I hope you enjoyed part 1 of the story. Last week, Thor the Thunder God became jealous of Nordus, a former dwarf transformed into a beautiful youth by his master, Freyr, the God of Weather and Fertility. Freyr attempted to allay Thor’s jealousy by giving Nordus ears shaped like Jewel Box oyster shells, but he did it so well the youth was even more handsome. So what happens next?
Although aware his outrageous strutting and flirting nettled his divine master, Nordus was helpless to control himself. In all honesty, he didn’t even attempt to do so. Perhaps it was his nature. Or mayhap it was a way of getting even with Freyr for toying with his physical perfection. No matter the reason, he flirted and taunted everyone shamelessly, cutting a scandalous swath through the huge hall.
But when Odin showed uncommon interest in Nordus’s long legs and trim behind, Freyr had had enough. Enraged, he roared a jealous oath, cursing Nordus with a stabbing pain in one of his molars and banishing him from the realm. Nordus was sure his lord regretted those hateful words. Nonetheless, the damage was done. Nursing a divinely inflicted toothache of terrible intensity, he fled the great Hall hunched over in pain like the creature he once had been.
It was clear Freyr rued his curse, but the mighty lord was too proud to renounce his decision. To the sorrow of both, the youth trudged out of Asgard, the Realm of the Gods, across Bifrost, the Bridge of Rainbows, down into mortal Midgard, exiled until he rid himself of the toothache.
In a moment of weakness, Freyr had confided Nordus would be granted three opportunities to transfer his malady to another, but refused to explain how to accomplish the deed or whether Heimdall, the Watcher of the Bridge, would readmit him afterward.
Midgard, the world of the lowly mortals, was not new to Nordus. Alfheim, his original home, was tucked away in some far corner of it.
Now Nordus angrily roiled the frigid surface of the small pool in the rocks with a gracefully tapered finger and turned his attention to the road and the icicle-draped limbs of the surrounding evergreens. Freyr could have sent him to some warm place where the wearing of a simple shift would be comfortable and reveal his fine muscles and smooth skin to the locals. Nay. Freyr knew he would take too much pleasure in that.
At least, his Lord draped him in a warm, forest-green doublet. A soft, brown, brimless hat—a cap really—adorned his head and provided some warmth for his ears. Calf-high boots of the same color and material as the cap graced his shapely feet. Fortunately, the sun had sufficient strength to cast a modicum of warmth over Norseland, allowing him to disdain the heavy winter clothing of furs. Passing strangers could still suffer pangs of envy by discerning his fine physique beneath these light woolens.
No traffic moved along the road as he pondered, as best he could amid the roaring ache in his head, how to proceed. He was warned that pulling the tooth would merely transfer the pain to another. He had only three chances to gift some hapless mortal with Freyr’s curse, yet he had not been told how to accomplish this task. Reason dictated it would require touching a mortal for the pain to pass from his tortured jaw. But first, he had to find one to touch.
With a sigh and a groan, he rose and set off down the road. Before the sun made a quarter of its journey across the sky he spotted two buxom maids in long woolen skirts and plain coats. As they approached chatting and laughing, he noted one carried a long loaf of bread; the other, a round of cheese.
Ah, here was his chance. Which one should he afflict? Why, the nearest one, of course. His tooth stabbed his jaw, almost ruining the blinding smile he leashed upon the approaching girls. They ceased talking and covered demure smiles with broad, work-hardened hands.
“Good day, good ladies,” Nordus said, stepping forth in his most manly gait.
The two lasses halted and tittered a greeting.
“I am Nordus,” he swept off his hat in the gracious bow of a gallant. “I—”
Ungodly screeching interrupted his eloquent address. The two girls fled in panic, dropping both bread and cheese. Mystified, he whirled around, alert to danger. Seeing nothing, he picked up the food they had dropped. Puzzled but famished, he carefully gnawed hunks of bread and cheese despite his sore jaw. Perhaps this was Freyr’s way of seeing he had sustenance. The bread was freshly baked; the cheese, adequately aged. He would have appreciated both much better had each bite not enhanced his pain. As he gnawed painfully, it dawned on him that Freyr had not had the good sense to rid him of his jewel box oyster shell ears. Still, they did not merit the reaction those two had given them.
The height of the day had passed by the time he encountered another on the road. At first, it appeared to be a bundle of filthy rags moving on thin, spindly legs. As the apparition neared, it turned into an old man with a load of poorly tanned skins upon his back. The stench caused Nordus’s fine, thin nostrils to quiver, but the fierce ache in his tooth drew him onward.
“A fine day, is it not, my good man?” he said in nasal tones. He drew breath through his mouth against the odor.
As the ancient, bent peasant lifted his tired gaze from the dirt, Nordus realized this was the perfect mortal to accept Freyr’s Toothache. The wizened old man likely would not recognize a foreign ache among the lifetime accumulation of his own ills.
“Eh, what say?” the creature croaked.
Deciding to flatter the old sod, he walked up and removed his cap. “I said—”
The old man’s eyes went round in terror. He threw up soiled, crabbed hands to make the sign against the evil eye, and bellowed. “Leave me be. I’m an old man.”
“What say you? Why, I’m….” Speechless, Nordus watched the terrified man turn to flee. “Wait! I merely….”
The old man stumbled and fell. Nordus ran after him, and after momentarily hesitating to place hands on such filth, pulled him to his feet. For good measure, he made certain his fingers made contact with the one of the old man’s blackened, calloused hands. The peasant jerked away, howled in fear, and threw off his load of hides to stagger away down the road. No matter, Nordus had accomplished his mission. He had made physical contact with the old man.
He washed his fingers in the snow, hoping he had not been contaminated. After cleansing his digits, he stood tall and drew a deep breath, grateful the ordeal was past.
Then he screeched like an owl as the traitorous tooth ached and throbbed anew. Furious at the failure, he threw his cap to the ground and stomped on it. He kicked the old man’s load of hides, scattering them all over the road and howled like a banshee. Freyr’s Toothache was still with him.
Well, the former elf has made two unsuccessful attempts to rid himself of Freyr’s toothache. He has only one opportunity left? Will he be successful? We’ll learn his fate next week.
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