The Raiders of Svartalfheim
Hreidmar, leader of the black elves, held out an arm to halt his army. He approached the glimmering, half-buried object with the sureness of one who has been scarred by countless battles and come out of each one stronger. The sinews in his arms gleamed ebony.
“Regin. What make you of this?” asked Hreidmar.
The treasure-keeper approached the casket with his king’s consent and studied it carefully before running a light finger down the frosted surface.
“Enchanted glass, masterfully worked. Made by nothing more than pure magic and near impenetrable. A rare find.”
“Good. Fjalar, Galar, help him dig.”
The swarthy siblings stood forth – but Regin stopped them.
“There may be an obstacle in the way.”
“What be it, pray tell?” asked Galar.
Regin raised a thin eyebrow. “An Aesir godling, looks like. Trapped within the glass.”
Hreidmar strode to Regin’s side. “Let me see.”
As he bent over the glass surface, an arm like a tree trunk shot out to grip his wrist.
In a blink the black elves were in battle mode. Master archer Sindri aimed her bow at the figure that just a second before had been stone-still.
“Let it be, Sindri. I anticipated that it was still alive.” Hreidmar smiled.
The rock-like figure moved its moss-coated lips. “Break this casket, and I will break you, dwarf. You and your sapling army.”
A threatening murmur ran through the Svartalfar. Small they may be, but any insulting reference to their size was often drowned out by brief shrieks of pain.
“I do hope your muscles have not grown weak from stooping. For you tempt us into battle, mouldering one.”
With a great shudder, the mighty huntsman rose for the first time in nearly a year. Vines tumbled off him; roots that had begun to dig into the ground were uprooted. His once-golden hair was infused with grey-green moss.
“Try me, elf. What brings you and your scavengers?”
Hreimdar chuckled. “Aesir brutes. As diplomatic as ever, I see.”
“The gift of the silver tongue belonged to my brother, not to me.” Thor gestured to the glass shell. “He lies now encased in his own spell. And I would try to break the spell, if not for the fact that it may well be the only thing holding him together.” He looked into the Svartalf’s obsidian eyes. “And I ask you again: what brings you here?”
“My home has been over-mined,” the elf king replied. “The Dark Fields grow barren.”
“Whatever happened to your depthless caves of treasures?”
“Our industrious nature became our ruin; I will admit that much. We are greedy creatures, black elves. Not as content to rest on our earnings as you are. Dvalin here can tell you stories of our ancestors’ ancient boundless hunger. A hunger we inherited. The same that has brought us here.”
Thor moved slowly to shield the glass with his hulking shoulders. “You may take what you want, if you do not harm my brother by even a hair.”
As Hreimdar considered this dilemma, Dvalin spoke up. “If I may, my lord. Brokk could possibly find a way.”
“To prise enchanted glass from flesh and bone? That has never been attempted in the history of our kind, Dvalin. Not even by the great Brokk.”
“I would not underestimate him. He did craft the mighty hammer that our friend here wields,” Dvalin said, pointing to Mjolnir.
The weapon was half-enveloped by roots. Thor grasped it by its handle and, with a smooth tug, pulled it from its resting place and dislodging chunks of earth. The silver head gleamed once more. He held it upward.
“I swear by Mjolnir, gift of Brokk, that you may have every inch of this enchanted glass if you swear to return my sibling Loki to me unscratched.”
The Svartalfar collectively murmured.
"The deceiving Silvertongue?” Hreimdar chuckled drily. “This will be interesting.”
Thor pierced them with his gaze. “Swear on it.”
“We swear, Thor son of Odin, on the deep graves of our ancestors and our dying fields, that we will not break apart the glass if it threaten the life of your so-called sibling." He gestured to the rest. "And so do my men."
There was a chorus of assent.
Moments later, Galar and Fjalar had freed the casket of its burial ground and hefted it onto their broad, graceful shoulders. The Svartalfar marched toward home with the huntsman as their shadow.