People in the Viking Age were great tellers of tales. So I was delighted when a friend of mine created a story based on true events within the Dark Ages Society. I've written the tale down in saga style.

The Saga of Sea Ice and Oak Heart

Long ago, the gods were friendly with giants. Indeed Thiazi's daughter Skadi married Njord, the sea-god. Now it happened that the Aesir and the Vanir had to leave Asgard to fight a battle far away. They left the young, unblooded warriors behind as they were not hardy enough for the journey or the fight to come. Freyja stayed behind to protect them, and Skadi's brother Sea Ice also remained to guard the halls. Sea Ice had a magical sword, Stick, and while he wielded it he could never be defeated.

The young warriors were great eaters and it soon came about that there was nothing left to eat in Asgard except for half a sack of mouldy oats. So Freyja set off in her chariot to raid and bring back provisions. Her two giant cats drew it away at a swift pace. Sea Ice vowed to keep Asgard safe until her return.

Word of her departure got around as these things always do. It even reached the Green Forest far to the south, where a giant named Oak Heart lived. He had challenged and beaten all the other giants who lived near him, striking them down with his magical spear, Big Stick Spear Thruster. He heard about Sea Ice up to the north in Asgard and decided to challenge him.

Oak Heart came to the gates of Asgard and cried out a mighty challenge. Sea Ice came to meet him and the two started fighting there in the gateway. The two weapons clashed: the giants strove with all their strength, but neither could get the better of the other. Oak Heart could not get in and Sea Ice could not drive him back. They fought for three days and the young warriors became more and more worried about what would happen.

Then a head rose up from a hayrick. It was Loki, who had been too drunk to go to the battle and had only just woken up. He saw what was happening and went up to the giants with a horn of mead. "Why are you two fine fellows fighting? You should be drinking together instead." The giants ignored him and carried on with the fight, but he kept talking and the smell of the mead of the gods rose up from the horn. They dropped their weapons and drank deeply of the mead. It is possible that Oak Heart drank more deeply since he loved the bees who dwelt in the Green Forest.

The young warriors came out of hiding now and joined in drinking with Loki and the giants. Loki kept plying them with mead and after a while Sea Ice and Oak Heart fell asleep. The warriors were nearly asleep too, but one of them heard Loki plotting. "I've never liked Skadi since she chose Njord over me; I'd like to do her brother a bad turn. And I don't see why this giant from the south should get off any lighter. Once they're too drunk to move, I'll kill them with their own weapons - my weapon won't harm them but their own are bound to do the trick."

The warrior quickly woke his fellows and they stole the two magical weapons away. "We need Freyja's help here - I don't want Sea Ice harmed, and we've drunk mead with Oak Heart so it would be a disgrace if he were killed under our roof." So they placed the weapons in the roadway where they glittered in the sun, and awaited Freyja's return.

Pretty soon she came back with her chariot laden with food of all kinds. The cats were exerting all their strength and pulling it along at a fine pace. So intent was Freyja on getting the load safely back to the hall and being able to relax after killing so many men in her raiding, that she didn't see Stick or Big Stick Spear Thruster and drove her chariot right over them. They may have been magical weapons but they couldn't stand up to Freyja's cart fully loaded! They broke into pieces and the sparks flew up - the nearby stable started to burn and the weapons were completely consumed.

Now the young warriors came rushing out and the giants woke up. "What has happened to my sword Stick?" cried Sea Ice. "Where is my spear, Big Stick Spear Thruster?" cried Oak Heart. When they learned what had happened they were devastated. "How can I protect Asgard until the gods return?" said Sea Ice. "How can I return home to the Green Forest?" said Oak Heart. "All the giants will attack me and without my weapon I'll be killed for sure."

Freyja grabbed Loki and nearly throttled him. "This is all your fault!" she said. "You'd better do something about it, double quick!" Loki struggled and protested but it was no use. He had to agree. So he took up two sticks of wood and addressed the giants.

"You, Oak Heart, you stay here until the gods return and help protect Asgard. And then you, Sea Ice, travel south and help Oak Heart to defend his home. Even though the weapons I'm giving you look like mere sticks of wood compared to your old weapons, I promise you that by my magic they will allow you to defeat your enemies, so long as you support each other." And he gave the short stick to Sea Ice and the longer to Oak Heart.

"Why, this is my spear!" cried Oak Heart. "And this is my sword!" cried Sea Ice. And the tale says that they were both victorious in fights afterwards. But when the time came for Oak Heart to leave Asgard and go south again, he was so drunk that he had to be carried in Freyja's chariot.

Translated by Ingibjorg from the original story by Claire Stevenson.