Early one morning, there was a knock at Thor’s door.
He threw off the bedcovers. ‘Can’t you get that, Sif?’ he asked his wife.
Sif, who had also been woken up by the knocking, quickly shut her eyes and pretended to be asleep.
‘Fine,’ Thor moaned. He rolled out of bed and went to the front door.
When he opened it, however, there was nobody on the other side. He furrowed his bushy eyebrows and looked around. The grassy hills of outer Asgard were wet with morning dew, and the sky was bright orange because the sun was beginning to rise.
He was about to slam his door shut 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. He was by no means small, but because Thor was so tall, he didn’t notice him. It is a rare sight to see a dwarf outside of the forges of Nidavellir, and to see one come to Asgard is even rarer. Rumour has it that they cannot bear the sunlight from this high up.
‘Hello. I’m Alviss, and I’ve come to collect my bride,’ he said.
Thor rubbed his eyes. ‘Your bride?’
‘I am to marry 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 out like a gorilla.
‘Odin warned me about this. He said you’re more of a bashy-bashy god than a thinky-thinky one. Not to worry. That is why he gave me this.’
Alviss fumbled in his trouser pocket and handed Thor a raven 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,
‘But’, Thor stammered, ‘that 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 of 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, 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 go get her in a minute. But first, I want to know more about my future son-in-law.’
‘Ok. But can’t we do this 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. 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. Each time though, Thor would twiddle his moustache and say things like ‘what happened next’ or ‘tell me more’.
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.’
‘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 tugged at the collar on his tunic and raced through the rest of the story.
By the time he had finished, the sun had finally risen. The heat prickled the back of Alvis’s neck, and his eyes widened.
‘Is something a matter,’ Thor asked.
Alviss tried to say something, but only a few gurgles came out. He scrambled to run away, but as soon as he swivelled around, a blast of amber sunlight hit him. It turned the dwarf, from head to toe, into stone.