Mjolnir Goes Missing
Thor awoke with a thunderous yawn. He stretched his brawny arms, allowed himself a sleepy little burrow into the mattress, then reached under his pillow of clouds for his precious hammer. Mjolnir always rested safe and sound beneath Thor’s pillow.
But his hand came up empty. He let out a blood-curdling roar of sheer rage, the palace trembling. His hammer, his most precious companion, was gone!
Now, this was a very serious matter. Thor was the protector of Asgard, the land of the gods, and the Aesir’s enemies knew of Thor’s mighty hammer. While Thor wielded Mjolnir, no foe dared approach Asgard with malicious intentions.
But if the nine realms learned of Mjolnir’s disappearance, who knew what dangers would threaten the palace of heaven?
Thor darted to every corner of Cloud Land in search of the hammer. His wife, Sif, joined him in the hunt, her golden hair whipping to and fro as they searched. Their two lovely daughters, Thrude and Lora, eventually joined the search party, too.
The hunt went on all day. They turned Thrudheim upside down and sent the clouds rolling across the sky. They peeped behind every cirrus and prodded each cumulonimbus. But Mjolnir was nowhere to be found. The hammer had clearly been stolen!
Loki is Accused
Thor’s yellow beard quivered with rage, his hair bristling like the golden rays of a star. The entire household trembled and the clouds held their breath.
“It’s Loki again!” Thor raged. “Ever since that kerfuffle with the dwarf Brock, Loki has looked at me with vengeful eyes!” And this was true; the legendary dwarven showdown from which Mjolnir was created had resulted in Loki’s braggadocious lips being sewn shut. Thor knew the red rascal had hated him passionately since that day.
But on this day, Thor was mistaken. Loki had not stolen his precious hammer; the god of trickery was too cowardly to cross Thor again. At least not outright. He was biding his time for the perfect moment to exact his revenge against Thor. He knew that eventually, Thor would bumble into danger’s way, and Loki would be waiting to pull evil’s strings from the wings.
But that’s a tale for another day.
Until then, Loki was on his best behavior, trying to appear kind and obliging to the rest of the Asgardians. So when Thor approached him with lightning-fire eyes and demanded, “What have you done with my hammer, you filthy thief?!” Loki was genuinely surprised. But he was committed to his new facade of geniality, so he responded without his usual snarkiness.
“Has your hammer truly gone missing, brother Thor?” Loki mumbled politely. His mouth was still sore from Brock’s stitching needle. “That’s a pity. If the giants hear of this, they’ll be at Asgard’s gates with clubs and pitchforks.”
“Oh, shut it, you weasel!” Thor grabbed Loki by the shoulders with his iron fingers. “Why do you think I’m so desperate to find Mjolnir? Come on, I know you had a hand in this mischief. Confess!”
Loki protested, insisting he had nothing to do with such a nefarious deed. “However,” he wheedled, “I think I can guess the thief’s identity. And because I love you, Thor, I’ll help you find him.”
“Humph, love! Yeah, right,” Thor grumbled. “But I can’t deny you’re a wise rascal and the nimblest wit of the Aesir. I’d rather have you with me than against me, especially if giants are involved.” Thor stepped closer, hoving over Loki intimidatingly. “Tell me, then: who has robbed the Thunder-Lord of his bolt of power?”
Loki and Thor Team Up
Loki pointed beneath the clouds. “Look at the raging storms and howling winds of the world below. Someone is wielding your thunder hammer! Very unskillfully, might I add. And who else would have such audacity but Thrym, the mighty giant who has always been your enemy and imitator! His fingers have itched to hold Mjolnir’s short little handle and claim the title of Thunder-Lord.”
“That impudent troll!” Thor roared. “I will crush him to pieces with my iron fists. That’ll teach him not to meddle with the weapons of the Aesir!”
“Patience, now,” Loki appeased, smiling maliciously. “He is a shrewd and mighty giant. Even you, the mighty Thor, can’t simply walk into his hall and pluck the hammer from his hand with the ease of stealing a rattle from a baby. No, you must be crafty. And I will teach you how.”
Now, Thor prided himself on being a brave, blunt fellow. He hated Loki’s deceitful ways. He greatly preferred the way of warriors — the thundering charge, the flash of weapons, the quick and heavy blow. There was no room for snakes on the battlefield.
But Thor knew that without his hammer, he was powerless against the fearsome giants. Loki’s advice seemed wise. So, with a sigh of defeat, he agreed to Loki’s plan.
Loki clapped delightedly. Plays of wit and deception were his greatest love. He would concoct a legendary scheme to rescue Mjolnir, and the Aesir would finally be reminded of his value.
“Alright,” he said eagerly. “First, we need to borrow Freya’s falcon dress. But you’ll need to ask her yourself. She holds no love for me or my brilliant ideas.”
They made their way to Folkvang, the house of the maidens, where the goddess Freya dwelt. She was beauty incarnate, sweeter than the purest honey, and the tears from her sparkling eyes blessed the earth-flowers with dew every night and morning. When she heard Thor’s plea, she gladly lent him her magic cloak of feathers, a disguise she used to flit across the world in the body of a beautiful bird. Until Mjolnir was returned, she and all of the Aesir were in danger.
“Now, I will fetch your hammer for you,” Loki said graciously. He donned the magic falcon plumage and flew away, up, up, over the world and down, down, across the great ocean that lies beyond all things known by men. He arrived in the dark country, where the sun never shone and spring never bloomed. A dark and dreary place of constant winter. Mountains pierced the sky like jagged blocks of ice and gaping caves yawned hungrily in the shadows.
This was Jotunheim, the land of the powerful frost giants.
Loki Confronts the Giant
Loki flew through the frigid land until he found Thrym the Giant King playing with his dogs and horses outside his palace cave. The dogs were big as elephants, the horses as big as houses. Thrym himself was huge as a mountain! Loki trembled, intimidated, but put on a brave face.
“Good day, Loki,” Thrym said in his deep, terrible voice, like the rumbling snow of a deadly avalanche. The Giant King was very proud of his voice. He fancied it as loud — if not louder — than Thor’s. “How are things with your little brothers, the Aesir, in Asgard’s halls? And how very daring of you to venture into Giant Land alone and disguised.”
“It is a grave day in Asgard,” Loki sighed, voice casual but eye warily trained on the giant, “and a stormy one in the world of men. I heard the winds howling and the storms whirling through the earth as I passed by. Some mighty being has stolen Thor’s hammer. Was it you, Thrym, greatest of all giants — greater even than Thor, himself?”
Clever Loki knew that flattery was the key to lowering Thrym’s defenses. There was nothing power-hungry egomaniacs loved more than ingratiating praise.
Sure enough, Thrym swelled with pride, trying to adopt the majesty and awe-inspiring presence of the thunder god. But he only succeeded in making himself look like an ugly, bloated monster.
“Why, yes,” he admitted pridefully, “I possess the hammer that belonged to your little Thor. Not much of a lord of the skies now, ha!”
“Oh, indeed,” Loki agreed. “He’s a poor weakling without his magic weapon. But you, O Great Thrym — surely your mightiness needs no aid. Mjolnir is nothing but a toy compared to your power. Give me the hammer so Thor can mend his shattered dignity.”
But flattery could only go so far. Thrym would not relinquish his prized acquisition so easily.
Thrym Demands a Trade
The Giant King grinned ferociously, his smile several yards in width and his teeth bared like jagged boulders across the entrance of a mountain cavern.
“Mjolnir the hammer is mine,” he said menacingly. “And I am now the Thunder-Lord, mightiest of the mighty! I have hidden Mjolnir where Thor can never find it: twelve leagues beneath the sea caves, where Queen Ran lives with her daughters, the white-capped Waves. But listen Loki. I’ll throw you a bone.” He leaned close, his icy breath clouding the air. “I will give it back, on one condition. Freya the Beautiful must agree to be my wife.”
Loki barely restrained his chortle of disbelief. Freya the beautiful? Nice try, brute! As if the Aesir would ever forfeit their fairest flower to such a hideous buffoon.
But he hid his reaction well, politely replying, “Ah, yes, you demand our fair Freya in exchange for a dinky little hammer? That is a costly price, great and mighty Thrym. But I will carry your message to Asgard and persuade the Aesir to deliver the handsomest bride of all the nine realms to your doorstep. Farewell!
Miserable News for Freya
Loki whizzed back to Asgard on his falcon wings, chuckling to himself. Oh, what a ruckus Thrym’s words would cause! Loki thrived on chaos; it was his bread and butter.
First, he delivered the message to Thor, making sure to convey every drop of Thrym’s insolence and driving Thor into a fearsome rage. Loki then spoke to Freya, making her shudder with his descriptions of Thyrm’s hideous appearance and spiteful nature.
I’m sure you can imagine the horror Loki’s words brought to Asgard.
“My hammer!” Thor thundered. “The gruesome villain confesses he has stolen Mjolnir and boasts that he is the Thunder-Lord! Argh!”
“Oh, that ugly giant,” Freya wailed. “Must I truly be the bride of that disgusting old monster, destined to waste away in his gloomy mountain prison for the rest of my days?”
“Yup, put on your bridal veil, sweet Freya,” Loki said maliciously. “Hang your famous starry necklace around your delicate neck and don your bravest robe, for in eight days there will be a wedding in Jotunheim, and Thor’s hammer will return home in your stead.”
Freya collapsed, weeping. “I can’t go, please, I won’t go!” she sobbed. “I won’t leave the home of gladness and Father Odin’s gracious table to dwell in the land of horrors! Thor’s hammer may be mighty, but surely the Aesir’s love for their sweet Freya is mightier! Good Odin, dear brother Frey, I beg you. Don’t make me go.”
The Aesir gazed upon her with tears in their eyes. They imagined how lonely and bare Asgard would feel without Freya’s loveliness. What would they do without the blessings of her sweetness?
“She shall not go!” Frey declared, throwing his arms around his sister’s neck.
“No, she shall not go!” the Aesir echoed with one voice.
“But… but my hammer,” Thor protested. “I must have Mjolnir back again!”
“And I gave my word to Thrym,” added Loki. “That must be honored.”
“You are too generous with your words,” Father Odin said sternly. He knew his brother’s habit of over-promising and then wiggling his way out of the consequences. “Your word is not a gem of a price. You’ve made it cheap.”
Heimdal, the sleepless watchman who guarded the rainbow bridge leading to Asgard, suddenly stepped forward. “I have an idea.
Heimdal Proposes a Scheme
Heimdal’s counsel was invaluable to the gods; he could see into the future and decipher its plans. He spoke, golden teeth glimmering.
“Let’s disguise Thor as a bride in Freya’s robes. We’ll send him to Jotunheim to woo Thrym and win back his hammer.”
Thor’s face turned a frightening shade of crimson. “Dress me like a girl? Preposterous!” he roared indignantly. “I would never hear the end of it! You’d all mock me and call me ‘maiden.’ The giants and even the puny dwarves will laugh at my name. I won’t do it! I’ll fight, and I’ll die if need be! But I will not go dressed as a woman.”
Loki glared sharply. He refused to see such an excellent scheme go to waste because of Thor’s brutish pride.
“Really, Thor! You’re willing to lose your hammer and endanger your Asgardian family over such a small whim?” He stepped forward and poked Thor in the chest, the other gods watching with bated breath. “Look, here’s reality: if you don’t go, Thrym and his giant comrades will form a powerful army and drive us from Asgard. Then, he will make poor Freya his unwilling bride. And he will enslave you under the power of his hammer. Do you like this plan, brother of thunder? Hm?”
Thor’s face shifted from bright red to a sickly pallor. The Aesir breathed a sigh of relief; Loki’s sharp-cutting tongue had sliced through Thor’s crippling arrogance. Perhaps his troublesome mouth was useful, after all.
Still, Thor hesitated. His legendary reputation was at stake. But Freya placed her delicate hand on his arm and gazed up at his scowling face with big, pleading eyes.
“Save me, Thor,” she begged. And with a long-winded sigh, Thor finally agreed.
Thor Becomes a Beautiful Maiden
The Aesir sprang into action. They had fun — way too much fun, in Thor’s opinion — dressing the god of thunder like a beautiful maiden. Brunhilde and her sisters, the nine Valkyrie daughters of Odin, spearheaded the makeover.
They snickered as they brushed and curled Thor’s yellow hair, his expression growing stormier and stormier as he watched his masculine charms disappear. The sisters placed a magnificent headdress of silk and pearls over his hair. They let out seams and lengthened hems and added extra pieces until Freya’s most regal robe was big enough to fit around Thor’s massive torso. They slipped the shimmering scarlet over his head. Beneath it, he still wore his chainmail shirt and his trusty belt of power to double his strength.
Freya herself draped her famous necklace of jewels around Thor’s neck, a collar that shimmered like the brightest stars. His mother, Queen Frigg, hung a jingling bunch of keys at his girdle, a customary accessory for brides at Norse weddings. Finally, to keep Thor’s fierce eyes hidden from Thrym’s shrewd gaze, they threw a long veil over his face, covering him head-to-toe in silvery white.
The Aesir stepped back to admire their work. Thor stood stately and tall in his red dress and glittering necklace, the veil hiding his beard and strong features. To a giant, he would seem the most regal of brides.
He still insisted on wearing his iron gloves. His clenched fists ached for one thing; to grasp the handle of his stolen hammer once again.
The Bearded Bride Fools the Giants
“Ah, what a beautiful maiden!” Loki cackled. “Thrym will be so pleased to see this stunning Freya! Bride Thor, I will gladly accompany you as your handmaiden. No way in Valhalla am I missing this.”
“Come on, then,” Thor said sulkily. He shifted uncomfortably in his emasculating garb, expression sour. “It’s fitting that you go with me, I guess. I don’t like lies and trickery; I’ll need you by my side to make sure I don’t ruin the plan.”
So Thor and Loki began their journey to the frigid home of the giants. And oh, what a sight it was! Asgard echoed with laughter when Thor, all veiled and dainty in his feminine finery, rode by with handmaiden Loki disguised by his side. Thor’s jaw clenched angrily. The gods and goddesses had gathered on Asgard’s rainbow bridge to watch his humiliation with blatant glee.
Thor cracked his whip and chirruped fiercely to his twin goats, their golden hooves flashing as they sped away from Asgard and the Aesir’s playful mockery.
In the chariot’s passenger seat, Loki could barely contain his mirth. He meekly folded his hands in his lap like a good handmaiden and glanced up at Thor’s angry face. Its splotchy-red hue was immensely satisfying; Loki always took great pleasure in Thor’s misfortune. But he had enough sense not to prod the bear, staying silent with his lips pressed tight to hide his grin.
Off they dashed to Jotunheim and Thrym’s waiting arms. Thor’s goats thundered above land and sea, people looking up to the sky and marveling. “Hear that thunder!” they said. “Mighty Thor is on a long journey tonight.”
And it was a long journey, indeed. Thor’s hardworking goats are perhaps the unsung heroes of this tale. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate the mental and physical fortitude it took to lug Thor’s overly-muscled body to a far away realm. Deserves an honorable mention.
As the chariot finally neared the icy land of Jotunheim, Thrym heard their thundering approach and eagerly prepared for the arrival of his beautiful bride. “Ho ho! Someone is coming from Asgard! Only one of Odin’s spoiled children could make such an infernal racket. Hurry, men, and see if they bring Freya to be my wife!”
The lookout giant stepped down from atop his towering mountain. “A chariot of two maidens approaches,” he announced.
“Run, giants, run!” Thrym shouted with sudden fervor. “My bride is coming! Hurry, place silk cushions on the benches for a great banquet, and beautify the house for the fairest maid in all nine realms! Bring all of my golden-horned cows and my coal black oxen. She must not doubt my wealth. Ooh, and heap my collection of gold and jewels throughout the hall to dazzle her sweet eyes! She’ll see that no riches compare to the Giant King’s. And when I have her as my wife, there will not be a treasure in the universe that isn’t mine. Ha ha!”
The hall became a chaotic mess of scrambling giants and frenzied Thrym barking orders. There was no fear of a bridezilla at this wedding; Thrym had dibs on the obligatory pre-wedding mental breakdown. A groomzilla, if you will.
The crowd of eager giants watched as the flying chariot came to a stop before the towering gates of Thrym’s estate. The bride cautiously stepped out, hidden from head to foot in her exquisite veil and draperies. The handmaiden was similarly bundled up to her chin.
“Oh my, they must be terrified of catching a cold!” the giant ladies whispered among themselves, peering around each other’s massive shoulders and trying to get a good glimpse of the new arrivals.
Thrym had six splendidly-dressed servants escort the maidens into the palace. They were known as the Metal Kings. There was the Gold King, dressed in cloth of the finest golden threads with glittering fringes of yellow bullion; the Silver King, almost equally resplendent in a striking suit of spangled white; the dark Kings of Iron and Lead, mighty black and sullen blue; the Copper King, gleaming and ruddy; and the Tin King strutting in his trimmings of gaudy tinsel (which looked nearly as good as silver but was more economical).
This fine troop of lackey kings led Thor and Loki into the palace with the utmost politeness. They welcomed them heartily, never suspecting the maidens’ true identities.
A Giant Wedding Banquet
When evening arrived, Thrym hosted a glorious banquet to celebrate his impending nuptials. He sat high upon a golden throne, uglier than ever in his tacky finery of purple and gold. His bride sat beside him, not even a glimpse of her face peeking from behind the veil, and Loki the bridesmaid stood on Thrym’s other side. Loki was ready to perform damage control on whatever blunders Thor would inevitably cause.
For those of us who have never dined with giants, let me assure you it was a spectacle to behold! Tables groaned under the weight of great cows roasted whole, resting on platters as wide as a ship’s deck; plum puddings as thick and soft as feather beds, with plums as big as footballs; and a spectacular wedding cake that towered over the gathering like a snow-capped haymow.
The giants ate enormous portions, and Thor would have done the same. But his disguise meant he was given servings fit for a dainty maiden. He scowled at the gold dish containing tiny bits of food. His long journey from Asgard had left him starving. These meager rations would not do!
“I shall starve!” he hissed to Loki from beneath his veil. “I can’t survive on these nibbles. I need to eat at least as much as I do at home. Cover me.”
And he quickly helped himself to the hearty wedding spread. The giants watched with increasing incredulity as their dainty bride devoured helpings fit for a giant!
First, a whole roasted ox disappeared under the silver veil, piece by piece. It was followed by eight pink salmon eaten in eight mouthfuls, one of Thor’s favorite delicacies. He found a platter of cakes and sweetmeats intended for the lady guests and devoured them all, not leaving a single crumb. The damsels were affronted by the bride’s unseemly display; “If our future mistress eats like this every day, there won’t be anything left for the rest of us!” they muttered.
And to top it all off, Thor gulped down three huge barrels of mead, the foamy drink of the giants. Thrym was amazed. His bride’s appetite had exceeded that of the giants themselves!
“I have never seen such a ravenous bride, nor one even half as thirsty!” he declared, awed and more than a little concerned.
Loki bent down to lightly murmur in his ear. “Truthfully, great Thrym, my dear mistress Freya has been so excited to join you in Jotunheim that she has eaten nothing since the announcement eight days ago. The poor thing is starving, you must excuse her manners.”
This news delighted Thrym. He sat back with a pleased smile and graciously decided to forgive his bride for her bout of hunger. How could he not love her with all his heart?
He leaned forward to give her a kiss, raising a corner of her veil. But his hand jerked away as if burned and he leapt to his feet in terror. He’d caught a glimpse of Thor’s furious, flashing eyes, which glared at him through the veil with the intensity of the sun. Thor was longing for his hammer. This foolish marriage act was testing his limited patience.
“Why do Freya’s eyes gleam so fiercely?” Thrym gasped. “They pierce like lightning and burn like fire!”
But the sly bridesmaid sweetly whispered, “Oh, Thrym, don’t be alarmed! My poor mistress’s eyes are red with wakefulness and bright with longing. She hasn’t had a wink of sleep these past eight nights. Her desire to be with you was stronger than the pull of any dreams.”
Well, now Thrym was doubly delighted and even more in love than before. He longed to call Freya his wife, officially.
“Bring in the wedding gift!” he said, voice booming through the hall. “Bring in Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, and give it to fair Freya, as I promised. And because I kept my word, she will be mine — all mine!”
The Ruse is Revealed
Thor’s heart pulsed hot and fast with anticipation. Finally, his hammer would be returned! His fierce eyes eagerly landed on the servant approaching from the corridor. The manservant proudly held the hammer on a velvet cushion. Thor practically salivated at the sight of Mjolnir’s gleaming metal.
It took remarkable restraint for Thor not to jump up and claim what was rightfully his. Even as his fingers ached to hold Mjolnir’s handle and his muscles flexed in anticipation of his hammer’s weight in his hand, he sat perfectly still beneath his veil. He looked like the picture of innocence, hands meekly folded and head bowed like a bashful bride.
The giant servant drew nearer. Sweat beaded on his brow, and his arms — though strong and roped with thick muscles — trembled under the hammer’s mighty weight. As he bent to lay the cushion at Thor’s feet (because he was a thoughtful gentleman who did not want to burden the bride with Mjolnir’s crushing weight), Thor’s heart suddenly swelled and he could sit still no longer!
He released a very unmaidenly shout of rage and triumph, and with one swoop he grasped the hammer in his iron fingers. His other arm tore off his veil, trampling it under his feet. The giants gasped when they saw his frenetic, war-hardened face.
Thor turned to the Thrym. The frightened king was cowering on his golden throne. Thor scoffed.
“Shameless thief!” he shouted. “Freya sends you this as a gift!”
He whirled Mjolnir above his head, hurling it once, twice, thrice as it rebounded to his hand. And in the first lightning-like stroke, Thrym toppled from his throne, dead.
The second stroke slaughtered the entire giant household, ridding the Aesir of many enemies. And the third stroke shook the palace to its core, causing it to topple like a play-house of blocks.
Loki and Thor stood amongst the ruins in their tattered maiden clothes, quite the ridiculous pair. Loki burst out laughing.
“Oh, Thor! If you could see–”
But Thor held up his hammer, shaking it firmly as he said: “You did well, Loki, though I still don’t care for your crafty ways. This scheme was an excellent joke. But I have my hammer back, and the joke is over. There will be no more laughter at my expense, not a single snicker or cackle from anyone, including you. In fact, we will never speak of this stupid masquerade again.” He leaned close, eyes flashing and voice dark. “Understand?”
And Loki did, though with much resentment. He wished he could lord the day’s embarrassments over Thor’s thick skull for eternity. Instead, he stifled his laughter as best he could; it was never smart to mock the wielder of the thunder hammer.
They returned to Asgard victorious, Thor’s mighty power restored. And after that day, nobody spoke a word about the time Thor dressed as a bride to seduce Thrym the giant in exchange for Mjolnir. But every now and then, one of the Aesir would see Thor wielding his hammer and hide a smirk. Some stories are just too good to forget.