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Viking Sagas. 6: Thor and the giants - part 3

Viking Sagas. 6: Thor and the giants - part 3

Thor has failed the first of the giants' challenges. But he refuses to give up and demands that the giants set him another that will really stretch him...

So Skrymnir calls for his cat...

The 'cat' turns out to be rather larger than the average moggy - about the size of a cow - and Thor's challenge is to lift the cat from the floor. Thor strains every muscle...but can only lift one paw from the ground. Again Thor has failed the challenge.

Thor demands a final challenge and this time Skrymnir calls for 'Hel' a little old lady that Skrymnir says is his great, great, grandmother. A wrestling contest begins...and within a moment or two Thor is on his back having been soundly beaten. He has failed again.

The following day Thor and Loki are about to return to Asgard in shame when Skrymnir reveals that he has been using magic against them all along: one end of the drinking horn was actually drawing liquid from the sea...the 'cat' was actually a serpent that winds itself right around Jotunheim...and the old lady - 'Hel' - is actually death itself, which no-one can defeat.

An outraged Thor vows to return for vengeance.

Viking Sagas - supporting resources:

  1. Viking Sagas - text of Part 6 to print

Viking Sagas - text of Part 6

6. Thor and the giants - part 3

Story by Nigel Bryant

LOKI: Well...would you be surprise to know that Thor’s next words were...

THOR: Very well – I’m not as good a drinker as I was. But I demand another challenge!

SKRYMNIR: What do you say my friends? What shall we give him next?

LOKI: Oh no. The next test the giant set was a bit of a surprise. Up he stood and said...

SKRYMNIR: Bring cat!

LOKI: This is no joke. The next challenge was to lift his pet pussy off the floor. A doddle, you might think. But we're talking giants here, remember, and Skrymnir's cat was the size of your average cow.

LOKI: Thor clutched the cat in a mighty hug...he strained till I thought he'd burst...and he managed to lift just one paw from the ground.

SKRYMNIR: So much for the mighty gods!

THOR: Enough! Let me wrestle with a proper fighter!

SKRYMNIR: I know just the person. Send for Hel!

LOKI: Uh, hell, I don’t like the sound of that!

THOR: Terrifying! Just the test I wanted!

LOKI: What?!

SKRYMNIR Ah, here comes Hel, Welcome!

HELL: Hello!

THOR: How dare you! What kind of challenge is this?

LOKI: Hel was about as frightening as a bag of old bones. In fact, Hel was a bag of old bones. A little old lady with no teeth and wobbly legs.

THOR: I can't wrestle with your mother!

SKRYMNIR: She's not my mother. She's my great-greatgrandmother. And she's stronger than you think.

THOR: Rubbish!

LOKI: So, up went Thor and grabbed her round the waist. It was the most uneven contest you've ever seen. She had Thor pinned to the ground before you could say 'Round One'.

SKRYMNIR: Victory! Well done, Hel! So, Thor, great god of Asgard, will you go home now and say how you fought the giants?

THOR: You have won. I must accept it gracefully.

SKRYMNIR: Oh, well said! What a very good loser!

LOKI: Thor's face was like thunder. But it was nothing to how he looked next day, when Skrymnir said goodbye. The giant was about to wave us on our way when he suddenly said:

SKRYMNIR: I defeated you by magic.

THOR: You did what?

SKRYMNIR: Yes! When I found you in my glove, and you threw your hammer at me, you'd have killed me if I hadn't used an invisible mountain as a shield!

THOR: I don’t believe this!

SKRYMNIR: And the end of the cup you drank from reached into the sea. You drank more than any giant could.

THOR: What?

SKRYMNIR: The cat I set against you was no cat at all but a serpent dragon that winds itself right round our land – to lift one paw was a miracle.

THOR: This is an outrage!

SKRYMNIR: And don’t be ashamed to lose to Hel she is not an old woman but death itself – and no one can win against death. Thor, you are stronger than any giant, but we tricked you with magic.

LOKI: Thor grabbed his hammer and aimed another blow at Skrymnir, but the giant...disappeared into thin air.

THOR: Where’s he gone?

LOKI: And had Thor finally learnt his lesson? Not a bit of it...

THOR I’ll be back and next time – I shall win!

LOKI So, that’s the story of Thor.

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