• Published 8th Oct 2012
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The Lovers' Edda - Simon_oSullivan



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

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Leikar ok draugar

Leikar ok draugar (Games and ghosts)

Mjǫllna double checked the smithy to make sure that everything was in its place. She had already lighted off the forge, and was putting the hammer, pliers and molds on the shelf where she used to leave her finished works. After taking her leather apron off, she hung it with her mask on a few nails she had hammered to the wall. Once she had finished organizing the place, she took a last look at the workshop with a beaming expression.

When Mjǫllna turned to her house’s door, it opened before she could rest her hoof on the handle. She was met by an old Earth mare, her purple coat unhindered by the tattered brown hood over her head. A lick of light green mane peeked out in front of her left eye. Her short, wavy tail hung heavily, resembling a sprout of a fruit, and she had a bunch of grapes as a cutie mark. There was kindness and strength in her eyes, not unlikeMjǫllna’s.

“Lunch is ready, Mjǫllna,” said the old mare.

“Thanks, granny Vínviðr,” replied Mjǫllna, grinning widely.

“You seem quite happier than usual.” Vínviðr stared at her for a moment with inquisitive eyes. “An important order, maybe?”

“I wish,” said Mjǫllna, shaking her head. “Unfortunately, the business is quite slow. “I finished fixing Applejack’s farming tools, so I’m going to be crafting some ornaments until I get a new order.”

Mjǫllna took a step back as her grandmother got closer to her. Widening her eyes as her wrinkly lips drew into a broad smile, Vínviðr spoke her second hypothesis. “Oooh! Could it be that there’s a stallion that’s got your attention?” she asked playfully. With a short snicker, Mjǫllna nodded. “Oh, my little grandfilly has finally found a very special somepony! Your mother will love to hear all about it!”

“Uh, actually,” said Mjǫllna as a worried grimace distorted her face, “I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”

Vínviðr raised an eyebrow at her granddaughter’s words. “My dear, your mom has been looking forward to the time you found a suitor you accepted far more than anything. Why wouldn’t she like to know about it?”

“I’ll tell you everything when we sit at the table, granny,” said Mjǫllna as she pointed at the doorway.

Both mares walked inside the house, ending up in the dining room. The dinner table was a thick square of wood, with a plain linen cloth covering it. Lunch was already served, with dishes on three of the four sides and the pot of soup on the fourth one, as well as a water jug. There were hollow horns next to the two plates in front of each other, while the other one had a normal glass. On that seat, a yellow pegasus mare with a long, fiery red mane sat patiently, waiting for the other two ponies to come.

“I was beginning to worry, Mjǫllna,” said the pegasus with a short grin, her bright orange eyes staring at both mares. “You usually don’t take so long at the smithy. I thought you had run away with a lover you never told us about or something,” she added with a laugh.

“Well, apparently you won’t have to wait much longer for that to happen, Hearth Fire” replied Vínviðr with a giggle. “Our young mare has found a very special somepony!”

“Granny, I don’t think we should—”

“Finally, praised be Celestia!” said Hearth Fire, raising her hooves and looking at the ceiling. “You took your time to settle down and choose a suitor.”

“Mother, please, by the way you speak it looks like I’m in my forties!” complained Mjǫllna with a blush. “I’m still too young for you to talk like that.”

“Come on, sit at the table,” offered Hearth Fire, tapping the chair where Mjǫllna always sat. “Tell me all about him. What’s his name? Do we know him?”

Mjǫllna snickered as she kept eye contact with her mother. “Not really, no.”

“So it’s from another city, then?” Hearth Fire leaned forward as she served water to each drinking horn and her own glass.

“Oh, yes, he’s from quite far away! I’m sure you’ve never met him!” Though she tried to find advice or a scapegoat in her grandmother’s gaze, Vínviðr was also very interested in knowing her lover’s identity, so she was being no help at all.

“Where’s he from, then? Las Pegasus? Manehattan? Fillydelphia, maybe?”

“No, it’s a bit more to the North. Way up North, actually.”

At first Vínviðr stared at Mjǫllna in confusion, but her eyes soon widened as she seemed to understand why her granddaughter wasn’t too enthusiastic about talking about it. Hearth Fire noticed the old mare’s reaction, and her jolliness slowly faded away; even the closeness of her voice disappeared, turning into a slightly scolding tone.

“Mjǫllna,” said Hearth Fire, frowning was she tapped the table with a hoof. “What’s this stallion’s name?”

Finding herself without a way out, she took a deep breath, crossed her front hooves on the table, and spoke. “Mother, his name’s Drakkar.”

Though her mother closed her eyes and began to massage her forehead as if trying to calm down, Vínviðr leaned forward with hopeful eyes and began to bombard her granddaughter with questions.

“That’ wonderful!” she cried, almost throwing the dishes to the floor. “How did you meet him? What’s he doing here? Is he handsome?”

“Granny, one question at a time,” said Mjǫllna. She grabbed her drinking horn and took a short sip before resuming. “We actually met at the market. I was quite surprised at first, because he looked so familiar. He’s a hoofcarl, you see, so he wears this pelt as you’ve always told me they did.” The more she spoke about him, the wider her grin became, and Vínviðr nodded at every word with a broad smile. “Anyhow, he galloped towards me because he was surprised about hearing another Scandineighvian name here in Equestria. He came here to update the maps they have. And about him being handsome... he has this long, leonine mane falling over his stout shoulders. He’s almost as large as Big Macintosh, which is quite a lot for a unicorn.”

“My my, that sounds like jackpot to me,” said Vínviðr with a toothless grin. “That’s my little Mjǫllna! So, when are we going to meet this wonderful suitor of yours?”

“Are you two out of your minds?!” cried Hearth Fire, her voice rasping in her throat as she pounded the table with both hooves. She turned her head from one side to the other as her chest pumped due to her ragged breathing. “Mjǫllna, there are hundreds— no, thousands of single stallions in Equestria. Why did you have to go for the first barbarian that comes to town?”

“Mother, he’s not a barbarian!” complained Mjǫllna. “On the contrary, he’s a very cultured stallion! It may mean nothing to you, but he’s a skáld too.”

“And you believe that because he told you so, right?” grunted Hearth Fire. “Sure, he could tell you he’s the King of Fimbulvetr, and why would you doubt him?” she added, waving her hooves as her voice flooded in sarcasm.

“Mother, please, keep the snarky comments to yourself,” replied Mjǫllna with a frown. “He knows stories, and I invited him to come to granny’s birthday to tell us Gleipna’s edda.”

“They composed an edda about my mother?” repeated Vínviðr, her eyes bright with hope. “Of course, of course he must come! A drengr is always welcomed in my house!”

“Well, I am opposed to that!” said Hearth Fire bluntly. “What do you both want, get pillaged, or plundered or something!?”

“That’s enough, mother!” shouted Mjǫllna as she got up from the chair. “You have no reason to think so horribly of him!”

“I have no reason to trust his word either, and I don’t want him here, and that’s that.” Hearth Fire got up from the table and turned away towards the ladder leading to the upper floor.

“Come back here, Eldstaðr, we’re not done!” cried Vínviðr. Hearth stood frozen in place as the old mare tapped the table with her hoof, waiting patiently until her daughter sat at the table again. “Whose house is this, daughter?”

“Mother, he’s a—”

Whose house is this, I repeat? And you know I hate repeating myself.” Vínviðr threw a piercing glare at her daughter, expecting her answer.

“It-it’s yours, mother,” said Hearth Fire without looking up at her.

“Good, I’m glad we’re getting somewhere,” she replied with a nod as she crossed her hooves in front of her. “Now listen to me, because I’m only saying this once: everypony in my house can do whatever they want. That means that Mjǫllna can date a Scandineighvian stallion if she wants to. Or did I ban you or drove you from home when you decided to forsake your Scandineighvian heritage and change your name to an Equestrian one?” she asked, leaning forward with a raised eyebrow. Hearth Fire shook her head slowly, to which Vínviðr replied with a nod and an offer of her hoof. “There you go.”

“Besides, mother,” said Mjǫllna, “we are also Scandineighvians, and you have nothing against us.”

“Because we’re different!” cried Hearth Fire. “We come from Scandineighvia, but we were born here and were raised in this culture. We’re not barbarians! But you decided to embrace your tribal heritage and look at you! Working as a blacksmith in a place where you seldom get orders!”

“We’ve been the blacksmiths of Ponyville since Gleipna settled here!” said Mjǫllna, hitting her chest as a sign of pride. “It’s been our family business for four generations! Sure, it’s not a job that allows us to live a life of luxury, but we’ve always had food on the table!”

“Not to mention that you’ve become a bulky mare,” added Hearth Fire, pointing at her daughter’s front legs and chest.

“I’m not bulky, mother, I’m fit!”

“No, the Wonderbolts are fit,” corrected Hearth Fire. “You’re broad-shouldered. You have the body of a stallion. No wonder you scare suitors away.”

“That’s absurd, Hearth Fire,” said Vínviðr. “Applejack works a lot at the farm too, and she has a build resembling Mjǫllna’s.”

“Look, I want the best for my daughter, and dating a Scandineighvian stallion is far from what I’d consider worthy for her,” stated Hearth Fire with a frown.

“She’s my granddaughter too, and I want her happiness as much as you,” replied Vínviðr. “That’s why, if she found a stallion she likes, I won’t stand in her way.”

Hearth Fire grunted loudly, then stared at her daughter as she shook her head. ”Why do you have to do this? What has he given to you that nopony else has?”

“He’s… special,” said Mjǫllna, looking away for a moment. “I’m not sure I can explain it. He’s so exotic and so familiar at the same time. We can spend hours talking about Scandineighvia or whatever happens in Ponyville, and there’s always something new. Why do you find it so hard to understand that I love him?” she added, spreading her front hooves.

“I can’t ban him from coming to our house,” said Hearth Fire as she looked at Vínviðr through the corner of the eye, “but that doesn’t mean that I want him to be here or dating you. I want to protect you, but it looks like you don’t see it.” With a disgruntled huff, she got up from the table, looking at both mares. “I’m not hungry anymore.”

Hearth Fire walked out of the dining room towards the stairs to her room. When Mjǫllna got up to follow her, Vinviðr raised a hoof and shook her head, to which her granddaughter reacted by sitting down again, letting out an exasperated grunt.

“Leave her alone for a moment,” said Vínviðr. “She needs to put her thoughts together.”

“Why is she like this, granny?” asked Mjǫllna with a shrug. “Why can’t she accept it?”

“Your mother and you went through the same events during your fillyhood,” explained Vínviðr resting both hooves on the table. “Young colts and fillies were mean to both of you, making fun of your names for being different from the usual ones we heard here. And both of you defended yourselves and your honor. However, your mother felt ashamed of her actions, no matter how much I tried to support her. Of course that beating up a classmate is wrong, and I scolded her as much as I did you, but I also told her that—”

“Our heritage and legacy are to be honored, and we have to defend them with pride.” Mjǫllna and her grandmother recited the sentence at the same time, which made both mares laugh on the spot. “The same thing you said to me.”

“Where you accepted the punishment and embraced your Scandineighvian ancestry to follow our traditions, your mother abandoned them, feeling ashamed of being one of those barbarian Vikings she read about in the library.”

“But granny, you told me that those called Vikings were actually raiders who wanted to seek fame and fortune,” said Mjǫllna with an annoyed grunt. “That wasn’t the average rule! That’s as preposterous as the stories about the horned helmets we supposedly use!”

“I know, dear, but I’m asking you to be patient with your mother,” insisted Vínviðr calmly, resting her hooves on her granddaughters’. “Someday, she’ll understand that we didn’t become civilized ponies; that we were always like this. She’ll try to keep you away from Drakkar for her own reasons, but I pray to the wise Óðinn for the day when she understands that we are as civilized as Equestrian ponies.” Vínviðr showed a tender smile at Mjǫllna, followed by a wink. “Until then, enjoy your time with Drakkar. In fact, why don’t you go and spend some time with him? Do you know where he’s staying?”

Mjǫllna nodded profusely. “Yes, he’s staying at Fluttershy’s. He’ll surely be playing with the wild boar friend he’s made.”

“Then go with him,” said Vínviðr, pushing her lightly with her hoof.

“What about mother?” insisted Mjǫllna.

“Don’t worry about her. As far as I know, she’ll disapprove, but she won’t try anything odd against both of you. Now, go. Don’t make your stallion wait!” she said as she got up and walked towards the door and opened it for her. With a tender kiss on the cheek, Mjǫllna bid her grandmother farewell and trotted to meet her beloved.

-o-

After returning from Mjǫllna’s workplace, Fluttershy invited Drakkar to a picnic with her animal friends. Being a lover of the outdoors and enjoying Gullin’s company, he accepted without hesitation. The preparations took only a few minutes, as every creature helped a little to get it ready. On a large red and white cloth rested several dishes with sandwiches, nuts, animal feed and flowers, as well as plates full of water, a teapot and a couple of cups for both ponies to drink out of.

During the first half of the picnic, Drakkar remained thoughtful, barely speaking a word and simply passing some food when Fluttershy asked him. Noticing this after finishing her chatting with the rest of the animals, she talked to him.

“Um, Drakkar, is everything okay? Is something wrong with the picnic? If you need anything, I can bring it to you,” said Fluttershy, getting up and about to turn around and get inside her house.

“Everything’s okay, Fluttershy,” answered Drakkar, raising a hoof while keeping his thoughtful face. Letting out a long sigh, she looked at her with a worried expression. “I’m just trying to think of a poem for Mjǫllna.”

Fluttershy’s ears lowered as she looked away. “Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt you.”

“You don’t need to apologize, Fluttershy. It’s hard to think of what to say in the poem, and then making sure that it’s correctly written, following the rules of skaldic poetry.” Drakkar looked at Harry, who was sitting next to him holding a jug of honey in one paw and sticking the other one inside to get the tasty food. “Do you have any ideas about what I could say?”

Harry shrugged and let out a long growl which made Drakkar burst into laughter. Fluttershy, though, scolded him on the spot.

“Harry, that’s rude!” cried Fluttershy in shock with a gasp. “You can’t be serious!”

“I have to admit that he’s right,” said Drakkar as he began to calm down.

“Drakkar, you can’t say that to her!”

“I’m not going to write about that, Fluttershy,” assured Drakkar, trying to hold back the laughter. “But it surprises me; you look a bit embarrassed.”

“How couldn’t I be?” insisted Fluttershy, gesturing with her hooves as she kept speaking. “You can’t just tell a mare she has a beautiful… you know…”

“A beautiful haunch,” finished Drakkar.

“It sounds so… rude. That’s not the kind of thing you should say to her.”

“You’re repeating yourself, Fluttershy,” said Drakkar kindly as he gestured to soothe her. “You see, my problem with the poem isn’t having nothing to say, which I have. But the main problem is keeping all the praising in the dróttkvætt-style skaldic poetry; eight lines with six syllabi each, all of them having three stresses and ending in a trochee.” With an exasperated huff, Drakkar lowered his head, staring at his plate on the cloth. “Even for a skilled skáld, composing one of these is no small feat, and I’m a bit rusty concerning poetry.”

During the conversation, Harry growled to call everypony’s attention as a group of fillies trotted towards them. Though Drakkar only recognized the orange filly with purple mane, Fluttershy waved to all of them.

“Hello, girls,” greeted Fluttershy tenderly. “I wasn’t expecting visitors today.”

“Howdy, Fluttershy!” said the yellow earth filly with a large bow on the head holding her long, crimson mane that lazily fell at her right side.

“Scootaloo told us you had a new friend,” continued a young unicorn filly, white as a Scandineighvian snowfield with a mane of purple and pink, a combination that Drakkar had just seen for the first time, “and she insisted we should meet him.”

“There he is!” said Scootaloo, pointing at the brown stallion, who stopped drinking his tea as the three ponies staring at him made him raise an eyebrow. Scootaloo’s friends grinned widely at the sight.

“It’s true, he really looks a lot like mah brother!” said Apple Bloom.

“Save for the long mane,” corrected Sweetie Belle.

“And that he’s a unicorn,” added Scootaloo

“His coat’s also of a different color,” said Sweetie Belle.

“Okay, mahbe he doesn’t resemble Big Mac that much, after all,” admitted Apple Bloom with a disappointed shrug.

Drakkar, ignoring what the girls were talking about, looked at Fluttershy with an expression that begged for an explanation for what was going on. “It’s okay, Drakkar,” said Fluttershy as she extended her hoof towards Apple Bloom, who was the leftmost, and then moved slowly to the right as he introduced the fillies. “These are Apple Bloom, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle.” Every filly greeted Drakkar as Fluttershy called her names. “Girls, this is Drakkar.” The stallion replied by hitting his chest and giving a vigorous nod, throwing an informal smirk while keeping an eye on Scootaloo.

“I remember you,” said Drakkar as he pointed at the orange filly.

“Heh, sorry about that,” replied Scootaloo as her ears lowered, though she didn’t lose her joyful smile.

“Whatcha talkin’ about?” asked Apple Bloom with a raised eyebrow.

“Oh, he’s Mjǫllna’s coltfriend, and I interrupted them in the middle of a kiss,” said Scootaloo as if it was the most common situation of the daily routine.

“Really?!” asked Sweetie Belle with a hop forward. “That’s so sweet! Did you already talk about the wedding? I love weddings! We went to a wedding recently, we’ll behave properly I promise!”

“Girls, please,” interjected Fluttershy. She raised both hooves and stood shyly between the fillies and Drakkar. “I don’t think we should talk about it.”

“No worries, Fluttershy. I’ve handled foals before,” assured Drakkar with a nod as he pushed her to the side gently. He then turned to face Sweetie Belle with raised eyebrow. “You look familiar, little one.”

“She’s Rarity’s younger sister,” said Fluttershy.

Though at first Drakkar showed a discomforted grimace, Sweetie Belle’s tender eyes and visage appeased him swiftly, changing his expression to a comfortable smile. “Well, that explains it. Pleased to meet you three. By the way,” he added as he turned to Apple Bloom. “Who’s this Big Macintosh you speak of?”

“Oh, he’s mah older brother!” said Apple Bloom proudly. “Ah have two older siblings: Applejack and Big Macintosh. They’re the strongest ponies Ah’ve ever met! We work and live at Sweet Apple Acres, the apple orchard!”

“Farmers,” replied Drakkar with an approving nod. “A noble profession indeed. We also grow our own food in Scandineighvia. Now, may I ask why you were looking for me?” he added with an inquisitive stare as he crossed his front hooves over his chest.

“We wanted to try and get our cutie marks!” cried Scootaloo. “We’ve tried a lot of things, but we’ve had no luck so far.”

“But we thought that mahbe some Scandineighvian activities might help us get them!” said Apple Bloom with a gleeful hop. “So we figured we could ask you to help us get our cutie marks!”

“Please, Mister Drakkar?” begged Sweetie Belle. The three fillies stared at him with pleading eyes, keeping her hooves together and showing the widest grins they could offer.

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” he said as he turned to Fluttershy. “What do you think? Should I spend some time with them to see if they get their cutie mark with some Scandineighvian activities?”

“I’m not sure about it either, but…” She looked at the three fillies, who were intensifying their begging stare and getting closer to both ponies. In the end, she obliged with a sigh. “Okay, but be careful with them, Drakkar.”

“Yay! Cutie Mark Crusader Scandineighvian ponies!” they cried at the same time with a high jump and frantic waving of their hooves.

Drakkar nodded with a confident grin. “Fluttershy, do you have a thick rope that I can borrow?” he asked.

“Um, sure, I have one. Why do you need it?”

“One of our favorite pastimes,” replied Drakkar with a wink. “They want to be Scandineighvians, so I’m thinking of playing some of our games with them.”

“Okay, I’ll be back in a moment. Don’t hurt yourselves!” said Fluttershy before getting inside her house.

“So we’re going to play games?” asked Scootaloo with a frown. “No Norse crafting or anything? I expected something different,” she added with a huff.

“There are a few games that we can play.” He looked at the picnic table and how some of the animals were still snacking. “No hnútukast, though.”

“Hanuwhatnow?” said Apple Bloom as she stared at her friends to see if they had listened to the weird name correctly. Their shocked faces, however, showed that they hadn’t either.

“Hnútukast,” repeated Drakkar, smiling. “It’s a contest where everypony flings the leftovers from lunch or dinner and try to injure the rest of the contestants. It’s really fun if you have quick reflexes,” he added with a loud laugh. “I remember once when I barely avoided getting hit by a piece of hardened bread. The pony behind me got knocked out cold! That was crazy, I tell you!”

The three fillies stared at him in awe as they sat motionless for a while. “What the hay is your bread made of? Concrete?” asked Scootaloo angrily. “You’re pulling our legs here, mister, and I’m not buying it!”

“I don’t blame you, little girl,” said Drakkar with a weak frown that faded almost instantly, “but I assure you that it’s true. We are strong ponies, and that includes flinging food with such strength that we can take our friends down by throwing chunks of bread from the previous day.”

“What other games you have?” asked Sweetie Belle. “Do you have ball games?”

“Actually yes; knattleikr we call it. It involves a ball and two teams with bats to hit it.” Drakkar looked up with a nostalgic grin. “I was a player in one of the mediocre teams, and in one of the leagues ten years ago, we reached the finals, but the last game had to be cancelled due to excessive violence.
However—”

“Wait, time out!” interrupted Scootaloo, raising both hooves. “You just told us that you have a game that consists on knocking out ponies by throwing leftovers at them.”

“Hnútukast, that’s right,” replied Drakkar with an approving nod.

“Right, so, when you tell me that you had to cancel a ball game for excessive violence,” continued Scootaloo with a raised eyebrow, “I’m really curious about what you consider ‘excessive violence’ there.”

“Well, it all started with a point from our team that the referee considered not valid,” started Drakkar, numbering the events with tips of his hooves. “Then the arguments and the punch to the referee came, followed by the screams from the viewers.” He scratched the back of his head as he went on speaking. “The last thing I remember was getting knocked out cold a bit after both teams started fighting against each other and the public jumping into the field ready to join the conflict; the whole town got involved.”

As they heard the story, their jaws dropped and their eyes opened widely in shock. “Okay, that is something I’d call excessive,” said Scootaloo after a while.

“But you don’t need to worry, I have some games planned that are safer for you to play,” assured Drakkar with a nod. Fluttershy’s door opened as she came out with a long rope hanging at her sides. “There’s Fluttershy. We’re going to play one of the most common games foals and adults alike play in Scandineighvia.” As his horn shone brightly, Drakkar lifted the rope and offered one end to the fillies as he showed a proud beam. “Toga hǫnk!”

Apple Bloom grabbed the rope with one hoof, blinking in confusion. “Okay, so what’s the game about?”

“Two teams grab each end of the rope, and they have to pull the other team towards them,” explained Drakkar as he offered the second end to Scootaloo. “Though it’s a game and a common competition, we usually practice toga hǫnk to strengthen our muscles for rowing our longboats. When doing that,” he added while sitting down, “we get down in front of the other pony and we press our hind hooves against theirs, like this.” Drakkar gestured Sweetie Belle to come closer to him, and she took the same stance as him. “From this position, both contestants pull with all their strengths, trying to unbalance the other pony, and the winner is the one who stays in the original position.”

“Ah guess we can give it a try,” said Apple Bloom while sitting down in front of Scootaloo, her friend following suit. “Ready, Scootaloo?”

“Yeah, whenever you are!”

“On your marks!” cried Drakkar as he raised a hoof. Both fillies grabbed the rope tightly, throwing challenging stares at each other. “Get set!” Apple Bloom and Scootaloo nodded and pressed their hind hooves against each other’s. “Go!”

At Drakkar’s signal, both fillies pulled with all their strengths. Though Apple Bloom seemed to be stronger, Scootaloo’s frenetic flapping of her wings gave her enough power to compensate her lack of physical prowess. Sweetie Belle witnessed the game with great interest next to Drakkar, who monitored them to make sure that everything was safe.

“Um, I don’t think I want to play against them, mister,” said Sweetie Belle, her voice showing a mixture of sadness and fear. “They’re too strong compared to me.”

Drakkar looked at her through the corner of the eye, nodding slowly. “I have a variation of the game that you might be able to join once they’re done.”

Both fillies seemed to be quite balanced, and Scootaloo posed as a worthy contestant despite her lack of strength. However, when her wings began to flutter slower and sweat started to fall down her forehead, Apple Bloom gained advantage little by little, and a powerful pull made Scootaloo fall against her friend’s chest.

“Well done, you two!” said Drakkar proudly with a pound on the ground. “That was one of the most balanced toga hǫnk game I’ve witnessed in months! You should be proud of yourselves!”

“Phew, that was pretty intense for a game,” said Apple Bloom as she helped her friend getting up.

“Yeah… it was… exhausting,” replied Scootaloo, breathing raggedly and wiping the sweat from her forehead. “Wanna try, Sweetie Belle?” she added while looking back at her friend.

“Uh… I don’t think that’s my kind of game,” she admitted with a shudder. “But Drakkar said there was a version that I could play.”

“That’s right,” said Drakkar as he dragged his hoof, drawing a line on the ground. “As the konungr of Fimbulvetr competed against eight of his soldiers,” he continued as he walked a few hoofsteps before drawing another line, “you three will compete against me.”

“That’s a bit unfair, don’t ya think?” said Apple Bloom with a frown. “You’re a full-grown stallion!”

“And you’re three versus one,” he replied with a smirk, magically pulling one of the edges of the rope. “The rules here are simple too; you stand behind those lines and pull. Whoever crosses their mark, loses. And to make it balanced, I’ll only use one of my front hooves.” That said, Drakkar stood on his hind legs and grabbed the rope with one of his hooves, resting the other one on his back. “Ready?”

“Ready!” cried the three fillies as each one held the rope. Apple Bloom took the front place, with Sweetie Belle standing in the middle and Scootaloo on the back to make sure that her fluttering didn’t disturb any of her friends.

“Go!”

At the signal, the three fillies pulled with all their might, but Drakkar barely moved. The only sign that he was actually doing something was the tension in his right front hoof. Though he had to deal with his own balance to avoid falling, he didn’t seem to be having trouble, and focused on standing his ground, enjoying how the girls worked as a team.

-o-

During the game, Mjǫllna arrived at Fluttershy’s, unnoticed at first by Drakkar and the fillies. Fluttershy, who stayed with the rest of the animals trying not to watch the game, waved at her and gestured her to come closer. She declined politely with a shake and a raised hoof, watching the game from a distance instead.

Occasionally during the game, Drakkar would lean a bit forward to give the fillies the impression that they were winning, only to pull back again to recover the advantage. He cheered them from his position, and they doubled their efforts as they felt they could win. Covering her muzzle to avoid causing distractions, Mjǫllna giggled at the scene; they looked like a father playing with his daughters, a thought to which she nodded slowly in approval.

Drakkar looked around him, first to his left, where Fluttershy and the rest of the animals were. Save for the pegasus, who was covering her eyes and shivering, everyone else was jumping and cheering, turning what started as a silent game into something that resembled a local championship. Once he looked to the right, however, he noticed Mjǫllna for the first time, who waved at him from her place.

“Mjǫllna!” he cried as he waved back at her with his free hoof.

“He’s distracted!” whispered Scootaloo at her friends. “Now’s our chance! Pull!”

Caught off-guard by the sudden mighty pull, Drakkar lost balance and tried to fall on his free hoof without crossing the line. However, his body was too far forward by the time he realized and he fell muzzle first to the ground.

After a few seconds recovering their breath, the fillies hugged each other, hopping and singing. “We won! We won!” cried Scootaloo.

“Ah can’t believe we did it!” said Apple Bloom.

After a moment, the three fillies came to a sudden halt to turn and check their flanks, only to see them as devoid of cutie marks as always.

Meanwhile, Mjǫllna had trotted her way next to Drakkar, who had gotten up with a grunt.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“Nothing I can’t handle,” he replied with a laugh as he brushed the dust away. “I’m glad to see you again.”

“I’ll try to be less distracting next time,” she replied with a wink.

“Mister Drakkar?” called Sweetie Belle. Both ponies turned to meet the filly. “Are we going to play more games?”

“Sure, I have a few of them in mind.” Drakkar stood again on his hind legs, pounding his hooves together with a smirk. “It’s time to practice glíma!”

“Wrestling,” translated Mjǫllna before anypony had time to ask.

“Right.” As Drakkar began to explain the rules, the fillies whispered to each other as Scootaloo explained to them that the mare who had just arrived was Drakkar’s fillyfriend. “The rules here are as follows: you grab your opponent and try to throw them to the ground. You can either make them trip and fall or lift them and then put them down as long as they don’t land on their hooves.” Though the fillies were talking to each other, they also seemed to be paying attention. “Any doubts?”

“I think we should show them how it’s done,” offered Mjǫllna playfully with a wave of her tail.

Drakkar raised an eyebrow, following the mare’s game. “I don’t know, it might be a bit too much.”

“I bend iron to do my bidding daily,” she replied as she let out an arrogant huff. “I’m sure I’ll be able to put up a fight.”

Drakkar burst into laughter. “That’s the attitude of the North!” he said with a shining grin.

“And there’s so much more where that came from.” Mjǫllna stood up on her hind legs, spreading her front hooves with a confident smile. “Ready when you are!”

“Let’s go!”

Both ponies charged towards each other, wrapping their front legs around the other’s waist when their bodies collided. Though Mjǫllna was less imposing physically, Drakkar barely moved her from the spot at first. With a loud grunt, she bent her knees and lifted Drakkar, much to everypony’s astonishment. Before she was able to throw him to the ground, he pounded the floor with his right hind leg and tumbled to regain balance. Shock showed in Drakkar’s eyes, and he even looked slightly pale due to his near defeat.

“Come on, Drakkar, stop holding back!” complained Mjǫllna in a whisper. “I know you’re far stronger than this!” In Drakkar’s eyes, she could see concern. It was obvious to her that he was worried about hurting her. She remembered their almost kiss, and knew what to say to unleash Drakkar’s might.

“Listen to me, Drakkar,” she whispered again, pulling him close to her, their muzzles almost touching. “I want a strong stallion by my side, one that makes me feel protected and safe. One that can assure me that whatever family we might have will want for nothing. If I can beat that stallion, then that’s not the stallion I want.” Mjǫllna noticed how Drakkar’s grip tightened, his eyes widening as his hooves trembled slightly. She then turned to a much more charming tone. “Think of me as Queen Brynhild,” teased Mjǫllna with a wink. “Do you want me? Be my heroic Siggurðr!”

As Drakkar showed a slowly growing smile, his horn shone dimly before letting out a short, challenging bear growl.

“That’s right, give me all you have, my Siggurðr,” replied Mjǫllna. She then caressed his muzzle with hers tauntingly. “I can take it.”

Before she finished flirting, and while Drakkar still stood in front of her dumbfounded, Mjǫllna rammed him in an attempt to trip him, but he reacted quickly, taking a step back with such strength that his hoof sank slightly into the ground. She nodded roguishly in approval, to which he replied with a smirk. Without hesitation, Drakkar lifted Mjǫllna over his head, a move she countered with a buck to the chest that pushed him back and caused him to release her. When Mjǫllna landed on her four hooves, she rushed again to tackle Drakkar, who wasn’t able to dodge her and did his best not to fall back. No matter how hard she tried, he barely moved from the spot. Mjǫllna looked up at him with a grin and her teeth gritted as her mane waved in every direction in the middle of the frenzied fight.

When Mjǫllna’s grip began to weaken, Drakkar’s horn shone again and he let out a louder growl before pushing her in an attempt to overrun her. Despite her efforts in avoiding it by both trying to stand ground and countering with her own strength, she tripped and fell on her back. Drakkar closely following her, though he was able to land on his four hooves solidly on the ground, mere inches over her, both staring in each other’s eyes. Mjǫllna breathed raggedly, her chest pumping deeply as her mane lay mussed beneath her as a mantle.

“Well done... I expected… no less,” said Mjǫllna between pants with adoring eyes. She tenderly wrapped her hooves around the back of his neck as she spoke.

“I’m not… a hoofcarl… for nothing, Mjǫllna,” replied Drakkar as he recovered his breath.

On the other side, the fillies had watched the whole fight without even blinking.

“You know what?” said Scootaloo without looking at her friends. “I’m going to do that.”

“Do what?” asked Sweetie Belle.

“I’m going to challenge the colt who declares his love to me to a wrestling match.”

“What if you like ‘im and he doesn’t win?” inquired Apple Bloom.

“I’ll lose on purpose, I guess,” replied Scootaloo with a shrug. “I’ll think about it. I have time until I get my first Hearts and Hooves Day’s card.”

“Well,” said Drakkar as she helped Mjǫllna getting up from the floor. “Who wants to try?”

The three fillies stared in silence until a drop of water fell onto Sweetie Belle’s horn. As she tried to wipe it dry, Mjǫllna pointed to her.

“Wow, we have a volunteer!” she cried as she attempted to get her mane back to normal.

“What? No! I wasn’t… I don’t…” Sweetie Belle stepped back, shaking her head violently.

The sky brightened with a blinding flash of light, followed by a tremendous thunder that scared the fillies and Fluttershy. The animals began to run towards their lairs and warrens.

“We should get inside before the rain starts,” said Fluttershy as she rushed to the door. The fillies didn’t hesitate and galloped behind her, while Drakkar and Mjǫllna calmly followed them inside. As all the ponies got inside and Fluttershy closed the door, the sound of water against grass and stone began to sound louder. Scootaloo jumped over Apple Bloom to see that the rain had already started, and wasn’t going to end up any time soon.

“Well, that does it for today, I guess,” said Scootaloo with a sigh as she got off her friend. “That was radical though. A bit violent, but fun!”

“Yeah, those games were cool!” admitted Apple Bloom with a hop. “We should try new games tomorrow!”

“Hey, y’all know what we can do now? Tell ghost stories!”

“Yeah, that’ll be awesome! What do you say, Sweetie Belle?”

“Sure, it’ll be fun!” said Sweetie Belle. “Hey, Mister Drakkar, do you have ghost stories in your hometown?”

Drakkar nodded with a short smile as she looked at Mjǫllna. “Indeed we have. I know a few of them.”

“Well, um,” started Fluttershy with lowered ears. “I’ll be upstairs if you need me. I don’t like ghost stories.”

“Alright, I’ll go first!” cried Scootaloo, switching into a more sinister voice as Fluttershy walked slowly up the stairs to avoid disturbing the others. “This is the story of the skinless stallion, a monster which—”

“Oh, Scootaloo, I don’t like that story,” complained Sweetie Belle. “It’s only scary because the monster kills ponies.”

“That’s the point of a ghost story!” insisted Scootaloo.

“No, it isn’t! It’s supposed to be scary, but you can be scary without having to kill ponies!”

“Ah can tell the story of the Apple Harvester,” interjected Apple Bloom.

“Oh, not that one again!” complained Scootaloo with a huff.

“What? It’s mah favorite story!”

“Yeah, I know. You tell it every single year at Nightmare Night!”

“But Drakkar doesn’t know the story, and he might like it!”

“It’s not scary, Apple Bloom,” replied Scootaloo. “It’s a spirit that rewards nice ponies and punishes mean ones. That’s not a ghost story, that’s something your granny told you so you’d behave yourself.”

“Hey, it’s a pretty nice story!” cried Apple Bloom, slightly offended at her friend’s words.

“How about the story of Sea Shell?” inquired Sweetie Belle.

“Aw, not that one either,” huffed Scootaloo. “That’s a romantic story!”

“But it’s a ghost story!” repeated Sweetie Belle, upset.

“Yeah, about a pony who drowns and finds a way to meet her lover. That’s not scary, and therefore, is not a ghost story!”

Drakkar and Mjǫllna did their best to hold back their laughter at the scene. The three fillies kept quarreling about what story to tell, an argument that was taking longer than expected to solve. With a tender smile, Mjǫllna looked at Drakkar, softly laughing between his teeth. Both knew that the arguing fillies weren’t going to go further than complaining about their stories being considered not ghost-worthy enough. For a brief moment, due to the previous games that showed Drakkar as a caring parental figure, she pictured themselves with foals of their own.

“Okay, everypony calm down!” shouted Apple Bloom, putting the fillies’ argument to a halt and snapping Mjǫllna awake from her daydreaming. “If we can’t decide which story to tell, we’ll have our guest of honor tell his.” She looked at Drakkar with a wide grin. “What d’ya say? Which one will ya tell us?”

“I want to hear the most violent and scary story you have,” said Scootaloo, throwing a challenging gaze at the stallion. “Give us your best shot!”

With a burst of laughter, Drakkar shook his head, amused at the fillies. “Young ponies are the same everywhere I go. Alright, my best shot.” After a moment of pondering, a grim smirk crossed his face. “I have the perfect story for you, young daredevil: fjarðarins draugrinn.”

The fillies stared at him for a few seconds in complete silence. “Wow, the title’s pretty scary by itself,” admitted Sweetie Belle. “What does it mean?”

“It translates to something like ‘the ghost of the fjord’,” explained Drakkar. “Then again, a draugr is not exactly a ghost or a zombie. Truth be told, the translations don’t do justice to the creature.”

“So it’s a story about a ghost from a place, that’s something I’ve never heard before,” said Scootaloo sarcastically as she rolled her eyes. After a moment, she looked at her friends with a confused stare. “What’s a fjord, by the way?”

“It’s pretty much like the cliff we have here in Ponyville, but it’s made from the erosion caused by glaciers,” answered Mjǫllna. “There are a couple of them in Scandineighvia, a breathtaking sight indeed, or so my granny told me.” She looked at Drakkar with concern. “I think the story might be a bit too much, though.”

“Well,” said Scootaloo with a grin at the mare’s words. “We have a story!”

Drakkar cleared his throat before staring at the three fillies in front of him, and then looked through the window to see the rain fall. He tilted her head to Mjǫllna towards them, and she got behind them, resting her hooves on two of the fillies’ shoulders. With a sardonic grin, Drakkar began to tell the story with a deeper voice than usual.

“Fillies of Equestria, I come to you,
To tell a legend from a faraway land.
Hold your hooves, innocent little girls,
For a dire and cruel story is at hand.”

-o-

Applejack galloped across the town square as fast as her legs allowed her under the rain. Her Stetson hat protected most of her mane, but her hooves and the tip of her tail were tainted in mud. The deserted streets were more than welcomed in these situations and, luckily for her, Mjǫllna’s smithy was open to the public, but the one inside wasn’t the usual blacksmith.

“Oh, good evening, Applejack!” greeted Vínviðr joyfully.

“Howdy. Pardon me for not pausing to introduce mahself, but where’s Mjǫllna?” Applejack asked while using her hat to fan herself as she recovered her breath.

“I’m Vínviðr, Mjǫllna’s grandmother,” she said politely with a wrinkly smile. “Your order has been ready since midday.” With a slow path, she walked towards the shelf to grab the farming tool.

“Sorry, the harvest took longer than expected, and Ah thought Ah wouldn’t get here on time.” Applejack put her hat on and took a small bag from one of her saddlebags, pouring it on the table to let five bits roll out.

“My granddaughter’s always here, but I told her to go spend time with her coltfriend today now that she had finished all the orders,” said the old mare with a giggle. “I don’t mind waiting here for a while. It brings good memories to me.”

Applejack checked the fixed tool, a flawless repair that, if she hadn't known better, would've thought it was brand new. “This is one of the best fixes Ah’ve seen. Give yer granddaughter mah thanks for a job well done,” she added with a tip of her hat.

“I will, youngster. Give my regards to Granny Smith when you see her.” Vínviðr turned around and nodded gently at Applejack before walking to the door and inside her house. “And get home soon before you catch a cold.”

“Will do, Miss Vínviðr!” As Applejack was about to leave, she noticed somepony walking towards her from far away. The pompous purple saddle with an umbrella of the same color attached to it, as well as the large hat made her realize immediately who it was. “’Evening, Rarity.”

“Oh, Applejack, I didn’t expect you to be here!” said Rarity with a joyful smile.

“Ah came to pick up the head of our pitchfork,” she replied, tilting her head to the tool resting inside her saddlebags. “What are ya doin’ here, though?”

“Oh, you see, I returned to my boutique to keep working on my designs, and then I had a vision; my muse visited me and told me how I could get perfection!” Rarity’s words were followed by exaggerated gestures with her hooves. “I could attach two brooches instead of one and use them to hold a cape, which will give them much more class. And who says capes can’t also have, say, ornaments of any kinds that have chains attached, pocket watches, monocles, anything? It’ll be the most wonderful—” Rarity stopped as Applejack stared at her dumbfounded with a raised eyebrow. “I came to order more brooches from Mjǫllna,” said Rarity with a blush and a giggle.

“Well, she isn’t here now,” replied Applejack, thankful that Rarity had simplified why she was there. “Her granny told me she was spending time with her coltfriend.”

Rarity let out a disappointed huff. “Well, I guess I can make the order tomorrow. Anyways, I have to go pick up my sister; the weather’s getting worse. Did Apple Bloom tell you where they were going? Sweetie Belle simply told me they were going to try and get their cutie marks.” Rarity giggled for a moment before sighing with a bit of nostalgia. “Ah, foalhood, how I miss those years.”

“Now that ya mention it,” said Applejack as she tipped her chin, “they told me they were going to Fluttershy’s to meet a new friend she made. Scootaloo told her he looked like a pretty nice fella.”

“Oh, that’s cute, in that—” Rarity stopped talking, her jaw dropping as she seemed to have realized something and stared at Applejack with wide opened eyes. “Drakkar!”

“Whatcha talking about? And why are you so shocked all of a sudden?” inquired Applejack.

“Darling, our sisters are in grave danger!”

“Hold it right there!” Applejack raised a hoof as she raised an eyebrow in confusion. “Who’s this Drakkar and why are our sisters in danger? Hope this isn’t one of your overreactions.”

“You see, Drakkar’s a… how was it, Scandineighvian? Yes, that’s it. He’s fine and calm most of the time, but if you take off the pelt he’s wearing, he gets really angry!”

“Ah don’t think mah sister’s gonna get into trouble with that, and they’re also with Fluttershy, so she’ll explain that to them, right?” said Applejack in an attempt to calm her friend.

“How often do those fillies obey when we talk to them and they’re together?” insisted Rarity, grabbing Applejack’s cheeks and getting mere inches away from her. She breathed frantically, the fresh minted scent getting deep into Applejack’s nostrils. “We must save them!”

Without giving her friend time to react, Rarity galloped towards Fluttershy’s house, and Applejack followed suit, barely able to keep up to her friend. The mud puddles they stepped on splashed noisily, covering the close surroundings with moist earth. The empty town allowed them to reach the place faster than usual, and Rarity only stopped running when the screams of the fillies were overheard from the inside of Fluttershy’s house.

“And the draugr screamed in hatred and pain,” Drakkar’s voice cried loudly enough to be heard over the frightened girls’ yells.

“Sweetie Belle!” shouted Rarity in shock, quickly changing to a furious grunt. “That monster! Applejack, come on! We have to save our sisters!” she added before galloping towards the door.

“Y-yeah, sure!” Applejack stood in thought for a moment, with her ears perked up. “That sounded familiar,” she said in a low voice. “Ah know Ah’ve heard that line somewhere before, but…” She quickly shook her head and rushed to follow Rarity.

-o-

The Cutie Mark Crusaders had heard a lot of ghost stories, especially during Nightmare Night. Tales about the Diamond Dog under the bed or the boogiepony were quite popular, though only foals found those scary anymore. Apple Bloom’s favorite story was one that Granny Smith told her often: The story of The Apple Harvester, a spirit that helped the members of the Apple family who were nice and punished those who were mean. Other than that one, she enjoyed most ghost stories. Scootaloo tended to prefer more violent tales, with murderous creatures from other worlds. On the other end of the spectrum, Sweetie Belle loved ghost stories with happy endings, where the monster redeemed itself or was released from eternal unrest.

However, Drakkar’s story was different from everything they had heard before, and it took the fillies less than a few minutes before they had to hug each other. Be it for his narrating skills as a skáld, the story itself or a combination of both, the Cutie Mark Crusaders listened to him without moving from their terrified group hug. To further soothe them, Mjǫllna wrapped them with her front hooves while still paying attention to the story.

Most monsters had weaknesses that were usually exploited to defeat them or keep them at bay: garlic repelled vampire ponies, fairies were allergic to iron and ghost didn’t disturb you as long as you didn’t desecrate their resting places in any way. The draugr, however, was practically unstoppable, and there appeared to be next to nothing that could protect them from it.

Though at first the fillies expected it to be a typical story about zombies, as the draugr was a raised corpse, they found out that it was far from the usual ones. The monster was able to walk through earth as if it was thin air, and had the strength of a stampeding bison. With powers that allowed it to control the weather itself and summon armies of undead to do its bidding, the draugr was already in the top five of the scariest monsters the fillies had ever heard about. However, Drakkar’s story was far from over, and the monster had a few extra aces under its rotten sleeves. When needed, the draugr could change its size, becoming so large that even Celestia would look like a newborn filly in comparison. It also had shapeshifting powers, as Drakkar narrated during the story: the monster turned into a cat and lay down on its victim’s chest on his sleep, only to increase in size to suffocate him.

Whenever the draugr cried for revenge, storm clouds thundered, the horrifying echo of incoming doom for those who stood on its way. Nature seemed to conspire with Drakkar’s storytelling, for every time he spoke the monster’s lines with a guttural and horrifying growl, a peal of thunder accompanied him, making the tale much more shocking. Everything was a huge coincidence, but the young fillies, and even Mjǫllna, really found themselves thinking for a few moments that Drakkar could bend the weather to his will to help him tell the story.

“And Gjǫf ran to his house on the hill,
His strength hastily fading away.
He slammed the door closed behind him,
Blocking the monster from coming his way.
But the mighty daugrinn knew he was there,
Thus, his fate was written, that he could tell
As the creature shattered the door with a blow
And the name of its victim he came to yell!”

“Sweetie Belle!” cried Rarity as she blasted the door open, followed by a thunder outside.

The three fillies screamed in abject horror and jumped behind Drakkar, and Mjǫllna hopped on him, wrapping her front legs around his neck and her weight resting on his lap. As for him, the unexpected visit left him lacking breath for the shock that caused him to fall on his haunches.

“It’s the draugr!” shouted Sweetie Belle, hugging Drakkar’s back. “It’s come to get us!”

“No… it’s not the daugr, it’s just … it’s just Rarity,” said Drakkar slowly between inhales, noticing how the other four ponies clinging to him trembled. “By Tyr’s severed hoof, what’s wrong with you?!” he asked Rarity as he gestured with his hoof making circles next to his head.

“With me? You ask if something’s wrong with me? How dare you harm my little sister?” Rarity walked towards him, stomping noisily every step she took, making Drakkar lean back as she got in his face.

“But sister, Drakkar wasn’t—”

“Not now, Sweetie Belle, the grownups are talking,” interjected Rarity as calmly as her current anger allowed her before returning to her scolding. “You’re a horrible pony who takes advantage of innocent fillies to hurt her older sister! A brutish ruffian with crude attire, not worthy of the lowest class imaginable! A—”

“Rarity, listen to me! We were just—” tried to say Sweetie Belle, but Rarity raised her hoof without looking at her.

“Rarity, please calm down!” exclaimed Mjǫllna as she removed herself from Drakkar’s embrace and stepped between both ponies.

“Take care of the fillies,” said Drakkar, looking over Mjǫllna’s shoulder to check the girls behind them. The sound of hooves against the stones in the path outside the house called his attention and tried to walk past Rarity to see who was coming.

“Pay attention to me, you… you savage!” yelled Rarity as she pushed Drakkar with her hoof.

Drakkar stared at Rarity with a shocked expression for a moment, only to change slowly to a frown.

“We were telling ghost stories!” cried Sweetie Belle as fast as she could to avoid getting interrupted again.

Rarity turned to her sister, pointing at her with her hoof and keeping the angry tone this time. “Sweetie Belle, I told you not to—” It look a moment for Sweetie Belle’s sentence to sink in, but when it did, Rarity’s courage and anger changed in the blink of an eye to confusion. “W-what did you just say? Ghost stories?”

“Yeah, that’s why we were screaming,” replied Sweetie Belle.

“Yeah, he’s really good at telling scary stories,” seconded Scootaloo with a nod.

“Uh, girls? Ah don’t like the look on Drakkar’s face,” said Apple Bloom while pointing at the stallion.

As Drakkar’s horn shone fiercely, he let out a guttural, bear-like growl that made Rarity shrink and cower. Her ears fell down and she shook at the imposing sight in front of her. For every step forward Drakkar took, Rarity walked back two.

“I-I-I’m terribly sorry!” said Rarity as she shrank when she reached the wall. “I-I was worried about my sister!”

“I refuse to accept your apologies this time,” replied Drakkar through his gritted teeth.

“Drakkar, bíð!” shouted Mjǫllna, resting a hoof on his chest. At that moment, Applejack got to the front door, only to raise an eyebrow in confusion at whatever was going on. “Eigi gjør þat!”

Drakkar turned to see Mjǫllna, who was still breathing raggedly after the fright. “Ek heiða villan hjá henni,” replied Drakkar, tilting his head at Rarity.

“Ek veit. Rarity, get behind me!” ordered Mjǫllna. Rarity obliged without a second thought, galloping behind her. When Drakkar was about to follow Rarity, Mjǫllna stood between them, keeping eye contact with him, a defying stare that shocked him.

“Hvi verndar þú hanna?” asked Drakkar, his anger getting overwhelmed by the surprise of the moment.

“Af þeim,” replied Mjǫllna, pointing at the three fillies next to them.

Drakkar turned to see the Cutie Mark Crusaders staring at him with frightened eyes, making his heart sink. When he looked back at Mjǫllna, her challenging eyes slowly changed to pleading ones.

“Ek bað þík,” begged Mjǫllna tenderly, resting her hoof on his shoulder. “Þú ert eigi sem þenna.”

With a long huff, Drakkar looked at the doorway. “Ek vil fara.”

Mjǫllna stepped aside, letting Drakkar trot away and leave Fluttershy’s house. She stood motionless for a while, her head lowered in regret. As soon as Drakkar left the place, Rarity slowly got up, rubbing the dust out of her fur.

“Can somepony please explain what in tarnation just happened?” asked Applejack, scratching her head in confusion under her Stetson hat.

“Wow, Mjǫllna, you’re amazing!” cheered Scootaloo with a grin, only to have it slowly fade away as Mjǫllna didn’t move from her position.

“Applejack, we’ve spent the day playing Scandineighvian games with Drakkar,” explained Apple Bloom. “And when it started to rain, we came here and told ghost stories.”

“And now we won’t know how the story about the ghost of the fjord ends,” complained Sweetie Belle before turning to her sister.

Applejack hit her head with a hoof. “Of course! Now Ah remember!”

“Remember what, Applejack?” asked Apple Bloom.

“Ah heard Drakkar shout something when you screamed, and Ah was sure Ah had heard it before, but wasn’t sure where or when,” she explained. “Granny Smith told us that when she was a filly, during the founding of Ponyville, a mare in armor came to the town. She was pregnant and spoke basic Equestrian with a strong accent. Ponyville welcomed her here and helped her raise her filly. In return, she taught us things about her former land and told us stories about them. Granny Smith told us some parts of the story when Big Mac ‘n Ah were younger.” Applejack shrugged with a weak smile, and noticed how Mjǫllna paid attention to every word she said. “But she always told us that she couldn’t tell the story as that mare did, because she chanted the tale as if it was a poem, with rhyming and all.”

“Yeah, I noticed the rhymes in the story,” said Sweetie Belle with a wide grin. “It was amazing!”

“It might be the same story, then,” replied Applejack with a nod.

Sweetie Belle turned to her now confused sister, who was turning to stare at everypony who spoke, looking like an spectator in a tennis match. “Rarity, why did you storm inside in such a state anyway?”

“I-I thought you were in trouble,” stuttered Rarity, still nervous after the incident.

“But the day was completely awesome until you came here and began insulting him,” replied Scootaloo with a shrug. “During the whole time, he watched over us playing, making sure we didn’t get hurt.”

“Ah think we should go home now,” said Apple Bloom to her sister. There was a odd feeling in the house, as if something was about to happen. Mjǫllna still stood motionless on the spot, but she seemed to be holding back. “That story was longer than Ah thought, and it’s a bit late. Scootaloo, you want Applejack and Ah to take you home?” offered Apple Bloom.

“Yeah, thanks.” Scootaloo’s ears perked up at the sound of a loud roar, far away from them. “What’s that?”

As it resounded through the forest, Mjǫllna turned her head quickly towards the window and galloped to it. Resting her hoof on the wooden wall, she stared with sorrowful eyes through it. Under one of the trees, Drakkar’s horn shone brightly in the slight darkness as his cries of anger and sorrow turned into bear roars. “Drakkar,” whispered Mjǫllna with her forehead resting on the windowsill.

“Miss Mjǫllna,” called Sweetie Belle, slowly approaching the mare. “Is Drakkar going to be okay?”

The young filly’s deeply concerned voice made Mjǫllna smile tenderly. Turning to look at her, she caressed her forehead. “I’ll talk to him, I’m sure he’ll be fine. He just needs some time to calm down.” She turned to meet Rarity, and the fury in Mjǫllna’s eyes made her back up. “As for you, Rarity, you’ll have to look for a new blacksmith to craft your brooches. I refuse to take a single order from you again.”

Rarity’s jaw dropped and her eyes widened. “B-b-but Mjǫllna, I need the brooches for my dresses! I have to finish my designs before the Grand Galloping Gala! I simply need those brooches!”

“That’s not my problem anymore,” said Mjǫllna with a frown. “We Scandineighvians are proud ponies with a rich and ancient culture. We are not savages!” Rarity’s ears drooped as Mjǫllna scolded her, getting angrier as she kept shouting “We have centuries old traditions of poets who sing the tales of warriors who fight to defend our lands and bring honor to their families, ancestors and descendants! Just because we’re different from whatever you do or wear, does that mean we’re not to be trusted? In that case, we’re done!” With those words, and a quick nod towards Applejack, she left Fluttershy’s house at a slow trot.

“Applejack,” called Rarity from her spot. “Can you take Sweetie Belle home for me? I’m not feeling well right now, and the fact that I have to look for another blacksmith isn’t helping.”

“Sure, sugarcube,” said Applejack as she grabbed her hat and pressed it against her chest.

Fluttershy, who had stayed hidden in the upper floor horrified at the scene, slowly walked down the stairs. “I’m sorry, Rarity. I was too scared, and he looked so huge.”

“No, it’s okay, Fluttershy. It’s my fault.” Rarity turned to look at Fluttershy with a forced smile, then threw herself heavily on the couch with her eyes focused on Applejack. “I’ll go to see Twilight tomorrow. She’s been to Canterlot, I’m sure she knows a smithy I can make orders to.”

“Good idea,” said Applejack with a nod as she put her hat back on. “Ah’ll tell mah cousin Braeburn at Appleoosa, they may have somepony there too.”

“Thank you, Applejack. I’m going to stay here for a while, if that’s okay with you, Fluttershy.”

“Oh, certainly,” said Fluttershy. “You can even spend the night here if you want to. Drakkar sleeps outside anyways.”

“No,” replied Rarity with a defeated voice as she sat up on the couch. “If he’s staying here, I don’t think I should be here.”

“Would you like a cup of tea to calm down?” offered Fluttershy.

“That’d be lovely, darling, thanks.”

-o-

It didn’t take long for Mjǫllna to find Drakkar, for he hadn’t moved from the place she spotted him while looking through the window. The stallion had his head resting against a tree trunk and his left hoof lifted mud as he kicked the ground.

“Drakkar?” said Mjǫllna from behind him, keeping a tender voice. “It’s okay.”

“She called me brutish, crude,” growled Drakkar without turning back at her. “Savage.” He spoke the last word with a guttural remark.

“You aren’t any of those things, Drakkar.” She took a step forward, trying not to make noise. “Rarity speaks due to her ignorance. Though it is true that you reacted violently in front of her, but—”

“She came to the smithy to apologize,” interjected Drakkar with a huff. “We had supposedly made up after that.”

“She doesn’t know you, Drakkar. She hasn’t seen you playing with your pet Gullin, nor how your eyes brighten when you speak of the frozen land of Scandineighvia.” She took another step closer. “She hasn’t enjoyed an evening at Sugarcube Corner, having a milkshake with you,” she added playfully. When she heard Drakkar snorting at her last comment, she smiled in relief. “I know you, and I can assure you that you’re not brutish, crude or even savage.”

Drakkar kept silent for a moment before speaking again. “You have great confidence in your words.”

“Because you and I are Scandineighvians at heart,” replied Mjǫllna as she took another step forward and rested her hoof on his shoulder. “If you’re a savage, that makes me a savage too.”

“You’re not a savage!” When Drakkar turned around to look at her, his muzzle was mere inches away from hers.

“Then neither are you, Hoofcarl Drakkar,” she insisted with an approving nod.

Drakkar looked away from her, shaking his head slowly. “I still don’t feel comfortable with this.”

“I’m not asking you to forgive her now,” said Mjǫllna, pulling up his face to look at him in the eyes. “Give her time. I talked to her before coming for you. She knows she’s made a mistake.”

“What about the other mare?” asked Drakkar, his voice recovering his neutral tone little by little.

“I guess you mean Apple Bloom’s sister, Applejack.” He nodded as much as Mjǫllna’s hoof allowed him. “She didn’t know you at all, so she was worried about her sister.”

“I understand that,” said Drakkar, tilting his head. ”I have a sister myself, though she’s older than me.”

“Applejack had heard Rarity’s version, and now she also knows the fillies’. I don’t consider it appropriate for you to you judge her because she was biased due to Rarity’s stories. However, I’d recommend you try to tone it down a bit next time we hang around with the fillies.”

Drakkar snorted softly at her comment. “The games or the ghost stories?”

“I’d go with both just in case,” she replied with a wink. “Ponies here aren’t used to the rugged competitions and playing we have in Scandineighvia.”

“They handled themselves well for being inexperienced at those games,” said Drakkar with a tilt of his head. “But I’ll tone it down next time.”

Mjǫllna nodded with a grin as Drakkar returned to his normal self again. ”Come on, the rain almost stopped, and my mom and granny would surely be wondering where I am.”

-o-

Save for both ponies discussing the events involving the day with the Cutie Mark Crusaders, the walk to Mjǫllna’s home was uneventful. The streets were devoid of ponies because of the rain, even though it had stopped a while ago. Small, muddy puddles had formed in the streets. Most establishments, due to it being so late, were already closed and some of the inhabitants who had to wake up earlier than the rest had already gone to sleep. Soon, they arrived at Mjǫllna’s house, resting for a moment at the door.

“Well, that was a long day,” said Mjǫllna playfully as she rested sideways on her door. “You can come tomorrow a bit later if you want, considering that I have no orders left.”

“About that,” interjected Drakkar, “are you sure this is a good idea? If Rarity’s one of your best customers, banning her from making orders is really counterproductive.”

“I’ll find another way, don’t worry about it. Our Scandineighvian pride goes before everything else,” she added with a wink.

“Speaking as a soldier, I have to agree with you, but this is a different matter.” Drakkar shook his head slightly with his ears lowered. “You might starve if you don’t find enough customers to compensate Rarity’s loss.”

“I really appreciate your concern, Drakkar, but I’ve always been able to survive no matter how few orders I got.” After Mjǫllna’s statement came an awkward silence where neither of them moved from there. “Well, I guess I’ll get inside,” she finally said, turning around to open the door.

Drakkar’s eyes widened as he seemed to have remembered something. “No, wait!” he cried, raising his hoof.

Mjǫllna cried a silent ‘yes!’ before turning around, trying her best not to look anxious. “Yes, Drakkar? What is it?”

“I… I’ve been working on something for you. With the Cutie Mark Crusaders around I didn’t have time,” he said as he looked aside bashfully, scratching his head under his long mane, “and after the incident with Rarity, I almost forgot about it, but I just remembered.”

Mjǫllna look at him with a raised eyebrow, nodding gently. “Alright, I’m listening.”

Drakkar slowly cleared his throat before taking a step forward, getting closer to her, which made her put her haunch against the door. Being so close and alone for a change, and with certainty about what was going to happen, a snicker slipped through Mjǫllna’s lips. Though she closed her eyes expecting a kiss, Drakkar spoke in their mother language.

“Múspells eldarnir sem
Jǫkull kenna næstr til
Míns hjarta er ek sé
Þik, frið sem Frejya, ok
Með hári sem Sifar.
Segj Þú mik elskr, ok ek
Mun Valhǫll eigi leit.
Samam munnum erum.”

Drakkar finished the poem with a broad smile, and was received by a speechless Mjǫllna. His joy slowly faded away as she stood there without moving even a muscle. If not for her chest going up and down, she could’ve been mistaken for a statue. However, after a moment, her face began to change to an intense red.

“Drakkar…” she was able to say at last.

Before she could finish the sentence a light from inside the house switched on, and Granny Vínviðr called in a low voice. “Mjǫllna, is that you?”

With an exasperated huff, Drakkar raised his front hooves in anger. “By Sif’s golden mane, why can’t we have some peaceful time together without somepony ruining it?”

“Oh, no, not this time!” replied Mjǫllna. Without a giving him a chance to react, she grabbed Drakkar’s cheeks and pulled him towards her, giving him a passionate kiss. Once Drakkar was able to realize what was happening, he joyfully closed his eyes and grabbed Mjǫllna by the waist, and then stood on his hind legs while lifting her from the ground. With a surprised giggle that broke the first kiss, Mjǫllna let his cheeks go and threw her forehooves around his neck, slipping them beneath his mane, tenderly biting his lower lip and wrapping her tail around his waist as though it were a belt.

The window’s house opened and Vínviðr gasped at the scene, covering her mouth with a hoof. When Mjǫllna noticed, she tapped Drakkar’s lips with the tip of her hoof before turning at the door.

“Granny Vínviðr, this is Drakkar,” she said hastily as Drakkar nodded with her hoof still on his lips. “Drakkar, this is my grandmother Vínviðr.” She stretched her front leg to reach the window. “We’re a bit busy right now and would appreciate some privacy. We’ll talk tomorrow, I promise.” Without letting her grandmother react aside from a surprised nod, Mjǫllna closed the window with a loud thud, and then turned back to Drakkar with lavish eyes. “Now, back to what we were doing.” In the blink of an eye, Mjǫllna pushed herself towards Drakkar with such passion that he lost his balance and fell on his back, yet neither cared about it. Both were entangled in each other’s legs, and the deep kiss that had locked them together lasted for as long as their breath allowed them to.

Mjǫllna slowly separated her lips from Drakkar’s, the tip of her hoof gently caressing his strong chest. “This compensates for that one that Scootaloo ruined for us. And there’s much more where that came from.” She got up and stood over him while he gazed at her with a wide grin and ragged breathing. As she spoke, she turned around, and caressed his body with the tip of her tail while walking towards the door. “We’ll continue tomorrow. And don’t worry, we will find privacy. I’ll make sure of it.”

Author's Note:

Here you have the translations of the dialogue between Mjǫllna and Drakkar
-"Drakkar, wait! Don't do it!"
-"She called me savage"
-"I know."
-"Why do you protect her?"
-"For them."
-"I beg you. You're not like this."
-"I want to go."

As for the poem, here you have the translated version:

The fires of Muspellheim like
a glacier feel next to
my heart when I see
you, beautiful like Freya and
with hair like Sif’s. Say
you love me and I won’t
seek Valhǫll.
We will be together