The Unlikely Protector of Midgard


This is my response to the Friday Fictioneers prompt for March 13. The challenge is to write a 100-word story inspired by the photo prompt. Play along by writing your own, reading others and/or commenting on the flashes we fictioneers create. The photo prompt this week comes from the inimitable Sandra Crook, who can write a heartwarming tale and also whip up a helping of horror that will chill you like the stump in this photo. (Which direction will she choose this week, I wonder?)

My piece this week weighs in at 99 words.

Copyright Sandra Crook

Copyright Sandra Crook

The Unlikely Protector of Midgard

No one ever listened to Nadia, so she made a habit of talking to the cows as she milked them. She told Bossie and Jo stories of fire and ice and how time began. When she tired of the old tales, she created fresh ones—yarns about Asgard, Alfheim and Jotunheim, about Ygdrasil and Mimir.

In the pre-dawn darkness, a figure often hid, shrouded in shadow, and listened. Captivated by the stories, Nidhogge would forget to gnaw the roots of Ygdrasil.

The girl’s kindness colored every vignette, and throughout the winter, her narratives made the universe a safer place.

***

Are you interested in Norse mythology? I have a few friends who follow the old Norse traditions, and this photo just begged me to write about those ancient legends.

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44 thoughts on “The Unlikely Protector of Midgard

  1. Dear Marie Gail,

    I had to dig to find Ndhogg. It was well worth the effort. Thank you for the bit of education and a well written story.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

  2. storydivamg says:

    Thanks, Rochelle. I had fun learning a little more about Norse mythology in the process of writing it. Nidhogge is one of the lesser known bad guys from the underworld. Perhaps I should have found a link more specific to him, but I imagine most of my readers will want information about Ygdrasil and the worlds it supports as well (if I manage to peak their interest enough to get them to read more).

    Peace,
    Marie Gail

  3. Sandra says:

    A wonderful little tale, with a real feel-good factor. Beautiful Marie-Gail.

  4. Ah.. I always thought that to control Níðhöggr you had to go through Ratatoskr, but I assume that Nadia could speak with the charming voice of a squirrel..

    • storydivamg says:

      Dear Bjorn, Thanks for putting up with my hack job on the tales of your land. My guess is that it wouldn’t be healthy for anyone to reveal the secret of what happens in Nadia’s barn, which is why I shall be changing my name forthwith abd seeking refuge in a realm other than Midgard posthaste.

      Thanks for reading.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  5. lovely names here. I’ve spent time in Iceland and recognise the mood of your piece.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Patrick! I’ve never had the pleasure of traveling to that part of the globe, but I have a handful of friend who have or who live there now. It’s good to hear that the tale is recognizable to those with experience.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  6. I’ve always loved myths, whatever the country. You carried this one off in superb fashion, Marie.

    janet

  7. draliman says:

    Great story, I’ve always been interested in Norse mythology (though I know little about it!). I seem to remember that Ygdrasil is a tree which protects the world and therefore shouldn’t be “gnawed at”?
    It’s lovely the way this girl is unknowingly protecting us all through her stories.

    • storydivamg says:

      Yes, Nidhogge is a nefarious fellow. The gnawing, gone unchecked, could be the end of all we know and love. I’m glad you liked my story about the stories.

      All my best,
      MG

  8. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Marie Gail,

    I live beneath the sheltering boughs of Ygdrasil and have found in you a kindred spirit. Wonderful tale from a fertile imagination.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Doug. “Kindred spirit” warms my soul. Glad to know you feel that way. It takes a few kindred spirits to warm up this chilly realm we know as Midgard.

      All my best,
      MG

  9. gahlearner says:

    The idea that a story teller makes the universe a better place is a wonderful, and motivating one. Let’s go and tell more stories, all of us…

  10. Love this version of the story-teller as heroine. We mustn’t stop! Thanks for broadening my horizons a bit farther.

  11. There is a lovely warmth that grows throughout the story

  12. I love how this is a story about keeping people safe, about people listening to stories, because what are we doing here, with Friday Fictioneers…?
    Claire

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Claire. I firmly believe that telling stories is one of the most powerful pastimes around. The world changes with the stories we tell.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  13. Margaret says:

    Wonderful. There are so many aspects of your story that speak to me. I’m going to explore the myths.

  14. “Kindness colored every vignette” Those are words to live by. I could see your Nadia.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thank you, Tracey. The kindness is what I remember most about my grandmother’s stories, although she has no other characteristics that make her much like Nadia. I’ve been told many times that I am much like her, but I often feel I fall short in the kindness department. My heart is kind, but the expression of that kindness so often seems to fall short. Something to aspire to, I suppose.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  15. erinleary says:

    My mom’s family is from the Numedal valley in Norway. I took my kids to visit our old family home there, from the 1200s. Your story warmed my Norse heart.

    • storydivamg says:

      I’m so glad to hear this, Erin. When I write on a topic with which I have no actual experience, it’s always nice to hear from those who do.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  16. I have a good friend who translated Norse mythology, for many years, Marie Gail… this has all of the magic of those great stories. I love the idea of the narrator sitting and telling these stories to the cows… only adds to the magic. Wonderful!

    • storydivamg says:

      Awww . . . Thanks, Dawn. It truly warms my heart to get positive responses from people who are more familiar with the stories than I. Honestly, much Norse mythology is so masculine and war-related that I have little interest in it, but I thought it might be fun to insert a milkmaid and warm things up a little. And I love when an experiment of mine has some success.

      All my best,
      MG

  17. rgayer55 says:

    I’ve told stories to cows too, and found them to be attentive listeners who don’t interrupt. Some will even nod their head in agreement. It’s hard to find an audience like that among humans.
    I love mythology, but knew nothing of Norse tales. Thanks for enlightening me.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thank you for reading, Russell. Honestly, Norse mythology isn’t my favorite of all the old traditions, but I do love retelling a tale now and then.

      I probably need to take a tip from you and Nadia and get a couple cows. My cats will be forever grateful to the bovines for taking on the responsibility of listening.

      Cheers!

  18. subroto says:

    Had to look up Níðhöggr and Yggdrasil, then the story made perfect sense. Wonderfully done, feels absolutely like an ancient legend.

  19. I don’t know the stories, but looked up the names and I agree, It makes sense then. It has a slight feeling of A THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS about it Well told, Marie Gail. 🙂 — Suzanne

  20. Lovely images of the girl and the cows, followed by a sinister shadow. A tale within a tale within a tale…

  21. Marie Gail,
    I can’t believe our stories were next to each other and I missed it until now. My apologies. You sure can spin a mythic tale. This is the sort of story that storyteller like best, where the stories themselves come to life and help protect the world. Great job.
    -David

  22. My young adult novel has a lot to do with the old Norse myths. About seven years ago (yes, I’ve been working on it that long and longer) I studied book after book about all these characters and more. Thanks for bringing them up front again.

    • storydivamg says:

      In his inscription to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis dedicates the book to Lucy who is now all grown up and says, “Girls grow quicker than books.” Truer words were never spoken.

      Glad you enjoyed my brief foray into northern territories.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  23. afairymind says:

    I love Norse mythology! I’m so glad I found this story. 🙂

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks for reading! I’m not the biggest fan of most Norse myths as the tend to be rather violent in nature, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to infuse a little feminine charm to the old tales.

      All my best,
      MG

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