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

The Lovers' Edda - Simon_oSullivan



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

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Otraustseitrigrbroddr

Ótraustseitrigrbroddr (The poisonous sting of mistrust)

The next morning, Rarity woke up earlier than usual and started her percolator, making sure that it was extra strong that day. After Vínviðr’s conversation last night, she couldn’t avoid peeking through the window every now and then to check if she was coming. While the coffee got ready, she lay two cups on the table and a small plate with pastries, as well as a piece of paper and a pencil on her side of the table.

Once the coffee was ready, Rarity turned off the heat and served both cups of coffee before putting it back in its place. A knock at the door called her attention, followed a quick gallop to open it. With a polite bow, she greeted Vínviðr, who replied with a pleased nod.

“Thank you for coming, Miss Vínviðr,” greeted Rarity, gently pointing at the kitchen. “I hope you don’t mind that I made breakfast for both us.”

“Oh, not at all, Rarity,” replied Vínviðr. “I wanted to talk about this before you opened your store, so I took a very small breakfast.”

Both mares walked to the kitchen and took their seats. Rarity magically lifted her cup to take a small sip to check if it was too hot to drink. On the other hoof, Vínviðr took one of the pastries and bit it, with only half of it remaining on her hoof.

“I have a question, if you don’t mind me asking,” said Rarity. “I’m curious about your mane.” She caressed her mane as she spoke to emphasize her words.

“Of course! What do you want to know?” asked Vínviðr as she grabbed her cup.

“Well, I noticed that you always wear this kerchief over your head.”

“Oh, this!” replied Vínviðr with a laugh. “This is just a formality; I shouldn’t even wear it anymore. This is a headdress that we use in Scandineighvia. This one in particular denotes my married status. I’m a widow now, but I grew attached to it, so I keep wearing it nonetheless,” she added with a shrug.

“I’m terribly sorry,” said Rarity as her ears dropped. “Something told me I shouldn’t have asked.”

“Don’t feel bad, Rarity,” replied Vínviðr, raising a hoof to comfort her. “My husband and I lived a fulfilling marriage and life together, and his memory brings me not sadness because he left, but joy because of our years together.”

“That’s beautiful to hear, Miss Vínviðr,” said Rarity with a slowly growing smile. “Does your daughter also wear one?”

“No, Hearth Fire refuses to participate from Norse traditions despite acknowledging them; she doesn’t feel as attached to our homeland as Mjǫllna or I do.”

“That reminds me,” interjected Rarity as she let the cup on the table and magically lifted the paper and pencil. Vínviðr nodded at her actions, though Rarity couldn’t avoid lowering her head. “I don’t want to give such an awful impression, but—”

“It’s okay, youngster,” she said with a giggle. “That’s what I came here for in the first place. Okay, let’s focus on the suit first, and we’ll keep chatting later.”

Rarity gave her an approving nod as her face lit up with a humble smile. “So, what do you think we’ll need?”

“I’ve seen a lot of your designs, and I’m sure you’re going to love working on this one. You see,” explained Vínviðr while holding her cup, “while Scandineighvian clothing is more about being practical, utilitarian and comfortable, it’s also highly decorated.”

“Drakkar’s basic description sounded time consuming,” admitted Rarity, “but I’ve sewn some of the most complex dresses a pony mind can conceive,” she added with a confident grin as her humility faded away.

“You’ll be able to do it, I’m sure of that,” replied Vínviðr, softly snorting at her boasting. “I’m worried about the price of the raw materials, though.”

“Considering the amount of money I’ll save if Mjǫllna takes my order instead of being forced to commission them to those expensive thieves at Canterlot,” grunted Rarity, “you can rest assured that Drakkar’s suit won’t be a problem.”

“Not to mention that, if your craft is as good as what I’ve seen so far,” continued Vínviðr with a comforting smile, “I’m certain that Drakkar might want to get some extra clothing for his trip back.”

“That would be wonderful!” Suddenly, to Vínviðr’s surprise, Rarity’s eyes widened as she leaned forward on the table. “Does Mjǫllna have a dress? If she’s going to go with him, she must have something too!”

“Well, my mother had a noblepony’s dress,” replied Vínviðr. “However, she was a Pegasus, so we’d have to sew up the holes for the wings.”

With a loud gasp, Rarity covered his mouth as she leaned back with a horrified stare. “I wouldn’t be able to do such a thing to an heirloom! You can bring it to me if you want and I’ll craft an identical dress.”

“That would be a lot of work, Rarity,” replied Vínviðr with a shake of her head. “I don’t want to put such a burden on you. Besides, mare’s clothing has a lot of brooches, and it’s much more decorated if you’re going for the noblepony’s approach.”

“Miss Vínviðr, if this atonement plan works,” assured Rarity with a delighted grin, “I’ll gladly craft a dress for her, and she’ll help with the brooches, combining our efforts to make outstanding art together!”

“Even so,” she insisted, “I’d rather have you work on Drakkar’s suit for now. If you really want to make Mjǫllna’s dress when everything’s solved, I’ll bring you my mother’s for you to use as a template, and you might add whatever you want that you think would suit my granddaughter. Just remember to set your priorities,” she added with a wink.

“Very well, Miss Vínviðr.” Rarity looked at her ponnequins, her joyful expression slowly turning into a slightly annoyed frown. “Though I’m afraid I don’t have anything that would work for somepony of his size. And taking his measures would be far too obvious, if we’re going to make this a surprise.”

“I think Big Macintosh and him are both the same size,” said Vínviðr with a chuckle. “You could ask him to be the model, and if you explain to him, he won’t say a word.”

“That’s a pretty good idea,” admitted Rarity, taking a long sip from her coffee cup. After putting the almost empty cup down again, she magically lifted the paper and pencil. “Okay, what materials are we going to need?”

“Well, the average suit consists on an overtunic and a cloak,” explained Vínviðr. “We usually use wool, because for what my mother told me, silk was very expensive, having to be imported and all.”

“Silk isn’t a problem here. If he has to look like a noble, I can use silk without the suit being too expensive.” She raised an eyebrow as something came to her mind, calling Vínviðr’s attention. “As long as we don’t use one of those silks with sparkles I had to order once…” Rarity sat silent for a moment, absent-minded, before shaking her head and hoof as she chuckled lowly. “I don’t think that would suit him anyways.”

Vínviðr laughed loudly when she was about to eat another pastry, putting it down for a moment. “Yeah, that’d be bit over the top. Plain colors should be more than enough, and I know I can leave choosing matching ones up to you.” Rarity nodded profusely with a satisfied smile. “Anyways, the overtunic is constructed using some complex patterns involving many pieces getting cut out of the fabric and then sewing them back together. When done, the garment doesn’t restrict movement at all. Average ponies had them long enough to cover the flank, but noble ponies’ could afford them being long enough to cover the stifles.”

“So we’re talking about stifle-length, then,” repeated Rarity as she took notes. “Do you by any chance know about this sewing process you mentioned?”

“I do, actually,” replied Vínviðr. “I made a suit for my husband Night Sky once. He loved it, though he usually felt out of place when he wore it outside.” At the memory, she giggled as she raised the pastry again without paying attention to it. “Anyways, as for the rest of the suit…”

-o-

Twilight had woken up earlier than usual and wasn’t able to fall asleep until very late last night, but she looked far from tired. Leaving Spike in his bed for a few more minutes as she prepared everything. She filled her saddlebags with two blank books, several parchments, three quills in case the other two broke and a couple inkwells.

“This is going to be amazing!” sang Twilight, checking the notes Luna sent her last night. ”I have enough material to start a conversation, and these grammar sheets she gave me are actually easier than I thought they would be! I didn’t expect Princess Luna to be so well-versed in foreign cultures!” With an excited squee, she glanced through the papers to quickly review the content. “Scandineighvia seems to be an outstanding place, though I’m worried that Drakkar might be offended if I bring up knowledge of his hometown from more than a thousand years ago.” Though concerned at first, she let out a long, relieved sigh when she got to the final pages. “These are actually more recent; Princess Luna must have gathered this information from their conversation last night. I’ll have to read this during the walk to Fluttershy’s.”

Twilight left the notes on the table before trotting upstairs, stopping next to Spike. She stood there for a moment, moving her hoof towards him, but pulling it back almost instantly. Witnessing the baby dragon sleep was heartwarming, and a grim feeling climbed up her spine at the very thought of waking him up. However, duty called, and she knew that Spike was going to be needed to write down everything. With that idea in mind, Twilight magically lifted the sleeping dragon and rested him on her back.

“W-w-what’s going on?” asked Spike, rheum preventing him from opening his eyes. He sat up on Twilight’s back, wiping his face to see his surroundings, only to notice the mare’s mane in front of him. “Twilight, what are you doing?” he inquired with a confused grimace.

She snickered at his words, her ears drooping as she turned to him. “Sorry, Spike, I didn’t want to wake you up so early, but we had to get going to talk to Drakkar.” While she spoke, she slowly walked down the stairs, with Spike grabbing her sides to avoid falling. “You can try to rest and sleep on my back while I’m on my way there if you want. I’m going to walk slowly anyways; I have to study all these papers again just to make sure I got everything right,” she added as she magically pulled the papers she had left on the table to her.

The travel to Fluttershy’s house was uneventful, which allowed Twilight to prepare herself for the meeting. She was able to check Luna’s notes thrice during the trip, and Spike had taken a quick nap that had worked wonders on him, being able to take a peek at the papers as Twilight read then.

“So, are we actually going to interview this Drakkar pony?” asked Spike as he scratched the back of his neck and stretched his arms and legs.

“The Princesses are interested in starting political negotiations between both kingdoms,” explained Twilight. “Both parties admitted that they lacked information about each other, so Celestia trusted me to take care of gathering all the information I could until the Grand Galloping Gala.”

“Do the notes Luna gave you say anything about dragons in Drakkar’s homeland?” inquired Spike with a concerned voice. “Nothing special, really; I just want to know if I should be expecting praises or hiding from him.”

“Well, he’s seen me before,” replied Twilight. ”Besides, you’re a baby dragon, and if he notices we’re in good terms, there’s no reason for him to try anything despite whatever they do to dragons.”

“That’s… not the most relaxing answer I could get,” admitted Spike with a shiver.

Twilight let out a long, exasperated sigh before turning to Spike. “Relax; if the Princesses have allowed me take care of this, that’s because there’s nothing to worry about,” she insisted with a comforting smile.

“Well, I’ll stay behind you taking notes just in case,” replied the young dragon as he picked a quill and one of the blank books from the saddlebags.

From the distance, both could see Fluttershy’s cottage, with Drakkar outside, chasing a small wild boar. Twilight noticed that, when the stallion touched the little animal, he turned around and galloped as Gullin stopped running away and began running behind him.

“What the…” Spike scratched his forehead, befuddled at the sight. “Twilight, what’s going on here?”

“I’m… not sure,” admitted Twilight with the same astonishment as her assistant. The wild boar then tackled Drakkar in his hind leg right before squealing and running on the opposite direction as the stallion turned to chase him. “If I wasn’t certain that it’s impossible, I think they’re playing tag. That boar must be Gullin, the pet Fluttershy gave him.”

“A boar as a pet?” Spike blinked in disbelief for a moment, only to shrug it off a second later. “Well, if Pinkie has an alligator, I can dig that.”

“Let’s go talk to him,” said Twilight, trotting towards him with a broad grin. “Drakkar!”

The stallion stood still, turning to Twilight and waving his hoof slowly. “I remember you from the drinking contest,” he said politely. “Are you one of Fluttershy’s friends?”

Twilight nodded slowly as she rested a hoof on her chest. “I’m Twilight Sparkle. I’m sure the Princesses and my brother Shining Armor had told you about me and what I’ve come here for.”

“So you’re Shining Armor’s sister,” repeated Drakkar with a laugh. “When Fluttershy began telling me about you and the Princesses, I believed that you were a seer who could communicate with your deities.”

Twilight giggled at his words, shaking a hoof in front of him. “Far from it; I’m just a student. And as such, I’ve come to gather the required information for the negotiations.”

“Very well, we’ll do that.” Next to him, Gullin stood by his side, grunting with displeasure as he pushed Drakkar with his hooves. “Excuse me for a second, Twilight.” As she nodded, the stallion crouched, looking at the young wild boar in the eyes. “I’m sorry, Gullin, but Twilight comes to talk about business. We’ll keep playing later.” When Gullin turned around with a disgruntled squeal, Drakkar looked up and noticed Spike on Twilight’s back, which made him raise an eyebrow. “What… what’s that?” he asked, pointing at him.

“Oh, this is Spike, my number one assistant!” replied Twilight. “He’s a baby dragon.”

Spike gasped in terror before grabbing one of Twilight’s ears. “Twilight, you didn’t have to say it!” he whispered without taking his eyes away from Drakkar.

The stallion’s eyes widened in shock. “You… you can’t be serious,” replied Drakkar as he stared at Spike with disbelief. “This is a spawn of Níðhǫggr?”

“A what of who?” asked Twilight, surprised by his reaction.

“I… I never thought I would see a dragon, much less such a young one.” Drakkar walked slowly towards them, moving his hoof towards him cautiously. At first, Spike covered his head and shivered, but Twilight didn’t shy away as Drakkar’s visage showed more surprise than fear or anger.

When the stallion rested his hoof on Spike’s forehead and caressed it, the little dragon calmed down, but gently pushed him away. “So, you’re not going to hurt me?” asked Spike.

“Hurt you? Why would I do that?” inquired Drakkar with a shrug. “You’re the first dragon I’ve seen in my whole life. I want to know about you, actually.”

“We’ll have time for that later,” offered Twilight with a gentle bow. “For now, we should focus on our task.”

“So there aren’t any dragons in your homeland?” interjected Spike curiously as he got down from Twilight. “And who’s that Nihog you mentioned before?”

“Níðhǫggr is the only living dragon I know of,” explained Drakkar. “Legends say that he’s trapped among the roots of Yggdrasil, gnarling them constantly. Then we have Jǫrmungandr, but that’s not a dragon but an ormr, or a serpent as you might call them in Equestria. They say that it’s so long that its body surrounds Miðgarðr. Then we have Fafnir, but he wasn’t always a dragon, but a dvergr whose greed transformed him into one.”

“Yggdrasil? Miðgarðr?” repeated Twilight with a cocked eyebrow.

“Oh, you see, Yggdrasil is the World Tree, where the Nine Realms are settled,” explained Drakkar with a smile in his face. “Our realm, where we live, is called Miðgarðr. The other eight are Múspelheimr, the Realm of Fire; Ásgarðr, where the gods leave; Jǫtunheimr, the Realm of the Giants; Hel, the Realm of the Dead; Svartálfheimr, the Realm of the dvergar; Vanaheimr, the Realm of the Vanir; Niflheimr, the Realm of Ice; and Álfheimr, the Realm of the álfar.”

“I see.” Twilight seemed slightly annoyed at the apparent nonsense Drakkar was talking about. However, because of the Princesses’ interest in the diplomatic relationships, she kept her personal opinions aside. Though she disagreed with his perspective of the universe, it actually told her a lot about their culture; Scandineighvia appeared to be a superstitious kingdom, with little to no grasp of science as compared to Equestria. “Well, we’ll focus on our realm, if you don’t mind,” she added with a snort.

“Sounds good to me,” replied Drakkar with a nod. “We have quite a lot to talk about.”

-o-

At the smithy, Mjǫllna had started melting some iron ingots in the furnace, getting ready to pour them in the sealed molds. The mask she wore protected her from breathing the vile odor and gas particles of metal. Once she was able to get a decent balance, she could lift heavy weights with little effort; blacksmithing had granted her outstanding physical might that bested the average Earth pony’s natural strength. This had proven to be a blessing concerning her profession, and the subject of a good laugh every now and then when her mother used to bring possible suitors for her. Lack of Mjǫllna’s interest in them aside, a simple feat of her prowess was all that was needed to scare them away.

She could understand her mother’s frustration, however. Scandineighvian mares used to bear foals much earlier than Equestrian ones. Her grandmother told her that he gave birth to Hearth Fire when she was almost sixteen, and Hearth Fire brought Mjǫllna to this world being only fifteen. Thinking about it, she was on her early twenties and still without a foal to call her own. It was a thought that didn’t bother her as long as she didn’t think about it, and the smiting of her hammer against iron usually kept her mind busy. This time, however, Ponyville seemed to be conspiring against her.

Maybe it had to do with her time with Drakkar, but she couldn’t avoid smiling at the colts and fillies running along with their parents. A couple foals or even more under her wing sounded delightful, and while she didn’t consider talking about that with him, Drakkar seemed to be comfortable among young ponies, so chances were that he would love the idea as well.

As she finished pouring the liquid metal in the mold, she carefully put the container aside, waiting for the steel to cool down. While waiting, she saw through the corner of the eye a small group of young ponies trotting towards her house. She recognized them as the fillies Drakkar was playing with a couple days ago; the self-proclaimed Cutie Mark Crusaders.

“Good morning, girls!” greeted Mjǫllna, waving at them.

“Oh, Miss Mjǫllna!” replied Sweetie Belle, followed closely by her friends. “Wow, you sure start working early!”

“I always start working early, girls,” said Mjǫllna with a satisfied grin. “It takes some time for the forge to light up.”

“Mah sis also starts working very early in the morning,” said Apple Bloom. “We all get up extra early to do our chores at the farm.”

“Rarity’s been working on a lot of dresses too,” continued Sweetie Belle.

“What I don’t get, Sweetie Belle,” interjected Scootaloo,” is why you didn’t stay in bed. I mean, I love crusading for your cutie marks as much as you two, but today we didn’t have school, so I thought we were going to get some extra sleep.”

“Oh, that was the plan,” admitted Sweetie Belle, shrugging for a moment, “but Rarity said that she was having a visit and she didn’t want to be disturbed.”

“Did she tell ya who the visit was?” inquired Apple Bloom, looking at her friend.

“No, but I saw her entering the boutique while hidden behind some bushes,” she replied with a giggle. “She wore a headwear covering her mane and had a grapevine for a cutie mark.”

Mjǫllna’s eyes widened at the description, staring at Sweetie Belle. “Are you certain about the cutie mark?”

“Yes, Miss Mjǫllna,” replied Sweetie Belle. “It’s the first time I saw it, so it shocked me a bit.”

With a sigh and a shake of her head, Mjǫllna rested her weight on her left legs. “That’s my grandmother, Vínviðr.”

“Your granny?” repeated Sweetie Belle, staring at Mjǫllna with a dropped jaw. When the mare nodded at her with a smile, she regained her composure. “But she looks so young!”

“That’s because she is,” replied Mjǫllna with a chuckle. “I wonder what she’s going to do at Carousel Boutique.” She looked at the direction Rarity’s store was for a moment before shrugging it off and returning her attention to the fillies. “Anyway, what are you going to do today? Crusading for your cutie marks as usual?”

“You bet!” replied Scootaloo. “Hey, we could help you at the smithy!”

Even before the filly pegasus finished her sentence, Mjǫllna had already raised a hoof and showed a frown. “I’m very sorry, but this is a very dangerous place, and I can’t let you hurt yourself.”

“Aw, but a blacksmithing cutie mark would be awesome!” insisted Scootaloo. “I want one like yours!”

Mjǫllna sighed, looking through the corner of her eye at the cooling molds. “Girls,” she started, glancing at the fillies with a slowly growing smile. “I can’t let you get close to the furnace, but there’s something you might be able to do for me.”

“Alright!” cheered Apple Bloom. “What do you need, Miss Mjǫllna?”

“You can just call me Mjǫllna, Apple Bloom,” she corrected with a chuckle. “Okay, despite what you might believe, blacksmithing isn’t just hammering metal on an anvil.” At those words, Scootaloo grunted in deep disappointment, to which Mjǫllna couldn’t avoid letting out a laugh. “Blacksmithing involves much more than that. You’re going to help me by creating molds. I have a bag of clay and some patterns there. You have to use those wooden frames to make the molds, helping yourselves with the cooked patterns.”

“Yay, clay!” cried Sweetie Belle, galloping inside the smithy.

Scootaloo, on the other hoof, crossed her forehooves in front of her, staring at her joyful friend with a raised eyebrow. “Clay? Really? That’s for foals!”

“Aw, come on, Scoots,” said Apple Bloom. “You heard Mjǫllna; not everything’s about hammerin’ metal!”

“I think I might have something for you, Scootaloo,” interjected Mjǫllna as she looked through her shelves. “That might do!” Without a second thought, she pulled a broad sword from one of the upper stands. The blade was craggy with impurities and iron scraps from its forging. “Scootaloo, you’re going to grind this sword with the grindstone I have there,” she said, pointing at the small rocky wheel. “With all the orders I’ve been taking, I haven’t been able to finish it.”

The filly looked at the sword with a raised eyebrow. “Well, at least it’s not clay,” she finally said with a shrug.

“Ahm gonna help Sweetie Belle with the clay molds,” said Apple Bloom, trotting towards her friend.

Mjǫllna giggled at the sight of the three fillies working with her. Sure, the tasks she had given them were the usual ones given to apprentices, and she knew that, as soon as they failed to get their cutie marks, they would put everything aside and move to a different activity. However, there was something more there that day. Just like Vínviðr did with both Hearth Fire and herself, so was Mjǫllna enjoying her time teaching some tricks of the trade to the crusaders.

“Hey, girls,” said Apple Bloom, calling her friends’ attention. “After this, what do y’all say of visiting Zecora?”

“Sounds like a plan!” replied Sweetie Belle.

“Whatever,” said Scootaloo between her teeth, checking the still scraggy blade. “Oh, you have to be kiddin’! How much longer do I have to do this?”

“You can stop whenever you want,” replied Mjǫllna as she walked to her side. From behind her, she took the sword, inspecting the side Scootaloo had been working on. During the time they’ve been working, she had been able to remove a few chunks of raw iron, but the blade itself didn’t have smooth spots anywhere. “Not bad for a novice, kid,” she admitted with a smile as she caressed Scootaloo’s head. “. Girls, come here, I’ll show you how it’s done!”

-o-

Save for Spike, who had spent the last few hours taking notes about everything concerning Scandineighvia, time seemed to go way too fast. Drakkar had his own set of parchments where he wrote down drafts of what Twilight told him about Equestria after she assured her that he could take some from the Library when they were done. The two ponies had spent hours exchanging pieces of trivia from both kingdoms, touching on every conceivable topic, from military to farming. Though she wasn’t as fluent in certain aspects of Equestrian culture, if things went well, she could ask her brother and friends to second and expand her own knowledge concerning those topics.

Everything Twilight had to say about Equestria fascinated Drakkar, the same way she was excited by everything he told her about Scandineighvia. However, when told about different creatures from his homeland, she couldn’t avoid staring at him in disbelief. It was hard to believe that there were no dragons in Scandineighvia, but instead had fire and frost giants, living in their own realms. Explanations about álfar and dvergar were even less satisfying, as they were described as ponies with slightly specific traits and gifted with great talent with magic and crafts respectively, also having their own realms outside their own. The fact that the so called Rainbow Bridge allowed one to travel between them really made Scandineighvian ponies look like superstitious folks.

They didn’t appear to be fond of technology or science either. Whenever Twilight asked about certain commodities, Drakkar would reply with a shocked expression and a shake of his head. Electricity, as far as he told her, wasn’t used at all, only worshipped due to being Þórr the one causing them. The most advanced means of transport was a chariot pulled by oxen, and it was only used by the nobility; the konungr, the jarls and the þegns, which meant that they didn’t have steam-powered vehicles. Despise all these lacks, Fimbulvetr seemed to be a kingdom that could sustain itself perfectly. If there was something Equestria could offer on the short run, it was going to take a long time.

After a long discussion, both decided to take a short break.

“Spike, you’ve been quiet the whole time,” said Twilight, to which the young dragon replied with a shrug. “Do you want to ask him anything?”

Spike tipped her chin for moment before pointing at the stallion. “Drakkar, what kind of stories do you have there?”

“Oh, we have hundreds of stories!” replied Drakkar, laughing loudly. “If I could tell you all the tales I know.”

“Please do!” he said as she put aside his book. “I want to hear about that dragon you mentioned.”

Drakkar took a short breath, but didn’t spoke a word, staring at Twilight and Spike for a moment. After a short pause, he let out a defeated sigh before looking around him and shaking his head. “Neither of you speak or understand Scandineighvian, do you?”

“I’m afraid I don’t for now,” admitted Twilight as she shrugged. “Princess Luna has given me a small notebook with grammar rules and some vocabulary. I’ve looked it over, and I’ve got the hang of the declensions, but I can’t say I can start or keep a conversation.”

“You see, Twilight,” started Drakkar before sitting down on the grass, “our stories are written in Scandineighvian, and while some of them have been translated to Equestrian, it feels…” His face twisted into a displeased grimace, moving his hooves in circles as if it helped coming up with a word. “It hurts my tongue, so to speak. We translated them, so Equestrians might be able to understand it, but it also shatters the metrics and melodiousness of the prose or poetry.”

“I see.” Twilight tipped her chin for a moment before her eyes widened at an idea. “Oh! I know a spell that might help you!”

“A… spell?” repeated Drakkar with an ever greater grimace of displeasure.

“Oh, you see,” explained Twilight as she magically searched through her notes, “there’s a spell that allows you to project mental images. With that, you’d be able to recite stories in Scandineighvian and other ponies would be able to understand you.”

“But I’m not interested in learning magic,” he stated bluntly.

“Why? It’s in your nature! You’re a unicorn; you should be interested in magic!” replied Twilight, shocked at his words.

“Stallions don’t use magic.” Drakkar crossed his front legs in front of him and stared at the young mare. “It’s been like that since the foundation of our village.”

“If I may,” interjected Twilight, “according to Princess Luna’s notes, despite the stated differences in gender roles, it is totally possible for a stallion to become a proficient battle crier if he becomes proficient enough at it.”

To these words, Drakkar looked away with a grunt. “Even so, I’d rather not use magic.”

“But you levitate objects and do the bear-roaring spell, which I’d never seen until I met you. And those,” continued Twilight with a smirk, “are also magic. You can’t simply say you don’t want to learn magic when you’ve already learned a couple spells.”

“That’s a different kind of magic,” replied Drakkar with an irritated growl. “I said that in front of the Princesses.”

“Different kinds of magic are still magic,” insisted Twilight. Her eyes widened as a thought came to her mind that made her show a broad grin. “The magic you refuse to learn is Scandineighvian one. This, however, could be considered… Which was the word?” Twilight magically levitated and moved all the papers and pages of the books she had in an attempt to find the word. “Skaldic, that’s right! Skaldic magic! It would allow you to let ponies and creatures from other races know about your story! This is Equestria; we won’t judge you for learning magic, and you don’t have to use it in Scandineighvia if you don’t want to.”

Though dubious at first, a smile drew on Drakkar’s face at the idea. With a short nod, he leaned forward. “Very well, then.”

“Excellent!” shouted Twilight joyfully, getting up with a quick jump. “It’s actually a very simple spell, but due to being pretty much a useless spell, it’s a spell almost nopony uses. But I’m glad to be able to teach it to another pony!”

“Alright, what do I have to do to cast the spell?” asked Drakkar with a raised eyebrow.

“As I said, it’s very simple. Just focus raw magic in your horn and imagine what you want to show,” explained Twilight as her horn shone with a sparkly aura. “Allow me to show you.”

Twilight closed her eyes and raised her head, her horn pointing directly to the sky. After a moment, the sparkles of her horn spread over her, shining brightly and creating what looked like a blank scroll. In the middle of the ivory nothingness, a small purple glow appeared, slowly getting the shape of a unicorn. After a very short while, the mane and facial features resembled Twilight’s perfectly. The image bowed at Drakkar, who took a step back while gawking.

“Now you try it,” said Twilight’s image. “As you can see, it’s not that hard. You can use words while trying to cast the spell if you feel more comfortable. Besides, speaking out what you’re thinking of usually makes the spell easier. Actually, in the days of old, storytellers used to help themselves with this spell to further enhance their already talented speechcraft.”

With a raised eyebrow, Drakkar slowly nodded, focusing more energy than Twilight did.

She dismissed the spell without effort, slowly opening her eyes to witness Drakkar’s attempt. “You don’t need to use that much energy,” said Twilight with a raised eyebrow as she took a step back.

“Múspellssónr rís af fjarri,” he began chanting.

As Drakkar chanted loudly with a proud smile, his horn burst similarly to how Twilight’s had done before, but the creature that slowly formed in front of them wasn’t Drakkar or anything neither Spike nor Twilight knew about. The intense orange and yellow glow quickly turned into a horrifying being of gargantuan proportions. The beast resembled a Diamond Dog, but had longer legs and walked straight. Its hair was living fire, and the parts of the body that weren’t set ablaze were as dark as coal. As the behemoth walked through the blank screen, he stepped across a tree half his size, only to crouch and tear it from the ground, the leaves and branches bursting into flames as the giant smacked his elbow with it. The monster let out a bellowing roar as it breathed a cone of flames to the skies.

When Drakkar finished chanting the poem and dismissed the spell, causing the monstrous fire giant to burst in a curtain of sparkles, he opened his eyes to see both Twilight and Spike staring at where the image spawned, their mouths wide opened in shock.

“W-w-what was that thing?” stuttered Spike.

“That, spawn of Níðhǫggr,” replied Drakkar, “is a fire giant, or Son of Múspellsheimr, as we also call them.”

“Unbelievable,” said Twilight, unable to regain her composure. “It looked so… so real. I knew that words made the images clearer, but I never expected to witness this…” Twilight sat down, pressing her hoof against her forehead. “This can’t be a made up monster. Not if you can picture it perfectly.”

“They spend most of their time in Múspellsheimr,” said Drakkar with a nod, “but sometimes, once every many, many years, some of them travel to Miðgarðr. They are mostly young giants who want to show that they’re mighty warriors to their superiors. And by Þórshammar, for what I heard, those monsters take time and effort to take down.”

“So everything you’ve mentioned,” continued Twilight, speaking slowly as her own mind rearranged herself to believe everything she had thrown away as fantasy, “like… the serpent that surrounds the world and bites its own tail? And—”

“We believe that they exist, yes.” Drakkar looked around him with a satisfied smile. “Though I’ve never seen the Jǫrmungandr, but we have stories about it, and relieves about how Þórr, the God of Thunder, lured the monster with an ox head to try to catch it and kill it. But Hymir, the giant he was sharing the boat with, cut the line and the beast was released.”

“He tried to catch a serpent long enough to surround the world?!” asked Spike in shock, taking a hop forward. “I wanna hear all about it!”

“Sure, spawn of Níðhǫggr, you deserve a story to relax after all that writing,” replied Drakkar with a laugh. He looked at the young dragon with a smirk, lowering her head until he reached his height. “I hope you don’t mind me calling you that,” he added as he rested his hoof on Spike’s shoulder. “I know Rainbow Dash loves being called Bifrǫst, but I don’t know if you prefer that or being called…”

“Spike,” finished the young dragon. “It’s okay, I like how it sounds. Is there a way to put it differently, though? I like the name, but being a spawn isn’t that menacing,” he added with a chuckle. “Think you can do that?”

“Spike, huh?” Drakkar looked up in the sky for a moment before turning to Twilight and then to the young dragon. A slowly growing smile drew on the stallion’s lips, which made Spike hop in anticipation. “Oddr Níðhoggsson, Scholar Dragon of Equestria.”

“That’s amazing!” cried Spike out of pure joy as he hit himself on the chest. “Alright, let’s hear about that serpent-fishing god!”

-o-

At first, the three fillies watched in awe at how Mjǫllna polished the blade with the grindstone. However, after about an hour, they began focusing their attention on everything else. The mare chuckled, caressing their heads before getting up and putting the sword back to its place.

“I can’t blame you for getting bored,” she admitted with a shrug. “This is the kind of job you do because you love every single minute of it.”

“Even the most boring and repetitive tasks?” asked Scootaloo.

“Scootaloo, that’s mean to say!” scolded Sweetie Belle.

“Even the most boring and repetitive tasks,” repeated Mjǫllna with a nod. Scootaloo blushed slightly as the other fillies snickered. “Okay, girls, we’ve done quite a lot for today.” She got up to check the molds, and smiled as she noticed that the fillies had done a pretty decent job at it. A few touches here and there before cooking them and they should be ready. “You’ve helped me a lot and, in return, I’ll go with you to see Zecora.”

“Ya don’t hafta come with us if you have so much work, Mjǫllna,” said Apple Bloom politely with a smile.

“The Everfree Forest is a dangerous place,” insisted Mjǫllna. “I don’t want anything to happen to you if I can avoid it.”

“Well, I wouldn’t mind having her around,” admitted Sweetie Belle. “Remember that time when we almost got turned to stone by a cockatrice?”

“Now we know we have to avoid everything that isn’t Zecora,” continued Scootaloo with a shrug. “No big deal.”

“Okay then. Thanks for offering to come with us, Mjǫllna,” said Apple Bloom. “Come on, girls!”

As the fillies walked away, Mjǫllna cooled the forge off with a bucket of water before joining them. The ponies spent the travel talking about their future plans.

“So, how does it feel to try everything to earn your cutie marks?” asked Mjǫllna, intrigued. “It must be really exhausting!”

“Very,” admitted Sweetie Belle. “We’ve tried a lot of things: animal caring, juggling, gardening, singing, painting—”

“Weightlifting, sky diving, bungee jumping, leg-wrestling—” interjected Scootaloo for a while before Apple Bloom continued.

“Harvestin’, dressmakin’, bakin’, organizing—”

“By Brisingamen, just listening to it makes me tired!” replied Mjǫllna with a chuckle. “And what are you planning to do when you get your cutie marks?”

“Well, Ah don’t think we’ll get the same cutie mark,” admitted Apple Bloom. “Ah guess we’ll give moral support and keep doing the same things to help the other get their own.”

“And we’ll help young colts and fillies get their cutie marks too!” added Scootaloo with a flap of her wings.

Apple Bloom gasped in enthusiasm. “That’s a great idea!” she said with a wide grin. “Wait, what if our special talent is making others find their special talent?”

“If that was the case, we wouldn’t be blank flanks yet,” replied Scootaloo as she rolled her eyes, as if her answer was too obvious to consider mentioning.

“Mjǫllna, now that we’re talking about our future,” said Sweetie Belle, turning to face the mare. “Are you planning on marrying?”

“Sweetie Belle, that’s a bit private, don’t ya think?” asked Apple Bloom with a raised eyebrow.

Mjǫllna giggled at the filly’s reaction. “It’s okay, Apple Bloom. To be honest, I’ve been considering marriage recently, yes.”

“With Drakkar?” insisted Sweetie Belle, hopping around. “With him?”

The mare laughed loudly, caressing the filly’s mane before speaking. “It’s too soon to say that, even by Scandineighvian standards.”

“If you get married, can we go?” asked Sweetie Belle again.

“Cut it out already,” grunted Scootaloo.

“If we marry here, sure you can come. I guess that everypony in Ponyville would come,” said the mare cordially with a tender smile.

“Yay!” cheered Sweetie Belle, jumping in pure joy.

“What d’ya mean with if you marry here?” inquired Apple Bloom with a raised eyebrow.

“Well, maybe Drakkar would like to marry in his homeland. I wouldn’t mind meeting some of my family there. My great-grandmother had two brothers and a sister, so I’ll have a lot of relatives to greet there,” said Mjǫllna with a giggle. “Besides, I’m sure that Drakkar misses his family and friends.”

“If you go, I can lend you my camera so you can take pictures and show us. Please?” Sweetie Belle’s eyes widened, sparkling with hope.

“If you want to see a wedding so badly why don’t you marry yourself?” replied Scootaloo. “You won’t shut up about marrying and whatnot.”

“Well, duh! Because I’m too young to marry,” said Sweetie Belle as she rolled her eyes.

“So it’s not because you don’t have a special somepony,” teased Apple Bloom with a roguish smirk.

“What? No! I mean, yes! I mean… leave me alone!” Sweetie Belle blushed, trotting to Mjǫllna’s right, the mare standing in the middle, separating the filly unicorn from her two friends.

“No way! Really? Who is it?”

The young fillies began bombarding her friend with questions and she tried her best to avoid answering them. To this, Mjǫllna couldn’t contain her laughter. They didn’t notice getting inside the forest, and only after a howl from afar called their attention, they didn’t stop joking. The mare’s ears perked up and the fillies shrank, hiding under Mjǫllna.

“T-timberwolves!” whispered Scootaloo.

“We should return to Ponyville,” suggested Sweetie, trembling.

Mjǫllna looked around her, looking for a place to hide. “There must be somewhere we could—” As she scanned the area, she noticed a small, shallow cave. From her place and the dim sunlight that filtered through the trees, she could see the end of it. The fillies could hide there without problem, and the timberwolves wouldn’t be able to get them. She’d have a bit of trouble fitting there, but the young ponies were the priority. “We can hide there!”

The four ponies ran towards the cave when a timberwolf jumped from the wilderness and landed right on top of a large boulder a few feet away from them. Though the fillies had arrived safely to the hideout, Mjǫllna simply moved aside, standing in front of the entry as she stared at the creature, which returned a hungry gaze at her.

“Mjǫllna!” cried the fillies.

“Don’t even think about getting out!” she shouted without looking away from the monster.

When she walked back, she stepped on a thick and sturdy branch. She looked at it through the corner of her eye for an instant before focusing on the timberwolf again. The beast charged towards her, pouncing with its jaws wide open and a guttural growl, tackling the mare. When Mjǫllna fell on her back, she pressed her hind legs against the wolf’s belly, throwing it against a tree, causing it to break apart.

“What’s the matter?” taunted Mjǫllna with a smirk, grabbing the thick branch and resting it on her right shoulder as the fillies cheered from the safety of her hideout. “You can’t stand the sight of a strong Scandineighvian mare?”

Her victory didn’t last long, for she spotted a couple more timberwolves coming towards them. Both stood next to the remains of which appeared to be a member of their pack. When the beast began to recompose itself, the other two began howling, to which Mjǫllna reacted by standing on her hind legs and wielding the branch with both front hooves, frowning at the beasts.

“Let’s hope that my Scandineighvian blood helps me here,” she said as she took a defensive stance, covering the cave’s entrance.

-o-

After staying so long in Fluttershy’s, Twilight decided to go for a short walk to stretch the legs. Drakkar and Spike considered it a good idea, and the young dragon suggested visiting Applejack, to which both ponies agreed. Aside from meeting her friend, Twilight was also interested in Scandineighvia’s agriculture, especially the possibility of growing crops in low temperature climates.

“We should take a road that’s not as close to the Everfree Forest,” suggested Spike with a shudder.

“What’s with that forest?” inquired Drakkar with a cocked eyebrow. “I walked through it to come here and, aside from the dense vegetation, I didn’t see that much.“

”You mean you didn’t see any monsters? There are a lot of them!” insisted Spike, waving his arms. “Manticores, hydras, cockatrices, you name it!”

“I’ve… heard those names before.” Drakkar tipped his chin for a moment before turning to the young dragon. ”I remember meeting a strange pony in the Everfree who told me about those.”

“That must be Zecora,” replied Twilight, surprised at the fact that Drakkar had stumbled upon her friend. “Did you actually meet her in the Everfree Forest?”

“She was gathering some plants, that’s what I can remember. That and the weird way speaking she has.”

Twilight let out a short chuckle at his words. “White, black stripes, exotic ornaments?”

“Yes, that’s her!” he replied with a smile.

“She’s a nice friend of ours,” added Twilight with a nod. “I’m sure she was quite helpful.”

“She told me how to get here; something about safe zones. Creatures around here are quite territorial for what she told me, but there were places I could walk through without problems.” Drakkar shrugged with a short laugh. “It was hard to get what she was trying to say, but I got a certain idea about what those monsters looked like, and let me tell you; I was impressed by some of those. A multi-headed bog dweller? I’ve yet to hear about any of those in the stories from my hometown!”

“Well, Twilight and her friends encountered that hydra,” said Spike, proud as if he had been there. “And they were able to outsmart it and live to tell the tale!”

“By Sifjarhár!” exclaimed Drakkar, turning to Twilight in shock. “Is that true?”

“Well, it wasn’t easy,” replied Twilight humbly, looking away with a snicker. “It’s true, though. We’ve had a few encounters with the creatures of the Everfree Forest, and we’ve been able to handle them. We try to avoid them, though.”

“That’s good,” admitted Drakkar with an approving nod. “Bravery and recklessness are two words that some of our young folks consider the same thing.”

From the Everfree Forest came howling sounds, which made both ponies’ ears perk up. Drakkar turned to face the dense vegetation with a frown and gritted teeth.

“Úlfar,” he growled, taking a step back and a defensive stance.

Twilight raised an eyebrow at his reaction, but quickly returned her attention towards one of the parchments, reading through it. “Úlfar… here it is! Úlfr, wolf,” said Twilight, looking back at Drakkar. “Those must be timberwolves.”

“T-t-timberwolves?” stuttered Spike as he jumped behind Twilight for cover.

“Don’t worry, Spike,” comforted Twilight while looking back at him. “Timberwolves seldom get out of the forest. We’re safe here.”

The fading howling was soon replaced by screams of terror. Twilight gasped as she recognized whose voices they were.

“The crusaders are in danger!” she cried. “Spike, run to Sweet Apple Acres and bring Applejack and Big Macintosh! Drakkar and I will try to make them flee or contain them until you bring them!”

“Right! On my way!” said Spike before rushing towards the farm.

“Okay,” she resumed, turning to Drakkar, “we must move, fast!”

As Twilight galloped towards the Everfree Forest, another scream, this time from a grown mare, made Drakkar’s eyes widen.

“That was Mjǫllna! Drakkar, we have to—” started Twilight as she turned to see if Drakkar was following him.

To her shock, Drakkar stood there, slowly lowering and shaking his head. His breathing slowly became more ragged and his chest went up and down frantically with faster and louder heartbeats. As she slowly walked closer to him with increasing concern, fearing an anxiety attack, Twilight noticed that tears were falling down from his face.

“Þat munn eigi verða aptr,” whispered Drakkar between his breathing,

“Drakkar, don’t cry. We’re going to save them, okay?” insisted Twilight, trying to look at him in the eyes despite his mane covering his face.

Drakkar’s horn began to shine intensely, to which Twilight reacted by jumping back. The giant stallion looked to the sky and let out a bellowing roar, different from those he had used since his arrival. It was louder, an ear-shattering and guttural war cry. When he looked forward, Twilight shrank at the narrow pupils and dripping saliva from his mouth. It was a feral effigy of the stallion she had been talking to mere minutes ago.

“Lát úlfunum kenni æðru!” he cried as he stood threateningly on his hind legs before charging to the forest.

Twilight was able to jump aside to avoid being overrun by mere inches. Coming back to her senses, she followed him as fast as her legs allowed her, considering that trying to teleport in front of him to put him to a halt seemed like the unsafest of any idea that had come to her. Unable to think of anything for now, Twilight kept the pace with difficulty, trying to come up with whatever had happened to Drakkar.

-o-

Mjǫllna had been able to put up a fight against the first three timberwolves, at least as long as they didn’t try to combine efforts or where gullible enough to fall in her feints and tricks. They seemed like younger wolves of a greater pack, though they were still able to put the mare against the ropes. In spite of that, Mjǫllna was still strong enough to deal with them, be it by swinging the large and strong branch like a mace or throwing boulders to keep them away from each other and preventing them from using combined attacks.

Despite her strength and having the situation slightly under control, as the fillies hid under a rocky formation behind her, the howling of these younger timberwolves had summoned the rest of the pack. What started as a small group of three became a small squadron of eight, the newcomers being larger and more fearsome that the former ones.

The creatures walked around Mjǫllna, completely surrounding her and ignoring the hidden fillies.

“Girls!” said Mjǫllna, grabbing the large branch with both hooves as she stared at the timberwolves. “They’re focused on me! Run!”

“We’re not leaving you behind!” replied Scootaloo with a growl.

“Do it!” demanded the mare as a timberwolf pounced towards her. She smacked it in the snout as she stepped aside, dodging the bite. With a battle cry, she wielded the branch with both hooves, ready for a sweeping strike. “I am Mjǫllna Eldstaðsdóttir, descendant of the shieldmare Gleipna Brýnhildóttir!” she announced with a challenging frown. “If I am to fall, I’ll take down as many of you with me as I can!”

Of the eight timberwolves, four crouched, getting ready to attack. Mjǫllna clenched the sturdy branch, hoping for the best. A mighty roar made the creatures’ ears perk up, looking at the direction it had come from. The fillies and Mjǫllna did the same, though the mare quickly focused on the beasts surrounding her.

“Hey, isn’t that Drakkar?” asked Apple Bloom with a hopeful smile.

“It sure sounds like him,” replied Sweetie Belle.

“Reinforcements right on time!” cheered Scootaloo, flapping her wings without lifting herself from the ground. “Just like in those Daring Do books Rainbow Dash likes so much!”

As the fillies had guessed, Drakkar appeared among the vegetation. The crusaders cheered victoriously, and Mjǫllna looked at him with a wide grin.

“Thank Freyja you’re here!” she said as Drakkar galloped towards them. “I feared that—” Her joy faded as she began to take a closer look at him. When she noticed his frenzied eyes, and how loud his roars were, she stepped back, keeping the branch in front of her. “Merciful Tyr, please, let this not be…” Without a second thought, she rushed past the timberwolves, which were focused now on the newcomer, and hid with the Crusaders. “Girls, stay behind me and don’t look!”

“What’s going on?” asked Apple Bloom.

“Yeah, why can’t we look?” added Scootaloo.

“My granny told me some legends about Scandineighvian ponies that became feral monsters in the battlefield,” she explained in a low voice without looking away from Drakkar. “With unmatched strength and primal fury, they didn’t distinguish friends from foes. We should stay out of sight and don’t call his attention until he calms down.”

“What if he finds us?” asked Sweetie Belle with a trembling voice.

Mjǫllna hugged the three fillies, pressing her faces against her chest to make sure they didn’t look at the fight. “I’ll protect you from him, I promise.”

One of the timberwolves began smelling the air around it, searching for Mjǫllna. Drakkar charged against it, impaling him with his horn and crashing him against a tree. The creature shattered into branches and leaves as Drakkar let out a ferocious and loud roar of victory before turning back to face the rest of the pack. A second wolf pounced towards him, but Drakkar jumped aside and used the momentum to tackle the beast down. To Mjǫllna’s horror, the stallion immobilized the monster with his front hooves and bit its neck, tearing its throat apart. The timberwolf let out a painful howl as it disintegrated.

Two of the biggest wolves jumped towards Drakkar, taking him down. He kicked one of the beasts’ hind legs, making it trip. With a frantic flail, he was able to throw the other one away, but not without getting his side scratched by its claws. After getting up, Drakkar roared at the remaining wolves as they snarled back at him. This time, four beasts charged, and Drakkar galloped head first against them. However, only two of them attacked him, the other two moved behind him, paying close attention to the small wound. Drakkar gripped both wolves’ necks with his hooves, snapping them with a bellowing roar that made the branches of the trees around him shake as the creatures turned to twigs under his hooves.

As he turned back to face the two behind him, the shattered timberwolves began recomposing, soon becoming the full pack of eight from the beginning. Despite having their ranks full again, the smaller wolves hesitated getting close to Drakkar. The larger ones, however, showed no fear, and the biggest of them all, apparently the alpha of the pack, took a step forward, throwing a challenging howl to Drakkar, to which he replied with a mighty roar. The rest of the pack moved away, creating a circle around the stallion and the alpha timberwolf.

The wolves howled to begin the match and the large beast jumped with its jaws wide open. Drakkar reacted by dashing under it, then bodily lifting the beast and throwing it at one of the smaller wolves. The stallion charged again, but the alpha timberwolf clawed him on his wounded side. The monsters surrounding them barked louder, despite Drakkar remaining impervious to the attack. Both combatants walked in circles without looking away from each other, exchanging roars, barks and howls. The wolf pounced at him, and Drakkar crouched for a moment, raising his head with a swift move, piercing the monsters’ lower jaw and rest of the skull. With a deafening war cry, Drakkar pounded the creature’s shoulders and pulled his neck back, shattering its head to pieces, after which it plummeted and turned into a mass of twigs and leaves.

As the stallion roared again and looked around him, the timberwolves stepped back, growling softly as they walked away. From afar, Mjǫllna noticed some ponies galloping towards them; Twilight, Applejack and Big Macintosh, with Spike running alongside the mare. Drakkar looked around him with his mouth open and still dripping saliva, his teeth slightly covered by dirt and broken splinters between them. When Twilight and her friends were close enough, Drakkar turned to face them with a roar.

“Twilight, be careful!” Mjǫllna cried, putting the fillies aside and gesturing to them for not to move from there. “Drakkar’s out of control!”

The stallion turned to face Mjǫllna and charged without a second thought. She reacted quickly by ducking and grappling him from below, grabbing both right legs causing him to trip. As both ponies reached the ground, Mjǫllna rolled away and jumped on him, trying to pin him down so he couldn’t get up. However, Drakkar seemed to be much stronger, and his struggling ended up freeing him from Mjǫllna’s grasp. Once he found himself released, he took her from the waist and raised her over his head, turning to face a bunch of boulders next to them. Big Macintosh galloped towards him, and was able to tackle him before Drakkar threw her. As Mjǫllna fell to the ground, Twilight and Applejack ran to her.

“Mjǫllna, what’s going on here?” asked Twilight without looking away from the two stallions.

“Drakkar’s become a berserker!” cried Mjǫllna as she got up and shook her head. ”We have to restrain him until he calms down again!”

“Well, Ahm sure mah big brother can take care of that,” said Applejack. “Where are mah sis and her friends?”

“They’re hidden in there,” replied Mjǫllna, pointing at the small cave. “They’ll be fine as long as they don’t move, but we have to help Big Macintosh!”

Big Macintosh had pushed Drakkar against a tree, forcing the air out of his lungs. Despite his strength, the farmpony soon found the feral stallion breaking free from his grapple, letting out a bellowing roar that made his rival step back in pain. Before Big Macintosh could react, Drakkar grabbed him and lifted him before throwing him against a tree.

“What in tarnation?! He beat mah brother!” said Applejack, her mouth agape.

“I’ll try to stop him; he won’t hesitate to bite in this state! Twilight, make sure the fillies are safe!” demanded Mjǫllna before darting towards Drakkar.

While Applejack pulled out her lasso, Twilight teleported next to the cave where the fillies were. When Mjǫllna tackled Drakkar, making him stumble and fall, Applejack threw the lasso, catching him by the neck. Knowing he was trapped, Drakkar bit the rope and pulled with all his strength, making Applejack fall, though she refused to let the rope go. As Drakkar was solely focused on the rope around his neck, Big Macintosh and Mjǫllna took the chance and immobilized him, lifting him and pushing him against a tree, each pony clenching one of his front legs.

“Vándir úlfar!” roared Drakkar as he tried with all his might to release himself from the grapple. “Þér tókuð Gisli af mér!”

Twilight galloped closer to them with her horn sparkling. Standing far enough to avoid his bites, the unicorn cast a spell on him, a magic aura surrounding Drakkar’s head. Slowly, his eyes began to close and his strength failed, causing him to collapse on the two ponies’ bodies.

“What have you—”

“It’s a sleeping spell, Mjǫllna,” interjected Twilight. He gestured with her hoof for the ponies to let Drakkar down. “Is everypony alright?”

“Eeyup,” said Big Macintosh with a painful grimace as he reached for his back.

“We’re fine too, right, girls?” asked Apple Bloom, to which her friends seconded with a nod

“So am I.” Mjǫllna lay down next to Drakkar, letting out a relieved sigh. “This is the stallion I know again.”

“What happened here?” asked Applejack. “Why was he acting all crazy?”

“Mjǫllna said something about berserker or something.” Twilight looked up her notes, slightly shaking her head. “He didn’t mention anything about them during our conversation.”

“Berserkers are warriors that can send themselves into a trance-like state,” explained Mjǫllna, caressing Drakkar’s mane. “Usually they drink an infusion or eat some hallucinogens that force them into that state.”

“Drakkar didn’t do any of those things,” said Twilight with a raised eyebrow. “He went crazy when he heard the timberwolves. By the way, what did he say before I put him to sleep? I only caught that he was referring to the wolves.”

“Cursing the wolves, yes,” confirmed Mjǫllna. “And then he said that they took Gisli from him.”

“Who’s Gisli?” asked Twilight.

“Ahm more concerned about what we’re gonna do with ‘im,” interjected Applejack with a frown. “Mjǫllna, after what Ah’ve seen today, Ah don’t want to see ‘im hanging around with mah sister. Ah hope y’all understand.”

“I… I understand,” said Mjǫllna, resting her head on Drakkar’s side.

“I’ll take care of him for now it you don’t mind, Mjǫllna”, offered Twilight. “I don’t know what happened here, but I want to help him. I can try to find out what made him turn into this and ways to avoid it from happening again.”

“Can you do that, Twilight?” asked Spike as he scratched his head.

“I can try, that’s all I can do for now. I’ll write Princess Luna; she might know something else about berserkers.” Twilight leaned down to face Mjǫllna. “Once you tell me everything you know about it, you should go home; you’d definitely earned some rest.” She then got up and looked at the Apple siblings. “You two should rest a bit.”

“Ah don’t like the idea of having you alone with him,” admitted Applejack.

Twilight shook her hoof with a smile. “Don’t worry about me. I can handle him with my magic. I was a bit shocked so I couldn’t react on time. But now that I know what to expect, even if he turns into this again, I’ll be able to subdue him.”

-o-

After helping Big Macintosh carry Drakkar to Twilight’s library, the Apple siblings accompanied Mjǫllna home. The fight with the wolves and Drakkar’s outburst had given her a couple bruises that would heal in a couple days. Mjǫllna was sitting in the living room, in front of the woodcarvings of the Æsir and Vanir her grandmother had always worshipped. She had never been a devout worshipper, but that night she prayed for Drakkar’s well-being. However, he wasn’t only in her mind because of that; hearing Gisli’s name had worried her. She had been making mental graphics about mares in Drakkar’s life. His mother’s name was Hani, and his older sister’s was Hveiti. He even talked about Kynngi, the seer who patrolled with him and the other hoofcarls during duty. Why he didn’t tell her about this Gisli concerned her.

Lost in her thoughts, Mjǫllna didn’t notice Hearth Fire walking down the stairs.

“Mjǫllna,” she called from the other end of the short hall. “What are you doing there? Why aren’t you with Drakkar as usual?”

“Mother, I just… need some time to relax,” replied Mjǫllna, doing her best to hold back all the rude responses she could’ve given her.

“Trouble in paradise, huh?” her mother insisted. “What happened?”

“Nothing, mother!” Mjǫllna threw an irritated glare at her mother, catching her off-guard and forcing her to take a step back instinctively. “I… I’m sorry, mother. I just—”

“It’s okay, sweetie. We all have a bad day every now and then.” Hearth Fire sat next to her, wrapping her daughter with one of her wings, looking at her with concern. “Can I help you with anything?”

Mjǫllna shook her head with her eyes closed. “This afternoon, Drakkar mentioned the name Gisli. I don’t know why it came up, but he hasn’t told me about her. Which is odd, for he mentioned every single mare in Scandineighvia he could think of.”

“Gisli, you say?” repeated Hearth Fire. “Yes it’s a female name. What were you doing when Drakkar mentioned her?”

“He was fighting a pack of timberwolves that ambushed us in the forest.” At Hearth Fire’s sudden gasp, Mjǫllna reacted quickly by raising both hooves. “I’m fine, just a couple bruises. He got it a bit worse, but no serious wounds.” Mjǫllna considered that, knowing her mother, skipping all the berserker part was the most appropriate move to make.

“Oh, my dear!” Hearth Fire hugged her tightly with both her hooves and wings. “You shouldn’t go to the forest, I always say it!”

“I took care of a couple of those creatures, mother,” she replied with a chuckle. “I’m a strong mare; I can handle a pooch or two without that much trouble.” Her boasting relaxed her; having another thing in her head that wasn’t Gisli really put a smile on her face, despite her mother’s obvious concern.

“Well, I’m glad you’re fine, but try not to push your luck out there,” Hearth Fire scolded lightly. “As for Gisli, I’m afraid that there’s only one explanation.” At those words, Mjǫllna’s ears perked up as she frowned, expecting some argument against Drakkar. “Gisli might be his fillyfriend or wife.”

Mjǫllna turned to face her mother, staring at her furiously. “How dare you make such an accusation?! What do you know about him for you to think that?!”

“I don’t know about him, but I know about stallions in general,” she replied as she looked at the different carvings in front of them. “There are some ponies that travel a lot that have a lover in every city they visit.”

“And you consider that Drakkar is like that because—”

“The reason is quite simple,” interjected Hearth Fire as she raised a hoof. “Now, allow me to explain. You’re well aware about Vínviðr and me becoming mothers at a pretty young age. And we weren’t even in Scandineighvia, where stallions would offer all they had for marrying the descendants of a war heroine like your great-grandmother.” Mjǫllna stared at her mother with widened eyes, slowly nodding at her words, to which Hearth Fire smiled. “I might not take pride of my heritage, but I had to learn about it due to Vínviðr’s insistence.”

“What does that have to do with Drakkar?” insisted Mjǫllna.

“How old is Drakkar?” inquired Hearth Fire.

The young mare blushed slightly, looking away. “I… I haven’t asked him yet. He looks older than me; late twenties probably, I don’t think he’s on his thirties yet.”

“And you really think that a hoofcarl his age hasn’t proposed even once?” replied Hearth Fire with a raised eyebrow.

Mjǫllna opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out at first. After a moment of muttering, she ditched any signs of distrust. “There are a lot of reasons for that to happen, mother! What if he hadn’t thought about having a soul mate until now? What if—”

“Mjǫllna, please, stop making a fool of yourself,” interjected Hearth Fire with a shake of her head. “I’ve tried to protect you from him, but you’ve been ignoring me until now. At this very moment I see you as frail as when you were a little filly. Now it’s the time when you have to listen to me. I’ve lived through much more than you and I’ve already seen this happen.”

“No, mother!” grunted Mjǫllna, exasperated before getting up and walking away. “Just leave me be!”

“Ask him, then.”

“I will! And he’ll give me a perfect explanation!”

“And you’ll believe him because he’s a drengr, right?” inquired Hearth Fire with a magnanimous shrug. The comment made Mjǫllna stand still. “That’s what he states, at least. We can’t go to Scandineighvia to verify his story. True, he might be one of those, but he could also be a pony who uses that word to have a blank check of trust from everypony. Because who’s going to question the word of a pony who never tells a lie, hmm?”

“I… I…” Mjǫllna shook her head fiercely in an attempt to ignore her mother’s words. “You’re wrong, and I’ll prove it to you!”

“A pony doesn’t hide something unless he’s ashamed of it,” continued Hearth Fire. “If he refuses to speak about Gisli, you know you’ll have hit something he didn’t want you know.” She slowly walked towards her daughter, stopping next to her. “I just want to protect you from being a stallion’s replacement mare until he returns to Scandineighvia and never comes back.”

“He… he’s not like that,” insisted Mjǫllna, walking away from her mother. “He will come back to me!”

“They never come back, Mjǫllna!” cried Hearth Fire as she stomped the floor in a burst of rage, which caught Mjǫllna by surprise. “How do I have to say it so you understand it?! He will not come back!”

“Drakkar isn’t like father; he will come back!” Mjǫllna’s ears drooped right after speaking those words as Hearth Fire stepped forward, her forehead barely touching her daughter’s.

“Leave Beamie out of this!” she screamed, vigorously flapping her wings. “You know nothing about it! You were a little brat when everything happened! What do you know about what happened between Beamie and I?! What?!” Her ragged breathing and piercing gaze lasted for a while, as Mjǫllna stood there, unable to react. After a moment, Hearth Fire took a deep breath, closing her eyes before speaking again. “Don’t ever talk about your father like that. Whatever happened only proves my point. As your father, Drakkar will leave too. At least you don’t have a foal to take care of on your own yet.”

With those words, Hearth Fire turned around, walking upstairs to her room, leaving Mjǫllna in the living room. She sat down for a moment, staring at the floor. After a moment, she returned to the carvings, looking at all of them with pleading eyes and lowered ears.

“Drakkar isn’t like that,” she said as she nickered softly. “I… I have to see him. I have to solve this.”

-o-

At Twilight’s library, Drakkar woke up shortly after getting there, but he barely moved or spoke to anyone. Fluttershy bringing Gullin and allowing Harry to stay around had made him smile for a while, but he soon returned to a mourning state. He tried not to rest on his wounded side, a fact that Twilight had noticed. She had treated it and had seen that it was more severe than she imagined at first, but was still far from one that would cause long term damage.

Twilight had decided that restraining Drakkar wasn’t necessary. Due to Mjǫllna’s explanations, she figured he should be in his normal state when he regained consciousness. Aside from that, she thought that, if Drakkar woke up and found himself without freedom to move, he would be much more worried and it would be much more troublesome to speak to him. For now, it seemed like she made the right decision, as the only emotions he showed were sorrowful. Whatever had happened for him to change like that, it was obvious that it was something he didn’t have control over.

“Drakkar, you have to understand,” started Twilight with a deeply concerned tone, “that I’m trying to help you.” Though she tried to keep eye contact with him, the stallion kept his head lowered, with his mane covering most of his face. “Drakkar, let me help you.”

“There’s nothing you can help with,” replied Drakkar sorrowfully. “I’m not comfortable being around here anymore.”

“Well, whatever happened to you at the Everfree Forest, it’s over for now.” Twilight searched through a few papers, shaking her head as she read them. “I’ve asked Mjǫllna to give me as much information about it. She mentioned the word—”

“Berserkr,” finished Drakkar with a weak nod. After an instant, he looked at Twilight with terrified eyes. “Mjǫllna! How is she? Did I hurt her? Please, tell me I didn’t hurt her or anypony!” Desperation flooded his eyes, making Twilight’s heart sink.

“They… they’re fine, Drakkar,” said Twilight, covering her mouth with a paper. “You saved them from the timberwolves, and they’re very grateful for what you did.” Drakkar let out a long, relieved sigh at Twilight’s words. It was obvious that mentioning how he hauled Big Macintosh against a tree or how he gripped Mjǫllna and almost threw her into a bunch of boulders before the four ponies were able to stop him was the last thing he needed to hear. “You’re here because I was able to use my magic to keep you under control and, while Mjǫllna explained what happened to you, we think that you should stay here until we find a way to… treat this condition of yours.”

“I understand,” admitted Drakkar with a short nod, though he raised an eyebrow at her comment. “I don’t really think this is something that can be cured.”

“That wasn’t the same trance from the real berserkers,” said Twilight, to Drakkar’s surprise. “What you have is a psychological scar, and something triggers a violent response. It is similar to the effects of the hallucinogens berserkers consumed before jumping into the battle field; the adrenaline pumping through your body makes you ignore wounds and become stronger,” she continued, pointing at his bandaged side. “The lack of self-preservation and inability to distinguish friend and foe is a huge problem, though.”

“You speak like this is something that can be healed,” insisted Drakkar with a frown.

“I’m neither a doctor nor a psychologist,” admitted Twilight, “but I have hopes about your condition being treatable. Maybe even controllable!”

“Maybe you can control when to summon the primal fury,” said Drakkar with a grunt, “but you can’t control when to release yourself from the grasp. You become a monster, Twilight. You saw me; you don’t need me to tell you. Part of your mind switches off, so you don’t remember what happens during the rage. Real berserkir feel no remorse for what they do in the battlefield, but I do, because I didn’t choose to be like this!” Drakkar pounded the table with both hooves, throwing an upset glare at Twilight. “If I can control when to summon it as you say, I want to never go through that again. Because I don’t want to hurt Mjǫllna, and you won’t always be there to put me down!”

“That’s very noble of you, Drakkar,” said Twilight with a comforting smile. “Don’t worry; the Princesses will surely send somepony to help you.”

Drakkar massaged his forehead, slowly looking around the library. On the upper floor, Spike was arguing with Gullin, who had decided to sleep on his bed. The young dragon seemed to be having a hard time trying to push him away, a scene that made the giant stallion smile for a moment, to Twilight’s relief. An unexpected knock at the door called both ponies’ attention.

Drakkar turned to Twilight. “Were you expecting somepony?”

“Not tonight,” replied Twilight with a quick shake of her head. “Maybe it’s for you. Please, come in!” she said loudly.

Right after she spoke, the door opened to reveal Mjǫllna, who closed the door behind her and showed a grim expression. Unaware of this, Drakkar got up from the chair and galloped towards her with a wide smile.

“Þórr be praised, you’re fine!” he cried, hugging her tightly before lifting her from the ground.

However, Mjǫllna’s expression didn’t change, not even returning the hug. She rested her front hooves on his shoulders. “Drakkar,” she said in a serious tone that made his ears droop, “we have to talk about what happened this evening.”

Drakkar looked away, closing his eyes while showing an ashamed grimace. “I’ve tried my best to control that through the years. Howling from wolves has had that effect on me since…” He trailed back with a shake of his head. “Well, since quite some time.”

“My granny told me legends about berserkers,” she admitted with a shudder. “Though, to be fair, seeing a one in action with my own eyes was... terrifying. She told me that they only got that way with an infusion made with certain herbs and mushrooms, though.”

“We’re not that knowledgeable concerning berserkir either, Mjǫllna,” replied Drakkar, barely able to keep eye contact. “Sometimes, something breaks you in such a way that you explode in a blind rage.”

“Does it have to do with Gisli?” asked Mjǫllna, unable to contain herself anymore.

Drakkar stood still, frozen in place as his face grew pale. With a mournful look, he slowly turned to her. “How… how do you know about her?”

“So I wasn’t just imagining things, after all,” replied Mjǫllna with a grunt. “You’ve been hiding this Gisli from me.”

“I didn’t consider appropriate to talk about it. It isn’t relevant,” said Drakkar as he walked again.

“And why is that, if I may ask?” she insisted, speaking in a snarky tone.

“I really don’t want to talk about it, Mjǫllna,” replied Drakkar. However, she trotted to get in front of him with a frown.

“But I do want to talk about it, Drakkar.”

Shaking his head slowly, he turned around and walked the other way. “I said no,” he replied with a disgruntled voice.

“Mjǫllna, now’s not the time,” interjected Twilight, getting up from the table and walking towards them.

With a huff, Mjǫllna galloped again to Drakkar, throwing a penetrating glare that made him take a step back as she stomped the ground in front of her. “I’m not letting you go until you tell me. Who is Gisli? Who is she?” she demanded, her muzzle mere inches away from his.

“Please, let it be, Mjǫllna,” begged Drakkar as he lowered his head and looked away. “I wouldn’t ask you this if it didn’t mean that much to me. I… I don’t want to talk about it. It’s part of my past, and I accept it as such,” he continued, clenching one of the pelt’s paws with his hoof. “But please, let it just be that.”

Mjǫllna shook her head violently. “If you want me, you have to tell me about Gisli. I don’t want to be anypony’s second course.”

“Second… what? W-what are you even talking about?” stuttered Drakkar, his hooves shaking as frustration flooded his mind. “What makes you think I…” To Twilight’s surprise, and Mjǫllna’s anger, the stallion laughed loudly, covering his eyes with a hoof. “Do you… do you have any idea of what you’re insinuating?”

“I don’t know; why don’t you tell me what you find so funny?” replied Mjǫllna, tapping the ground with a hoof.

“Look, Mjǫllna, I have no idea what’s happening, but you shouldn’t feel threatened about Gisli,” comforted Drakkar, trying to calm both Mjǫllna and himself.

“Then tell me who she is!” she insisted with increasing anger. “Tell me or lose me!”

“Mjǫllna, you’re going too far!” said Twilight, stepping between both ponies. “After what he’s gone through, this is the least he needs.”

“Step aside, Twilight,” demanded Mjǫllna, pushing her away without looking away from Drakkar. “Well, this is it. Your move.”

“Can anypony please explain me what’s going on?!” inquired Drakkar, exasperated. Seeing that Mjǫllna didn’t move from her spot, staring in anger at him, he closed his eyes and slowly shook his head. “Fine, I’ll tell you.” With a sorrowful grimace, he pointed at the head of bear pelt. “She is Gisli.”

Though Twilight raised an eyebrow at his answer, she didn’t seem to give the situation that much importance. However, Mjǫllna gritted her teeth with a growl.

“Do you think I’m stupid or something like that?!” shouted Mjǫllna, violently pounding the hooves on the floor. “You might think that because you’re a drengr I have to believe every single word that comes out of your mouth, but that? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard!”

Drakkar’s fear and mourning faded slowly to leave way to a frown. “I already told you who Gisli is.”

“No, you didn’t. You threw a lame excuse thinking that I’d believe in your ‘everything I say is the truth’ thing,” replied Mjǫllna. “I refuse to date a stallion that thinks I’m that gullible.”

When she was about to leave the library, Drakkar pushed the door closed, resting his weight on it while looking down at Mjǫllna. “You called me a liar,” he grunted as he breathed raggedly. During his speech, he took frequent pauses, trying to control his anger. “You’re not leaving without apologizing.”

“Apologizing? Me?” repeated Mjǫllna with a loud, sarcastic laugh. “You’re the one who should be begging for mercy, you double-crossing nitwit!” At her words, Drakkar’s horn began to sparkle, as well as his throat, at which she replied with a shake of her head. “Your roaring won’t scare me.”

Startled, Drakkar took a step back, slowly shaking his head. “I… I don’t have to put up with this. You, of all ponies in Equestria, should know that I wouldn’t lie, much less to you.”

“That’s what you’d like me to think, huh?” replied Mjǫllna, keeping as close to him as possible.

“Enough!” he cried as he walked past her. “You want me to tell you everything?! I will tell you everything tomorrow morning. But we’re done, and I’m returning to Scandineighvia! I already have all the updated maps; the remaining research can go to Hel!”

“Drakkar, Mjǫllna, please stop!” shouted Twilight.

“I need some fresh air,” admitted Drakkar with a grunt as he walked out of the library. As he opened the door, he almost walked over Vínviðr, apologetically nodding to her before trotting away.

“What was that about?” asked Twilight, sitting on the table and resting her weight on her left forehoof. “Why would you act like that? I thought you loved each other!”

“Apparently I’m not the only mare in his life,” replied Mjǫllna bluntly. “I’m not a mare who likes being toyed with.”

“What in the Nine Realms is going on?” inquired Vínviðr, befuddled. She slowly got to the table and left a food basket on it. “I brought some treats for Drakkar as thanks for helping you out there.”

“He’s not going to stay in Equestria much longer,” replied Mjǫllna. “And for what I care, he could leave this same night.”

“Why? What’s happening here?” Vínviðr insisted, slowly getting more concerned about the situation.

“Drakkar has a mare in Scandineighvia, and that scoundrel didn’t say a thing about her!” said Mjǫllna with a frown.

“What?!” Vínviðr stared at her with widened eyes. “He didn’t look like that kind of pony to me.”

“He refused to tell me about Gisli, so I began to think that he was hiding somepony from me.”

“Gisli?” she repeated. At the sound of the name, Vínviðr frowned, walking towards her granddaughter, her voice sounding overwhelming. “Who told you that Gisli was a female name? Was it your mother, by any chance?”

“When…” Her grandmother’s sudden change of mood startled Mjǫllna slightly, words coming out slower, as if dubious of her previously foolproof arguments. “When Drakkar suffered his berserk, the mentioned Gisli’s name, and… and mother told me it was a female name, and told me—”

Vínviðr raised a hoof, interrupting her granddaughter. There was an uncomfortable silence that seemed to last forever. Even Twilight, who had nothing to do with the conversation, shivered at the sensation that flooded her library. After a moment, Vínviðr spoke, and the disappointment in her voice pulled Mjǫllna down.

“Your mother forgot to mention a very important detail,” she started. “Gisli is a female name, true. But what she ‘accidentally’ forgot to mention is that Gisli is a pet name.”

Those words shattered Mjǫllna’s arrogance as she stared at her grandmother, her face growing paler by the second. “P-p-pet name?” she stuttered, shaking her head in an attempt to vanish the new theory away.

“But he pointed at his pelt insisting on that being Gisli,” interjected Twilight. Inside her mind, a mental picture spawned that made her shake in terror. “Please, don’t tell me—”

“It’s a possibility,” said Vínviðr with a nod. “However, there are other explanations. It isn’t uncommon to give names to objects of any kind that have certain emotional value. Swords, for example, are family heirlooms, and most of them have names. If Drakkar has a bond of any kind with that pelt, which wouldn’t be strange considering that it’s his symbol as a hoofcarl, it shouldn’t be odd to have it named too.”

“So Mjǫllna was tricked?” asked Twilight.

“I’m going back home, and you should come with me, Mjǫllna,” said Vínviðr. “I must have a serious talk with your mother.”

“Drakkar said he’d explain everything tomorrow morning,” said Twilight, feeling totally out of place.

“I’ll make sure that Mjǫllna’s here for it,” replied Vínviðr. With a slow shake of her head and a tired sigh, she turned to the door. “Come, dear; we must let Drakkar rest for now.”

Vínviðr left the library, followed closely by Mjǫllna. The mare looked back inside the library, expecting a reassuring gesture from Twilight; anything would’ve worked. However, Twilight gave her a sad gaze in return, showing that she had nothing. Defeated and ashamed of having let herself be tricked in such a way, Mjǫllna closed the door behind her, leaving Twilight with Spike and Gullin, who had both remained in the upper floor, trying not to get involved. After a silent moment, the young assistant walked down the stairs.

“Twilight,” he said as reached the base of the stairs, expecting Twilight to look at him. The fact that she didn’t move her sight from the table made him shiver slightly. “Twilight, is everything going to be okay?”

“I wish I knew, Spike,” admitted Twilight with a sorrowful sigh. “I haven’t spent that long with Drakkar, but he doesn’t look like the kind of pony who takes such things lightly.”

“Can’t Mjǫllna just apologize? I mean, she already knows that Gisli’s a pet name. Wouldn’t that work?”

“I’m afraid that it’s not that simple, Spike,” corrected Twilight with a shake of her head. “This is pride we’re talking about. Mjǫllna thought that Drakkar was cheating on her and called him a liar. To a pony of his position, and coming from her, that was a huge offense. An apology won’t do anything.”

“But she was tricked!” insisted Spike. “There simply must be a way to make Drakkar see that!”

“If there’s a way to solve this, I don’t know about it yet,” she admitted, slowly reading through the papers. “I’ll try to think of something, but I must be very careful; if I do it wrong, we might get into serious trouble.”

Author's Note:

Translation time!

“Múspellssónr rís af fjarri,” = The children of Múspell rise from afar.

“Þat munn eigi verða aptr,” = It won't happen again.

“Lát úlfunum kenni æðru!” = Let the wolves know fear!