• 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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Brodr at hjarta

Brøðr at hjarta (Brothers at heart)

At Canterlot Castle, Celestia witnessed how Luna raised the Moon and placed the stars in the sky. Since her return, and despite how tired she was every day, she never missed that moment, enjoying every single time she watched her younger sister work, masterfully painting the dark blue canvas with fine white orbs. It was relaxing and also comforting, a statement that Luna had returned to her side, and the times of Nightmare Moon were no more.

“A marvelous work of art as usual, my sister,” congratulated Celestia, slowly walking next to her as both princesses contemplated with satisfied smiled the starry heaven.

“We appreciate thy words, sister,” replied Luna with a regal tone, yet beaming all the while. “Thou shouldst rest now that we’re done. A new day awaits thee when our night comes to an end.”

“Indeed,” she admitted with a soft huff. “I should go see Cadance and Shining Armor to see how thing are going at the Crystal Empire. There haven’t been reports since they defeated Sombra.”

“No news is good news, we presume,” replied Luna with a shrug. “It wouldn’t hurt to ask them, though. We shalt make sure that a chariot will be ready for thee by the time thou wakest up.”

“Thank you, sister. I will go to sleep for today. I leave Equestria in your hooves.”

“We’re afraid that thou shalt stay here for a bit longer,” said Luna with a joyful smile as she pointed at some sparkling green smoke that moved towards them, entering through the balcony.

Celestia turned around to see how the smoke turned into a sealed parchment. “Twilight doesn’t write letters this late,” she said with a raised eyebrow as she magically unsealed and unrolled the message. “Dear Princess Celestia,” she started, “today I’ve met a Scandineighvian pony, who goes—”

Luna’s ears perked up as she suddenly turned to face her sister, staring at her with widened eyes. “Scandineighvian? Really? Please, sister, let us read it!” she pleaded, flying behind her and trying to read over her sister’s shoulder. At Luna’s persistence, Celestia gently offered the parchment to her, to which he reacted by grabbing it with both hooves and flying higher in the air. “It’s true, a Scandineighvian pony, and a hoofcarl, no less! We haven’t seen one of these since our previous visit to the Frozen North. Dost thou remember it, sister?” asked Luna with a wistful smile?.

“How could I forget?” replied Celestia with a chuckle. “They mistook us for the gods of the Day and Night and made a large feast in our honor.”

“Hrim-Faxi and Skin-Faxi they called us,” said Luna, giggling at the memory as she slowly flew down to the ground. “And now one of them is here, in Equestria, interacting with our subjects!”

“It is indeed an oddity,” admitted Celestia as she looked down the balcony. “Sightings of Scandineighvian ponies occur rarely, once every few decades, but they mostly avoid talking to other ponies. Why one of them decided to change that is something I don’t know.”

“What if he’s a diplomat that wants to discuss an alliance between Equestria and Scandineighvia?” inquired Luna, resting both hooves on the marble supports.

Celestia noticed her sister’s hopeful eyes as she spoke. “It’s a possibility; I’m not going to deny that. If he’s interacting with our subjects, he might be interested. However,” she added, making Luna look at her, her smile slowly fading, “we can’t simply give our trust to the first pony who comes from a different kingdom.” Celestia stared at the horizon, trying not to look at her sister for fear of losing objectivity at Luna’s sad gaze. “You know as well as I do that Equestria has gone through difficult times. We were able to defeat Chrysalis and Sombra, but new threats might come from everywhere.”

“Precisely because of that, sister,” interjected Luna, “Equestria must find new allies in these dark times, and if this hoofcarl comes in peace, why shouldn’t we at least consider the possibility?”

Celestia closed her eyes, slowly lowering her head. “I remember Scandineighvians being imposing warriors, and their magic was something worth witnessing, yes.”

“Oh, we know!” cried Luna, flapping her wings out of joy. “We remember when those unicorns summoned those columns of fire at the festival they made in our honor.”

Celestia smiled, chuckling tenderly as she opened her eyes and looked at her sister. “They were quite noisy with all the shouting.”

With a loud laugh, Luna nodded at her sister’s comment. “Considering that such magic is mostly used to support infantry in the battlefield, we assume that lack of discretion isn’t an issue. We still remember a few spells they taught us back then.”

“You sure hold Scandineighvia in a special place in your heart, sister,” commented Celestia with a concerned tone.

Luna walked towards one of the walls, leaning on it as she looked forward, staring at nothing in particular and remaining silent for a bit, simply replying to her sister with a nod. Celestia approached her slowly as Luna sighed sorrowfully. “Scandineighvia was the first place where ponies celebrated our night. They danced and sang under the stars, chanting eddas that described the dark skies with wonderful words. They cheered us for our work like nopony in Equestria had ever done before.” Luna looked at her sister with a weak smile that contrasted with her mournful eyes. “For the first time, we felt what thou must feel every day, when everypony in Equestria greets thy days.”

“I understand,” said Celestia, draping a comforting wing around her sister. “We both had a very fun time there.” She tried to cheer her sister up with the good parts of their trip, but her efforts were to no avail.

“During our banishment,” continued Luna, returning her attention to Equestria as memories seemed to return to her, “we remembered thee, but also the frozen lands of the North. Thinking of what we did there, and how much we enjoyed our time there, was heartwarming, and one of the few things that kept us from becoming completely consumed by Nightmare Moon.”

“Now things have changed, sister,” assured Celestia, resting her forehead on her Luna’s. “Ponies in Equestria have learned to love your night. They also admire you, especially at Nightmare Night.” With a chuckle, she slowly moved away, slowly caressing her sister’s mane with her wing’s feathers. “I still remember what you told me about scaring those fillies and colts transforming into Nightmare Moon.”

Luna couldn’t hold back a giggle at the memory. “We still think we went a bit out of hoof there, but everypony loved it.”

“If you think that this…” Celestia magically pulled the parchment, swiftly skimming through the letter searching for the stallion’s name. ”Drakkar, would be eager to discuss possible diplomatic relationships between our kingdoms?” Luna looked at her sister showing the widest grin, and Celestia replied back with a smile as she rolled the parchment. “However,” she continued while turning around and walking towards her room, “we must seek Equestria’s well-being in the first place. We can’t afford ourselves to be biased in our decisions. I’ll send a chariot of Royal Guards to question him about his intentions.”

At her sister’s words, Luna’s ears perked up. “About that, we think that sending Shining Armor might be a better idea.”

Celestia stood motionless on the spot for a short while before turning to her sister with a raised eyebrow. “Sister, that’s going a bit too far,” she replied patiently. “Even if he’s a diplomat, sending the prince of the Crystal Empire is going overboard. Royal Guards would do just fine.”

“Sister, please, let us explain,” insisted Luna. Though Celestia showed a slightly annoyed grimace, she obliged with a nod. “Thou rememberest that Scandineighvians have a long military tradition. We consider that our former captain of the Royal Guard, who forced the changelings away from Equestria and helped defeat King Sombra, will be more highly regarded by him than any of the other soldiers. Besides,” she added as she moved her hoof forward, “if Shining Armor comes here, he can tell us about how everything’s going in the Crystal Empire.”

“So Drakkar might consider Shining Armor as an equal, experience-wise,” replied Celestia, slowly tapping her chin.

“Which would surely make him more eager to give away anything we need for the negotiations,” added Luna with a gracious smile.

“You have a point, my dear sister,” she admitted. “And having Shining Armor here to tell us about the progresses they’re making there would put some stress away.” With regal composure, Celestia offered the rolled up parchment to her sister. “Very well, send a chariot to the Crystal Empire. The pegasus Royal Guards will act as Shining Armor’s escort. You seem to remember more about Scandineighvia than I do, so give them everything you think that will help them. I trust you for this task,” she added with a confraternal smile. “One thing, though, sister.”

“We know,” interjected Luna, “We shall not be biased.”

-o-

After Mjǫllna left to return home, Drakkar had barely been able to move, walking clumsily towards Harry the Bear and falling asleep almost instantly by his side. As the first light of the sun bathed Equestria, Drakkar shut his eyes tightly, turning around and burying his head under Harry’s foreleg with a disgruntled groan. The gesture woke the bear up, who stood up with a long yawn and moved away, walking towards the trough. Grunting in anger as he covered his eyes with his hooves, he rolled under the tree to avoid direct sunlight. He slowly opened his eyes under the safe shadow the branches and leaves offered.

Aside from slightly sore eyes and a mild headache, he found himself not as awful as he expected to wake up, though he felt like he could use a couple extra hours of sleep.

“I should’ve asked Fluttershy to sleep inside this time,” complained Drakkar as he massaged his forehead. “The sunlight isn’t doing me any good.”

Gullin, who was sleeping close to him as he usually did, woke up at the sound of Drakkar’s voice, and began running around him with squeals of joy. Because they hadn’t played the previous day, the little wild boar was overly ecstatic, jumping on his chest and then down to the floor. The animal’s shows of affection helped Drakkar to get slightly better, snorting as he grabbed Gullin in a tender hug.

“Good morning to you too, little one,” greeted Drakkar, laughing as Gullin tickled him with his muzzle while oinking playfully. With some effort, he sat up on the grass leaning his back on the tree trunk, keeping Gullin wrapped around his fore legs like a foal. “I need you to go and get Fluttershy. She told me last night about a medicine for when I got up.” With a slow grunt and a painful grimace, he got a hoof on his head, which made Gullin react with a worried squeal. “Check if she’s awake and tell her to bring the medicine.”

Without a moment to lose, Gullin jumped out of Drakkar’s forelegs and darted towards Fluttershy’s cottage, scratching the door to call her attention. It didn’t take long for Fluttershy to open the door, letting Gullin in as she held a yawn.

“Oh, hello, Gullin,” greeted Fluttershy with half-closed eyes, following the little animal with her head. “I’m preparing your breakfast, so don’t worry, you’ll be able to eat in a moment.” However, Gullin shook his head, pushing Fluttershy outside. Though he wasn’t strong enough to move her, Fluttershy stepped forward, getting out of the cottage to see what he wanted, tripping a couple times but never falling to the ground. “What’s wrong, Gullin?” When the animal pointed at Drakkar, Fluttershy’s eyes widened as she remembered. “Oh, he’s up now! I’ll go make the medicine!”

As she darted inside again, Gullin sighed in relief, trotting towards Drakkar and resting by his side. Once Harry finished drinking, he also sat next to him, growling lowly by way of greeting. Keeping the volume down, they were able to talk for a few minutes until Fluttershy returned. After a short while, she slowly flew outside of the cottage, holding a small tray that held a bowl with what appeared to be a scalding infusion.

“Good morning, Drakkar,” said Fluttershy, tenderly offering him the tray. “I know it might be a bit hot, but this would help you recover.”

“Thank you, Fluttershy.” Drakkar slowly grabbed the bowl, pulling the hooves back at the scalding touch with a loud grunt. “By Sif’s golden mane, where did you bring this from, Múspelheimr?” complained Drakkar as he shook his hooves.

“Um… no?” asked Fluttershy with a confused stare. “I made it in the kitchen. Here, let me blow it so it cools down a bit.” She leaned forward and began blowing tenderly, almost letting out whistles when she did, letting a long yawn finish the cooling. She covered her face with a wing in the blink of an eye. “I’m sorry, I-I-I haven’t been able to get some sleep.” Without looking at him, she offered him the tray. “There, it should be better now. If you don’t want to burn your hooves, you might want to use your magic to lift it.”

With a quick nod, Drakkar magically levitated the bowl close to his muzzle and gave it a small sip, showing an exaggerated grimace of both pain due to the still hot beverage and disgust for the awful flavor. “This tastes like the eitr of Jǫrmungandr.”

“I… guess that’s a bad thing.” Fluttershy’s ears drooped and she lowered her head. “I’m sorry, but I can’t change the flavor of my medicines.”

“No need to worry; medicine usually tastes bad, probably to make sure you won’t get sick again,” said Drakkar before bursting into laughter. He looked through the other of his eye to see that the comment had drawn a smile on Fluttershy’s face, which slightly relieved him. Taking a deep breath, he took another longer sip, showing again the same disgusted grimaces, but at least it wasn’t scalding hot anymore. “How’s Rainbow Dash, by the way?” he asked with concern. “She looked like she will need this more than me,” he said as she raised the bowl.

“Oh, well, we stayed with her until very late,” explained Fluttershy, sitting next to him. “Poor Dash, she spent almost an hour in the bathroom. I was so relieved when she was able to get some sleep.” As she finished speaking, Fluttershy massaged her forehead, leaning on the tree.

“You seem like you could use some too,” replied Drakkar as he finished the medicine, shaking his head violently at the horrendous taste shortly afterwards. “Didn’t you sleep last night?”

“I… I couldn’t,” admitted Fluttershy, looking down with her eyes almost closed. “I’m so worried about Rainbow Dash that I can’t even take a nap. I know Applejack’s taking care of her, but I need to see her perfectly fine to be calmed enough to get some sleep.”

“Why don’t you go to her place then?” asked Drakkar as he left the bowl and tray next to her. “If worry’s keeping you from sleeping, you should go check if she’s doing fine.” When he finished speaking the sentence, he slowly tapped the bowl. “Take the ingredients for the medicine with you; if she isn’t completely recovered, she should take it.”

“But you need somepony too,” insisted Fluttershy, resting a hoof on his shoulder. “Rainbow Dash needs me, but you’re also sick.”

“Fluttershy, this is far from the worst hangover I’ve gone through,” replied Drakkar with a laugh. “Besides, this medicine of yours would have me back to normal in no time. Rainbow Dash needs your assistance more than me.”

“Are you sure? I can bring you something else if you feel worse.” Fluttershy got up and took off, but Drakkar raised a hoof to interrupt her.

“I’m fine, Fluttershy, I don’t need anything.” After a short pause, his eyes widened for a brief moment as something seemed to come to mind. “Actually I do need something.”

“Sure, Drakkar, what is it?” asked Fluttershy as she slowly flapped towards her cottage. “A bath? Some food?”

To her surprise, though, Drakkar pointed at Harry, who looked at him with an equally dumbfounded expression. “I need to borrow your friend for a few minutes, if you don’t mind.”

“Harry? Why do you need him?” asked Fluttershy, the side effects from sleep deprivation momentarily fading away.

“I want to show Mjǫllna something I learned at home,” he said, slowly getting up and walking towards the bear.

“Well, I guess I don’t mind, but Harry must be okay with it too,” said Fluttershy. “Okay, I’m going to get the ingredients for the medicine and go to Sweet Apple Acres. You can talk to Harry about whatever you have in mind.”

“It’s okay, Fluttershy, I’m not going to cause harm to him,” assured Drakkar, slowly scratching behind Harry’s ear, to which the animal replied with a pleased growl.

After letting out another long yawn, Fluttershy slowly nodded. “Alright then, I’m going to get the things. See you tonight, then.”

Once she got into the cottage, Drakkar turned to Harry with a wide grin. “Harry, I know this sounds crazy, but I need your help to win a bet with Mjǫllna.” The bear’s ears perked up as he listened to the stallion with interest. “Okay, my ursine friend, this is what I need you to do.”

-o-

Following Vínviðr’s advice, Mjǫllna began working on the molds for the brooches while the forge heated up. Rarity had left the paper with the order there, which helped to make sure that the order would be ready before the deadline. Without hesitation, she darted to one of the shelves and took two small hollow wooden frames and a bag of clay. Taking a decent amount of it, she began reading Rarity’s note, carefully shaping it to resemble what was requested. Fortunately, the brooches she wanted were far from being extremely detailed, but they had very delicate parts that should be handed carefully during the molding process to avoid damaging them.

Ponyville was far from a town that needed blacksmiths, so earning a living as one was frustratingly hard. Canterlot had its own blacksmiths who took care of crafting and repairing the Royal Guards’ equipment, so Mjǫllna’s family had to focus in different specialties. At first, she didn’t want to learn jewelcrafting, but she grudgingly obliged in the end. Far from being her favorite practice, she knew that there was money there, and if they wanted to keep paying the bills, expanding their offer was a must. Mjǫllna ended up tolerating the art of crafting brooches and other decorative stuff, but she still felt out of her element regardless. She could spend thrice the time inscribing complex relieves or runes of any kind in armors and weapons, and she’d love every second of it. Doing the same thing in a piece of ornamental metal, however, felt tedious and frustrating, despite the patterns being much easier.

As she was about to start cooking the pattern, a strange shadow fell upon her. When she looked up, she took a few steps back when she recognized the royal chariot being pulled by two pegasus Royal Guards. From her place it was hard to identify whoever was on the vehicle, but she was able to when they maneuvered and landed close to her house. Both guards detached themselves from the chariot, saluting at Shining Armor as he stepped down. Mjǫllna reacted by putting everything aside and bowing, her forehead barely touching the floor.

“Pri-Prince Shining Armor,” stuttered Mjǫllna without looking up. “What brings you to my humble workshop?”

“You must be Mjǫllna,” said Shining Armor magnanimously, gesturing with his hoof upwards. “Please, such formalities aren’t necessary. We’ve come here because we know that somepony called Drakkar comes here on a daily basis.”

Mjǫllna’s ears perked up, her face changing from awe to fear in the blink of an eye. “Is he okay? What has happened? Why are you looking for him?”

Shining Armor stared at the mare with concern, noticing the worry she showed for the stallion. “He hasn’t done anything wrong; his presence here is a rare precedent, and the Princesses are interested in talking to him.”

With a long, relieved sigh, Mjǫllna recovered her composure and smiled weakly. “Well, if that’s all, he should be here soon. Do you need anything while you wait? Some water, maybe?”

“Thanks, but no thanks,” replied Shining Armor with a shake of his hoof. “If he’s going to be here in a moment, we won’t be here for long. If you don’t mind, could you talk about this Drakkar? We only know the fact that he’s Scandineighvian and a hoofcarl, which, according to Princess Luna, seems to be a military rank of some sorts.”

“Oh, of course, Prince Shining Armor, anything you need!” Mjǫllna looked at the clay-filled wooden frames through the corner of the eye, resting next to the pattern she had created. “Well, he’s a fairly large unicorn stallion, maybe a little bit taller than you, your majesty. He’s very athletic, and a skilled wrestler; I experienced that first-hoof,” she added with a giggle, to both guard’s surprise, who looked at each other through the corner of the eye. “His voice sounds like the coals burning at a forge, with a long, blonde mane that waves in the wind when he gallops.” She slowly bit her lip in anticipation as she remembered Drakkar. “And by Celestia does he have an amazing—”

Shining Armor cleared his throat loudly in order to interrupt Mjǫllna. “I think that’s enough. I’m sure we don’t need to hear anything else.“

”As you wish, your majesty,” she replied with a bow. “I was just talking about his appetite, though,” she added with a giggle. “You should’ve seen him at Sugarcube Corner; a living, bottomless pit!”

“Well, you said he should be here any minute now,” he said before the sound of screaming ponies reached their position. The four ponies’ ears perked up. “Guards, get in position!” ordered Shining Armor. Both pegasi extended their wings as they prepared to take off and charge forward. “Mjǫllna, get inside! We’ll take care of this.”

As she galloped towards the door, a roar resounded across the street, which made her grin widely. “That’s him!”

“Who?” asked Shining Armor.

“Cap… Captain?” called one of the guards. When Shining Armor turned to face him, the pegasus’ wings had lowered, and his face was frozen in sheer terror. “You… you have to see this,” he added, taking a step back, followed by his fellow guard.

“What are you talking about?” After asking the question, Shining Armor looked at the direction the guards were looking at, and his jaw dropped at the impossible scene. “What in Equestria…”

“Gef grið eigi!” shouted Drakkar ferociously from the distance.

The giant unicorn was riding Harry through the streets of Ponyville, though both were trying their best to avoid the ponies that were walking across it. Despite this, most bystanders galloped for their lives at the sight of the fearsome bear rider. Those that remained in their houses, however, as well as those that Drakkar passed, remained in a safe place watching the situation, completely befuddled. During a moment, Harry stopped running, standing on his hind legs and roaring to the sky, to which Drakkar reacted by using his own magic to roar at the same time, holding as tightly as possible to avoid falling.

“Sweet Celestia!” cried Mjǫllna, gasping in awe. “Drakkar!”

As she galloped towards the bear-riding stallion, Shining Armor was still staring at the scene, slowly coming back to his senses. “Did… did she just call him Drakkar? That is the pony we’ve come for?”

“The Princess didn’t tell us anything about this,” said one of the guards, doing his best to regain his composure.

“She did tell us that he would cooperate,” insisted Shining Armor in an attempt to calm the guards down. “Let me do the talking here.”

“Drakkar, I’m here!” called Mjǫllna as she galloped towards him.

“Hop on!” said Drakkar, stretching his hoof at her. Without hesitation, yet still having trouble to believe what was going on, Mjǫllna grabbed his front leg and he pulled her up. “Hold on tight, Mjǫllna!” he warned as she showed a satisfied beam. As soon as he finished speaking, Mjǫllna held him from the waist, her front legs wrapping him with a soft clench. “Ready?”

“Yes!” she replied, sticking even closer to him, softly giggling as his mane tickled her muzzle.

“Onwards then!” With another roar, Drakkar commanded Harry to resume his charge, which didn’t last too long due to being already quite close to the workshop.

Once they reached the place, Mjǫllna refused to get down from Harry. Instead, she pulled Drakkar back, their cheeks caressing as she rested her hoof on his chest.

“You really know how to make a mare feel unique,” she whispered into his ear, hot breath making Drakkar shiver slightly.

“Well, that’s what you get for betting with me,” replied Drakkar, winking at her.

“Yeah, but I thought you were going to come here and retell that kiss I gave you. I didn’t expect you to come to my house riding a bear!”

“I still won the bet, right?” he asked with a teasing grin.

“Oh, definitely!” Mjǫllna rested her hoof on his cheek, turning his head towards her so their lips could together in a passionate kiss. With her free hoof, she pressed his chest tightly, pulling him closer to her, whereas Drakkar toyed with her mane, caressing it and making large ringlets.

Both guards stared befuddled at each other, surprised at the sudden burst of affection both ponies were showing while riding a thousand pound carnivore. On the other hoof, Shining Armor raised an eyebrow, for this was something that Luna didn’t tell him about. Coming back to his senses, he regained the composure and cleared his throat before speaking.

“I really hate being a mood killer,” apologized Shining Armor as he took a step forward, ”but we’ve come here for you, Drakkar.”

Mjǫllna moved away slowly from Drakkar, shooting a concerned look at him as he opened his eyes. He, however, looked down to them, resting his weight on the bear’s back before jumping down. As his horn and throat glowed dimly, he let out a short growl to Harry, to which he lay down, making it easier for Mjǫllna to get down. After a second, longer growl followed by a short ear-scratching, the bear nodded and growled back before walking away.

Drakkar then faced the three stallions in front of him, taking a step forward as he showed a frown. He paid attention to the two pegasi at first; despite their metal armors, he noticed their bodies shaking slightly, and their eyes focusing on him, but in a forced way, as if they were doing the best to avoid running away. When he turned to the other unicorn, though, he looked completely different; he stood confident, and was returning the challenging stare at him. At this behavior, Drakkar nodded approvingly with a satisfied broken smile.

“And who are you to come looking for me, soldier?” asked Drakkar.

“Watch your mouth!” warned one of the pegasi. At those words, Drakkar turned to face the guard with the same challenging frown that he was using against Shining Armor. The pegasus Royal Guard, however, cowered slightly, forcing himself to keep eye contact with the Scandineighvian stallion. “Y-you’re talking to the Prince of the Crystal Empire and Captain of the Equestrian Royal Guard, Shining Armor!”

“Prince?” repeated Drakkar with a raised eyebrow.

“Konungsson,” translated Mjǫllna as she walked next to him. “He’s the ruler of the Crystal Empire, more like the Jarl of the place.”

“I see.” Drakkar returned his attention to Shining Armor, who stood bravely on the spot. After a short while, he nodded at him, pleased at the cold nerves he had shown. “Very well, I’ll go with you.”

“Soldiers, prepare the chariot; we’re going to Canterlot!” ordered Shining Armor. Both pegasi didn’t hesitate, getting on their place ready to take off at his command.

“Mjǫllna,” said Drakkar, turning to face her. “I’ll try to be back as soon as possible.”

“Everything’s going to be okay, trust me,” she replied. As Drakkar caressed her cheeks, she rested her face tenderly on his hoof, grabbing it with her own. “Take care; I’ll be here waiting for you.”

Drakkar pulled Mjǫllna close to him, planting a deep kiss on her, which she welcomed by tenderly wrapping her forelegs around his neck. After the short kiss, they barely moved away from each other. Drakkar gently rested his horn on her forehead, showing a comforting smile. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.” When he saw her nodding at his words, he turned to the guards, her face becoming a frown once more. “I’m ready. Let’s go.”

-o-

During the trip towards Canterlot, Drakkar looked around all the time, completely befuddled at everything that happened. Though chariots weren’t uncommon in Scandineighvia, using pegasi to carry other ponies through distances wasn’t. When they traveled past Cloudsdale, he understood, but at the same time he seemed to become even more shocked at the mere concept of a whole city in the clouds. The very thought of trying something like that in the Frozen North, with violent blizzards during winter, was preposterous at best.

Shining Armor seemed much less tense now that they were flying to Canterlot. No matter how much information Luna had given him, Drakkar was still an imposing stallion, especially at that moment, both sitting mere inches from each other. Mjǫllna wasn’t exaggerating when she said that he was large; the Scandineighvian pony was a couple inches taller and his build was slightly broader than Shining Armor. It was also true that, as Drakkar looked around like a colt at Sugarcube Corner, he seemed a bit less threatening, but his physical appearance was still something to take into account.

When Canterlot appeared far in the horizon, Drakkar leaned forward, staring at the castle with his mouth wide open. Even when he went to the castle of the konungr, it wasn’t as huge and mind-boggling as what they had in front of him. As they got closer, he came to appreciate the marble walls full of windows with colorful glasses representing scenes of what might’ve been Equestria’s past.

The pegasi landed close to the lowered drawbridge, bowing as Shining Armor got down and gestured for Drakkar to follow suit. As they walked through the main hall, the Royal Guards that were on duty couldn’t avoid staring at both ponies; the most discrete ones followed them with their eyes, while the rest simply turned to face them as soon as Shining Armor and Drakkar walked past them. During the time they spent going through the halls, Drakkar checked his mounting displeasure at the Equestrian soldiers' lack of discipline, not wishing to offend his host.

After a long while, both ponies reached an oaken door that Shining Armor opened nonchalantly. Still standing on the spot, he gestured with a hoof for Drakkar to come inside the room. The only things in that place were a couple chairs with a rectangle-shaped table in the middle, which a chandelier containing three half-melted candles.

“Take a seat,” offered Shining Armor without looking away from Drakkar, who slowly let himself fall on the sturdy wooden chair. He followed suit, sitting right in front of him, staring at the Scandineighvian stallion in the eyes.

“Why have you brought me here, Konungsson?” grunted Drakkar with forced politeness, with his front hooves crossed and resting on his chest.

“I am not here as the Prince of the Crystal Empire, Hoofcarl,” corrected Shining Armor calmly, “but as the Captain of the Royal Guard.”

“Is Mjǫllna—”

“She isn’t part of this, Hoofcarl, so she’ll be fine,” interjected Shining Armor with a raised hoof, to Drakkar’s surprise. “I’m a married stallion,” he added with a confraternal smile, “so I’m well aware of your concern. Rest assured, though, for we don’t take civilians in these cases. The sooner we finish with this, the sooner we both will both return with our mares.” Shining Armor sounded blunt, but not threatening. With those words, Drakkar replied with a slight nod. “Concerning your question, you’re here because you’re the first Scandineighvian pony to openly interact with Equestria since—”

“Since Gleipna moved here about a century ago,” completed Drakkar, to which Shining Armor replied with a raised eyebrow. “I learned about that recently too, but there was a mare from our land who settled in Equestria. In Ponyville, to be more accurate.”

“How do you know that?” inquired Shining Armor.

“Mjǫllna’s her descendant,” replied Drakkar, making Shining Armor lose his composure for a fraction of a second as he stared with widened eyes. Drakkar’s lips drew a satisfied smile at his reaction. “She’s Gleipna’s great-granddaughter, if you require more details.”

“And there’s no other way anypony would’ve known about this Gleipna, right?” insisted Shining Armor.

“Concerning your surprise when I mentioned her, I’m assuming that both you and whoever gave us all the information regarding us thought that I’m the first Scandineighvian pony to interact with Equestria.” At Drakkar’s statement, Shining Armor nodded slowly. “But back to the main point. I’m here because…”

“We want to make sure that you’re not here to plan a hostile takeover,” replied Shining Armor. “We’ve been suffering a lot of attacks from different places, one of the most recent being the changeling invasion.”

To those words, Drakkar’s ears perked up. “That sounds familiar. That might explain why Bifrǫst thought that I was a changeling spy.” He slowly became serious, gazing at Shining Armor with increasing curiosity. “Were you there during the invasion?”

“I was,” he replied with a nod. Remembering Luna’s words, he hit his chest proudly before moving on. “Not only that, but I expelled the invading force with my wife’s help.”

“The stuff of legends,” admitted Drakkar with an approving nod. “I noticed from the very first moment that you were different from the other two soldiers that were with you.”

“What do you mean?” inquired Shining Armor.

Noticing what he had done, Drakkar shook his hoof hastily with a shocked expression. “Nothing relevant to what we’re talking about.”

Shining Armor tapped the table with a hoof, staring at him with a raised eyebrow. “Hoofcarl, I understand that you have a problem with the Equestrian military?” Drakkar’s ears drooped, as if he knew Shining Armor had caught him. However, instead of becoming hostile, he raised both hooves, gesturing for Drakkar to calm down. “Hoofcarl, I expect you to answer every question I ask you. What do you mean I’m different from the other guards? You have my word that I won’t retaliate.”

The promise seemed to soothe Drakkar, as he took a deep breath and, after another moment of silence, he looked up and spoke. “I noticed that the soldiers had the discipline you expect from military training. However,” he continued while shaking his head, “they seemed to lack experience in battle. I get that, despite the changeling invasion, Equestria appears to be a peaceful kingdom.”

“And you thought that would offend me?” insisted Shining Armor, but Drakkar’s nod was all he needed as an answer. “Don’t worry about that; we’re a fairly peaceful kingdom, as you correctly assumed, having only a serious conflict once in a Blue Moon. I’m concerned, though,” he added, slowly sounding less formally. “Is Scandineighvia that much of a military kingdom?”

“We’re battle-born ponies, Captain,” replied Drakkar, leaning back slightly. “And not without a reason. We constantly patrol our borders to fight packs of úlfsvetir that try to attack us. And then,” he added with a frown that made Shining Armor shiver, “we have our enemy; the Manegols.”

Shining Armor stared speechless at Drakkar for a short while. Even though he tried to repeat the word ‘Manegols’, words didn’t come out. However, Drakkar noticed the word through his lips, and nodded at the voiceless question. After coming back to his senses, Shining Armor shook his head and hooves. “But that’s impossible! The Manegol Empire split over five centuries ago,” said Shining Armor, still shocked.

“The Manegol Empire split, right,” repeated Drakkar. “But the four tribes in which it divided still fight against us; Bogi, Brandr, Geirr and Hamarr. We don’t understand the names they use, but due to the fact that each tribe uses a primary weapon that the original khan used, we call them by the name of those weapons. For what we know,” continued Drakkar as he leaned forward, resting both elbows on the table, “when the Great Khan was about to die, he offered to each of his four sons a masterwork weapon from his very own arsenal, and demanded his children to use them to guide Manegolia to victory against Scandineighvia.”

“That Great Khan sure held a grudge on your country,” replied Shining Armor as he kept paying attention at Drakkar.

“Well, there’s a reason for that. You see,” explained Drakkar, slowly getting lost on the storytelling, “centuries ago, Scandineighvia was just a village, with a lot of neighboring villages that helped and traded with each other. And far away, the Manegols used to send skirmishes against us. We usually didn’t have problems dealing with them, and we ended up handling the situation. They were also our primary target for our own raids, anyways,” added Drakkar with a shrug. “This took place during centuries, growing into an unending rivalry. They wanted to unite the North under the Manegol banner, though they would allow us to keep our traditions if we surrendered and swore fealty to them, be it before or after the battle took place. Suffice to say,” he added with a smirk, “that we weren’t going to give up our ancestral banners without a fight.”

The reports Shining Armor had read concerning questionings the Royal Guards had done before didn’t prepared him for his. He expected to be getting a few answers and call it a day, but this reminded him more and more to those nights back at the academy, with the veterans telling war stories. However, no matter how common it was for them to put up with a made up story and force the suspect to confess the bluff, there was something in Drakkar, be it the safety in his words or the satisfaction in his eyes when he spoke, that kept Shining Armor from thinking he was making up the story on the run.

“Everything kept the same way until one day, about five hundred years ago; a Khan from one of the tribes threw a challenge to all the other tribe’s khans. For every fight he won, he’d take the leadership of that ruler’s tribe. The edda sings that he defeated every single khan, and got all Manegolian tribes under his banner, naming himself Great Khan.” Drakkar slowly became more imposing, speaking louder while using a slightly threatening voice and gesturing more with his hooves to emphasize his already convincing story. “Legends describe him being the size of an ox and cunning as a fox, with a gifted mind for military tactics and leadership. No attacks happened in Scandineighvia or the other villages for years, decades even, so our ancestors were concerned about what might be happening there.” Drakkar suddenly shut down his joyful emotions and gestures, staring at Shining Armor with a grim frown. “Then the Manegol Horde came.”

Shining Armor barely moved a muscle, listening to every word Drakkar said with great interest. With his training as a skáld, and the attachment to the tale he was telling, his words filled the room with a heartwarming sensation, as if whatever he said was taking place right now. As Drakkar continued with the tale, Shining Armor’s ears perked up, glancing around the room as if he were hearing hoofsteps and war cries.

“Tens of thousands of Manegols traveled across the mountainous lands, using magic to avoid being spotted, summoning mists to cover their advance. But the Æsir smiled upon us, for our seers noticed the unnatural phenomenon and were able to react before it was too late. Words about the upcoming attack spread quickly among the neighboring villages,” continued Drakkar, waving his hooves to emphasize his words, “and we gathered an army with every recruit we had available. Aid from the farthest villages arrived after the battle had already started, serving as reinforcements in the last days of the war, when both sides were exhausted and every casualty was making a noticeable difference.”

With an overly enthusiastic laugh, Drakkar pounded the table with both hooves, waking Shining Armor up from the charm of the story for a fraction of a second. Though they had obviously gone totally off-topic, he wasn’t able to interrupt him, and not only for being hooked to the story, but also because he could see himself in Drakkar. He remembered the letters he wrote to his parents when he joined the Royal Guards, telling them with full detail everything he did there, and even the most boring activities were explained with such enthusiasm that, to his parent’s eyes, they might’ve been heroic one-of-a-kind deeds. And there he was, in front of a stallion who was telling a story that took place half a millennium ago, but looked like he just returned from the battlefield, and he wasn’t even there to begin with. Princess Luna was right about both Drakkar and himself being equals, but he began to wonder if she was aware of the large amount of similarities they shared.

“I wish I would’ve been there!” exclaimed Drakkar with a wide grin. “Even the Æsir witnessed the war from Ásgarðr. The songs say that, every day during the war, rainless thunderstorms covered the sky. The mighty Þórr cheered us, his worshippers, and guided us to victory! Not even the clashing of weapons against mail and shields or the screams of anger and pain were able to silence the storm! He even summoned winds to guide the Manegols’ arrows away from us, and allow our bowponies to reach the backlines of their armies to lessen the impact of upcoming reinforcements! In fact, many arrows landed on the Great Khan, but he was nigh unstoppable. We began to fear that he was invincible, a spawn of the jǫtnar that had taken command of the Manegols tribes against us. It took not only more than a dozen arrows, but five deep spear wounds to take that behemoth down.”

“Wait a moment,” interjected Shining Armor, fearing to have found an inconsistency in his story. “You said that the Great Khan offered a weapon to each of his sons before he died.”

“And he did,” replied Drakkar with an approving nod. “What we gathered during our centuries of war against Manegols, among other things, is that everything comes to a sudden halt when a Khan is about to die. He must be in his homeland, as well as every Manegolian of the tribe. With him being the Great Khan who led all the tribes meant that every single Manegol pony should be there, and the fight was over as he fell in battle. We stopped attacking as they raised their weapons, offering them time to gather their fallen brothers in arms and bury them, and so did we.”

“You… you stopped attacking them? That’s… quite a courageous thing to do.” Shining Armor blinked in astound. “You risked a lot there. Who knows what would’ve happened!”

Drakkar calmly shook his head. “They are far from savages, and no matter how obsessed they grew with forcing us under the Manegol banner, they still have us in high regard and never underestimate us. We know when they want to stop fighting, and we respect them, for we learned that they never use underhoofed tactics. If there’s something we have to say about Manegols is that they would be more than welcomed as allies. However, they don’t want to ally with us; they want to absorb us.”

“Apparently Manegols aren’t the only ones who regard Scandineighvians highly,” admitted Shining Armor with a satisfied nod. “It looks like the feeling is mutual.”

“The Great Khan, even five hundred years after his death, stands as the greatest threat we’ve ever faced. Manegols mourned him saying that, with his fall, had come a never ending winter for them. Winter is a season that, in their culture, symbolizes sadness and death, and the Great Khan was greatly respected for all he’d done. Fearing his children’s vengeful retaliation, we decided to join forces permanently, forming the kingdom we have now. When they found out, they always referred to us as ‘eternal winter’ due to what we represented for them. That’s why we decided to name our kingdom Fimbulvetr, which means ‘eternal winter’ in our language.” Drakkar shrugged at his own words with a smirk. “To be fair, though, due to our village being the largest of them all, we originally called the kingdom Scandineighvia, and we use both names to refer to it.” Drakkar slowly shook his head with a sorrowful frown. “It’s a pity that his children didn’t follow his legacy.”

“They’re the reason why the Manegol Empire split?” inquired Shining Armor.

“That’s right,” replied Drakkar with a nod. “Each son had a different way of thinking and leading, and the sympathizers followed the one who they considered more adequate according to their points of view. In the end, unable to rule the vast empire their father had formed, mostly due to inner conflicts, they decided to divide it in four greater khanates. There hasn’t been another pony able to unite them again and fight under a common ruler.” With a disappointed huff, he looked at the ceiling. “Manegolia has gone through a lot, and we owe them the founding of our kingdom. Seeing what they’ve become, I can’t avoid feeling pity for them.”

“It’s understandable. Now, I’m afraid that we’ve gone quite off-topic,” said Shining Armor with a snicker. “If you don’t mind, we should talk about the reason why you’re here and the possibilities of an alliance between both kingdoms.”

Drakkar’s eyes widened at his words. “Captain, I’m not qualified to do that. I can tell you why I’m here, but I’m a soldier, not a diplomat. I have no voice regarding that. Look,” he continued as he gestured exaggeratedly with his hooves, “I came here to gather information about Equestria, just as other hoofcarlar have been doing since Scandineighvian’s recorded history.”

“Then why didn’t the others interact with us before?”

“I don’t know,” replied Drakkar with a shrug. “We barely know about Equestrian culture, so chances are that they focused solely on checking cities.”

“And you’ve moved to a different approach because…”

“At… at first I wasn’t going to be different from the others,” admitted Drakkar, looking down at the table. “But then I heard about Mjǫllna, and I wanted to know about her. I knew her name was like the ones at home, and I needed to know what she was doing in Equestria.”

“One thing lead to another and, by the time you noticed, you two started dating,” added Shining Armor with a brotherly smile.

“I… yes, that’s pretty much what it happened.” Drakkar looked up to meet Shining Armor, who was nodding at him while tapping the table with a hoof.

“Well, I met my wife because she was my sister’s filly-sitter,” replied Shining Armor with a chuckle. “So yeah, I know how that feels. Back to our conversation, however,” he continued, returning to a serious expression, “even if you’re not qualified to take care of this, you might know what might create bonds between our kingdoms, and then give it to your ruler.”

“It’s a possibility.” Drakkar looked at the ceiling, tapping his chin thoughtfully. “Considering how long I’m going to stay here due to all the reports I’ll have to fill about everything in Equestria, they’d like something more aside from them.”

“The Princesses are looking forward to seeing you,” said Shining Armor, leaning back on the chair. “And to be honest, I agree with Luna; you don’t pose a threat aside from your…” Shining Armor remained speechless for a moment, trying to come up with the adequate words before suddenly shaking his head and hooves. “Okay, seriously, what was all that about? The thing with the bear, I mean.”

“Oh, that!” said Drakkar, bursting into laughter. “I’m terribly sorry for what happened. You see, Mjǫllna challenged me about remembering something after last night’s drinking contest.”

“And you talked about riding bears?” Shining Armor nodded as he crossed his hooves in front of him. “To be fair, that’s something difficult to forget.”

“Yeah, bear riders are our Scandineighvian elite cavalry, but anyways, I—”

“Wait, wait, time out!” demanded Shining Armor, leaning forward in awe. “You have a military unit that consists on stallions riding bears into battle? And you are one of those?”

“Oh, no, not at all, I don’t have the resources to join that unit, as all the training and mounting gear is really expensive. Though it’s true that I’ve ridden bears as part of drunken challenges,” admitted Drakkar with a snicker.

“That deserves even more credit, if you ask me,” replied Shining Armor with a laugh. “That actually reminds me of a prank some of the veterans played on me and some of the new recruits. You see…”

-o-

Both Princesses sat patiently in the main hall, waiting for Shining Armor to bring a report concerning Drakkar’s intentions. Neither of them expected the questioning to last so long, though it was true that getting up to date after more than a thousand years without interactions was time-consuming at best.

Luna was lucky enough to be able to entertain herself for a while when it became late enough for her to bring the night, and Celestia returned to witness the wonders of her sister’s job. For the time spent setting the night sky, both mares were able to keep this situation out of their heads, the only thing that irritated Luna mildly were the clouds that covered most of Equestria that day. This was barely an issue, for she remembered by heart where every star should be at any given season. It still was a mild annoyance when she wanted to enjoy the fruits of her labor, though, but she couldn’t demand the weather ponies to keep the night sky clear forever.

Once Luna was done with her duty, she returned to her place next to her sister.

“They are taking their time,” said Celestia, staring at the closed door in front of them with deep concern. “I’m starting to think that this wasn’t a good idea.”

“Please, sister, we’re sure that everything’s fine.” Luna tapped the small table with a hoof, looking at her sister through the corner of the eye. “Shining Armor is a competent soldier; we don’t think that it only took a few days of marriage to rust his skills completely.”

“Even so, why did you insist on leaving Shining Armor alone with Drakkar?” inquired Celestia. ”I understand not having a few guards escorting both of them; it would be uncomfortable for him. However, you demanded that there shouldn’t even be left behind guarding the door.”

“Shining Armor’s the only soldier required,” said Luna with a wide grin. “Hast thou considered what we could export to Scandineighvia?”

“I can’t say I’ve dedicated as much time as you asked,” admitted Celestia mournfully. “We don’t know what they need or what they’d be willing to offer that we might need. Besides, if they’re self-sufficient as we are, chances are that they might not consider an alliance.”

“Thou art very pessimistic, sister,” replied Luna with a grunt.

“I am realistic, Luna,” corrected Celestia, mildly annoyed at her sister’s reaction. “This is not like hoofspunching a friend; alliances are about helping each other. If they’re at war, it is our moral duty to assist. During famines and droughts, we must try to give them sustenance. And if you can’t provide it, you’re—”

“Too busy with our own problems or lack resources to give away,” finished saying Luna.

“You assume that they’ll be understandable,” said Celestia with a raised eyebrow.

“Thou assumest that they won’t,” replied Luna, her smile slowly turning into a sad grimace. “Thou thinkest that they’re a kingdom of starving ponies that are going to be depending on us since the moment we sign our alliance. But thou hast to remember the opulent feast they prepared on our honor. They have enough resources to live on their own; they would’ve sought our assistance before if they didn’t.” Luna rested her hoof on her sister’s, showing a weak smile as she continued speaking. “Thou shouldstn’t worry.”

Celestia looked at her sister with slightly sad eyes, Luna’s smile slowly showing in her own face as well. “I just…” She looked away, closing her eyes, but opened them the moment she felt Luna’s hoof tenderly clenching hers. “I just don’t know if we’ll be able to be worthy allies. We might not be able to fulfill requests or assist when they request us something. Equestria is our kingdom, sister,” she added, turning to face Luna once more. “It’s our responsibility not only to rule it accordingly, but also to keep the relationships with our allies optimal.”

“Thou art overthinking it, sister,” comforted Luna with a wink. “We haven’t signed anything yet, and we don’t know what they’d want from us. It anything,” she added as she chuckled, “we should let you worry after the meeting.”

“I’m concerned about Shining Armor, Luna. We haven’t heard about him during the whole day.” As Celestia finished the sentence, both Princesses perked up their ears at the sound of two ponies laughing across the hall, noticeable even with the doors closed. “What’s going on?” she asked with a raised eyebrow as she flew towards the door. Luna followed suit, standing next to her as each sister magically pulled a side of the door open. What they saw in front of them was by far one of the most unexpected events to witness. Shining Armor, along with a pony that seemed to fit into Drakkar’s description, were chatting as they walked towards them without paying attention to them, noisily laughing as they shared some kind of anecdotes.

“And then Megin-gjarð rushed towards the other stallion,” said Drakkar, thrusting the air with a hoof as Shining Armor did her best not to burst into laughter yet, “but he tripped and fell on the banquet table, breaking it in half. You should’ve seen all the food flying and scattering all across the room. Not even my Hoofcarl companion Veiða could resist the urge of ducking to take cover, and that’s a stallion who doesn’t even blink at the sight of a pack of úlfsvetir charging at him!”

“Wait, wait,” interjected Shining Armor with a low snicker, “was that before or after the drinking contest?”

“I got hit by a horn in the back of the head myself, so I’m assuming it was after. When he got up in a horrible mood, the grabbed one of the halves of the table and bashed the other pony, with the rest of the guests trying to separate them.”

“And everything started because that stallion called your friend Megin-gjarð a…“ Shining Armor tried his best to remember, but the laughter didn’t allow him. “What was the word again?”

“Argr,” replied Drakkar. “If you ever go to Scandineighvia, you should never say that to a stallion; you’ll get smacked with half a banquet table.”

“Point taken.” Both stallions laughed, unaware of the two Princesses standing several fit in front of them. “Okay, we’re almost here, we should get serious now. I’m going to—” Shining looked forward to meet both Celestia and Luna. The former gazed nonchalantly at the blushing Captain, while her sister tried her best to contain her giggling. With a quick clear of his throat, Shining Armor regained his composure, while Drakkar looked up at both Princesses with widened eyes.

“Hrim-Faxi! Skin-Faxi!” said Drakkar right before prostrating in front of them.

“Well, that’s new,” replied Shining Armor with a raised eyebrow.

“Allow us, Captain.” Luna extended her wings, looking down to Drakkar. “Rís, Hófkarl. Konungsdóttir Luna býð þann,” demanded Luna with a satisfied grin. Both Shining Armor and Celestia looked at her in awe, while Drakkar looked up with the widest smile he could show. “Hræddr ver eigi, Drakkar.”

“Hví... hví þit foerið mik hér, Konungsdóttir Luna?” asked Drakkar, keeping his head lowered in respect.

“Can… can somepony please tell me what’s going on?” inquired Shining Armor, scratching the back of his neck as he started at both ponies in mild confusion.

“We told him to get up and that he shouldn’t be afraid,” translated Luna with a nod. “He then asked why we asked him to come here.”

“I only caught a few chunks of the conversation,” admitted Celestia.

“You understand them, Princess?” asked Shining Armor with a curious grimace..

“Luna and I visited Scandineighvia centuries ago, but apparently my sister’s much better at learning different languages than I am.”

“Sister, try introducing thyself to him,” said Luna.

“Luna, I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Her sister’s pleading eyes, however, ended up changing her mind. Resting a hoof on her chest, she spoke. “Ek vera Celestia, ok ek leiða með systir Luna.”

Drakkar stared at Celestia, completely dumbfounded. “Hvat þú segr?”

“What I what?” Celestia seemed to be trying at best to understand, but failed to understand the sentences completely.

“He asked what thou said,” corrected Luna with a soft giggle. “We are afraid that you forgot about declension, my dear sister.”

“I told you it wasn’t a good idea,” repeated Celestia. “What’s he going of think of me now?”

“You don’t need to worry about that, Your Highness,” replied Drakkar with a gentle bow. “I really appreciate the effort you’ve made.”

“Old Equestrian has much more in common with Scandineighvian as a language than Modern Equestrian,” explained Luna. “Grammar-wise, they have several points in common, the most important one being declensions, though having different conjugations for every person in all verbs doesn’t help to make it easier either,” she added with a snort. “But yes, as she said, Celestia and we are sisters, and both rule Equestria together.” Luna moved away from the door, gesturing for both stallions to get inside. “Please, come in. There are things we must discuss. But first, we would like to show you a little something, Hófkarl.”

The small group walked towards the balcony, with Luna leading them. Celestia stared at the table where they were supposed to be discussing the diplomatic relationships. Though she tried to move there, Luna kept guiding both stallions in the other direction. Celestia wanted this to finish soon, and lowly grunted to herself, her sister could barely contain herself. News of Drakkar coming had obviously lightened up her mood, and the way Drakkar was reacting made her even happier, which was enough for Celestia to be patient with all that was going on.

Luna stepped on the balcony and extended her wings as much as she could, forcing Drakkar and Shining Armor to walk back.

“Thou shalt see, Hófkarl,” announced Luna with a confident smirk.

“What’s going to happen?” asked Drakkar lowly, to which Shining Armor replied with a shrug.

Luna remained silent for a moment, with her eyes closed as she seemed to focus. Her breathing became much deeper, and soon her horn began to glow with mild intensity, slowly becoming brighter as time passed.

“Looks like she’s going to move the stars in some way,” replied Shining Armor. “But don’t take my word on that.”

When Shining Armor stopped whispering, Luna opened her eyes and lowered the head, her horn aiming at the cloudy sky. “HIMINN!” cried Luna with the Royal Canterlot Voice.

Drakkar’s jaw dropped as his ears perked up and his eyes widened. “It can’t be,” were the only mute words that his lips were able to muster.

“VÁR SUMARR!” As Luna finished chanting the odd spell, the raw energy accumulated in her horn sprayed forward like a mighty wave, disintegrating every cloud that it touched, clearing the night sky in the blink of an eye. “Oops,” she said as she began to blush slightly. “We… might have gone a bit overboard with this.”

“I’m sure that this is nothing that a letter to the weather factory can’t handle,” interjected Celestia as she walked next to her sister. “Next time, though, try to be less showy, my dear,” she added with an impish smile.

“What in Equestria was that?” asked Shining Armor, still unable to believe what he had witnessed.

“That’s… magic. Scandineighvian magic,” replied Drakkar. “We usually call it battle-crying, but it’s basically the spells we use there.”

“But what you did in Ponyville didn’t have any sort of words of power,” insisted Shining Armor.

“That spell’s different,” explained Drakkar. “What she’s done is what we actually call magic. You see, we channel energy to our horns, raw magic power, and then we chant the words that modify the magic energy into whatever the spell was designed to do. The power of the spell depends entirely on the amount of raw magic accumulated when the words are chanted. Or something like that,” added Drakkar as he gestured with his hoof, shaking it next to his head. “To be honest, I never studied magic in my homeland.”

“But you can do the roaring spell; I saw you doing it.”

“That doesn’t count,” insisted Drakkar. “It isn’t considered magic for the same reason using your innate magic to move objects around isn’t either.”

“And why is that?”

“It’s something natural, like pegasi’s flying and earth ponies’ sturdiness,” he explained. ”Now, to bend elements to do your bidding and alter the word around you, that’s what we call magic.”

“I don’t get it, Drakkar,” insisted Shining Armor. “Why wouldn’t you want to learn magic?”

“Because, according to Scandineighvian society,” replied Luna with a shake of her head, “only mares can learn magic without becoming a laughingstock.”

Drakkar’s ears drooped at her words, giving a barely noticeable nod. “We… we have our roles set. Stallions are warriors, and mares can use their magic to support us in the battlefield.”

“That doesn’t mean that mares can’t decide to take up arms or stallions can’t learn magic. However,” continued Luna with a proud smile, “it is also true that the former are much more common than the latter.”

Shining Armor looked at Drakkar, who stared at the marble tiles on the floor without looking up. “Drakkar, is everything alright?”

“I… just don’t feel comfortable, that’s all.” From his position, he prostrated to Luna, his horn touching the floor. “I am astounded by your vast knowledge of my culture, Princess Luna, but I’d rather not talk about this specific point. I’ve been scolded a few times for that.”

“We are not to judge, Hófkarl,” replied Luna with a frown as Celestia took her seat on the table. “Moreso, the fact that those who defy the established order and succeed in the opposite role earn the expected respect from their peers is enough evidence that thou art not tyrants. We are surprised, though, that thou know about magic but have never tried it, not even in private.”

“Please, sister,” interjected Celestia, offering the other ponies their seats. “We should focus in what it’s important. Drakkar, do take a seat.”

Drakkar slowly walked towards the table, sitting down as he looked around him with a worried grimace. Though he seemed to be calming down, his deep breathing proved otherwise.

“As Shining Armor has surely informed you,” started Celestia, “we have considered the possibilities of forming an alliance between both kingdoms,” she said, looking at Luna through the corner of the eye, “and we were interesting in your opinion.”

With a long sigh, Drakkar nodded at the Princess’ statement, looking at her with a contemplative expression. “I am well aware of your thoughts, and I really appreciate your offer. However, I still don’t know enough about Equestria to bring this possibility to my konungr.” He slowly glanced through the table, noticing the expectant looks of the other ponies. “We are a self-sufficient kingdom, so chances are that you could offer us certain commodities we can’t get on our own, but the point is: what can we do for Equestria?” To those words, Celestia’s ears perked up as Luna leaned towards her.

“That sounds pretty familiar, dostn’t thou agree?” joked Luna with a whisper.

“We are warriors, farmers and hunters; the polar opposite of anything I’ve seen here so far,” continued Drakkar. “I’m not sure if we have anything to offer that you would need. And allies help each other, just like we helped each other when Fimbulvetr was just a bunch of independent neighboring villages. As I said, I don’t know enough about Equestria yet to know what we could bring to you; and we Scandineighvians want to support those who wish to become our allies.”

“We are in the same ship then, Drakkar,” admitted Celestia, showing a comfortable beam for the first time in the whole day. “My sister seems to be quite knowledgeable about your culture and language, but it’s also true that we haven’t visited the Frozen North in more than a thousand years.” Celestia got up from the table, walking in circles around it. “If it’s true what she told me about the concept of… correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the word was… drengskapr?”

“Correct, Your Highness,” replied Drakkar with a nod while smiling. “It means ‘honor’.”

“The love you show for your land and the concern about its well-being is a virtue that I appreciate in ponies,” started Celestia. “I’m not going to lie to you; I’ve had that very same concern about our possible alliance. Our knowledge about the current state of the kingdom of Scandineighvia is fairly limited. However, I’m going to do this right, for both of us.”

Drakkar leaned forward, following Celestia with his eyes. “I’m listening.”

“Has Captain Shining Armor, by any chance, mentioned her sister, Twilight Sparkle?”

“I think he did,” said Drakkar, looking at the stallion. “Isn’t she the one your wife used to filly-sit?” Shining Armor replied with a nod, and Luna couldn’t hold a giggle at Drakkar’s question.

“Looks like thou art getting along quite well,” said Luna with a broad grin.

“I’ll tell you what I have in mind, Drakkar,” continued Celestia. “Twilight Sparkle is my personal and faithful student, and I trust her judgment and wisdom. I want you to work together in this. If you want to write a complete essay about Equestrian culture to make sure Scandineighvia knows who they are going to befriend and to satisfy your own curiosity, she’s the perfect pony for you. You’ll have to tell her everything you can about your kingdom, so we’ll know more about your kinfolks.” From her spot, she magically opened one of the cupboards far away, pulling out a bright piece of paper and offering it to Drakkar. “This is a ticket for the Grand Galloping Gala,” she said with a smile. “Twilight would be our mediator during the negotiations. During the gala, we’ll make the announcement of our alliance official, if it’s bound to happen.”

“I appreciate the gift, Your Highness,” replied Drakkar with a deep bow. “But what if, for some reason, an alliance doesn’t seem… beneficial for both kingdoms, so to speak?”

“In that case, I’ll still like you to assist, for our land is hospitable and I’d gladly have you here as your host.”

“If I may, Your Majesty,” interjected Shining Armor, bowing respectfully, “I’m sure that Drakkar might like to bring a companion with him to the gala.” He looked at Drakkar askance to see him blush furiously.

“Captain, I… don’t think it’s appropriate,” replied Drakkar, lowering his head timidly.

“Why isn’t it?” he asked with a shrug. “I bet that Mjǫllna will love assisting, and considering the short time it will take to make the alliance official in case it happens, you still have time to spend some time with her. Just hope that nothing odd happens and ruins it,” he added with a laugh.

“Mjǫllna?” repeated Luna with a raised eyebrow. “Drakkar, didst thou bring thy spouse with thee?”

“Oh, no, not at all! She’s a mare in Ponyville, actually,” replied Drakkar, lowly getting redder by the second.

“His fillyfriend, descendant of a Scandineighvian mare who settled here by the time Ponyville was founded,” added Shining Armor, much to Drakkar’s surprise.

“Oh, this is actually quite interesting,” admitted Luna, turning to her sister. “Celestia, we might be able to study the mixture of both kingdoms’ cultures and the possibilities of adaptation to different climates. We think she should come too.”

Celestia raised an eyebrow in disbelief. “You just made that up on the run, didn’t you?” Her sister looked away, letting out a snicker.

“We wanted to meet her too,” confessed Luna.

“You could’ve simply said that,” replied Celestia with a chuckle. “Very well, since Drakkar’s coming here as a diplomat representing Scandineighvia,” she said as she reopened the cupboard, “I consider it perfectly agreeable to allow an escort.”

“Your generosity knows no bounds, Your Highness,” complimented Drakkar, prostrating on the floor while showing a wide grin covered behind his mane.

“I’ll be looking forward Twilight’s reports concerning Scandineighvia,” said Celestia as she magically offered him the second time. “Captain Shining Armor, Hoofcarl Drakkar,” she called, getting both stallions attention. “You may leave; the meeting is over for now.”

-o-

The forge remained cold at Mjǫllna’s smithy, and everything had been tidied up. After finishing the patterns and molds for the brooches, and having had lunch, she stayed outside, staring at Canterlot in hopes to see the chariot where Drakkar left. During the whole day she sat there, concern growing inside her the longer it took him to return. Despite Shining Armor’s word that there was nothing wrong, the lack of news began to make her think otherwise.

The smithy’s door opened as Vínviðr walked outside with a purple blanket on her back and a small bulk on one of her saddlebags.

“Mjǫllna, my dear,” she called as she walked closer to her. “You’re going to catch a cold out here.”

“I told him that I’d wait here for him,” replied Mjǫllna before looking back at her grandmother. “How many comments has mother made about Drakkar having left to never return or that he’s under arrest for whatever reason?”

“That’s not relevant, Mjǫllna,” she said as she threw the blanket over her granddaughter. Then, she opened the saddlebag, taking out a small bag of flowery treats and biscuits. “I’m, sure you’ll be hungry, so I baked a few of your favorites. You can wait for him, but I’m not letting you starve here,” she added with a chuckle.

“Thanks, granny,” said Mjǫllna with a sweet smile. “He should be back any minute now.”

“Don’t worry, Mjǫllna; if he told you he’d return, his honor binds him to do so.”

“I know, granny. That’s why I’m here.”

“Do you want me to stay with you for a moment to make you company?” insisted Vínviðr.

“It’s okay, granny, it’s getting cold out here,” said Mjǫllna, resting a hoof on her grandmother’s shoulder. “You should get inside, though.”

“These not-so-old bones of mine aren’t weak yet,” she replied with a playful grunt. “But okay, I wouldn’t like to ruin your moment together, lovebirds. I’m going for a walk, though; I’ve been sitting all day and my legs need some stretching.”

With those words, Vínviðr walked away from the workshop, getting to the main street, barely coming across anypony. Most of the shops were already closed, save for one. In the distance, she recognized Carousel Boutique, the only building with the lights still on. When she glanced through the window, she saw Rarity sitting on the table, surrounded by parchments spread all over it. On the floor, the bin was overflowing with crumpled paper balls, several of them having fallen out and spread across the room. Having a slight idea about what she was going through and why, Vínviðr knocked on the window to call her attention. Rarity looked up and, with a forced smile, pointed at the door with a ‘closed’ sign on it. When Vínviðr knocked on the window, Rarity let out a frustrated huff, taking a deep breath before leaving the quill on the table and getting up, slowly walking to the door. Vínviðr took a step back as the door opened.

“I’m terribly sorry, madame,” said Rarity with tired eyes. “But, as you can see, the boutique’s closed now. If you need a dress, please come tomorrow.”

“I didn’t come looking for a dress, young lady,” replied Vínviðr politely. “In fact, I’ve come to help you.” When Rarity threw a disbelieving gaze at her, she gently took another step back. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am Vínviðr Gleipnasdóttir, though I guess that I’ll sound more familiar to you by saying that I’m Mjǫllna’s grandmother.”

Rarity’s face changed to a pleading one, slowly drawing a smile on her face. “Really? And you’ve come to help? Oh, Celestia bless you! Please, please, come in!”

“If you don’t mind, I’d rather go for a walk as we talk, if that’s okay with you,” offered Vínviðr, gesturing with a hoof. “It looks like you could use some fresh air.”

“Alright, I definitely need to relax a bit.” Rarity turned off the lights before getting outside and closing the door behind her. “If you’re here, that means that you know what happened between Mjǫllna and I.”

“I am aware of that, yes,” replied Vínviðr, tilting her head for Rarity to follow her as she walked back home.

“I’ve asked my friends for help in finding another crafter, since she’s not going to work on my orders. But they’re all too expensive!” cried Rarity in frustration. “I’ve been juggling with numbers for quite some time, trying to cut here and there, but I’m not only going to not get profit from my dresses for that runway show, but I’ll lose money. A lot! I don’t think I’ll be able to pay for the bills if I make the order to them!” She suddenly looked at Vínviðr, astonished. “How can Mjǫllna offer her products at such low price without losing money?”

“It’s not that, youngster,” she replied with a chuckle. “Our family has had blacksmithing in the blood for several generations, dating back to our Scandineighvian ancestors. We learn quickly and we mold metals with great ease. It’s almost natural for us. Being something vocational, we don’t usually put very high prices, and the raw materials here in Ponyville are very cheap anyways.” She slowly turned to Rarity, throwing a comforting smile at her. “But I know something that’ll make Mjǫllna take your orders again.”

“Oh, please, tell me, Miss Vínviðr!” begged Rarity, prostrating in front of her and grabbing her hind legs.

“You must take revenge,” she said proudly, to which Rarity reacted with a shocked expression.

”Y-you want me to take revenge… on your granddaughter?” stuttered Rarity with widened eyes.

“Well, in Scandineighvia we use that word, but I think Equestrian has another way of saying it… how was it…” Vínviðr looked up to the sky as she tipped her chin for a moment. “Ah, yes!” she cried joyfully. “Atonement’s the word!”

With a relieved sigh, Rarity got up, much calmer. “Right, atonement. That sounds better.”

“Indeed,” she replied with a chuckle. “You see, to us, revenge is doing something to make up for a mistake. If you do something for her, I’m sure that she’ll begin working on those brooches for you.”

“But what can I do for her? I mean, it’s not like a solution will fall from the sky,” grunted Rarity with exaggerated gestures.

During her acting, however, both mares spotted something flying over their heads. When they focused their attention on it, they identified it as one of the royal chariots. Vínviðr smiled broadly, to Rarity’s surprise.

“Mjǫllna’s going to be very happy in a moment,” she said, grabbing Rarity’s front leg. “Come on, Rarity, your opportunity might’ve come!”

Both mares galloped towards Mjǫllna’s house, Vínviðr taking the lead. “Madame, how can you run so fast?” asked Rarity.

“Rarity, I’m not that old yet despite my looks,” replied Vínviðr playfully, “and I’ve been a healthy mare all my life! By Þórshamarr, I’m not even in my mid-fifties; I can outrun pretty much every single one of those lazy youngsters I’ve seen sitting on the park benches!”

-o-

They got to Mjǫllna’s house in time to see the chariot landing. Mjǫllna’s face lightened up in pure joy as Drakkar got down from the vehicle before turning around to meet Shining Armor.

“Thank you for everything, Captain,” said Drakkar, hitting his chest proudly.

“We’ll meet again soon, Hoofcarl,” he replied with a salute, after which the chariot took off.

Mere seconds later, Mjǫllna jumped towards Drakkar, wrapping her hooves around his neck. “Drakkar, you’re here! I was so worried, you took so long!”

“You… you waited here for me since I left?” asked Drakkar in shock.

“You told me you’ll be back as soon as possible!”

“Mjǫllna…” Drakkar slowly burst into laughter, to which Mjǫllna reacted with a raised eyebrow and a disgruntled huff. “You really deserve something special.”

“What are you talking about?”

Drakkar’s horn began to glow dimly, and two small pieces of bright paper flew from inside the bear pelt. When Mjǫllna noticed what those were, her jaw dropped in awe.

“These are… these are tickets for the Grand Galloping Gala. How… I…” Mjǫllna shook her head, unable to belief what she had in front of her.

“One’s for me and the other one’s for you,” said Drakkar with a grin. “You and I are going to the Gala.”

Mjǫllna’s eyes shone after those words, her smile slowly turning into the widest grin she’d ever shown. Without a word, she pounced over him, both falling to the ground as she grabbed his cheeks and kissed him with fiery passion. She sat on his lap and held his front legs, trapping him under her, but he never tried to release himself. Both ponies’ tongues wrestled inside their mouths as Mjǫllna let out short moans.

From behind the house, Vínviðr and Rarity witnessed the scene, the former looking away with a giggle, where was Rarity blushed furiously.

“My, Mjǫllna’s such a passionate mare,” she admitted, looking away as well.

“Well, looks like you have something to atone yourself with,” replied Vínviðr. “You can make some clothes for him to go to the Grand Galloping Gala.”

“It’s a good idea,” she said, looking skyward as she pondered for a moment. “He told me about some clothes he had when he was younger. I’m sure I can sew him something resembling what he had back then.”

“I’ll go to your Boutique tomorrow morning to assist you. If Drakkar’s going to the gala, he should dress like a jarl,” said Vínviðr with a wink. “And by the stories Gleipna told me, I know how to make the perfect suit.”

Author's Note:

There's not that much here to translate, since most of the dialogues in Norse are translated by other characters, save for a few:

Gef grið eigi! = Show no mercy!
Argr = Womanish. Relevance? According to the Grágás, the Old Icelandic Laws, if someone insulted/questioned another man's virility, the offended party could, by law, kill the offender.