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~ By Courtesy of Others ~


The Theft Of Thorīs Hammer

GATHER 'ROUND GOOD PEOPLE, for I've a tale to tell, of gods and war and mystery.
This is an old tale, some say older than the mountains, and I did hear it from another bard called Snorri.
He may have heard it from Thor himself. But knowing how storytellers lie, I very much doubt he did.

'Tis a tale of old Thor Himself, lord of thunder and guardian of gods and men. Strong and mighty was he,
and honest and brave and simple. This was his greatest weakness, for he was simple, both of heart and mind.
He was as strong as an ox, they say, and almost as smart.

But for all that Thor did lack of brains, his strength and courage were second to none!
'Twas he that kept Asgard safe from the marauding giants, slaying hundreds of them with his mighty hammer mjolnir.

One morning he woke in his war-hall and stretched out a hairy arm to pick up his beloved hammer.
His fingers felt all over the table beside his bed. Then as the truth did work it's way into his brain,
his eyebrows shot up. Then his mouth turned down at both it's corners.
Then his beard began to shake from it's red roots to it's curling red tips.
"WHAAAAAAGH!" her bellowed so loudly that all of Asgard did shake. "SOMEONE HAS STOLEN MY HAMMER!"

As quick as he could he searched every corner of Asgard, fuming and bellowing.
At last he found Loki, the trickster most cunning, god of fire and blacksmiths,
the least trustworthy of all the gods. If anyone could have stolen Thor's hammer, Loki could.

But Thor remained remarkably calm. He walked slowly up to Loki and said
"Good day, my half-brother. Have you been busy this day, my half-brother?

(Well, that is calm for Thor...)

Of course Loki said "I...didn't...see...it..." And after some serious pleading, Thor put him down.
Loki might lie, cheat, and steal. But if he was nothing else, he was a coward.
Just looking into Thor's red eyes would make anyone talk. But if Loki didn't have it, who did?
And if it wasn't in Asgard, where was it?

Then Loki hit upon an idea; the two of them went to Freyja, the most beautiful of the goddesses,
and queen of the valkyries, (Who chose the best warriors slain upon the field to live in Valhalla.)
Loki asked her, " Please, good Freyja, would you lend me your white feather cloak,
for Thor's hammer is missing, and we must find it."

Well, Freyja was blessed with eyes that see the truth, and when she heard that mjolnir was indeed lost,
she knew that Asgard was in trouble. "Take my cloak," she said. "I would give it to you even if it were gold!"

Loki pulled on the feather cloak and, {CLAP} became a white raven just like that.
Off he flew all around the worlds until he came to the land of the giants, Jontheim.

In that land, on a huge burial mound sat the king of the giants, Thrym. He was huge!
Black haired and black bearded with great wide hands.
He was grooming a heard of horses that were no bigger than sheep to him!

Now there is something you should know; giants are very big and very strong, but they are not very bright.
You remember how simple I told you Thor was? Well compared to the giants he was a genius!
But giants have something almost as good as brains: They know magic! So when Thrym saw a white raven flying overhead,
he saw right through the spell and saw Loki underneath. The giant king smiled evilly.
"Loki!" he called. "How is everything in Asgard? Why are you here all alone?"

Loki stayed high above the giant's reach, and called down.
"Terrible news for the gods. I'm afraid Thor's hammer is missing."

Thrym began to laugh. He laughed so hard that boulders on the nearby mountains started to roll around.
"Oh I know that," he sneered. "I've buried the thunder-hammer eight leagues beneath the earth.
If you ever want to see it again, bring me the beautiful Freyja to be my bride!"

Loki flew back to Asgard, and the second he removed the cloak and turned back to himself,
Thor grabbed his arm. "Tell me what you found!"

Loki was afraid to tell the thunder god what he'd heard, so he put him off. "Let me rest a minute."

"No," the thunderer growled, his red beard bristling.
"Men who sit down forget what they have to say, and those who lie down lie!"

"Thrym has your hammer," Loki told him. "He will only get it back if he gets Freyja to be his wife!"

So Thor took Freyja's cloak back to her. When he gave it back he told her,
"There is only one way to get my hammer; you must come to Jotunheim with me and marry Thrym."

Now how would you feel if I said you must marry the biggest, stupidest, ugliest person in the world.
That's exactly how Freyja felt. She stamped her foot and screamed. "ARRRRGH! I would have to be absolutely man-crazy
to marry a stupid, ugly, nasty creature like Thrym! I won't do it no matter how many hammers he has stolen!"

All the gods held council, since this was very important. After all, Thor was all that kept the giants out of Asgard.
Without his hammer he wouldn't be able to stop them.

But over to one side sat Heimdall, the guardian of the rainbow bridge that connects the earth to Asgard.
(His eyes were so keen that he could see the hairs on a cat's head all the way across the world.
And some say he could see into tomorrow.) Heimdall stood up and said "I have a plan. Let's get one of Freyja's dresses,
some of her jewelry, and a heavy veil. We could put them on Thor. Thrym would never know the difference!"

"WHAT?" Thor bellowed. "Put me in a dress? Make me up like a girl? Never!! I won't stand for it!!"
He ranted and raved so it took most of the gods to hold him down.

But crafty Loki liked the plan, (besides, seeing Thor in a bridal dress was too good to miss!)
"We have no choice!" he said. "If we don't give Thrym a bride, you won't get your hammer back!
So hold your tongue. I too will put on a dress and go as your bride's maid."

So they put him in a dress, put a veil on his face, and a wig of horsehair on his own red locks.
Loki put on a dress and fetched the thunderer's chariot, pulled by the two great goats.

When at last they left, Thor drove the magic goats hard, splitting mountaintops left and right.
The wooden wheels rumbled thunder from the very clouds.

Thrym heard the thunder, and knew it was Thor's chariot. But when he saw who was driving he was overjoyed.
(Remember, I told you that giants know magic. But Thor wasn't disguised by spells. It was only dress, powder,
and paint. And since giants are not too bright, Thrym felt sure that the driver had to be his blushing bride.)

He ran to his mead-hall, kicking his lazy subjects awake. "Up, you foul ogres! Freyja is come to be my bride!"
Four whole oxen were roasted to make the feast, along with sixteen whole salmon and twenty barrels of ale.

Once the 'bride' had arrived Thrym took them inside and showed them to the high seat for feast.
He spoke to his 'bride' and teased her, but Thor refused to speak.
This alarmed Thrym, and he turned to Loki and asked, Why does she not talk?"

Loki answered "Oh, my lord, she was so excited when she heard that she was to be your wife,
she shouted for joy for eight whole days. She has made herself hoarse."

This seemed to satisfy the giant king, so they started to feast. Now giants eat quite a lot, but no one ate as much
as the 'bride', who ate on whole ox, eight whole salmon, all of the cakes, and washed it down with four barrels of ale!

"How can she eat so much?" Thrym cried. "I have never seen a woman eat so much!" But crafty Loki answered,
"Oh, my lord, she was so happy when she heard she was to be your wife, she couldn't eat a thing in eight days!"

This seemed to satisfy the giant. (Well, I told you he was stupid!) Later in the feast he got the idea to steal a kiss from his 'bride'.
He lifted up the veil just a little, and dropped it again in fear. "Her eyes!" her cried. "Her eyes are so red and fierce!"

But crafty Loki replied, "Oh, my lord, she was so excited about being your wife that she hasn't slept in eight days!"

Thrym looked troubled, but he believed the trickster. "She hasn't slept or eaten and has been rejoicing for eight days!
Let us not delay the wedding! Let us be married now!"

Thor almost jumped, but the always plotting Loki interrupted.
"Oh good king Thrym, Shouldn't you bring out Thor's hammer mjolnir to honor your part of the bargain?"

Thrym thought a bit, (which was hard for him,) and cried, "Bring out the hammer, and lay it across her knees."

But when the hammer touched Thor's knees, he snatched it up and struck Thrym in the forehead...
{pause, try again striking higher,} he struck Thrym a mighty blow, killing him all at once!
Then he proceeded to clear the mead-hall. One by one all the giants foolish enough to try him fell.
All the others ran away.

And that is the tale of the theft of Thor's hammer, and how he won it back again.
And there is a moral that all men should remember: Before you go to wed, look hard behind the wedding veil!

Đ Mikal Hrafspa

Authorīs notes:
Most anyone who is familiar with the mythology of the Norse will recognize this tale.
The version I use is from the Icelandic Codex, the oldest extant collection of Norse tales.
This translation is hardly faithful to the original, as I took great liberties with it to create this version,
that was told the first time to a gathering of children.

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