Friday, April 27, 2012

Aesir Legal (IX point 0)

When last we left our heroes, Mia, Amaliaz, and Thor very nearly turned Adler into ashes after she made the mistake of almost eating Mia, or so everyone assumed, until Mia admitted that she attacked the vampire wench first! And perhaps more importantly to Amaliaz health, there was that bit about Sif, too...

I wanted to stay casual. I needed to be, or we’d give too much away. But I couldn’t stop myself from looking at Thor, and I was pretty sure my face had paled. He wasn’t looking back, his gaze locked on Mia instead. Locked and burning.

“What of Sif?” he asked, his voice dangerously low. Adler smirked, and I didn’t miss the extra jolt of current that Thor sent through it. She yelped, her eyes narrowing. But the smirk was gone.

Mia was scratching her elbow again. “Just something Tyler heard while he and Adler were out. I’m sure it’s nothing. I mean, I’m sure it’s all just talk.”

“What. Of. Sif?” Thor demanded, thunder growling beneath each word.

“Um.” She shifted, looking distinctly uncomfortable. I didn’t blame her. Thor looked like he was going to burn her into the ground. “Tyler mentioned something about how she was looking for, ah, information. In exchange for Asgardian Gold, if it was good enough. And you know how valuable that is to people around about.”

Asgardian Gold never diminished. As long as it was whole when you started, you could shave pieces from it forever. One piece would wreak havoc on the price of precious metals – the entire gold market would collapse. The regulation of Asgardian Gold and Golden Apples was part of the Treaty of Nine Worlds. And if Sif had broken it…

I swallowed. Thor wouldn’t leave the world. Even if Asgard was closed, Thor wouldn’t leave. I had to believe it.

“What information?” he asked.

Mia shrugged, looking at Adler meaningfully.

Thor’s jaw tightened. In all of this, he hadn’t so much as glanced my way. But Mia did, now, smiling brightly.

“See? Now aren’t you glad I saved her for interrogation? I would have called you in for it, of course, but thing got a smidge out of hand, you know. What with me not having any restraints on hand, exactly. I think I left them in Adam’s pack.”

“Yes,” I said, my voice sounding hoarse. Mia frowned and I cleared my throat hastily. “Yes, of course. Baldur will want to know that Sif is intending to break the treaty.”

That was when Thor’s eyes met mine. My throat tightened, and I couldn’t breathe. Grief and longing and fear – it strangled my heart.

“It may be too late, already” he said softly. “I would have preferred her to send agents to do you harm but this – this is nothing I can fight.”

“No,” I said. But it was worthless. It didn’t matter if I objected or denied the truth, because the outcome would still be the same. If Asgardian Gold had come to Earth, exchanged hands and entered the market, it was over. I wouldn’t have to worry about our secret being whispered in Sif’s ear, or being referred to as Thorskona ever again. The embassy would be shut down, all traffic between Earth and Asgard prohibited.

Sif would finally have gotten her wish. Thor would be gone, unable to ever see me again.
My hands balled into fists, the pain and heart ache replaced with a slow, simmering fury. If that was how she wanted to play this game, I wasn’t going to be the only one who suffered.

“She must have had help,” I said. “From someone in the Embassy. And you and I both know it couldn’t have been Baldur or Forseti. Forget Adler. Crisp her and throw her in the dumpster for all I care. I want Bragi’s head!”

“Erhm.” Mia cleared her throat. “Perhaps we should take a moment to think, and ah, breathe deeply? Surely there is no cause for making with the murderous rages quite yet. This is all NEW, after all. And I could be entirely mistaken! Perhaps if we just ask Adler –”

“After Bragi, I am going for Sif’s throat,” I said, pulling one of Baldur’s battle axes off the wall. Thor had taught me a thing or two, and Baldur had good taste. The long handle of the axe fit perfectly in my hand. “You and your zombies can help, Admiral Hayson, or you can stay out of my way.”
Klikk for Episode IX point V.
Miss an episode? Klikk for the MASTER LIST

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Great Tradition of Scantily Clad Women Warriors

We can clearly thank Rome, in part, for gifting the cultural touchstone of dressing women in completely unreasonable costumes for a fight, judging by this new statue found of a female gladiator. She's dressed in what looks to me like the equivalent of bikini briefs, and a bandage. And uh, that's it. Of course in the arena, the armor and outfits were regulated anyway, by the class of the gladiator, but even so! You'd think they might have given her some kind of... 

Well, maybe this is an example of women being treated equally to their fellow male gladiators? Can I spin it that way for some respectability?*
Amazones Halicarnassus
Halicarnassus relief

This isn't the first representation of a female gladiator we've found, of course. There is a relief from Halicarnassus (which is discussed in the article linked to above), wherein the women get to wear some typical-looking Roman garb. And since they appear to be fighting a naked man, dressed only in a shield, I guess my above mentioned hope for respectable spin has been trampled.

The livescience article DOES address this statue's lack of clothing, offering us this consolation:
Manas said that in real life, a gladiator like this would have had at least a shield and possibly a helmet. Perhaps she had taken off the helmet for the victory gesture or because the ancient artist wanted to show her hair, he speculated. Or maybe she did in fact go into the arena without a warrior's helmet so that people could see her face. As for her shield, she may have been holding that in her right hand, which is no longer present on the statue.
So, you know, at least there's that. I suppose in contrast to the dude of Halicarnassus, she had it pretty good with her little loincloth. In addition to the fact that it looks as though she's posing in victory, of course, as opposed to braced to get her butt kicked. I wonder if the Halicarnassus dude felt at all disgruntled by the fact that he was the only person fighting naked?

Check out the article! It's worth a read for more than just the image of the statue being discussed!

*Not that I really feel that Rome was particularly respectable in general. I'm sure you all know my feelings about Augustus by this point in time, if you follow me on twitter, and while he is only one man, he casts a long shadow. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Aesir Legal (VIII point 0)

Mia was electrocuted by Thor, Thor and Amalia have a secret, and EVERYONE suspects some kind of conspiracy between Bragi and Adler -- oh, and in our last episode, Adler appears to be planning to have Mia for lunch! Just another day at the Asgardian Embassy...

Thor hesitated outside the door, frowning, and I paused with him. Bragi was herding the zombies toward the stairwell and their suite, and Baldur was carried along with them, his shining face lined with exasperation and worn patience. 

“Shouldn’t we follow?” I asked him.

“And leave that vampire without escort? To say nothing of Ms. Hayson, who is bound to lose herself trying to find her friends.” Thor’s eyes narrowed as he watched his brothers. “Bragi was meant to fetch Idunn, not show the zombies to their quarters.”

I snorted. “Sending him for Idunn was a little bit much, don’t you think?”

Thor was still scowling after his brother, but his head turned slowly toward the office door. “Did you not think it odd how the vampire attached herself to Bragi’s side, rather than expressing concern for her zombie boyfriend’s feelings upon the failure of Mia’s heart?”

“Um?” I blinked, thinking back. Mia had been watching them, too, but it hadn’t occurred to me to think it was strange. I’d been too worried about her – and about the truth slipping out. Honestly, I still had some concerns in that regard, but now that Thor had mentioned it… “You think Bragi is conspiring?”

“I think there is something very wrong with all of this,” Thor said. “And not only because I dislike the notion of Mia’s zombies taking up residence in the embassy with all their glitter, for your sake even more than mine. Vampires are, by and large, most fastidious. I find it very hard to believe one would find pleasure in the company of a zombie, most particularly one of Mia’s, possessing so much drool and filth.”

“But what could Bragi gain from any of this?” One thing I’d learned a long time ago was that thunder gods weren’t unduly paranoid. If Thor had suspicions about his brother, well, I’d never really cared all that much for Bragi to begin with. Stupid god of poetry. Stupid kennings. Thorsvif, indeed! “You don’t think he’s looking for some kind of story to turn into an epic? I mean, he wouldn’t try to manufacture something would he?”

Thor’s hand stalled on the doorknob and he stared at me with hazing eyes, his mouth a thin line of what I could only describe as doom. My stomach sank and twisted with dismay. Because if Bragi were looking for a story – looking to start some kind of trouble between the gods, I was the easiest target by far. Thor and I both were. All it would take was the wrong thing getting back to Sif, true or not. And there was just enough truth to make swearing things out before Baldur awfully difficult if we had to defend ourselves.

Something thumped hard against the door, jerking us both from unpleasant thoughts, and I could have sworn I heard Mia smother some kind of shout. 

“You see?” Thor growled, throwing open the door. “Did I not warn them that allowing these people to guest would not cause trouble?” 

But I was distracted by Mia, blood streaming from her nose, which she pinched delicately as she threw herself over Baldur’s desk. Adler was hissing, diving across the room to reach her with fingers formed like claws. For all I knew, they were claws. I sighed. Nothing about the scene was at all promising for the charges still pending against me. Bragi hadn’t even drawn up Adler’s receipt yet, I was sure, if he’d ever meant to at all…

Thor caught the offending Vampire by the back of the neck, holding her as far from his body and mine as his arm allowed, his eyes blazing white. “What is the meaning of this?”

Mia’s head popped up from the other side of the desk, relief written in her wide eyes. “Dor! Amaliadz! Die can eggsplaind!”

“You will not,” Thor said at once. “Not until you have stopped bleeding. And how you could be so careless as to allow yourself a nosebleed while in private audience with a vampire I will never –”

“Uh, Thor?”

He glowered at my interruption, then followed my gaze to Adler. Unless I was very much mistaken, Mia’s blood was all over her. Just where it might be if Mia had attempted a head-butt in order to escape and broken her nose in the process.

Thunder rumbled outside and there was the faint odor of burning hair as Thor tightened his grip on Adler. She hissed, clawing at Thor’s arm and hand, kicking out with wickedly sharp heels, but Thor was unmoved. A mountain of fury and barely restrained violence.

“As long as Ms. Hayson and her zombies are guests of this embassy, their welfare falls under my purview,” he said, his voice low and hard. “For your sake, Vampiress, I do hope Ms. Hayson was not fleeing for her life, or I fear it will go very poorly for you, ill-fated zombie love affair or not.”
Klikk for the second half of Episode VIII!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jason and those pesky Argonauts.

So, I just finished reading The Lost Hero and all I could think about as I read this book was how much I NEVER want to have anything to do with Jason and the Argonauts as a writer of historical fiction/fantasy. Never, you guys. Never, ever, ever. I cannot say it enough. And this is why:

1) No one agrees about who all took part in this famous Voyage of Heroes.
    I suppose it isn't Jason's fault that his crew has become muddled over time, so I guess Jason himself is not my enemy in this, but rather the city-states who each wanted to have their hero take part and so completely obscured any truth that might have ever existed. (Myth Shmyth. I said HISTORICAL fantasy, didn't I?)

2) Trying to fit the voyage of the Argonauts into an historical and linear narrative with OTHER heroic quests and adventures is completely impossible.* 
    If you do figure out who went, fitting it in between Heracles' 12 labors etc, Theseus' Labors etc (And don't forget "Not Without Theseus" was actually a SAYING because he was involved in everything, apparently), Helen's abductions and the Trojan War, and the stories of the Dioscuri (Helen's brothers) is kind of ridiculous. It all takes place AT THE SAME TIME. Frankly, I'm inclined to believe that none of the major players went with Jason at all, because there is just no way to put it all together and have everyone be where they're supposed to be later. No. Way.

3) Balancing UMPTEEN Heroes all in one cast of characters while giving them all distinct personalities and a fair shake while not IMPOSSIBLE (Joss Whedon, do not fail me with Avengers), definitely poses challenges.
    There sure would be plenty of conflict within the party. No lack of ego and hubris as they all struggle to work as a team when each one is used to taking the lead and doing their own thing. I mean, if Jason is in charge, that makes everyone else involved his SIDEKICK, and I'm just not sure how to tackle Heracles or Theseus as a sidekick to anyone -- they're both forces to be reckoned with, to say the least. Then of course there is the potential of bad blood between heroes who had engaged in altercations pre-voyage, all confined to a ship for how long?

It isn't that I don't like to challenge myself when writing -- but Jason and the Argonauts is a Gordian Knot of  epic proportions, and frankly, it gives me a headache just THINKING about it. Consider the fact that we're all worried about whether AVENGERS is going to work as a movie, because the cast of heroes is so large -- and then remember that there were between 40 and 60 men (and women) named as Argonauts. Even for a book, which allows a lot more "screen time" than a film, that is a LOT of folks to work into a narrative.

Sorry, Jason. Not for all the tea in China am I touching that story. Not for a million dollars would I write that book (well, okay, I'd give it a SHOT for a million dollars, but I would not make any promises regarding quality, and if I failed, I'd definitely have to be able to keep the money...)

*I've discussed the trouble with chronology and historical dating of myth before, as you might recall.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Aesir Legal (VII point 0)

In which we learn the fate of the lightning-struck Mia! (It was TOTES an accident, we swear!)

This was not our first electrocution rodeo.

Thor was beside me already, fingers pressed to the pulse in her throat and his other hand hovering over her heart. He glanced at me across her body, his eyes hazing, blue to white and back again, and I knew he was remembering the day my heart had stopped, too. But timing was everything, and he set his jaw, focusing on Mia. If she did not need the shock to steady her heartbeat, Thor risked cooking her alive instead. But the wait, while Mia gasped like a fish, with the zombies wailing and moaning at our backs, was endless. Adam and Tyler at least had the sense to keep them back. To let Thor work. He might not like them, might find Mia a trial to his patience, but he was not cruel.

Her heart faltered and Thor jolted her. He may not have been precise with lightning bolts, but this, for my sake, he had turned into an art. Mia gasped again, her back arching, and her eyes flashed open, searching, unfocused, and then caught.

I glanced over my shoulder to see what had captured her attention, but it was only Bragi, leaning heavily on Adler for support as he rose, barely any worse for the wear. He brushed the soot from his suit, still chuckling to himself.

A golden apple and he’d be good as new. That was the difference between gods and mortals – electrocution was no more nuisance than a particularly irritating case of the hiccups, whereas for Mia and me, it was a bit more unsettling, to say the least. But I wouldn’t think about that. Not now, with Bragi just waiting for some proof to validate every kenning he’d dreamed up in place of my name.

“Ow,” Mia mumbled, rubbing her chest where a burn the shape of Thor’s hand was blistering. I had to resist the urge to rub the matching scar on my own chest.

“I’ve got a cream for that, too,” I promised her. “And I’m sure under the circumstances, Thor will be willing to part with a few Golden Apples, to speed your recovery, which, I’m sorry to say, will be slow.”

Mia refocused on me, and I could see the question forming in her eyes. The curiosity. “How do you –?”

“Bragi,” Thor bellowed over her, before she could finish the question and I had to decide if I would lie. “Stop harassing that Vampire witch and go fetch Idunn and a half dozen apples for Ms, ah, Admiral Hayson. Quickly.”

Mia’s eyes narrowed, and I gave her my best innocent look, as if Thor’s request wasn’t a complete reversal of his previous stance on the sharing of apples. As if he hadn’t just changed his mind without even a cursory rumble of thunder when there should have been an argument at the very least. But the last thing we needed was for Bragi to hear Mia ask how I knew what the recovery was going to be for electrocution by Thor. That was not a story it was safe for me to tell anyone if I wanted to live to see my next birthday. But Mia was distractible, and she was already looking over my shoulder again, frowning at something else.

I sighed with relief at escaping her scrutiny. But Mia knew when a person wasn’t being entirely honest with her. She had an uncanny knack for finding out things she shouldn’t, and knowing when secrets were being kept. It was only a matter of time really. Especially if she was staying at the Embassy. And if Sif ever found out what had happened… well, let’s just say, I’d be lucky if I wound up UNdead.

“So!” I said, a little too brightly. “Now is probably a good time to get you all settled in your rooms. Ha. I’m sure you’d be glad to see a bed right now, yeah? But um – maybe you shouldn’t get up. Thor will carry you to your suite.”

“Indeed,” he agreed at once, not even glowering at the zombies who were invading his personal space now that Mia was awake. I cleared my throat pointedly, and he flushed. “That is to say, no. The zombies do little enough to make themselves useful. Let them carry her.”

Thunder gods do not make good liars. At all.

 Klikk for Episode VII Point V at Mia's blog!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lessons in Old Icelandic (ii)

Since things have been COMPLETELY insane what with the Easter holiday*, I thought it might be fun** to offer another edition of Lessons in Old Icelandic from my fabulous Concise Dictionary of Old Icelandic by Geir T. Zoega.

Today, I would like to offer you the word brjá: to sparkle, flicker, gleam.

In today's world of Twi-hards, I figured it might come in handy.

Putting this word in a sentence of modern or old Icelandic poses some difficulties for me, because um -- to my greatest shame I still haven't figured out verb conjugations outside of "to be." Sooo.

How about if I just offer you a second word instead? In keeping with the love of all things Thor, brúsi: a buck or he-goat.

In a modern Icelandic sentence: Tanngrisnir og Tanngnjostr eru brúsa.*** (Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostr are bucks.)
This sentence in Old Icelandic/Old Norse: ... just replace og with ok, and you're good to go.

So there you have it! Your second lesson in Old Icelandic! Or um. Something.

*el husband and I hosted with one of my sisters and I have never in my life hosted any kind of big holiday so it was kind of scary and there was a lot of cleaning to be done leading up to it, in order to get my still-unpacked-boxes out of the way for the big day.

**Read: I haven't been doing my homework and my research has lapsed a bit, but in my defense, I am WRITING a novella involving some Norse deities. Trust me when I say this counts as research, even if it is not as focused as one might wish.

*** Honestly, I am not 100% sure I got the plural form right. BUT I am reasonably confident. Um. There is just one problem -- brúsi is in fact Old Norse for he-goat, but brúsi in modern Icelandic means "can" or "bottle" soo. Yeah. Context counts?

Friday, April 06, 2012

Aesir Legal (VI point V)

Once again, this week's episode begins with Ms. Hayson and her Zombies (uh, and Adler, that most troublesome Vampire!), and therefore, upon her fabulous blog as well. What you need to know: Everything the Zombies hope for depends upon Adler's agreement to drop all Vampire charges against Amaliaz and the Asgardian Embassy!

“Done!” I said, the moment Adler agreed. On Asgardian soil, a verbal agreement was binding – even after death, depending on the oath – and breaking said agreements usually meant swords drawn and blood spilled, or tremendous amounts of gold paid to the person betrayed. “Baldur, Mia, and Adam, you three are my witnesses. If Adler breaks her word, she forfeits all rights to safe conduct and visitation. Trust me when I say Thor will start swinging his hammer in, shall we say, an aggressive manner, post haste. So I’d suggest you all clear out if it comes to that.”

“Absolutely!” Mia clapped her hands, smiling relief. “Absolutely, of course!”

“Bragi, write a receipt for Ms. Adler, since she has requested it, outlining the law regarding verbal agreements,” Baldur added. He wasn’t the kind of god who wasted time, and the sooner this was smoothed over the better it was for everyone.

“If you think for one moment this means you will be permitted free access to the entirety of the embassy, you are sorely mistaken,” Thor growled, his eyes burning white. Though who he was growling at, I wasn’t entirely sure.

Not me, at least. For now. I had no doubt that would change the minute our audience scattered.

“You,” he said with a chin jerk at Adler, “will be escorted at all times, but for those moments you spend in the privacy of Tyler’s room.”

It was, frankly, more generous than I’d expected. But Thor did have a soft spot for cross-cultural romances. He had two sons by a frost giantess, and then there had been… well. I definitely didn’t count, anyway.

“You,” he stabbed a finger at the zombies clustered around Mia, “will remain in your suite unless you are escorted elsewhere. There will be no feathers, no paper clips, and absolutely no glitter permitted outside of them. In addition, you will refrain from slobbering on arms, armor, or Baldur, I do not care how brightly he shines or how great the temptation.”

“Er.” Mia’s relief dimmed slightly, and she inched toward the zombie still gnawing on a sword in the corner. “The slobbering. Right. I mean, we will do our best, of course, but I cannot exactly make that as a complete promise, what with things being what they are. I’m sure you understand! Zombies are wild creatures of the undead and like thunder gods, sometimes there is just no reasoning…”

Baldur and I both winced as thunder shook the building. Bragi snorted with what was, I was sure, laughter at Thor’s expense. I wanted to beat his head against a wall.

“The Unreasonable Lord of Goats and Thralls,” he said. “Defender of Grave Sleepers and Glitter, Thundering Friend to Zombies.”

Black clouds were forming inside the building, clustering over Bragi’s head. I stepped back, pulling Tyler and by association, Adler, with me. After years of hanging around with a thunder god, I knew the signs of a throwdown when I saw them, and Bragi was about to get a thunderbolt to the brain. Experience had taught me it was better not to stand too close when lightning bolts came into play. Thunder gods are not exactly known for their precision.

“Even better,” Bragi was saying, his eyes bright with the kennings Mia’s comparison had inspired, “perhaps you should be known as The One who Longs for Zombie-Friends in his Heart.”

“Um. Guys. Maybe we should…” I tilted my head toward the door, gently trying to herd Mia and the zombies in the direction of the exit. “Just you know, to be safe.”

“Bragi,” Baldur warned, glancing anxiously at the rest of us, bunched too near to conductive metals. “Now is perhaps not the best time…”

“Corpse-Coddler, The One who Shares Reason with the Glitter Lovers!” Bragi called out, choking on his own laughter. “Sif will find that most amusing, I am sure.”

That was when the lightning struck, and Bragi dropped, scorched and twitching to the floor.

Unfortunately, so did the zombie who hadn’t quit slobbering on the swords, and Mia, who had been trying to pull him free while Thor was distracted elsewhere.

In that moment, I had x-ray vision, my gaze zeroed in on Mia’s pulse, as I watched it flutter with fits and starts beneath the glittered skin of her throat. She had obviously not had a chance to shower in some time, judging by the smudges of glue, and I knew with absolute certainty that if her heart stopped, none of us were leaving this room without scars.

“Thor,” I called, and he was beside me, his attention caught at once by the break in my voice. “Thor, Mia!”

I scattered the zombies, throwing them out of the way with a burst of adrenaline and terror. And then I dropped to my knees at her side and met Thor’s wide eyes.

“CLEAR.” I shouted. “CLEAR!”

Tune in next Friday for Episode VII!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Horses of Norse Mythology

The best and most famous horse in Norse mythology is, of course, Sleipnir, The son of Loki* by the stallion Svaðilfari. After Loki gave birth to him, he made Sleipnir a gift to Odin. Sleipnir has eight legs, and according to Snorri he's grey in color.
Odin rides to Hel

Snorri also lists the other ten horses belonging to the Twelve** Aesir in the Prose Edda: Glad (Joyous), Gyllir (Golden), Glær (Shining), Skeidbrimir (Swift-Going), Silfrtopp (Silver-topped), Sinir (Sinewy), Gisl (possibly "Gleaming"), Falhofnir (Hollow-Hoofed), Gulltopp (Gold-topped) and Lettfeti (Light-Feet).

There are also Skinfaxi and Hrimfaxi, the horses which bring daylight and night, respectively. Skinfaxi posesses a brightly burning mane*** and Hrimfaxi sprinkles the ground with his spit and foam as he runs through the sky, which explains the source of dewdrops quite neatly.

Then there are Arvak and Alsvinn (not to be confused with Skinfaxi), who draw the chariot of the sun which is driven by Sol. These two also seem to be outfitted with an early air conditioning system -- bellows strapped beneath their shoulders to keep them cool (they are pulling the SUN, after all).

That Thor does not seem to have a horse is pretty telling, and makes sense in context with his position as god of the common man, in contrast with Odin, who is quite clearly a god of Noblemen and kings with his horse which is not only completely unique, but the best of the best. In fact, not only can Sleipnir travel to Hel and back, but Odin wagered his own head on Sleipnir's speed and raced him against the giant Hrungnir's horse, Gullfaxi (Golden-mane). Even when Thor wins Hrungnir's horse later (by dueling with the giant), he ends up giving Gullfaxi away (to his son, Magni), rather than keeping it for himself.

In the Skírnismál, Freyr also has a pretty fancy (but unnamed) horse** which is described in the eighth stanza of the poem:
"Then give me the horse | that goes through the dark
And magic flickering flames;"
And Freyja has a horse named Hofvarpnir****, which she rides on Frigg's business to the other worlds, and is capable of galloping across the sky and the sea.

By no means should this be considered a complete list of horses, but the last one I'm aware of  with any association to the DIVINE is Grani, a descendent of Sleipnir, and Sigurd's horse in the Saga of the Volsungs. Grani, as it happens, is also gray, just like his forefather, and he's described in the saga as "the best horse there ever was." Barring Sleipnir, of course, I'm sure.

*A man and his stallion were contracted to rebuild the wall around Asgard, and if he finished in a certain period of time, he was to be paid with the sun, the moon, and Freyja. When it looked like this guy was going to finish in time, Loki transformed himself into a mare in order to lure the stallion away, so his owner could not complete the wall. The gods only made the deal because Loki convinced them it would be impossible for the man to complete the task. But it turned out (of course) that the man was a giant, so after they cheated him, and he revealed his giant-nature, the gods just went ahead and let Thor kill him. Loki disappeared for a while after that, only to return with Sleipnir trotting at his heels.

**Snorri tells us that Thor himself, walks, but remember that Snorri's Twelve Aesir is actually Fourteen Aesir, so it makes me wonder who else catches a different ride to the root of Yggdrasil where they all meet up -- If Balder is dead, that would mean only one other person is left without transportation, but if he isn't, since Freyr gives up his sword in order to win Gerd as his wife, maybe he gave her his fancy-magic horse, too, while he was at it. In any event, the meanings of the horses' names came from the Grímnismál.

***Skinfaxi translates literally as "Shining-Mane" which I guess makes Hrimfaxi Frost-Mane or Foaming-Mane, which makes a certain amount of sense considering night is generally colder than day.

****Hofvarpnir's parents are Hamskerpir and Gardrofa.