Excerpt: Thorn-Chapter 12 Brísingamen

The Story So Far: As the war between the vandr and aesir heats up, Loki has kept himself far from the conflict. At least until an old travelling companion reaches out to him for one, very specific, very important mission.


Two travelers met in a mead hall in a place far from the paths of gods or vandr. They sat quietly and contemplated each other, under warmed drinks were in hand.

“A fine beard you’ve got there. Grey, like a storm-crowded morning. And are those wrinkles around that missing eye?”

“Not all of use can evade responsibility.”

“And yet here you are.”

“And yet here I am.”

“How is your brother?”

“Hoenir’s mind is undimished, but he still labors to speak. He can say about half a dozen sentences now.”

“A hard price to pay for wisdom.”

Oske set down his mug. “No price is too high to pay for wisdom.”

“Says the man with one eye.”

“And what price did Mimisbrunnr rob from you?”

“My patience. Is that not obvious?”

Oske chuckled.

“But you’re not here to just catch up with a traveling companion. That wouldn’t be you.”

Oske shook his head.

“So what is it?”

“Do you know what I fear, Lodurr?”

“Oh, probably about half a dozen things I could think of, off the top of my head.” Lodurr smiled. “We did travel together for a while.”

Oske nodded and then sighed. “What I fear, most of all, is Ragnarok. Do you know the term?”

Lodurr shrugged without answering, taking a plausibly long sip, instead.

“Some say it is place. Others a time. But the meaning I hew to is when the gods fail.”

“When the gods fail at what?”

“At their duty.”

“And that is?”

“Holding the world together.”

Lodurr scoffed and leaned back. “Too high a duty for any one to take on forever.”

Oske frowned. “We are gods. Our will defines the world and that world will last as long as we do.”

Lodurr rubbed his forehead in annoyance. “So you fear the heavy burden that some say cannot be carried forever.”

Oske grimaced. His hands clenched around his mug. “I fear that time may be now.”

“Why now?”

“The walls of Asgard have fallen.”

Lodurr straightened up. He hadn’t heard this. “As I predicted…”

“As you predicted, yes. And we were ready for them. A warhost greeting them as the walls tumbled. They never ransacked the city. But the cost… for both sides it was high. And it will continue to be high if the jotunn of the Utgard learn of our situation.”

Lodurr was uncomfortable. “So why are you out here sharing a drink with me, instead of protecting the golden city?”

“I was thinking about what you’d said about the Vandr. Their warleader. And what I knew of her.”

“Freyja… beauty. That one acts like no one will ever touch her… without permission.”

“And that’s what we saw on the battlefield. No one could get close to her without a killing stroke falling on them. And anything thrown at her was dashed aside. She had shield maidens gathering the dead, the best of their warriors, and then called their disir to stay inside them once more, long enough to break any hold or advantage we could lever. She played as if she was unstoppable.”

“Perhaps she is.”

“Perhaps.”

Lodurr watched as Oske played with his drink some. “You have a plan.”

“I have a thought. You told us she had a necklace.”

“I did.”

“And that the necklace came at some risk.”

“If you consider riding into a nation of dwarves who consider you a killer of one of their own risky, then yes. Or tricking them into sleeping with you as part of a peace treaty you never intend to honor. That could be seen as risky, too.”

“She wore that necklace into battle.”

“I’m sure she did. There’s no way for it to come off, save removing the head from her body.”

“I bet the one who made the lock could do it.”

“Nine locks. I made nine locks for that accursed thing. And I doubt even I could undo it.”

“But you have thought about it, though.”

“Thought about it? As certain as the rain in the sky, I’ve thought about. But thinking about and doing it are two separate things.”

“You could pull on another skin, as you did in the fields of Asgard.”

“And end up trapped in their stables? That doesn’t sound like fun.”

“Or perhaps slip into a female’s guise…”

Lodurr froze “Yes. I could do that. But I doubt she trusts her vanjyr any more than she trusts her males. Unless…”

“Unless?”

“If one looked like a vanjyr. At least for long enough to get close.”

“But surely one would have to be a master of deceit for that to happen.”

“Don’t try your charms on me, old man. I’ve been through a few things since we last met.”

“Yes, like killing that gygyr. A very brave and noble trick to pull. But here we are talking about preventing the end of the world.”

“Are we? Because all I see is a squabble between two people.”

“A squabble? Perhaps. But one that threatens us all if the jotunn get wind of it. And I would like to see Ragnarok stopped.”

“What’s in it for me, Oske? If you’re come this far, I can’t imagine you’d rely simply on charity.”

“I’d hope the charity would be to preserve the world, but baring that, I would remind you that the promised seat at the aes gard only exists as long as their is a gard to hold that seat. Should the vandr burn it to the ground…”

“I see your point.”

“And more to the point, should you stop this and should you choose, you would be more than simply another traveler on a seat at the High Hall. You would be blood-kin to the family that sits on the High Seat.”

Lodurr contemplated his mead, a bit stunned by the offer. “A place at the table.”

“If the seat is still there, unburnt…”

“And all I have to do is bring you the necklace.”

“All you have to do is remove the necklace. If you can bring it to me, unharmed, the better. If you can bring it and the head it belongs to, even better.”

Lodurr contemplated and then, finally nodded.

Oske reached into his vest and pulled out a sprig of mistletoe. “Under these did we first kiss. Leave it for her, where she can find it. She will understand what it means. Who it belongs to.” He looked directly at Lodurr. “Have we a deal?”

Lodurr picked up the mistletoe, stared at it and played with it for a moment. He returned his gaze to Oske. “Yes. Yes, I believe we do.”

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