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THUNDER RUMBLED over the snowy wastes surrounding the longhouse. Inside, in the semi-darkness, kept at bay only by a fire that had almost burned out, a figure sat waiting. A large, muscular man, with a shock of red hair and a large beard to match. In his hand, crisscrossed by intricate tattoos depicting battles long past or yet to come, a hammer rested. The head of the weapon was large, etched with runes that glowed softly. The handle was short and the man’s clasped hand covered it entirely. The most powerful weapon in the North, as befitted the most powerful God of Asgard.
Suddenly, the wooden door of the longhouse opened widely. The wind’s howl was no longer audible, however. A large figure, seemingly bestial in nature, stood in the doorway. It was silhouetted not by the harsh snowy lands that surrounded the building, but by a pastoral grove lit by a bright and warm sun. The figure stepped inside the longhouse and the door closed with a shudder as the blizzard’s shriek began anew.
In the dim light of the fire, the warrior with the hammer could now see the newcomer more clearly. It was a man, not a beast, heavily built, bare-chested, with shoulders and head covered with a cape made from the hide of an enormous beast with yellow fur, as large as Freya’s gib-cats, if not even more so. The man was bearded, but unlike the large beards worn by the Gods of Asgard, his was short and curly. In his right hand, he clutched a large, gnarled, club, quite possibly made from the trunk of a small tree.
“I have come to claim the boy’s heart!” the newcomer shouted and his voice echoed in the longhouse.
“The Allfather has seen your intentions. I was expecting you,” the Norseman said grimly, and before the hide-clad warrior could respond, threw his hammer in the intruder’s direction. The mallet flew with an unimaginable speed, but just before smashing the stranger’s face, he deflected it with a mighty blow of his club. The enchanted weapon plummeted to the ground. The intruder charged toward the inhabitant of the longhouse. The two fell to the ground in a flurry of fists and groans. The Asgardian lifted his hand and the hammer flew into it. He smashed it into his enemy’s back, but the beast’s mane that covered him took all the force of the blow.
“This is truly a worthy opponent,” thought the Norse deity. Indeed, the Allfather had warned him that the one coming for the boy was someone that had endured the entire weight of heaven on his shoulders. That is why, in his wisdom, Odin sent his son, the mighty God of Thunder, to deal with the interloper. After all, was it not he who once drank a third of the ocean in a contest and stood against old age herself?
It was time to end it. With the strength of ten giants, he stood and threw the southerner to the far end of the longhouse. He lifted his hand, enchanted hammer clenched in a mighty fist, and summoned the storm. A huge bolt of lightning struck down the longhouse, a thunder like no sound ever heard on the face of Midgard reverberating through the wooden walls. The building shattered, not being able to withstand the power of a Norse god. Debris flew everywhere and a newly emerged fire engulfed what remained of the house.
Several moments later, from a pile of rubble and burning timber, emerged the figure of the southern intruder. Unscathed, with a cat-beast cape in flames, and a smoldering bludgeon in hand, he shouted: “You fool! You think lightning can harm the son of Zeus?” and swirled his club, embers flying, right into the Thunder God’s head.
Georgios Johansen woke from the loud sound of the window opening from a gust of wind. The 12-year-old boy shuddered from the sudden chill that entered the room. He stood up, still drowsy. On the way to close the window, he passed by the action figure of Thor on his nightstand. His dad had given it to him more than a year ago, on his birthday. The figure of the hammer-wielding deity was not recently played with and had acquired a thick layer of dust.
Georgios closed the window tightly. By the time he got back to bed, the boy was wide awake and decided to read for a bit until he fell asleep again. He reached out to the shelf above the bed and took this year’s birthday present from his mom — Greek Myths and Legends — and continued reading from where he had left off in the evening: “Chapter 11: The Twelve Labours of Heracles.”