorious about it. The court had fallen to arguing back and forth and it took a moment for him to cut through the noise to get Odin’s attention.
“What if there’s a different way?”
The aes turned to look at him.
Odin frowned. “What are you thinking?”
Loki was thinking about his lovemother’s people. How they hated to back down. Their greed—their hunger—how often bested them. How they resented going back on a boast and how they loved a challenge. He smiled. “What if we could persuade him to try and do it in only one season?”