Here is a story about a particular person’s encounter with Loki, who in turn told them a story.
My encounters with Loki tend to take place in the same mindspace – a tavern, a dark one with walls and furniture made from logs and crude wood. A candle burns on the table between me and the cloaked figure, his face obscured, who sits with his back to the darkest, shadiest corner of the room as usual.
I’m very, very uncomfortable with Loki’s presence. More than I care to be. Not that he’s ever given me anything than exactly what I need, but he reminds me of the Game Master of a roleplaying game. He throws the dice that saves us from, or plunge us right into, the chaos. At the same time, he’s that shady figure you can find in the taverns of most games of D&D – you know, that guy who gives you all the really shady quests, the ones with the most danger and the greatest rewards? I think that’s why Lokis presence makes me squirm in a bad way. (That, and a few reasons I can’t pinpoint.) He often needs to hold me there to make me listen, despite my stirring curiosity to listen to pretty much everything this guy has to say.
This time, he ask a simple question. “Would you like to hear a story?”
I can barely see his face, but I can feel his eyes burn right into me. I squirm on my chair. I’m torn between a desire to hear it, and the voice that whispers it’s a setup, there will be a price, this is a terrible idea and I should decline. In the end, I reluctantly admit that I’m curious as hell to hear it, and the teeth of the grinning God glows white in the candlelight as the short tale begins.
“Once, a fire appeared on the sky. A great ball of burning light, it was neither the sun the moon nor any star – or perhaps it was all these things, but either way it burned in its own right, fixed in its position and thus illuminating both the night and day.
People called it a miracle. Indeed it burned with just enough warmth to comfort all within it; it was neither too hot or too bright. It stayed there for many months, and people came from far to see it. One such person was a shepherds boy who traveled there alone, knowing he just had to se this fire with his own eyes and feel it on his skin. And as he arrived, indeed it was all these things that people had said that it was; and it filled him with a great joy.
But people of cloth and staff and wand had already gathered there, priests who argued loudly about whose Gods had sent this precious miracle. All believed fiercely that it was theirs, denying the ridiculous claims of the others; they argued, preached and worshiped in the light of the fire. The boy wanted to know the answer for himself, so he did what was most obvious to him; he asked the fire itself what it was.
“Aha!” the fire replied and burned a bit brighter. The priests were too busy arguing to realize that their miracle spoke. “How curious that a child such as yourself should ask while none of these fine seekers around you did. But I can’t answer you. You see, I am your heart, so you need to answer it yourself. What am I?”
The child thought in silence for a moment. “You are a great fire.” he said. “People see your glow in the darkness and come for light and warmth, and you give it without judgement. Even the squabblers who’d claim you for themselves bathes in your presence, great fire. Not even the closed hearts are denied light. You’re a beacon, and a guiding light, and a great comfort to us.”
Once the boy had spoken, the fire suddenly disappeared from the sky. The priests fell to their knees in their fears of abandonment, and prayed and begged for their divine miracle to return. But it never did, and they slowly left the site in defeat. But the boy left in a great joy. He became a great hero, and then a great king – because he had, without a doubt, all of this fire in his heart. He was a beacon to his people, a guiding light in his wisdom, and a great comfort to a sundered kingdom.”
I sat in thought for a moment after hearing it. I realized I’d been too engrossed in the story to remember to stay worried. Even if I couldn’t quite come to terms with the cloaked god, I had to admit he was a magnificent storyteller. Then, he laughed.
“Well, you wanted a story! Now go post it already. Go on, go on, go post it!”
And so I was no longer in the tavern. I sat in my bed, my laptop still resting in my lap, and I begun to write a story I would’ve never written on my own.