• Published 8th Oct 2012
  • 2,816 Views, 89 Comments

The Lovers' Edda - Simon_oSullivan



A love story of two ponies from the frozen lands of the North.

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Ogildir jarlarnir

Ógildir jarlarnir (The unworthy nobles)

Fluttershy was having an awful night. Nightmares spawned at every moment, all of them involving Drakkar. In her dreams, he chased her animals downhill, roaring menacingly, drooling with hunger. In the last dream, he grabbed Angel, stomping on his ears so he couldn’t move. She shuddered in her bed as she saw her pet’s terrified face as Drakkar ran his tongue around his muzzle.

No!” yelled Fluttershy in her sleep before Drakkar bit Angel’s neck.

She jerked awake, completely covered in sweat and breathing heavily. After throwing the bed sheets away, she leaned back in the bed and massaged her forehead.

“It’s okay, it’s just a dream. Dreams aren’t real… dreams aren’t real,” she repeated to herself over and over as her breath went back to a normal rhythm.

That didn’t last for long, however. She jumped out of the bed and rushed to the window to check if everything was alright.

The sight under her brought great calm to her heart. Harry the bear was sleeping next to a tree, with Drakkar resting on the animal’s side. He insisted on staying on the yard, as he had gotten used to the sound of the outdoors, and there was nothing inside to accommodate a pony of his size without taking Fluttershy’s bed. The young wild boar lay next to the stallion, using his hoof as a pillow and sticking close to him.

Fluttershy sighed in relief, but the weight in her chest still lingered. Deep inside her, she wasn’t totally okay with Drakkar being close to her animals, and still pictured him as a dangerous pony. However, the stallion had been a good guest and actually cared for her little creatures. Even though he gave his word about not harming a single animal and had showed himself to be a likeable pony, subconsciously, she didn’t trust him totally. With those thoughts in her mind, she stayed in her bed until the first sunrays spilled across her pillow.

Once the time had come to get the animals’ breakfast, she hopped off the bed and trotted down to the kitchen. Before reaching downstairs, though, a sweet smell caught her attention. Fluttershy flew down to the lower floor and noticed a box with the symbol of Sugarcube Corner and a note stuck on it.

“Fluttershy,” she read slowly out loud, “I’ve brought to you these pastries from Sugarcube Corner. I would’ve given them to you myself, but I got lost on my way here and you were already asleep when I got back.”

She smiled profusely at the letter, but also felt an even heavier pressure in her chest. The guilt for thinking of Drakkar as a threat to her animals was too much for her, even though he proved otherwise once and again. With a sigh, Fluttershy left the letter next to the box of pastries and grabbed a sack of feed for the animals. As soon as she opened the door and began walking heavily towards the trough, the sack levitated over her and towards the large recipient. Fluttershy recognized the magical dark brown aura surrounding the sack.

“Góðr morginn, Fluttershy,” said Drakkar with a small smile. He was lying next to the still sleeping bear, with the young wild boar’s head resting on his hooves and snorting noisily.

She raised an eyebrow at first, but she replied nonetheless. “Um… good morning to you too?”

Drakkar replied with a nod and a smile as he poured the content of the sack inside the feeding trough. “I’m glad to see that you’re getting used to Scandineighvian language.”

“Well, that one sounded really similar to our ‘good morning’ and considering the time and all…” Fluttershy shrugged, looking away. “It was a wild guess.”

“It’s still impressive,” insisted Drakkar.

“Um, thanks. By the way, have you been up for long?”

“A bit, yes. We usually get up very early in my homeland, for there are always heavy chores to be done.” Drakkar tilted his head to both the boar and the bear. “However, I didn’t want to wake up these two, so I haven’t moved from here.”

“Drakkar, I… need to tell you something.” Fluttershy looked away, slightly shaking.

He looked at her with concern. “Sure, Fluttershy. Is everything okay?”

“No. I mean, yes. I mean…” Fluttershy let out a defeated sigh, still unable to look at Drakkar. “I’ve had a horrible dream. And… it was about you.” Drakkar raised an eyebrow, to which Fluttershy replied by cowering. “You were… you were chasing my animals, trying to eat them. I woke before you bit Angel. It was horrible!”

Drakkar lowered his head, gently pushing the young wild boar with his muzzle. The animal rolled away until he rested face up, then stretched his four legs and yawned widely. He turned to Drakkar again, oinking while his eyes still half open.

“Góðr morginn, my little friend,” said Drakkar. “The food is ready. I have to talk to Fluttershy now. Would you mind leaving us for a while?” The wild boar squeaked before trotting slowly towards the trough. Drakkar looked at Fluttershy, still shivering in front of him. “Fluttershy, you—”

“I’m sorry!” cried Fluttershy. “I don’t think you’re a monster, I don’t know why I dreamed that.”

“Fluttershy, it doesn’t matter.” Drakkar stood up and walked slowly, getting next to her. The stallion moved her long mane away from her face with delicacy. “You don’t have to be afraid of me.”

“I know… but why does it happen? I don’t want to offend you in any way, but I knew that I had to tell you. It’s just that—”

“Deep inside you, something tells you not to trust me,” said Drakkar, finishing Fluttershy’s line. She nodded slowly, still refusing to look at him. “It’s understandable, young mare, for reasons that I won’t repeat.” She shook her head. “Come, Fluttershy, we must have a short conversation about this.”

Fluttershy flapped her wings to get up, trotting to get to his side. Once Drakkar noticed she was next to him, he pointed at the horizon, to the North.

“In Scandineighvia, we are a tolerant lot. Truth be told, we don’t get many visits,” he said, letting out a snort, “but the point is, we usually accept the customs of others, no matter how odd, as long as they don’t violate the Grágás, our ancient laws. However, I understand that it’s far from an easy task. And you’ve handled it better than anypony I’ve met outside Scandineighvia up to now.”

“I believe that everypony deserves to prove themselves,” said Fluttershy with a nod. “Snap judgments don’t help anypony.”

“Certainly. One of the first cities I went to was Manehattan. I must say that the ponies there… enjoyed mocking my attire, calling me ‘crude’, ‘brutish’, or even… ‘savage’.” Drakkar growled the last word between his teeth with a deep frown. “Those wretched aristocrats. Up in the North, those who had a high position earned it! Hoofcarlar are distinguished soldiers at the service of the Jarl. And the Jarl fights alongside his warriors when time comes! A good Jarl must ensure his followers’ safety and well-being!” Drakkar quoted his words with pride and anger, hitting his chest. “Those ponies in Manehattan, on the other hoof… I met some of those aristocrats, showing off their properties, and their þrælar were—”

“Huh?” Fluttershy cowered immediately. “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand that word.”

“No need to apologize, Fluttershy,” he assured with a slightly calmer voice. “In our land, a þræll is… a bondspony. A servant, if you prefer it. They work in the farms of the karlar, which…” Drakkar looked at Fluttershy again, who stared at him dumbfounded. “A karl is a middle-class pony in Scandineighvia. All my family members are karlar, actually.”

“Does that mean that you have servants?”

Drakkar shook her head. “Though we own a farm, it’s too small to require þrælar. The point is that when I met some of these aristocrats, they loved showing off their riches while their servants could barely afford their very own sustenance. When I talked with one of the… maidens, she called herself,” said Drakkar, to which Fluttershy replied with a nod. “Apparently she was working there, willingly! She didn’t owe those ponies anything!”

“Things are different here, Drakkar. In Equestria, we have a lot of different jobs, and ponies that take care of your house are one of them.” Fluttershy stepped away timidly from him. “So I guess they could also be… karlar?”

“It’s still surprising to me. When you’ve committed a fault and you can’t pay the fine, you serve as a bondspony until you pay your debt. I should know; I was a þræll for a short while.”

“Really?” she asked with a surprised expression. “What happened?”

“When I was a colt, a friend and I were playing glíma, and one of the times he threw me, I landed against the neighbor’s fence. We broke a few planks and scared their cows. Our parents agreed that we should work as þrælar until we paid for the damage we’ve caused. So not only did I have to work at my farm, but also at the neighbors’ for a few weeks.” With a smile, Drakkar let out a long, nostalgic sigh. “’Colts will be colts’, my mother used to say. The neighbors treated us… well, harshly, but once we paid our debt, everything was solved. And, to avoid further issues, my father allowed us to play in the yard behind our house.”

“And þrælar… had to be servants forever? I mean, are there certain ponies that are… born that way and stuck as servants for the rest of their lives?”

“Scandineighvia’s statutory hierarchy isn’t as rigid as you may think. Yes, there are families of þrælar, but they could become free ponies if they earn their freedom, and their offspring will be considered karlar by all effects.”

“That’s good to hear. I think everypony should be able to choose what they want to do.” Fluttershy smiled broadly as she noticed the little wild boar approaching them.

“It was hard to me to get used to it, and I usually tried to keep away from those aristocrats. Things are much different in my homeland, but I’m not there anymore. To make matters worse, our records show nothing about your social structures or anything, for we focused solely on topography.” Drakkar lowered his head with a defeated sigh. “I didn’t know what I was getting into.”

Noticing the stallion’s saddened tone, the young wild boar scratched his leg with a hoof, trying to call his attention. When Drakkar turned to look at the animal, he stood on his hind legs, hopping and oinking as if trying to hug him. The tenderness of the scene made Drakkar snort and lower his head to caress the little wild boar with his muzzle.

“It’s okay, little friend, it’s nothing I can’t handle,” said Drakkar as the wild boar hugged his face and squealed gleefully.

While witnessing the scene, Fluttershy couldn’t contain a tender smile. To her, it was wonderful to see such a bond between a pony and an animal. Sometimes the bond was unexpected, like Rainbow Dash and Tank the tortoise. This time, however, was slightly different; it felt as if they had known each other for a long time. Each one understood the other’s feelings and needs, and acted accordingly. With a determined step forward, she rested a hoof on Drakkar’s shoulder.

“What would you think of having him as a pet?” asked Fluttershy with hopeful eyes that expected a yes. “You two seem to get along pretty well.”

“A pet?” Drakkar turned to Fluttershy, meeting her pleading eyes. “I don’t know, Fluttershy. I don’t think I’m ready to—” The young boar’s squeal caught both ponies’ attention. The animal hopped in front of him with loud oinks of joy. “You like the idea, little one?” Fervent oinks and jumps were his answer, making Drakkar laugh and lower his head to let the boar hug him. “Very well, my friend. But you’ll need a name.”

“Are you going to give him a Scandineighvian name?”

“Indeed.” Drakkar raised his head and offered his hoof to the wild boar. Noticing how the sunlight endowed the young animal with a slight glow resembling gold, he came up with a name easily. “You shall be named Gullinbursti.” The wild boar tilted his head with a short grunt. Drakkar covered his mouth with a hoof to contain the laughter. “Too long for you, I guess. How about shortening it to Gullin?”

With a loud squeal and a tight hug to his leg, the wild boar trotted around the ponies, oinking and grunting gleefully.

“He likes the name,” stated Fluttershy with a tender smile. “Are you going to visit Mjǫllna at the smithy today?”

“I’d like to, but… well, I don’t want to be there too early. I don’t want to look too anxious about it.”

Fluttershy nodded lightly without losing her smile. “I understand. Would you like to come with me to Carousel Boutique? We can spend some time there and you can go to Mjǫllna’s later.”

Raising an eyebrow, Drakkar stared at her in confusion. “What is that place?”

“Oh, my friend Rarity works there. She makes the most beautiful dresses in all of Ponyville. I need to take her my gala dress from last year’s… uh… unexpected accident I don’t want to talk about.”

Drakkar blinked as he stood motionless for a second. “Alright, let’s go, then.”

“Gullin should stay here, though. Rarity might not like having a wild boar at her shop,” warned Fluttershy.

With a sigh, he looked at his new pet with a sad grimace. “Gullin, I’ll be back later. We’ll play when I return.” The animal nodded with a joyful oink, then rushed to the feeding trough. Snorting softly, Drakkar turned back to Fluttershy and they departed together.

-o-

Rarity’s bin was full of discarded sketches of new designs. One moment she was delightfully adding a few bows to a skirt, and the next one, she was tearing them off, huffing in exasperation.

“How can something look so divine on paper and become so horrendous when making it a real dress?” she cried as desperation scratched her throat. “If this keeps up, I won’t be able to get my designs ready for the next runway show!”

Every single mannequin was dressed in a half-made costume, with silken threads showing from opened cupboards. Strips of cloth and linen lay everywhere on the floor. To make matters worse, Opal had hoarded all the balls of yarn around her bed and wasn’t letting Rarity get any of them back. In an attempt to calm down her nerves, as the day seemed not to improve on its own, she trotted to the kitchen and prepared an infusion with valerian and honey.

She sat at the table and blew softly at the cup to cool it enough to avoid burning her tongue. She was just about to take the first sip of her relaxing beverage when her shop’s bell rang. With an exasperated sigh, she set the cup down and massaged her forehead.

“This must be one of those days when nothing goes well,” Rarity complained in a low voice as she got up from the chair. She showed a wide smile, hiding her mental exhaustion and frustrations. “Welcome to Carousel Boutique! I apologize for the mess, but the dresses for the next runway show are—” Rarity became frozen on the spot as the imposing sight of Drakkar, combined with his serious expression, made her take a step back. To her relief, Fluttershy, who had been concealed behind the stallion’s body and was carrying a pair of saddlebags, trotted her way in front of her friend.

“Hello, Rarity,” said Fluttershy with a smile. “I’m sorry to interrupt you, but I was wondering if you could fix my gala dress. I know that you have the runway show, so I thought that I could leave it with you now.” She cowed lightly, looking away from Rarity. ”I mean, considering that the Grand Galloping Gala is next month, you’ll have enough time to fix it.”

“Oh, certainly, Fluttershy,” replied Rarity with a relieved smile. “I’ll get it ready by then. I’ll take a while to get to it, though. As you can see,” said Rarity as she pointed at the mess that her shop had become, “I’m dreadfully busy with these dresses, and even though the deadline is next week, I don’t have even one finished!”

“Thanks, Rarity, and no worries about the time.”

“And who’s your… imposing friend?”

“I’m Drakkar, from the Frozen North,” he said as he hit his chest with a hoof.

“The Frozen North? And only with… that?” Rarity sounded both disgusted and astounded as she pointed out the pelt and lack of other clothing. “Forgive me for my ignorance, gentlecolt, but I expected that you’d be covered in layers and layers of clothing instead of travelling barely naked through the ice.”

“That has an easy explanation, young lady.” Drakkar rested a hoof on his chest. To Rarity’s surprise, almost half of it got covered by the fur. “We have adapted to the harsh climate of Scandineighvia. Our furs are thicker to compensate the low temperatures we suffer there. However, my lack of clothing is due to my rank. This pelt you see here is the uniform that every hoofcarl wears.”

“What kind of clothing do you have there? I’m sure that it must look differently from ours.”

“To be honest, yours don’t resemble our own at all.” With a curious eye, Drakkar caressed one of the threads hanging from one of the cupboards. “This looks vaguely familiar. What is it?”

“Hmm?” Rarity trotted next to Drakkar to see what he was pointing at. “Oh, this is silk, Darling.”

“Silk!?” Drakkar looked around the store in awe. “Everything here is made of silk?”

“Why, of course!” she replied with a pride gesture. “My customers deserve no less.”

“Is everything okay, Drakkar?” asked Fluttershy as she trotted to his side.

“It’s just that… well, we know silk, but it’s extremely expensive. Only the jarlar and other wealthy landowners can afford it. We usually use linen and wool.”

“Well, considering how cold it must be up there, I don’t blame you. However, how’s the clothing there?” Rarity asked, expecting some form of inspiration from Drakkar’s designs.

“I remember one of my first pieces of clothing. My mother made it for me for my tenth birthday.” With a wide smile, he sat on the floor, gesturing with his hooves. “It was a beautiful, dark brown kyrtill that barely covered the flanks. We used a leather belt to tighten it to the waist. She also made me a dark green feldr that hung right under my knees.” Totally lost in the memories, Drakkar let out a chuckle. “She used to say that it made my eyes stand out.” With a relaxed sigh, he looked at both mares, who stood dumbfounded in front of him.

“I-I’m sorry, Darling,” said Rarity trying to maintain the composure. “But I’m afraid I didn’t understand a thing of what you said. Yes, the colors and the sizes, but… I have no idea of what kind of clothes you’re talking about.”

“Oh, right. Sorry,” he replied, lowering his head with a shy smile. “Okay, a kyrtill is an overtunic. The pieces are cut out of the fabric and then sewn back together.”

“Oh, my, that’s a lot of work!” admitted Rarity in shock.

“Indeed, but it has an upside. Because of the way it’s done, the garment doesn’t restrict movement. And, even though it’s tight-fitting on the upper part, the sleeves are fitted to provide freedom of motion.”

“Well that’s pretty clever, actually. What about the… felder?”

“Feldr, the cloak. It’s just a large rectangular piece of wool worn in a way so that either the right or left front leg is unencumbered by it. I remember that my neighbor had a larger farm, so they could afford longer clothes. His kyrtilinn covered his haunch completely, and his feldrinn almost caressed the snowy ground,” he said, moving his hoof around a few inches over the floor.

“So the length of the clothes determined the wealth of the wearer.”

“Mostly yes.” Drakkar looked for a clock in the room to find out the time. “Darn, it’s past eleven already! Fluttershy, I have to go to the smithy. Is it okay if I leave you here with your friend?”

“Oh, don’t worry.” With a sweet smile, Fluttershy turned to Rarity. “Do you know by any chance where the smithy is?”

“You mean Mjǫllna’s? Didn’t she have the workshop in her house, in the storage room outside the building? ”

“Excellent! It won’t be a long walk. It isn’t far from Sugarcube Corner, and I remember we walked past to it on our way here.”

“Just a minute, Drakkar,” called Rarity, before he could reach the door. “I think I can help you.”

With a raised eyebrow, he moved the hoof away from the door. “What are you talking about?”

“I’m afraid that you’re an open book,” replied Rarity with a soft snort. “Why else would you have such a hurry to go to a smithy?”

“I-I’m going to assist Mjǫllna at the workshop.” Drakkar stared at the time, tapping the ground impatiently. “Now, if you excuse me, I have to—”

“It will be a moment, dear. I’m sure I can make you look gorgeous for your ‘assistance’.”

“I’m going to be working with coal and heated metal, Rarity.”

“It’s okay, just let me remove this awful thing from you and fix a bit your mane.” Rarity magically untied the pelt’s paws around Drakkar’s neck and levitated it away. “Now, as soon as I find my brush, we’ll get on—”

“Gef hann aptr!” roared Drakkar in a fit of fury.

Fluttershy flew behind one of the mannequins and cowered. Having lost her focus at the sudden shout, Rarity’s magic faded away and the pelt fell on her. The stallion who only a few moments ago talked nostalgically about his colthood, growled menacingly at her.

“Gef hann aptr!” repeated Drakkar, pounding both hooves on the floor.

“Rarity, I think he wants you to give the pelt back!” cried Fluttershy, watching the scene through the corner of the eye.

“B-b-but I want to help him!” stuttered Rarity. “W-why is he so angry all of a sudden?”

“Rarity, look!”

It took a moment for Rarity to look at Fluttershy pointing at Drakkar’s legs. To both mares’ astound, even though he was gritting his teeth and stood determined, his legs were shaking frantically. Aside from having turned around to face her, he had barely moved from the spot. Sweat began to fall from his forehead and he breathed faster every second that passed.

“G-give it back,” begged Drakkar with pleading eyes.

He tried to take a step forward, but his shaky legs could barely stand his weight. He lowered his body to the ground, trembling even more than before, and hid his head behind his mane. Rarity’s heart sank at the sight of Drakkar nestled on the floor and threw the pelt at him without a second thought. Once the piece of clothing covered Drakkar, he hugged it tightly. His trembling slowly faded away and his breathing became slower, though heavier.

“Þat er góðr… þat er góðr,” repeated Drakkar as he put the pelt slowly on, clenching the bear paws.

“Drakkar…” Fluttershy flew from behind the mannequin and walked slowly towards him, even though Rarity shook her head when she saw her friend. She lay down in front of him, trying to make eye contact with him. “It’s okay, Drakkar. Everything’s fine now,” she said in a comforting voice.

“No… it’s not okay.” Once he had recovered from the shock, he got up with a huff. Growling in anger, he took a step towards Rarity, but Fluttershy flew to keep eye contact with him.

“No, please!” Fluttershy begged, pushing him back with her hooves. “I know you don’t want to do us any harm, and I’m sure Rarity’s really sorry!” Fluttershy looked back at her, who nodded frantically while cowing. “Besides, what would Gullin or Mjǫllna think if they saw you like this? Please, calm down!”

Fluttershy’s pleading eyes made Drakkar look away with a grunt. His heaving chest returned to a normal breathing. Drakkar wiped away the sweat from his cheeks and forehead. Though he had reverted to his former calmed state, Rarity continued to shrink at the sight of the stallion’s frown.

“You never take off the pelt from a hoofcarl!” stated Drakkar bluntly. With those words, he magically opened the door and slammed it shut after leaving the store.

“W-w-what was that about?” stuttered Rarity, still frozen in place.

“I don’t know; he’s never reacted so violently until now.”

Fluttershy trotted towards Rarity, getting tightly hugged when she got next to her friend. Rarity could barely contain her sobs. “Oh, thank you for standing up for me, Fluttershy! You’re the bravest pony I’ve ever met!”

“It’s nothing, Rarity. Maybe spending some time with Mjǫllna will cheer him up.“

“Oh, sweet Celestia, Mjǫllna!” Rarity cried, releasing her friend from the hug. “That poor mare’s in trouble if she’s interested in that brute!

“Um, about that, I don’t think you should call him that in front of him. Mjǫllna wouldn’t like it either,” corrected Fluttershy calmly. “Both are from Scandineighvia, and I’m sure that she’s better-versed in the rules and traditions of their homeland.”

“Well, she’s still in danger. But right now, I really need to drink my infusion. This is turning out to be a truly disastrous day. Fluttershy, would you be so kind to make sure that she’s going to be fine?”

“Rarity, I don’t think that’s a good thing to do.” Fluttershy walked behind Rarity as they went to the kitchen. “Meddling with other ponies’ lives is something that I don’t feel comfortable doing.”

Rarity took a sip of the infusion, tilting her head at the warm touch of the liquid through his lips. “You’re right, Darling, but I’m still worried about her.”

“Drakkar’s behavior has shocked me too. He’s actually kind and helpful, and he loves playing with his pet Gullin. I think that we should ask him about what happened before trying to warn Mjǫllna.”

Rarity drank halfway through the cup of relaxing infusion. “You’re right, Fluttershy” she admitted with a nod. “I just wanted to help him. You know that a friend of my friends is always welcomed at my store.”

“I know, and I’m sure that he does too, but it wasn’t the most appropriate way.”

“I have to go to Mjǫllna’s smithy later,” said Rarity before finishing the infusing. “I asked her to make a few brooches for some of my designs. I’ll apologize to him if he’s still there. Will you come with me, dear?”

“Of course, Rarity,” replied Fluttershy with a smile.

-o-

During his way to Mjǫllna’s smithy, Drakkar’s mind rushed through what had happened at Carousel Boutique. He had all the right in the world to get upset, even angry at what Rarity did. In fact, he remembered that they got fined for pulling somepony’s hat off. However, this was more than extrapolating a law, for Drakkar had a spiritual bond with the pelt, and the bear who wore it before him. In a deep level of his subconscious, he believed without a trace of doubt that the bear granted him his strength and endurance. Take the pelt away, and he’d feel his might fade away, feeling as vulnerable as a colt. He hated showing such weakness to anypony; a drengr shouldn’t show weakness. A mixture of negative emotions didn’t let him show even the weakest smile.

The sweet scents from Sugarcube Corner called Drakkar’s attention, but knew that it wasn’t a good idea to go there. He already had gathered an important debt in the shop, and he needed to restructure his economy here. However, as he walked past it, the familiar sound of iron being hammered against an anvil made Drakkar’s ears perk up and changed to a trot with a smile.

Mjǫllna was forging a heated metal bar with a hammer. Though she had a white mask covering her mouth, a leather apron and her mane up in a bun, Drakkar recognized her coat easily. As she was focused on her work, he had to get closer to the smithy.

“Mjǫllna!” called Drakkar as he trotted towards her.

There was no response from her no matter how many times he called her. It didn’t take long for him to get to the smithy. When he was about to set a hoof inside, Mjǫllna grabbed the metal bar from the cold end and submerged it in a bucket of water, causing a huge column of steam that Drakkar had to dodge with a side jump.

“Drakkar!” said Mjǫllna, pulling the mask down. “I’m sorry for that. Are you okay? Oh, wait a moment.” She tilted her head and reached her ears, pulling out a couple of earplugs. “There, now we can talk. I thought you were going to come earlier.”

“I wasn’t sure where you were going to open the smithy, so I went with Fluttershy to Carousel Boutique to get her dress fixed.”

“Oh, that’s right!” cried Mjǫllna joyfully. “The Grand Galloping Gala is next month! I wish I could go.”

Drakkar raised an eyebrow as that name started to become more common around Ponyville. “What’s the… Grand Galloping Gala?”

“Oh, it’s an amazing party that takes place in Canterlot’s castle!” With glowing eyes, like the ones Drakkar had when talking about Scandineighvia, Mjǫllna pulled the already cooled bar out of the bucket. “Everypony that is somepony is there!”

“It sounds…” Drakkar had to think for a while for an appropriate term, for none of the ones that came to his mind sounded polite, “interesting.”

“You don’t sound convinced, Drakkar.”

“For what you tell me, I picture a lot of those aristocrats talking about their fortunes,” he replied, trying to keep the contempt to himself.

“Oh, no, not at all. I mean, sure, there are some of those there, but a lot of ponies from Ponyville have been invited too.” Mjǫllna let out a giggle. ”Including Pinkie Pie.”

Raising both eyebrows, Drakkar took a step forward. “That Pinkie Pie?” he asked in awe, pointing at Sugarcube Corner. “It might not be as dreadful as I thought.”

With a hopeful sigh, Mjǫllna screwed the bar into a head of what looked like a farm tool. “I wish I could go at least once, but they don’t give invitations away to everypony.”

“Sorry to hear it, Mjǫllna,” said Drakkar as he moved closer to her.

“Oh, it’s okay. Ponyville is quite an exciting town, and Pinkie Pie sure knows how to throw parties. To be fair, we’re never short of those with her around.”

“Tell me about it.”

As soon as Mjǫllna finished adjusting the tool, she looked at Drakkar with a concerned look on her face. “You look a bit off today. Has something happened?”

“Huh? Why do you say that?” Drakkar didn’t want to talk about what happened at Carousel Boutique, but the look on Mjǫllna’s face showed that she wasn’t taking a ‘no’ for an answer.

“I knew it, something’s wrong. Have you got into trouble with Fluttershy?”

“No, Fluttershy and I are fine.” The smirk on Mjǫllna’s face proved to Drakkar that he was getting what she wanted to hear. With a defeated sigh, he resumed talking. “I… yelled at Rarity.”

Mjǫllna stared at him in shock at Drakkar’s statement. “Why? Did she mock you for your pelt?”

“Actually, she took it off. She said she was going to help me with something, but I lost it was soon as I stopped noticing the pelt’s warmth.”

Mjǫllna stared at him in surprise. “Why would she do that?”

With a shrug, Drakkar replied. “She said something about me being an open book or something.”

“Oh, I see,” he said with a giggle. “She’s sometimes a little meddlesome, but she’s always willing to help. But why would you react in such a way for that?”

“It’s… something that I don’t want to talk about.”

“Oh, don’t play the ‘mysterious stallion’ card on me, Drakkar,” complained Mjǫllna jokingly. As she noticed his sorrowful eyes and how he looked away, her smile faded away. “Drakkar…”

“I’m fine, I just… I just don’t want to take it off.”

Mjǫllna walked slowly towards him, stretching her hoof to caress one of the paws. “This is more than just your uniform as a hoofcarl, right?”

No matter that she was mere inches away from him, he looked away, hoping that she’d stop “Mjǫllna, I really don’t—“

“Drakkar,” she insisted, grabbing her face and keeping eye contact with him, “we are both Scandineighvians at heart. There’s nothing you can say to me that I won’t understand. Treyst mik, Drakkar.”

“I trust you, Mjǫllna, it’s just that…” Mjǫllna’s eyes lurked into his soul, with a mixture of care and concern. As if bewitched with a spell, Drakkar felt words forming in his head, but he tried his best to let as least as possible. Time should heal the wounds some day, but such day was yet to come. Grabbing Mjǫllna’s hoof tightly against him, both unaware of his increasing heartbeat, Drakkar finally spoke. “You’re right. This is much more than a bear’s pelt, and the symbol of my status as a hoofcarl. This is the last gift of one of my dearest friends, and I honor his memory by wearing it and jumping into the battlefield with it.”

Both ponies stood silently for a moment, their eyes doing all the talking. Mjǫllna kept a saddened gaze as she tilted her head apologetically, to which Drakkar replied with a gentle shake of his head and a tighter holding of her hoof. The gesture made Mjǫllna smile tenderly, and Drakkar smiled back as she showed no more worry. To his surprise, however, she slowly began to lean forward. Drakkar closed his eyes as he moved towards her to taste the nectar of Mjǫllna’s lips.

The romantic moment was suddenly interrupted with the sound of braking wheels. As Drakkar opened her eyes and began to look around him, searching to whatever made that noise, Mjǫllna rolled her eyes with a slightly annoyed grimace. She looked down to see a young orange pegasus on a scooter.

“Oh, it’s you, Scootaloo,” said Mjǫllna with a wide smile, trying her best to avoid showing her upset. “What brings you here?”

“Rainbow Dash is on her way here to pick up something,” said Scootaloo as she took off her helmet. “And who’s the new pony?”

“Oh, he’s Drakkar, and he’s helping me at the smithy.”

“Yeah, right,” replied Scootaloo with a wink, showing that she had caught them red-hoofed.

Before Drakkar could try and make sense of what was going on, Rainbow Dash flew next to the smithy, performing a couple back flips before landing right next to Scootaloo with her wings extended.

“Wow, that was awesome, Rainbow Dash!” cried Scootaloo, clapping excitedly.

“Bifrǫst Rusning!” said Drakkar with a salute.

“Oh my gosh, Drakkar!” replied Dash with a wide grin. “I had no idea you were working here!”

“So you’re the one who started that weird name fad,” grunted Scootaloo. “I can’t even pronounce that name, and Dash keeps asking to be called like that.”

“Well, I guess you’ve come for the wing-weights you ordered, right?” asked Mjǫllna.

“Yeah, you told me that they would be ready for today. So, are they ready?”

“You bet!” With a satisfied smile, she tilted her head towards one of the shelves behind them. There was a large box sitting in the upper part. “Drakkar, would you mind getting it down for her?”

“Sure.” Drakkar’s horn shone dimly as he focused his magic. Soon, a light brown aura surrounded the box and it flew slowly towards the ponies. However, noticing how the lower side of the box began to yield because of the weight inside it, he put it down and gently dragged it magically next to Rainbow Dash.

“Let’s try these babies,” said Dash as she introduced the wing inside of the box and, with a huge disappointment pulled out a small bar. “What? Where’s the weight?”

“The weights are inside the box,” explained Mjǫllna, holding out a snort. “You can put the ones you think you can handle and adjust them as you get stronger.”

“Right, I guess I expected they were already set up.” After putting the bar inside the box again, she took a look inside, where she saw several metallic donuts of different sizes, each one numbered by how much they weighted. “I’ll be able to get my wings pumped up and show the Wonderbolts who’s Bifrǫst Rusning!”

After handing a bag of bits to Mjǫllna, Rainbow Dash took the box with her four hooves. Though it took her a few flaps to take off, once in mid-air she had no problem flying away at her usual speed. Without Dash around, Scootaloo put her helmet back on and bid the two ponies farewell before rushing away on her scooter.

Drakkar stared dumbfounded at the filly as she moved away. “What’s that thing she’s on?”

“Just a Scooter,” replied Mjǫllna. “It’s a toy for colts and fillies, but she’s quite good with it.”

“If you say that’s a toy…”

Though Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash’s visit had killed their romantic moment, Mjǫllna threw a teasing gaze at him. “So, Drakkar, before you became a hoofcarl, what did you do with your life?”

“Me?” He snorted softly and showed a wide grin. “Well, aside from working at my family’s farm and helping with the patrols every now and then, I was a skáld.”

With a loud gasp, Mjǫllna stared at him with widened eyes. “No way! A skáld? Really?”

“Yes, I was called to perform some of my poems at a few celebrations. Nothing too important, but it was great to be in the spotlight for a change.”

“Oh, I want to hear some of the poems you wrote!”

Mjǫllna’s sudden jump towards him made him take a step back and almost fall. “W-well, I have to remember them, and of course adapt them to Equestrian.”

“My goodness, a Skáld! That’s amazing!” As an idea came to her mind, Mjǫllna drew a brazen smile. “Oh, and what about a mansǫngr?”

At the sound of the word, Drakkar blushed furiously. “M-m-mansǫngr?”

“Yes! My grandmother told me about them, the love poems! I’d love to hear how Scandineighvian ponies sing to their lovers.”

Snickers were the only reply Mjǫllna got from Drakkar. “I’ve heard a few, but never wrote one myself. Aside from having nopony to write to, a mansǫngr could get me outlawed.”

Mjǫllna stared dumbfounded at him with a raised eyebrow. “Really? Wow, my grandmother never told me that.”

“You know what they say: ‘courtship is the single most deadly pastime for the young Scandineighvian stallion.’”

With a playful giggle, Mjǫllna walked next to him to greet a couple of mares that were coming towards the shop. “But we aren’t in Scandineighvia anymore.”

“Good afternoon, Mjǫllna dear,” greeted Rarity courtly. “I hope you have my order ready. My designs are simply ruining my schedules, and I really need some good news today.”

“Of course, Rarity, everything’s ready! I’ll go get them for you.”

With that, Mjǫllna left to the storage, leaving Rarity and Fluttershy with Drakkar. At first, everypony stayed silent, but Fluttershy pushed her friend gently forward.

“Drakkar,” Rarity said after clearing her throat, “I want to apologize for what happened at my shop. I should’ve told you what I wanted to do.”

With a long sigh, Drakkar nodded gently. “I understand. Fluttershy has told me wonders about you, and how you love helping your friends. That’s something I admire, Rarity.”

“Oh, please, it’s nothing,” replied Rarity with a light blush. Behind her, Fluttershy smiled profusely.

“However,” he continued as he rested his hoof on one of the pelt’s paws with a serious face, “this pelt has been with me for several years. Not only is my uniform as a hoofcarl, but also an heirloom that I just can’t allow to be away from me.”

“If I’m allowed, Drakkar, what exactly is a hoofcarl?”

“For what my grandmother told me,” said Mjǫllna while carrying a small chest with her, “hoofcarlar work as soldiers under direct command of the Jarl. Am I right, Drakkar?“

”That’s right.” With a prominent smile and a nod, Drakkar moved on. “Depending on our experience, hoofcarlar can also act as advisors for the Jarl, but we’re always their personal guards.”

“So you’re like a Royal Guard?” asked Rarity, curiosity increasingly taking over her.

“You could say that, yes,” answered Mjǫllna with a grin. “Not to mention his reputation as a skáld!”

“Pardon?”

“Poet,” translated Drakkar proudly. “Scandineighvia has a mostly oral tradition, and skáld have passed stories and legends for generations. Warrior poets are quite common; most of us sing about our glorious feats at celebrations and festivals.”

“Not to mention how highly regarded they are,” added Mjǫllna as she looked at Drakkar. “As far as my grandmother told me, some skáld were as praised as royals.”

“That actually happened the last year, when I performed for the Jarl at the annual Alþing assembly.” A snort slipped through his lips at the memory. “Yes, I remember that, after the performance, the glíma tournament took place, and my friend Megin-gjarð dedicated the championship to me.”

“So you’re actually a more of a high class pony after all,” said Rarity with an inquisitive gaze.

“Compared to Equestrian society, yes.” Mjǫllna let the small chest fall on the table, throwing a cold stare at Rarity that screamed ‘and he’s mine’. With a confident smile, she pushed the container forward. “Here you have the brooches, Rarity. I’m sure you’ll be more than satisfied.”

“Y-yes, of course.” Having caught the message, Rarity opened the chest gently, and gawked at the half a dozen of brooches in front of her. Two of them were star-shaped, with a crescent moon engraved in a relief in the center. In the middle rested a couple of manepins resembling pegasus wings, and the last two were oval-shaped with a crown on top. All six of them were coated in silver. “These are simply marvelous, Mjǫllna. I knew I could trust your skilled hooves on this.” With a pleased smile, Rarity closed the chest and levitated inside the saddlebags. Once she closed it, she gave Mjǫllna a bag of bits before turning to Drakkar. “Have you thought about reciting some of your poems here in Equestria?”

“We were talking about that before you got here,” said Mjǫllna. “But apparently he’s a bit shy about it.”

“I can understand that,” admitted Fluttershy as she tried to keep herself away from the conversation.

“Well, I must return to my shop and finish my designs.” With a polite nod, she turned around, ready to leave. “Thanks again, Mjǫllna. Goodbye to you too, Drakkar.”

“Farewell, Rarity,” replied Drakkar.

“Are you going to stay here much longer?” asked Fluttershy before suddenly correcting herself. “Not that I’m complaining or anything, just to know if you’ll be coming home with me now to get lunch ready. I can go on my own, if you have things to do here.”

“I’m going to close for today,” said Mjǫllna as she threw a bucket of water into the forge. The huge steam cloud spread through the smithy. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Come sooner next time or you’ll find the job done,” she added with a wink.

“Sure, when do you open?”

“I get breakfast at half past seven, and then start getting the smithy ready. You know, cleaning and lighting the forge and all. I open to the public at nine, but you can come at eight or so. That way you can help me get everything ready.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Drakkar bid Mjǫllna farewell, with a gentle bow and kissing her hoof. “Until tomorrow then, fríð merr,” he said with a tender grin.

She covered her mouth to hide her giggling. “I’ll be looking forward to it, fríðr hestr.”

“Come on, Fluttershy, Gullin must be missing me a lot.”

“Okay.” She waved to Mjǫllna with an innocent smile. “See you later, Mjǫllna.”

“You’re welcome to visit whenever you want, Fluttershy!” Mjǫllna waved back until both ponies had moved out of site. With a long, dreaming sigh, she hopped joyfully behind the forge. “Yes, yes, yes! Let’s hope that we don’t get interrupted tomorrow.”