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Thor was the eldest son of Frigg and Odin and he was perhaps one of the best loved gods of all. Thor was red haired and red-bearded, who had the tendency of acting first and thinking later, a fact which often landed him into trouble. Thor often roared across the skies of Midgard in his chariot drawn by two giant goats. Thor was loved by men because he gave them good crops, when his sheets of lightning flashed across the skies it was said that he was ripening the yeild of crops. When the lighting flashed across the horizon they knew that he was battling the giants and hunting the trolls. Besides Thor's mighty hammer, Miolnir the Mullicrusher, Thor possesed a belt that when he wore it increased his already great strength twofold. Thor's third valued possession was a pair of iron gauntlets, without them he would not be able to hold his fiery hammer or catch it when it flew back at him like a boomerang after each throw.
Thor's mansion on Asgard was known as Thruthvanger, the Paddocks of Power, where his castle hall Bilskirnir or Lightning stood. Thor's mansion possessed five hundred and forty rooms, the most extensive mansion known to man. Thor lived in his mansion with his wife Sif, a beautiful woman who's long hair was made of pure gold and rippled over her shoulders like ripening wheat, she was the goddess of cornfields. The table in Thor's mighty hall was constantly groaning under the weight of meat and drink for Thor was renowned for his unquenchable appetite, he had been known to eat a whole ox and three barrels of mead in one go.
One day Thor turned to Loki and said; "I'm tired of simply lying around in Asgard. There is nothing to do, nothing to test my mighty streangth against."
"Well," said Loki to Thor," There is no point in testing it against my wits for I would certainly win!"
"Never!" said Thor, "Brawn is always better than brain, all it needs is exercise. Loki, how do you think I'd fare in giant-land?"
"I don't know," replied Loki, "I suppose their is only one way to find out."
And that was how Thor and Loki began their adventure to the land of the giants.
Upon the first evening of their journey Loki and Thor decided to rest by a peasant's hu they came across. However, the peasant had no food to offer the gods so Thor slew his two giant goats who pulled his chariot and placed them into the peasants pot. When the two gods sat down to eat they invited the peasant and his family to join them. Once all had eaten and could eat no more Thor placed the goat skins beside the fire and said, "Place the bones on the skins." However Thor had not noticed that the peasants son had split open a leg bone to get to the sweet marrow inside. So, when Thor rose at dawn and blessed the goat skins by raising his mighty hammer above them and like newborn's they arose and one of them was lame, Thor's fury was unleashed. The distraught peasant begged for the life of himself and his family, "Please mighty Thor, my son acted in ignorance, I beg you take all we have but spare our lives." When Thor heard this and saw how the peasant cowered in fear his anger cooled. "I shall spare you my wrath, but in compensation I shall take you two children as my servants." Leaving his goats behind to heal Thor took the two peasant children, Thailfi and Roskva, and continued on his journey with Loki in tow.
The four journeyed east until they came to the sea, were they crossed it to the land of the giants. Once they arrived they found themselves in a deep forest. They walked and walked deep into the night until they found a large cave with several long passages and a side chamber. While Thor kept guard with Miollnir the other's slept. During the course of the night their was a tremendous earthquake and numerous rumblings and groanings. The following morning they stepped out of the cave only to discover a sleeping giant. The earthquake was from the giant lying down and the rumblings and groanings from his incredible snoring. Thor put on his belt of strength and his iron gloves and picked up his mighty hammer, but at that moment the giant awoke.
"Greetings," said the giant, "My name is Skrymir, what were you doing in my glove?"
As Thor turned he saw that the cave was not really a cave but indeed a giants glove, the side chamber was the thumb.
"You all seem to be going in the same direction as I, why don't you come with me, I am found of company, you can put your food in my knapsack so you can keep up with me." said the giant Skrymir. They all agreed and continued along their journey together.
That night the giant came to a halt by a large oak tree, throwing his knapsack to the ground the giant proceeded to fall asleep. Thor busied himself trying to undo the knots in the knapsack but he could not undo a single one. Hunger and fatigue made him furious and he struck a mighty blow to the centre of the sleeping giant's forehead with his hammer. The giant opened one eye, "What was that?" he murmured sleepily, "Did a leaf fall on me?" the giant closed his eye and went back to sleep. That night Thor, Loki, Thailfi and Roskva had to go without their supper, which was bad enough but they could not sleep either for the giant snored loud enough to wake the dead. At midnight, furious, Thor struck yet again at the giant, this time he actually felt the hammer sink into the flesh of the giant's forehead. "Was that an acorn?" murmured the giant, who rolled over and promptly fell back to sleep. Just before dawn Thor felt that a third blow would surely settle the giant for once and for all. This time Thor's mighty blow sank the hammer into the giant's flesh right up to the handle. The giant awoke, "Did a bird drop a twig on me?" he asked, "No matter it's time to be up anyway, we're almost upon the giants citadel at Utgard. There you'll find real giants, not cowardly shrimps like me, but be warned, you better act respectful or even better turn back now!" Skrymir pointed out the way to Utgard and then proceeded on his own way swinging his knapsack behind him. Thor and his companion's were not sorry to see him go but they did not heed his warning either. "No," said Thor, "We have come too far to turn back now."
The group proceeded on to Utgard, but when they arrived they found the gates locked. Thor tried with all his might to pry open the gates but they did not budge. However they found that by wriggling and squeezing they could just manage to get through the bars and into the courtyard of Utgard. As they entered the great hall of the giants the giant stared at the puny beings with contempt. The giant's chief, Utgard-Loki, bared his huge teeth at the travelers, "Surely this puny person could not be the famous Thor?" said the chief in surprise, 'Why you are as tiny as a mouse!"
"I am no mouse, " replied Thor in anger, "I am the mighty Thor!"
"Well then, " said the chief, "If you want to remain here you will have to entertain us with feats of strength or skill."
Loki the Mischief Maker was bringing up the rear, he could feel hias stomach rumbling with hunger.
"I'm so hungry I could out eat a giant!" he said without thinking.
A giant by the name of Logi was chosen to compete with Loki in the eating contest. An enormous dish was piled with meats and was placed on the floor between the two competitors. Loki was a god known for his ferocious appetite, even rivaling that of Thor, Loki's appetite was fuelled by the fact that he had had no supper or breakfast. The giant and the god both started at either end, Loki gobbled the meat down and met the giant in the middle- it was a tie. However, were Loki had only eaten the meat the giant had also eaten the bones and the dish. Loki had lost his contest.
The next to compete was Thailfi, Thailfi said that he would be willing to race against any of the giants, for he was lean and a very fast runner never having lost a race. The giants cleared a track for the race, and a giant by the name of Hugi was chosen as Thailfi's competitor. As the race began Thailfi was so fast that you could barely see him move, unfortunately the giant was faster, taking huge strides were Thailfi only took little ones. Hugi was so much faster than Thailfi that he actually turned around at the end of the race and met Thailfi halfway. Thailfi had also lost his contest.
Now is was Thor's turn to compete against a giant. Thor was very thirsty, as thirsty as the god Loki was hungry.
"How about a drinking match?" suggested Thor.
So the giants brought out a enormous drinking horn, filled to the brim with mead.
"A truly good drinker would be able to finish off this mead in one draught," said the chief of the giants, "Though of course many can only manage it in two. No one I know is as feeble as to need three draughts. " said the chief and gave a bellowing laugh.
Thor did not think that the horn looked very big so he set about to finish it off in one great gulp. However, it was not as easy as it looked, Thor tried and tried with all his considerable might, taking one great gulp after another. Finally Thor could not take it anymore for want of breath. But when he looked the level of the mead in the horn had hardly dropped. Thor tried his luck again, but to no avail, when Thor could hardly take it anymore the level of the mead had only fallen a little. Refusing to give up Thor tried yet again, Thor drank and drank until he thought that he would burst. Splattering mead everywhere and decidedly out of breath Thor at last gave in, but the horn was still not empty.
Utgard-Loki looked at Thor in scorn, "Why do you bother when obviously you are such a feeble man? The great Thor! It hardly seems worth your while to attempt any other feat."
"I shall try any feat you set before me!" said Thor defiantly.
"Very well," said Utgard-Loki, "Their is a game that some of our youngsters play, their is not much to the game really, all you have to do is lift that grey cat of the ground, I would not normally suggest it to a god of your reputation and.....might, but you do not seem as strong as others make you out to be."
Thor approached the big cat, wrapping his arms around the cat's stomach he tried to lift it off the ground, but no matter how hard he pulled the cat only arched his back higher and higher, finally only being able to lift one of the cat's paws Thor's strength finally gave in.
"No matter Thor," said the chief of the gaints in his most condescending tone, "After all it is rather a big cat."
By this point Thor was in an uncontrollable rage.
"If you all think that I am such a feeble weakling why doesn't any of you come and fight me, or are you scared that I'll beat you?"
"Now Thor," said the giant chief complacently, "Calm down, you can't honestly expect any self respecting giant to fight you, a person who can't even lift up a cat! No it would not be right. However I am a reasonable man, if you really must fight someone you may as well fight my old nurse Elli."
A withered old women stepped into the great hall and adopted a wrestler's stance. Thor approached the old woman and seized her, trying to throw her to the floor, but however he groaned and struggled and strained he could not move her an inch. Suddenly, with an unusual amount of strength, the old woman forced the mighty Thor to one knee.
"Stop!" shouted Utgard-Loki, "This fight is finished, there is no point in continuing this matter further. However, Thor and his companions have done their best and shall be granted safe passage back to their own lands."
The following morning Urgard-Loki accompanied Thor and his companions to the road back to Asgard.
"You giants have made a fool of me," said Thor, "How shall I ever be able to hold my head up amongst the gods?"
"Not all is as it appears to be," replied Utgard-Loki, " We giants had heard of your great strength and prowess, and if truth must be told we were not all that eager to try our strength against yours."
"Explain yourself." said Thor.
"It was I under the name of Skrymir who met you along the road to Utgard, if you look near my castle you shall see three great valleys. Those are not truly valleys but the marks left by the blows of your hammer. You thought you were hitting me, but in truth we deceived you. We also deceived you in the contests. Loki's opponent was really Flame, who devours anything that stands in his path. Thailfi ran against someone no one can ever beat, Thought. As for you mighty Thor, when you were drinking from the drinking horn, you did not realize that at the other end of the horn was the sea, there is no one who can drink the ocean dry, but you are the only one to lower it. From this day forth, twice upon each day the ocean shall empty and refill in memory of your heroic draughts. As for the cat, it was no cat but the Midgard serpent which encircles the entire world, you managed to raise one of it's paws which was an even greater feat."
Turning redder by the minute Thor asked Utgar-Loki, "But what of the old woman?"
"Ah," said the chief, "The old woman was someone no one can or ever will beat, no matter how hard they try, Old Age."
Furious Thor reached for his hammer to teach the impetuous giant a lesson, but when he turned around the giant was nowhere to be seen. Not to be outdone Thor stormed back towards the castle intending to turn it into nothing more than rubble, but when he got there the castle was gone, there was nothing except an open sky and green fields.
And so Thor and his companions returned to Asgard.
"Like I told you Thor," said Loki with a grin, "The cunning shall always defeat the strong."
"I'd like to see you tell that to my hammer." growled Thor.