Early one morning, there was a knock at Thor’s door.
‘Sif, there is somebody at the door,’ Thor said. ‘Can you get it?’
Sif pretended to be fast asleep.
‘Fine, I’ll go,’ Thor moaned. He rolled out of bed and went to the front door.
When he opened it, however, there seemed to be nobody on the other side. He furrowed his bushy eyebrows and looked around. The grassy hills of outer Asgard were wet with dew, and the sky was bright with the early morning sunshine.
He was about to slam his door and stomp back to bed when he heard a voice. ‘Down here,’ it said.
Thor looked down.
Standing on his doorstep was a dwarf. He had a black ponytail and a long, braided beard. It was rare to see a dwarf outside the forges of Nidavellir, and to see one in Asgard was even rarer. Rumour had it that they could not bear to be in Asgardian sunlight for very long.
‘Hello. I’m Alviss, and I’ve come to collect my bride,’ he said.
Thor rubbed his eyes. ‘Your bride?’
‘I will be marrying your daughter. Didn’t Odin tell you? He made an oath. He promised her to me in exchange for some information.’
Thor scratched his head and puffed out his cheeks like a gorilla.
‘Odin warned me about this. He said you’re more of a bashy-bashy god than a thinky-thinky one. That is why he gave me this.’
Alviss fumbled in his trouser pocket and handed Thor a raven’s feather.
Thor took the feather and inspected it. It was black as midnight, and the edges were speckled with gold. There was no mistaking it. This was a feather plucked from Odin’s raven, Huginn.
‘B—But, she is his granddaughter. Why would he do such a thing?’
Alviss shrugged his shoulders. ‘He said what do you want, and I said to marry Thor’s daughter, and that’s that.’
‘But, you’re a handsome fellow. Surely, a dwarf like you would have the pick of the mine shaft? Why are you so keen on marrying my daughter?’
Alviss smoothed back his hair. ‘The dwarves back home are fine and all. But, you know what I look for in a woman? Height! I like a girl who can reach the top shelf. I always hear stories about how you’re so tall and mighty. I imagine the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.’ He glanced at the sky. ‘So, are we going to get on with it? I haven’t got all day,’ he said impatiently. ‘Or shall I leave without my bride and tell everyone Odin’s word is meaningless.’
‘No. Don’t do that. If the gods find out that Odin’s broken an oath, they might start turning on him. They’re already a bit fed up by his insistence on keeping Loki around.’ He stroked his beard. ‘I’ll get her in a minute. But first, I want to know more about my future son-in-law.’
‘Ok. But can we go inside?’ Alviss asked.
‘We’re better off out here. The place is a mess. Tunics and undergarments everywhere. Sif will kill me if I let you inside.’
Alviss sighed. ‘Very well. But we better make this quick. What do you want to know?’
‘Tell me everything about you.’ Thor smirked. ‘And don’t leave anything out. Not even a single thing.’
The dwarf reluctantly went on to tell him all about himself. Occasionally, he would turn away and nervously look at the sky.
When Alviss was in the middle of telling the story of how his great-grandfather met his great-grandmother, he paused and rubbed his forehead. Beads of sweat were trickling down his brow. His skin was beginning to feel tight. ‘Do you really need to know this? It isn’t very exciting. Let’s leave it there, shall we?’
‘Don’t be silly,’ Thor said. ‘You’ve got to tell me the whole story. I’m captivated! Besides, you wouldn’t want to offend your soon-to-be father-in-law.’
Alviss unbuttoned the collar on his tunic and raced through the rest of the story.
By the time he had finished, he was drenched in sweat.
Suddenly, the dwarf turned pale, and his eyes widened. ‘I think I’ve been out in the sun too l—’. Before he could finish his sentence, his entire body went rigid, and his skin turned to stone.
Thor yawned. ‘Oh no, I was so looking forward to you being my son-in-law.’ He shrugged his shoulders. ‘Well, back to bed.’