• 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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Rettinn Verdinn

Réttinn verðinn (The right price)

As the weeks passed, the newness of Drakkar’s presence had faded away and he came to be accepted as one of Ponyville’s eccentric own. Aside from his daily interactions with the city’s inhabitants, the oncoming Grand Galloping Gala was what was on everypony’s lips. With each day it grew nearer, the everyday conversations were more commonly replaced by ones involving the Gala. Those lucky few who had been invited, and had been boasting about it, had become the talk of town.

At Carousel Boutique Rarity and Mjǫllna were working together on the final touches of Drakkar's suit. They had finished the blacksmith's dress, parading inside the shop to see how it fit. After the short exhibition, both hung the dress inside one of the dressing rooms so Drakkar couldn't see it.

“It's perfect, Rarity!” said Mjǫllna while applauding happily. “It's just like the one he had as a colt!”

“Why, of course it is, darling!” replied Rarity with a proud smile. Her needle flew and pierced the silk, leaving the yellow trace of the braided runes she was working on. “He told me about the suit when we met for the first time, and seeing it during his storytelling made it easier for me to remember the design.”

“Is it true that my grandmother helped you with this?” inquired Mjǫllna without losing her smile.

“She did, and I must thank her not only for telling me how it had to be done,” said Rarity as she slowly turned to look at about a dozen finished dresses. All of them were decorated with complex brooches of different shapes and colors, specifically crafted to complement their respective dresses. Mjǫllna’s crafts had turned the already beautiful dresses into undeniable works of art. “But I must also thank her for helping us solve our differences once and for all.”

“I knew Vínviðr was up to something, but I never thought she convinced you to do this!” said Mjǫllna with a broad grin as she leaned back on the chair.

Rarity rested a hoof on her chest and faced Mjǫllna with a grateful smile. “I must say that I'm glad that everything is fine between us again.”

Mjǫllna nodded, crossing her hooves in front of her. “I couldn't agree with you more on that. Business aside,” she added, “I don't like having problems with ponies here, much less now that nothing stands between Drakkar and I.”

“How are things between you two, by the way?” asked Rarity, raising an eyebrow and showing a glint in her eye. “Something interesting you want to share?”

Mjǫllna chuckled. “You really want to know, huh?” said Mjǫllna with a brazen grin.

Rarity lowered her head, showing an innocent smile. “Well, not having a special somepony myself, I like hearing about love stories from other ponies.”

“No need to make up excuses, Rarity,” replied Mjǫllna with a chuckle and a shake of her hoof. “To be honest, though, there's not too much to tell. We've been talking a lot about ourselves. We learned a lot about each other, and we have much more solid foundations in our relationship.” Mjǫllna paid attention to Rarity's stitching as she spoke, her attention focused on the rune patterns the unicorn was braiding.

“You don't want to go through another ordeal like the one about Gisli, I presume,” replied Rarity with a nod as she paid attention to the piece of paper on the tables with the runes she had to braid in the suit.

“Yeah, that's right. Though I learned that Kynngi had a crush on him,” she admitted with a grim, jealous expression.

With a loud gasp, Rarity quickly turned to face Mjǫllna with her eyes wide open. “Kynngi?” she repeated in shock. “His friend in the story?”

Mjǫllna nodded, a sorrowful grimace forming on her face before speaking. “That one. They didn't start anything, but he thought he had to tell me. After Gisli's death,” she explained, “Kynngi tried really hard to make Drakkar forget about his friend's passing. She had good intentions, but Drakkar wasn't able to move on until much later, and got quite annoyed at Kynngi's behavior.” Mjǫllna leaned forward, resting her forelegs on the table to support her weight as she let out a sorrowful sigh. “If not for Megin-gjarð, they wouldn't be friends anymore. Megin-gjarð didn't talk about Gisli when Drakkar was around; he simply spent time with him, either having a drink or training. Sometimes both.”

“Keeping Drakkar's mind busy so he didn't think about Gisli,” replied Rarity with an approving nod. “Megin-gjarð was that huge pony, right?” She moved away from the sewing, letting out an uncomfortable huff as she turned to Mjǫllna with saddened eyes. “I'm sorry, Darling, but I didn't get most of the names I heard there.”

“It's okay,” said Mjǫllna with a shake of her hoof. “Aside from Kynngi's unrequited affection, there was nothing. Duty kept him busy, be it fishing, hunting or serving in the military.”

“And I don't remember you dating anypony until you met Drakkar,” said Rarity, staying silent for a while before pointing at Mjǫllna. “I do remember you and your friend Berry Punch getting into fights with colts every now and then,” she added with a smirk.

Mjǫllna leaned her head back with a slightly disgusted grimace. “Yeah, I guess we both earned ourselves a reputation. I don't regret it, though. Can you believe how surly some of those stallions got when they were rejected? If I have to put a few ponies on their ends, I won't hold back my hooves,” she stated proudly, puffing her chest as she did. “And that goes for Berry too.”

“How's she doing, by the way?” asked Rarity as she returned to sewing the patterns, only a few runes remaining.

“Oh, the bar's a bit more family friendly now,” she admitted with a smile. “Since she gave birth to Pinchy, she's made sure that ponies control themselves. She’s also become much less patient with troublemakers, kicking them out of the place as soon as they start disturbing the other patrons. Let me tell you, that mare sure knows how to throw a jab!” Mjǫllna emphasized the last statement by throwing a punch that made Rarity move back instinctively.

“Well, I'm against violence of any sort most of the time,” said Rarity with a forced grin, “but if that means that I might be able to enjoy a drink there—”

“Oh, of course!” exclaimed Mjǫllna, a burst of laughter that echoed throughout Carousel Boutique. “She's one of the best friends I can think of, and takes into consideration anything you ask for in her bar. Sure, she won't start bringing a specific drink until a lot of different patrons ask for it. I took Drakkar with me to her place, and I was glad that both of them got along quite well.” Mjǫllna shook her head while broadly grinning at the memory. “I wish I could’ve told her about Drakkar before, but she’s been too focused on the bar’s finances and income, and I didn’t want to disturb her for anything. When we told her we were dating, she stared at him in the eyes and threatened to wipe the floor with his mane if he even thought about hurting me.”

“I can only imagine how that ended,” replied Rarity as she pulled the needle for the last stitch, putting it aside and focusing her attention on Mjǫllna's conversation.

“Drakkar laughed,” continued Mjǫllna, “and told her not to worry. The bar was closed, but we remained inside drinking and talking.”

“Now that you mention the drinking thing,” said Rarity. Despite only being two ponies in the room, she looked around her before leaning forward, whispering to Mjǫllna. “I've heard rumors about Berry Punch, but you know her better than I do, so you might confirm them or not.”

“Let me guess,” replied Mjǫllna with a raised eyebrow as she crossed her forehooves in front of her. “They say she's a drunkard, right?” As Rarity nodded weakly, the blacksmith shook her head with a frown. “On the contrary, actually; that mare has a bomb-proof liver! She drinks, yes, and she usually drinks some of the drinks patrons don't finish.” At the unicorn's sudden disgusted expression, Mjǫllna couldn't hold back a chuckle, raising both hooves to calm Rarity down. “It’s a bad habit of hers and I understand that it might give her this bad reputation you talk about. Some young stallions and mares, usually because of dares or to try to impress a potential match, ask for some strong drink that they put away after the first sip. She says that it's a pity to let a good drink to waste, and she's not going to offer to anypony else, so she usually chugs them. If you can overlook that small eccentricity of hers, she’s a great pony that takes great care of her bar.”

“Do you think I could order a Martini there if I ever go?” asked Rarity with great curiosity, resting her weight on the table and leaning forward. “I only have the opportunity to drink them when I'm in Canterlot. I'm not that much of a drinking pony myself,” she added quickly with a shake of her hoof, to which Mjǫllna reacted by holding back a short chuckle. “But, truth be told, I wish I could have one of those delicious cocktails without having to travel that far.”

“Well, she's been bringing some exotic drinks, but they mostly ask for the classic ale or wine,” replied Mjǫllna with a shrug. “You should definitely ask her, though.”

“Well, in any case, Drakkar's suit is ready,” announced Rarity, smiling proudly at her creation. “Do you like it?”

Mjǫllna grinned at the sight of the dark brown overtunic that the unicorn was magically levitating in front of her. Rarity had braided Fuþark runes in its cuffs, neckline and hem with bright yellow strings. Both mares had worked on what they'd write; while Mjǫllna had combined them to make words, Rarity had thrown away most of them due to lack of aesthetics. In the end, the cuffs had ‘Drakkar’ written twice in each one. As for the neckline, ‘Máttr ok drengskapr’, meaning strength and honor, were chosen among a narrow selection that Rarity had picked. The hem, being much bigger, required a longer sentence, but Mjǫllna considered that Drakkar, being a religious stallion, would appreciate having the names of the Æsir sewn in it, and Rarity seconded her.

“It's really wonderful, Rarity!” said Mjǫllna, her joy booming in every word she spoke. “I'm sure he'll love it!”

“It may be wrong for me to say,” started Rarity as she delighted herself at the sight of the suit, “but I think I outdid myself with this one.”

“If I may, Rarity,” interrupted Mjǫllna while pointing at the strange curved pin Rarity had stitched on Drakkar's cloak to keep it hold in place. “Where did you get that?”

“Oh, this?” repeated Rarity with a chuckle. “Well, this is Spike's baby fang!” At those words, Mjǫllna’s hoof paused on its caress along the overtunic, her eyes widened and fixed on Rarity with a surprised stare. At her reaction, Rarity she let out a short laugh. As the blacksmith opened her mouth to talk, Rarity raised her hook and resumed speaking. “You see, a few days ago, one of Spike's baby fangs fell off. He came to see me, bouncing in pure joy. He said that Twilight told her that the Fang Fairy was going to come that night to take his fang and give him some bits.”

“Aww, that's adorable!” said Mjǫllna, putting her fore hooves together. “How did you get the fang, though?” she asked as she returned to her laid back position. “I mean, Spike's surely coming to the Gala too, and he'll notice that it's his fang.”

“I had to think fast for that one,” admitted Rarity with a nod. “You see, the moment I saw the little fang, I knew it would be absolutely perfect for Drakkar's suit.” The unicorn slowly raised her left hoof and moved it to the right in mid-air, her eyes looking at the wall, yet staring at the infinite. “It would emphasize his fighting spirit and ferocity. Not to mention that such an imposing runes would fit perfectly with a mythical creature's fang.” As she smiled at her own exposition, Mjǫllna covered her muzzle to contain her giggling. Rarity noticed it, clearing her throat and resuming her tale. “So, where as I? Oh, right! I was talking to Spike about the idea I had for Drakkar's suit, but he wasn't being cooperative. I can't get mad at him for that, though. But then I decided to offer him a couple jewels for him in exchange, and even then he hesitated for a moment before saying no again.”

Mjǫllna leaned forward as Rarity spoke, her ears perked up so as to not miss the smallest detail of the story. Though last night she talked to Drakkar about meeting at Carousel Boutique, she couldn't leave without knowing how Rarity's tale ended.

“After rejecting the jewels, I took a different approach,” continued Rarity, showing a sheepish smile. “A peck on the cheek worked wonders, and he allowed me to take the fang. I still offered him the gems, and I promised to talk to Twilight to let her tell Princess Celestia about what had happened so she could talk to the Fang Fairy. Of course, he woke up the next morning and found his bits under the pillow,” she added with a wink.

“I'm glad that Spike finally accepted and got a fair reward for it,” admitted Mjǫllna with a joyful smile. “We should hide the suit before Drakkar arrives; I want to see the look on his face when he sees it!” she added with, sparkling teeth shining in her grin.

Rarity nodded as she magically lifted the suit carefully folding both the tunic and the cloak until they were able to fit in a box on the table. As soon as she closed it, the door's bell tolled, causing both mares' ears to perk up as they turned to the newcomer.

“I apologize for being late,” said Drakkar with a low nod as he closed the door behind him. Rarity shook her hoof with a smile, while Mjǫllna playfully wiggled her tail at the sight of the unicorn stallion.

“Helping Fluttershy with the animals, as usual?” asked Rarity with a smile.

Drakkar nodded, his drooped ears bouncing up and down as well. “Even though I’ve been living with her almost a month, I’m still amazed by the army of animals she has there,” replied Drakkar with a tired huff.

“I'm glad you're finally here!” exclaimed Mjǫllna with a seductive smile as she slowly backed into the dressing room. “I've been longing to show you something. Wait here!” With those words, she winked at Drakkar before the door closed in front of her.

“So, Drakkar,” started Rarity, levitating a few clothes from a chair before offering him the seat, “are you looking forward to going to the Grand Galloping Gala? The girls and I definitely are. I was against using the same dresses from last year, but they simply adore those. And I can't simply be the only one with a brand new dress; that wouldn't be fair for them!”

Rarity giggled shamefully as Drakkar blinked in astonishment at her talking, with a look in his eyes that begged for an explanation. “I... guess I'm looking forward to it too,” he admitted while focusing his attention on the dressing room Mjǫllna had entered. “A lot of things will happen there, and I'm not totally sure they'll go as planned.”

“You're nervous about the meeting with the Princesses, that's normal,” said Rarity with a quick shake of her hoof. “But I've met with Celestia herself on a few occasions. I'm sure you won't have problems. They are very patient and, if what Twilight and you have been working on benefits us, she won't hesitate in signing the treaty.”

“It took us very long to find things that would benefit the alliance, at least concerning trading,” admitted Drakkar with a shrug. “Compared to Fimbulvetr, Equestria is a really advanced place. But I won't know how the negotiations will go until I get there. Not to mention,” added Drakkar with a worried gaze, “that I lack any political skill at all. Sure, I can talk to them and recommend deals but, in the end, it depends on the jarlar and the Konungr to approve.”

“As I said, Drakkar, relax,” repeated Rarity, tapping her hooves together. “Think of it this way; you were sent here to update maps, right?” Drakkar nodded at her words. “Good, you've done that, and also have enough information about Equestria's culture that will widen Fimbulvetr's knowledge of our land. You've already done much more than you were expected to do, so you don't really need to get the alliance. Sure, if you get it, both kingdoms will prosper, but that doesn't depend solely on you.” Rarity kept her eyes focused on Drakkar as she spoke,but the stallion looked around him with drooped ears. “You didn't even need to do this, but you're giving it a try for your kingdom,” she said before resting her hoof on his shoulder, making him stare back at her. When he did, Rarity showed a sincere and comforting smile. “And that's absolutely laudable.”

“I guess you're right, Rarity,” admitted Drakkar with a defeated sigh, “but I still would like to succeed here. You see—”

“I'm ready!” said Mjǫllna from inside the dressing room.

“Oh, good! She finished putting on her dress!” replied Rarity as she clapped full of enthusiasm. “Come out, darling! I'm sure Drakkar will love it!”

The dressing room's doors opened as Mjǫllna walked out of the dressing room, the sight of her making Drakkar's jaw drop. Her clothing consisted on a plain, bright yellow underdress that trailed gracefully on the floor, with the neck closed by a copper, tong-shaped brooch. Over it, she wore a shorter, apron-like silken dress of a radiant orange, suspended by shoulder straps and fastened by another two brooches, both in the shape of anvils. Hammer patterns that matched the brooches in color were braided across the dress' cuffs and edgings. Suspended between both anvil brooches hung one of Gleipna's heirlooms that she had borrowed for the occasion; a necklace with úlfsvetir fangs as beads. A cool breeze emanated from the imposing ornament.

“Oh my, Mjǫllna, you look fabulous!” cheered Rarity with pride as she delighted herself at the sight of one of her two latest creation. She then looked to her left to see that Drakkar's mouth was still agape, eyes focused on the mare in front of him. “Drakkar, manners!” scolded Rarity, though her words didn't seem to have any effect on him.

Mjǫllna chuckle, trying to move her tail under the dress, but its weight didn't allow it. “Don't worry, Rarity,” she assured as she walked towards the mesmerized stallion. “I like things easy every now and then.”

Rarity raised an eyebrow at her words, only to see Mjǫllna getting right in front of Drakkar, showing a brazen smile for an instant before grabbing his head with one hoof and pulling his head towards hers. The fiery, passionate kiss broke the enchantment Drakkar was in, closing his eyes and letting his tongue play with Mjǫllna's. Even with the chilling breeze emanating from her necklace, neither of them moved away from each other, their nostrils warming each other's muzzles with the air that came out. After recovering from Mjǫllna's sudden reaction, Rarity finally looked away, fanning herself with a hoof before turning around and walking towards the box where she had hidden the suit. As she caressed it, both ponies finally moved away from each other, if slowly.

"Þín fegurð gjøri sunnu óþarfri, því at þín kjólinn ok brosit foera ljós í þessu rúmi,” said Drakkar with a soft breath.

The back of Mjǫllna's dress moved a bit as she tried to wiggle her tail again, but its weight made it barely noticeable. Instead, she smirked at him, keeping her ears perked up as she spoke. “I hope you didn't think that one while we kissed,” she said in a slightly mocking tone with a wink. “You should be focused what you're doing.”

“Remember that I was a skáld,” replied Drakkar with a laugh. “I'm good at improvising.”

Mjǫllna nodded at her statement, slowly walking around him, scanning his body as she did so. “I'd love to see that improvisation talent of yours in different fields.”

A loud throat-clearing sound made both ponies stare at Rarity, whose face was slightly blushing at Mjǫllna's words. Tapping the box with her hoof, she looked at Drakkar. “I also have something for you,” she said as she levitated the box right in front of him, leaving it on the table.

Drakkar stared at the box, switching to both Rarity and Mjǫllna as a dumbfounded expression twisted his muzzle. After both mares nodded at him, he slowly stretched his hoof to open it, gasping in awe as soon as he noticed the silken suit carefully folded inside. His horn shone dimly as he levitated the overtunic and cloak with extreme care. “This... I...” Drakkar's words didn't come out, enthralled as he was at the sight of the outstanding attire. His eyes scanned it, whispering the words he read in the neckline, cuffs and hem to himself.

“That is your suit for the Grand Galloping Gala,” informed Rarity with a proud smile.

“This is so...” Drakkar shook his head in astound, still admiring the small details of the overtunic. “How did you learn about the patterns of Scandineighvian sewing?”

“You can thank my grandmother for that,” said Mjǫllna with a grin.

“I just hope that we can put our differences aside, Drakkar,” added Rarity as she lowered her head. “I am aware that we have never got along well. If you're leaving soon, and I'm sure once the Gala's over, you will, I'd rather know that we made up for what happened. This is my... vengeance, according to your culture.”

“You are forgiven,” replied Drakkar, to both mares' joy. After speaking, the stallion began to chuckle, still fascinated by the suit. “How couldn't I forgive you? Just look at this! This is a suit worthy of a Jarl or the Konungr itself!”

“Well, of course it is!” said Rarity with her chest puffed with pride. “After all, if you are to cause a good impression to the Princesses, you must dress accordingly.”

“I knew I should dress accordingly, but I didn't think—”

“Drakkar,” interjected Mjǫllna as she rested a hoof on his shoulder. “Try it on and we'll talk about that later.”

“Right, I have to,” replied Drakkar with a low chuckle. However, his smile faded and his face grew pale as his hoof reached the bear pelt's legs surrounding his neck.

“Oh, Celestia, how could I forget that?” asked Rarity with a gasp while covering her mouth.

“It's okay, Rarity, let me handle this.” Mjǫllna stood in front of him, keeping eye contact with Drakkar as she spoke with a smooth, tender voice. “Drakkar, you don't need to fear. You're in a friendly place where nopony wants to harm you. Besides,” she added while grabbing his hoof and pressing it against her chest, “I'm with you now. It will just be a moment; we'll give you the pelt as soon as you put the suit on, okay? I'm going to be next to you all the time. I know you can do it.”

Drakkar slowly nodded, though Mjǫllna still had to pull his hoof away to take the pelt off. When she did, Rarity quickly levitated the overtunic towards Drakkar, who kept his eyes shut. Mjǫllna kept the pelt over her as she asked Drakkar to stand on his hind legs and raise his hooves. The suit slowly fell down, the silken sleeves sliding softly down his forelegs as the rest of the suit caressed his body and head. Once that was done, the cloak swung across his back to drape across his withers before being held firmly in place by Spike's fang. Rarity did her best to try not to harm Drakkar with it, knowing that, despite being a baby dragon, Spike was able to eat gems without problem, so she feared she could wound him if she wasn't careful enough.

When Rarity finished dressing Drakkar, Mjǫllna quickly put Gisli's pelt over the cloak and crossed its paws around his neck, covering the dragon's fang. At the touch of the fur against his body, his nervousness slowly faded away. His reaction had been by far less violent than the last time, though he still seemed uneasy and slightly shaken. His trembling came to a halt and his breathing, which had become a bit stronger, returned to normal. When he opened his eyes Mjǫllna stood in front of him, not having moved an inch away from him.

“Well done, Drakkar,” lauded Mjǫllna tenderly while grabbing Drakkar's cheeks right before giving him a quick peck on the lips.

“The girls will be here in about half an hour to get ready for the Gala too,” announced Rarity as she tapped the table with a hoof. “I'm sure they won't mind, but I'd like to ask you before assuming things. Would you like to come to the Gala with us? The nine of us together!”

“Nine?” asked Drakkar with a raised eyebrow.

“Certainly, darling,” she confirmed with a nod. “Spike's coming with us too.”

“And remember, Drakkar,” added Mjǫllna, staring deep into his eyes, “that everything will be okay. Your gæfa has brought you this far; you'll succeed!” she added with a wink.

Rarity blinked in confusion but, before she could ask, Drakkar spoke. “I didn't consider myself that fortunate until now, to be honest.”

“So... that word means luck?” asked Rarity.

“Good luck, to be more accurate,” replied Drakkar with a wide smile. “In Fimbulvetr, we believe in luck, and it's said that nothing can stop a lucky pony, and little could help an unlucky one.”

“Well, I really think you should give the treaty a chance, then,” assured Rarity with a comforting grin. “Luck has shone upon you so far; you've made good friends and had learned about a new kingdom and enjoyed your stay.”

“I must say that you're right,” seconded Drakkar before looking at Mjǫllna. “But if there's something that proves that gæfa is with me, it's the fact that I met her.”

Mjǫllna chuckled, throwing a seductive stare at the stallion. “And you haven't even seen half of the reasons for which you will be saying that.” After those words, she tried to wiggle her tail again. However, she felt the dress' restrictions once more, causing her to let out a frustrated grunt as her ears lay flat.

Drakkar laughed at Mjǫllna's reaction, but Rarity blushed furiously at her words. “My, Mjǫllna, you should control yourself a bit!”

“Okay, let's wait for the others, then,” said Drakkar while looking for an unoccupied seat.

-o-

After the six mares and the dragon arrived, they didn't waste time and got dressed for the Grand Galloping Gala. Like last year, Twilight and her friends had jumped inside a carriage, and they asked Mjǫllna to join in as well. Spike climbed up to the conductor's seat doing nothing else, since he didn't want to annoy the stallions who had decided to pull them there. Keeping up their pace walked Drakkar, who considered that the seven mares would be tight enough inside the carriage without him.

“There it is!” announced Spike, pointing in front of him.

Some of the mares looked out, confirming what he had said. The large ivory castle stood about a mile away, but it could be perfectly seen from where they were. They also spotted a lot of other carriages in front of them and ponies trotting alongside them. The pompous aristocrats were dressed in the finest clothing and wearing jewelry that would make jarls look like lowly farmers with cheap heirlooms. Though it was true that Drakkar and his friends were also formally dressed to attend the Gala, they were still hard workers and down to earth ponies, just like him. On the other hoof, most aristocrats that got to see Drakkar looked at him over their shoulders, much to his anger.

Spike looked at Drakkar, noticing the stallion's sneer and deep frown. “Drakkar, are you okay?” he asked.

“I'm not going to like this, I can feel it,” growled Drakkar.

At the sound of those words, Mjǫllna stepped out of the vehicle, trotting to get right next to him. “Why do you say that?”.

“The way they look at me, Mjǫllna,” he replied with a snarl. “They think they're better than me without even knowing me. It's the same sensation I had in Trottingham.”

“Just ignore them, Drakkar,” said Mjǫllna, smirking as she moved closer to him. “Those aren't the ponies you have to impress or convince, but the Princesses. Remember?”

A defeated sigh escaped his lips. “I know, but I don't think I'll get to talk to Celestia and Luna until much later. Not to mention that I only know you, Twilight and her friends,” he added with a sad grimace.

“That's more than enough, Drakkar,” she assured as she gently bumped him. “Besides, you might see Shining Armor there. Last time I saw you two, you seemed to be getting along well.”

“He's fought against the worst of odds and lived to tell the tale,” said Drakkar with an approving nod.

“There you go!” she chuckled. “It won't be as horrible as you think. Just try not to pay attention to the nobleponies.” Mjǫllna looked forward, the castle majestically standing before them. “I know it's hard to be different from the rest,” she added with a frown, to which Drakkar turned to face her. “Until I met Berry Punch, I wasn't able to feel comfortable around ponies outside my family. Everypony is so... delicate, even in Ponyville. They appreciate my work, but sometimes I felt out of place. I know I've been raised to be a Scandineighvian mare, but it was still tough for me sometimes.”

As Mjǫllna's sad frown became deeper, Drakkar got closer to her and snuggled her, making her laugh at the tickling sensation. “You don't need to worry about that anymore,” he assured with a tender smile.

“I sure hope so,” replied Mjǫllna as she showed a sparkling grin. “Though I didn't mind putting a stallion or two on their place,” she added while punching the air.

When they reached the castle's entrance, Twilight and her friends got down from the carriage, as did Spike from the conductor's seat. The nine of them walked inside tickets in hoof, and were politely shown the way to the coat checks.

“Are you going to leave your coat here, sir?” asked the staff pony, his eyes widening as he noticed that what Drakkar was wearing wasn't a cloak.

“Huh?” replied Drakkar, briefly astounded at the question. After an instant, he quickly shook his head. “No, I'll keep it with me.”

“As you wish, sir. Please, enjoy your stay.”

With that short dialogue, the group was free to roam inside the huge room. Perfectly polished columns with detailed relieves supported the ceiling. Between them, long tables could be seen, full of small canapés of every conceivable flavor. Every pony there was dressed with the most luxurious and pompous suits and dresses, and the mares were wearing mind-boggling manecuts that sometimes defied logic. Far away, in a low platform at the end of a few stairs, a group of four ponies played music that added a soothing atmosphere to the crowded place.

“Drakkar, are you okay?” asked Twilight with concern, staring at Drakkar's drooped ears and slightly annoyed grimace.

“Yes, it's just that the music is...” Drakkar move his hoof in circles in mid air for a moment before resuming the sentence. “Different, so to speak. I could get used to it, but for now it sounds too foreign to me.”

“There's Princess Celestia!” exclaimed Twilight with a burst of euphoria. She pointed at the long stairway at the other side of the room, slightly to the left of the musicians. At the end of it, both Princesses greeted a long queue of ponies that divided the hall in two irregular halves.

“By Þórshamarr!” cried Drakkar, his eyes widened at the sight. “It’s going to take us forever to get there!”

“I guess mass punctuality is sometimes an issue, darling,” admitted Rarity while bobbing her hair casually. “Girls, what do you say if we enjoy the party for a while before greeting the Princesses? I would certainly appreciate drinking something.”

“Sounds good to me!” seconded Rainbow Dash with a quick flap of her wings. “I'm going to try and find Spitfire; the Wonderbolt Academy was great and all, but I prefer having some casual conversation with her.”

“Well, at least ya don't start hyperventilating every time ya see 'er anymore,” said Applejack with a wink. “Ah remember how you were last year 'round here.”

“Yeah, I guess I've grown used to being close to her, so it doesn't affect me that much anymore,” replied Rainbow Dash with a shrug. “Besides, gotta stay professional, you know?”

“I'll go see if I can find Shining Armor,” said Drakkar as he slowly moved away.

“Do you want us to go help you find him?” asked Twilight. “He should be with his wife Cadance, and I would like to see him too.”

“Sounds like a plan, though I have to go somewhere else before.” Drakkar showed a slightly pained grimace before facing Spike. “I need to find the outhouse. Do you know where it is?”

“The what?” asked Spike with a raised eyebrow.

“Oh, the toilet!” said Applejack. “Spike, can you take him to the stallions' bathroom?”

“Sure!” Spike walked past the stallion, waving his hand as he did. “Come on, Drakkar, they're not too far from here.”

“We'll wait for you right here,” said Mjǫllna with a wink.

Drakkar and Spike walked across the huge room, the former looking around him to meet ponies that threw curious gazes at him before whispering to each other.

“Oddr,” said Drakkar, turning to face the young dragon.

“What's up?”

“Do you think this will be worth the effort?”

Spike raised an eyebrow, astonished at the question. “What are you talking about? The meeting with the Princesses?” Drakkar replied with a nod, to which the dragon shrugged in ignorance. “I wish I could help you with that. If Celestia and Luna are interested on that, you should be fine.”

The stallion let out a long sigh before speaking. “I am not an ambassador or a diplomat,” he admitted with a defeated voice.

“I'm sure you won't need that,” said Spike, shaking his claw. “Look, I know I might not be the most appropriate guy to talk to about this, but for what we've been discussing with Twilight these days, it's all about finding what things you could trade. It depends on your rulers back at your kingdom to decide, but it's still important.”

“That's true,” admitted Drakkar, nodding weakly as he looked around, trying to find something that looked like the restroom at Fluttershy’s house. “I hope we're getting there already.”

“Yeah, it's over here.” Spike pointed at a couple white wooden doors, each one with a black picture of a stallion and a mare's profile respectively. “Yours is the one on the left.”

“We couldn't have arrived at a better moment!” exclaimed Drakkar in relief.

“Do you want me to wait for you outside?” offered Spike.

“I know where the girls are,” replied Drakkar with a quick shake of his head. “I'll just walk back when I'm done. I don't really feel comfortable forcing you to stay here until I'm done,” he added with a laugh.

“As you wish,” said Spike, shrugging as he walk away. “Make sure to wash your hooves when you're done!”

Spike’s words hit him when he was about to open the bathroom’s door, raising an eyebrow before turning to face the young dragon. After standing for a moment blinking in astonishment, Drakkar shrugged it off, considering that Spike wouldn’t say anything with ill intentions. After a quick salute the young dragon didn't see, Drakkar opened the stallions' restroom door, standing right under the frame in awe for a short while. Several marble sinks to wash their hooves covered one of the walls, a huge mirror standing right over them and towel hangers under them. To his right there were several walls that created smaller compartments with a toilet in each one of them. Without a second thought, Drakkar unceremoniously pushed the first half-opened door he found and slumped against the toilet. Once in the privacy loneliness granted, he let out a long and exhausted sigh, the efforts to remain calm at the nobleponies’ looks having proven to be mentally taxing.

When he was done, he cleaned himself and walked to the sink to wash his hooves. Next to him walked a white unicorn with a long, blond mane and light blue eyes. Despite his obvious uptight manners, he was only wearing a cravat and a bow tie around his neck. As both ponies washed their hooves, the white unicorn looked at Drakkar, his face slowly twisting into a disgusted grimace as the Scandineighvian pony levitated a towel to dry himself.

“What in Equestria are you wearing?” asked the white unicorn.

Drakkar raised an eyebrow before looking at the stallion through the corner of the eye. “A bear pelt,” he replied with a shrug.

“You must certainly not be from Equestria if you can wear such an abominable attire to the Gala,” continued the ivory stallion, openly stating his disapproval.

With a deep frown, Drakkar turned to face him, scanning him from head to hooves. “You're not the most appropriate pony to tell me that,” he spat bluntly, “for you're only a couple lesser ornaments away from coming naked to a formal party.”

The white stallion let out a loud gasp, taking a step back in shock. “How dare you talk to me like that. Do you have any idea who I am?”

“It is obvious to even the youngest of foals that I do not,” replied Drakkar, shifting to a more formal speech, similar to the one he used back in his days as a skáld.

The white unicorn let out an offended huff before speaking. “Well, I expected everypony to know me, but you're a foreigner in these lands. And apparently my reputation doesn't precede me as much as I would've thought.” With a pompous gesture, he pressed a hoof against his chest. “I am Prince Blueblood,” he said proudly.

“I have no idea who you are,” replied Drakkar. “Despite your title, ponies don't seem to mention you that frequently.”

“And who might you be, who dresses like a savage and shares the manners of one?” asked Blueblood with a frown.

At those words, Drakkar let out a short snarl, menacingly showing his teeth. “Watch your words, aristocrat. I am Drakkar Veiðǫrvarson, Hoofcarl of Scandineighvia.”

Blueblood raised an eyebrow, staring at Drakkar for a moment. With a low huff, he shook his head quickly and returned to his magnanimous gestures. “Well, I've wasted enough time standing your lack of etiquette. My entourage awaits me.” Having said that, Blueblood walked past Drakkar, throwing the used towel at him. With a grunt, Drakkar grabbed the towel, curled it into a ball and threw it back at Blueblood, hitting him in back of the neck.

“What in the name of Celestia do you think you're doing?!” cried Blueblood, grabbing the towel as his face showed an expression of utmost repulsion.

“You don't do to others what you don't like others doing to you,” replied Drakkar with a frown.

Ignoring Drakkar's words, Bueblood, shrugged and turned around again. “I refuse to waste my time arguing with a wildling.”

Before Blueblood could reach the door, Drakkar jumped in front of him. The Norse pony's horn and throat glowed as he let out a bear-like growl. “My patience has a limit, Blueblood,” said Drakkar, his eyes piercing through Blueblood's. “Besides, this wildling, as you call me, can outsmart you in any field you can think of.”

At that comment, Blueblood let out an huff, shaking his head in disagreement. “Allow me to doubt that. I am one of the best versed poets in Canterlot. I don't sell my poetry, mind you,” he added, “for I both don't need the bits and I despise the very idea of somepony quoting my work.”

Drakkar raised an eyebrow, a confident smirk blooming on his face. “Poetry, you say? Well, that's one of my specialties.”

“Really?” asked Blueblood in obvious disbelief, a mischievous smile slowly blooming on his face. “Well, in that case, you wouldn't mind showing it to us.”

“Us?” repeated Drakkar. “What do you have in mind?”

“Follow me,” said Blueblood before throwing the towel into one of the many unused sinks. When he got out of the restroom, followed closely by Drakkar, Blueblood whistled loudly, calling the attention of about a dozen other aristocrats. They stopped their conversations and exaggerated gestures to turn to both unicorns.

“My fellow ponies,” started Blueblood, raising his hoof as he spoke. “Please, pay attention here, for you're going to witness something unique!”

“If you're going to introduce me as if I were a two-headed cattle,” interrupted Drakkar, “I'd rather do it myself.”

“Your attire fits your rudeness, no doubt,” scolded Blueblood as he drew an arc with his hoof between him and Drakkar. Before looking back at the small crowd. “This stallion here wants to challenge me to a poetry contest.” The ponies whispered at each other, some of them staring at Drakkar's pelt as he walked next to Blueblood.

“I never mentioned a challenge,” corrected Drakkar, only to get Blueblood's hoof inches away from his face.

“Details, details. You wanted to show that you know poetry despite your origins, and you'll do it. I'll start,” announced Blueblood with a confident smirk before clearing his throat.

“Behold, my friends, for here we have
a savage standing before us.
Wealth such as ours overwhelms him;
they're rare in his stinky morass.”

The nobleponies cheered Blueblood’s impromptu, if simple display. Contrasting with the joy of the ponies surrounding them, Drakkar growled. His legs trembled at the desire of crushing the pompous unicorn's head against the marble tiles of the floor. Some of the witnesses were also laughing at Blueblood's rhymes against the Scandineighvian stallion, which only intensified Drakkar's fury.

“Þegið!” he shouted in a fit of rage, pounding both fore hooves on the ground. For every step forward he took towards the sneering Blueblood, Drakkar exhaled through his nose as his chest heaved in anger. He stared at the pompous unicorn in the eyes, his blood boiling at the lack of reactions from him. “You can boast about your heirloom all you want, aristocrat,” said Drakkar, “you can boast about how many mares beg for your attention. But you never mock my kingdom! Did I make myself clear?”

“You can mock Equestria in return if you feel offended,” replied Blueblood as he walked to his left, moving away from Drakkar. “Though you might have problems finding something to complain about. Instead, try telling us about how wonderful life in a marsh is.”

A few ponies around them chuckled pompously at Blueblood's comment. As they did, Drakkar turned to look at each one of them, each one stepping back as he did. It took him a few deep breaths to put his anger away, then taking a step back as he showed a confident smile. “Let me show you how we write poetry in the North!” After speaking, he closed his eyes as he meditatively caressed his bare chin. A narrow smile bloomed on his face, slowly turning into a confident smirk, his now opened eyes throwing a defiant gaze at Blueblood. As he proudly hit his chest with a hoof, he chanted his verses.

“Jarn ber gegn jarni.
Óróliga venjum
at eta með Æsum.
Þetta er norrohests fjǫr!”

Drakkar was grinning broadly; it was one of his favorite poems back in his days as a skáld, and a popular battle chant during raids. The crowd stood there, barely moving a muscle. However, they weren't in awe or with their jaws dropped. Instead, they were blinking in confusion, whispering to each other. While Drakkar was certain that nopony would understand him, he expected them to appreciate the metrics and melodiousness of it. Instead, Blueblood scratched his cheek before speaking.

“I'm sorry, I didn't know that 'poetry' in your homeland meant 'incoherent babble.'” Blueblood's comment was followed by bursts of laughter from the crowd around them.

At first, Drakkar stood motionless, his eyes widened at the initial shock of going through such humiliation, but his surprised expression was slowly replaced by a frown. A guttural snarl left his mouth as he showed his teeth menacingly. “I am far from fluent enough in Equestrian to compose poetry in your language, Blueblood,” he growled.

“Your reactions entertain me, so I'll give you that,” replied Blueblood, caressing his blond mane as he spoke, “but I don't think your barbaric language is that hard to learn. I wouldn't waste time and effort to do so, mind you.” Every sentence made Drakkar's frown deeper, but a threatening expression was all he'd dare showing. “Let's go for something more universal, shall we?”

“Such as?” inquired Drakkar while cocking an eyebrow.

“Why, music, of course!” To Blueblood's surprise, Drakkar smiled broadly. “I reckon you know about music yourself.”

“I was a skáld in my youth,” announced Drakkar with a proud grin. “I played at some festivities and even at a þing once.”

“Fascinating!” he gasped in astonishment. “And here I thought that you could only do that much with sticks and stones!”

Drakkar's grin quickly faded away as he stared furiously at Blueblood before letting out an exasperated huff. “And what experience do you have? Do you allow servants to play for you or you spend your fortune attending to concerts to brag about how much money you have?”

“Well, I do like assisting to concerts, but I'm also a skilled, self-educated flutist.” With those words, Blueblood gently pointed towards the other end of the room, where the musicians were playing. “If you consider yourself that good, you wouldn't mind playing for the whole castle, would you?”

“I don't think anypony would appreciate that gesture,” said Drakkar with a raised eyebrow. “Besides, I don't even think that's allowed.”

“This is far from the best music I've heard,” spat Blueblood, raising his hoof between himself and the distant musicians in disgust. With a challenging grin, he stepped forward, getting mere inches away from Drakkar. “You boast about being a skilled musician; the crowd would love to hear it.”

Drakkar looked at the musicians, paying close attention at the instruments, recognizing only about half of them. A light grey mare was playing a huge fiddle. Even when standing on her hind legs, the large rebec-like instrument stood even taller than her. Another light brown stallion was sitting in front of a huge wooden box with black and white lever-like keys that played different notes depending on the struck key. One of the ones he recognized, though briefly, was the flute a light olive mare was playing. Despite the fact that she was playing the flute sideways, it shared the same shape of the usual ones in Scandineighvia. Finally, there was a mint mare playing the only instrument the stallion seemed to recognize on the spot: a lyre.

“I'd ask if they have drums for you,” said Blueblood, who still stood next to Drakkar, “but I'm assuming you're good enough to take a real instrument.”

“I don't need anything to mark the rhythm,” replied Drakkar with a smirk. “There's one instrument there I know how to play.”

“Shall we go, then?” offered Blueblood as he gestured with a hoof, inviting Drakkar to follow him.

With a nod, both unicorns walked towards the musicians. Ponies from the crowd moved away to let them go through the throng of curious eyes. Those who hadn't been with them from the first moment began to pay attention to the herd of ponies following the two stallions. By the time they had reached the place where the musicians were playing, they'd already finished the song they had been playing. As they flipped a page of their music sheets, Blueblood spoke.

“Pardon me,” he said gallantly with a pompous swing of his hoof, “but I'd like to borrow some of your instruments for a contest.”

The musicians stared at each other in confusion for a moment before Blueblood's horn began to shine. A magic aura surrounded the light olive mare's western concert flute, which slowly moved towards him. With a disgusted grimace, he cleaned the flute's mouth with a napkin he pulled out of his lapels. Drakkar shook his head in disagreement, massaging his forehead as he did. Around them, the mass of ponies became larger by the minute.

“Come on, grab whatever you can play and take a seat,” said Blueblood with a mischievous smile. “You're going to need it.”

With a growl, Drakkar walked towards the mint-colored mare, who took a step back and hugged her lyre, shaking her head vigorously. “Please, don't!” she begged. “It's a family heirloom!”

“I'm really sorry,” said Drakkar, “but this is the only instrument I know how to play.” He stared at the lyre for a moment, his eyebrow raised as he scanned it as much as the mare's forelegs allowed him. “Though it's a bit smaller than the ones I used to play.”

“Really?” asked the mare, receiving a nod from him. “How big were they? Because you might be thinking about harps.”

“No, they were three times as long, but the width was the same,” explained Drakkar.

“If you're done with the lesson, please, I'm going to start playing,” interjected Blueblood. The room became silent as the ponies paid attention to them. From afar, Mjǫllna and her friends tried in vain to get closer to watch. Rainbow Dash flew other them to get a better view, and Spike got on top of Twilight to tell them everything that was happening. Celestia and Luna, on the other hoof, kept watching from their upper position with surprised grimaces.

Blueblood stood on his legs, his magic levitating the flute as his forehooves moved quickly across the instrument for a brief moment. Most nobleponies weren't surprised when Blueblood started playing, the waves of melodious music quickly expanding across the room. He was able to combine quick inhaling and timing to give the impression that he didn't need to breathe while playing. What had started as a slow song slowly increased its pace while keeping the catchy tune and rhythm. Blueblood received a standing ovation from the crowd, after which he returned the flute to its owner.

“You can consider playing the flute right now as if you're kissing me. It's more than you'll ever be able to aspire,” said Blueblood without looking at the mare.

“He's really good!” said the mint-coated mare before looking at Drakkar, who was showing a slightly annoyed grimace. “Are you okay?”

“It's just that I'm not used to this kind of music,” admitted Drakkar with a shrug. “It sounds odd to me.”

“Come on, grab the lyre and play already!” ordered Blueblood bluntly. “Do I have to give it to you too?”

The mare tightened the grip as he looked at Drakkar, who sighed heavily while shaking his lowered head. “You need it, right?”

“I do,” admitted Drakkar, “but I can't take it away from you like that.”

“May I... stay next to you while you play it?” asked the mare with pleading eyes.

“Very well, Miss...”

“Lyra,” replied the mare. “Lyra Heartstrings.”

“Drakkar Veiðǫrvarson,” he said with a nod.

“Get on with it, will you two!” shouted Blueblood. Without giving them a second to react, he magically pulled Lyra's instrument and rest it on Drakkar's hooves. “There! Wasn't that hard, was it?”

“Hey!” cried Lyra, quickly throwing a furious glare at Blueblood, only to turn to Drakkar with the same anger. The stallion was levitating the lyre in front of him, gently caressing the thin strings before pulling them softly, paying close attention at the sound. The carefulness with which he was playing the instrument made her smile, though her hooves still trembled at the lack of the lyre’s touch.

“Believe me, I'm trying my best not to strangle him,” whispered Drakkar as he kept testing the instrument. “It's smaller than the ones I used but, other than that, it's pretty much the same. This shouldn't take long, Miss Lyra.”

Drakkar raised his forehooves, resting them at both sides of the lyre. The ponies in the crowd began whispering to each other, whereas Mjǫllna and her friends tried to approach where Drakkar and Blueblood were. From their privileged position, Luna leaned forward with a wide grin as Celestia kept watching from a more cautious position.

As Drakkar's hooves tenderly caressed the strings to get used to the sound, Lyra's ears perked up, paying close attention to the music. With his eyes closed, Drakkar started playing a song, quite faster than Blueblood's from the start. To most ponies' ears, the melody that spread across the hall was eerie at best; a weird amalgamation of twisted harmony, too foreign to be appreciated. Only three ponies in Canterlot Castle were enjoying Drakkar's tune, and one of them was the Scandineighvian stallion. For the rest, Blueblood included, it was harmonic noise. When Drakkar inhaled happily, ready to sing, Blueblood's voice woke him from his melodic daydreaming.

“Stop! In the name of Celestia, stop!” cried Blueblood, leaving Drakkar motionless. “Please, stop torturing that instrument! I've had the misfortune of listening to the horrible noise a cat makes when you step on its tail, and that's even more pleasant to the hearing than that!”

To Drakkar's surprise, a large amount of ponies nodded in approval while others shook their heads with disappointment in their faces. He slowly walked back, his face twisted in shock as he did and his legs trembling under his own weight. Lyra stayed next to him, and the other three musicians followed her, throwing contempt glares at Blueblood.

“What are you trying to prove with this?” demanded Lyra as she pointed at Blueblood.

“What everypony else but his stallion apparently knows,” he replied with a smirk. “You can dress a wildling with the finest clothes, but it will still be a wildling.”

Drakkar let himself fall on the floor on his haunches, staring at the richly ornate, multicolor tiles under him. Without looking up, he lifted the lyre for Lyra to grab it, pressing both sides of his head tightly once his hooves were free.

“Drakkar!” called Mjǫllna from afar as she pushed her way through the crowd.

“No... not her,” muttered Drakkar, further hiding his head between his forehooves and behind his mane. “Not now, Freyja, I beg you!”

Mjǫllna, after a few moments of struggle, arrived where Drakkar was, lowering her head in an attempt to stare at him in the eyes. “Drakkar, get up and fight for your honor!.”

“I...” Drakkar slowly looked up, seeing the concerned look on her face while her hooves caressed his leonine mane. “I can't. If I do so, I'll mess everything up.” After speaking, Drakkar lowered his head once more.

“You have fought against armies of Manegols,” she said, tenderly resting her forehead on his, “scared away packs of úlfsvetir and protected the Jarl with your life. You're my brave Siggurð, and I refuse to believe that a noble can turn you into this!“

”I was never forced to hold my hooves back before, Mjǫllna,” replied Drakkar with a trembling voice. “I am not a lucky pony; my failures here will only mark the ones to come.”

“Look at me, Drakkar,” said Mjǫllna, waiting in vain for a reaction from him. With gritted teeth, she grabbed Drakkar's horn and pulled it up, forcing him to stare at her as he let out a pained grunt. “Lít mík, Hófkarl!” she repeated, frowning at him. “Their opinions don't matter. You have gone through hell and back to get this far! The first Scandineighvian pony to be at Equestria's Grand Galloping Gala! You'll return to Fimbulvetr as a hero, an example to follow! You...”

Her lips trembled as words didn't seem to come out of her. After a couple failed attempts when her mouth moved to let out no sound, Mjǫllna pulled Drakkar towards her, their lips connecting in a fervent kiss. As Drakkar reacted by participating in the passionate gesture, she slowly released his horn from the tight grip, gently resting her hoof on his strong shoulder. Mjǫllna lowered her head enough to reach his lower lip, tenderly biting it as she stared at him with watery eyes.

“You don't need to impress them,” she finally said with a slow shake of her head. “You impressed me, and that's all that matters.” As she spoke, tears ran down her cheeks, still shaking her head as sorrow distorted her voice. “I already lost my father because he didn't think he'd be worthy for me. I don't want that to happen again!” Mjǫllna rested her forehead on his shoulder, surrounding him with her hooves in a tight embrace.

“Mjǫllna...” Drakkar hugged her as well, caressing her long mane as he did under the approving looks of the four musicians, who were trying to hold back their own tears. “You're not going to lose me. That's not going to happen.”

“I don’t think I had requested a drama contest,” said Blueblood nonchalantly with a wave of his hoof. “Move away so the musicians can resume playing!”

Mjǫllna's ears lay flat as she let out a growl between her gritted teeth. “Drakkar,” she said as she broke the hug before looking at him in the eyes. “I know you're holding your hooves back for the sake of a greater good.” Mjǫllna got up, turning to face Blueblood with eyes red in sorrow and fury. With a loud cry, she delivered a fierce punch to Blueblood's cheek. The crowd let out a loud, collective gasp as the white unicorn fell on the ground. When Blueblood landed on the marble tiles, blood started to come out of his lip and inside his mouth. “But I don't have to!” she growled as she smashed her hooves together.

Rainbow Dash quickly flew in front of Mjǫllna, landing between her and the prone Blueblood. “Mjǫllna, that's enough!” she said before the ponies around them began calling the guards in horror.

However, Mjǫllna stood in front of Rainbow Dash with a deep frown, staring at the white unicorn. “I have no regrets, Rainbow Dash,” she replied. “If I am to be taken away from the Gala, so be it.”

“What's going on here!?” said a familiar voice from a distance.

Drakkar's ears perked up, looking around him to find that something was making the crowd of ponies to move away. After a moment, the first row of nobleponies segregated to let Shining Armor, flanked by two unicorn Royal Guards, to walked towards Drakkar.

“Konungsson Shining Armor,” said Drakkar as he hit his chest with a hoof.

“Hoofcarl Drakkar,” replied Shining Armor while a hoof rested on his forehead. “In the name of the Princesses, I beg you to not take into account this inconvenience, and hope that this won't affect the negotiations of the treaty.”

“T... treaty?” repeated Blueblood, slowly getting up while letting out pained groans. His legs trembled under his own weight, taking sudden steps to his sides to prevent from falling. Droplets of blood fell from his mouth to the marble tiles as he spoke.

“This stallion you openly mocked has come to Equestria representing the interests of the kingdom of Fimbulvetr,” announced Shining Armor as he turned to face Blueblood. “Your actions might have endangered the negotiations, and pray Celestia for this not to become the beginning of a war!”

“I'll make sure Mjǫllna won't cause trouble anymore, your Majesty,” said Rainbow Dash, resting a hoof on Mjǫllna's shoulder. “We'll take her to the gardens so she can cool down a bit.”

Shining Armor nodded, then looked at the two guards to his sides. “You two will keep an eye on her for a while,” he ordered, to which they saluted and guided both mares out of the slowly dispersing crowd. “Hoofcarl, allow me to have a cold drink with you. I'm sure it would temper those nerves.”

“I would appreciate it, yes,” replied Drakkar.

Shining Armor threw his hoof over Drakkar's shoulder, pulling forward and moving away from the crowd. “Excellent, we'll forget this little incident.”

Both ponies walked for a while without saying a word. Once they were far enough from the rest, Drakkar let out a long sigh of relief. “You have no idea how glad I am to see you,” he admitted with an honest grin before raising an eyebrow. “Representative of the kingdom of Fimbulvetr?” he repeated, holding back a snort.

“You're here to consider the possibilities of signing a treaty between Equestria and Fimbulvetr,” said Shining Armor with a serious voice, yet smiling broadly as he spoke. “You might not be an official ambassador, but you're here to protect your nation's interests. I didn't lie to Blueblood, if that's what worries you.”

“Even the part where you said that I would declare war to you?” insisted Drakkar as he raised an eyebrow.

“You might not do it, but I wouldn't have been surprised if a different pony would've reacted that way,” replied Shining Armor bluntly. “We're lucky you had the patience to not take such decision.”

“I wish things were easier sometimes, though” admitted Drakkar with a sigh.

“What are you talking about?” asked Shining Armor with a raised eyebrow.

“I... have a little problem aside from all this diplomatic meeting.” As he spoke, Drakkar's body shivered slightly, slowing his walking speed as he did. “I... I want to ask Mjǫllna's hoof in marriage.”

Shining Armor let out a loud chuckle, patting Drakkar strongly in the back. “Well, congratulations! For what I saw when we met for the first time,” replied Shining Armor with a smirk, “she won't say no if you do.”

“I know, but that's not what I'm concerned about.”

Surprised at his friend's words, Shining Armor turned to face him. Drakkar's forehead and cheeks shone due to the moistness the sweat was causing. “You look a bit wobbly,” he said as he looked at Drakkar with concern. “I'll bring you a drink. The punch they have is amazing.”

“I'll go with you,” said Drakkar immediately after Shining finished talking.

At the sight of the Scandineighvian stallion's sorrowful eyes, Shining Armor could only nod before leaning his head towards a long table. As they walked across the colossal room, a lot of ponies focused their attention of both ponies, which only seemed to worsen Drakkar's state. By the time they reached the table, his breathing had become heavier, more obvious to the ones around him. Shining Armor quickly dragged a cushioned chair of impeccable white close to Drakkar before he filled a cup from the purple punch of the bowl in front of them.

“Take a sit and have a drink,” he offered as he raised the cup towards him. “It doesn't have that much of a kick, but it might calm you a bit.”

With an uncomfortable nod, Drakkar reached the cup and got it close his lips. Despite his trembling, he was able to take a short sip without letting anything drip. The stallion raised an eyebrow, the taste of the beverage making him smile weakly as his shaking became a bit less noticeable. “It's not mead, but it's quite good,” he admitted as he looked at Shining Armor.

“Glad you like it,” he replied as he patted him on the shoulder. And magically took the napkin from his pocket and offered it to Drakkar. “You should wipe that sweat off your face too. Now, what are you concerned about with Mjǫllna's wedding proposal? ”

“Right, that.” After passing the napkin across his forehead and cheeks a couple times, Drakkar lowered his head, staring at the punch as he played with the cup, moving it in small circles. “You see, I want to marry in Scandineighvia, and there are certain laws about marriages that I don't know if they are like the ones there.”

“Such as?” Though the topic seemed not to be the most pleasant for Drakkar, Shining Armor kept the conversation going. Not only for the sake of his own curiosity, but distracting his friend with a conversation was actually soothing the stallion down.

“Well, even before the wedding is set,” explained Drakkar, “we have to set what you call the bride-price. There are three payments that have to be set: The mundr and the morgengifu are given by the groom, and the heiman fylgja, by the bride.”

“And I thought that looking for a wedding ring was too much of a mess,” said Shining Armor with a laugh.

Drakkar shook his head, but let out a snort at his friend's comment. “The groom's offering must be similar to the bride's dowry, but the morgengifu is usually one third or half in amount of it. However, having a morgengifu that equals the value of the heiman fylgja isn't unheard of.”

“Do each payment represent something?” asked Shining Armor with curiosity. “I'm sure my wife would find this very interesting.”

“As long as she doesn't demand her bride-price after hearing about it, sure,” replied Drakkar with a loud laugh, followed by Shining Armor's. “But yes, they all represent something. The mundr is what you might call the bride-price, and its worth is similar to the heiman fylgja that the bride must pay. It's offered not only to ensure the soundness of the marriage economically speaking, but also as a compensation for the bride's family for the loss of her labor at home.”

“I see it's kind of a big deal,” admitted Shining Armor with a nod. “So the wealthier the bride's dowry, the more you have to offer?”

“That's pretty much it, though the minimum mundr is set by law in twelve ounces of silver. In Scandineighvia, at least; I know that in other cities it's as low as eight ounces, so it depends.” Drakkar shrugged with a sad gaze, looking at Shining Armor through the corner of his eye. “Basically, if you can't afford even the minimum mundr, you aren't allowed to marry.”

“I see.” Shining Armor nodded as he found out his friend's concern, and decided to continue the conversation, if only to keep the Scandineighvian stallion distracted as he thought about something to cheer him up. “What about the morgengifu?”

Drakkar showed a shy grin as he scratched his neck. “Well, about that... it's offered for...” He looked around to check that only Shining Armor was close enough to hear before resuming the sentence. “It's offered to the wife for her.... how to put it in a not too crude way?”

“I think I know where this is going,” replied Shining Armor with a raised eyebrow.

“Sexual availability?” asked Drakkar with a slight, barely noticeable blush and a smirk, waiting for his friend's seconding.

“I was right,” said Shining Armor with a loud laugh. “Why is it so hard for you to talk about that? You better fix that before the honeymoon, buddy!” he added as he bumped Drakkar's shoulder.

Drakkar lightly rubbed his hoof against the place where Shining had hit him, letting out a short laugh at his comment. “Well, it's not just sexual availability, but also to ensure financial support during marriage and... well, we don't have healthcare as good as yours, so pregnancy is a bit of a hazard for mares where I live.”

“I understand,” replied Shining Armor with a grim expression. “I have the feeling that it's also used to support the foals, am I right?”

“Possibly yes, but that was mostly the mundr's duty; to ensure that the stallion is wealthy enough to support a family, future foals included,” said Drakkar with a nod. “As for the heiman fylgja,” he continued, “it's the payment set for the bride to pay. The husband administers it, but he can't spend it unwisely. It's also used to help the wife support the family if she widows. Oh, and she gets it back if the couple divorces too.”

“Wait, divorce?” asked Shining Armor with widened eyes. “I didn't expect you to have those. Considering all you have to do to get married, divorces must be horribly complicated!”

“To be honest, it's actually pretty easy to get divorced,” replied Drakkar with a shrug. “Most marriages in Fimbulvetr are engaged to make alliance between families, which means that they look forward to preserving their interests and the well-being of the couple. However, if things don't work, it's entirely possible for them to separate and try it again with different partners.”

“There must be something for a divorce to happen. I don't like to picture mares threatening divorce every time they don't feel they're being treated as they wanted,” commented Shining Armor as he looked at Cadance on the far end of the room through the corner of the eye.

“According to the law, at least one of three conditions must be met for the divorce to happen: if there was physical or psychological abuse of any kind, if they became too poor to support themselves without help from their family, or if a husband tries to take his wife out of the country against her will.” At Shining's relieved sigh, Drakkar burst into laughter, shaking his hoof. “There are more reasons that validate a divorce, but I'm sure you don't have to worry about those.”

“I'm a bit scared of asking,” admitted Shining Armor.

Drakkar turned to face his friend, then looked at Cadance for a moment before returning his attention to Shining Armor. To the Prince's surprise, his friend burst into loud laughter, earning the attention of several ponies that were close to them. It took a while for Drakkar to calm down, having to wipe a couple tears of joy.

“I don't get it,” said Shining Armor before turning to see Cadance, who was cheerfully talking to a few ponies and was too far away to have made any noticeable gesture. “What's so funny?”

“I'm... I'm sorry, Shining,” said Drakkar as he slowly recovered his breath. “But I just pictured you with your wife's dress.”

Shining Armor blinked in astound at his friend's confession, shaking his head at his words. “And you did that because...”

“Well, I've heard stories about couples who divorced because the other one dressed in the opposite gender's clothes.” Drakkar shrugged with a smile, leaning his left foreleg on the table as he spoke. “There have also been cases of divorce because the couple didn't sleep together for three years straight. If the witnesses attending the divorce are there and agree, you would be surprised at the reasons given by couples to separate.”

“What?!”

Drakkar wiped his tears of joy as he spoke. “But yeah, those are very rare cases.”

”Anyways,” said Shining Armor, clearing his throat politely, “you're concerned about not being able to pay the bride-price. Twelve ounces of silver sounds like it’s quite expensive, if you ask me.”

“I have a few Hríðir here.” Drakkar reached the bad hanging from his belt, taking a couple silver coins. They were slightly thinner and smaller than bits. “This is our currency. Equestrian ponies know them as blizzes.”

“Translation?” asked Shining with a cocked eyebrow.

“Hríðr means blizzard, but I guess they call them like that because it sounds much more like the original name,” replied Drakkar with a shrug.

“Do they have that name for a reason?” inquired Shining Armor with a smirk.

“Scandineighvia was the first town that recommended the neighboring cities to join forces against the Manegol threat,” explained Drakkar. “The Hrið clan has been jarlar of Scandineighvia for centuries, and we named our currency after them. When we became the kingdom of Fimbulvetr, the other cities took our coin as their own. It's not like it really matters,” added Drakkar with a shrug, “for bartering is quite common anyways.”

“That's actually quite interesting,” admitted Shining Armor as he nodded, smiling profusely. “So you could offer the equivalent of twelve ounces of silver.”

“It's still more than I have; and that's the bare minimum of what I need to marry her.”

“What you need to marry her is proposing, plan and simple,” corrected Shining Armor as he patted his friend's shoulder. “Cadance is a princess, and I was the Captain of the Royal Guard, and that didn't stop us from getting married.”

Despite his friend's efforts, Drakkar let out a long sigh. “That means that things are much simpler here.”

“Oh, come on, you work directly for the Jarl!” exclaimed Shining Armor with a frown.

“My family has no shortage of food and clothes, but we are far from what you'll consider wealthy,” said Drakkar with a shake of his head. “And Mjǫllna is the great-granddaughter of a war heroine in my homeland!”

“The good thing is that you won't be able to think about that in a while,” said Shining Armor as he waved at Cadance.

“Why do you say that?” asked Drakkar with a raised eyebrow.

A smile bloomed in Shining Armor's face. “You'll find out as soon as you turn around.”

At those words, Drakkar looked to his left, his eyes widening as both Celestia and Luna walked towards them. Resting the cup on the table, he got up and prostrated in front of them.

“Rise, Hófkarl,” ordered Luna, smiling as Drakkar got up to look at them. “We deeply apologize for what has happened.”

“I would understand that you might not be willing to stay here any longer,” continued Celestia with a nod. “We should move to the meeting hall to discuss the treaty.”

“What about Mjǫllna?” asked Drakkar as he turned to Shining Armor.

“The guards would be with her for a while before returning to their usual patrols,” he replied with a shake of his hoof, smiling broadly as Cadance got closer. “It was just to cool the mood down. You can't have ponies throwing punches at each other here, you know?” Shining Armor moved aside, pecking his wife's lips before pulling her to join the small group. “Drakkar, this is my wife, Princess Mi Amore Cadenza.”

“Just Cadance,” she corrected with a broad smile. “You must be Drakkar, the one we will be discussing the treaty with.”

“We?” repeated Drakkar, blinking in astonishment.

“Oh course!” exclaimed Shining Armor. “Cadance and I rule the Crystal Empire, which is much closer to your lands. We might have something to ask for as well! Not to mention that it will be much cheaper for all of us if we can simply establish the Crystal Empire as the trade center, and then supply the goods across Equestria.”

“Thou hast to remember, though,” warned Luna with a severe tone, yet showing a comforting smile as she did, “that this shall not be the final word. We shall think of all the goods both kingdoms could export and import. Thou hast to bear in mind that, no matter what we discuss, thine rulers have the final word.” Luna rested her hoof on Drakkar's shoulder. “If they decide not to accept it, it shall not be thine fault.”

Drakkar slowly looked around him, his smile slowly becoming more prominent with each approving nod he received. “Alright then,” he said finally. “Let's go.”

-o-

In the gardens of Canterlot castle, Mjǫllna was sitting on one of the benches, surrounding by Twilight and her friends. The two unicorn guards had left a while ago, leaving the mares and the young dragon on their own once more.

“Mjǫllna, are you feeling better?” asked Rarity as he walked to sit next to her.

“I guess I'm better now,” she replied with a shrug. “I just had to do it.”

“Are you kidding?” asked Rainbow Dash with a fierce flap of her wings. “Of course you had to! I only wish I could've done it myself. I mean, I thought Drakkar would take care of him.”

“I knew he was concerned about making a good impression,” admitted Twilight, shaking her head while frowning. “But I didn't expect him to swallow his pride so many times.”

Mjǫllna let out a long sigh, tapping her hooves together as she spoke. “I hope the meeting doesn't last too long. I want to talk to him.”

“About what?” asked Applejack.

“I feared for him back here,” explained Mjǫllna with a sorrowful grimace. “It reminded me of my father Solar Beam. He didn't feel he was worthy as a father and left. For a moment, I saw him in Drakkar, and was terrified at the idea of losing him too.”

“Well, though I admit that was an interesting role reversal back there,” said Rainbow Dash with a smirk, “I think he won't leave like that. I’m sure whatever happens at that meeting will boost his morale.”

“You're looking forward to his proposal, aren't you?” asked Rarity, resting her hoof on Mjǫllna's shoulders.

To those words, Mjǫllna chuckle, tapping Rarity's hoof. “I'm looking forward to it, but that doesn't mean I'm going to wait until he does.”

“Don't tell me you're planning on proposing first!” cried Rarity in shock. “But that's not what a lady does! You have to-”

Mjǫllna's burst of laughter interrupted Rarity. “Rarity, I broke a stallion's jaw less than an hour ago; I think it's clear enough that I'm not that kind of lady. And I won't change no matter who asks me to; I’m a strong mare and I don’t hesitate when facing those who think otherwise.”

“So Ah reckon you're giving 'im a deadline?” asked Applejack, showing a wide smile as she spoke.

“If by the end of the Gala he hasn't proposed to me, I will!” assured Mjǫllna with a nod.

“I really hope everything goes well between you two,” said Fluttershy, who had kept silent for most of the conversation.

“Thanks, Fluttershy. And above all else, thanks for taking care of him all these days.”

“Oh, it was nothing,” replied Fluttershy, blushing lightly. “He helped me a lot at home during his stay.”

“Why don't we go inside?” asked Pinkie Pie, bouncing back a few steps. “The meeting should be over any minute now!”

“We've been about an hour here,” admitted Twilight, “but I don't think they'll be done until much later.”

“I could use a drink, though,” said Mjǫllna as she caressed her throat.

“Yeah, let's get in so we can toast for the soon-to-be couple!” Rainbow Dash threw his foreleg around Mjǫllna's neck.

“Rainbow Dash!” scolded Rarity, covering her mouth with a hoof.

“Hey, one way or another, it's going to happen! Come on!”

The whole group trotted their way inside the castle, marching towards the punch bowl. Rainbow Dash flew in front of them, picking eight cups and filling them, all of them ready by the time the others arrived. As each one got there, they took a cup each, Rainbow Dash raising hers when everypony had one.

“A toast to Mjǫllna!” she proclaimed loudly. “One of the most awesome mares I've met, for her upcoming marriage!”

“To Mjǫllna!” repeated her friends before chugging the sweet content of their cups.

“Thanks, girls,” said Mjǫllna, shaking her head while grinning broadly. “Let's see if Drakkar finishes already.”

The meeting hall's door opened with a creaking sound that made everypony's ears perk up.

“Wow, it worked! I didn't know you had Pinkie Sense as well!” cried Pinkie, getting closer to Mjǫllna. “Though I guess that it should be called Mjǫllna Sense in this case. What do you think?”

Celestia and Luna were the first ones to come out, followed closely by Shining Armor and Cadance. Behind them appeared Drakkar, sparkling eyes and a grin on his face. As the Princesses approached Twilight and her friends, the all bowed respectfully.

“How did everything go at the meeting, Princess?” asked Twilight.

“Fruitful,” replied Celestia with a nod. “Fimbulvetr is a kingdom from which we can learn a lot, and they can benefit from ours as well. There are a lot of possibilities that we've discussed, and we're expecting a positive response from the rulers.”

“I'll give this to Jarl Hríðvetr,” said Drakkar. “I'm sure I can convince him that this will be the dawn of a new and prosperous era for Fimbulvetr.”

“And now you have no reason not to do what you wanted,” added Shining Armor, gently pushing Drakkar towards Mjǫllna.

Both ponies looked at each other, smiling broadly as the did. Drakkar grabbed Mjǫllna's hoof, taking a deep breath before speaking.

“Mjǫllna Eldstaðsdóttir”, he solemnly vowed. “Ek vil Þik vera merina er beri mér fyl ok hiti mér beð meðan lǫngum køldum vetunum. Ek mun reisi mér hóf gegn þeim er þori freisti valga Þik mein, ok mun geng úr skugga um er þú vitir af ekkeru. Ver mér víf; lát Freyja ǫfunda okkr ást!”

Everypony stared at each other with dumbfounded expressions, save for Celestia and Luna, who nodded with prominent smiles. Mjǫllna tightened the hold of Drakkar's hoof before speaking with the widest grin she'd ever shown.

“Mik gef til Þin, Drakkar Veiðǫrvarson,” replied Mjǫllna, making Drakkar grin widely as well. “Mun efni glaðliga mik skyldur sem konu, ok treysti er þú mun efnir þín sem eiginhesti. Ek mun ber þik sterk, frísk fyl, ok Þórsmáttr mun leiðbein mik hamar til hjalpa þau vernda.”

With those words, Mjǫllna jumped towards Drakkar, their lips connecting in a passionate kiss. Drakkar reacted quickly, taking a step back to keep his balance before lifting her. Mjǫllna moved away, but Drakkar rested his hoof behind her head and pulling her towards him to kiss her again. She replied by ardently tightening her hug, their tongues intertwining in the midst of their fervent love.

“I only got a 'would you like to marry me' from you,” said Cadance with a feigned mocking voice.

“Well, your 'I do' didn't inspire songs and legends either, sweetheart,” replied Shining Armor with fake jealousy.

Both ponies laughed at their own comments, followed by everypony else. Twilight levitated all the cups they have used, and another five more for the newcomers to fill them with punch. When they were all set, she offered one to each pony.

“Once again, and now that we're all here,” started Twilight, raising his cup while broadly smiling, “I'd like to toast to the... I think it was a wedding proposal, so I toast to the happy couple!”

“To Drakkar and Mjǫllna!” they cheered.

“Congratulations to you two,” said Shining Armor before finishing his drink. “You said you wanted to marry in Scandineighvia, didn't you?”

“That's right,” replied Drakkar with a nod. “We could have a ceremony here when we're back for you all, if that's okay with you.”

“I'm sure my family would love it!” said Mjǫllna.

“We've been thinking that, since we have to return to the Crystal Empire after this,” started Cadance, resting a hoof on her chest, “we could take you with us, so you don't have to walk all the way back to Scandineighvia.”

“I'd really appreciate it,” replied Drakkar with an approving nod. “But I think we should go see Mjǫllna's family before.”

“That won't be necessary, Drakkar,” said Mjǫllna, her hoof shaking in disagreement. “I talked to them before going to Rarity's, and they suspected that we were going to go to Fimbulvetr.”

“But what about the—” started Drakkar, only to get interrupted by Mjǫllna.

“They don't care about the bride-price,” she replied with a smile. “We're aware of your worries about it, but you must understand that there's something more important than that. I know you defend your traditions and laws, and that's laudable.” Mjǫllna rested her hoof on Drakkar's cheek, caressing him before speaking again. “But I don't want to waste the opportunity of a lifetime together for them.” Drakkar closed his eyes, leaning his head a bit, losing himself in Mjǫllna's tender touch as he gave an approving nodded. “Also,” she added, her hoof reaching the inner part of her apron-like overdress, pulling a small bag out of its pocket. “I crafted this for us.”

Drakkar, who was now missing Mjǫllna's caresses, looked down to see the bag, giving it a surprised look. When Mjǫllna offered it to him, Drakkar didn't hesitate and opened, his eyes widening at the sight of two silver rings, large enough to fit on a pony's upper leg. Upon close inspection, each bracelet had an ornament mounted on them. One of them had Drakkar's cutie mark, the fierce roaring bear head. The other one had Mjǫllna's, the hammer of Þórr with a bolt of lightning behind it.

“This is...” tried to say Drakkar, dazzled at the sight of the pieces of jewelry. “This is amazing! Mjǫllna, these are incredible!”

“Wow, Drakkar's cutie mark is really well made,” admitted Twilight. “How were you able to keep it as a surprise, though?”

“Yeah!” replied Rainbow Dash. “He had to be there when you were forging that thing.”

“I have a good memory,” said Mjǫllna, a brazen smile slowly blooming on her face. “Not to mention that he's not the only one of us who likes the sight of his special somepony's haunches,” she added with a chuckle that caused Drakkar to look away, a light blush illuminating his face. “We'll wear these leg rings after the ceremony, though.”

“I'm gonna miss you two,” said Rainbow Dash, patting Mjǫllna's back.

“We all will,” seconded Rarity.

“Y'all come to visit every now and then, right?” asked Applejack, tipping her hat as she spoke.

“I sure hope so,” said Drakkar. “But that doesn't depend on me. Though I must admit that I've grown attached to Ponyville.” He slowly looked at everypony around him, all of them now familiar faces that had become friends during his stay. “I'm going to miss you all.”

“Think of this,” interjected Celestia. “You are the pony who has opened the door to a possible alliance, and are the most knowledgeable pony in Fimbulvetr concerning Equestria. If they agree on accepting, you are by far the best choice to keep here, if only to make sure that the interests of both nations are protected.”

“It's a possibility,” admitted Drakkar with a nod.

“Let's enjoy the party a while longer before returning to the Crystal Empire!” cried Shining Armor. “To the dawn of a new era, where Equestrians and Fimbulvetrians will work together and prosper!”

“To the alliance!” cried the rest of ponies, the clashing of cups overcoming their laughter and cheers.

Author's Note:

As usual, translation time.

"Þín fegurð gjøri sunnu óþarfri, því at þín kjólinn ok brosit foera ljós í þessu rúmi": "Your beauty makes the Sun unnecessary, for your dress and smile bring light to this room."

“Þegið!”: "Be quiet!"

Jarn ber gegn jarni./ Óróliga venjum/ at eta með Æsum. /þetta er norrohests fjǫr!” = "Iron fights against iron./ We train restlessly/ to eat with the Æsir./ This is the live of a Norse Pony! "

The translations of both ponies' wedding proposals in order or appearance.

“Mjollna Eldstaðsdóttir,” he solemnly vowed, “I want you to be the mare who'll bear my foals and warm my bed during the long, cold winters. I shall raise my hoof against those who dare try to cause you harm, and will make sure that you want for nothing. Be my wife, and let Freyja envy our love!”

“To you I give myself, Drakkar Veiðǫrvarson,” replied Mjǫllna, making Drakkar grin widely as well. “I will gladly fulfill my duties as a wife, and trust that you will fulfill yours as a husband. I will bear your strong, healthy foals, and Þórr's might shall guide my hammer to help me protect them.”