Thor, as always, sent Thjalfi to run ahead to scout what dangers may lie in their path. If Thjalfi was spotted it was never a concern to Thor because the boy could outrun anything that chased him. In a way Thor used Thjalfi the way that Odin used his ravens Hugin and Munin. He was Thor's eyes and ears to gather information, and returned every evening to share what he had seen and heard. Although Thjalfi and Roskva were indentured servants to Thor, because of Thjalfi's bone marrow incident with Thor's goats, Thor had grown to trust both of them, and thought of them now more as traveling companions, than servants.
As they walked on their journey to the stronghold Thor from time to time had to remind Roskva to keep up with him, which was not an easy task with the great strides that Thor was capable of taking. Several times when he looked back to tell her to walk faster he could not see her because she had the swan feather coat wrapped about her which blended in with the white surroundings. Finally, not wanting to be delayed in reaching the wall, Thor picked her up and carried her in his arms. His anger melted away when he saw her hugging her swan coat close to her. It reminded him so much of of his daughter Thrud. He smiled broadly when she again reminded Thor that the coat was a gift from the All - Father himself.
As evening set in, and it came very early this far north, Thjalfi ran back to find his companions, and relay to them all he had seen and heard. He was surprised when he saw Thor walking with Roskva in his arms, sleeping peacefully against his chest. When Thor saw Thjalfi approaching, he awoke Roskva, and gently placed her on the ground. Thjalfi who was seldom out of breath from running was gasping for air when he stopped before them, which concerned Thor greatly. Thor commanded Thjalfi to give him the details of what he had seen. Still breathing heavily Thjalfi told Thor that he had found the breech in the wall of the stronghold about half a days walk from where they now stood. He went on to explain to Thor that the wall had actually been broken in two sections each as wide as a mile in length each. After allowing Thjalfi a few minutes to rest the three travelers headed for the wall. They arrived just after midnight and made camp beneath a starless sky.
They had eaten no supper the night before so they had a hearty breakfast before examining the wall. As Thjalfi had said the wall was badly damaged. Thor was surprised not so much by the size of the breech but the strength and violence it took to throw the great stones so far away from the stronghold's wall. This was not done just as a calculated act, but also was done out of immense anger. Thor knew that once they crossed the wall they would be in great danger. Thor decided to examine their options and rest that day, and then cross the damaged wall in the morning. Normally he would have left little Roskva behind at this point, but Thor had a feeling that she had to come this time. His decision worried him none the less because he had begun to think of little Roskva almost as though she were his daughter, and he did not want any harm to come to her.
The skies were clear and blue the next morning when they sat down to eat a hearty breakfast. After breaking camp Thjalfi ran ahead to scout the way. Roskva did not have to be told to keep up this time, for she fully understood that they were now entering the land of the Frost Giants, and danger could be lurking behind every boulder, or tree. She could also see that Thor had a much more serious look on his face, and that he walked with his hammer in his hand instead of tucked away in his belt. They walked for days in this cold and frozen world. Every day Thjalfi went ahead to investigate what was in their front, and came back to report his findings, which included finding Jotun tracks in the snow. Most Thjalfi told Thor looked as though they were old, probably made by the raiding party that crossed the wall, but one set of prints looked fresh. Thor told Thjalfi to be careful because the Frost Giants had scouts as well. Roskva was proud of her brother, but she was envious of him as well. She wanted to help too, but she did not know how.
One night Thjalfi came back to camp and told Thor that he had heard some Frost Giants up in the cliffs while he was running through the valley below. He had scoured the cliffs with his eyes, but could not see anything moving among the rocks. Thor knew that if Thjalfi had heard the Frost Giants up in the mountain cliffs that they were probably watching the valley which lead into the main part of the Frost Giant's lands. Thor decided that they would go into the valley next day and see for themselves.
When they reached the edge of the valley the next evening it was already too dark to risk entering. Thor decided to camp just outside the valley, and enter next morning in the light of day. From the edge of the valley he heard what he thought were faint whispering echoes of Frost Giants, but it was hard to tell because the wind was blowing quite fiercely. Thor told Roskva that she would have to stay behind until he made sure that the way through the valley was clear and safe. This made Roskva very unhappy ! She knew it was dangerous to go with her brother and Thor, but she too wanted to help.
That night the winds died down, and as Thor and Thjalfi slept, Roskva heard the whisperings coming down off of the cliffs. In a flash she had an idea of how she could help Thor. If Thjalfi could find out about the Frost Giants with his great speed, maybe she could find out something about them using her swan coat to make her invisible against the snow.
From their camp it took little Roskva hours to reach the cliffs. She knew where they were by simply following the whispers, and with every step they became louder and more clear. When she was within a stones throw of the Frost Giants camp she lay down in the snow, and disappeared underneath the swan coat. All through the night the Frost Giants walked all around her, but never suspected that she was there because the swan feathers were as white as the snow she lay upon.
At one point Roskva heard a Jotun, who was obviously their leader, addressing the other Frost Giants. He was congratulating one of his scouts for spotting the human, and for following his tracks back to Thor's camp. They now knew that Thor was coming, and were planning a trap ! They boasted about how they would kill Thor, and his companions, as easily as they had destroyed the Midgardian villagers.
Ismir then laid out his plans to his warriors: " As soon as they are halfway into the valley we will roll down great ice boulders upon them in such numbers that they could not possibly get out of the way. As long as we keep up a concentrated effort Thor and his humans will not be able to avoid the boulders no matter how hard they try." Ismir always liked to have a contingency plan just in case so he continued : " I want you to also place catapults all along the cliffs to hurl great ice spheres down upon them as well." " If both failed ", Ismir said jokingly, " we will attack down the side of the mountain with our ice spears and impale them like animals caught in a trap ! With Thor gone our path into Midgard will be unopposed, and the land of the humans will be ours for the taking, as it should have been from the beginning. We will build our ice homes among their mountains, and we will rename that land, our land, Ymirheim ! "
Roskva knew that she had to go as fast as she could and tell Thor and Thjalfi about the Frost Giant's trap. The problem was that she had to wait until the Frost Giants went to sleep because once she got up she would be seen. Cold and wet lying in the snow she shivered as she awaited the silence that would surely mean that they were asleep. The time dragged on and she became more and more scared as she lay there just a stones throw from their camp.
Very early in the morning she finally heard the silence that she had been longing to hear. At first she crawled away from the camp, just in case they had a sentry on duty, and finally when she felt she was far enough away from the camp she got up and started down the mountain as fast as she could to their camp. Now it was a race against time ! Could she reach Thor and Thjalfi before the sun rose and they entered the valley, and the trap that awaited them. She did not think she could make it to the camp in time to warn them, but she had another idea that just might work if she hurried !
- Glenn Bergen, Copyright, 2012.
Next : Part 4 : Into The Valley Of Death !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !