Loki and the Top Shelf

11 01 2013

kid_loki_determinedI wrote this one after I noticed that you don’t actually see any chairs in Asgard in the Thor movie. Thrones, yes. Regular chairs, no. I took that observation, and ran with it.

Long ago in Asgard, back when the nine realms were much younger than they are today, the sons of Odin both developed a fondness for strawberry jam. The two boys would put it on everything, resulting in such culinary monstrosities as roast pheasant with strawberry jam, jam-marinated salmon, strawberry jam with carrots and surströmming stuffed with strawberry jam. Asgard very quickly found its strawberry stocks depleted, and Odin was forced to take drastic measures.

Being a kind father, and not wanting to deprive his sons completely of the food they loved so much, Odin decided that rather than prohibiting them from eating the jam, he would instead ration them to one jar per week, shared. He left it up to the boys to decide how to split the jam

At the beginning, this worked quite well. Thor was more fond of his younger brother than he was of the jam, and took pains to see that the jam was split more or less evenly. Loki, for his part, still viewed Thor with a kind of hero-worship, and let him take the lead. Odin was pleased to see his sons getting along so well, and the people of Asgard were pleased to be able to eat strawberries again.

This happy situation was not to last, however.

Thor, being the older of the two boys, reached his final growth spurt a few years before Loki. He thought nothing of it, but Loki very quickly began to resent the way Thor was suddenly able to easily best him physically. Some say that it was at about this time that Loki began to actively engage in mischief.

Now, at the time, it was Thor’s habit to get up early so he could go out hunting with Balder and Tyr. Loki was invited along, but he liked to sleep in. As a result, Thor had his breakfast well before Loki, and on the morning that is of particular relevance to our tale today, he ate strawberry jam on bread. When he finished, he put the jam on the top shelf, and went out to join the hunt, leaving Mjolnir on the dining table. It was a simple act that had long-reaching consequences.

Some time later, Loki came down looking for some breakfast of his own. There was plenty of food available, but what he wanted to eat most of all was the strawberry jam. Finding it gone from the usual place, he searched the kitchen until he saw it sitting out in the open, upon the top shelf.

Unfortunately, Thor was a good foot taller than Loki at the time, and what Thor hadn’t considered that morning, when he put the jam on the top shelf, is that while it was easy enough for him to reach, Loki couldn’t get to the jam at all. Even when jumping, the jam remained tantalizingly out of reach. Somehow, the jam’s inaccessibility made it even more tantalizing, and Loki resolved to acquire it.

This was not as easy as it seemed.

The people of Midgard, when faced with such a situation, might find a chair or stool on whichto stand. This is a simple, elegant solution, but unfortunately not one available to Loki. While it has many sturdy, durable seating arrangements such as sofas and benches (most of which are bolted securely to the ground), Asgard happens to be rather short on chairs. Oh, the Aesir had them once, but many were destroyed during various banquets, parties and godlike tantrums, and in the end it was considered too much effort to continually replace them.

Loki’s first thought was to move the table and stand on that, but Mjolnir made moving it was impossible. Nothing else in the kitchen seemed particularly sturdy, so Loki decided that to seek help elsewhere. What he really needed here was someone with greater physical capacity than his own. Someone who was able to reach the jam without the aid of furniture. That is to say, someone taller.

Asking Heimdall to help was right out. Loki had played a little trick on him recently, which had involved three skunks, a beehive and a dozen overly warm hats. It had been funny at the time, but in retrospect, it was not the best way to get in Heimdall’s good books. Sif was also upset with him over that matter with her hair – even though he’d already fixed it – and was probably too short to help him anyway.

Perhaps the Warriors Three might help him, he thought. He hadn’t done anything to upset them. Not recently, anyway.

Asking Fandral and Volstagg for help proved fruitless. Volstagg had just sat down for lunch, which meant he would be out of action for ages, while Fandral had a date. Why Fandral could get dates so much more easily than Loki when Loki was clearly the better looking of the two was a mystery that Loki had never quite been able to understand.

That left Hogun as his last chance for assistance.

While searching for Hogun, Loki ran into Odin, who was walking along talking about this and that with some elf.

“Father,” Loki said, thinking that his father might offer some help. “Thor’s gone out and he left the jam on the top shelf where I can’t reach it. Could you help me get it down?”

“Not now, Loki,” said Odin. “Can’t you see I’m busy? You and your brother should sort this out amongst yourselves.”

“But Thor’s not here!” Loki protested.

“Then wait for him to get back.”

Loki recognised that tone of voice as an indication that the conversation was over. Odin always seemed to used it more with him than he did with Thor. And his requests were always so reasonable too. It wasn’t his fault that Thor hadn’t thought about him when he put the jam away.

He was still feeling particularly unloved compared to Thor when he found Hogun in the courtyard, wrestling a dragon. He decided not to interfere.

Frustrated, Loki left Asgard looking for Thor. He didn’t find his brother, but he did, however, run into a frost giant.

“Where are you going, young Aesir?” asked the giant.

Loki eyed the giant warily. It seemed friendly enough, but he knew better than to trust one of those monsters. “Nowhere.”

“If you’re looking for the Odinson, I believe I overheard him say something about going to Vanaheim.”

“And what do you know about Thor?”

“Oh, nothing,” the giant said. “Just that you won’t be able to catch up with him. Not unless you get a faster horse.”

That struck a nerve. Loki never managed to get a horse as good as Thor’s. The one time he had managed to get a proper steed, Odin took it for himself. It wasn’t fair. Why didn’t he ever take Thor’s horse?

“Oh, I wasn’t looking for Thor,” Loki found himself saying. “Not specifically. I was just looking for someone to help me retrieve something.”

“Oh, really? And what kind of someone would you be looking for, exactly?” The frost giant took a step forward, looming menacingly over Loki. It suddenly occurred to him that his situation was not entirely safe.

“Someone like you, actually,” Loki said. Technically speaking, it was the truth, which made it the best kind of lie.

The frost giant laughed. “What do you mean, ‘someone like me’?”

“Well,” said Loki. “This item that I want to retrieve is just a bit higher than I am able to reach. For someone of your stature, however, getting it would be a trifle. If you could help me, then I will give you fully half of its contents.” He stood as tall as he could as he said this, though he probably looked a lot less impressive than he hoped, given that he barely made it up to the giant’s knee.

“And how would I be able to get into Asgard to help you, o little one?” The giant asked. “I have no intention of trifling with the Allfather, or his Gatekeeper.”

“Oh, that’s easy,” said Loki. “I know magic that can hide you from Heimdall’s gaze.” He didn’t of course, but there was no reason the frost giant had to know that. “Meet me back here tonight, and I will help you to enter Asgard.”

Seeming quite intrigued by Loki’s suggestion, the giant let him go. Loki returned home, feeling relieved that he hadn’t had to fight, and with no intention of actually meeting the giant as he said he would.

Thor was still not back when Loki arrived home. Careful investigation revealed that the frost giant had been telling the truth about Thor’s unexpected trip to Vanaheim. That meant the strawberry jam was out of commission until whenever he decided to return, which could have been next week, as far as Loki knew. After spending so long trying to get at the damned stuff, he certainly wasn’t willing to wait that long. Perhaps he should take the giant up on his offer after all.

And so he set about to work on his magic. While he had yet to perfect flying or levitation spells, Loki had always been skilled at illusion magic. Within a few hours, he had devised a spell that could protect him from Heimdall’s gaze. Armed with the spell, as well as his knowledge of all the secret halls of Asgard, Loki felt confident that he could sneak the frost giant into the kitchen.

He found the giant still waiting outside Asgard, this time with a friend.

“She’s coming with us,” the original giant said, pointing at his companion. “And we split it three ways. Equally.”

Loki was disappointed that his share of the jam was suddenly diminished, but thought better of arguing. They were bigger than him, outnumbered him, and in any case, a third of the jam was still a hell of a lot better than none of the jam.

He led the giants through the halls, and got to the kitchen unseen.

“Up there.” Loki said, pointing to the jam jar.

The male giant brought the jam jar down and looked inside.

“What’s this?” he asked. “I come in here expecting you to be searching for treasure, and instead you give me nothing but jam?”

“Very delicious jam,” Loki said. “Have a try.”

The giants tasted the jam and agreed that it was indeed very delicious.

“Now can I have my share, please?” Loki asked.

The giants gave him a dollop of jam. Loki was pretty sure that it was less than a third of what was left, but if there was one thing he knew about dealing with giants, it was that any transaction that didn’t leave you dead was a good transaction. In the case, he was managing to not only survive, but also get some jam at the same time. Things were just peachy.

Loki and the giants ended up spending the whole night in the kitchen, leaving the larder pretty empty by the end of it. Loki found himself quite enjoying the company. It was good to have some friends that he didn’t have to share with Thor. He actually felt disappointed when dawn arrived and he had to lead the giants out of Asgard.

Not long after Loki had crawled into bed, Thor returned with a strong craving for strawberry jam. Upon discovering the jam gone (along with the rest of the food), he immediately blamed Loki. Loki protested his innocence of course. It was hardly his fault! If Thor had just left the jam where he could reach it, then he wouldn’t have had to make that deal with the frost giants, and there would still be some left. Unfortunately, he found it difficult to explain his position while at the same time hiding the fact that he had allowed some of Asgard’s mortal enemies to sneak into the kitchen.

After the ensuing fight, Odin forbade both boys from eating jam again. This left neither of the boys happy, which Odin took to mean meant that he had made the right call.

This was said to be the beginning of Loki’s association with the frost giants, and was certainly not the last time he allowed them into Asgard. One of their incursions in particular had far more long-reaching consequences than this one, but the story of that escapade has been told elsewhere, and with far more eloquence than my poor words can portray.

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