How about a short story this week. But it’s not really that short, so will have to do it in three parts. Hope you find it interesting.
Miserable with pain and sick from dismay, Nordus huddled atop a flat rock and gazed morosely into a silver pool of ice-skimmed water. His reflection in the calm surface disturbed him more than the fierce ache in his tooth. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair. When he, a Light Elf of Alfheim, had accompanied Lord Freyr into exile as a hostage to the Aesir, the mighty God of Weather and Fertility gratefully transformed him into a beautiful youth of fair proportions and fairer features. Now a fierce toothache horribly marred his handsome jaw.
His downfall had been swift. Head spinning, he reviewed all that had happened to him recently. It had been that obnoxious Thor’s fault.
Nordus had been an imp all of his life, and be they divine or magical or merely mortal, no one could see beyond the wee torso and stunted limbs of his kind. As a dwarf, he was an object of curiosity and suspicion; only natural then he should show off his newfound loveliness by flouncing around the throne room of Odin’s Hlidskialf Hall, the high seat of the Allfather in Valaskjalf. Thor grew jealous and demanded that Freyr change Nordus’s appearance so he was no longer more handsome than he, the Thunder God. Odin’s own son.
So Freyr had commanded Nordus into his presence. “Mayhap we have a problem,” his lord had said. Freyr never stood on ceremony with him. He spoke plainly instead of indulging in god-speak like so many other tiresome deities. “You’ve made Thor jealous, and that won’t do. To allay his spite, I have decided to alter your appearance. Now don't go puckish, it will be but a small change.” His lord regarded him thoughtfully. “We could give you a tail.”
Nordus’s mouth dropped open. His hands clutched the hem of his doublet. Surely not that. His behind was the envy of everyone in the hall…of both genders. “But, sir—”
Freyr waved his hand impatiently. “Of course, that won’t do. Perhaps wings. Not large, ungainly things for soaring, but maybe small ones. Quite insignificant wings, really.”
Well aware Freyr admired his lean, supple back; Nordus half-turned to give his lord a glimpse. “But you like my back just as it is.”
“Yes, so that won’t do, either.” The god’s scowl cleared. “Your eyes. That’s it. Your eyes. I’ll give you cat’s eyes.” He chuckled. “They’ll glow in the dark, making you easier to find in bed. How about that?”
“My Lord, you claim my violet eyes are my best feature.”
“So I do. Well, I won’t put up with a snout or paws or any such nonsense.” His master straightened on his gilded throne. “Your ears.” Freyr held up a hand to forestall protest. “Yes, yes, I know. They are the model for all ears. A paragon of eardom. I outdid myself when I created them, but we must do something. After all, I am hostage to the mighty Odin, and I must appease him somehow. Yes, it will be your ears.”
“No donkey ears,” Nordus cried. “Please. You wouldn’t want them flapping around.”
“Of course not. Nor a horse’s; nor a pig’s. A shell, I think. Yes, we’ll mold them into the shape of a seashell.”
“Not a Conch, I beg of you. Nor a Scallop. And Mollusks…ugh.”
“Don’t distress yourself. We’ll find something appropriate.” Freyr clapped his hands and an array of seashells appeared between them. “So choose one, and let us be done with it.”
His heart pittering in his chest, Nordus studied the display. He lifted one shell after another, finding fault with each until he picked up one with a rounded bottom that gracefully curved to a pleasing, off-center point.
“Ah, the Jewel Box Oyster. Well, chosen, Nordus. The Jewel Box it shall be.”
Freyr bade him approach and laid his hands on Nordus, cupping his elegant, small-lobed protrusions. A sudden burning sensation made the former dwarf wince. He experienced a sensation of growth, of change.
“Now let’s see,” the god said, taking his hands away. “No, that won’t do. They’re not big enough.”
Freyr slapped his hands away. “I can do better than that. Hold still. Your fidgeting is distracting. Hold still, I say.”
So Nordus fearfully submitted once again. His master took hold of his ears and worked with them, tugging here and pushing there. Finally, he turned Nordus’s face first one way and then the other. “Yes. Yes, that’s the way I want them. Quite attractive, really. I think you’ll like them.”
Freyr clapped his hands again, and a mirror appeared. Fearfully, Nordus lifted his eyes to regard his new image. They were quite large ears—at least compared to those he’d had before. Yet they lay close to the head so as not to be offensive. They certainly gave him a different look. He twisted sideways and examined the left one. His master had made the pinna a soft pink. Yes, these were quite satisfactory. They may even make him more attractive… as if that were possible.
Judging from his reception in the Hall, his altered appearance was well received. Everyone was taken with his new ears. If anything, he was more seductive than before. That, of course, did not sit well with Thor, who was outraged.
“I submit, O Mighty Odin,”—his lord Freyr said when confronted—“I heard your son’s objections and addressed them forthwith. It was my duty to do so as a guest in your hall.”
“And so you have, Lord Freyr.” Odin’s voice was always a subdued roar.
“Bah!” scoffed Thor. “The boy’s more fetching than ever.”
“Lord Thor,” Freyr said in a calm voice. “Are those ears similar to your own. To anyone’s in the hall?”
“Are they more fetching than your own?”
Freyr turned to his host. “Then I consider the matter settled.”
“As do I.” Odin fixed his odious son with a baleful glare. “The matter is resolved.”
At that moment, the seeds of Nordus’s downfall were sown. So relieved, so enthralled was he by his increased popularity, he threw himself into the gaiety and notoriety of the Hall with greater enthusiasm than ever.
Nordus seems to be doing just fine. So what in the world could cause his downfall? Tune in next week.
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