All characters (c) Marvel Comics
Summary: a young Thor and Loki accidentally create some new Midgardian landmarks.
Thor Odinson concluded that no one else in the Nine Realms and Beyond had the capacity to talk more than the Warriors Three. He was sure Loki agreed, judging from the way his younger brother had his chin in his hand and was rolling his eyes. Sif had already fallen asleep on the other side of the table, by their mother, but her breach of decorum had gone unnoticed by those too enraptured by the spate of battle-glory and heroism that was pouring from the reputed young warriors like mead.
Every dinner posted a new opportunity for the Warriors Three to recount their tales. It was a form of entertainment all of its own; better than the annual balls and the matches against rogue Bergfolk. Everyone waited to hear the stories they would bring to the feasting table. What behemoths did they best this time? What atmospheric travails had they endured this moon? How many Draugar had Hogun the Grim slain with his mace? Thor yawned. He used to relish these stories, but as of late he found he preferred his father's modesty in lieu of the warriors' histrionic and laughably overweening recollections. He was only a hundred-two—still considered a hatchling by Æsir standards, but to him it seemed as if he had already heard it all ad nauseam.
Thor found it difficult to believe half of the tales they spit out anyway. That keen, childish perspicacity that seems to vanish once you reach three hundred or so told him that many of the details of these stories were unconscionably overblown. He personally considered the Warriors Three to be a vainglorious bunch of teenagers who loved their own reputations far too much. Just because they were a little bit older did not give them the rights to boast and strut around like the eagle amongst the top branches of Yggdrasil. Yet people listened to them, because contrary to their looks, they could walk the walk. If anything from their tales rang true, just coming back alive proved this.
The feasting hall of the main citadel was as ornate as it was vast, sparkling with tiger's eye amber columns and drapes of the deepest red and gold. Each plate held mouthwatering assortments of meat and fruit and the goblets overflowed with a hundred kinds of drink. Other edible miscellany decorated the far ends of the tables. Frigga always stationed herself remotely close to her sons, as they were picky, intractable eaters. Loki poked at his food like a bird, finicky and thin to show for it, whereas Thor would eat in bulk, excluding anything he did not consider "man's food" since he sought to smash things with his utmost capabilities.
The discussion tonight, however, made Thor forget about his roasted pheasant for once. The tales du jour did not concern the mighty icicles of Jötunheim or the arcane roads of Álfheim, but Midgard.
"I really cannot fathom what Óláfr is thinking," Fandral was saying, shrugging and spearing a chunk of marinated boar thigh. His audience listened attentively; someone asked him to elaborate.
"From what I hear he has many an ally in Østlandet," Hogun filled in, since Fandral had popped some meat into his mouth and was chewing methodically, "yet he chooses another route. To go through Þrœndalǫg is fey and foolish."
The night progressed in this fashion for some time. Normally Thor would have resorted to building miniature forts with his potatoes and steamed vegetables by this point, yet he found his eyes growing wider by the hour. The tales of Midgard always ignited his interests with a titillating sparkle. Apparently the people there looked just like the Æsir; only they were of an entirely new species altogether. Thor had heard stories from father. Midgard was a place of odd animals, vast wilderness, and one whose skies were splashed with different stars than the spiral comet belts here.
From what the others were saying, there was battle in the Midgardian country of Nóregr. The king wanted to reconquer his country and was leading the humans into attack. The Warriors Three had been observing King Óláfr from the sidelines and had returned from their ventures prematurely (they had decided on a whim that changing Midgardian history was not worth the effort). Hogun told most of the story, as he usually did, since people preferred his deep, lilting voice and exotic accent. The eldest of the Warriors Three—whose nom de guerre read something like "The Lion of Asgard"—had an appetite for Asgardian meals that far exceeded his partners'; for this sake he tended to save his words until he had eaten his fill. Now having polished off a considerable number of pheasants, he said, "The army is heading into the valley of Veradalr as we speak. If he goes through Þrœndalǫg the farmers will most likely slaughter his troops."
Thor bit his lip in anticipation. Father had once told him that the Midgardians, though considerably weaker than Æsir, fought most valiantly in battle. Thor knew that he would undoubtedly see this world for himself one day, yet he already grew impatient. Perhaps he could ask the Warriors Three if they would take him to Earth next time, along with his brother. He glanced to his left where Loki was sucking on a chicken bone and making perfunctory attempts to look interested. His brother would need some persuading, it seemed.
Thor dipped his cleaning rag in more polish and rubbed it against the smooth side of Mjölnir. "Show a little spirit, Loki," he exclaimed, brushing away a stray lock of hair as it fell in front of his eyes. "Do you not wish to see the glories of Midgard? Observe how the mortals fight?"
They were in their shared quarters; Loki had disrobed into his night gown and now sat on his bed with a Vanir scroll. Thor had removed his sandals, eagerly burnishing Mjölnir until he could see his own reflection in it. He looked over at Loki, who appeared to be reading intently. "Well, brother?"
"What I wish is to sleep," Loki replied, sparing his brother a glance. "All of that table twaddle has made me tired."
"How can you think of repose when battle occurs on the shores of Nóregr?" Thor questioned. He paused, staring at the rag in his hands before announcing, "I shall require your services, Loki."
Loki glanced up from his scrolls again. "My services?" he echoed.
"I need you to seduce the Warriors Three and convince them to take us along. Or me, at least."
"You know that I am cursed to follow you wherever you may go so that you do not get yourself killed," Loki sighed. "You see what a burden it is for me. I must decline."
"Can you not think of some alternative?" Thor gestured to Loki's scrolls. "How about using your sorcery to transform into a Valkyrie and seduce Fandral the Dashing—"
"Do you really think that I would squander what little skill I have by turning myself into a woman?"
"Fine," Thor sniffed, "I will do it myself. There must be something in those scrolls of yours—" he reached for Loki's scrolls before Loki had the chance to turn them face down. Loki abruptly scrambled to hide what he had been reading, but Thor easily pushed his scrawny brother aside.
"For Valhalla's sake, Thor—"
Thor grabbed a page and scrutinized the small runes in the light. "How did you get these? These are texts of Karnilla!" he exclaimed.
"I was aware of that," Loki grit out, pursing his lips more with annoyance than with shame.
"Karnilla's magicks are most nefarious," Thor frowned. "Mother shall be furious, once I tell her."
Loki dropped his eyes to the floor. "You would not, brother. Father would see to it that I clean all the stables in Asgard for a year," he said quietly.
"He would," Thor agreed, beginning to grin, "if I told them. However, if you were to talk to the Warriors Three I could conveniently bypass this egregious act. None should ever know."
A moment passed before Loki untangled his legs from the lotus position he had been in and sighed. "Very well," he acquiesced, to which Thor beamed and punched the air triumphantly with his fists, "I will abet you in your little adventure. Father is likely to send both of us to the stables once he finds out anyway. I should congratulate you, dear brother." Thor stopped cheering long enough to raise his eyebrow at Loki questioningly.
Loki smiled. "It seems you do have some brains under that thick blonde skull of yours. But blackmail hardly suits you, if I say so myself."
Thor knew how wily his little brother could be when it came to bending others pliant to his will, but he still found himself astonished when, the next day, Loki led him to the chambers of the Warriors Three with a look of lazy satisfaction upon his face. According to Loki, who proved to be gallingly misty on the details, he had mentioned something about Mjölnir being accidentally enchanted to self-combust unless it reaped the lightning of Earth in the next three days. Whatever notion had been presented had at least been something cogent (or witty) enough to win the warriors over.
Since the sons of Odin were not yet old enough to use the Bifröst, the Warriors Three led them to one of their spell-casting bases in the forest (which they used often giving the rather questionable reputability of their undertakings). Fandral had learned basic magic from an old enchanter, or so the story went, and was therefore in charge of opening the portals to dimensional travel.
"You," he declared, scowling at Loki, "are the little prince of bon mots."
"He will take that as a compliment, you know," Thor muttered.
Loki raised his eyebrows in a sweetly innocent expression that even the most naïve of the Light Elves would have looked askance to. "We only wish to amend the condition that is our rudimentary knowledge of Midgard," he said. "Additionally, it is imperative that we get Mjölnir within its atmosphere. I would suggest Nóregr for purposes of familiarity."
"I really cannot say I approve," Volstagg grumbled as he adjusted his sword along his ample belt. It was easy enough to see what the young brothers were up to. He looked down to Thor. "Do not tell me you have forgotten what the Allfather did to me the last time I imposed a less desirable influence upon your majesty."
Thor vaguely recalled the time Volstagg had pulled him into his confines and had let slip confidential information regarding the Jötuns (following seven straight kegs of mead, of course). Father had not been especially happy. "Have you gone teetotaler following that little incident?" Thor asked, grinning.
This made Volstagg laugh heartily. "Never," he replied, his good humor restored. "I still love mead too much, the poison that it is!"
Some feet away, Hogun was coiling up the chain connected to his mace Hridgander so that it would not strike him during travel. Loki ensconced himself on a nearby rock, tilted his head and asked the warrior what the status of the battle was and where they would be landing.
"We suspect that Óláfr may be leading his troops to Stiklarstaðir," Hogun told him, "but we are not going there."
Thor frowned. "Where are we headed then, if not there?"
"Skjeggedal," Fandral replied brightly.
"Skjeggedal?" Loki repeated. "Why, that is not anywhere near Stiklarstaðir." Thor blinked at this, surprised at his brother's sudden knowledge of Midgardian terrain.
Fandral scoffed. "Did you really think we would hurl the sons of Odin into battle?"
"Besides," Volstagg added, "Skjeggedal is a nice little village, good for harnessing that, ah, lightning that you need." He elbowed Thor with a wink.
"So no complaints, I take it?" Fandral clapped his hands together and promptly answered his own question. "Right, then. Loki, you may want to remove yourself from that rock in a moment." Loki's eyes widened immediately and bemused sort of smile crept onto his face.
"Stone circle travel, of course," he exclaimed, words slightly breathless, and lithely jumped down from his perch on the rock. "I was not aware that you practiced the ancient Seid of Freya. You know the runes, I take it?"
"Do not excite yourself so," Fandral said as he drew some blood to mark the stones. "A future king will be looked down upon if he pursues the art of Seid in lieu of combat."
Loki and Thor exchanged looks. "Well I like it," Loki muttered under his breath.
Fandral beckoned them all into the circle once the stones were branded with specific runes. "I must warn you," he began, directing his statement to the youngest members of the group, "this is nothing like using the Bifröst."
Naturally, Thor had to ask. "Why?"
"The Bifröst hurls you across the bridges of worlds so that you may fly," Hogun supplied. "With these alternative spells, you—"he grimaced with distaste—"spin."
Fandral had closed his eyes. "Quiet now," he said, before lapsing into a curious chant. The words dictated a vernacular of Norse that even Thor did not understand; it was too old, hardly Norse at all. He looked at Loki, standing beside him, who seemed transfixed on the rune-covered stones and squeezed his hand. Loki tore his eyes away from the rocks and managed something of a wan smile.
A moment later Thor felt a tugging sense of vertigo and saw the world blur around him. Mjölnir clamped uncomfortably against his thigh and his limbs lifted of their own accord to begin their fated pinwheel. There was an odd sensation of fading, as if he were being pulled apart into a void. Perhaps they would visit Ginnungagap, the world of nothing.
His last thought before spiraling across the realms was that he sincerely hoped Fandral knew what he was doing.
Thor opened his eyes and immediately squinted against a bright, pale-blue sky. It was the color of periwinkles, he noted dreamily, before remembering that there were others in his presence. He sat up and took note of the thin forestry around him. The Warriors Three had already recovered and were fastening on cloaks and headgear. Loki was pale, leaning against a nearby tree but looking steady enough.
"Remind me, when we return, to thank Heimdall profusely for his services," Loki said faintly, coming over to sit by Thor. "I suspect the Bifröst is more agreeable on the stomach."
Thor shook the last of the dizziness from his head and bent over to pinch some grass between his fingers. "Look brother," he marveled, "this is the grass of Midgard."
Loki leaned in to inspect it, sniffing lightly. "The disparity is miniscule," he observed. True, it was pretty much the same grass one could find anywhere on Asgard, but the fact that it was grass from another world fascinated Thor to no end.
"Up and about, children," Fandral called out humoredly. "Have a nice rest?"
Thor rolled his eyes at Loki. "I would have loved to see his face had you seduced him," he whispered.
"Do not worry, brother of mine," Loki reassured him and nodded his head in Fandral's direction slyly. "If you prove to be equally annoying as a teenager I shall find many opportunities to show you that expression on your own face."
Thor smirked. "I hope that is not a threat, Loki. Tell me, warriors," he said, raising his voice, "where do you plan on taking us?"
Volstagg rubbed the short beard that coated his jawline. "Nowhere," he replied, looking confused. "This is the perfect region in which to release Mjölnir's enchantments, which was what you desired, was it not?" He grinned toothily.
"You may explore as you wish. We will retrieve you after one day," Hogun announced.
"And what will you do?" Thor asked, outraged.
"We have business to attend to," Volstagg said, tapping his nose mysteriously. "First, we must procure ourselves some ox to ride."
"No horses?" Loki questioned.
Volstagg glanced off into the distance. "I feel like an ox today," he proclaimed, before turning and signaling his partners to follow.
"For our sakes, do not get into too much trouble," Fandral added as they disappeared into the trees. "Farewell!"
"But—"Thor was stopped by his brother's hand placed gently on his forearm.
"Calm yourself, brother. We are perhaps freer than we would have been in their presence."
"That is a veritable claim, but we are miles away from the battle and I desire to exercise Mjölnir!" Thor protested, crossing his arms over his chest. He scowled at Loki. "Why do you look so unperturbed?"
"Because," Loki replied, "I use my head. We are on the outskirts of a village. Tell me, if you desired information, where is the one place you would go to find it?"
Thor thought for a minute. "A tavern, naturally," he answered. "People tend to talk more with drink, species regardless."
Loki patted his brother's shoulder. "Very good, Thor. You know all the answers but you never think to think them."
"Hm," Thor grunted, "I could say the same in regards to your fighting skills."
An hour later they reached the village. Midgard's sun was sinking lower into the sky and bathing everything in a blood-orange gradient wash. Thor recognized the insects of Heyannir, the hay and sun season, as they chirruped and buzzed, creating music in the silence of the falling day.
They found a small dining house made of wood, where Thor ordered spitted lamb, a jar of hazelnuts and a massive loaf of rye. Loki settled for a salted herring and some milk. The elderly barkeep raised an eyebrow when Thor requested a beer, but said nothing.
"It is not as exciting as I anticipated," Thor noted, wiping froth from his upper lip. "This is the beverage that turns men into blathering idiots?"
"So it would seem," Loki said. He gestured to the Bjorr being guzzled by the mugful at a nearby table of merchants. "However, I believe that may be a little stronger."
Thor took note of the men crowded around the table. "Do you suggest we listen?" he asked hushedly, excited. Perhaps the merchants could tell them how to get to Stiklarstaðir. Loki scooped up a handful of hazelnuts and shrugged.
For a while the merchants appeared to be discussing the ports and trade. Thor elbowed Loki when the conversation drifted into more interesting waters. Literally.
"Thank the gods Óláfr travels by land," a man was saying. "Had he used knerrir his men would have drowned like the ones here."
"And they all perished, you say?"
"I heard the waters were stained red for days. There was nothing but flotsam left."
One man with a dark beard peppered gray shook his head. "Nay," he said, "only one made it back alive, though he was in a bad way. He claims the beast had gotten them."
"A beast? And yet he was spared?"
"What kind of bestial creature you think capable of devouring an entire karve? Do not tell me there is a Kraken in our waters yet!"
The five or six men huddled around the table looked up upon hearing the addition of a new voice. They saw a boy standing before them, smooth-faced and clad in plain, yet finely woven robes.
"I do not wish to interrupt, but you say there is a monster in this realm?" the boy asked.
One of the men chuckled. "Aye, there are plenty of monsters in this, ah, realm," he rumbled, "though none fit for your tender ears, young lad. Go back to your milk."
The boy blinked, indignant. "How dare you talk in such a way to the son of—"
"—what my brother means," another boy interrupted, appearing almost out of thin air by the other boy's side, "is that we would be honored if you could give us more information on this creature and its whereabouts."
Thor shut his mouth and decided that perhaps it was best to let his little brother ratiocinate. The humans looked somber and grumpy, which required tact and delicacy to reason with. As usual, Loki demonstrated spectacular savoire faire.
"My uncle was aboard that karve, and I mourn for his loss deeply," Loki said, shaking his head. "I wish to know what took his life."
"Who was your uncle?" a man asked.
"Leidolf," Loki replied, so convincing in his delivery that one of the men began to nod sagely.
"I believe I remember him," the man said.
"Aye," piped up another, "was not he the one with the—"
"Please sirs," Loki held up a hand, looking pained, "alas, it is too heartwrenching yet to bring his memory to this table."
A beefy, tow-headed man sitting at the center of the group downed his mug and peered over at the brothers. "And the little cubs wish to inact vengeance, I presume?" he inquired.
Thor seized this moment to interject. "We will crush the life from this beast and hang its head on these very walls if we have to!" he exclaimed, gesturing to the tavern around them. This earned them some loud laughs from the men at the table.
"The monster lies in the waters of Ringedalsvatnet," one of them supplied. "They say it breathes fire and has teeth bigger than you, little ones. You need only go west of this village, into the mountains. There you will find the beast."
"Is it not of mean spirit to direct these children to such danger?" the quietest of the table asked the man who had just spoken. He was a tall Midgardian with hair as red as the setting sun and he wore a fretful expression. A ring of engagement was wrapped around his finger.
"Nonsense! No one save that shipman has actually claimed to see the beast, so it is unlikely that it truly exists," the other man argued.
"Fear not, huma—"Thor was elbowed in the ribs by Loki, who flashed him a warning look. "Men," he finished, "I assure you that my brother and I are quite formidable in battle." To accentuate this point, he patted the hammer that dangled from his waist belt. To the others it looked too big and too heavy in proportion to the boy's body.
The pepper-bearded man took a swig from his mug. "Are you now?" He surveyed the brothers. "From the looks of you I suspect you'd have trouble lifting a barrel of hay, let alone that hammer. Especially that one." He jabbed a thumb at Loki, who flashed a wide smile in response. Thor swallowed, suddenly a trifle uneasy. Loki only smiled like that when he was about to make somebody else's life incredibly unfortunate.
"Your words have been much appreciated, gentlemen," Loki said, still smiling. "However I can assure you that my brother and I are quite strong." He held up a slim index finger and wordlessly pointed to it with his other hand, indicating that the others observe. The men leaned forward.
In a slow, lazy motion Loki lowered his index finger and gracefully laid it on the table. He then curled the finger in and flicked, like a man ridding his garments of a piece of lint. The oak table promptly shattered into splinters. The men cried out and leapt to their feet as mugs and plates crashed to the floor; the few people left in the tavern glanced up in alarm.
While the men were wiping food remnants from their clothes and patting dry spilt Bjorr, Thor and Loki quickly slipped out of the tavern and into the night.
"Thank you for your time!" Thor called back, unable to resist, and broke into gleeful peals of laughter. He was still snickering madly even after they had put a good distance between themselves and the tavern, he and his brother running like a pair of colts under a bright moon that shown like a drop of milk in the sky. "Loki, you dog!"
Even Loki's ever-wagging tongue stood still once they arrived at Ringedalsvatnet. Here before them was beauty and magic of the Earth, their ancient songs augmented by the night. The reflection of the moon made the top of the water glisten white and silver. The air was cool, moist and sweet. Everything was simply spectacular.
Thor crouched down and crumbled a bit of dirt between his hands. The mountains shadowing the lake were comprised of Earthrocks: quartz, mica, gneiss. The tops of them were capped with snow.
"This place…certainly rivals the splendor of Asgard," Thor said following a minute of silence.
"Do you wish to rest, brother?"
"Perhaps," he nodded. "The ale has made me sleepy. When dawn nears, let us approach the water below."
There were little house-like structures all along the lake's bank. Many of them were wooden stafr churches, topped with signs of the cross and stone markers on their lawns. Loki supposed they could find repose in their shelters, but he knew Thor preferred to nap among the wilderness.
Loki made himself comfortable on a slab of moss-covered rock. "Are you sure?" he asked. "There is magic in this place, all around us; I can feel it. What if there is a monster?"
"Then," Thor yawned, "it is no match for us. We will bring its hide to father come the next day."
Loki did not answer. He thought of reminding Thor that Mjölnir still had many skills undiscovered. He thought of telling Thor that his own magic was not yet advanced enough should he need to save his brother's life.
He thought of telling Thor to be careful.
He thought to, but by the time he opened his mouth Thor was sleeping deeply, his snores splashing loud notes on the staves of the night and mingling with the cadences of the birds and insects.
When morning came and the reflections of the sun's light created little ghost-puffs of mist on the water, the brothers woke and made their way down to the water bank.
"A good king never seeks out conflict," Loki reminded his brother half-heartedly, though he knew that there was no stopping Thor now. It was akin to getting Volstagg the Lion to go on a diet. "Father once told us that."
"He was referring to war, dear brother," Thor said, as if Loki was mentally incompetent. "This is a quest, a challenge—that which honorable Asgardians should seek out."
Loki raised an eyebrow at his brother. "And if you were to die?"
"Then I shall do so meritoriously and you shall tell stories about it once you are King," Thor replied promptly. He came to a stop where the earth grew softer and where the edges of the water lapped at the rocks in hushed burbles. Still looking across the vast expanse of water, he pulled out Mjölnir. "Shall we summon the beast?" he asked with a smile.
"If you wish," Loki sighed, resigned. He took a breath and tried to find his center, should he need to call upon his magicks.
Thor tried roaring some incantations at the water, which only succeeded in summoning pain from Loki's eardrums; not to mention driving several flocks of Earth-fowl from their verdant perches in the trees. When that failed Thor took a moment to pace the ground. He removed his sandals, then got down on his knees and held Mjölnir upside-down to the earth.
Loki glanced over at him. "Pray tell, what are you doing now?" Thor had his hands locked around the hammer's hilt. As Loki watched, he raised his arms. With a widening smile, Thor tightened his grip on Mjölnir.
"Knocking," he said, before bringing Mjölnir down head-first into the ground.
The impact was colossal; it sent a wave of energy straight into the soil, making some of the looser rocks above tumble forward and the water undulate violently. The trees shook, and Loki could feel the vibrations of Mjölnir penetrate deep into the heart of the vast lake.
Thor brought the hammer down again, swiftly, eliciting another boom that rattled the trees. The waters of Ringedalsvantet were now frothing, swirling aggressively in frenetic whirligigs and splashing the banks with larger waves.
As Thor crashed Mjölnir to the earth for a third time the water before them suddenly exploded. A wave several meters high rose before them and something appeared behind it—a shape so massive that its tide doused the brothers, momentarily stunning them. Thor wiped his eyes and jumped to his feet, ready to battle whatever leviathan had arisen from the depths of Midgard.
It was like nothing he had ever seen before. The creature had the body of a fish and a tail split into two long whips, yet its head was that of a giant horse, mane lengthy and dripping with dark lake water. The creature whinnied, the sound cacophonous and screeching and positively awful. It was like the grinding of steel together, only tenfold louder. Thor took a second to note that the merchants had been right; the creature did indeed have fangs larger than he himself.
"What beast is this?" he cried over the deafening bellow, gripping Mjölnir tightly in his fist.
Loki grabbed Thor's upper arm. "It is a Havfest," he said fiercely. "I read about these in Karnilla's books. It sinks Midgardian longships out of malice and it—"
"Is mine," Thor concluded, holding Mjölnir high above his head and twirling it. He had been trying to perfect the technique of flying with Mjölnir by means of using it as a propeller, since he knew its weight and thrust could potentially catapult him through the sky.
The only issue lay within the technique itself, as Thor had not yet perfected it. He managed to get Mjölnir going so that it was a blur in the air, but he was unbalanced in initiating the jump. The effects were disastrous. Loki covered his eyes with a hand and shook his head as his brother went whizzing sideways and was plummeted into the middle of the lake by his own weapon. The Havfest reared its head with a snort and set out after Thor with another shrieking whinny. Loki quickly ran forward; the creature would surely find Thor before he had the chance to surface.
He did not hope to control the Havfest with his inchoate telekinesis and his meager cache of shape-shifting options would not suffice for a creature of this size. So Loki settled for his most basic yet effective trompe d'loeil, the clones of shadow.
The Havfest was suddenly bombarded with not dozens but hundreds of Lokis, all calling out at once and all armed with the same hand knife. The replicas hovered above the water at the level of the creature's head, circling it and slashing in unison. This gave Thor time to reach the surface of the lake not a moment too soon; Loki's shadows flickered out and the Havfest dealt a blow to the only one left that hurled Loki miles into the sky. He pummeled into the surrounding mountains with a deafening crack. Dust and debris billowed out in a cloud.
Roaring, Thor leapt from the water and latched on to the Havfest's long mane. The mane was longer than the body of the creature itself and the ends of it floated atop the water like dead seaweed. Thor secured his hands in the tangles and snarls of the mane, using it to climb up higher and effectively jerking the beast's head backwards. The Havfest gave an even louder roar and exhaled an impressive jet of fire over the land surrounding the water.
"You—did not tell me it—breathed fire—brother!" Thor grunted through the mane as he watched the wooden churches closest to the water ignite.
Half a mile above, picking himself up from the ground and wincing, Loki scowled. "I tried to," he muttered. He was bruised; it would take some time before he got far enough down the mountain to extinguish the burning land below so he contented himself with regaining his strength instead.
Down at the waters, Thor had never experienced such excitement. The Havfest was trying to dislodge him from its mane, violently. It squealed and whinnied and plunged deep into the lake. Thor held on, even under the water. It was exhilarating. He pushed past the bubbles and jolted when the tails of the beast slapped against the lake's bottom. If he had been here for swimming purposes he would have marveled at how exotic the underwater world was. Fish and eel hurriedly darted out of the way, and at one point Thor could have sworn he had seen the silhouette of something bigger, in the distance and down by the rocky floor.
He got a few blows in, but most of them only managed to anger the creature. Realizing that he would have to employ something different he disentangled himself from the Havfest's mane and floated in the water, under the surface. He wished for Valhalla's luck and began to swing Mjölnir, slowly at first, but gradually gathering speed.
It was more difficult in the water than in the air and the bubbles obscured his vision almost entirely. Yet Thor persisted, dogged to try the propelling technique once more. This time the fetter of gravity was lessened, and Thor concentrated solely on revolving Mjölnir. Under the water it was almost like the spinning of Fandral's dimensional portal, come to think of it. This would be fun.
Loki peered down from the mountain and could just make out the small shape of the Havfest swimming in circles near the water's surface. Upon closer examination, he descried that the Havfest was not merely swimming in circles as it was being pulled into circles. A moment later an immense cyclone of torrential water spurted from the lake, higher and higher, smashing into nearby mountains uncontrollably.
"Loki, I need to you keep it in the air!" Thor shouted from somewhere inside the cyclone, causing Loki to run to the edge of the nearest precipice. The Havfest was screaming fit to shatter glass as it was tossed about like a plaything in its moving aquatic cage. Loki held out his hands extempore and began to chant under his breath. A levitation on such a scale would require every trickle of his power and concentration. He soon began to perspire with the effort.
Thor jumped to the edge of the cliff. "Just for a moment longer," he called. Mjölnir crackled in his hand and the skies grew tenebrous and smoky with black clouds.
Loki did not spare even a second to warn his brother to make haste. The tendons stood out on his neck and his hair had fallen into his face, but he was effectively maintaining the cyclone with the Havfest writhing inside of it.
Thunder belched in the sky and a deadly zap of concomitant lightning descended into the watery spirals. The cyclone splashed apart with the first bolt; the second one Thor brought down struck the Havfest and sent it crashing into the cliff side. The third bolt did the same and there was an awful popping and sizzling that could be heard over the sound of breaking rock.
The impact of the Havfest took out most of the cliff side and left huge, gaping chunks in the wake of the wafting dust and dirt. Loki collapsed to the ground, panting, and watched as the creature fell hundreds of feet into the valleys below.
Miraculously, the top of the mountain remained intact. Thor stood at the edge, barefoot, the rock underneath his feet protruding into the open air. He flashed a tired grin at Loki, who flopped onto his back and stared up at the sky. He wiped sweat from his brow, looked over at his brother, the idiot, and returned the smile.
"It is a shame we cannot bring its hide to show father," Thor admitted as they gave the dead creature a final push into the water. They had not anticipated the creature's size, and once they additionally realized that they did not have the gutting tools required the brothers opted for rolling the Havfest to the bottom of the lake.
"But you have a tooth," Loki proposed. Indeed; Thor had removed one of the Havfest's smaller incisors and had strapped it to his back with the extra rope from his belt. "I am sure father will approve of your valor enough to exculpate you from your misdemeanors."
Thor patted the tooth. Now that it had dried off one could see it had a glossy sheen that caught the light of the sun resplendently. "Certainly, I shall tout this on the walls of our chambers," he laughed. "And what of you, brother? Your sorcery is much stronger than I have ever seen it. Remind me not to speak ill of Karnilla's texts again."
"I doubt my efforts will bode as well," Loki said dryly. He permitted himself a glance at the surrounding valley. Despite his water summons, the air was hazy with the vestigial smoke of the beast's fire. The wooden churches had become blackened crisps against the green, green grass, smoldering and crumbling into useless blocks of charcoal. The villagers would not be pleased when they discovered that their places of worship had presumably perished in the fires of hell.
The two brothers stretched for a minute before commencing their hike up to the forest where the Warriors Three had left them. The sun had risen high in the sky and shone brightly enough to make them both squint.
"Look to the mountain," Thor observed, fastening his sandals back on and pointing to where his lightning had struck the beast and had dislodged entire sections of the cliff face. "It looks funny, does it not?" Thor smiled, "the way the rock juts out? Why, that looks just like a troll's tongue!"
Loki agreed that the formation was quite odd. He wondered how the humans would regard it, as it was quite salient in comparison to the surrounding rock. As they left the valley, Loki took a moment to observe Ringedalsvatnet for a final time. The waters had calmed and the lake was tranquil and blue, as if nothing had ever taken place there at all.
Fandral the Dashing felt his right eyelid twitch.
"Do you realize what the Allfather will do to us once he finds out you destroyed six stafr churches, two barns, and the entire topography of a Midgardian landmark?" he asked, blinking incredulously. They had passed the disaster—rather, battleground—on their way from the village. There were only two beings in all the Nine Realms who could have created such destruction in the span of a single day, and they were certainly not from Earth.
"Forget about the battle at Stiklarstaðir," Fandral groaned, "this is infinitely more catastrophic."
Thor and Loki looked up at the Warriors Three with equally culpable looks. "I…have a tooth," Thor offered quietly. Fandral threw up his hands and sighed wordlessly. The sons of Odin and their little adventures had made him dismiss the company of the lovely wench he had been sharing goat's milk with earlier in the day. It took a great deal to drive his mind from the wiles of female pulchritude, but then again Fandral should have known that the sons of Odin were anything but.
Volstagg permitted himself a chuckle. "I am amazed that you two could cause so much damage," he said. He ran his eyes over the tooth on Thor's back and seemed to reconsider. "Actually, I am not."
"Fortunately you have managed to spare human life, which should lessen your sentences," Hogun said, before begrudgingly adding, "and ours as well."
As they walked and Loki worked his eloquence to its very best in efforts to reassure the warriors, Thor smiled to himself. Maybe the Warriors Three would not boast so much after this, but he was certainly entitled to a little glory.
"In your opinion," Thor addressed as they headed toward the stone circle, because he could not resist the temptation, "the, ah, newly constructed cliff. Do you not deny that it resembles the tongue of a troll?"
Nobody answered aloud; Loki because he worried what father would say upon their return and the Warriors Three because silently, they all agreed.
Author's note: I feel like I should maybe include a glossary with this one. There are a lot of Norse words and Viking terms, so if any of you do not know something feel free to ask. I actually had to do research to write this fic. A lot of research.
The year is 1030 (the Battle of Stiklestad) and approximately 100 years after Odin found Loki at the temple (movie-verse). Here Thor and Loki are physically around 12-13. I imagine Hogun and Fandral to be physically in their late teens here, and Volstagg is in his late twenties/thirties. They're all a little younger here, and a bit stupid.
I would love to hear your feedback on this one! I work hard on my fics-not only because they are incredibly fun to write, but to improve my writing. They don't get a lot of views, or so that I am aware of, and I would love it if people gave me more response. =)