They call me the Trickster or the god of mischief and lies, and there’s a reason for that. I trick people. One of the ways I do it is by changing my shape to hide myself. It’s easier than a disguise because it doesn’t disappear when you don’t have clothes on, and that seems to happen to me far too often.
I turned myself into a beautiful mare. Looking back (and wincing), this probably wasn’t the smartest of ideas. Svaðilfari saw me, got a wee bit excited, broke his harness and ran off into the forest with me. By that time I realised I would have to go through with the thing in order to keep the stallion out of the way for the whole night so that the builder couldn’t finish the last gateway, and come morning I was still in my horse-shape and feeling very sorry for myself.
The Aesir don’t have anyone to pray to, or I would have been on my (four) knees begging that Thor didn’t find out about this. My childhood friend would be like to tease me. Mercilessly.
I watched from the edges of the woods as the collective godly body of Asgard went out to inform the builder that he’d failed. “It’s only the gate – I finished the wall for you!”
“You didn’t finish the whole thing. Our agreement still stands.”
The builder was understandably a bit annoyed and growled in rage at Othin. As he did so, his disguise flickered and we realised why he was so huge. He was a Frost Giant. Great, they were going to like that.
Thor had returned by this point from gallivanting off somewhere. He only needs to see a Frost Giant for him to smash its face in with Mjollner, the wonderful hammer of pain (he got annoyed at me once, and I regretted it). So the builder guy is dead in an instant, Svaðilfari has scarpered, the gods have almost got a wall, and I…
I was pregnant.
You know the rest, I guess. I ran and ran and ran and then eventually, still in my horse-shape, I gave birth to a horse which, joy of joys, had eight legs. You thought human childbirth was painful? Try being a horse. Trying being a horse whose baby has twice the normal number of legs and is kicking with all of them.
And now I am walking back, leading the eight-legged colt and feeling very sorry for myself. I’m sure there were better ways of distracting Svaðilfari but for the life of me, I couldn’t think of them. I wonder what that says about me.
It’s a long way back to Asgard.
When I arrive, Frigga’s the only one there to greet me, but she quickly runs back inside and calls for Othin.
“Loke!” he says. “Where have you been?”
“This horse…” I gesture vaguely at my son. My son. “Erm…”
“It’s quite wonderful. Eight legs? It must travel quickly.”
“Yes, it’s fast. And it can go to the land of the dead and back, too.” You may wonder how I know that. The answer is that I tried to kill myself*, when the thing was first born, and it came and got me. Family loyalty, I guess, but it was pretty annoying.
Loke, you’re thinking, you can’t kill yourself. There’s no reason to. Oh yeah? You try changing your species and gender and ending up pregnant after a one-night stand with a Frost Giant’s stallion. Seriously.
“What’s its name?” Othin asks. I don’t like the way he’s eyeing it up. It seems kind of perverted. The kid isn’t exactly very old.
“I call him Sleipnir. He’s slippy, you see.”
“Like his owner, then,” says the Alfather.
His mother, you mean. “Hey, why don’t you have him? You’ll look after him, I know. I’ll… I’ll just check on him every now and again. Make sure he’s okay.”
Othin seems pleased and he accepts the gift. Frigga, his wife, seems to notice that this is troubling me. When the Alfather is gone, she turns to me. “Loke, there’s more to Sleipnir than you’re telling us, isn’t there?”
I take a deep breath. Frigga is fair. I can talk to her. Nevertheless, to admit it out loud seems foolish. “I am his mother,” I say, squaring my shoulders.
A guffaw from a few feet away informs me that Thor has heard me.
Perhaps I should ask Sleipnir to take me to Hel, and this time leave me there.