Excerpt: Thorn-Chapter 5 Vili, Ve & Vakr

The Story So Far: Three weary travellers are sharing stories around the fire. It’s Lucky’s turn and he’s telling a story about how the world was created. Their also is some commentary from a very nasty ghost.

The fire was a small shivering thing.

Hoenir was grinning, far into his sac of drink. Oske was perched near the edge of the fire, with coals lighting his face.

Lodurr kept to the shadows, where the whispers were.

“First was the age, when nothing was. Nor sand nor sea nor chilling strem-waves. Earth was not found, nor the breath of heaven within the yawning gap.”

“He has a fancy was of saying ‘desolate’.” Hoenir quipped. “Wait until he starts inserting himself into the story.”

Oske grimaced. “The volva left out all the good parts.”

“Of course she did, my gracious brother. Pray fill them in for us.”

Oske moved his hand over the fire. “To the south was the land of fire and pain. Home later to the long reach of the Skinner, whose touch can cross the world. Múspell was light and hot, glowing and burning, and impassable to such that do not already have not their holdings there. That which scours the land, we call Surtr—the blackened and burnt. His arm extends from beneath the earth and into the sky, and his touch burns like a flaming sword. And should we fail in our duties, his power will go out and harry, and overcome all, and burn all the world with fire.”

Laufey snarled, her voice a creak in a nearby tree. Stupid boy. Jotunn remember the tale. Surtr was a gýgr, a hunter. Catch the meat, butcher it, cook it. A dream of the Allmother and her fevered appetites as she was sleeping in the ice.

Oske reached towards the chilly sky. “To the north, streams of ice-waves— Élivágar— come so long ago from the fountain-heads that the yeasty venom—eitr–of Muspell upon them hardened like slag that runs out of the fire. Élivágar then became ice; and when the ice halted and ceased to run, then it froze over above. But the steam that rose from the eitr congealed to rime, and the rime increased, frost over frost, each over the other, even into Ginnungagap, the yawning Void.”

Eyes blazed briefly at Lodurr as the north wind teased out two large embers. “Do you remember the eitr, Logi? Sulfur and ash, remnants of our fire. Making gardens grow with care and touch. Inspired by the kitchens of Surtr and the death from which came life.” He paused. “I miss you by my side.”

“You’re dreaming, Norðri.” Lodurr murmured, as the two embers lifted up and away.

“Past Ginnungagap, toward the northern quarter, became filled with heaviness, and masses of ice and rime, and from within, drizzling rain and gusts. The southern part of the yawning gap was lighted by those sparks and glowing masses which flew out of Múspellheim. Brimir”

Hoenir burped. “Just my brother’s way of saying the ice was horny.”

Lodurr heard a wail of thin laughter. Leave it to a male to assume that when a female’s ‘yawning void’ is filled with a bloody moisture that she wants him.

Lodurr kept his tone at a whisper. “To be fair, you told me, Mother, that sometimes you had passions during your blood-time.”

The shade shrugged. Even so…

Lodurr noted that Hoenir was watching him. Lodurr raised his cup in the manner of a toast. Hoenir returned the gesture. Then Lodurr returned his attention to the story.

“Just as cold arose out of that misty place, and all terrible things, so also all that looked toward Múspellheim became hot and glowing; but Ginnungagap was as mild as windless air, and when the breath of heat met the rime, so that it melted and dripped, life was quickened from the drops of eitr, by the power of that which sent the heat, and ice took a form. And that one is named First, but the hrímþursar call it by another name; and from there come the races of the hrímþursar.”

Lodurr shuddered. Hrímþursar. First among the jotunn. Even speaking their name was sometimes considered a curse.

“Straightway after the rime dripped, and the Yawning Gap was well moistened, there sprang up a female like none seen before.”

“Big teats.”

Oske rolled his eyes. “Thank you Hoenir.”

“Huge, like a cow. Four streams of milk could have run from them. That big. And those teats? She gave them to Brimir.”

“From that mighty set of udders…”

“That cow’s udders…”


A belch followed and then silence.

“Audumla fed the rime giant.”

“Fed!” Hoenir laughed.

Oske grinned. “And that’s when Brimir earned the name Ymir, or ‘screamer’.”

“Or mud-yeller. That’s what the jotunn call her.”

Aurgelmir. And Audumla went to work on her, from the top down to the yawning gap. There, Aurgelmir licked the ice-blocks, which were salty; and the first day that she licked the blocks, there came forth from the blocks in the evening something new from the Gap. It had hair like a risi. And the more Audumla licked, the more it grew. The second day, a bald head; the third day the whole thing rose from the ice, fair of feature, great and mighty. And Audumla named the new pleasure Búri, the producer.”

Hoenir couldn’t stop laughing and he waggled his crotch at Oske and Lodurr.

“Ages turned before the home to Mists emerged from their coupling, and in the middle of it lay the boiling spring of their mingled juices. From it, the great beast Oak-Thorned came into world. And from these juices, and the hidden place in which they boiled, all of the rivers run, from those that grace the high plains of heaven’s height to two which sink into the concealed lands.

Two more from Audumla came, Bor—her son— and the sea-dark one, whose name is forgotten.

Now Audumla was not enough for Ymir’s appetite and it is said that when he rested, the sweat of Buri came upon him. And with his left hand, he mingled it…” Oske pointed towards his hairy armpit, attempting to make it look like a female’s groin. “And there grew by the efforts of his left hand a risi and a gygyr, and we believe one of his feet begat a son with the other; and thus the races come.

Oske leaned forward, practically in the fire. “But we are here tonight to talk about the sons of Borr.”

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